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Monday, July 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 42

Kingcomments on the Whole BibleKingcomments

Verses 1-12


The prophet has already received much detailed information, and we with him, but there is more to come. In this chapter, Ezekiel receives information about the priestly chambers of the temple (Ezekiel 42:1-2 Kings :), the purpose of these chambers (Ezekiel 42:13-2 Chronicles :), and the measurements of the area surrounding the temple complex (Ezekiel 42:15-Proverbs :).

Again, of this section, the translation is not universally certain. This has been noted before (see the introduction to the explanation of Ezekiel 40-48), but it is good to point it out again here. This requires caution in interpretation and application. It also requires extra vigilance on the part of the reader. He will do well to imitate the believers in Berea, who received “with great eagerness” what they heard from Paul, “examining the Scriptures daily [to see] whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

The Priests’ Chambers of the Temple

The Man brings Ezekiel out of the porch again outside the temple into the outer court and into the north side of it (Ezekiel 42:1). With his back turned to the north side of the temple house, Ezekiel looks north and sees a building with chambers. The length of the building is one hundred cubits and the width fifty cubits (Ezekiel 42:2). The building is on the other side of the pavement of the inner court twenty cubits north of the temple. It has three stories or galleries (Ezekiel 42:3).

Before the chambers runs a wide corridor or space ten cubits wide (Ezekiel 42:4). This probably divides the building into two parts. The entrances to the building face north. The stories of the building are shorter or narrower toward the top (Ezekiel 42:5). The first or middle story is narrower than the ground story and the second or top story is again narrower than the middle story. This is because of the stability of the building, for it does not rest on pillars (Ezekiel 42:6). The idea is probably that each story is the foundation of the next story.

The design of the three stories of this building is the reverse of the way the three stories of the side chambers on the outside of the temple were built (Ezekiel 41:6-Judges :). If we try to consider what the spiritual application might be here, it is obvious to think of the reverse here as well. There is spiritual growth, an increase “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18), when we study in God’s Word. As we do so, there will be a growing awareness of how great He is and how small we are in comparison to Him, how little we know in relation to Him Who is the Omniscient.

We may immerse ourselves in His love, to know it, and at the same time we will realize that this love is beyond our knowledge (Ephesians 3:19; Romans 11:33-Zephaniah :), so that we will strongly feel our littleness. Paul, who has been taught by God in a special way about spiritual blessings, says this aptly of himself thus: “To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8).

In front of the chambers facing the outer court runs a wall fifty cubits long (Ezekiel 42:7). This length corresponds to the length of the chambers belonging to the outer court (Ezekiel 42:8). It has been assumed that this wall serves to hide the priests, when they change their clothes, from the view of those who are in the outer court. The building of chambers that stands on the side of the temple is one hundred cubits long. The chambers have an entrance on the east, so that they can be entered from the outer court (Ezekiel 42:9).

On the south side of the temple, in the same arrangement and with the same dimensions, are chambers similar to those on the north side (Ezekiel 42:10-2 Kings :). Their sizes, exits, furnishings, and entrances are similar to the northern chambers.

Verses 13-14

What the Priests’ Chambers Are for

Then the Man speaks for the fourth time. He explains to Ezekiel what the chambers of the north and of the south that He has just measured are for (Ezekiel 42:13). They are for the priests who approach the LORD to eat the offerings there. They are “holy chambers” because the “most holy things” are eaten there (cf. Leviticus 6:26). The priests may eat of “the grain offering, the sin offering and the guilt offering” (Leviticus 6:17; Leviticus 6:24-Joel :Leviticus 7:6). The peace offering is not mentioned here because the people may also eat of it. The burnt offering is also not mentioned, because this offering in its entirety is for the LORD.

When the priests have finished eating, the Man further declares, they are to take off the garments in which they have been serving and put on their ordinary garments again (Ezekiel 42:14). The priestly garments are to be worn only in the temple and in the inner court, that is, only when the priests are on duty. When they are in the midst of the common people, they must wear ordinary garments. Priestly garments are of linen, with a linen turban and linen pants (Ezekiel 44:17-Psalms :).

Eating refers here to fellowship with God. Eating is also food that strengthens our bodies. When we come together to do priestly service, we engage in the most sacred thing there is. We wear sacred garments in a sacred environment in a sacred atmosphere. We are the same persons there as in everyday life, yet in a special way.

We can apply the garments of fine linen worn in God’s presence to the garments of salvation, to being clothed with Christ. In Him we are perfect, holy, and spotless, and can thus appear before God. We come into His presence not by virtue of our own righteousness, but as made pleasing in His Son (Ephesians 1:6). In that clothing we can serve and honor Him for all eternity.

These garments are not meant for the world. This is symbolized in taking off those garments and putting on garments appropriate to our behavior in the world (to avoid misunderstanding, of course, it does not mean that we adapt to the world). We are commanded to let our light shine and show good works, adorning the teachings of Christ and proclaiming the virtues of God.

Garments symbolize what is seen of us, either by God or by men. One kind of garments symbolize our position and behavior in the sanctuary and the other kind of garments symbolize our behavior in the world. In the sanctuary we are a holy priesthood; in the world we are a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:5; 1 Peter 2:9). In the sanctuary we stand before God and speak to Him about the Lord Jesus. Of that priesthood the world understands nothing. In the world we stand before people and we show them Who God is. We do this in the family, in the environment where we live, at work and at school.

Verses 15-20

The Holy Area Around the Temple Grounds

When the measuring of the interior of the house, that is, the holy place and the most holy place and what belongs to them, is completed, the Man brings Ezekiel back to the starting point of the tour (Ezekiel 42:15; Ezekiel 40:5). They go out the east gate. Then the Man goes to measure an area to the four sides of the temple (Ezekiel 42:16-Psalms :). To each side He measures five hundred reeds, which is over a kilometer and a half. This creates a kind of third court, as it were.

In Ezekiel 42:20 it says as a summary that of the temple grounds the four sides – literally the four winds, that is, the four directions of the wind – are measured. This completes the description of the temple grounds. Everything that can be measured has been measured.

The wall mentioned in Ezekiel 42:20 is the wall where the Man began to measure (Ezekiel 40:5). We are back to the beginning. The wall is mentioned again to point out its function: it serves to distinguish between the holy and the profane.

The detailed description of this perfect temple underscores the importance of this sanctified building for the exiles. Through the temple, God’s presence in the world becomes, as it were, tangible. Everything about the temple – the perfect proportions of all the parts in relation to each other, the decorations, the lofty building – is impressive. Yet, like the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37), there is no life in the buildings without the presence of the LORD. The house waits for its Occupant. In the next chapter, He comes.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Ezekiel 42". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/ezekiel-42.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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