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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 40

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-49

5. The Closing Vision: of the Glory of Jehovah’s Kingdom (Ch. 40–48)

(1) The Temple and its Service (Ch. 40–46)

Ezekiel 40:1. In the five and twentieth year of our captivity, in the beginning of the year, on the tenth of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was smitten, in the selfsame day, the hand of Jehovah was upon me [came over me], 2and He brought me thither: In visions of God brought He me to the land of Israel, and made me rest [set me down] beside [on] a very high mountain, and on [over] it [was, rose up] a city-like building to the south. 3And He brought me thither, and, behold, a man whose appearance was as the appearance of brass, and a line of flax in his hand, and a measuring rod; and he stood in the gate. 4And the man said to me, Son of man, behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and apply thine heart to all that I show thee, for in order to let thee see it wert [art] thou brought hither; declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel. 5And behold a wall outside the house round about, and in the man’s hand the measuring rod of six cubits by [measured by] the cubit and an handbreadth; and he measured the breadth of the building one rod, and the 6height one rod. And he came to the gate which looketh towards the east, and went up on its steps, and measured the threshold of the gate—one rod 7broad, even one threshold one rod broad: And the chamber [the guardroom] one rod long and one rod broad; and between the chambers five cubits; and 8the threshold of the gate beside the porch of the gate within, one rod. And 9he measured the porch of the gate within, one rod. And he measured the porch of the gate, eight cubits; and its pillars [literally, its pillar, i.e. one by one], two 10cubits; and the porch of the gate [was, or, thus was the porch of the gate] within. And the chambers of the gate towards the east [literally, the way of the east] were three on this side, and three on that; the three of them of one measure; and the pillars on this side and on that were of one measure. 11And he measured the breadth of the opening of the gate, ten cubits; the length [height] of the gate, 12thirteen cubits. And a barrier was before the chambers [guardrooms], one cubit [on this side], and one cubit the barrier on that side; and the chamber six cubits 13on this side, and six cubits on that. And he measured the gate from the roof of the chamber to its roof, the breadth five and twenty cubits, opening against 14opening [door against door]. And he made the pillars (Ezekiel 40:9) sixty cubits, and at the pillars [literally, at the pillar] was the court round and round the gate. 15And from the front of the entrance-gate to the front of the porch of the inner gate, fifty cubits. And closed windows were in the chambers [guardrooms] and in their pillars within the gate round and round, and likewise in the wall-projections, 16and there were windows round and round inward; and on the pillars [literally, the pillar], 17palms. And he brought me to the outer court, and behold apartments [cells] and a stone pavement [Mosaic], made for the court round about; thirty apartments by the pavement. 18And the pavement was by the side of the gates, 19exactly the length of the gates, [namely] the lower pavement. And he measured the breadth from the front of the gate of the lower [pavement] to the front of the inner court from without, a hundred cubits; the east and the north. 20And the gate which was towards the north on the outer court he measured 21in its length and its breadth. And its chambers [guardrooms], three on this side and three on that, and its pillars and its wall-projections; it was after the measure of the first [former] gate, fifty cubits its length, and the breadth five 22and twenty cubits. And its windows and its wall-projections and its palms were after the measure of the gate that is towards the east, and they shall ascend [one goes up on them] by seven steps, and its wall-projections are before them. 23And [there was] a gate to the inner court opposite that to the north and to the 24east; and he measured from gate to gate a hundred cubits. And he brought me towards the south, and behold a gate towards the south, and he measured its pillars and its wall-projections by those measures. 25And there were windows to it and to its wall-projections round about, like those windows; fifty cubits the length, and the breadth five and twenty cubits. And its ascent had seven steps, and its wall-projections before them; 26and there were palms to it, one on this side and one on that at its pillars. 27And there was a gate to the inner court towards the south, and he measured from that gate to the gate towards the south, a hundred cubits. 28And he brought me to the inner court into the south gate [through the south gate], and he measured the south gate after 29those measures; And its chambers and its pillars and its wall-projections after those measures. And its windows [were] to it and to its wall-projections round about; fifty cubits the length, and the breadth five and twenty cubits. 30And wall-projections round about, the length five and twenty cubits, and the 31breadth five cubits. And its wall-projections were towards the outer court; and palms on its pillars, and eight steps [were] its steps. 32And he brought me to the inner court towards the east, and measured the gate after those measures; 33And its chambers and its pillars and its wall-projections after those measures. And [there were] windows to it and to its wall-projections round 34about; fifty cubits the length, and the breadth five and twenty cubits. And its wall-projections [were] towards the outer court, and palms on its pillars on this side and on that, and its steps eight steps. 35And he brought me to the 36north gate, and measured after those measures; Its chambers, its pillars, and its wall-projections and windows [were] round about, fifty cubits the length, 37and the breadth five and twenty cubits. And its pillars were towards the outer court, and palms on its pillars on this side and on that, and its steps 38eight steps. And a cell and its opening was by the pillars at the gates; there shall they wash the burnt-offering. 39And in the porch of the gate were two tables on this side and two tables on that side, to slay in relation to them [or, on them] the burnt-offering and the sin-offering and the trespass-offering. 40And at the side without for him that goeth up, at the extreme of the gate towards the north, were two tables; and at the other side, which [belongeth] to 41the porch of the gate, two tables. Four tables on this side and four tables on that, by the side of the gate; eight tables, on them will they slaughter. 42And four tables at the ascent [for the burnt-offering] of hewn stone, the length a cubit and a half, and the breadth a cubit and a half, and the height one cubit; on them will they lay the instruments with which they will slay the burnt-offering 43and the slain-offering. And the double staples of a handbreadth were fastened on the house round and round [on the wails around the temple]; and on the 44tables is the flesh of the offering. And outside at the inner gate were cells for the singers in the inner court which was at the side of the north gate, and their front towards the south; a part at the side of the east gate, fronting towards the north. 45And he said to me, This cell, whose front is towards the south, Isaiah 46:0 for the priests that wait upon the charge [service] of the house; And the cell whose front is towards the north, for the priests that wait upon the charge of the altars; these are the sons of Zadok, who of the sons of Levi draw near to 47Jehovah to minister to Him. And he measured the court; the length a hundred cubits and the breadth a hundred cubits, forming a square; and the altar was before the house. 48And he brought me to the porch of the house, and measured the pillar of the porch, five cubits on this side and five cubits on that; and the breadth of the gate, three cubits on this side and three cubits on that. 49The length of the porch was twenty cubits, and the breadth eleven cubits, and [that] at the steps by which they will go up to it; and there were posts by the pillars, one on this side and one on that.

Ezekiel 40:1. Sept.: Κ. ἐγενετο … ἐν τ. πρωτω μηνι omittunt שָׁמָּה et Ezekiel 5:2 הֱבִיאַנִי.

Ezekiel 40:2. ἐν ὁρασει θ. … ἀπεναντι.

Ezekiel 40:3. ... χαλκου στιλβοντος … σπαρτιον οἱκοδομων κ.—Sept., Vulg.: leg. bis ἐν τη χειρι αὐτου.

Ezekiel 40:4. Sept.: interrogativè ἑωρακας συ; ἰδε ... κ. ταξον εἰς τ. καρδιαν σ. παντα … και δειξεις παντα—

Ezekiel 40:5. ... περιβολος … διεμετρησεν το προτειχισμα—Vulg.: … sex cubitorum et palmo

Ezekiel 40:6. … εἰσηλθεν εἰς … ἐν ἑπτκ�.. διεμετρησεν θεε ἑξἐνθεν κ. το αἰλαμ τ. πυλης ἰσον τω καλαμω.

Ezekiel 40:7. … κ. το αἰλαμ�. το θεε το δευτερον ἰσον τ. καλαμω το πλκτος κ. ἰσον τ. καλαμω μηκκος; κ. το αἰλαμ πηχεων πεντε κ. τ. θεε τ. τριτον ἰσον τ. καλαμω τ. μηκος κ. ἰσος τ. καλ. τ. πλατος, κ. τ. αἱλαμ τ. συλωνος (8) πλησιον του αἰλαμ τ πυλης ἐσωθεν ἰσον τ. καλαμω. Vulg.: … portæ juxta vestibulum.

Ezekiel 40:8. Vulg.: portæ intrinsecus calamo uno. (The verse is wanting in the Sept., in the Vulg., in the Syriac version, and in many manuscripts.)

Ezekiel 40:9. ... Κ. το αἰλευ … κ. τ. αἰλαμ τ. πυλης ἐσωθεν, Vulg.: … et frontem ejus duobus cubitis, vestibulum autem portæ erat intrinsecus.

Ezekiel 40:10. ... θεε κατεναντι … κ. μετρον ἑν ἐν τ. αἰλαμ ἐνθεν κ. ἐνθεν. Vulg.: … mensura una frontium ex utra-que parte.

Ezekiel 40:12. Κ. πηχυς ἐπισυναγομενς κατα προσωπον τ. θεειμ πηχεος ἑνος κ. πηχ. ἑνος, ὁριον ἐνθεν,—Vulg.: … et marginem ante … cubiti unius, et cubitus unus finis utrimque

Ezekiel 40:14. κ. το αἰθριον του αἰλαμ τ. πυλης ἐξωθεν πηχεις εἰκοσι πεντε κ. το θεεμ τ. πυλης κυκλω. Vulg.: … fecit frontes … et ad frontem atrium portæ undique per circuitum.

Ezekiel 40:15. Κ. το αἰθριον τ. πυλης ἐξωθεν εἰς τ. αἰθριον του αἰλαμ τ. πυλης ἐσωθεν—Vulg.: et ante faciem portæ quæ pertingebat usque ad faciem vestibuli portæ interioris

Ezekiel 40:16. Sept.: Κ. θυριδες κρυπται ἐπι τα θεειμ κ. ἐπι τκ αἰλαμ ἐσωθεν της αὐλης … κ. ὁσαυτως τοις αἰλαμ θυριδες—fenestras obliquas in thalamus et in frontibus eorum, quæ erant intra portam undique per circuitum … et in vestibulis

Ezekiel 40:17. ... εἰσηγκγεν … εἰς … παστοφορια κ. περιστυλα—Vulg.: … gazophylacia … in circuitu pavimenti.

Ezekiel 40:18. Κ. αἱ στοαι—in fronte portarum secundum

Ezekiel 40:19. ... ἐσωθεν ἐπι τ. αἰθριον τ. πυλης βλεπουσης ἐξω, κηχ. ἑκατον τ. βλεπουσης κατʼ ἀνατολας. Κ. εἰσηγαγεν με ἐπι βορραν (20) κ. ἰδου πυλη βλεπουσα προς βορραν—

Ezekiel 40:22. … κ. τα αἰλαμμων ἐσωθεν.—

Ezekiel 40:24. … κ. τα θεε κ. τα αἰλευ κ. τα αἰλαμμωθ—

Ezekiel 40:25. … καθως αἱ θυιδες του αἰλαμ—

Ezekiel 40:26. … αἰλαμμωθ ἐσωθεν—

Ezekiel 40:27. … κ. το εὐρος προς νοτον πηχεις εἰκοσι κεντε.

Ezekiel 40:32. … με εἰς τ. πυλην … αὐτην—

Ezekiel 40:33. Vulg.: thalamum ejus et frontem ej. et vestibulum ejus

Ezekiel 40:36. … θυριδες αὐτω κυκλω, κ. τα αἰλαμμωθ αὐτης κυκλω, πηχεις—

Ezekiel 40:37. Vulg.: Et vestibulum ejus respiciebat … et cælatura palmarum in fronte

Ezekiel 40:38. Τα παστοφορια αὐτης κ. τα θυρωματα αὐτης κ. τα αἰλαμμωθ αὐτης ἐπι τ. πυλης τ. δευτερας ἐκρυσις· ἐκει πλυνουσιν—Vulg.: Et per singula gazophylacia ostium in frontibus portarum; ibi

Ezekiel 40:40. Sept.: Κ. κατα νωτου του ῥυακος τ. ὁλοκαυτωματων τ. θυρας βλεπουσης προς … προς�. δευτερας κ. του αἰλαμ … κ. ὀκτω τραπεζαι κατʼ ἀνατολας. Vulg.: … latus … quod ascendit … portæ, quæ … ante vestibulum portæ

Ezekiel 40:41. … ἐπʼ αὐτας … τα θυματα, κατεναντι των ὀκτω τρακεζων των θυματων. Vulg.: … per latera portæ octo mensæ erant

Ezekiel 40:42. … των ὁλοκαυτωματων λιθιναι, λελαξευμεναι—

Ezekiel 40:43. ... Κ. παλαιστην ἑξουσιν γεισος λελαξευμενον ἐσωθεν κυκλω, κ. ἐπι … ἐπανωθεν στεγας του καλυπτεσθαι�. ἀπο της ξηρασιας. Vulg.: Et labia earum … reflexa intrinsecus per circuitum

Ezekiel 40:44. Κ. εἰσηγαγεν με εἰς τ. αὐλην· τ. ἐσωτεραν, κ. ἰδου δυο ἐξεδραι ἐν τ. αὐλη τ. ἐσωτερα, μια κατα νωτου τ. πυλησ τ. βλεπουσης προς βορραν φερουσα προς νοτον, κ. μια κατα νωτου τ. πυλης της προς νοτον, βλεπουσης δε προς βορραν. Vulg.: … una ex latere portæ orientalis

Ezekiel 40:48. … πεντε το πλατος ἐνθε κ. … πεντε ἐνθεν, κ. το εὐρος … πηχεων δεκατεσσαρων, κ. ἐπωμιδες τ. θυρας του αἰλαμ πηχεων τριων ἐνθεν—Vulg.: … mensus est vestibulum quinque

Ezekiel 40:49. ... το εὐρος πηχεις δωδεκα, κ. ἐπι δεκα�—Vulg.: … et octo gradibus ascendebatur … erant in frontibus, una hinc


Literature.—In addition to Böttcher’s treatise, already mentioned in the Introduction, p. 30, we have to mention: Thenius, Proben altt. Schrifterkl, nach wissensch. Sprachforschung, Leipzig 1833; Balmer-Rinck, Des Propheten Ezechiel Ansicht vom Tempel, Ludwigsburg 1858. Of the older authors: Vitringa, Aanleydinge tot het rechte Verstant, etc., and his defence against Cocceius, the son (Naeder Ondersoeck van het rechte Verstant van den Tempel Ezechiels); Sturm, Sciagraphia Templi, etc., Leipzig 1694; and a little earlier: Villalpandus (p. 29); and, in a ponderous monograph, Matth. Hafenreffer, Templ. Ez., Tübing. 1613.—Great diligence and acute combination distinguish Kliefoth, whose second part treats entirely of the following chapters in 390 pages.—Oeder, in his Freye Untersuch. über einige BB. des Alten Testaments, Halle 1771, and L. Vogel, the editor of this treatise, and Corrodi also in the anonymous treatise, Beleuchtung d. jüd. und chr. Bibel-kanons, have criticised away the following nine chapters from our prophet, and capriciously attributed them to a Samaritan or a very late returned Jew; for what they have adduced upon “grounds” has been already refuted by J. D. Michaelis, Eichhorn, Bertholdt, and Jahn.

Ezekiel 40:1-4. Exordium—Introductory

As in Ezekiel 1:0, with which the divine mission of our prophet opens, so also in Ezekiel 40:0 here, an exordium, stating the point of time, the condition of Ezekiel, the locality, as well as the first and immediate view which he got, introduces us to what follows.

Ezekiel 40:1. By the first date given: in the five and twentieth year of our (Introd. § 3) captivity, the reference back to Ezekiel 1:0 (comp. Ezekiel 40:2) is still more express. According to Bunsen and Duncker, 573 b.c. According to Schmieder, 574. According to Hitzig, 575. As to sense and meaning, this reference back to Ezekiel 1:0 implies on the one hand, that the glory of Jehovah solemnizes its consummation in the glory of His kingdom (Introd. § 5), and on the other, that the divine mission of Ezekiel has now come to the close which befits its commencement. Ezekiel’s prophecy, Ezekiel 29:17 sq., is chronologically his last (comp. on it). “The prophet has introduced it as an appendix to an earlier prophecy, in order to conclude with this great vision of restoration, in contrast to the great opening vision of destruction” (Hengst.). According to J. H. Michaelis, we have to remember in regard to the twenty-fifth year in Ezekiel here, that the Babylonish captivity of the Jews began in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, when Daniel and his companions were carried away, so that there were in all thirty-two years of exile to take into account.—Hitzig interprets הַשָּׁנָה בְּרֹאשׁ in the sense of “new year,” and regards the phrase: on the tenth of the month, as explanatory, since he (as also Jewish tradition) takes it to be a year of jubilee (Leviticus 25:9). The previous year must have been a sabbatic year: such a year ended in the autumn of 575, and may have been a 49th year. The significant element in this coincidence (on a day of atonement commencing a year of jubilee) would, moreover, still continue even if we should not be able, like Kliefoth, to speak of an “absolutely eschatological vision.” Rdak observes: “God let the prophet see the temple and the future freedom of Israel on the day of jubilee, because then servants become free, and on the day of atonement, because then the sins of Israel are forgiven.” If what is intended is the beginning of the civil year and the month Tisri, then, in order to that, this much later alteration of the beginning of the Hebrew year—the old Mosaic reckoning constantly prevails still in the post-exile Old Testament writings—must be proved to have been already in practice in Ezekiel’s time; to say nothing of the fact that such a departure from the law in our prophet, with his specially priestly and other peculiarities of mind and spirit, is scarcely suitable, at least without more definite indication, even to the character of our chapter. For this reason Hävernick, with the majority of expositors, holds to the commencement of the ecclesiastical year, and thus to the month Nisan, making the phrase: רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה, not found elsewhere in the Old Testament, look back to Exodus 12:2 as a brief mode of expression for the full form there, and connecting the mention of the tenth day directly with Exodus 12:3 (on which day the lambs for the passover were set apart, Schmieder). “It is the period when the preparation begins for the solemnization of the feast of the passover. To the prophet, inspired by the Spirit of God, the future shapes itself as the consummated glorification of the past, of the first history of development of the people of God” (Häv.). “The month did not need to be stated more exactly; from the words: In the beginning of the year, it was self-evident that the first month only could be intended. That the day is significant for the thing is confirmed by the emphatic form: On the selfsame day. On the day when of old the passover was instituted in Egypt, and the people were brought as it were into the sacred precincts of the approaching redemption, the day on which the coming sealing afresh of God’s redeeming grace had thus for centuries been solemnly announced, along with the increased pain just on account of the cessation of these festivals, hope also must have arisen more strongly than at any other time, since God had given in the redemption of the olden time a pledge to His people. The day occurs elsewhere also as significant, e.g. the leading across Jordan, Joshua 4:19, etc. On the same day was the entrance of Christ into Jerusalem, the inauguration of His kingdom. The day was thus as significant here as the day of His resurrection in Revelation 1:10. How even in later times the popular hope of deliverance was connected with the passover appears from the release at the feast of a prisoner, who, in the eyes of the Jews, represented the people enslaved by the Romans” (Hengst.). Next to the captivity, the circumstance that the city was smitten, which points back to Ezekiel 33:21, forms the second element in fixing the date. It is a verbal reference to prepare us for understanding how the renewed divine mission of the prophet, in view of that accomplished act of judgment, would now, for the first time, fully open his mouth for the prophecy of God’s compassions on His people. At all events, the capture of Jerusalem was the consummation of the misery of the Old Testament covenant-people, but with it was presented also the exactly corresponding background for the consummation of Jehovah’s glory in His kingdom in the world. And so, in this respect also, Ezekiel cannot, in conformity with his continuous mission as prophet of Jehovah’s glory in the exile, withdraw more fully from the theatre of his activity. What the prophet had been obliged to announce regarding the wrath and judgment of God on Israel throughout Ezekiel 2-24, has been all fulfilled,—God has made a tabula rasa; but the strictly fulfilled threatening presents itself also as guarantee for the realization of the promise already wrapt up in it, which, in the transition portion of our book (Ezekiel 25-32, see Introd. § 5), prepared for itself a background in the kingdoms of this world, in order with Ezekiel 33:0 to set forth in prospect with increasing clearness and energy the purification, sanctification, restoration, and final victory of the new Israel, the Israel after the Spirit, over the world. What had been there prophesied in isolated instances of the future salvation becomes now collected into a united whole, so that to all, appearance, as if a separate book by itself began with Ezekiel 40:0, our opening verses only confirm more expressly that which already results from a reconsideration of the previous chapters. “Even in the first prophecy, in the rainbow which surrounds the appearance of the offended Deity,” says Hengstenberg, “lies the germ of this last prophecy;” and Hitzig says: “Not only Ezekiel 33-39, the previous section” (to which specially our prophecy forms the conclusion), “but Ezekiel’s prophecy in general, advances here also to internal completion.”—In the selfsame day; comp. Ezekiel 24:2.—Comp. Ezekiel 1:3; Ezekiel 33:22; Ezekiel 37:1. “Not merely a divine word, but he shall experience something” (Klief.).—Not directly, but certainly indirectly, there is also a reference to Ezekiel 8:0. sq.; for although thither is explained from what precedes as the site of the smitten city, yet Jerusalem comes immediately—just as in Ezekiel 8:0. sq.—into consideration principally as regards the temple. [Hävernick finds in the thither the direction of the longing expressed.]

Ezekiel 40:2. In visions of God; comp. on Ezekiel 1:1. The state of Ezekiel.—Ezekiel 37:1.—Now comes the locality of the vision,—in general: the land of Israel, and then, in what follows, the first and immediate view in particular. Against Kliefoth’s observation, correct in itself, that אֶל and עַל stand for each other in Ezekiel, we remark that here, however, occurring as they do close together, they can hardly be otherwise than distinct. Ezekiel is, in the Spirit, set down at all events at the foot or the side of a mountain, which to him, looking up in vision, appears very high. Had Ezekiel been “upon” it, he could have spoken more fitly of its size or breadth than of its height. First of all, the mountain, since it has to be taken in contrast with the smitten city, refers neither to Moriah nor Zion in particular, but symbolizes generally the loftily situated Jerusalem (comp. Ezekiel 17:22-23); but that it appears very high points, above all, to a glorious restoration, and indicates spiritual elevation, for which comp. Isaiah 2:2 (where the exaltation is immediately explained from the consciousness, the religious movement of the nations, and as no merely outward one); Zechariah 14:9-10; Zechariah 14:16; Micah 4:1 (Revelation 21:10). This establishes in the outset the ideality of the further views vouchsafed to Ezekiel. Where the first vision (Ezekiel 1:0.) “exhibits in prospect anger and judgment,” the last exhibits in prospect “the healing of the wounds.” There the prophet went against the dream of a God gracious to (self-righteous) sinners, and an immediately approaching future of salvation; here at the end, after that announcement has been made, he deals a last powerful blow against the second dangerous enemy of God’s people, that has now come into the foreground,—the despair, which as effectually as the former false security leads away from treading the God ordained path of repentance” (Hengst.). That, however, which is made prominent for Jerusalem in general, and described as a city-like building, is, according to what follows, the temple. [Hävernick makes the prophet see from the mount of the temple, as the building in the south, the New Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22), situated south of the mountain where the prophet stood, and consequently makes sanctuary and city to be at once announced as the two (?) main parts of the vision. According to Abarbanel, Ezekiel saw even the builders in the south building the city. Hengstenberg finds in עִיר the substitute for the smitten city (Ezekiel 40:1), and the temple here, as also in Hebrews 12:0, included in the city in the wider sense. The reverse is the correct view, as even Hengstenberg himself goes on to call the temple “the proper essence of the city,” “the spiritual dwelling-place of the whole people.” His reference to Ezekiel 8:0. concerning the central position of the temple is good.] Apart from the fact, observed also by Keil against Kliefoth, that the city is not thus described in Ezekiel 45:6; Ezekiel 48:15 sq., 30 sq., everything is made clear by the distinction between אֶל and עַל; to the prophet set down at the mountain, from Babylon, and hence coming from the north, the building on the mountain appears מִנֶּגֶב, that is, looking from the south (as in Ezekiel 21:2 sq., Judea in general), which the ἀπεναντι of the Sept. (מִנֶּגֶד) renders quite correctly.

