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Saturday, July 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 42

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament CommentaryKeil & Delitzsch

Verses 1-14

The Cell-Building in the Outer Court for Holy Use

Ezekiel 42:1. And he brought me out into the outer court by the way toward the north, and brought me to the cell-building, which was opposite to the separate place, and opposite to the building toward the north, Ezekiel 42:2. Before the long side of a hundred cubits, with the door toward the north, and the breadth fifty cubits, Ezekiel 42:3. Opposite to the twenty of the inner court and opposite to the stone pavement of the outer-court; gallery against gallery was in the third storey. Ezekiel 42:4. And before the cells a walk, ten cubits broad; to the inner a way of a hundred cubits; and their doors went to the north. Ezekiel 42:5. And the upper cells were shortened, because the galleries took away space from them, in comparison with the lower and the central ones in the building. Ezekiel 42:6. For they were three-storied, and had no columns, like the columns of the courts; therefore a deduction was made from the lower and from the central ones from the ground. Ezekiel 42:7. And a wall outside parallel with the cells ran toward the outer court in front of the cells; its length fifty cubits. Ezekiel 42:8. For the length of the cells of the outer court was fifty cubits, and, behold, against the sanctuary it was a hundred cubits. Ezekiel 42:9. And out from underneath it rose up these cells; the entrance was from the east, when one went to them from the outer court. Ezekiel 42:10. In the breadth of the court wall toward the south, before the separate place and before the building, there were cells, Ezekiel 42:11. With a way before them, like the cells, which stood toward the north, as according to their length so according to their breadth, and according to all their exits as according to all their arrangements. And as their doorways, Ezekiel 42:12. So were also the doorways of the cells, which were toward the south, an entrance at the head of the way, of the way opposite to the corresponding wall, of the way from the east when one came to them. Ezekiel 42:13. And he said to me, The cells in the north, the cells in the south, which stood in front of the separate place, are the holy cells where the priests, who draw near to Jehovah, shall eat the most holy thing; there they shall place the most holy thing, both the meat-offering and the sin-offering and the trespass-offering; for the place is holy. Ezekiel 42:14. When they go in, the priests, they shall not go out of the holy place into the outer court; but there shall they place their clothes, in which they perform the service, for they are holy; they shall put on other clothes, and so draw near to what belongs to the people.

It is evident from Ezekiel 42:13 and Ezekiel 42:14, which furnish particulars concerning the cells already described, that the description itself refers to two cell-buildings only, one on the north side and the other on the south side of the separate place (see Plate I L). Of these the one situated on the north is described in a more circumstantial manner (Ezekiel 42:1-9); that on the south, on the contrary, is merely stated in the briefest manner to have resembled the other in the main (Ezekiel 42:10-12). That these two cell-buildings are not identical either with those mentioned in Ezekiel 40:44. or with those of Ezekiel 40:17, as Hהvernick supposes, but are distinct from both, is so obvious that it is impossible to understand how they could ever have been identified. The difference in the description is sufficient to show that they are not the same as those in Ezekiel 40:44. The cells mentioned in Ezekiel 40:44 were set apart as dwelling-places for the priests during their administration of the service in the holy place and at the altar; whereas these serve as places for depositing the most holy sacrificial gifts and the official dresses of the priests. To this may be added the difference of situation, which distinguishes those mentioned here both from those of Ezekiel 40:44., and also from those of Ezekiel 40:17. Those in Ezekiel 40:44 were in the inner court, ours in the outer. It is true that those mentioned in Ezekiel 40:17 were also in the latter, but in entirely different situations, as the description of the position of those noticed in the chapter before us indisputably proves. Ezekiel is led out of the inner court into the outer, by the way in the direction toward the north, to הלּשׁכּה , the cell-building (that הלּשׁכּה is used here in a collective sense is evident from the plural לשׁכות in Ezekiel 42:4, Ezekiel 42:5). This stood opposite to the gizrah , i.e., the separate space behind the temple house (Ezekiel 41:12.), and opposite to the בּנין , i.e., neither the outer court wall, which is designated as בּנין in Ezekiel 40:5, but cannot be intended here, where there is no further definition, nor the temple house, as Kliefoth imagines, for this is invariably called הבּית . We have rather to understand by הבּנין the building upon the gizrah described in Ezekiel 41:12., to which no valid objection can be offered on the ground of the repetition of the relative ואשׁר , as it is omitted in Ezekiel 42:10, and in general simply serves to give greater prominence to the second definition in the sense of “and, indeed, opposite to the building (sc., of the separate place) toward the north.”