Ezekiel 40:3. And He brought, etc. Resumption from Ezekiel 40:1, after that the parenthesis Ezekiel 40:2 has treated of the locality in general, and the first immediate view in particular. Now comes the vision proper: And behold. The description: a man, the less excludes the angel of the Lord, the known mediator of divine revelations, whom even Hitzig accepts here, “since He is called ‘Jehovah’ in Ezekiel 44:2; Ezekiel 44:5,” as the comparison of his appearance: as the appearance of brass (see on Ezekiel 1:5), seems to point to Ezekiel 1:0. (Ezekiel 40:7), and the line of flax to Ezekiel 9:2, Comp. generally what has been said on Ezekiel 9:2; also Zechariah 2:1 sq. (Matthew 16:18; Hebrews 11:16). The brass suggests to Hengstenberg: “solidity, durability, power of resistance,” which is so comforting to the Church of God, because its earthly representatives rather resemble soft wax. Hitzig, like the Sept., makes it denote a “brilliant appearance;” Kliefoth: “an ordinary angelus interpres” (Revelation 21:9). The brass not only removes the appearance from the human sphere, but also gives in the outset an idea of firmness, hence certainty, for everything which it will determine. For that the man has to measure is shown by his equipment, as that in its completeness denotes, according to Hengstenberg: “building activity in general, in contrast to the instruments of destruction (Ezekiel 9:1);” according to Hävernick (Böttcher), that it is: “for the greater and the lesser measurements,—the line of flax more for the site; the measuring rod more for the masonry;” according to Klief.: “that he has much to measure of various descriptions.” Hengst., referring to Revelation 21:15, calls attention to the measuring rod as distinguished from a line of flax.—He stood in the (at the) gate. Hitzig, correctly: “waiting for the new-comer.” Which gate, namely, of that which looked as a city-like building (Ezekiel 40:2), therefore which temple-gate it was, is not particularized here. But as Ezekiel comes from the north, the first that met him was probably the north gate, from which the man escorts him to the east gate (Ezekiel 40:6).

Ezekiel 40:4. The supposition is (Ezekiel 40:2), that the building is already erected; hence: behold with thine eyes. That he should “hear with his ears” gives promise of oral explanation also, as, for example, Ezekiel 40:45 sq. But because the expression of the building as to its proportions will be made known to the prophet specially by measuring, Ezekiel has “to apply his heart to all” that he will in this way obtain a sight of (all that I show thee), for through him Israel is to obtain knowledge of it (comp. Exodus 25:9).

Ezekiel 40:5. The Enclosing Wall.

As חוֹמָה (“checking,” “keeping off”), the wall is a barrier against what might come from without (מִחוּץ). It runs right round the house, and will thus in relation to it, that is, to the temple generally, symbolize the warding off of the profane, the unclean, the false; and not so much protection. Comp. Ezekiel 42:20, and Psalms 15:0. The height, at least, to be mentioned immediately, is nothing particular in the way of protection. [Häv.: “In the former sanctuary such an enclosing wall appeared more arbitrary, a construction called forth by external circumstances. Here the wall is an essential constituent part. The Babylonian temples, too, had their surrounding walls, but here is certainly a contrast to the colossal structures of the Babylonians. The wall on the east side in the later temple, begun by Solomon, was 300 cubits high at the lowest parts.”] [The wall “bears the square form, as broad as it is high; but this being only twelve feet at the utmost, it was manifestly not designed to present, by its altitude, an imposing aspect, or by its strength to constitute a bulwark of safety. In these respects it could not for a moment be compared with many of the moral erections which existed in antiquity. But as the boundary-line between the sacred and the profane, which, being drawn by the hand of God, must therefore remain free from all interference on the part of man, it is precisely such as might have been expected.”—Fairbairn’s Ezekiel.—W. F.] But the measuring begins with it, and so the measuring rod is here fixed at 6 cubits—the cubit, however, with the addition of a handbreadth (Ezekiel 43:13), hence 6 cubits and 6 handbreadths = 1 rod. The measure is accordingly greater than that of the usual rod of 6 cubits. Comp. 2 Chronicles 3:3, and Deuteronomy 3:11. A cubit measure found in the ruins of Memphis shows both measures, one of 6 and one of 7 handbreadths. See a lengthened disquisition on Jewish measurement by J. D. Michaelis on our passage, p. 112 sq. [Hengst.: In the case of Solomon’s temple the former cubit, because then current, was the measure, hence it was the more needful to give the relation of the one to the other here. The greater cubit, which meets us first in Ezekiel, was probably borrowed in the exile from the Chaldeans. Keil assumes a shortening of the common cubit from the old Mosaic sacred cubit, which, he says, still formed the measure for Solomon’s temple, and will do so for the new temple likewise.] From this statement of a greater measure, we may presume that what is to be measured is uncommon, magnificent, surpassing that which actually exists.—Inasmuch as by measuring the dimension is made known as distinguished from the mere mass, we may say with Bähr that law and proportion, hence order, consequently the spiritual, the divine ideality, are displayed. This is what is expressed generally in the numbers occurring here. But the very preponderance of the number six, in itself non-significant, forbids us to attach to them special significance. In this respect, also, Hengstenberg’s observation, that in order to get the significant number seven, it is necessary to revert to the cubit, which after the prophet’s explanation no longer comes into consideration, tells against Kliefoth. Moreover, מָדַד comes from “extending,” and serves here rather to elucidate in detail to the prophet that which he beholds as already completed work.—הַבִּנְיָן is the mason-work of the wall, the equality of which in breadth and height corresponds strikingly to the purpose assigned to it—to separate.

Ezekiel 40:6-16. The East Gate

After the wall now follows in Ezekiel 40:6 the most noteworthy part of it, the gates, of which, as being “the chief,” as Hengstenberg supposes (“because of the rising sun”), the east gate is described. It lay opposite the entrance into the sanctuary, and hence was the one among the gates which could first come into consideration with reference to the house in the narrower sense, in respect to which it is also several times expressly defined in what follows. On the significance of the gates of Ezekiel’s temple, comp. the Doctrinal Reflections on Ezekiel 40-46. The steps, seven in number, according to Ezekiel 40:22; Ezekiel 40:26 (Sept.), are the first thing observed about the gate. Since the man arrives at it by them, they can hardly be conceived of otherwise than as before, and not running into the gate; they show, moreover, that the court to which the east gate leads lies higher by these seven steps. Thus the ascent, an exaltation (Colossians 3:0.), is conjoined with the separating character of the wall.—םַף is a border or panel on the ground at the entrance, thus threshold; nothing can be made of “projecting lower cornice” (Hitzig). As the threshold enters into the gate a rod-breadth, which is the breadth of the wall, it fills up exactly the opening made by the gate in the wall.—וְאֵת םף אֶחָד explains the threshold measured as “one” (Häv.: only one, because so broad), that is, for the present, for a second follows in addition, Ezekiel 40:7; hence אֶחָד, in the sense of “first.”

Ezekiel 40:7. וְהַתָּא placed here, at the entrance into the gate, so simply as to explain itself, is the chamber which is wont to be in this place, the guardroom for the gate-watch (Ezekiel 44:11). “An arrangement dating from David and Solomon; a sacred temple-guard was appointed to surround it” (Häv.). [Fairbairn: “Furnished, as the gates were, so amply with guard-chambers for those who should be charged with maintaining the sanctity of the house (Ezekiel 44:11; Ezekiel 44:14), they were formed more especially with a view to the holiness, which must be the all-pervading characteristic of the place. It was imprinting on the architecture of this portion of the buildings the solemn truth, ‘that there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither worketh abomination, or maketh a lie’ (Revelation 21:27),—a truth which, in past times, partly from defective arrangements, partly from the wilful disregard of such as existed, had been most grievously suffered to fall into abeyance. But henceforth it must be made known to all that holiness becometh God’s house, and that they only who possess this shall be allowed to come and minister before Him.”—W. F.] Since the gate extends from the wall into the court, and Ezekiel has first to pass through to the end, the first thing determined is as to the guardroom, of which, moreover, there were several (הַתָּאִים),—the “length” (from east to west), and with that also the breadth, and in this way the form, that of a square.—It is to be understood that the intervening spaces also (the distances from chamber to chamber) were measured as they went onward, and thus made clear to the prophet.—The conclusion is formed by the threshold of the gate, which, in distinction from the entrance one (Ezekiel 40:6) of the same dimension, is named from the porch (אוּלָם or אֻלָם is vestibule or portico, often with pillars), into which the whole gate-building runs out, as the porch and thereby this threshold is fixed with respect to the temple, that is, westward. אֵצֶל indicates that this threshold lay close to the porch, adjoined it.

Ezekiel 40:8. The porch, because it opens the way to the court, is a principal part of the gate, hence its lengthened description. The Sept. and Hitzig erase this verse on account of the dimension being different from that given in Ezekiel 40:9. Kliefoth finds given in Ezekiel 40:8 the size of the porch in the light, the width of its inner space from east to west, namely, 6 cubits of Ezekiel’s measure (Ezekiel 40:5). The width was naturally the same as that of the gate. Consequently the measurement given in Ezekiel 40:9 would be that of the porch in the wider sense, including the projecting side-walls upon it (2 cubits) and the אֵילִים fronting each other (Ezekiel 40:10), and each 2 cubits thick. אַיִל, mostly plural, signifies that which is “firm,” “strong,” which can be a prop, can afford support. The signification of the verb אוּל, “to be in front,” accepted by Kliefoth, is the derived one. The “Elim” (אֵילִים) undoubtedly project, as observed, but in reality they are pillar-like props attached to the walls, to form sides and supports for doors and windows. And the porch, etc., forming a conclusion; in connection with which Kliefoth directs attention to the מֵהַבַּיִת, repeated for the third time, as marking the difference from the gates of the inner court (Ezekiel 40:31; Ezekiel 40:34; Ezekiel 40:37).

Ezekiel 40:10. A return to the “guardrooms of the east gate” (Ezekiel 40:7). They are six in number, three on one side fronting three on the other, and all of the same size. [Kliefoth: 2 × 3 watches at each of the three outer gates, and the same at the three inner gates, in all 3 × 12; “for God Himself will be the proper Guardian and Protector of this sanctuary of His people.”]—The one measure spoken of the אֵילִים on this occasion seems to refer to those mentioned in Ezekiel 40:9. Klief.: “the gate-pillars of the porch.” [Hengstenberg supposes “pillars” one cubit thick, as in Ezekiel 40:9 (?), standing in front of the walls at both sides of the guardrooms; others otherwise.]

Ezekiel 40:11. The opening of the gate is its entire width, and along with the statement of its breadth there is given at the same time the still undetermined length of the two thresholds and the steps.—In distinction from the width, הַשַּׁעַר (from שָׁעַר, to make fast, to close, and so meaning literally: “closed place” [Schloss]—cognate to םֹהַר) as such signifies the ward, wherefore the gate too is very suitably treated of here in the midst of the more exact description of the guardrooms (Ezekiel 40:10; Ezekiel 40:12). (Comp. Ezekiel 44:1 sq.) Viewed with respect to its opening, it opens the way to the court; as a gate it is a silent but stedfast guardian (comp. on Ezekiel 40:48).—As every other interpretation hitherto attempted leads only to quite uncertain suppositions not contained in the text (roofed and open spaces, courtyards, and the like), the length of 13 cubits here must mean the height. In itself, אֹרֶך signifies: what is extended in time and space, hence: what is long. When the breadth has been given already, the extension of the gate-barricade proper (the door) can scarcely be conceived of otherwise than in height (comp. on Ezekiel 40:15), and the guardrooms supply all that is requisite to fix the length here. Length, therefore, does not in general stand for height; neither does the special application need to be explained from the circumstance that the door was lying when measured. [“To the last number of perfection, ten (δεκα, implying that it takes into it the other numbers), is added the first number of perfection, three,” Hengst.]

Ezekiel 40:12. In unison with the shutting character of the gate, the idea of the guardrooms is completed by the barrier (גְבוּל) of one cubit in breadth before each of them. As is evident from what follows, a מִפֹּה has to be supplied between אַמָּה אֶחָת and וְאַמָּה־אַחַת. [Klief.: “And the barrier on this side was a cubit, but the guardroom was 6 cubits on this side and 6 cubits on that,” that is to say: the guardroom formed a square of 6 cubits each side; but the barrier-space formed an oblong of 6 cubits in length before the guardroom, and 1 cubit in breadth; and the barrier-space was not taken from the space of the guardroom, which on the contrary remained a square of 6 cubits, but joined on before the guardroom.] The statement that that which was guardroom (הַתָּא, collective, generic) occupied 6 cubits on either side, is here understood of the length, and hence is neither formally nor virtually (as Keil) a repetition of Ezekiel 40:7, but is made expressly for giving a clear notion of the barriers, namely, how they ran along the entire length of each guardroom. From this it follows that these guardrooms are niche-like cells, opening into the gate, and hence closed in by the barriers, and that when one cubit on each side is taken from the 10 cubits (Ezekiel 40:11), the passage leading through is limited to 8 cubits. The barrier is hardly constructed in order that the watchman “stepping out may look around right and left, and while doing so be protected against the too near approach of the people, and hindrance by them” (Hitzig); it lessens the available space in the thoroughfare, and thereby facilitates the control on both sides, and it protects the guardroom, which without it would stand entirely open, from those who wished to press into the court in this way through the doors to be mentioned immediately. [Hengst.: “The arrangement supposes that there are impudent people among the entrants who wished to force an entrance not allowed to them; comp. Luke 13:24.”]

Ezekiel 40:13. The entire breadth of the gate-buildings: 25 cubits, measured from the guardroom (הַתָּא, as Ezekiel 40:12), as this is what has just been spoken of, and the guardrooms represent the greatest breadth. Thus guardroom opposite guardroom, from roof to roof, from north to south, or vice versâ, so that the whole breadth comes out. The explanation: פֶּתַח נֶֹגֶד פָּתַח, indicates an opening of the guardrooms out towards the court, for the barriers close them up towards the interior of the gate. This at the same time explains to us the measuring; for since there is only a barrier closing up on either side, there is a free view on both sides into the respective guardrooms to their openings (under the end of each roof) into the court, so the man needs not go out (as Klief.) to determine the measure; moreover, And he measured will immediately (Ezekiel 40:14) pass over into: And he made! Accordingly, Ezekiel 40:7 gave only the dimensions of the interior of the guardrooms in the light, whereas now the space of the outside walls (1½ cubits each, according to Ezekiel 40:42) is included. [Hitzig: נָּג is not the cover of a chamber, but its ridge = גַּב.] The barriers may be imagined as situated in the gateway, but also as in the guardrooms, of course without lessening their space. The object of the barriers recommends the first view.—In order to give the entire extension of the gate-buildings in this direction, we have in Ezekiel 40:14 the statement of the height of the אֵילִים, the two wall-pillars (Ezekiel 40:9) adjoining the porch. From their height as stated, Kliefoth explains the change of expression. [Hengst.: “The usual height of the gate-building might be gathered from the height of the gate-door, Ezekiel 40:11.”] That it is the length (height) of the gate-structure which is meant to be determined is shown by the description of these pillars. “They are as it were the head of the whole, that which the steeples are in our churches, towering up towards and pointing to heaven” (Hengst.). Kliefoth excellently observes: “They are 60 cubits high. If one had reflected that our church towers also have grown out of gate-pillars, that one can see not only by Egyptian obelisks and Turkish minarets, but also by our factory chimneys, which, moreover, are hollow, how pillars 60 cubits high can be erected on a base of 4 cubits square, and that finally the thing spoken of is a colossal building seen in vision, one would have felt no critical anxieties at this statement of height.” On: he made, Hangstenberg says: “The prophet goes back to the time when he who here explains the building to him prepared it. In reality the meaning is: he had made.”—וְאֶל־אַיִל collectively, and this the rather because the pillars are the highest parts of the gate-structure. It is quite clear from the description in Ezekiel 40:9 that the court (הֶחָצֵר) was immediately adjoining; an inner court is out of the question. Accordingly, הַשַּׁעַר must be accusative; in relation to the gate, as to the gate,—אֶל with אַיִל, in which the gate terminates in the court, precedes,—hence: the outer court of the temple surrounded the gate-structure round about, this structure was built in the court. When the relation to the court into which the gate extended has been thus considered, the entire length of the gate-structure can now

Ezekiel 40:15—be noted. For this purpose the gate on the side from which the measuring begins, that is, from the ascending steps of Ezekiel 40:6, is designated as הָאִיתוֹן, which word is only here in the Qeri (Kethibh: הַיְּאָתוֹן). Either adjective or substantive, it is derived from אָתָה, “to come,” and designates, as the point of departure, the entrance-gate to which one comes when one wishes to go to the temple. As the opposite standpoint, towards the court, פֶּתַח־השַּׁעַר, has been mentioned in Ezekiel 40:11, the special designation of the gate was so much the more in place.—Although for fixing the terminus ad quem, עַל־ will have to be taken as versus, “towards,” yet when, as here, it stands in conjunction with לִפְנֵי, it has not its full force. There lies in it something like: “upon,” “above,” which seeks to assert itself; for in Ezekiel 40:11 the height of the gate, and in Ezekiel 40:13 the roofing of the gate-chambers, and in Ezekiel 40:14 the summit of the entire gate-structure, came into consideration. [“From” and “to” are omitted, says Hengstenberg, because the relation is clear in itself.] The porch is known from Ezekiel 40:7 sq., and thereby, as from the contrast to הָיִאתוֹן, the “inner” gate, the gate leading into the court, and hence to the interior of the temple; especially when the east gate is vis à vis the sanctuary proper.—For this the man needs only step forward on the seventh step, look up, and, passing through the gate-buildings, calculate his starting-point: first threshold, 6 cubits; three guardrooms with two intervening spaces, 28 cubits; second threshold, 6 cubits; porch, 6 cubits; projection of the side and gate-pillars, 4 cubits = 50 cubits. This length is the double of the breadth. [“When the Psalmist calls upon the gates of the temple or of the holy city to lift themselves up, to widen themselves, at the entering in of the ark of the covenant (Psalms 24:0.), the idea which underlies this song is here symbolically embodied and expressed.”]

Ezekiel 40:16 appropriately closes the description with an explanation of the way in which the gate-structure was lighted; for it needs light for the inspection of the watchmen especially. Hence there were windows; first of all, in the guardrooms, namely, in their wall-pillars, by which they are distinguished from the אֵילִים in Ezekiel 40:10 (אֵלִים, written defectively). Pillars projecting from the wall enclosed the windows of the guardrooms. That these windows were closed (1 Kings 6:4) certainly does not mean that they were not to let the light pass through, but that they were only for light, and not to be opened for any other purpose; that they were windows meant “for a sacred purpose” (Häv.), and “not so much for looking through” (Hitzig). The being closed explains itself fully when we once consider that they, as also the doors of these chambers, led into the court, into which, therefore, no one was to press forward, either through the doors or by means of these windows, and then consider that their relation to the gateway given as within must put them on the same line with the other windows to be mentioned immediately, which came directly into the gateway, and had to be made “so” (כֵן). Although the windows of the guardrooms are for the use of the gate, yet the word within shows that the gate gets the light first of all from the guardrooms, which indeed are also open inward up to the barrier. But since the guardrooms on both sides of the gate come forward to the court, it can be said of their windows that they were round and round the gate, as was said of the court (Ezekiel 40:14) in relation to the gate. [Klief.: “In the inside of the gate - structure round about” (?).] For the purpose, however, of giving more light to the gate-structure, there were such windows לָאֵלַמּוֹת. Since nothing is nearer to the guardrooms than their partition-walls (Ezekiel 40:7), we will have to think, in the first place, of them. אֵילָם is etymologically connected with אֵילִים and with אוּלָם, but is, however, as Klief. has satisfactorily shown, distinct from both. The signification: “projecting part,” which Keil gives to the word, that is, what is on a solid wall for architectural ornament or necessity,—as for the windows in question, moulding, frieze, frame, and such like,—suits perfectly to the partition-walls with their windows, for these walls are, according to Ezekiel 40:30, to be taken here too as 5 cubits broad, and thus were a projection on the gate-structure. [Klief. translates: “porch walls.”] If, then, they projected likewise into the court on both sides, the “round and round” is as apposite and illustrative in respect to them as in respect to the guardrooms formerly. The carrying out of the parallel thus, the windows round and round, and the concluding expressly (inwards) with the lighting of the gateway, shows that that has been sufficiently cared for. [What Hengst. quotes from Balmer - Rinck about the pillars, by which “the windows are as it were latticed,” would have been more suitable had it been said that the Elim were on the windows, and not the reverse, as here.]—Kliefoth, however, understands by the “Elammoth” or “Elammim” not only “the parapets and walls filling up the spaces between the guardrooms, but also the sides of the porch and the sides adjoining the second threshold” as pierced through with windows. The observation also is perhaps correct, as the measuring (Ezekiel 40:13) from roof to roof of the guardrooms possibly shows already, that when the gate-structure thus has windows all over, it was roofed and covered. Since אַיִל in a collective sense may possibly include the just now mentioned “Elim” of the guardrooms, while in Ezekiel 40:9; Ezekiel 40:14, on the other hand, mention is specially made of the two high pillars at the porch, it will be a question whether we have, with Kliefoth, to imagine the whole of the “Elim” decorated with palm-leaf work. Hengst. (who insists on its “inseparable connection with the cherubim,” of which we may remark there is here no mention) makes the palms “indicate that the gate leads to a building consecrated to the Lord of creation; it corresponds to the merely introductory character of the gate that the creation is here represented not by the animal kingdom, but by the lower region of the vegetable kingdom, of which the palm is king.” Häv.: “By this symbol nothing else is meant to be impressed upon the temple than the stamp of the noblest and grandest prosperity.” More fully Bähr (see der Salom. Tempel, p. 120 sq.): “Since all fulness, riches, and glory of vegetable life is comprehended in the palm, it above all is adapted for the habitation of Jehovah, which is called a habitation of glory; it stands, therefore, parallel to the cherub, nothing vegetable can so announce the glory of the Creator. By it the habitation of Jehovah is indicated as a perpetually flourishing habitation, abiding in vigorous strength, concealing in itself the fulness of life; it becomes the place of salvation, life, peace, and joy, a paradise of God. But since the sanctification of Israel is the end and aim of Jehovah’s dwelling among them, these ideas are of an ethical character (Psalms 1:3; 52:10 [Psalms 52:8]; Jeremiah 17:8; Proverbs 11:28; Proverbs 11:30; Ezekiel 47:12; Revelation 22:2; particularly Psalms 92:13 [Psalms 92:12] sq.). The fact that the temple was adorned with these figures, while the tabernacle was destitute of them, has its ground in the Promised Land. Palestine is the native land of the palm, hence these armorial bearings and badges of the land and people of Israel on the coins of the age of the Maccabees, and on Phœnician coins, while on those of Titus we have a palm tree with Judœa capta. In Solomon’s temple, on the other hand, Judœa victrix had been represented, for the temple was at once the monument of Israel’s victory over its enemies and of Jehovah’s covenant faithfulness, and a pledge of the firm possession of the land (comp. Ezekiel 37:0). The palm, already pointing in this way to salvation, peace, joy, and rest, was very specially a symbol of that which had dawned for Israel with the period of the ‘house’ and its builder, the Prince of Peace. Thus there is a relation of Jehovah’s habitation to the land, and of the land to the sanctuary; both relations are bound up with each other in the palm. The place of Jehovah’s residence and revelation is a place of palms, thus the land of palms is a land of Jehovah’s residence and revelation, a heavenly land.” [Klief.: “The palm branches stand in close relation to the feast of tabernacles, and it is the eschatological signification of that feast which is designed to be stamped by this adorning with palms upon the edifice of the sanctuary” (?).] Comp. however, here, for the entrance into the temple of the New Jerusalem, the entry of the Messiah through the midst of palms, Matthew 21:8; Mark 11:8.