As אל־הצּפון belongs to אשׁר as a more precise definition of the direction indicated by נגד , the ' אל־פּני א which follows in Ezekiel 42:2 depends upon ויביאני , and is co-ordinate with אל־הלּשׁכּה , defining the side of the cell-building to which Ezekiel was taken: “to the face of the length,” i.e., to the long side of the building, which extended to a hundred cubits. The article in המּאה requires that the words should be connected in this manner, as it could not be used if the words were intended to mean “on the surface of a length of a hundred cubits.” Since, then, the separate place was also a hundred cubits, that is to say, of the same length as the cell-building opposite to it, we might be disposed to assume that as the separate place reached to the outer court wall on the west, the cell-building also extended to the latter with its western narrow side. But this would be at variance with the fact that, according to Ezekiel 46:19-20, the sacrificial kitchens for the priests stood at the western end of this portion of the court, and therefore behind the cell-building. The size of these kitchens is not given; but judging from the size of the sacrificial kitchens for the people (Ezekiel 46:22), we must reserve a space of forty cubits in length; and consequently the cell-building, which was a hundred cubits long, if built close against the kitchens, would reach the line of the back wall of the temple house with its front (or eastern) narrow side, since, according to the calculation given in the comm. on Ezekiel 41:1-11, this wall was forty cubits from the front of the separate place, so that there was no prominent building standing opposite to the true sanctuary on the northern or southern side, by which any portion of it could have been concealed. And not only is there no reason for leaving a vacant space between the sacrificial kitchens and the cell-buildings, but this is precluded by the fact that if the kitchens had been separated from the cell building by an intervening space, it would have been necessary to carry the holy sacrificial flesh from the kitchen to the cell in which it was eaten, after being cooked, across a portion of the outer court. It is not stated here how far this cell-building was from the northern boundary of the gizrah , and the open space ( מנּח ) surrounding the temple house; but this may be inferred from Ezekiel 41:10, according to which the intervening space between the munnach and the cells was twenty cubits. For the cells mentioned there can only be those of our cell-building, as there were no other cells opposite to the northern and southern sides of the temple house. But if the distance of the southern longer side of the cell-building, so far as it stood opposite to the temple house, was only twenty cubits, the southern wall of the cell-building coincided with the boundary wall of the inner court, so that it could be regarded as a continuation of that wall. - The further definition פּתח , door to the north, is to be taken as subordinate to the preceding clause, in the sense of “with the door to the north,” because it would otherwise come in between the accounts of the length and breadth of the building, so as to disturb the connection. The breadth of the building corresponds to the breadth of the gate-buildings of the inner court.

The meaning of the third verse is a subject of dispute. “ האשׂרים ,” says Böttcher, “is difficult on account of the article as well as the number, inasmuch as, with the exception of the twenty cubits left open in the temple ground (Ezekiel 41:10), there are no אשׂרים mentioned as belonging to the actual ' חצר הפן , and the numeral does not stand with sufficient appropriateness by the side of the following רצפה .” But there is not sufficient weight in the last objection to render the reference to the twenty cubits a doubtful one, since the “twenty cubits” is simply a contracted form of expression for “the space of twenty cubits,” and this space forms a fitting antithesis to the pavement ( רצפה ), i.e., the paved portion of the court. Moreover, it is most natural to supply the missing substantive to the “twenty” from the אמּות mentioned just before, - much more natural certainly than to supply לשׁכות , as there is no allusion either before or afterwards to any other cells than those whose situation is intended to be defined according to the twenty. We therefore agree with J. H. Michaelis, Rosenmüller, Hävernick, and Hitzig, that the only admissible course is to supply אמּות ; for the description of the priests' cells in Ezekiel 40:44, to which Kliefoth imagines that האשׂרים refers, is far too distant for us to be able to take the word לשׁכות thence and supply it to העשׂרים . And again, the situation of these priests' cells to the east of the cell-building referred to here does not harmonize with the נגד , as the second definition introduced by the correlative ונגד points to the stone pavement on the north. East and north do not form such a vis-à-vis as the double נגד requires. - Our view of the העשׂרים eht is also in harmony with the explanatory relative clause, “which were to the inner court,” i.e., belonged to it. For the open space of twenty cubits' breadth, which ran by the long side of the temple house between the munnach belonging to the temple and the wall of the inner court, formed the continuation of the inner court which surrounded the temple house on the north, west, and south.

(Note: The statement of Kliefoth, that “this space of twenty cubits in breadth did not belong to the inner court at all,” cannot be established from Ezekiel 40:47, where the size of the inner court is given as a hundred cubits in length and the same in breadth. For this measurement simply refers to the space in front of the temple.)