[Fairbairn: “Here also nothing was left to men’s caprice or corrupt fancies, as had been the case of old” in the outer court of Solomon’s temple. “A more perfect state of things was to be brought in; and even all in the outer court was to be regulated by God’s hand, and bear the impress of His holiness. This, too, must be hallowed ground, fashioned and ruled in all its parts after the perfect measure of the divine mind and the just requirements of His service; therefore such was evidently the practical result aimed at,—let not the ungodly and profane any longer presume to tread such courts (Isaiah 1:12), or desecrate them by the introduction of their own unwarranted inventions. Let all feel that in coming here they have to do with a God of purer eyes than to behold iniquity.”—W. F.]

Ezekiel 40:17-19. The Outer Court

It is necessary to pass over it to come to the other gates. Comp. Ezekiel 10:5.—לִשְׁכָּה is properly: “appendage,” and so.: annexed building or side-room; specially used for small chambers at the sides, which served for keeping utensils and provisions, for the residence of the priests, and also for sacrificial feasts (1 Samuel 9:22). Comp. Jeremiah 35:2. Hengst. describes well the use of the “Leshachoth:” a refuge from storm and rain, as the pavement preserved the feet from mud, but principally for rejoicing before the Lord, for the eating and drinking before Him (Deuteronomy 12:0; Luke 13:26), in which the necessitous also participated, the agapœ of the Old Covenant.—רִצְפָּה, a stone-covered floor, literally: what is “made firm,” pavement, stone-cover, like pavimentum, from pavire (παιω), to ram tight.—עָשׂוּי is particip. masc. sing., referring, according to Hengst., to the chambers and the stone pavement as a whole in a neuter sense; according to Kliefoth, only to the stone pavement, which is feminine; but, as Keil justly observes, his grounds for this are not cogent. That both the chambers and the pavement were made for the court round about, brings them near to the wall, and makes them run along it round about the court, except its west side. Thirty such chambers are easily divided into ten in each of the three possible directions, although in Ezekiel 40:18 only the stone pavement is expressly placed in relation to the three gates; for the “Leshachoth” are described as “beside” (not “upon”) the stone pavement; according to Hengst.: opening on it, meaning probably that they bounded the pavement. Since these chambers may be supposed spacious, each like an annexe by itself,—whence also it may be seen how they presented themselves singly to the eye for numbering,—they might, reaching, as they did, nearly from gate to gate, have been like a connection between these.

Ezekiel 40:18. As the chambers were אֶל־הָרִצְפָּה, so the stone pavement was אֶל־כֶּתֶף, by the “shoulder,” that is, side of the gates, for the gates of the outer court are already looked on collectively; and this אֶל־כֶּתֶף is more exactly explained by לְעֻמַּת אֹרֶךְ הַשְּׁעָרִים, meaning that the length of the gates fixed the breadth of the stone pavement. As the lower, it is to be distinguished from that situated higher, that is, the upper, inner court.

Ezekiel 40:19 measures the breadth of the outer court, starting from the east gate, the gate hitherto spoken of, and that, doubtless, from the front of its porch.—הַתַּחְתּוֹנָה refers neither to שַׁעַר nor to an omitted הֶחָצֵר, but simply to the stone pavement of the outer court, called in Ezekiel 40:18 הַתַּחְתּוֹנָה.—To the front, etc., this terminus ad quem is indicated by מִחוּץ in respect to the gates of the inner court, as they advance 50 cubits into the outer court; and here, in respect to the east gate of the inner court, to the front of the porch of this gate, where, accordingly, one stepped from without on to the inner court (Ezekiel 40:23; Ezekiel 40:27). The man neither measured into the inner court nor yet up to its wall. The מִחוּץ also, doubtless, belongs to the starting-point of the measuring,—100 cubits + 2 gate lengths of 50 = 200 cubits. The breviloquent expression: “the east and the north,” which latter points to what follows, would, when resolved, run as follows: Thus with respect to the east side, and the same with respect to the north side.

Ezekiel 40:20-23. The North Gate

The length and breadth, only mentioned as measured in Ezekiel 40:20, are in Ezekiel 40:21 determined after the measure of the gate. הָיָה refers, according to Keil, to the north gate (Ezekiel 40:20), but may be referred more exactly to the collectives אֵילָו‌֯ ,תָאָו֯, and אֵלַמִָּו֯: all that was, etc. In citing particulars, the porch and thresholds are omitted. The number of the guardrooms is again given with more exactitude.—בָּאַמָּה, strictly: measured “by the cubit.”—While brevity thus characterizes the repetition, with which the use of collectives harmonizes, Ezekiel 40:22 subjoins the number of the steps, applicable to the east gate also. In addition to the windows, the “Elammim” and the palms are again expressly mentioned, and what the אֵילַמִּים are is made plainer by their being indicated as before those who go up. לִפְנֵיהֶם refers, not to מַעֲלוֹת, but to יַעֲלוּ. The mention of the “Elammim” here, for the third time, is in order to supplement the description of the east gate, in which only those between the guardrooms had been thought of. Thus the entrance threshold, too, had “Elammim”; these, of course, being without windows, because filling the breadth of the wall (Ezekiel 40:6), but furnished with projecting cornices. It lay vis à vis level with the last step.

Ezekiel 40:23. Now that the parts opposite have been spoken of, the not hitherto observed relation of the gate (of the inner court) to the gate (of the outer court) is given with reference to the two gates described northward and eastward.

Ezekiel 40:24-27. The South Gate

Ezekiel 40:24. כַּמִּדּוֹת הָאֵלֶּה, by those measures which were observed on the east and north gates; and also of which the dimension had not been stated in definite numbers, but yet had its measured definite magnitude.—The guardrooms are not mentioned here.

Ezekiel 40:25. That the windows here are described as: like those windows, shows how the כְּמִדַּת regarding them in Ezekiel 40:22 is to be understood.—לוֹ, referring to the gate-structure, is prefixed in order to be able to give as briefly as is done the length and breadth of the gate.

Ezekiel 40:26. לִפְנֵיהֶם, to be understood from Ezekiel 40:22.—אֶל־אֵילָו‌֯ refers to the two pillars at the porch. Comp. on Ezekiel 40:16. Hengst. supposes that by every pillar stood two artificial palms, which put it between them (?).

Ezekiel 40:27 to be understood from Ezekiel 40:23.—Kliefoth calculates the entire extent of the temple building as a square of 500 cubits.

Ezekiel 40:28-37. The Gates of the Inner Court

We already know that the inner court has, opposite the three gates of the outer court, likewise three gates. The measuring reached in Ezekiel 40:27 to the south gate, which is therefore spoken of first in Ezekiel 40:28. בְּשַׁעַר: so that I found myself in the south gate; others translate: through, etc. The general statement retains the same dimensions, as in the outer gates.

Ezekiel 40:29, befitting the brevity, almost entirely collectives.

Ezekiel 40:30 tells how many cubits the “Elammoth” claimed from the gates in length and, because round about, in breadth, thus advancing into the court. Twenty-five cubits’ length makes the half of the whole length of the gate. Keil accordingly includes in this latter: 10 cubits of the two partition-walls of the guardrooms, 12 for two threshold walls, and 2 cubits for the porch walls; the missing cubit forms mouldings. Hengst. does not allow the side walls of the porch to extend to the space before the terminating pillars, and deducts from the 10 + 12 + 6 = 28 cubits, the special side walls of the guardrooms, 3 cubits thick on the whole, which, however, are to be reckoned into the 5 cubits of the space between the guardrooms, and into the 6 cubits of the threshold. So Kliefoth previously.—The 5 cubits’ breadth, which is likewise included in the entire breadth of 25 cubits, gives Hengst. occasion to remark that, since a bulwark of 5 cubits would have been useless, we may suppose two walls with a dark space within, the breadth of the guardrooms projecting 1½ or 2½ cubits before the side parapets. The statement in Ezekiel 40:31 that the side walls in the length and breadth mentioned, collectively וְאֵילַמָּו‌֯, were directed towards the outer court, makes this inner gate, like the outer gates, seem built in the outer court, and, as its אַיִל (Ezekiel 40:9) is spoken of immediately, with the two gate pillars (Ezekiel 40:37), hence towards the side of the porch, and thus in reverse relation to the outer gates, and consequently so that the one porch faced the other. So Kliefoth, who then places the steps here before the porch. But how can he (and Keil after him) say of the inner gates, that the “second threshold lay between the surrounding walls of the inner court, and the gate-structure extended thence into the outer court,” and yet maintain that the gate of the inner court lay “with its whole length” within the outer court? Reckoned from the “second threshold” that cannot be said; the porch only with the gate pillars was there. Hengst., on the other hand, makes the terminating point towards the inner court be the pillars with their palms, between which one went forth into the inner court; and the commencement of the gateway which reached farthest into the outer court he makes to be the stair.—מַעֲלָו‌֯ (Hitzig: singular; Keil: plural of מַעֲלֶה, “ascent”) instead of עֹלוֹת in Ezekiel 40:26, the “ascending steps which form the stair” (Hitzig). On the steps being eight, a number elsewhere without import, Hengst. says: “It is here to be regarded merely as an advance on the number at the outer court, a hint at the superior dignity of the inner court, which, with its altar of burnt-offering, rises still higher above the outer court than this does above the profane exterior.” [Klief.: “Eight is the number of the new beginning, and so the signature of the New Covenant, and of the res novissimœ in general; those who ascend to this priests’ court will be a new priestly race, when God has established a new beginning. The number eight does not occur in John’s vision of the New Jerusalem, because the new beginning is already given.”]

Ezekiel 40:32. The inner east gate.

Ezekiel 40:33 as Ezekiel 40:29.

Ezekiel 40:34. Comp. Ezekiel 40:31.

Ezekiel 40:35. The inner north gate.

Ezekiel 40:36. More abbreviated than Ezekiel 40:33.

Ezekiel 40:37. וְאֵילָו‌֯ instead of וְאֵלַמִָּו‌֯ in Ezekiel 40:34. “To this” (the north gate), says Hengst., “the prophet is brought last, because to it alone (?) belonged the noteworthy things of the inner court, to be described in the following section,—the arrangements for the slaughter of the victims, and the preparation of their flesh.”

Ezekiel 40:38-47. The Inner Court in respect of certain Arrangements for the Temple Service

The temple and its service is the theme of these closing chapters of our prophet. Hence it is easy to understand that what follows of the description of the inner court, which has hitherto been occupied with the consideration of the three gates, merely can be given in orderly connection. [Fairbairn: “Everything connected even with the killing and preparing of victims must now be regulated by the word of God. Even there, all is to have an impress of sacredness, such as has not hitherto been found, in consequence of the higher elevation to which the divine kingdom was to attain.”—W. F.]—The opening of the annexe, the side-chamber (Ezekiel 40:17), is בְּאֵילִים, that is, beside the two pillars of the court. Hengstenberg limits the plural הַשְׁעָרִים (= “at the gates”), as a generic designation in distinction from the pillars in the interior, to the north gate. Böttcher likewise supposes two of such cells at the entrance to and two at the exit from this gate-structure, all of them on the side walls close by the thresholds. Keil finds with reason that הַשְׁעָרִים indicates a cell with a door to each of the three interior gates, a view supported by the intended use: there shall they wash the burnt-offering (a thing belonging to the priests’ court). יָרִיחוּ, Hiphil from דוּחַ, to “thrust out,” to “cast away,” the filth, hence: to wash. “The Old Testament and the Talmud recognise only the washing of the entrails and the legs of the victims for the burnt-offering (Leviticus 1:9; 2 Chronicles 4:6)” (Keil). This, however, does not hinder us from taking הַעֹלָה here in its character of fulness, which makes it the first in the list of offerings in Ezekiel 40:39, not so much per synecdoche for the bloody offerings in general, as (like Ezekiel 40:43, הַקָּרְבָן more externally) bringing to view the idea of offering from its inmost and most fundamental conception. One cell at each gate is sufficient for the purpose (it is the last stage for the victim’s flesh before it is laid on the altar); but that there is such a cell at each gate is evident from the idea itself, which Klief. (who places the washing-cells in pairs, one on each side of each gate porch) thus expresses: “The slaying took place at the gate beside the porch, and no longer at the side of the altar of burnt-offering, as laid down in the law (Leviticus 1:11); in the new temple the service will be so much more regular, zealous, and frequent; thither shall prince and people flow to bring their offerings; they will slay and (as there shall then be clean offerings) still more wash before all the gates.” Hengstenberg, on the other hand, insists upon the direction in Leviticus 1:11 : “northward.”—Passing over to the slaying, Ezekiel 40:39 speaks, according to Hengst., of the north gate (Ezekiel 40:35; Ezekiel 40:40; Ezekiel 40:44) alone; but הַשַּׁעַר may comprehend collectively הַשְׁעָרִים of the former verse, or (comp. on Ezekiel 40:40) may mean a definite gate at which what holds good of all the gates is to be exemplified.—The four tables, two and two opposite on opposite sides, are in the porch, as the cells for washing beside the gate pillars are there also. שָׁחַט, “to slay,” is either to be taken in a wider sense, comprehending the whole preparation of the flesh for the sacrifice, particularly the laying (comp. Ezekiel 40:43) of the pieces of flesh on the tables, which, however, would be strangely expressed by לִשְׁחֹט, or אֲלֵיהֶם only simply indicates that the slaying of the victim took place without, in the direction towards these tables, in relation to them.—In the enumeration of the offerings the expiatory sacrifices are fully represented, namely, by the sin-offering and the trespass-offering,—a hint for the understanding of Ezekiel’s temple, for the idea of the expiatory sacrifice has in view the restoration of the state of grace, or reception into that state. Although the burnt-offering stands first, as hitherto it has been treated of as instar omnium, and hence the relation in the state of grace must come principally into consideration, yet we are not to imagine an absolute parity of the people from sin in the time of this temple.

Ezekiel 40:40 adds two pairs of tables to these inner tables. The first pair, as they are said to be placed at the side, in contrast to the porch, so in contrast to the interior of the gate-structure they are described as without; and this is so much the more expressive, as reference is to be made immediately to him that goeth up (לָעוֹלֶה, particip.). The figurative expression: אֶל־הכָּתֵף, which Kliefoth here and in Ezekiel 40:18 presses far too much and unnecessarily, demands even as such a closer and proper definition, as here מִחוּצָה (Keil: “outside”). But the phrase: “him that goeth up,” clearly shows that the steps (מַעֲלוֹת), and, since they lie before, with them לְפֶתַח הַשַׁעַר (comp. Ezekiel 40:11), are to be understood as belonging to the porch; and הַצָּפוֹנָה (thus correctly Keil) clearly explains the כָּתֵף to be the north side of the gate; whence Kliefoth infers that הַשַׁעַר in question is, just as in the case of the outer gates, the east gate. [Kliefoth, as others also, translates: “for him that goeth up to the gate-opening towards the north.” Hengst.: “to the door of the north gate.” Hitzig: northward, that is, to the right hand. Böttcher takes לָעוֹלֶה to mean: “at the stair.”]—The two other tables (in confirmation of the exposition given) were at the “following” (“other”) side, הָאַחֶרֶת, which designation forms a brief contrast to the הָצָּפוֹנָה, as in like manner אֲשֶׁר לְאֻלָּם׳ comprises in brief the rest that has been said.

Ezekiel 40:41. A summing up to the number eight of the tables designated as within and without in Ezekiel 40:39-40 : because the latter four are tables set apart for slaying, אֲלֵיהֶם may be rendered: “on,” or: “at them.” Ezekiel 40:42 shows that the summing up with such indication of what is distinctive in the two latter pairs is made because there is still a third set of four tables to be mentioned. In accordance with the foregoing, one would expect here too a fixing of where they stood; hence עוֹלָה can hardly mean: “burnt-offering,” which is spoken of at the close, and much more completely.—They are stone tables (גָזִית, the “cutting” of the stones), formed of square blocks, as are also the stair steps. Hence those previously mentioned were doubtless of wood, particularly the second set, named as specially appointed for slaying, while this third set had to support heavy instruments. Finally, in addition and parallel to the burnt-offering, comes the slain-offering, which includes the sin - offering, trespass - offering, and thank-offering. [Hengst.: “There are twelve tables in all, according to the number of the tribes of Israel, Ezra 6:17; Ezra 8:35”]

Ezekiel 40:43. הַשְׁפַתַּיִם must be something definite, something well known, and at the same time (from the dual) double or biform. Gesen. has given up the meaning: stabula, “cattle-stalls,” held by Hupf. on Psalms 68:14 [13], for that of “stakes” or. “staples” standing out on the wall and bifurcated, to which they bound the beasts about to be slain. Meier, again, who rejects the idea of a fundamental signification: “to place,” accepts the meaning: “to draw together,” to separate, to make fast as such, and imagines: “enclosures of wicker-work for the cattle, of two rows, between which the herdsman used to rest.” But what purpose do these serve here? Keil therefore: “double staples,” on which the slaughtered animals were hung for skinning. The article may denote the kind (of staple). (Others: “drinking troughs,” or: conduits for conveying away the fluids.) But how does בַּבַּיִת harmonize? It only remains to make it a slip of the pen for בִּנְיָן, as the wall is called in Ezekiel 40:5, or an abbreviation, or, like Keil, to think of בִּנְיָה (“house” = building). מוּכָנִים is particip. Hoph. from כּוּן. The description: round and round, would, moreover, answer well for the wall of the inner court, which surrounded the temple edifice on three sides; and the sacrificial victims may well be conceived of as bound to this wall. [Keil: “On the three outsides of the porch building.”] Kliefoth (and so Hengstenberg) understands raised ledges (border enclosures), with which the tables for laying the sacrificial flesh on were surrounded at the edge round about, so that the flesh lay securely between the ledges as between hurdles, and did not fall off; the ledges were opposite one another in pairs, hence the dual, a handbreadth high. But even with such an interpretation, בַּבַּיִת still causes a difficulty, for according to this, “in the house” must be taken as = in the interior of the porch (בְּאֻלָּם, Ezekiel 40:39), and that in distinction from the tables in Ezekiel 40:40; Ezekiel 40:42, or, as already םָבִיב םָבִיב of the tables (“round about the table-tops,” Klief.), be taken as a figurative expression for “within” the tables (how does round and round harmonize with this?), and thus either the porch or a table must be taken as a house! Only the transition to the last clause would be easy, and this doubtless has given occasion to this interpretation; but, on the other hand, the new element would be wanting which the double staples give in this so exact representation. The ellipsis: And on the tables, etc., states the purpose for which the tables in Ezekiel 40:39 was intended, in distinction from that of the tables in Ezekiel 40:40; Ezekiel 40:42. Keil makes the statement refer to all the tables in Ezekiel 40:39-42.—הַקָּרְבָן (“approaching,” “presenting”), like “offering,” from offerre, is the most general and comprehensive name for offerings. Mark 7:11 : Κορβαν ὁ ἐστι δωρον. Hengstenberg observes in addition: “The very going into details apparently so minute showed how clearly and sharply the prophet in faith beheld the non-existent as existent, and was well fitted to draw away the minds of the people from the fixed look at the smitten city. We must indeed always keep in view the object of the prophet, to set up an interim temple for the imagination (!), in which it might expatiate as long as the real temple, and with it the kingdom of God, actually lay in ruins.”

Hitherto we have had arrangements for slaying and preparing the sacrificial victims (Ezekiel 40:38-43) in reference to the inner court. With Ezekiel 40:44 we come to the personelle of the service.—Since we have been in the foregoing at the side of the porch of the inner gate, hence properly in the outer court, and only in relation to the inner court, the more exact description of: outside at the inner gate, by: in the inner court, is only correct. On the other hand, the cells for the singers at once present an insuperable difficulty for those who, like Keil, still draw sharply, and apply here, the Old Testament distinction “between the Levitical singers and the Aaronites who administer the priesthood” (against this sharp distinction comp. Ezekiel 40:46). That Ezekiel selected certain descendants of Aaron—who, by the way, is not named in Ezekiel 40:46, although Levi is—for the service of this sanctuary, is no reason why these should not come into consideration here primarily as singers, especially when we consider the idea thereby expressed, and so made impressive. Hengstenberg says excellently: “That the singers are here so prominent is explained by this, that in the state of exaltation of the community of God, more ample material will be given to them for new songs, so that in the worship of the new temple the singing must play a chief part, as, indeed, the multiplication of the singers and musicians under David stood in connection with the advance which, under him, the people of God had made. According to Psalms 87:0, when the future of salvation has come, the singers with the dancers say: All my springs are in Thee. The second part of Isaiah, and its lyric echo, Psalms 91-100, are full of the thought, that in the time of salvation all things shall sing and play. Even in the times soon after the return from the exile, singing revived in a degree that had not been since David. In a long series of psalms, from Psalms 107:0 onward, the people thank God for the blessing of restoration. Hallelujah was the watchword.” The difficulties connected with the locality of these cells for the singer-priests, which have induced even Keil to enter on the slippery path of text-revision, guided by the Septuagint,—of which, however, we must first have some authentic text, if, on its authority, anything is to be altered in the Masoretic text,—are sufficiently solved by Kliefoth. He observes on מִחוּצָה׳, that, consequently, they “were not constructed in or on the gate building itself, like the cells in Ezekiel 40:38.” He rightly makes אֲשֶׁר׳ refer to that part and space of the inner court which is contiguous to the side of the north gate, and hence not contiguous to the east gate. The description of the locality of the cells becomes perfect by this, that their front is stated to be towards the south, that is, nearer to, the temple edifice than to the altar of burnt-offering, while the definition: “toward the north,” approaches nearer to the altar of burnt-offering. Kliefoth: “The entrance of the temple lay to the southwest from the north gate; from it the priests had the temple in their view.” Hengst.: “The chambers of the singers generally faced the south, where they (1 Chronicles 16:37) chiefly had to perform.”—As the number is indefinite at the beginning, and it is simply said in the plural, just as the priests, afterwards distinguished, are here comprehended in the singers, so the limitation in the second part of the verse, before the pendant in question fronting the north, is applicable also to that fronting the south, so that we really have to suppose likewise, in the first part of the verse, if not only one cell, yet only one range of cells (with several chambers). The masculine אֶחָד can be understood of a part of the cells, and so the better corresponds to the previous plural, and especially to the וּפְנֵיהֶם. That it cannot mean “another” range of cells is self-evident, against Kliefoth. Situated at the side of the east gate signifies: if one steps out of the east gate into the inner court, as the following shows, with the front, towards the north. Hengst.: “There, in the court, stood the altar of burnt-offering, where the singers had to perform at the offering of the great national sacrifices, 1 Chronicles 16:41” [Klief: On account of the “superintendence over the altar” (Ezekiel 40:46), and the “overseeing of the east gate.”] Keil translates Ezekiel 40:44 : “And outside of the inner gate were two cells in the inner court, one at the shoulder of the north gate, with its front to the south, and one at the shoulder of the south gate, with the front to the north.”

Ezekiel 40:45-46. Explanation of the purpose for which the two ranges of cells were intended with respect to the persons performing service.

Ezekiel 40:45. Therefore שָׁמַר מִשְׁמֶרֶת-.וַיְדבֵּר אֵלָי means: the waiting upon a business, to take care of an office, to attend to it. To make prominent the significance of temple and altar, the priestly service in respect to the house is kept separate from that with respect to the altar in Ezekiel 40:46, yet so that the significant general character of those ministering according to Ezekiel 40:44 is not thereby abolished.—The sons of Zadok are selected not as Aaronites in particular, but from among the sons of Levi (see the fuller treatment of this point on Ezekiel 44:15).—הַקְּרֵבִים is the general expression for the priestly function in general, as is also שָׁרַת (Hebrews 7:19; James 4:8).

Ezekiel 40:47. A finishing off with the inner court by stating its length and breadth as 100 cubits each, forming a square, at the same time already making mention of its proper furniture, namely, the altar before the house, the altar of burnt-offering. On this comp. on Ezekiel 43:13 sq.

Ezekiel 40:48-49. The Porch of the Temple

The description is surprisingly short in comparison with that of the parts previously delineated, and likewise when we compare it with the description of Solomon’s temple, in which reversely the courts are briefly treated of. Hengst. explains this latter circumstance from the familiarity of the people with the courts, while this had to be compensated for by a copious description of the part of the sanctuary inaccessible to them; and makes Ezekiel refer back to this description, and only in the case of the courts to enter more into detail in consideration of the people, and especially those of them to whom the courts might be wholly unknown.

Ezekiel 40:48 describes the porch before the holy place (1 Kings 6:3), by giving the measurement of its two pillars, and the breadth of the gate. The expressions: on this side, and: on that, easily explain themselves as regards the corner pillar on each side, but not sufficiently in respect to the breadth of the gate. What is meant there by מִפּוֹ מִפּוֹ? This statement cannot be occasioned merely by the pillar on this side and on that, but must have its cause in the construction of the gate, which then (comp. on Ezekiel 40:11) would be represented as a barricade with two halves, which had their hinges on the respectively contiguous corner pillars, so that from this construction the measure of each half of the gate is given by itself; so here and so there. The measurement of the gate given in the text comes out still more plainly if each half of the gate (probably lattice-work) shut up only a part, its own part, of the breadth of the porch; and since this made up only three cubits on either side, a breadth of five cubits remained open in the middle for looking in and walking in. This view of Kliefoth’s (also Hengstenberg’s) harmonizes exactly with the measurements which immediately follow; whereas Keil, with an entire breadth of sixteen cubits, has only six cubits left for the breadth of the gate. For Ezekiel 40:49, which measures twenty cubits for the length of the porch of the temple, that is, from east to west (comp. 1 Kings 6:3), gives its breadth, hence from north to south, or vice versâ, at eleven cubits, both measurements being taken in the light, and hence excluding the thickness of the walls. This interior breadth of the porch is shown to belong also to the outside by the statement: and that (also) at the steps, sq.; namely, the breadth was eleven cubits. The stair extended in equal breadth before the porch. In this way, as Kliefoth observes, the porch was wider by half a cubit on either side than the door leading from the porch into the holy place (Ezekiel 41:2), which door was thereby rendered as visible as its character of fixing the length of the porch demanded. [Hengst., referring to the ten cubits’ breadth of the porch in Solomon’s temple, supposes the eleventh cubit here to be occupied by the posts of the door on both sides.] From the height (six cubits), Ezekiel 41:8, Hengst. estimates the number of the steps, which is not given, to be “probably fourteen.” Kliefoth and Hengstenberg compute the entire breadth of the portal, inclusive of the two corner pillars (5 + 5), to be twenty-one cubits. For enclosing the porch from the pillars to the east wall of the temple, we have to suppose, as with the gates of the court, side-walls ( “Elammoth”), which Keil puts down at two and a half cubits each, so that the five cubits broad pillars would have only half their breadth on the inside of the porch. [Hengst., in opposition to most expositions of Solomon’s temple, holds that the length of the porch of the temple given here “corresponds to that of the porch in Solomon’s temple in 1 Kings 6:3”] The height of the two corner pillars of the porch, which also is wanting in Ezekiel’s vision, is supplied by Hengst., from 2 Chronicles 3:4 (Josephus, Arch. 8:3. 2), as 5 cubits thick and 120 cubits high. The עַמֻּדִים, two in number, are set down as “at” or “beside” the corner pillars (the “Elim”), which remind us of “Jachin” and “Boaz” in Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 7:15 sq.), and, doubtless, for that very reason their position is not given more exactly. Kliefoth and Hitzig place them one at each side of the steps; and the same is done by Hengst., who says, regarding their import: taken away by the Chaldeans, Jeremiah 52:20 sq., they were “as it were the programme of the temple and of the kingdom of God represented by it; they represented what the people of God have in their God: Jachin (‘He establishes me’) and Boaz (‘in Him strong’); made of brass, very thick, uniform to the top, they are a figure of the unchangeable stability and strength which was only in appearance practically disproved by the Chaldeans,” etc.—The Septuagint is all confused in these verses; for example, its statement that the steps were ten rests on this, that it has transformed אֲשֶׁר into the similar עֶשֶׂר. Böttcher, Hitzig, and Maurer ground thereon their treatment of the text, and Hävernick is simply at a loss what to make of it.


On Ch. 40

Ezekiel 40:1 sq. Jerome, despairing of the possibility, and especially of his own ability, to expound these chapters of Ezekiel, wished to break off and finish his commentary here. Only the urgency and importunity of friends urged him to continue; but every instant he acknowledges his inability, etc.—“The commencement and close, the cherubim and the new temple, are what every one first thinks of when Ezekiel’s name is mentioned” (Hengst.).—The vision of the temple, as regards the date given, a trilogy of thoughts: from judgment to mercy, from prison to freedom, from the world to Christ and into the community of God.—“Under the material promises of God are concealed spiritual ones; take that to heart in these chapters too, therefore, sursum corda” (Starck).—“God raises up His own in their misery by His comfort, and keeps them through the hope of things to come in faith and patience. When there is no prospect of deliverance, when no help, no refuge appears, then the Lord is present with His comfort” (Hafenreffer).—“When it seems that all will be over with the Church of God, then God thinks of its maintenance and amelioration” (Starke).—“To human eyes Canaan was lost for Israel, to human eyes Jerusalem lay in the dust; but the prophet sees it again far more glorious. Such seeing again is, however, truly given by God in the Spirit. Land and city and temple had been lost through the sins of the people; yet Israel must remain and fulfil its eternal purpose for the glory of God. God makes it even already in this prophet and in all like-minded bloom forth only the more gloriously, so that neither the sins of the people nor the power of its enemies can put an end to Israel. A fairer and loftier Jerusalem and temple must be still in store for Israel, which the prophet represents entirely by figures taken from the old land, the old royal seat, and the old temple. Yet he does not merely make the old be renewed; everything becomes quite different, in order to indicate that the kingdom of God will, in its completion, present a quite different figure” (Diedrich).—“The word of God, too, counts the years and months and days of our distress, to make us understand that it is not unknown to God how long we have borne the yoke of the cross and the oppression of tyrants” (Starck).—“Ezekiel was already five and twenty years in a foreign land. We must be prepared and purified in many ways by God’s Spirit before we can rightly understand the consolations of God; and one grows in God when one learns, under present sufferings, to see more and more of the eternal comfort” (Diedrich).—“It is manifest that this vision ought to have comforted the Israelites,—that they who neither had nor saw a temple were meanwhile to busy themselves with considering this temple, and to study what such a vision might denote” (Cocc.).—“In the selfsame day the hand of Jehovah was upon me: in this is verified anew the name of the prophet. God is strong; for in Him as in all others flesh and blood cry out: Gone is gone, lost is lost” (Hengst.).

Ezekiel 40:2. “Give me eyes to see the glorious grace of Thy kingdom; give me strength to go even into the sanctuary!” (Lampe.)—“The prophet’s visions are not deceptive dreams, but true, divine inspirations, Jeremiah 26:12” (Cr.).—“The land of Israel is the hieroglyph of the inheritance which God will give to His people from the whole world, which in contrast thereto is called the sea or the wilderness” (Cocc.).—“The Church of God is the city set upon a hill, Matthew 5:14” (Tüb. Bib.).—How different was it in Matthew 4:0, when the tempter took Jesus to an exceeding high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them !—“Through Christ we come even here in the kingdom of grace to the mount of God, to the heavenly Jerusalem, but the true entrance still awaits us in the kingdom of glory, Hebrews 12:22” (Starke).—In the world, and yet high above the world; yea, the kingdom of the Anointed One is not of this world, and our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20); and they who live by faith of the Son of God seek the things that are above (Colossians 3:0). The very high mountain points to the highest height.—On Mount Zion stands (Revelation 14:0) the Lamb, with His hundred and forty and four thousand.—“The high mountain is Christ, on whom the Church is founded” (Gregory).—“The very high mountain is Mount Zion; not, however, in its present form, the state of humiliation, but in glorious exaltation. The high place already existed in the days before the destruction of the temple, Psalms 48:3 [Psalms 48:2], Psalms 68:17 [Psalms 68:16]. It now returns. The new exaltation took its beginning in the return from the exile, and found its completion in the coming of Christ (Ezekiel 17:22-23)” (Hengst.).—This is indeed a place to sit down in and meditate. Jerusalem in the Old Covenant, the Jerusalem which is the Christian Church, and the Jerusalem above,—what a theme for contemplation throughout time and eternity!—The repose in the contemplation of human and divine things.—Jerusalem a Sabbatic place in the working days of the world’s history.

Ezekiel 40:3. “Christ is indeed the foundation and corner-stone of His Church; but He is also the Builder, who has laid the foundation and brings the building erected thereon always more and more to perfection, Matthew 16:18” (Starke).—“The brass signifies holiness and purity, also life and permanent strength” (Cocc.).—“He gives the holy and eternal temple, in which will be unchangeable repose” (Œcolampadius).—“He is the strong and invincible Hero” (Starck).—“The serpent in the wilderness, too, was brazen; and Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever” (Luther).—“In the Church everything must be ordered and judged by the rule of the divine word, Acts 17:11” (Starke).—The harmony of the kingdom of God.—“In the Church everything should be done decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40); in it there is to be no confused teaching or dissolute life” (Starck).—“Let every man examine himself by this measuring-rod, how far he has advanced” (Gregory).—“Here applies what Plato wrote on his school: Let no one enter who is ignorant of geometry” (Hafenreffer).—“Every believer ought to measure the temple of God and its magnitude, towers and palaces, and distinguish it from that which is not God’s house, Psalms 48:13-14 [12, 13]” (Cocc.).—“Elsewhere also Christ stands at the door and calls, invites in, shows the way, and opens the entrance to the temple and into the inner sanctuary” (Berl. Bib.).

Ezekiel 40:4. “Christ by His Spirit speaks with us as man with man” (Cocc.).—“There has been a difference of opinion among teachers regarding the signification of this temple, altar, city, and territory. But the opinion to be rejected above all is that of the Jews and men like them, who think that it is to be the third temple, which must be built by their coming Messiah, and in their vain and foolish hope boast much of its great glory, and do not see, blinded and dull people that they are, that the text will not bear such dreams as theirs. Therefore this building of Ezekiel’s is not to be understood of a new material building, but, like the chariot at the beginning, and also the building at the end, is nothing else than the kingdom of Christ, the holy Church of Christendom here on earth even to the last day. But how all the parts are to be properly interpreted and placed, that we will defer until that life in which we shall see the whole building prepared and ready. Now, while it is still in process of building, and much stone and wood belonging thereto are not yet born, not to speak of their being squared, we cannot see it all; it is enough for us to know that it is God’s house and His own building wherein we all are” (Luther).—The thing is to see and hear exactly and lay to heart what serves for our peace; and this Israel has not done (Luke 19:42).—“But all Israel must know its eternal calling; and if God gives special revelation to particular prophets, that revelation must accrue to the good of all” (Diedrich).—Although it is a mystery, it ought not to remain a mystery.—But what Israel was contemplated in this? Certainly not that which is called Israel after the flesh, but the spiritual, true Israel. The former built not after the pattern; the latter still continues to build itself in this temple.

Ezekiel 40:5. “To learn to understand the arrangement, the holy building, begin with the most distant things. We must not despise even those who stand employed at the threshold. The will, not the ability, is pleasing to God. Beware, therefore, of despising those who are still engaged in laying the foundations, and give only distant hope of life,” etc. (Œcol.)—“The boundary of the wall had a twofold signification. To the community it was a warning not to approach the sanctuary with unrenewed hearts (Psalms 15:0). With respect to God, it was a pledge that He would eventually separate His Church from the world. Because the people of God had neglected the admonition contained in the boundary, the boundary was as a righteous punishment destroyed also in the latter respect. Desecration as punishment followed desecration as guilt. In the broken-down wall of the smitten city was typified the abandoning of the people of God to the world. That this relation will in the future take another shape, that God will again raise up His reformed people to be an independent power, is typified by the erection of the new wall, which is in this respect an embodiment of God’s protection and grace, that are to be imparted to the covenant-people renewed in spirit” (Hengst.).—“The Church has a triple wall: God as protection, the angels as guardians, and believers, in other words their prayers” (à Lapide).—“God has indeed broken down by the death of Christ the wall of separation which was in the Old Testament between Jew and Gentile, yet He makes in the New Testament an invariable distinction between believers and unbelievers, Ephesians 2:14” (Starke).—“If even among men the king’s measure is larger than the ordinary one, not so much because kings require a more abundant measure, as because kings should replenish their subjects with all munificence, why should not God’s measure overflow with grace, truth, and power?” (Cocc.)—The larger measure of the sanctuary: (1) from the love wherewith God loves us; (2) according to the love wherewith we ought in return to love God in the brethren.—“One should be more liberal for the advancement of God’s service than for other and worldly things, Galatians 6:9” (O.).—“The breadth of the Church points to love, for nothing is broader; the height embraces the contemplation and knowledge, which alway ascend higher” (Gregory).

Ezekiel 40:6. “How beautifully is everything measured and arranged in the community of the Lord by the eternal counsel of God! This is done by the wisdom of the great Founder and Master-builder (Ephesians 3:10-11; Ephesians 4:12); which prepares by the measuring-rod of the gospel (Galatians 6:16; Philippians 3:16) living stones for the building of the Church, that it may become a habitation of God in the Spirit (1 Peter 2:5)” (Tüb. Bib.).—“When believers enter, they have (1) a Guide with them into all truth; (2) without Him they can do nothing; (3) progress is made toward full knowledge of God and Christ,” etc. (Cocc.)—“We ought to increase and grow, as in age, so in wisdom and grace, Luke 2:52” (Starck).—“Christ is the dayspring from on high, who for us has opened the way for the rising of the light” (Gregory).—The east gate as model and pattern gate in its homiletic significance; every sermon ought to lead to the Father through Christ.—“In order to educate us by His Spirit, Christ undertook freely in our name this labour here, in that He became man for us, and ascended to the Father through suffering. Those also ascend these steps who will not, staying outside, give themselves up to lusts, but, wiser than the foolish multitude, attach themselves to God’s people” (Œcol.).—“One must not so thoughtlessly imagine that only a single leap is required to come into heaven, but constant ascent is requisite and necessary in order to seek after the things that are above, Colossians 3:0.” (Berl. Bib.)

Ezekiel 40:7. “In the Lord’s house are many mansions, according to the distinction of offices and gifts; each mansion, however, serves to ornament the house, John 14:2” (Tüb. Bib.).—“Since there are many mansions in the Lord’s temple, there is certainly still room there. Let no one wantonly exclude himself therefrom, Acts 13:46” (Starke).—The manifold positions and ministrations, and hence the manifold occupations in the kingdom of God.—“The thresholds show that entrance and exit are alike; as the beginning, so the end: he who begins well shall and will end well” (Starck).

Ezekiel 40:8 sq. Behold, a wall round about; thou shalt not dream of overleaping it, or esteem it as non-existent; those whom God chose for Himself went out from the world, and are not of the world. There are also gates through which we have to enter in; but the way for mankind to God is through the one door, which is and continues to be Christ. Finally, the charge of the house for goings in and out is committed to the Spirit of Truth. No one shall enter in through the gate by lying and hypocrisy, and without the seal of the Spirit no one shall go out of the sanctuary into the world or pass over to eternity.—We first ascend the mountain on which the sanctuary is situated; next we must go up through the gate; and then we have before us the most holy place, namely, the manifestly revealed heart of the Father, with its blessed thoughts of peace.—“As he who no longer remains without is sheltered from the storms which rage there, so the Christian is not driven about by any wind. The porch reminds us of the peace and repose connected with the consciousness of the grace of God” (Œcol.).—“Truly, they who are preparing for the holy office of the ministry are measured in many ways, and they should still farther test themselves by the measure of the sanctuary” (Starck).—“O soul, when so many depths, breadths, and heights of knowledge come before thee in the commencement of thy Christian course, let not that discourage thee! Christ gives thee the Holy Spirit, who will by degrees teach thee all things, John 14:26” (Starke).

Ezekiel 40:12. Ministers of the Church should be protected against being too much pressed upon, for they are still but men. There is, however, a professedly pious impertinence, which addresses them as if their bones were iron and brass; e.g., “The Lord is able to strengthen you,” and the like. The Lord has in Ezekiel set a fence around the chambers of the keepers of the gate.—“We ought to avoid a brother who walks disorderly” (Starck).

Ezekiel 40:13 sq. “Thus those who are in this way are walled around, covered, and protected on all sides; so that nothing can befall them in Him who is the Door and the Way, but everything leads forward to the sanctuary when we walk in Christ Jesus” (Cocc.).

Ezekiel 40:16. “In the Church of God darkness has no place, but the light of truth and faith shines everywhere; yea, believers themselves are a light in the Lord, whose works shine before men, Matthew 5:0.” (Starck.)—“Teachers and preachers ought to have a fuller knowledge of the divine mysteries than others, 1 Timothy 3:9” (O.).—“They who walk in the ways of the Lord have the true, cheerful, and clear light; while the natural soul is a gateway without windows” (Starck).—“What is signified by the palms is already fulfilled in the essential nature of believers, and will be so in particular in Christ’s glorious kingdom (Psalms 92:13 [12] sq.), when they shall sing of victory in the tabernacles of the righteous (Psalms 118:0), with palms in their hands, Revelation 7:9” (Berl. Bib.).

Ezekiel 40:17 sq. “In the Church of God provision is also made for satisfying the need of spiritual fellowship on the part of those who are like minded, and no one requires for this reason to wander about outside the wall in this or that sect, hole-and-corner conventicle, or society for any object whatever. Notice the ‘apartments’ here, and how Christ hallows them (Matthew 18:20), and comp. Zechariah 3:10” (Cocc.).—“Those who are employed in God’s house ought to keep even their feet clean, for holiness is the ornament of His house” (Starck).

Ezekiel 40:20 sq. “By the diversity of the gates you may recognise the diversity of those who enter” (Œcol.).—“The way to the sanctuary has been opened to the nations of the north also” (Starke).—“As in our cathedrals every part tells something to the deeper-seeing connoisseur, so this is still more the case in Ezekiel’s temple” (Richter).—“Everything here is in harmony and mutual correspondence, like the Old and the New Testaments, Moses and Christ, the prophets and the apostles” (Starck).

Ezekiel 40:28 sq. “The courts are separated, for the covenant of Abraham is one thing, the covenant of Moses another, and the covenant of Christ still another. Yet they only mutually confirm one another. For are not the contents of the covenant the promises of God, who graciously forgives sin? One court, however, is nearer than another to the sanctuary. Walkest thou unhindered in the court of the priests, busied with spiritual sacrifices; then thank the Lord and extend meanwhile the hand to others, that by thy support they may overcome difficulties” (Œcol.).—“The inward and the outward measure must correspond perfectly in Christians” (Starke).

Ezekiel 40:31. “So 2 Peter 1:5-7 enumerates eight virtues” (Berl. Bib.).

Ezekiel 40:38 sq. “This signifies that our heart may remain unclean, even when we give our bodies to be burned for the glory of God. The constant mortification of the flesh must ground itself on Christ, otherwise we will lose courage,” etc. (Œcol.)—“The believing soul presents its heart, as one sets a table, on which Christ as sacrifice is beheld, for faith lays hold of this alone” (Starck).

Ezekiel 40:44 sq. “A place in the house of God is justly due to them who sing the praise of God in spiritual and heavenly songs, which contribute so powerfully to spiritual edification” (Tüb. Bib.).—“The spiritual songs of them who rejoice in the Lord, because they have been enabled to come to the altar and stand before God, form part of the spiritual sacrifice” (Œcol.).—“In these corrupt days music is used more for sin and vanity than for the praise of God. When will it be free from this service to vanity? Psalms 117:1; Isaiah 12:1” (Starke).—“He who draws near to God sings to Him also in his heart; they, however, sing best who in the midst of troubles are full of joy. They incite others to sing,” etc. (Cocc.)

Ezekiel 40:46. “Since ‘sons of Zadok’ is in our language equivalent to: sons of righteousness, this implies that only those duly keep the charge who are justified by faith and born of God, whom Jesus Christ has begotten and upholds by the word of His power” (Œcol.).

Ezekiel 40:47 sq. “The true temple is the body of Christ as He took it out of the grave on the third day, for it surpasses all figures and is pure life. The prophet here prophesies of it; but he does so in lisping words, and for the sake of his contemporaries his understanding of Christ in these chapters, where he speaks of Christ’s kingdom and sanctuary, is still, as it were, in swaddling clothes” (Diedrich).


1. Hävernick rightly finds “the nervous and lofty unity” in the prophecies of Ezekiel “manifested in this section also.” “The visions of the prophet find here their fairest completion and perfect rounding off.” Already in the exposition (on Ezekiel 40:1 sq.) the harmony with the former part of Ezekiel’s prophecy has been remarked. Ezekiel 43:3 expressly refers back to Ezekiel 1:8. The free conformity in expression between our chapters and the whole closing portion generally, and the earlier chapters, has been often proved (comp. Philippson, p. 1294). The proof is the more striking when we consider the complete difference of the subject. That we have a vision here too harmonizes not only with Ezekiel 1:8, but in general with the prophetic character of Ezekiel, Ezekiel 8:15, Ezekiel 8:17. The prophet has repeatedly hinted at this close of his book. Thus Ezekiel 11:16; Ezekiel 20:40; Ezekiel 36:38; Ezekiel 37:26 sq. The last passage in particular might be regarded as the text for Ezekiel 40:0 sq. The eighth and following chapters required by the necessity of the idea our conclusion of the book.

2. In regard to analogies in the other prophets, Ezekiel’s contemporaries, as we may well conceive, will chiefly come into consideration. Hence, above all, Ezekiel’s fellow-labourer Jeremiah. Jeremiah represents the restoration and renewal of Israel as a rebuilding of Jerusalem, Jeremiah 31:38 sq. (with this comp. in our prophet, Ezekiel 47:13 sq., Ezekiel 48:0). Jeremiah 33:18 is similar to Ezekiel 44:9 sq. Haggai 2:7 sq. follows entirely the thought here of a new temple, insisting on its glory in view of a meagre present. But still more analogous are the night-visions of Zechariah (Ezekiel 2:5 [1] sq., Ezekiel 4:0, Ezekiel 6:13 sq., Ezekiel 14:0).