If, therefore, this first definition of the נגד refers to what was opposite to the cell-building on the south, the second נגד defines what stood opposite to it on the northern side. There the portion of the outer court which was paved with stones ran along the inner side of the surrounding wall. This serves to define as clearly as possible the position of the broad side of the cell-building. For Kliefoth and Hitzig are right in connecting these definitions with Ezekiel 42:2, and taking the words from אתּיק onwards as introducing a fresh statement. Even the expression itself אל־פּני אתּיק does not properly harmonize with the combination of the two halves of the third verse as one sentence, as Böttcher proposes, thus: “against the twenty cubits of the inner court and against the pavement of the outer court there ran gallery in front of gallery threefold.” For if the galleries of the building were opposite to the pavement on the north, and to the space in front of the temple on the south of the building, they must of necessity have run along the northern and southern walls of the building in a parallel direction, and אל־פּני is not the correct expression for this. אל־פּני , to the front - that is to say, one gallery to the front of the other, or up to the other. This could only be the case if the galleries surrounded the building on all four sides, or at any rate on three; for with the latter arrangement, the gallery upon the eastern side would terminate against those on the southern and northern sides. Again, the rendering “threefold,” or into the threefold, cannot be defended either from the usage of the language or from the facts. The only other passage in which the plural שׁלשׁים occurs is Genesis 6:16, where it signifies chambers, or rooms of the third storey, and the singular שׁלשׁי means the third. Consequently בּשׁלשׁים is “in the third row of chambers or rooms,” i.e., in the third storey. And so far as the fact is concerned, it does not follow from the allusion to upper, central, and lower cells (Ezekiel 42:5 and Ezekiel 42:6), that there were galleries round every one of the three storeys.

Ezekiel 42:4. “Before the cells there was a walk of ten cubits' breadth” ( m). In what sense we are to understand לפני , “before,” whether running along the northern longer side of the building, or in front of the eastern wall, depends upon the explanation of the words which follow, and chiefly of the words דּרך אמּה אחת , by which alone the sense in which אל־הפּנימית is to be understood can also be determined. Hävernick and Kliefoth take דּרך אמּה אחת , “a way of one cubit,” in the sense of “the approaches (entrances into the rooms) were a cubit broad.” But the words cannot possibly have this meaning; not only because the collective use of דּרך after the preceding מהלך , which is not collective, and with the plural פּתחיהם following, is extremely improbable, if not impossible; but principally because דּרך , a way, is not synonymous with מבוא , an entrance, or פּתח , a doorway. Moreover, an entrance, if only a cubit in breadth, to a large building would be much too narrow, and bear no proportion whatever to the walk of ten cubits in breadth. It is impossible to get any suitable meaning from the words as they stand, “a way of one cubit;” and no other course remains than to alter אמה אחת into מאה אמּת , after the ἐπὶ πήχεις ἑκατόν of the Septuagint. There is no question that we have such a change of מאה into אמּה in Ezekiel 42:16, where even the Rabbins acknowledge that it has occurred. And when once מאה had been turned into אמּה , this change would naturally be followed by the alteration of אמת into a numeral - that is to say, into אחת . The statement itself, “a way of a hundred cubits” (in length), might be taken as referring to the length of the walk in front of the cells, as the cell-building was a hundred cubits long. But אל־הפּנימית is hardly reconcilable with this. If, for example, we take these words in connection with the preceding clause, “a walk of ten cubits broad into the interior,” the statement, “a way of a hundred cubits,” does not square with this. For if the walk which ran in front of the cells was a hundred cubits long, it did not lead into the interior of the cell-building, but led past it to the outer western wall. We must therefore take אל־הפּנימית in connection with what follows, so that it corresponds to לפני הלשׁכות : in front of the cells there was a walk of ten cubits in breadth, and to the inner there led a way of a hundred cubits in length. הפּנימית would then signify, not the interior of the cell-building, but the inner court ( החצר הפּנימית , Ezekiel 44:17; Ezekiel 21:27, etc.). This explanation derives its principal support from the circumstance that, according to Ezekiel 42:9 and Ezekiel 42:11, a way ran from the east, i.e., from the steps of the inner court gates, on the northern and southern sides, to the cell-buildings on the north and south of the separate place, the length of which, from the steps of the gate-buildings already mentioned to the north-eastern and south-eastern corners of our cell-buildings, was exactly a hundred cubits, as we may see from the plan in Plate I. This way ( l) was continued in the walk in front of the cells ( m), and may safely be assumed to have been of the same breadth as the walk. - The last statement of the fourth verse is perfectly clear; the doorways to the cells were turned toward the north, so that one could go from the walk in front of the cells directly into the cells themselves.