3. The parallel between Isaiah and Ezekiel, as it stands in relation to the vision in Ezekiel 1:0 (p. 41), is not completed by citing Isaiah 60:0 as corresponding to the close of our book; but we shall have to seek the culminating point of Isaiah’s prophecy for the culmination of Ezekiel’s, in accordance with the office of this prophet to be the prophet of Jehovah’s holiness to obdurate Israel, —just as for the commencement Isaiah 6:0 is covered by Ezekiel 1:0—not so much in the close as in Ezekiel 53. The corresponding pendant to our closing chapters is the life-like description given there of the Messiah and His sacrifice of Himself. It is this self-sanctification of Jehovah through His servant Israel which in Isaiah corresponds to the self-glorification of Jehovah in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 40:0 sq.) by means of the new sanctuary and the new nationality; and this, again, accords with Ezekiel’s office, to behold the glory of Jehovah in the misery of the exile. In this respect Ezekiel stands to Isaiah somewhat as Easter and Pentecost do to Good Friday.

4. The different views, especially regarding the vision of the temple, may be distinguished generally as subjective and objective. I. The views which derive the explanation of Ezekiel 40:0 sq. solely or chiefly from Ezekiel’s subjectivity: (1) Already Villalpandus saw everywhere here only reminiscences of Solomon’s temple and of Solomon’s era, and consequently a similar line of thought to that in Ezra 3:12. Similarly Grotius, only that he reconciled the differences between Ezekiel’s temple and that of Solomon by ascribing them to the temple at the time of its destruction, just as Bunsen refers in this connection to 2 Kings 16:0. According to both these expositors, Ezekiel traced out from reminiscences a pattern for the future restoration. Thus, according to Ewald, Ezekiel becomes “a prophetic lawgiver.” “Such an undertaking, quite unusual in the case of earlier prophets,” is explained from the “predominating thoughts and aspirations of the better class of those days for the restoration of the subverted kingdom.” “Ezekiel probably meditated long, with passionate longing and lively remembrance, on the institutions of the demolished temple, etc.; what appeared to him great and glorious became impressed upon his mind as a pattern, with which he compared the Messianic expectations and demands, etc., until at length the outline of the whole arrangement which he here writes down pressed itself upon him!” “Above all, he sketches the holy objects, temple and altar, with the utmost exactness and vividness, as if a spirit (!) impelled him, now when they were destroyed, at least to catch up their image in a faithful and worthy form for the redemption that will one day certainly come; so that he must have diligently instructed himself in these matters from the best written and oral sources” (!). “Thus it is quite in keeping with Ezekiel’s way of prophesying, that he introduces everything as if he had been borne in spirit into the restored and completed temple, accompanied throughout by a heavenly guide, and had learned exactly from him all the single parts of this unique building as to their nature and use.” The paragraph Ezekiel 47:1-12 is, in Ewald’s opinion, “from its great, all-embracing sense, quite adapted to bring to a close briefly and pithily all these presentiments!” “Yet when precepts more moral are to be given, or the perfected kingdom has to be described in its extent, reaching even beyond the temple, this assumed form (!) easily passes over into the simple prophetic discourse.” (2) While the foregoing view looks to realization, Hitzig, for example, entirely rejects the idea that Ezekiel “considered such things (as our chapters contain) possible, feasible, or probable, and relatively commanded and prescribed them.” “One does not or did not reflect that the prophet’s calling was to express the demands of the idea, indifferent in the first instance about their realization.” All is pure fancy, a mere castle-in-the-air, a kind of “Platonic sketch,” as Herder expresses himself. The self-criticism of this view of our chapters can hardly be more suitably given than when Hitzig continues: “Inasmuch as this or that could be set in order otherwise than he imagines, he would not in regard to plans and proposals have resisted obstinately, but would have known how to distinguish the unessential of the execution from the essential of the thing itself. He sketches the future in the form he must wish it to take, in which it really would have the fairest appearance. If the reality falls short of the image, then the idea is defectively realized; but the fault lies in the reality, not in the idea, and Ezekiel is not responsible for it.” This, moreover, is merely what already Doederlein and others have held with respect to the closing portion of our book. Similarly Herder: “Ezekiel’s manner is to paint an image entire and at length; his mode of conception appears to demand great visions, figures written over on all sides, even tiresome, difficult, symbolical acts, of which his whole book is full. Israel in his wandering upon the mountains of his dispersal, among other tongues and peoples, had need of a prophet such as this one was, etc. So also as regards this temple. Another would have sketched it with soaring figures in lofty utterances; he does so in definite measurements. And not only the temple, but also appurtenances, tribes, administration, land, etc. How far has Israel always, so far as depended on his own efforts, remained below the commands, counsels, and promises of God!” (3) Böttcher has attempted to combine both views, and after him Philippson, who expresses himself to the following effect: “Ezekiel the prophet, sunk in himself, brooding over matters in the distance and in solitude, had not, like Jeremiah, upon whom the immediate reality pressed, viewed the occurrences simply as punishment of defection and degeneracy, but was conscious also of their inward signification, which came to him in the appearance of a vision. Hence he represented the destruction of the temple as a suspension of the relation of revelation between God and Israel; and so much the more necessary was it to represent the restoration of that same relation as the return of God into the restored sanctuary. Now, from the peculiar character of Ezekiel, this necessarily had to assume a form at once ideal and real,—ideal in its entirety as something future, real as individual and special, matter of fact in its appearance.” As the “indubitable motive of the prophet,” the following is given: “to keep alive in the exiles in the midst of Babylonian idolatry the idea of the one temple, and the priestly institute consecrated to it, as the centre of the religion of the one God; and at the return into Palestine to confirm the life of the people in their calling, by the removal of all elements of strife, and by approximation to the Mosaic state of things.” Hengstenberg’s view is surprisingly near the above one; he says: “With the exception of the Messianic section in Ezekiel 47:1-12, the fulfilment of all (!) the rest of the prophecy belongs to the times immediately after the return from the Chaldean exile. So must every one of its first hearers and readers have understood it. Jeremiah, whom Ezekiel follows throughout, had prophesied the restoration of the city and temple 70 years after the beginning of the Chaldean servitude, falling in the fourth year of Jehoiakim. Thirty-two years had already elapsed. Forty years after the devastation of Egypt (Ezekiel 29:13), the nations visited by the Chaldeans shall get back to their former state. According to Ezekiel 11:16, the restoration is to follow in a brief space after the destruction of the temple. We have before us a prophecy for which it is essential (!) to give truth and poetry (! !), which contains a kernel of real thoughts, yet does not present them naked, but clothed with flesh and blood, that they may be a counterpoise to the sad reality, because they fill the fancy, that fruitful workshop of despair, with bright (!) images, and thus make it an easier task to live in the word at a time when all that is visible cries aloud, Where is now thy God? The incongruity between the prophecy of Ezekiel and the state of things after the exile, vanishes at once by distinguishing between the thoughts and their clothing, and if we can rightly figure to ourselves the wounds for which the healing plaster is here presented, and at the same time the mental world of the priest (Ezekiel), and the materials given in the circumstances surrounding him, for clothing the higher verities which he had to announce to the people.” II. The views which above all look to and keep hold of the objectivity of the divine inspiration of Ezekiel. The very regard which must, in one way or other, be paid to the circumstances under which the people for whom, and the Babylonian exile in which, Ezekiel prophesied, objectivizes in some measure his subjectivity, so that not all the views hitherto cited of our chapters and the ones that follow are to be designated as purely subjective; the properly objective, however, will be, that “the hand of Jehovah was upon him,” that he was brought “in visions of God” to the land of Israel. Here the distinction is drawn by his own hand between the prophet of Israel and the fanciful Jewish priest; and not only this, but the unavoidable and irreconcilable alternative presents itself: either Ezekiel was a man of God, or a deceiver, for whom the fact that he had deceived himself also with assumed divine objectivity were no excuse, but would only be his self-condemnation. The case of Ezekiel, for the sake of truth, is too solemn for thinking of “poetic clothing” in the case before us. The subjective for the form before us, is to keep in mind when considering it what that form is. It has pleased God to speak to us through men. If we take full account of the national peculiarity of Israel in general during the whole old covenant, and of the peculiar personality in the case of our vision here, that is, that Ezekiel is the priest-prophet, that he above all other prophets is, as Umbreit says, a “born symbolist” ( “in the temple which he erects he makes known his greatness as a symbolist, as well by what he says as by what he passes over in silence”),—if we concede to Umbreit the “surprising skill in popularizing instruction” which he observes in Ezekiel, we shall have to accept as the ultimate ground why Israel was the mediator of the world’s salvation, and Ezekiel was chosen to behold the temple of the future, divine wisdom and its purpose for the world, that is, the objective κατ̓ ἐξοχην above everything subjective. In accordance with this principle, we have to judge of (1) the view objectivized in this sense of a model for the rebuilding of the temple after the return from the exile, the supporters of which assume a building-plan “issued under divine authority,” given by Jehovah through the prophet. Although there is a resemblance between Exodus 25:9; Exodus 25:40 and Ezekiel 40:4, yet it is not said to Ezekiel regarding Israel: “according to all that I show thee, the pattern of the dwelling, etc., even so shall ye make it;” the prophet is only to “convey,” announce (נָגַד) all that he sees to the house of Israel. From this circumstance, and not because the reality fell short of the idea (Hitzig, Herder), or, as Philippson adduces here, “the similar fate of so many Mosaic precepts,” the fact is explained that the post-exile temple was built without any regard to our vision. Only the fundamental reference to Solomon’s temple, which in general obtains in Ezekiel also, meets us in Ezra 3:12. This fact, the more remarkable considering the nearness of time, shows that Ezekiel 40:4, soon after it was written, and when fully known, was not regarded as a divine building-specification. We do not need, therefore, to express, as Hengst., “the obvious impossibility of erecting a building according to the specifications here given.” The circumstance that the building materials are not given has at least not prevented the temple of Ezekiel from being, with more or less success, constructed and fashioned after his statements. Bunsen says that “the temple here forms a very easily realized, congruous whole, of which an exact outline may be made, as the prophet also has evidently done.” Umbreit, too, holds this latter view. And although we have to do not with an architect but with a prophet, yet nothing stands in the way of our believing that the subjectivity of Ezekiel was preeminently qualified for this vision, from the fact that he possessed architectural capacity” (Introd. § 7). (2) The symbolical view. It corresponds generally to the character of Holy Writ. (Comp. Lange, Rev. Introd. p. 11.) In particular it pays due regard to the law of Moses, to the part of it relating to worship, the subject here. Especially when the whole worship of Israel is concentrated in the temple, a symbolical view respecting a vision thereof will be quite in place. Thereby only its due right is given to this objective, to the divine idea, in the shape which it has above all assumed in

Israelitish worship. The symbolical character, moreover, is specially appropriate for the prophetic writings. As has already been often said and pointed out, the symbolical predominates in Ezekiel; and as to these concluding chapters, Hävernick adduces, as indicating their general character, the description of the circuit of the new temple (Ezekiel 42:15 sq.), the representation of the entrance, etc. of the divine glory (Ezekiel 43:1 sq.), the river (Ezekiel 47:1 sq. etc.), and observes that “it is just such passages that form the conclusion to the previous description, and hence cast a light on it.” Comp. on Ezekiel 43:10 sq. But everything architectonic is not a symbol, although everything of that nature will indeed primarily relate to the building to be erected, and will thereby at the same time in some way serve the idea of the whole. This character comes out clearly even in individual statements of number, yet all such measurements are not therefore to be interpreted symbolically. Nay, as the exposition shows, there are here bare numbers, resisting every attempt to trace them back to the idea. It is sufficient in respect to the numbers, that (comp. Umbreit, p. 259 sq.) 4, as “signature not only of regularity but also of the revelation of God in space,” e.g. in the quadrangle of the temple; 3, “the signature of the divine,” e.g. in the sets of three gates; 10, “perfection complete in itself,” occurring often; likewise the “sacred number” 7; and the number 12 in the tables for preparing the offerings (Ezekiel 40:0), represent symbolism. (On the symbolism of numbers, comp. Lange on Rev. Introd. p. 14.) Umbreit rightly maintains: “It is a symbolical temple, notwithstanding the arid and dry description, in which only exact specifications of the number of cubits and the apparently most insignificant calculations and measurings occur;” as he says, “quite in keeping with the poverty of the immediately succeeding age and the dignity of the most significant inwardness.” (3) The Messianic view (for which comp. Lange on Kings, p. 60 sq.) is only the taking full advantage of and applying the symbolic view in general. Symbol and type, emblem and pattern, must mutually interpenetrate one another in a law like that of Israel. What separates Israel from the heathen is its law; what qualifies Israel for the whole world is its promise. But now, because of sin, the law has come in between the promise and the fulfilment; that sin becoming the more powerful as transgression may make manifest for faith the grace which alone is still more powerful, and that consequently the necessity of the promise should be the more apparent; that is, the pedagogy of the law (and especially of its ethical part) to Christ. Thus the law of Israel is the theocratic expression of Israel, the servant of God, as he ought to be, and hence prefigures the servant of Jehovah who is the fulfilling of the law, as He is the personal fulfilling of Israel, inasmuch as in Him who was delivered for our transgressions, and raised again for our δικαιωσις, Israel after the Spirit is represented; so that here out of the law relating to worship rise up, as on the one hand sacrifice and the priesthood, so on the other the concentration of the whole of worship in the temple, this parable of the future, with reference to which Christ, John 2:0, gives the σημειον: Destroy (λυσατε) this temple, and in three days I will raise it up (ἐγερω), saying this of the temple of His body; as also the disciples remembered when He had risen from the dead, and as the accusation against Him ran (Matthew 26:61). Accordingly the law, and especially the temple and its service, is σκιαν ἐχων των μελλοντων: the future σωμα is given in the σωμα του Χριστου (σωμα δε κατηρτισω μου, Hebrews 10:0). “This reference to the future,” says Ziegler (in his thoughtful little work on the “historical development of divine revelation”), “is the most dynamical among all the references of the law; its significance for its own time is so weak and unimportant, that it seems to exist solely for the sake of the future, although its office is the opposite of the office of the New Testament, which is formed and abiding in the hearts of men (διακονια της δικαιοσυνης, του τνευματος); still it was a sensible type, a strongly marked and distinctly stamped shadow of the coming substances, and yet, moreover, a veil which concealed it.” What has been said shows the typical signification of the vision of Ezekiel, in which the symbolical view of it is completed, and the pedagogic and providential necessity of that form borrowed from the legal worship in which it is enshrined. Here is more than what (as Hengstenberg can say) “suffices to employ the fancy.” For the anointed one is τελος του νομου. But as the Messianic view of our chapters is thus justified by the symbolic view, when we have taken into account the law, particularly the law of worship in Israel, so likewise the already (Doct. Reflec. 1) noted connection of Ezekiel 40:0 sq. with the previous chapters, especially with Ezekiel 37:26 sq. (p. 351), yields the same result, as also the position after Ezekiel 38, 39 and the relation to this prophecy will have to be taken into consideration. What holds good of Ezekiel 37:26 sq. will also be a hint for our chapters. But even the Talmudists saw themselves compelled (principally because of the treatment of the law of Moses, to be spoken of presently) to acknowledge “that the exposition of this portion would be first given in Messianic times,” as the “best” (according to Philippson) Jewish expositors recognised here “the type of a third temple.” The saying of Jesus in John ii. possibly alluded to the exegetical tradition of the Jews. Hävernick accommodates as follows: “The shattered old theocratic forms rather than new ones were above all cognate to the priestly mind of Ezekiel;” so “he sees nothing perish of that which Jehovah has founded for eternity; those forms beam before him revivified, animated with fresh breath, and lit up in the splendour of true glory; he recognises their full realization as coming in first in Messianic times.” As errors are still committed, e.g. by Schmieder, in the symbolizing of particulars, so the Messianic typology of a Cocceius has deserved, although only in part, the anathema on “mystical allegories,” which above all modern criticism utters; for our defect in understanding in respect of many particulars will always have to be conceded. The Christian idea, however, the Old Testament typical symbolizing of which we have here to expound, is not only the idea of Christ, but also the idea of the Christian Church, the kingdom of God in Christ. If the resurrection of the Anointed One comes into consideration in the first respect, so in the latter does the consummation of the kingdom of grace, after its last affliction, into the kingdom of glory; comp. Revelation 21:22. The one is as eschatological in the wider, that is, christological in the narrower sense, as the other is eschatological in the narrower, or christological in the wider sense. By the translating of our passage into the higher key of John’s Apocalypse, the relation of Ezekiel 40:0 sq. to Ezekiel 38, 39 must be so much the more evident. Comp. Doct. Reflec. on xxxviii. and xxxix. We refer, finally, to what has been said in the Introduction, § 7, that Jehovah’s building in Ezekiel here (still more in its already actual reality for the seer, so that what already existed had only to be measured to him) forms the architectonic antithesis to the buildings of Nebuchadnezzar. As the figure of Gog with his people may have presented itself to our prophet through means of Babylon (comp. Doct. Reflec. on Ezekiel 38 39, p. 375), so from that same quarter may have been derived the representation given of the kingdom of God in its victorious opposition to the world. Hitzig, too (as we now first see when treating of the closing chapters), supposes that there probably “flitted before the eyes of the author living in Chaldea, when describing his quadrangle, the capital of the country and the temple of Belus,—the former, like the latter, forming a square, with streets intersecting one another at right angles.” Umbreit says of the vision of Ezekiel as a whole: “It is a great thought, which presents itself unadorned to our view in the prophetico-symbolic temple: God henceforth dwells in perfect peace, revealing Himself in the unbounded fulness of His glory, which is returning to Jerusalem, in the purest and most blissful unison with His sanctified people, making Himself known in the living word of progressive, saving, and sanctifying redemption. Everything is placed upon the ample circuit of the temple, whose extended courts receive all people, and through whose high and open gates the King of Glory is to enter in (Psalms 24:7; Psalms 24:9), and then upon the order and harmony of the divine habitation, the well-proportioned building (Ezekiel 42:10); and the revelations of the holiest are stored up in the pure, deep water of His word, which in life-giving streams issues from the temple. The stone tables of the law are consumed (?), and the fresh and free fountain of eternal truth streams forth from the temple of the Spirit, quickening and vivifying in land and sea, awakening by its creative and fructifying power a new and mighty race on earth. And thus hast thou, much misjudged yet lofty seer, in the unconscious depth of thy mysteriously flowing language, set up upon the great, undistinguishing (comp. Jeremiah 31:34), well-proportioned, and beautifully compacted building, a type of the simple yet lofty temple of Christ, from which flows the spiritual fountain of life !” From this Messianic view of the section we have to reject (4) the chiliastic-literal view, according to which Ezekiel describes what may be called either the Jewish temple of the future, or the Jewish future of the Christian Church. It is interesting to observe what kind of spirits meet together here in the flesh; e.g. Baumgarten and Auberlen, Hofmann and Volck (who acts as champion for him, and that partly with striking power of demonstration against Kliefoth), are combined here only in general because they make the community of God at our Lord’s Parousia to be an Israelite one. Comp. moreover, p. 357 and § 10 of the Introduction. Auberlen (Daniel and the Revelation of John, p. 348 sq., Clark’s tr.) expresses the apocalyptic phantasm as follows: “Israel brought back to his own land becomes the people of God in a far higher and more inward sense than before, etc.; a new period of revelation begins, the Spirit of God is richly poured forth, and a fulness of gracious gifts is conferred, such as the apostolic Church possessed typically” (!). (One can hardly go farther in the delusion of “deeper” knowledge of Scripture than to make primitive and original Christianity a type of Judaism!) “But this rich spirit-imparted life finds its completed representation in a priestly as well as in a kingly manner. That which in the ages of the Old Covenant obtained only outwardly in the letter, and that which conversely in the age of the Church withdrew itself into inward, hidden spirituality, will then in a pneumatic (!) manner assume also an outward appearance and form. In the Old Covenant the whole national life of Israel in its various manifestations—household and state, labour and art, literature and culture—was determined by religion, but only in an external legal manner; the Church, again, has to insist above all on a renewal of the heart, and must leave those outward forms of life free, enjoining it on the conscience of each individual to glorify Christ in these relations also; but in the millennial kingdom all these spheres of life will be truly Christianized from within outwardly. Thus looked at, it will no longer be offensive (?) to say that the Mosaic ceremonial law corresponds to the priesthood of Israel, and the civil law to its kingship. The Gentile Church could adopt only the moral law; so certainly the sole means of influence assigned to her is that which works inwardly,—the preaching of the word, the exercise of the prophetic office.”

(The Romish Church, however, has known how to serve itself heir satis superque to the Jewish ceremonial law!) “But when once the priesthood and the kingship arise again, then also—without prejudice to the principles laid down in the Epistle to the Hebrews (?)—the ceremonial and civil law of Moses will unfold its spiritual depths in the cultus and the constitution of the millennial kingdom (Matthew 5:17-19). The present is still the time of preaching, but then the time of the liturgy shall have come, which presupposes a congregation consisting solely of converted people,” etc. etc. When Hengstenberg calls such interpretation “altogether unhappy,” that is the least that one can say about it; but even that could not have been said if Ezekiel’s descriptions really had the “Utopian character” which Hengstenberg attributes to them. He, however, justly animadverts upon the incongruity of expecting the restoration of the temple, the Old Testament festivals, the bloody sacrifices (!!), and the priesthood of the sons of Zadok, within the bounds of the New Covenant. Comp. Keil, p. 500 sq., who, both from the prophetic parts of the Old Testament and from the New, refutes at length the notion of a transformation of Canaan before the last judgment, and a kingdom of glory at Jerusalem before the end of the world. (Auberlen, who looks on the “first resurrection” as a “bodily coming forth of the whole community of believers from their hitherto invisibility with Christ in heaven,” makes the now “transformed Church again return thither with Christ, and the saints rule from heaven over the earth;” and from this he concludes that “the intercourse between the world above and the world below will then be more active and free,” etc. Hofmann’s transference of the glorified Church to earth, and his further connecting therewith the national regeneration of Israel, Auberlen declares to be “incompatible with the whole of Old Testament prophecy, to say nothing of its internal improbability.”)


[Dr. Fairbairn’s classification of the views which have been held of Ezekiel’s closing vision generally, and in particular of the description contained in it respecting the temple, is as follows: 1. The historico-literal view, “which takes all as a prosaic description of what had existed in the times immediately before the captivity, in connection with the temple which is usually called Solomon’s.” 2. The historico-ideal view, that “the pattern exhibited to Ezekiel differed materially from anything that previously existed, and presented for the first time what should have been after the return from the captivity, though, from the remissness and corruption of the people, it never was properly realized.” 3. The Jewish-carnal view, held by certain Jewish writers, who maintain that Ezekiel’s description was actually followed, although in a necessarily imperfect manner, by the children of the captivity, and afterwards by Herod; but that “it waits to be properly accomplished by the Messiah, who, when He appears, shall cause the temple to be reared precisely as here described, and carry out all the other subordinate arrangements,”—a view which, strangely enough, is in substance held also by certain parties in the Christian Church, who “expect the vision to receive a complete and literal fulfilment at the period of Christ’s second coming.” 4. The Christian-spiritual or typical view, “according to which the whole representation was not intended to find either in Jewish or Christian times an express and formal realization, but was a grand, complicated symbol of the good God had in reserve for His Church, especially under the coming dispensation of the gospel. From the Fathers downwards this has been the prevailing view in the Christian Church. The greater part have held it, to the exclusion of every other; in particular, among the Reformers and their successors, Luther, Calvin, Capellus, Cocceius, Pfeiffer, followed by the majority of evangelical divines of our own country.”

To this fourth and last view Dr. Fairbairn himself strenuously adheres, expounding, illustrating, and defending it at considerable length, and with marked ability and success. We give his remarks in a somewhat condensed form.