In Ezekiel 42:5 and Ezekiel 42:6 there follow certain statements concerning the manner in which the cells were built. The building contained upper, lower, and middle cells; so that it was three-storied. This is expressed in the words כּי משׁלּשׁות , “for the cells were tripled;” three rows stood one above another. But they were not all built alike; the upper ones were shortened in comparison with the lower and the central ones, i.e., were shorter than these ( מן before התּחתּנות and התּיכונות is comparative); “for galleries ate away part of them” - that is to say, took away a portion of them ( יוכלוּ for יאכלוּ , in an architectural sense, to take away from). How far this took place is shown in the first two clauses of the sixth verse, the first of which explains the reference to upper, lower, and middle cells, while the second gives the reason for the shortening of the upper in comparison with the lower and the central cones. As the three rows of cells built one above another had no columns on which the galleries of the upper row could rest, it was necessary, in order to get a foundation for the gallery of the third storey, that the cells should be thrown back from the outer wall, or built as far inwards as the breadth of the gallery required. This is expressly stated in the last clause, ' על־כּן נאצל וגו . נאצל , with an indefinite subject: there was deducted from the lower and the middle cells from the ground, sc. which these rooms covered. מהארץ is added for the purpose of elucidation. From the allusion to the columns of the courts we may see that the courts had colonnades, like the courts in the Herodian temple, and probably also in that of Solomon, though their character is nowhere described, and no allusion is made to them in the description of the courts.

The further statements concerning this cell-building in Ezekiel 42:7-9 are obscure. גּדר is a wall serving to enclose courtyards, vineyards, and the like. The predicate to וגּדר follows in אל־פּני הלשׁכות : a boundary wall ran along the front of the cells ( אל־פּני stands for על־פּני rof sdn , as the corresponding על־פּני ההיכל in Ezekiel 42:8 shows). The course of this wall ( n) is more precisely defined by the relative clause, “which ran outwards parallel with the cells in the direction of the outer court,” i.e., toward the outer court. The length of this wall was fifty cubits. It is evident from this that the wall did not run along the north side of the building, - for in that case it must have been a hundred cubits in length, - but along the narrow side, the length of which was fifty cubits. Whether it was on the western or eastern side cannot be determined with certainty from Ezekiel 42:7, although אל פּני favours the eastern, i.e., the front side, rather than the western side, or back. And what follows is decisive in favour of the eastern narrow side. In explanation of the reason why this wall was fifty cubits long, it is stated in Ezekiel 42:8 that “the length of the cells, which were to the outer court, was fifty cubits; but, behold, toward the temple front a hundred cubits.” Consequently “the cells which the outer court had” can only be the cells whose windows were toward the outer court - that is to say, those on the eastern narrow side of the building; for the sacrificial kitchens were on the western narrow side (Ezekiel 46:19-20). The second statement in Ezekiel 42:8, which is introduced by הנּה is an indication of something important, is intended to preclude any misinterpretation of ארך הלשׁ ' fo noitat , as though by length we must necessarily understand the extension of the building from east to west, as in Ezekiel 42:2 and most of the other measurements. The use of ארך for the extension of the narrow side of the building is also suggested by the ארכוּ , “length of the wall,” in Ezekiel 42:7, where רחב would have been inadmissible, because רחב , the breadth of a wall, would have been taken to mean its thickness. פּני ההיכל is the outer side of the temple house which faced the north.

A further confirmation of the fact that the boundary wall was situated on the eastern narrow side of the building is given in the first clause of the ninth verse, in which, however, the reading fluctuates. The Chetib gives מתּחתּהּ לשׁכות , the Keri מתּחת הלשׁכות . But as we generally find, the Keri is an alteration for the worse, occasioned by the objection felt by the Masoretes, partly to the unusual circumstance that the singular form of the suffix is attached to תּחת , whereas it usually takes the suffixes in the plural form, and partly to the omission of the article from לשׁכות by the side of the demonstrative האלּה , which is defined by the article. But these two deviations from the ordinary rule do not warrant any alterations, as there are analogies in favour of both. תּחת has a singular suffix not only in תּחתּנּה (Genesis 2:21) and תּחתּני (2 Samuel 22:37, 2 Samuel 22:40, and 2 Samuel 22:48), instead of תּחתּי (Psalms 18:37, Psalms 18:40, Psalms 18:48), which may undoubtedly be explained on the ground that the direction whither is thought of (Ges. §103. 1, Anm. 3), but also in תּחתּם , which occurs more frequently than תּחתּיהם , and that without any difference in the meaning (compare, for example, Deuteronomy 2:12, Deuteronomy 2:21-23; Joshua 5:7; Job 34:24, and Job 40:12, with 1 Kings 20:24; 1 Chronicles 5:22; 2 Chronicles 12:10). And לשׁכות האלּה is analogous to הר in Zechariah 4:7, and many other combinations, in which the force of the definition (by means of the article) is only placed in the middle for the sake of convenience (vid., Ewald, §293 a). If, therefore, the Chetib is to be taken without reserve as the original reading, the suffix in תּחתּהּ can only refer to גּדר , which is of common gender: from underneath the wall were these cells, i.e., the cells turned toward the outer court; and the meaning is the following: toward the bottom these cells were covered by the wall, which ran in front of them, so that, when a person coming toward them from the east fixed his eyes upon these cells, they appeared to rise out of the wall. Kliefoth, therefore, who was the first to perceive the true meaning of this clause, has given expression to the conjecture that the design of the wall was to hide the windows of the lower row of cells which looked toward the east, so that, when the priests were putting on their official clothes, they might not be seen from the outside. - המבוא commences a fresh statement. To connect these words with the preceding clause (“underneath these cells was the entrance from the east”), as Böttcher has done, yields no meaning with which a rational idea can possibly be associated, unless the מן in מתּחתּהּ be altogether ignored. The lxx have therefore changed וּמתּחתּהּ , which was unintelligible to them, into καὶ αἱ θύραι ( ופתחי ), and Hitzig has followed them in doing so. No such conjecture is necessary if וּמתּחתּהּ be rightly interpreted, for in that case המבוא must be the commencement of a new sentence. המבוא (by the side of which the senseless reading of the Keri המּביא cannot be taken into consideration for a moment) is the approach, or the way which led to the cells. This was from the east, from the outer court, not from the inner court, against the northern boundary of which the building stood. מהחצר החצנה is not to be taken in connection with בּבאו להנּה , but is co-ordinate with מהקּדים , of which it is an explanatory apposition.

In Ezekiel 42:10-12 the cell-building on the south of the separate place is described, though very briefly; all that is said in addition to the notice of its situation being, that it resembled the northern one in its entire construction. But there are several difficulties connected with the explanation of these verses, which are occasioned, partly by an error in the text, partly by the unmeaning way in which the Masoretes have divided the text, and finally, in part by the brevity of the mode of expression. In the first clause of Ezekiel 42:10, הקּדים is a copyist's error for הדּרום , which has arisen from the fact that it is preceded by מהקּדים (Ezekiel 42:9). For there is an irreconcilable discrepancy between דּרך הקּדים and אל־פּני הגּזרה , which follows. The building stood against, or upon, the broad side ( רחב ) of the wall of the court, i.e., the wall which separated the inner court from the outer, opposite to the separate place and the building upon it ( אל פּני , from the outer side hither, is practically equivalent to נגד in Ezekiel 42:1; and הבּנין is to be taken in the same sense here and there). The relation in which this cell-building stands to the separate place tallies exactly with the description given of the former one in Ezekiel 42:2. If, then, according to Ezekiel 42:2, the other stood to the north of the separate place, this must necessarily have stood to the south of it, - that is to say, upon the broad side of the wall of the court, not in the direction toward the east ( דּרך הקּדים ), but in that toward the south ( דּרך הדּרום ), as is expressly stated in Ezekiel 42:12 and Ezekiel 42:13 also. Kliefoth has affirmed, it is true, in opposition to this, that “the breadth of the wall enclosing the inner court must, as a matter of course, have been the eastern side of the inner court;” but on the eastern side of the wall of the inner court there was not room for a cell-building of a hundred cubits in length, as the wall was only thirty-seven cubits and a half long (broad) on each side of the gate-building. If, however, one were disposed so to dilute the meaning of ' בּרחב גּדר הח as to make it affirm nothing more than that the building stood upon, or against, the breadth of the wall of the court to the extent of ten or twenty cubits, and with the other eighty or ninety cubits stood out into the outer court, as Kliefoth has drawn it upon his “ground plan;” it could not possibly be described as standing אל־פּני הגּזרה , because it was not opposite to (in face of) the gizrah , but was so far removed from it, that only the north-west corner would be slightly visible from the south-east corner of the gizrah . And if we consider, in addition to this, that in Ezekiel 42:13 and Ezekiel 42:14, where the intention of the cell-buildings described in Ezekiel 42:1-12 is given, only cells on the north and on the south are mentioned as standing אל־פּני הגּזרה , there can be no doubt that by רחב we are to understand the broad side of the wall which bounded the inner court on the south side from east to west, and that דּרך הקּדים should be altered into דּרך הדּרום .