“1. First of all, it is to be borne in mind that the description purports to be a vision,—a scheme of things exhibited to the mental eye of the prophet ‘in the visions of God.’ This alone marks it to be of an ideal character, as contradistinguished from anything that ever had been, or ever was to be found in actual existence after the precise form given to it in the description. Such we have uniformly seen to be the character of the earlier visions imparted to the prophet. The things described in chap, 1–3 and 8–11, which were seen by him ‘in the visions of God,’ were all of this nature. They presented a vivid picture of what either then actually existed or was soon to take place, but in a form quite different from the external reality. Not the very image or the formal appearance of things was given, but rather a compressed delineation of their inward being and substance. And such, too, was found to be the case with other portions, which are of an entirely similar nature, though not expressly designated visions; such, for example, as Ezekiel 4:12, 21, all containing delineations and precepts, as if speaking of what was to be done and transacted in real life, and yet it is necessary to understand them as ideal representations, exhibiting the character, but not the precise form and lineaments, of the coming transactions. … Never at any period of His Church has God given laws and ordinances to it simply by vision; and when Moses was commissioned to give such in the wilderness, his authority to do so was formally based on the ground of his office being different from the ordinarily prophetical, and of his instructions being communicated otherwise than by vision (Numbers 12:6). So that to speak by way of vision, and at the same time in the form of precept, as if enjoining laws and ordinances materially differing from those of Moses, was itself a palpable and incontrovertible proof of the ideal character of the revelation. It was a distinct testimony that Ezekiel was no new lawgiver coming to modify or supplant what had been written by him with whom God spake face to face upon the mount.

“2. What has been said respecting the form of the prophet’s communication, is confirmed by the substance of it—as there is much in this that seems obviously designed to force on us the conviction of its ideal character. There are things in the description which, taken literally, are in the highest degree improbable, and even involve natural impossibilities.” Thus, for example, “according to the most exact modes of computation, the prophet’s measurements give for the outer wall of the temple a square of an English mile and about a seventh on each side, and for the whole city [i.e. including the oblation of holy ground for the prince, the priests, and the Levites] a space of between three and four thousand square miles. Now there is no reason to suppose that the boundaries of the ancient city exceeded two miles and a half in circumference (see Robinson’s Researches, vol. i.), while here the circumference of the wall of the temple is nearly twice as much.” And then, taking the land of Canaan at the largest, as including all that Israel ever possessed on both sides of the Jordan, it amounted only to somewhere between ten and eleven thousand square miles. Surely “the allotment of a portion nearly equal to one-half of the whole for the prince, the priests, and Levites is a manifest proof of the ideal character of the representation; the more especially, when we consider that that sacred portion is laid off in a regular square, with the temple on Mount Zion in the centre. … The measurements of the prophet were made to involve a literal incongruity, as did also the literal extravagances of the vision in chap. 38, 39, that men might be forced to look for something else than a literal accomplishment. …

“3. Some, perhaps, may be disposed to imagine that, as they expect certain physical changes to be effected upon the land before the prophecy can be carried into fulfilment, these may be adjusted in such a manner as to admit of the prophet’s measurements being literally applied. It is impossible, however, to admit such a supposition. For the boundaries of the land itself are given, not new boundaries of the prophet’s own, but those originally laid down by Moses. And as the measurements of the temple and city are out of all proportion to these, no alterations can be made on the physical condition of the country that could bring the one into proper agreement with the other. Then there are other things in the description, which, if they could not of themselves so conclusively prove the impossibility of a literal sense as the consideration arising from the measurements, lend great force to this consideration, and, on any other supposition than their being parts of an ideal representation, must wear an improbable and fanciful aspect. Of this kind is the distribution of the remainder of the land in equal portions among the twelve tribes, in parallel sections, running straight across from east to west, without any respect to the particular circumstances of each, or their relative numbers. More especially, the assignment of five of these parallel sections to the south of the city, which, after making allowance for the sacred portion, would leave at the farthest a breadth of only three or four miles a piece! Of the same kind also is the supposed separate existence of the twelve tribes, which now, at least, can scarcely be regarded otherwise than a natural impossibility, since it is an ascertained fact that such separate tribeships no longer exist; the course of Providence has been ordered so as to destroy them; and once destroyed, they cannot possibly be reproduced. … Of the same kind, farther, is ‘the very high mountain’ on which the vision of the temple was presented to the eye of the prophet; for as this unquestionably refers to the old site of the temple, the little eminence on which it stood could only be designated thus in a moral or ideal, and not in a literal sense. Finally, of the same kind is the account given of the stream issuing from the eastern threshold of the temple, and flowing into the Dead Sea, which, both for the rapidity of its increase and for the quality of its waters, is unlike anything that ever was known in Judea, or in any other region of the world. Putting all together, it seems as if the prophet had taken every possible precaution, by the general character of the delineation, to debar the expectation of a literal fulfilment; and I should despair of being able in any case to draw the line of demarcation between the ideal and the literal, if the circumstances now mentioned did not warrant us in looking for something else than a fulfilment according to the letter of the vision.

“4. Yet there is the farther consideration to be mentioned, viz. that the vision of the prophet, as it must, if understood literally, imply the ultimate restoration of the ceremonials of Judaism, so it inevitably places the prophet in direct contradiction to the writers of the New Testament. The entire and total cessation of the peculiarities of Jewish worship is as plainly taught by our Lord and His apostles as language could do it, and on grounds which are not of temporary, but of permanent validity and force. The word of Christ to the woman of Samaria: ‘Woman, believe me, the hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father,’ is alone conclusive of the matter; for if it means anything worthy of so solemn an asseveration, it indicates that Jerusalem was presently to lose its distinctive character, and a mode of worship to be introduced capable of being celebrated in any other place as well as there. But when we find the apostles afterwards contending for the cessation of the Jewish ritual, because suited only to a church ‘in bondage to the elements of the world,’ and consisting of what were comparatively but ‘weak and beggarly elements;’ and when, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, we also find the disannulling of the Old Covenant, with its Aaronic priesthood and carnal ordinances, argued at length, and especially ‘because of the weakness and unprofitableness thereof,’ that is, its own inherent imperfections, we must certainly hold, either that the shadowy services of Judaism are finally and for ever gone, or that these sacred writers very much misrepresented their Master’s mind regarding them. No intelligent and sincere Christian can adopt the latter alternative; he ought, therefore, to rest in the former. And he will do so, in the rational persuasion, that as in the wise administration of God there must ever be a conformity in the condition of men to the laws and ordinances under which they are placed, so the carnal institutions, which were adapted to the Church’s pupilage, can never, in the nature of things, be in proper correspondence with her state of manhood, perfection, and millennial glory. To regard the prophet here as exhibiting a prospect founded on such an unnatural conjunction, is to ascribe to him the foolish part of seeking to have the new wine of the kingdom put back into the old bottles again, and while occupying himself with the highest hopes of the Church, treating her only to a showy spectacle of carnal superficialities. We have far too high ideas of the spiritual insight and calling of an Old Testament prophet, to believe that it was possible for him to act so unseemly a part, or contemplate a state of things so utterly anomalous. And we are perfectly justified by the explicit statement of Scripture in saying, that ‘a temple with sacrifices now would be the most daring denial of the all-sufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ, and of the efficacy of the blood of His atonement. He who sacrificed before, confessed the Messiah; he who should sacrifice now, would most solemnly and sacrilegiously deny Him.’1

“5. Holding the description, then, in this last vision to be conclusively of an ideal character, we advance a step farther, and affirm that the idealism here is precisely of the same kind as that which appeared in some of the earlier visions,—visions that must necessarily have already passed into fulfilment, and which therefore may justly be regarded as furnishing a key to the right understanding of the one before us. The leading characteristic of those earlier visions, which coincide in nature with this, we have found to be the historical cast of their idealism. The representation of things to come is thrown into the mould of something similar in the past, and presented as simply a reproduction of the old, or a returning back again of what is past, only with such diversities as might be necessary to adapt it to the altered circumstances contemplated; while still the thing meant was, not that the outward form, but that the essential nature of the past should revive.” In this connection, Dr. Fairbairn refers to the vision of the iniquity-bearing in Ezekiel 4:0; to the sojourn in the wilderness spoken of in Ezekiel 20:0; to the ideal representation given of the king of Tyre in Ezekiel 28:11-19; and to the prediction of Egypt’s humiliation in Ezekiel 29:1-16. “Now in all these cases,” he goes on to remark, “of an apparent, we should entirely err if we looked for an actual repetition of the past. It is the nature of the transactions and events, not their precise form or external conditions, that is unfolded to our view. The representation is of an ideal kind, and the history of the past merely supplies the mould into which it is cast. The spiritual eye of the prophet discerned the old, as to its real character, becoming alive again in the new. He saw substantially the same procedure followed again, and the unchangeable Jehovah must display the uniformity of His character and dealings by visiting it with substantially the same treatment. If, now, we bring the light furnished by those earlier revelations of the prophet, in respect to which we can compare the prediction with the fulfilment, so as to read by its help, and according to its instruction, the vision before us, we shall only be giving the prophet the benefit of the common rule, of interpreting a writer by a special respect to his own peculiar method, and explaining the more obscure by the more intelligible parts of his writings. In all the other cases referred to, where his representation takes the form of a revival of the past, we see it is the spirit and not the letter of the representation that is mainly to be regarded; and why should we expect it to be otherwise here? In this remarkable vision we have the old produced again, in respect to what was most excellent and glorious in Israel’s past condition,—its temple, with every necessary accompaniment of sacredness and attraction—the symbol of the divine presence within—the ministrations and ordinances proceeding in due order without—the prince and the priesthood—everything, in short, required to constitute the beau-ideal of a sacred commonwealth according to the ancient patterns of things. But, at the same time, there are such changes and alterations superinduced upon the old as sufficiently indicate that something far greater and better than the past was concealed under this antiquated form. Not the coming realities, in their exact nature and glorious fulness—not even the very image of these things, could the prophet as yet distinctly unfold. While the old dispensation lasted, they must be thrown into the narrow and imperfect shell of its earthly relations. But those who lived under that dispensation might get the liveliest idea they were able to obtain of the brighter future, by simply letting their minds rest on the past, as here modified and shaped anew by the prophet; just as now, the highest notions we can form to ourselves of the state of glory is by conceiving the best of the Church’s present condition refined and elevated to heavenly perfection. Exhibited at the time the vision was, and constructed as it is, one should no more expect to see a visible temple realizing the conditions, and a reoccupied Canaan, after the regular squares and parallelograms of the prophet, than in the case of Tyre to find her monarch literally dwelling in Eden, and, as a cherub, occupying the immediate presence of God, or to behold Israel sent back again to make trial of Egyptian bondage and the troubles of the desert. Whatever might be granted in providence of an outward conformity to the plan of the vision, it should only be regarded as a pledge of the far greater good really contemplated, and a help to faith in waiting for its proper accomplishment.

“6. But still, looking to the manifold and minute particulars given in the description, some may be disposed to think it highly improbable that anything short of an exact and literal fulfilment should have been intended. Had it been only a general sketch of a city and temple, as in the 60th chapter of Isaiah, and other portions of prophecy, they could more easily enter into the ideal character of the description, and understand how it might chiefly point to the better things of the gospel dispensation. But with so many exact measurements before them, and such an infinite variety of particulars of all sorts, they cannot conceive how there can be a proper fulfilment without corresponding objective realities. It is precisely here, however, that we are met by another very marked characteristic of our prophet. Above all the prophetical writers, he is distinguished, as we have seen, for his numberless particularisms. What Isaiah depicts in a few bold and graphic strokes, as in the case of Tyre, for example, Ezekiel spreads over a series of chapters, filling up the picture with all manner of details,—not only telling us of her singular greatness, but also of every element, far and near, that contributed to produce it, and not only predicting her downfall, but coupling it with every conceivable circumstance that might add to its mortification and completeness. We have seen the same features strikingly exhibited in the prophecy on Egypt, in the description of Jerusalem’s condition and punishment under the images of the boiling caldron (Ezekiel 24:0) and the exposed infant (Ezekiel 16:0), in the vision of the iniquity-bearing (Ezekiel 4:0), in the typical representation of going into exile (Ezekiel 13:0), and indeed in all the more important delineations of the prophet, which, even when descriptive of ideal scenes, are characterized by such minute and varied details as to give them the appearance of a most definitely shaped and lifelike reality.

“… Considering his peculiar manner, it was no more than might have been expected, that when going to present a grand outline of the good in store for God’s Church and people, the picture should be drawn with the fullest detail. If he has done so on similar but less important occasions, he could not fail to do it here, when rising to the very top and climax of all his revelations. For it is pre-eminently by means of the minuteness and completeness of his descriptions that he seeks to impress our minds with a feeling of the divine certainty of the truth disclosed in them, and to give, as it were, weight and body to our apprehensions.
“7. In farther support of the view we have given, it may also be asked, whether the feeling against a spiritual understanding of the vision, and a demand for outward scenes and objects literally corresponding to it, does not spring, to a large extent, from false notions regarding the ancient temple and its ministrations and ordinances of worship, as if these possessed an independent value apart from the spiritual truths they symbolically expressed? On the contrary, the temple, with all that belonged to it, was an embodied representation of divine realities. It presented to the eye of the worshippers a manifold and varied instruction respecting the things of God’s kingdom. And it was by what they saw embodied in those visible forms and external transactions that the people were to learn how they should think of God, and act toward Him in the different relations and scenes of life—when they were absent from the temple, as well as when they were near and around it. It was an image and emblem of the kingdom of God itself, whether viewed in respect to the temporary dispensation then present, or to the grander development everything was to receive at the advent of Christ. And it was one of the capital ‘errors of the Jews, in all periods of their history, to pay too exclusive a regard to the mere externals of the temple and its worship, without discerning the spiritual truths and principles that lay concealed under them. But such being the case, the necessity for an outward an literal realization of Ezekiel’s plan obviously alls to the ground. For if all connected with it was ordered and arranged chiefly for its symbolical value at any rate, why might not the description itself be given forth for the edification and comfort of the Church, on account of what it contained of symbolical instruction? Even if the plan had been fitted and designed for being actually reduced to practice, it would still have been principally with a view to its being a mirror in which to see reflected the mind and purposes of God. But if so, why might not the delineation itself be made to serve for such a mirror? In other words, why might not God have spoken to His Church of good things to come by the wise adjustment of a symbolical plan? … Let the same rules be applied to the interpretation of Ezekiel’s visionary temple which, on the express warrant of Scripture, we apply to Solomon’s literal one, and it will be impossible to show why, so far as the ends of instruction are concerned, the same great purposes might not be served by the simple delineation of the one, as by the actual construction of the other.2

“It is also not to be overlooked, in support of this line of reflection, that in other and earlier communications Ezekiel makes much account of the symbolical character of the temple and the things belonging to it. It is as a priest he gives us to understand at the outset, and for the purpose of doing priest-like service for the covenant-people, that he received his prophetical calling, and had visions of God displayed to him (see on Ezekiel 1:1-3). In the series of visions contained in Ezekiel 8-11, the guilt of the people was represented as concentrating itself there, and determining God’s procedure in regard to it. By the divine glory being seen to leave the temple was symbolized the withdrawing of God’s gracious presence from Jerusalem; and by His promising to become for a little a sanctuary to the pious remnant in Chaldea, it was virtually said that the temple, as to its spiritual reality, was going to be transferred thither. This closing vision comes now as the happy counterpart of those earlier ones, giving promise of a complete rectification of preceding evils and disorders. It assured the Church that all should yet be set right again; nay, that greater and better things, should be found in the future than had ever been known in the past,—things too great and good to be presented merely under the old symbolical forms; these must be modelled and adjusted anew to adapt them to the higher objects in prospect. Nor is Ezekiel at all singular in this. The other prophets represent the coming future with a reference to the symbolical places and ordinances of the past, adjusting and modifying these to suit their immediate design. Thus Jeremiah says, in Ezekiel 31:38–40: ‘Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the city shall be built to the Lord from the gate of Hananeel to the corner gate. And the measuring line shall go forth opposite to it still farther over the hill Gareb (the hill of the leprous), and shall compass about to Goath (the place of execution). And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields to the brook Kedron, unto the corner of the horse-gate toward the east, shall be holy to the Lord.’ That is, there shall be a rebuilt Jerusalem in token of the revival of God’s cause, in consequence of which even the places formerly unclean shall become holiness to the Lord: not only shall the loss be recovered, but also the evil inherent in the past purged out, and the cause of righteousness made completely triumphant. The sublime passage in Isaiah 60:0 is entirely parallel as to its general import. And in the two last chapters of Revelation we have a quite similar vision to the one before us, employed to set forth the ultimate condition of the redeemed Church. There are differences in the one as compared with the other, precisely as in the vision of Ezekiel there are differences as compared with anything that existed under the Old Covenant. In particular, while the temple forms the very heart and centre of Ezekiel’s plan, in John’s no temple whatever was to be seen. But in the two descriptions the same truth is symbolized, though in the last it appears in a state of more perfect development than in the other. The temple in Ezekiel, with God’s glory returned to it, bespoke God’s presence among His people to sanctify and bless them; the no-temple in John indicated that such a select spot was no longer needed, that the gracious presence of God was everywhere seen and felt. It is the same truth in both, only in the latter represented, in accordance with the genius of the new dispensation, as less connected with the circumstantials of place and form.

“8. It only remains to be stated, that in the interpretation of the vision we must keep carefully in mind the circumstances in which it was given, and look at it, not as from a New, but as from an Old Testament point of view. We must throw ourselves back as far as possible into the position of the prophet himself. We must think of him as having just seen the divine fabric which had been reared in the sacred and civil constitution of Israel dashed in pieces, and apparently become a hopeless wreck. But in strong faith in Jehovah’s word, and with divine insight into His future purposes, he sees that that never can perish which carries in its bosom the element of God’s unchangeableness; that the hand of the Spirit will assuredly be applied to raise up the old anew; and not only that, but also that it shall be inspired with fresh life and vigour, enabling it to burst the former limits, and rise into a greatness and perfection and majesty never known or conceived of in the past. He speaks, therefore, chiefly of gospel times, but as one still dwelling under the veil, and uttering the language of legal times. And of the substance of his communication, both as to its general correspondence with the past and its difference in particular parts, we submit the following summary, as given by Hävernick:—‘1. In the gospel times there is to be on the part of Jehovah a solemn occupation anew of His sanctuary, in which the entire fulness of the divine glory shall dwell and manifest itself. At the last there is to rise a new temple, diverse from the old, to be made every way suitable to that grand and lofty intention, and worthy of it; in particular, of vast compass for the new community, and with a holiness stretching over the entire extent of the temple, so that in this respect there should no longer be any distinction between the different parts. Throughout, everything is subjected to the most exact and particular appointments; individual parts, and especially such as had formerly remained indeterminate, obtain now an immediate divine sanction; so that every idea of any kind of arbitrariness must be altogether excluded from this temple. Accordingly, this sanctuary is the thoroughly sufficient, perfect manifestation of God for the salvation of His people (Ezekiel 40:1 to Ezekiel 43:12). 2. From this sanctuary, as from the new centre of all religious life, there gushes forth an unbounded fulness of blessings upon the people, who in consequence attain to a new condition. There come also into being a new glorious worship, a truly acceptable priesthood and theocratical ruler, and equity and righteousness reign among the entire community, who, being purified from all stains, rise indeed to possess the life that is in God (Ezekiel 43:13 to Ezekiel 47:12). 3. To the people who have become renewed by such blessings, the Lord gives the land of promise; Canaan is a second time divided among them, where, in perfect harmony and blessed fellowship, they serve the living God, who abides and manifests Himself among them’3 (Ezekiel 47:13-23).”—Fairbairn’s Ezekiel, pp. 436–450.—W. F.]

5. In connection with the wall with which the description begins, mention is forthwith made (Ezekiel 40:5) of the “house.” This makes clear in the outset what is the principal building, to which all else is subordinate, although the wall is called a “building.” However large, then, that which the wall comprehends may appear to be,—and it is said in 40:2 to be “a city-like building,”—the “house” is still the kernel. Comp. the measuring from it in 40:7 sq. Hence the symbolized idea is the dwelling of Jehovah as a permanent one, especially when we compare Ezekiel 37:26 sq. As type, the realization of the idea is to be found in the Word become flesh (John 1:14), as also the χαι νυν ἐστιν (John 4:23) farther shows that the worship in spirit and in truth, and thereby the fulfilling of the worship at Jerusalem, has come with Christ. Salvation (ἡ σωτηρια) is of the Jews, as our vision also sets forth in an architectonic form; they worship what they know. But as the law was given by Moses, so grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. The original influence of the sanctuary on the first constituting of Israel as a people through the making of a divine covenant is still held by in Ezekiel 37:26 sq. (Yes, Israel is Jehovah’s family, His house, εἰς τα ἰδια ἠλθε, John 1:11; Jehovah’s covenant with Israel is a marriage-covenant, Ezekiel 16:0.) The visibility of Jehovah’s dwelling, even in the vision here, although spiritual, must be looked on as a pledge of the entire relation of Jehovah to Israel, and especially of the promise of the Messiah. This is the sacramental character of Ezekiel’s vision of the temple specially insisted on by Hengstenberg. But the temple as the abode of Jehovah is a place of farther revelation, for Jehovah is the Self-revealing One. The very name Jehovah contains a pledge for the whole future of the kingdom of God, the Church of the future. Now this name, as is well known, coincides most essentially and intimately with the destination of this “house;” Ezekiel repeatedly emphasizes the fact that it is the name of His holiness, just as in connection therewith the sanctification of Israel is again and again expressed. Now, as this expresses also the ultimate aim of all Jehovah’s revelation in Israel, we must have got before us in the sanctuary the perspective to the end of God’s way with Israel and mankind in general, the vision of Israel fulfilling its destiny of being God’s tabernacle with men, and the consummation of the world in glory, Revelation 21:22. But the holiness of Jehovah, the sanctification of Israel, is signified forthwith by the wall “round about the house.”

6. The significance of the wall, however, comes first info consideration in respect to the court of the people, so that in special the sanctification of Israel as the end and object of Jehovah’s dwelling in their midst is before all thus symbolically expressed. If the “house” is the central point of the whole, still the court completes the idea of the house; as we have the temple in its entirety, as it was meant to be, only when it has the two courts conjoined with it. The reference to the city, and farther to the whole land, which undoubtedly was always contained in the idea of the court, is moreover expressly given shape to in Ezekiel (comp. Ezekiel 48:0). The court here represents the Israel in the widest extent that appears before Jehovah, as it lives in the light of His countenance and of intercourse with Him; that is to say, it refers to the idea proper of a holy people. When, accordingly, the visionary-prophetic description in Ezekiel exhibits a striking difference from the brevity, incompleteness, and indefiniteness of the historical account in the books of Kings and Chronicles, this indicates, as respects the idea, another Israel than the people had hitherto been. Hävernick remarks on “the wide compass, in order to contain the new community,” and “the sanctuary extending itself on all sides of the temple indiscriminately,” “that which was formerly undefined is now,” as he says, “to receive a higher, a divine sanction.” Bähr, speaking of Solomon’s temple, says that the “almost total indefiniteness” of its court is owing to its “human character” in contrast to the idea and purpose of the house, and that even the court of the tabernacle, although measured and defined more exactly than that of the temple, shows numbers and measurements which indicate “imperfection and incompleteness.” This latter statement might possibly give a hint as to Ezekiel’s description of the courts of the temple, which is, on the contrary, so exact and detailed, and would at least be plainer than what Bähr says of the human as “not divine,” etc., while yet he must concede to the court a mediate divineness. Israel in the wilderness might, as Jehovah’s host, as the people under His most special guidance, still in some measure stamp this relation on the court of the tabernacle. In Solomon’s temple, on the contrary, the self-development, left more to the freedom of the people, especially as they now had kings like other nations, and when their position under Solomon was so influential, would be expressed in the characteristic indefiniteness of the people’s part in the sanctuary. But the Israel of the future, Ezekiel in fine would say, will be exactly and distinctly Jehovah’s possession. Hävernick (and Bähr too) cites for the conformation of the court, “shaping itself according to the need of the people and the times,” its well-known division by Solomon into two courts. After referring to 2 Chronicles 20:5, and the various annexes, the cells, and the frequent defilement of this locality (2 Kings 23:11-12), he concludes thus: “The treading of the courts (Isaiah 1:12) has now come to an end; the repentant people are ashamed of their sins, and draw near to their God in a new spirit, Ezekiel 43:10. The new condition of the courts is a figure, an expression of the new condition of the community. (Comp. Zechariah 3:7; Revelation 11:2.) Thus in Ezekiel’s symbolism the new garnishing of the courts comes to view as the quickening anew, the glorious restoration of the community of Israel.” [Comp. additional note on p. 388.—W. F.]