In Ezekiel 42:11 the true meaning has been obscured by the fact that the Masoretic verses are so divided as to destroy the sense. The words ודּרך לפּניהם belong to לשׁכות in Ezekiel 42:10: “cells and a way before them,” i.e., cells with a way in front. דּרך corresponds to the מהלך in Ezekiel 42:4. - כּמראה , like the appearance = appearing, or constructed like, does not belong to דּרך in the sense of made to conform to the way in front of the cells, but to לשׁכות , cells with a way in front, conforming to the cells toward the north. The further clauses from כּארכּן to וּכמשׁפּטיהן are connected together, and contain two statements, loosely subordinated to the preceding notices, concerning the points in which the cells upon the southern side were made to conform to those upon the northern; so that they really depend upon כּמראה , and to render them intelligible in German (English tr.) must be attached by means of a preposition: “with regard to,” or “according to” ( secundum ). Moreover, the four words contain two co-ordinated comparisons; the first expressed by keen כּן ... כּ , the second simply indicated by the particle כּ before משׁפּטיהן (cf. Ewald, §360 a). The suffixes of all four words refer to the cells in the north, which those in the south were seen to resemble in the points referred to. The meaning is this: the cells in the south were like the cells in the north to look at, as according to their length so according to their breadth, and according to all their exits as according to their arrangements ( משׁפּטים , lit., the design answering to their purpose, i.e., the manner of their arrangement and their general character: for this meaning, compare Exodus 26:30; 2 Kings 1:7). The last word of the verse, וּכפתחיהן , belongs to Ezekiel 42:12, viz., to וּכפתחי הלשׁ ' , the comparison being expressed by כ - וּך , as in Joshua 14:11; Daniel 11:29; 1 Samuel 30:24 (cf. Ewald, l.c.). Another construction also commences with כפתחיהן . וּכפתחיהן is a nominative: and like their doors (those of the northern cells), so also were the doors of the cells situated toward the south. Consequently there is no necessity either to expunge וּכפתחי arbitrarily as a gloss, for which procedure even the lxx could not be appealed to, or to assent to the far-fetched explanation by which Kliefoth imagines that he has discovered an allusion to a third cell-building in these words. - Light is thrown upon the further statements in Ezekiel 42:12 by the description of the northern cells. “A door was at the head,” i.e., at the beginning of the way. דּרך corresponds to the way of a hundred cubits in Ezekiel 42:4, and ראשׁ דּרך is the point where this way, which ran to the southern gate-building of the inner court, commenced - that is to say, where it met the walk in front of the cells (Ezekiel 42:4). The further statement concerning this way is not quite clear to us, because the meaning of the ἁπ . λεγ . חגינה is uncertain. In the Chaldee and Rabbinical writings the word signifies decens, conveniens . If we take it in this sense, הגּדרת חגינה is the wall corresponding (to these cells), i.e., the wall which ran in front of the eastern narrow side of the building parallel to the cells, the wall of fifty cubits in length described in Ezekiel 42:7 in connection with the northern building (for the omission of the article before חגינה after the substantive which it defines, compare Ezekiel 39:27; Jeremiah 2:21, etc.). בּפּני , in conspectu , which is not perfectly synonymous with לפני , also harmonizes with this. For the way referred to was exactly opposite to this wall at its upper end, inasmuch as the wall joined the way at right angles. The last words of Ezekiel 42:12 are an abbreviated repetition of Ezekiel 42:9; דּרך הקּדים is equivalent to המבוא מהקּדים , the way from the east on coming to them, i.e., as one went to these cells.

According to Ezekiel 42:13 and Ezekiel 42:14, these two

(Note: For no further proof is needed after what has been observed above, that the relative clause, “which were in front of the separate place,” belongs to the two subjects: cells of the north and cells of the south, and does not refer to a third cell-building against the eastern wall, as Kliefoth supposes.)

cell-buildings were set apart as holy cells, in which the officiating priests were to deposit the most holy sacrifices, and to eat them, and to put on and off the sacred official clothes in which they drew near to the Lord. קדשׁי were that portion of the meat-offering which was not burned upon the altar (Leviticus 2:3, Leviticus 2:10; Leviticus 6:9-11; Leviticus 10:12; see my Bibl. Archäologie, I §52), and the flesh of all the sin- and trespass-offerings, with the exception of the sin-offerings offered for the high priest and all the congregation, the flesh of which was to be burned outside the camp (cf. Leviticus 6:19-23; Leviticus 7:6). All these portions of the sacrifices were called most holy, because the priests were to eat them as the representatives of Jehovah, to the exclusion not only of all the laity, but also of their own families (women and children; see my Archäol. I §§45 and 47). The depositing ( ינּיחוּ ) is distinguished from the eating ( יאכלוּ ) of the most holy portions of the sacrifices; because neither the meal of the meat-offering, which was mixed with oil, nor the flesh of the sin- and trespass-offerings, could be eaten by the priests immediately after the offering of the sacrifice; but the former had first of all to be baked, and the latter to be boiled, and it was not allowable to deposit them wherever they liked previous to their being so prepared. The putting on and off, and also the custody of the sacred official clothes, were to be restricted to a sacred place. בּבאם , on their coming, sc. to the altar, or into the holy place, for the performance of service. There not going out of the holy place into the outer court applies to their going into the court among the people assembled there; for in order to pass from the altar to the sacred cells, they were obliged to pass through the inner gate and go thither by the way which led to these cells (Plate I l).

Verses 15-20

Extent of the Holy Domain around the Temple

Ezekiel 42:15. And when he had finished the measurements of the inner house, he brought me out by the way of the gate, which is directed toward the east, and measured there round about. Ezekiel 42:16. He measured the eastern side with the measuring rod five hundred rods by the measuring rod round about; Ezekiel 42:17. He measured the northern side five hundred rods by the measuring rod round about; Ezekiel 42:18. The southern side he measured five hundred rods by the measuring rod; Ezekiel 42:19. He turned round to the western side, measured five hundred rods by the measuring rod. Ezekiel 42:20. To the four winds he measured it. It had a wall round about; the length was five hundred and the breadth five hundred, to divide between the holy and the common. - There has been a division of opinion from time immemorial concerning the area, the measuring of which is related in these verses, and the length and breadth of which are stated in Ezekiel 42:20 to have been five hundred; as the Seventy, and after them J. D. Michaelis, Bצttcher, Maurer, Ewald, and Hitzig, understand by this the space occupied by the temple with its two courts. But as that space was five hundred cubits long and five hundred broad, according to the sum of the measurements given in Ezekiel 40-42:15, the lxx have omitted the word קנים in Ezekiel 42:16, Ezekiel 42:18, and Ezekiel 42:19, whilst they have changed it into πήχεις in Ezekiel 42:17, and have also attached this word to the numbers in Ezekiel 42:20. According to this, only the outer circumference of the temple area would be measured in our verses, and the wall which was five hundred cubits long and five hundred cubits broad (Ezekiel 42:20) would be the surrounding wall of the outer court mentioned in Ezekiel 40:5. Ezekiel 42:15 could certainly be made to harmonize with this view. For even if we understood by the “inner house” not merely the temple house, which the expression primarily indicates, but the whole of the inner building, i.e., all the buildings found in the inner and outer court, and by the east gate the eastern gate of the outer court; the expression ' מדדו סביב , “he measured it round about,” merely affirms that he measured something round about outside this gate. The suffix in מדדו is indefinite, and cannot be taken as referring to any of the objects mentioned before, either to השּׁער or to הבּית הפּנימי . The inner house he had already measured; and the measurements which follow are not applicable to the gate. Nor can the suffix be taken as referring to הבּית , illam sc. aedem (Ros.); or at any rate, there is nothing in Ezekiel 42:20 to sustain such a reference. Nevertheless, we might think of a measuring of the outer sides of the whole building comprehended under the idea of the inner house, and regard the wall mentioned in Ezekiel 42:20 as that which had been measured round about on the outer side both in length and breadth. But it is difficult to reconcile this view even with Ezekiel 42:20; and with the measurements given in Ezekiel 42:16-19 it is perfectly irreconcilable. Even if we were disposed to expunge קנים as a gloss in Ezekiel 42:16, Ezekiel 42:17, Ezekiel 42:18, and Ezekiel 42:19, the words, “he measured the east side with the measuring rod, five hundred by the measuring rod,” are equivalent to five hundred rods, according to the well-known Hebrew usage; just as indisputably as מאה , a hundred by the cubit, is equivalent to a hundred cubits (see the comm. on Ezekiel 40:21 at the close). The rejection of קנים as an imaginary gloss is therefore not only arbitrary, but also useless; as the appended words בּקנה המּדּה , even without קנים , affirm that the five hundred were not cubits, but rods.

(Note: The חמשׁ אמות for חמשׁ מאות in Ezekiel 42:16 is utterly useless as a proof that cubits and not rods are intended; as it is obviously a copyist's error, a fact which even the Masoretes admit. Rabbi ben-Asher's view of this writing is an interesting one. Prof. Dr. Delitzsch has sent me the following, taken from a fragment in his possession copied from a codex of the Royal Library at Copenhagen. R. ben-Asher reckons אמות among the מוקדם ומאוחר , i.e., words written ὑστερον προτερον , of which there are forty-seven in the whole of the Old Testament, the following being quoted by ben-Asher ( l.c.) by way of example: גּלון , Joshua 20:8; Joshua 21:27; ויּקּלהוּ , 2 Samuel 20:14; בּעברות , 2 Samuel 15:28; והימשׁני , Judges 16:26; ותּראנה , 1 Samuel 14:27.)

The סביב in Ezekiel 42:16 and Ezekiel 42:17 is not to be understood as signifying that on the east and north sides he measured a square on each side of five hundred rods in length and breadth, but simply indicates that he measured on all sides, as is obvious from Ezekiel 42:20. For according to this, the space which was measured toward every quarter at five hundred rods had a boundary wall, which was five hundred rods long on every side. This gives an area of 250,000 square rods; whereas the temple,with the inner and outer courts, covered only a square of five hundred cubits in length and breadth, or 250,000 square cubits. It is evident from this that the measuring related in Ezekiel 42:15-20 does not refer to the space occupied by the temple and its courts, and therefore that the wall which the measured space had around it (Ezekiel 42:20) cannot be the wall of the outer court mentioned in Ezekiel 40:5, the sides of which were not more than five hundred cubits long. The meaning is rather, that around this wall, which enclosed the temple and its courts, a further space of five hundred rods in length and breadth was measured off “to separate between the holy and profane,” i.e., a space which was intended to form a separating domain between the sanctuary and the common land. The purpose thus assigned for the space, which was measured off on all four sides of the “inner house,” leaves no doubt remaining that it was not the length of the surrounding wall of the outer court that was measured, but a space outside this wall. The following clause חומה , “a wall was round about it,” is irreconcilable with the idea that the suffix in מדדו (Ezekiel 40:20 and Ezekiel 40:15) refers to this wall, inasmuch as the לו can only refer to the object indicated by the suffix attached to מדדו . This object, i.e., the space which was five hundred rods long and the same broad round about, i.e., on every one of the four sides, had a wall enclosing it on the outside, and forming the partition between the holy and the common. הקּדשׁ is therefore הבּית הפּנימי , “the inner house;” but this is not the temple house with its side-building, but the sanctuary of the temple with its two courts and their buildings, which was measured in Ezekiel 40:5-42:12.