7. But the description in our vision begins with the gates, dwelling specially on the east gate. For the copiousness with which the gates are described, comp. Ezekiel 43:11; Ezekiel 48:31 sq. Hävernick, against Böttcher, dwells on their significance (p. 641 sq.); makes them since Solomon have acquired under his successors the “disturbing character of the incidental;” remarks that the law says nothing definitely regarding them; points out the profane use to which they were put (Jeremiah 20:2); and maintains that, on the contrary, “the prophet assigns to them a definite relation to the whole of the building, so that they are thoroughly in conformity with the idea of the building.” But the contrast to Ezekiel 8:0 and those that follow is to be very specially observed. “Brought to the gates of the temple, the prophet had been witness of the idol-worship prevalent there. And he had seen the Shechinah departing out of the east gate. To this we have now a beautiful and complete contrast. Henceforth Jehovah will no longer see the holy passages in and out so contemptuously desecrated and defiled (Ezekiel 43:7 sq.); on the contrary, the holy bands that keep the feast and offer sacrifice shall go in and out with the prince of the people in their midst (Ezekiel 46:8 sq.; comp. Revelation 21:25 sq.). But above all, the glory of Jehovah shall enter in by the east gate (Ezekiel 43:1 sq.). Hence this gate is the pattern for all the others,” etc.

8. From the relation on the whole to the temple of Solomon, Bunsen thinks that “in general the old temple was the model;” only, on the one hand, the disposition of the parts was “simpler and less showy,” and on the other, “an effort was exhibited to attain to symmetry in the proportions and regularity in general.” While Tholuck and others remark on “the colossal size” in different respects, as indicating the pre-eminence of the future community, Hengstenberg finds throughout “always very moderate dimensions.” Unmistakeably there is a reference throughout to the temple which Ezekiel had seen with his own eyes; this explains the brevity and incompleteness partially attaching to the description, although in respect to the sanctuary proper this peculiarity of Ezekiel, who is otherwise so pictorial, demands some farther explanation. That the knowledge of the temple, whenever it could be supposed, is supposed in our vision (comp. on Ezekiel 41:0), especially when what was seen presented itself, as it were, in short-hand to the prophet, is only what we should naturally expect. But it corresponded also to the typology of Solomon and the glorious age of Solomon, which had entered so deeply into the consciousness of Israel, and was so popular, when Solomon’s temple forms the foil for the still future revelation of glory and the form it assumes. Ezekiel’s vision presupposes, indeed, that which it passes over in silence, but certainly not always that which it suppresses, as having to be supplied from the days of Solomon. A supposition of this kind is least of all permissible for the metallic ornaments, of which nothing whatever is said in passages in which, on the contrary, e.g. Ezekiel 41:22, what is made “of wood” is particularly mentioned, or when explanations are made, such, for example, as: “This is the table which is before Jehovah.” The old is presupposed, and also something new and different is inserted in the old when not put in its place. What Hävernick observes generally regarding the use made of the sacred symbols of the Old Testament and the allusions to the law by our prophet, may be applied to the way in which reference is made to Solomon’s temple and the knowledge of it supposed: “He lives therein with his whole soul, but by the Spirit of God he is led beyond the merely legal consciousness, he rises superior to the legal symbolism,” etc. In the prophetic description in the chapters before us, we can perceive a struggle as of a dawning day with the clouds of morning; and if something testifies to the derivation of our vision from a higher source than a fancy, however pious, would be, we may take that something to be the sudden advent of peculiar and quite unexpected lights, which have in them at least something strange and surprising in the case of Ezekiel, who was not only familiar with ancestral tenets and priestly tradition, but strongly attached to both. One might sometimes say a less than Solomon is here (Matthew 12:42), and yet not be satisfied with Hengstenberg’s reference to the troublous times in which temple and city were to be rebuilt, but (as Umbreit beautifully says) will feel constrained to take still more into consideration the “worth of the most significant inwardness” for “the poverty of the immediately succeeding times,” in view of “the new temple for the new covenant,” so that whatever of “apparently meagre simplicity” attaches to our temple-vision may have to be read according to the rule given in Matthew 6:29. Umbreit aptly says: “In the interior of the abode of the Holy One of Israel, quite a different appearance indeed is presented from that in Solomon’s temple, and the splendour of gold and brilliant hues is in vain sought for therein; no special mention is made of the sacred vessels, and only the altar of incense is changed into a table of the Lord, which, instead of all other symbols, simply suggests the purely spiritual impartation of the divine life. The ark of the covenant was destroyed by the fire of God, and our prophet no more than Jeremiah cared to know about a new one being made, as also, indeed, it was actually wanting in the so-called second temple. It is enough that the cherubim resume their place in the sanctuary, and, entering through the open doors, now fill the whole empty house, in which the distinctions of the old temple are very significantly left out; for we no longer see the veils, and the whole temple has become a holy of holies.” In the same strain Hävernick says: “If Jehovah wills to dwell among a new people, He must do so in a new manner, although in one analogous to the former. It is the same temple, but its precincts have become different, in order to contain a much more numerous people; and all the arrangements and adjustments here testify to the faithfulness and zeal with which the Lord is sought and served. The whole sacred temple area has become a holy of holies; in this temple there is no place for the ark of the covenant (Jeremiah 3:16), instead of which comes the full revelation of the Shechinah.” On the one hand, the legal form of worship is retained in every iota, or tacitly supposed; on the other, a new element, as with Ezekiel 41:22, almost exactly what Christendom calls “the Lord’s table,” sheds its light over everything previously existing. On the one hand, the numbers and proportions express a magnitude and beauty, a majestic harmony, surpassing both the “tent” and the “temple” (Ezekiel 41:1); on the other, there are unmistakeable indications, as respects the μορφη θεου, in the simplicity and plainness of the whole and the parts, of an ἐν ὁμοιωματι�, a χενωσις, and ταπεινωσις and here and there even a hint is perceptible of the outward poverty of the Church in the last times. Moreover, as the temple of Ezekiel consolingly presented to those who returned from the exile, approaching the more closely to them as respects its human character, its divinity and spirituality in their temple building, so again it contained a sacred criticism on the splendid edifice erected by Herod 500 years later (of the immensa opulentia of which the Roman Tacitus speaks),—a criticism which He who walked in this last temple of Israel, and who was Himself the fulfilling of the temple, completed κατα πνευμα, and as κρισις, κριμα.

9. The treatment of the side-building (Ezekiel 41:5 sq.), especially in its connection with the temple-house, and the detailed description, kept now first in due correspondence with the sanctuary, of the building on the gizrah (Ezekiel 41:12 sq.), are worthy of observation, although not so important as Hävernick makes them. With a touch of human nature, Hengstenberg connects the side chambers with Ezekiel’s dearest youthful reminiscences, reminding us at the same time of Samuel, who, as well as Eli, had even his bedroom in such a side-chamber of the tabernacle. According to Hävernick, Ezekiel’s description is meant to keep the annexe in fairest proportion to the sanctuary itself, etc.; it is the perfect building, instead of the still defective and imperfect one described in 1 Kings 6:0. The side-building and the gizrah are evidently distinguished in relation to the temple as addition and contrast. The description, too, given of both, suggests a still farther realization of the temple-idea, as regards priestly service and other modes of showing reverence to God, and also of the “in spirit and in truth” for this future worship.

10. As to the temple of Ezekiel’s vision considered æsthetically, Bähr’s thoughtful analysis (Der sal. Tempel, pp. 7 sq., 269 sq.) is so much the more applicable, as this visionary temple is still more animated and dominated by the religious idea of Israel, which in its futurity is the Messianic idea. The temple before us is in the highest sense of the word music of the future, although only a variation of an old theme. The import of this old theme, Solomon’s temple and the original tabernacle, will first find full expression in Ezekiel’s temple, whether its measures and numbers are the old ones or different. We must not employ here the classical criterion of the beautiful; sensuous beauty of form is not to be found here. The adornment of the edifice is limited to cherubim and palms, either together or separate; and of the cherubim it must be granted that, æsthetically considered, they are figures the reverse of beautiful. We meet, however, with nothing tasteless or repulsive, like the dog or bird-headed human forms, the green and blue faces of the Egyptian gods, or the many armed idols of the Indian cultus. But what a difference is there between the temple of Ezekiel’s vision and the fancy edifice, for example, the description of which is to be found in the younger Titurel (strophe 311–415, edited by Hahn; comp. Sulp. Boisseree on the description of the temple of the Holy Grail, Munich 1834),—the wondrous sanctuary on Mont Salvage, in which the ideal German architecture consecrates its poetic expression under the influence of reminiscences of Revelation 21:11 sq.! (The chapel of the Holy Cross at Castle Karlstein, near Prague, presents to this day a partial imitation, and on a reduced scale, of the temple of the Grail.) A large fortress with walls and innumerable towers surrounds the temple of the Grail, like an extensive and dense forest of ebony trees, cypresses, and cedars. Instead of the guard-rooms (Ezekiel 40:0) and the express charge of the house (Ezekiel 44:0) of Ezekiel, are the guardians and protectors of the Grail,—the templars, a band of spiritual knights of the noblest kind, humble, pure, faithful, chaste men. And whatever of precious stones, imagery, gold, and pearls the poetic fancy was able to imagine, is collected around the shrine of the Holy Grail. In the heathen temple, with its attempts to represent the divine, and especially in the Greek temple, conformably to the innate artistic taste of the Greeks, with such beautiful natural scenery cherishing and demanding this taste, where sky, earth, and sea on every side suggest the divine as also the beautiful, the execution, form, and shape, distribution and arrangement of the parts, as well as all its decorations, correspond to the demands of æsthetics; but already in Solomon’s temple the ethical-religious principle of the covenant, and consequently of the theocratic presence of Jehovah among His people, penetrates and pervades everything else. Thus the tabernacle, and also the whole temple building, culminates in the holy of holies, which contains the ark of the covenant with the tables of the law, and in which the atonement par excellence is completed. A relation like this, then, is served by any form which rather fulfils its office than strives after artistic configuration, and the form has answered its purpose, provided it only is a religiously significant form. “Solomon’s temple,” says Bähr, “cannot stand as a great work of art before the forum of the æsthetic.” Human art in general goes along with nature, hence its mainly heathenish, its cosmic (κοσμος, “decoration”) character. Jehovah, on the contrary, is holiness, and no necessity of nature of any kind, no nationality as such, no deification of nature, no magic consecration binds Him to Israel, but the freest covenant grace, which has as its aim the sanctification of Israel as His people, with a view to all mankind. That Phœnician artists executed the building of Solomon’s temple (comp. for this the exhaustive critique of Bähr in the work quoted above, p. 250 sq.)—although (Krause, die drei ältesten Kunsturkunden der Freimaurer-brüderschaft, Dresden 1819) freemasonry makes grand masters after Solomon, who is held to represent the Father (omnipotence), King Hiram as Son (wisdom), and Hiram Abif as Spirit (harmony, beauty)—concerns chiefly the technical working in wood and metal. If the artistic execution, thus limited, of the temple decoration bore on it a Phœnician character, and the employment of table work coated with silver showed signs of Hither Asia in general, yet the Phœnician element, this mundane configuration, would not amount to much more than what the Greek language was, in which the gospel of the New Covenant, as well as that of the Old, came before the world. But a specifically Christian element, the really fundamental element in the first and oldest Christian church architecture, namely, that what is also called (it is true) “God’s house” is simply an enclosure of the congregation (οἰκο; ἐκκλησιας, των ἐκκλησιων οἰκος, domus ecclesiœ), is an approximation to the extension of the outer court in Ezekiel, which extension is quite in unison with the Christological method of our prophet, with the peculiar regard he pays to the people of the Messiah (Introd. § 9). Comp. 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:20 sq.; 1 Peter 2:4. The Christian community forms in future the house of God, the temple; as also its development, externally and internally, is in the New Testament called edification, building. Voltaire has declared that he could remember in all antiquity no public building, no national temple, so small as Solomon’s; and J. D. Michaelis held that his house in Göttingen was larger; whereas Hengstenberg ascribes to Solomon’s temple, “inclusive of the courts, an imposing size.” The prominence given in Ezekiel to the east gate of the new temple, although the holy of holies still lies towards the west, may remind us of the projecting eastward of Christian church buildings from the earliest age, and especially of the Concha closing them on the east. As the glory of the God of Israel comes from the east (Ezekiel 43:0), so in the east is the Dayspring from on high (Luke 1:78; the Sun of Righteousness, Mal. 3:20 [4:2]), the Light of the world (John 8:12; Isaiah 4:0), which has brought a new day, the precursor and pledge of the future new morning and day of eternal glory (Romans 13:12; 2 Timothy 4:8). If the light-concealing stained windows of the Middle Ages are not to be traced back to the parts shut up and covered in Ezekiel’s temple, still the powerful tendency to elevation upwards, so appropriate to the Gothic style, has at least some support in the pillars (Ezekiel 40:14), and even suggests an ἀνω τον νουν (Philippians 3:20; Colossians 3:1 sq.).

11. The designation of the temple in Ezekiel 43:0. as the place of Jehovah’s throne, etc., might make us suppose the existence of the ark of the covenant, unless its significance as (to borrow Bähr’s words) “centre, heart, root, and soul of the whole edifice” necessarily demanded an express mention, when, for example, we have in Ezekiel most exact accounts of the altars; comp on Ezekiel 41:22. Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 8:0) first became what it was meant to be from the fact that the ark of the covenant came into it. But the post-exile temple had an empty holy of holies, as Tacitus (Hist. v. 9) relates of Pompey, that “he by his right as conqueror entered the temple, from which time it became known that no divine image was in it, but only an empty abode, and that there was nothing in the mystery of the Jews.” (Comp. Josephus, Bell. Jud. v. 5. 5) The most probable supposition is, that the ark of the covenant disappeared at the destruction of Solomon’s temple, that it was consumed by fire. For the traditions of what became of it are mere myths; e.g. in 2 Maccabees 2, that Jeremiah, among other things, by divine command hid the ark in a cave in Mount Nebo, but when they who had gone with him could not again find the place, he rebuked them, and pointed to the future, when the Lord would again be gracious to His people and reveal i to them, and the glory of the Lord and the cloud would appear as formerly. [The Mishna makes it be hid in a cave under the temple, a statement which the Rabbins endeavour to confirm from 2 Chronicles 35:3. Carpzov supposes the ark included in 2 Chronicles 36:10, and holds that it was restored by Cyrus, Ezra 1:7; a statement which Winer rightly cannot find in that passage, but rather the reverse; while at the same time he is unable to agree with Hitzig, who concludes from Jeremiah 3:16 that the ark of the covenant was no longer in existence even in the days of this prophet. According to the Mishna (Joma v. 2), there had been put in its place an altar-stone rising three fingers above the ground, on which the high priest on the great day of atonement set the censer.] That the symbolical designation of the temple expressed in Ezekiel with reference to the ark of the covenant is simply a legal technical term may be the more readily believed, as in certain respects in contrast thereto, at least in distinction therefrom (although this is strangely denied by Hengst.), the whole precincts of the temple, in consequence of the re-entrance of the glory of Jehovah, became a holy of holies in accordance with the law of this house; comp. on Ezekiel 43:12. W. Neumann expounds Jeremiah 3:16 of the new birth of Israel, when Jehovah will be glorified in the midst of His saints, that these shall no longer celebrate the ark of the covenant. He rejects the opinion of Abendana, who, from 43:17 of the same chapter, inferred that the whole of Jerusalem is to be a holy dwelling-place, and holds to Rashi’s view, that the entire community will be holy, and that Jehovah will dwell in its midst as if it were the ark of the covenant. “For the ark of the covenant as such is a symbolical vessel. As it contains within it the law, which testifies to the covenant (Deuteronomy 4:13; Deuteronomy 26:17 sq.), so the covenant-people are represented in it, the bearers of the law through worldly life, until the days when it shall be written on the hearts of the saints (Jeremiah 31:31 sq.). The Capporeth represents the transformation of the creature transformed by Israel’s perfection in the Lord (?), the new heavens and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness, Isaiah 66:22-23. If this is the thought which lies at the root of the symbolism, then when the ark of the covenant is no longer kept in commemoration, the shadows of the Old Covenant have passed away, all has become new, and the redeemed are the holy seed (Isaiah 6:13), to whom Jehovah’s law has become the law of their life.” The eloquent silence in our prophet regarding the ark of the covenant will, moreover, be understood in respect to the man who speaks as Jehovah (comp. on Ezekiel 43:7), that is, in a Messianic-christological sense, notwithstanding that Ezekiel’s Christology (Introd. § 9) has the Messianic people principally in view.

12. Ezekiel’s vision rests throughout on the law of Moses. Were it otherwise in our chapters, Ezekiel could have been no prophet of Israel, nor the Mosaic law the law of God. This legal character was, moreover, well adapted to put an arrest on a mere fancy portraiture, if not to make it altogether impossible. As to the departure from the law of Moses, which, however, he must concede, Philippson maintains that it is “not great,” and “is limited to the number of victims” (? ?). Hengstenberg denies any difference, calling it merely “alleged.” On the other hand, Hävernick, with whom many agree, speaks of Ezekiel’s “many differences and definitions going beyond the law of the Old Covenant,” while at the same time he rejects the idea that the prophet forms the transition to the farther improved system of the Pentateuch (Vatke), and affirms against J. D. Michaelis the unchangeable character of the law of Moses. Hävernick says: “These discrepancies rather show with so much the more stringent necessity, that a new condition of things is spoken of in the prophet, in which the old law will continue in glorious transformation, not abrogated, but fulfilled and to be fulfilled, coming into full truth and reality.” Bunsen speaks to this effect: “Ezekiel’s design was to make the ritual more spiritual, and to break the tyranny of the high-priesthood. For mention is nowhere made of a high priest, whereas a high-priestly obligation, although slightly relaxed, is laid upon the priests (Ezekiel 44:22). The daily evening sacrifice falls away, and among the yearly feasts we miss Pentecost and the Great Day of Atonement, all which accords with the absence of the high priest and the ark of the covenant; instead of these comes an additional feast of atonement at the beginning of the year (Ezekiel 45:18 sq.), and the amount of the morning sacrifice and the festal sacrifices is enhanced. There is, indeed, much reference to the original law throughout, and it is anew set forth with respect to transgressions and abuses that had crept in, special weight being laid on the precepts concerning clean and unclean (Ezekiel 44:17 sq.; comp. Ezekiel 22:26); but still more does Ezekiel go beyond the law, and gives additional force to its precepts.” We must call to mind the position generally of prophecy to the law of Moses. As prophecy is provided for in the law in the proper place (comp. our Comment on Deut. p. 134), namely, when Moses’ departure demanded it, so its foundation is traced back in Deuteronomy 18:16 sq. to Sinai, and thus it is thenceforth comprehended historically in the legislation. But although it thus stands and falls with the law, having by its own account, like all the institutions of Israel, its norm in the law, yet it rejoices in its extraordinary fellowship with God, its divine endowment and inspiration. And this not in order, like the priesthood, to teach after the letter, and to serve in the ceremonial; but the provision made and charge given already on Mount Sinai, as they make the official duty of prophecy to be the representation of God’s holy will against every other will, so they give to it the character of a legitimate as well as legitimatized officiality, which, like Moses, has to serve as the chosen means of intermediation in relation to the will of the Most High Lawgiver revealing itself; the calling is ordained in Israel for the continuity of the divine legislation. This latter qualification of the prophets of Jehovah in Israel afforded a foundation for their deepening of the legal worship, as opposed to hypocrisy and torpid formality, for their spiritual interpretation of the ceremonial; as, in view of their position towards the future, a consideration of the ecclesiastical and civil law in their bearing on the future followed as a matter of course. The idea which for this end dominates Ezekiel’s closing vision is the holiness of Jehovah, and the corresponding sanctification of Israel, their separation to Jehovah as a possession. It is the root idea which the law expresses and symbolizes in all its forms, whether of morality, worship, or polity. And as it is said already in Exodus 19:0 : “Ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests,” so it is also said in 1 Peter 2:0 of the Christian community, that they who are lively stones are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (comp. 1 Peter 2:9). Peter thus makes a New Testament use of the same mode of expression regarding worship, which, carried out in Old Testament form, is Ezekiel’s representation of Jehovah’s service of the future, when Jehovah shall dwell for ever in His people. Comp. Ezekiel 20:40. Ezekiel’s position, therefore, to the law of Moses is not that of freedom from legal restraints,—a position which might be subjective and arbitrary,—but what he applies from the law for the illustration of the future, and the way in which he does so, passing by some things, more strongly emphasizing others, or putting them into new shapes, derives its legal justification from the idea of the law as it shall be realized in a true Israel, that is, the Messianic Israel. That the Messiah, who says in John 17:0 : “And for them I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth,” remains as a person in the background, is quite in correspondence with Ezekiel’s Christology (Introd. § 9), which, as already said, characterizes the times and the salvation of the Messiah through the Messianic people.

13. “The proper significance of the new temple lies in the full revelation of Jehovah in His sanctuary, in the new and living fellowship into which God enters with His people by this His dwelling among them” (Häv.). As being a return, which it is in relation to Ezekiel 11:0, the entrance of the glory of the Eternal has, although with a New Testament application, corresponding to the: ἐγω μεθʼ ὑμων πασας τας ἡμερας ἑως της συντελειας του αἰωνος (Matthew 28:20), also its Apocalyptic significance, as John says before the close of his Revelation (Ezekiel 22:0): ναι ἐρχου, Κυριε ʼΙησου.

14. If the idea of the court is unquestionably that of the people, whose Messianic perfection as Israel Ezekiel is to behold, then, since everything on the mountain of the vision here is “most holy” (Ezekiel 43:12), the immediately following detailed description of the altar of burnt-offering and its consecration can only point to the future manifestation of Jehovah’s holiness and the sanctification of His peculiar people (1 Peter 2:9). “What holds good of the altar refers also to the whole court; the blessing of the altar includes in it that of the community. By means of the expiation of the altar, the purpose of the divine love, to see a holy people assembled, is effected. The first act, consequently, in which the significance of the new sanctuary is expressed, is the complete expiation of the people, and its efficacy in this respect far surpasses in extent and glory that of the old sanctuary” (Häv.). Accordingly, if they who are sanctified are perfected εἰς το διηνεκες by the προσφορα μια (Hebrews 10:14), the full and complete offering on Golgotha, then the idea also of this altar of burnt-offering upon the very high mountain must be fulfilled. But as the offering which fulfils is the most personal priestly offering, so the sanctification of the people in Ezekiel’s typical temple takes place on the altar of burnt-offering in the priests’ court, which therefore still remains separated from the court of the people, as in Solomon’s temple, whereas in the tabernacle there was only one court. The symbolical representation of the dominant idea of the sanctification of the people was, from their being represented by the priests, rightly localized in a priests’ court, which gives it due prominence here, where everything hinges on locality and arrangement. Thus also, as Bähr observes, in the camp of Israel the priestly family in its four main branches encamped close around the sanctuary on its four sides. [Comp. with this section the Additional Note on Ezekiel 43:13-27, p. 410.—W. F.]