The arguments which have been adduced in opposition to this explanation of our verses, - the only one in harmony with the words of the text, - and in vindication of the alterations made in the text by the lxx, are without any force. According to Böttcher (p. 355), Hitzig, and others, קנים is likely to be a false gloss, (1) “because בּקנה המּדּה stands close to it; and while this is quite needless after קנים , it may also have occasioned the gloss.” But this tells rather against the suspicion that קנים is a gloss, since, as we have already observed, according to the Hebrew mode of expression, the “five hundred” would be defined as rods by בּקנה המּדּה , even without קנים . Ezekiel, however, had added בּקנה המּדּה for the purpose of expressing in the clearest manner the fact that the reference here is not to cubits, but to a new measurement of an extraordinary kind, to which nothing corresponding could be shown in the earlier temple. And the Seventy, by retaining this clause, ἐν καλάμῳ τοῦ μέτρου , have pronounced sentence upon their own change of the rods into cubits; and it is no answer to this that the Talmud ( Midd. c. ii. note 5) also gives only five hundred cubits to the הר הבּ , since this Talmudic description is treating of the historical temple and not of Ezekiel's prophetic picture of a temple, although the Rabbins have transferred various statements from the latter to the former. The second and third reasons are weaker still - viz. “because there is no other instance in which the measurement is expressed by rods in the plural; and, on the other hand, אמּה is frequently omitted as being the ordinary measurement, and therefore taken for granted.” For the first assertion is proved to be erroneous, not only by our verses, but also by Ezekiel 45:1. and Ezekiel 48:16., whilst there is no force whatever in the second. The last argument employed is a more plausible one - namely, that “the five hundred rods are not in keeping with the sanctuary, because the edifice with the courts and gates would look but a little pile according to the previous measurements in the wide expanse of 20,000 (?) rods.” But although the space measured off around the temple-building for the separation between the holy and the profane was five times as long and five times as broad, according to the Hebrew text, or twenty-five times as large as the whole extent of the temple and its courts,

(a) Area of the temple with the two courts, 500 cubits square.

(b) Surrounding space, five hundred rods = 3000 cubits square.

(c) Circuit of fifty cubits in breadth around the surrounding space. - Ezekiel 45:2

the appearance of the temple with its courts is not diminished in consequence, because the surrounding space was not covered with buildings; on the contrary, the fact that it was separated from the common by so large a surrounding space, would rather add to the importance of the temple with its courts. This broad separation is peculiar to Ezekiel's temple, and serves, like many other arrangements in the new sanctuary and worship, to symbolize the inviolable holiness of that sanctuary. The earlier sanctuary had nothing answering to this; and Kliefoth is wrong in supposing that the outer court served the same purpose in the tabernacle and Solomon's temple, whereas in the temple of Ezekiel this had also become part of the sanctuary, and was itself holy. The tabernacle had no outer court at all, and in Solomon's temple the outer court did form a component part of the sanctuary. The people might enter it, no doubt, when they desired to draw near to the Lord with sacrifices and gifts; but this continued to be the case in Ezekiel's temple, though with certain restrictions (cf. Ezekiel 46:9 and Ezekiel 46:10). Only, in the case of Solomon's temple, the outer court bordered directly upon the common soil of the city and the land, so that the defilement of the land produced by the sin of the people could penetrate directly even into the holy space of the courts. In the sanctuary of the future, a safeguard was to be placed against this by the surrounding space which separated the holy from the common. It is true that the surface of Moriah supplied no room for this space of five hundred rods square; but the new temple was not to be built upon the real Moriah, but upon a very high mountain, which the Lord would exalt and make ready for the purpose when the temple was erected. Moreover, the circumstance that Moriah was much too small for the extent of the new temple and its surroundings, cannot furnish any argument against the correctness of our view of the verses in question, for the simple reason that in Ezekiel 45 and 48 there follow still further statements concerning the separation of the sanctuary from the rest of the land, which are in perfect harmony with this, and show most indisputably that the temple seen by Ezekiel was not to have its seat in the ancient Jerusalem.

Bibliographical Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Ezekiel 42". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kdo/ezekiel-42.html. 1854-1889.
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