15. As the shutting of the east gate (Ezekiel 44:0) for the future puts the key of Ezekiel’s temple into the hand of Him who, according to the typology of the law and the prediction of the prophets, is the Coming One of Israel, so the prince’s sitting and eating in the east gate must be taken as throwing light on the Messianic future of the people of the promise. It is very evident that by the “prince” is not to be understood the high priest of Israel. This interpretation, which was a Maccabean prolepsis, has now been abandoned. Kliefoth, Keil, and Hitzig justly dispute the indefinite sense which Hävernick gives to the נָשִׂיא, yet they do not sufficiently attend to what may be said in defence of Hävernick’s indefiniteness, and which certainly tells against those who make the future theocratic ruler to be one with the King David of Ezekiel 34, 37, because he too is called נָשִׂיא, as indeed he is also called רֹעֶה. They must own, however, that there is a difference between: “My servant David shall be king over them,” between the “one shepherd” who is “prince for ever,” and the הַנָּשִׂיא here, who comes into consideration quâ נָשִׂיא. Now if this must be granted, then it is only with justice that Hävernick observes that the designation נָשִׂיא sets before us the original, or, as he calls it, “the purely natural constitution of the Israelites” (Exodus 22:27 [28]), although not so much because “the time of the exile had again limited the people to this original constitution, or left them only a poor remainder of it,” as because, looking, as in our vision we always should do, at the Messiah and His times, the discrepancy between theocracy and kingly power, which showed itself at the rise of the latter under Samuel, is to be adjusted on the original ground of the peculiarity of Israel. The נָשִׂיא is the prince of the tribe, as the tribal constitution of Israel put the juridical power and the executive into the hands of the natural superiors, the heads, of families and tribes. And even when in time of need, as in the days of the judges, a dictatorship, the power of one over all others, is had recourse to, it is potestas delegata, and is on both sides considered as nothing else. With a tribal constitution such as the natural constitution of Israel was, the want of an outward centrum unitatis might in itself be painfully felt, and the instituting of one be looked on as a political necessity; but that for Israel the necessity of the time as such should have demanded a permanent institution of the kind, is strikingly refuted by the days of the judges, for the present aid of Jehovah answered to the momentary distress, and raised up the competent helper from out of the tribes of Israel,—“then when they entreated and wept, the faithfulness of God helped them, and sooner than they supposed all distress was over,”—just as the former examples of Moses and Joshua showed that in the Israelitish theocracy the right men were not wanting at the right time. Jehovah alone, as on another side the fundamental canon of the priesthood still held up before the people, claimed as His due to be Israel’s king in political respects also. Originally there could be beside Him no other political sovereign, but merely the institution, in subordination to Him, of the princes of the tribes, and a sort of hegemony of a single tribe. The unity of the religious sentiment, which made the twelve externally separate tribes internally one community, had in earlier times made up for the want of an external centrum unitatis, and the free authority of certain individual representatives of this sentiment was quite in harmony therewith. Hence Jehovah says in 1 Samuel 8:0 : “They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.” Thus the demand of the people requesting a king must, having regard to Samuel, who occupied in Israel a position similar to that of Moses, be looked on as a symptom of disease, although the disease was one of development. We may concede to the elders of Israel who come before Samuel, Samuel’s age, which they urge; and still more, as the occasion of their demand, the evil walk of his sons. We can point to the picture exhibited in the later period of the judges, when everything, even the temporary alliance of individual tribes, appears to be in a state of dissolution; we can along therewith take into account the pride of Ephraim, in whose midst the sanctuary stood, and to whose claims of superiority, even over Judah, all the tribes were more or less compelled to bow. Nay, even in the law (Deuteronomy 17:14 sq.), where it refers to the future taking possession of Canaan, the future development of an Israelitish kingdom is taken into view by Jehovah Himself, and the very form foreseen in which the demand came to Samuel: “I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are about me.” But although this possible desire of the people, because tolerated, is not expressly blamed, yet neither the self-derived resolution there: “when thou sayest: I will,” etc., nor the pattern: “like all the nations that are about me,” is spoken of approvingly; nor can there be behind the emphatic command: “thou shalt in any wise set him to be king over thee whom Jehovah thy God shall choose,” anything but a presupposed conflict with the kingly authority of Jehovah, against which provision must be made in the very outset. Accordingly, when Jehovah Himself takes into view the earthly kingship for Israel, He does so in a way not very different from what Christ says in Matthew 19:0 regarding the Mosaic permission of divorce because of Israel’s hard-heartedness: ἀπ’ ἀρχης θε οὐ γεγονεν οὑτω. But Jehovah is the Physician of Israel, who (Numbers 21:0) made Moses set the brazen serpent on a pole, as a remedy against the bite of the fiery serpents. That which expresses to the full the sentiment of the people under Samuel is also the undisguised: “like all the nations;” with this their request before Samuel closes emphatically as its culminating point. Although to Samuel the thing that personally concerned him: “that he may judge us,” which they gave as their object in the case of the king to be appointed, was displeasing, was in his eyes the bad element in the request, Jehovah first set the matter before him in the light that in His eyes the request for the “king” (מֶלֶךְ) was rather a rejection of His reigning over them, and explained to him the: “like all the nations,” in the mouth of the elders of the people, by their hereditary disposition: “they forsook Me, and served other gods.” Kingly power, such as the heathen nations have from early times, is a necessary self-defence of polytheism against its own divisive and centrifugal elements in the realm of politics; it is a socialistic attempt to arrange a life in community, and that is to unite, both to make the internal unity and order strong and powerful externally, and to keep them so. For מֶלֶךְ, from מָלַךְ, is derived from: “judging,” as still attested by the Syrian signification: “to advise,” and also by the fact that the kingly power in Israel arose from that of the judges: the ruler is he who stands over the opposing parties, over the strife, he who unites; very different from whom is מוֹשֵׁל, the tyrant, עָרִיץ, the coming to power by the right of the strongest. Thus kingly power is from the first peculiar to heathenism;

and because the boundary between the human and the divine is to the heathen consciousness a fluctuating one, kingship, especially in connection with the idolatrous worship thereof which grew up among the heathen nations, comes to be regarded as the contrast to the theocratic relations of the monotheistic people of Israel. Accordingly, when the people of Jehovah ask a king such as all the nations have (comp. 1 Samuel 8:20), this indicates that the theocratic consciousness is darkened and weakened in them; and thus a visible king appears necessary to them, because the invisible Ruler has, as it were, disappeared from their view. In times of religious and moral insensibility, inquiries are always directed to the political constitution; not to the state of society, but to the civil arrangements. And when Israel, forgetting the divine national prerogative they had enjoyed since leaving Egypt, placed themselves on a level with the heathen, then they must have looked on themselves with eyes like those of the heathen; it could not but occur to them, that in comparison with heathen monarchy they were, as Ziegler says, “a people poorly and weakly organized, visibly only republican, and therefore easy to be overcome by the heathen, whose power was concentrated in monarchy.” Thus Israel’s disease in desiring a monarchy “like the nations” was, that they had become infected by the political miasma of the polytheistic spirit of the age. For while the first king of Israel, Saul, very soon entered on the path of the heathen, the monarchy which is in accordance with the law of Israel first assumes shape with David, and then chiefly internally, and with Solomon, and then almost entirely externally. This, too, explains the significance of these two types of kings for the Messianic idea. Ziegler calls David: “the king among kings.” “He comprehended thoroughly the office of a king in a theocracy; he was the best mediator between the people and Jehovah. Because he was the servant of Jehovah, he was also the lawful king. Through him the kingdom became the very best means for attaining to the divine purposes.” Comp. Doct. Reflec. 14, etc. on Ezekiel 34:0, and Doct. Reflec. 21 on Ezekiel 37:0 But already with David—so that Solomon’s sinking down from the greatest external kingly glory into the surrounding polytheism, and the after-division of the royal power through its being broken into two kingdoms, only furnish the foil to it—the wider and higher future of Israel was founded in spirit, namely, as this future should be realized in the Messiah. According to the flesh, the Coming One of Israel is the son of David; according to the spirit of Messianic prophecy, David is the historico-personal basis, its personal foundation, a thoroughly prophetic personality; as Ziegler says: “Partly inasmuch as he is manifestly a τυπος του μελλοντος in many phases of his character and life, even in the minute particulars,—that, like Christ, he began his official career in his thirtieth year, and that he went weeping over the Kedron, and ascended the Mount of Olives with covered head; but also partly because in his psalms he manifests himself a prophet in the narrower sense of the word, a prophet who by his psalms really adds new elements of revelation to the old, his prophecies entering into the most minute details, his Son is the Spirit of his poetry. If the people were comprehended in Moses as the κεφαλη as to the law, we may say of David that they are gathered together in him as to the theocratic kingdom.” Hence these are far-seeing divine thoughts, and bearing special reference to the Messianic salvation which in 1 Samuel 8:0. Jehovah repeatedly urged upon Samuel, viz. to listen to the voice of the people, although the people will not at all listen to Samuel’s voice. Not that Israel had, as Ziegler supposes, to be set by the monarchy on a level with he world in order to be preserved in the world,—for it was just the monarchy that destroyed its national existence, by drawing it into the politics of the great world,—but (and this is the sole object in view in the law regarding the king in Deuteronomy 17:0) the possible conflict with Jehovah’s royal dominion over Israel was guarded against by this, that in the Israelitish monarchy, especially as represented by David personally and by Solomon regally, Jehovah made His “Anointed” for eternity assume a preparatory shape, that is, filled the heathen-political form of government, which might be and still more might become such a contrast to the true, the theocratic Israel, with that which is the final purpose of God’s dominion over Israel (just as already to the patriarchs kings were promised as their descendants). Accordingly in Deuteronomy also, as the Israelitish kingship rises up as on the foundation of the judgeship, so, parallel therewith, and in connection with the priestly office, the prophetic office rises up as a continuation of the revelation by Moses (כָּמֹנִי or כָּמוֹךָ, Deuteronomy 18:0), in whom, according to Peter, was the πνευμα Χριστου. And not less significantly does “the prince” in Ezekiel sit and eat in the gate, through which the glory of Jehovah had entered, and which it has Messianically sanctified. With him Israel appears again as what it was, just as the elders of Israel asked from Samuel a king like the nations, to be chief representative of Israel according to its tribal constitution; he who can be styled directly הַנָּשִׂיא,4 will be so in Messianic consecration and sanctification, so that Christian kingship might be symbolized. Umbreit observes: “Whereas at first every particular tribe had its Nasi, they now are all reunited under a single one. Thus an old name, and yet again new in its signification.” From this Umbreit infers a prince “clothed with great splendour (?), like another Melchizedek, who may combine well the rights of the state and of the Church in one spirit,” etc. etc. Yet surely Hävernick is right in finding indicated here the “true and complete harmony of civil and ecclesiastical order in the days of the Messiah.” “Christ has no vicar; to no one but Himself shall the kingdoms of the world belong; but to pious princes (to princes as they ought to be), to lawful magistrates and lords, pertains a prerogative over the faithful, which again is a duty and a service” (Cocc.). Comp. what is said on this point in the exposition of Ezekiel 46:2. [See also Additional Note on p. 417.]

16. In regard to the priests of Ezekiel’s temple, Hengstenberg thinks the prophet “wishes to draw away the view from the dreary present,—the priests without prospect of office, the ruins of the priesthood,—and, on the contrary, presents to the eye priests in office and honour, in whom the Mosaic ordinances are again in full exercise and authority; and next he wishes to labour for the regeneration of the priesthood.” It is only surprising, when in accordance with Hengstenberg’s general view of our chapters the fancy is worked on here too by ideas of Mosaic priests, that the idea of the high priest is wanting, that this most powerful impression is disregarded. But as regards the removal of the degradation of the pre-exile priesthood, the mention of Zadok sets forth too prominently for this end just the age of David and Solomon. Ezekiel’s priests certainly are Mosaic priests, but the Mosaic priests had a people to represent of whom it is said in Exodus 19:6 : “Ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation” (at the passover the whole people acted as priests); so that it is certainly Mosaic, although according to the inmost idea of the Mosaic law, when the people of the future are in Ezekiel specially represented by the priests. But it is quite peculiar to Ezekiel, that, in order duly to set forth the sanctification of the people by the lofty holiness of their priests, the high priest appears in certain respects absorbed into the priests, and these are represented in a high-priestly aspect. As the people are dealt with in Ezekiel 44:6 sq. for the bad priests set to keep the charge of Jehovah’s holy things (44:8), so the exemplification of priestly instruction of the people given in 44:23 is that of the true priests’ teaching to discern the difference between the holy and the profane, the unclean and the clean: the high-priestly sanctity of the priests is to serve for a high-priestly sanctification of the people; the high-priestly idea is to become a national reality, just as the aggregate of these Old Testament letters (for which comp. Zechariah 6:0) is the fulfilling word of the “body of Christ” as the Church. For the figure of Zadok, the typical high priest, taken from the very specially Messianically-typical age of David and Solomon, corresponds to only such a Messianic prospect. Zadok’s sons are called the true priests of the people, just as the true Shepherd of the people (Ezekiel 34, 37) is a descendant of David. And here we have a parallel exactly similar to that of Jeremiah 33:0, where the continuance of the Levitical priesthood is guaranteed in like manner as the continuance of the race of David, and similarly as to the increase of both,—in which respect there shall, according to Isaiah 66:0, be taken of the Gentiles for priests and for Levites; and so in this way the position of priests among the Gentiles, promised to Israel in Isaiah 61:0, fulfils itself as a universal priestly position. Hävernick makes a “special” blessing for the priesthood be connected with the “general blessing of the theocracy,” inasmuch as “not its hitherto meagre (?) form,” but the priestly office, “as a faithful expression of the idea inherent in it, will be established in perpetuity;” and he compares Malachi 3:3 : “A new priesthood, made anew by the power of the Lord, arises on the soil of the Old Testament priesthood in the new theocracy;” just as Ezekiel’s main concern is “the priestly office in general,” so also the idea “of a really spiritual priesthood” comes to light in his writings, etc. When Hengstenberg compares Psalms 24:0 for the reformation of the priesthood, we observe that the “demands on His people,” spoken of there “from the coming of the Lord of glory,” are no specially priestly demands, but are addressed to the whole house of Israel; and the same is really the case with Isaiah 40:0, which he also cites. The Messianic references of the priesthood of the sons of Zadok, whereby (neither by Zadok personally, nor by Samuel) the prophetic word spoken to Eli (1 Samuel 2:27 sq.) is fulfilled, is not only maintained by the Fathers, but also by Keil;5 comp. on 1 Samuel 2:35 sq. The Berleburg Bible observes: “As in the person of Solomon the Spirit of prophecy pointed to the true and anointed Solomon, so also in this priest it points to the great High Priest, Jesus Christ.” Hengst. remains “quite on the ordinary priestly ground; the prospect into the New Testament relations remains completely closed.” According to him, the prophet has to do only with what is “to be accomplished after brief delay,” etc. On the other hand, Umbreit says: “The priesthood is quite in accordance with the transformation of the house of God. The old class of mediators between Jehovah and His people, consecrated by descent, has disappeared, and we no more find the high priest than we find the ark of the covenant. Instead of the Levites, who, together with the people, have to bear the guilt of the profanation of the covenant, there have come now only the inwardly worthy, the sons of Zadok, who should fulfil their significant name by maintaining fidelity in this ideal sense; and the supreme enhanced law of the new priesthood is the maintaining of inward purity from every outward stain, etc. Their outward support is the holy gift of Jehovah, so that they can say with the godly man in Psalms 16:0 : ‘Jehovah is my portion and my cup; my lot has fallen to me in pleasant places’ (Psalms 16:5 sq.).” [Comp. Additional Note at pp. 419, 420.]

17. The temple building, with its sacred architecture on the basis of the first tabernacle, as Solomon’s temple most richly displays it, symbolizes essentially the same as that which in the priesthood of the temple of Ezekiel’s vision is illustrated liturgically by the ministrations in this temple. For the accomplished dwelling of the Holy One in Israel proclaims His people to be a sanctified, and therefore a holy people. These are the worshippers that the Father desires (John 4:0), a kingdom of priests, or a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:0); just as the “prince,” representing the people civilly and politically, fulfils his idea in King-Messiah; while the priests, the “sons of Zadok,” represent them ecclesiastically and spiritually. This is the purpose and constitution of Israel, the people of God. What the temple is “in spirit,” the representation by the priesthood of the new temple gives “in truth,” that is, in faithfulness and trueness of life. In the former, everything is most holy; in the latter, all are high-priestly. But in Christ the idea to be represented is realized in so much the more priestly a manner, because we have here the community of the Lord, the κυριακον, where, in the case of Israel, was the congregation of the people, the עֵדָה, the קָהֵל. We might, moreover, find some difficulty in reconciling the omissions, and also the occasional so pregnant additions and stricter definitions taken from the idea of the law, in the ordinances regarding the priesthood, with what Hengst. maintains, namely, that the aim is, “by a few well-chosen strokes, to bring out the thought of the restoration of the Mosaic priesthood in its customs and its rights,” while it has been so easy for the exposition (which comp.) to show the prominence given throughout to the priestliness and sanctity of the priests’ office and the priestly order with reference to the people to be represented. As, moreover, the prince is, in Ezekiel 44:0, advanced to a privileged relation to the sanctuary (comp. Ezekiel 45:13 sq.), so along with teaching, instruction, especially in holiness (בֵּין קֹדֶֹש לְחֹל) and sanctification (וּנֵין־טָמֵא לְטָהוֹר, Ezekiel 44:23), the settlement of disputes by the judgment of God, the establishing of righteousness (as is perhaps indicated in the name “Zadok”), is specified in 44:24 among the official duties of the priests. The prince eats in the east gate in the enjoyment of peace; the priests have always to restore peace.

18. As, on the one hand, the burnt-offering is the predominant note in this temple-system of the future, so, on the other, in Ezekiel 45:0 “oblation” is said in reference to the whole land. It is the same idea of devotion to Jehovah which is expressed by both,—the national life consecrated to the Lord in fellowship with Him (comp. the sacrificial feasts, in the east gate, of the prince of this people), Israel’s state of grace. The disquisition on the oblation of holiness, etc., preliminary to Ezekiel 47, 48, and for which Ezekiel 44:28 sq. furnishes the occasion, is significant from the very fact of being thus occasioned. For where priests and Levites are taken account of expressly according to their ministry in relation to Jehovah (Ezekiel 45:0), there the whole house of Israel (45:6), and the prince in particular, with their portions of land, appear in the light of sacred property belonging to Jehovah, and also as His servants, who, while His more peculiar servants, the priests, are to see to holiness and sanctification, have to endeavour after judgment and righteousness. In this way the new nationality dedicated to the Lord (chiefly by the burnt-offering, and symbolized by the “oblation”) has to exhibit itself in civil, social, and secular life. It is actually a new nationality in relation to land and people; but, considered by itself, and apart from Ezekiel 44:28 sq., it appears to mean the division of the land, and especially the “oblation.” Spring has come, yea, the fields are now already white for the harvest (John 4:0). The “oblation of holiness” announces itself as the commencement of the future harvest. Ewald: “The holy portion, which is previously taken from the rest of the land (like the tithes from the fruits of the field), and set apart for its own special purpose, is here very expressively mentioned in the outset, and with manifest reference to the now completed description of the temple (44:2; comp. Ezekiel 42:20); while the prophet evidently hastens more quickly over the portions connected therewith of the common Levites and the city of Jerusalem, in order to come to the portion and duties of the prince,” etc.

19. Hävernick says on Ezekiel 45:0 : “After the description of a so newly reviving order of things in church matters, it appears as a matter of course that the land itself must be treated as a new land, and stand in need of a new special division. This division stands in a converse relation to that under Joshua. While at that time the people before all, each particular tribe, receive their portion, and not until afterwards was a fixed seat in the land assigned to Jehovah, here Jehovah first of all receives a holy gift, which is presented to Him. A portion of land is separated for the sanctuary and the priests, and one of equal size for the Levites. The new temple is moreover kept separate by a kind of suburb, in order to point out its special holiness.”

20. The design of the Mosaic regulation, according to which priests and Levites, especially the latter, were to dwell dispersed among all the tribes, whereby the curse formerly uttered with respect to Levi by Jacob in his blessing of the patriarchs (Genesis 49:0) became fulfilled as a blessing for Levi and for all Israel, was to settle the tribe among Israel in accordance with its calling. Bähr says: “If the Levites were to preserve the law and word of God, and thereby spread religious knowledge, promote religious life, pronounce judicial decisions in accordance therewith, etc., then it was not only suitable, but necessary, that they should not all dwell in one place, in one district. Their dwelling dispersed reminded them to spread the light of the fear of God and piety among the whole people, to give preference to no tribe, and to neglect none.” On this we observe, that it is certainly not to be looked on as an abolition of the Mosaic ordinance that in Ezekiel priests and Levites are all concentrated in one place,—the negation of the former would necessarily have to be formally announced,—but the fulfilment simply comes in place of the former arrangement, inasmuch as the end proposed by that arrangement and regulation is present with and in the future Church. Hengst. thinks the relation of the priests and Levites to the sanctuary is meant to be made clear by their concentration in its neighbourhood. But already before this the cities of the priests at least were to be found in those tribal districts which lay nearest to the place of worship. The idea from which the grouping of the priests and Levites around the sanctuary has to be understood is rather what Jeremiah predicts: that they shall no more teach every man his brother, etc., that from the least to the greatest they all shall know Jehovah (Jeremiah 31:34). The aim of dividing Levi among all the tribes, viz. to care for, preserve, and spread abroad everywhere the law and the testimony, is thus attained. The people of the future will be such that their liturgical representation and the dwelling of their priests and Levites in the neighbourhood of the temple suffice; and besides, this significantly brings out the thought that Levi, this election from the elect people, is a “people of God in the people of God” (Bähr). For, what was designed by the appointed cities, in which we already see them collected while they were dispersed among all the tribes, is fully accomplished in the land of the priests and the Levites (Ezekiel 45:0); and if Bähr’s interpretation of the number of the 48 cities of the priests and Levites as referring to the sanctuary (Symb. d. mos. Kult. ii. p. 51) needed confirmation, it might have it here, where what this interpretation makes of Levi’s dwelling in the midst of Israel is expressly stated of the dwelling-place of the priestly Levites: “a holy place for the sanctuary” (45:4). Accordingly it is with this diversity as respects the Mosaic law, which Philippson calls “the real” diversity, exactly as Christ says in Matthew 5:0.: “I am come not to destroy (καταλυσαι), but to fulfil,” and that: “not one jot or one tittle shall pass from the law till all be fulfilled.”

21. The sanctuary, the land of the priests and Levites, and the prince’s portion, form almost the centre of the land. The city does not include the sanctuary, but is situated beside it, also in the midst of the land. “No jealousy about the possession of them can any longer separate the tribes” (Häv.). “This whole district,” says Bunsen, “is not to lie in the territory of a single tribe, which might thereby appear privileged, but, as accords with its sanctity, is separated from the tribal territories. In other words, the union-authority of the confederacy is to have a special seat for manifesting its activity. No wiser political idea could be devised. Hence Jerusalem still remains Jerusalem, but it no longer belongs to Benjamin.” The central sanctuary is that which unifies also the tribes of Israel, just as the priesthood, royalty, and public property grouped around it give local expression to the unity and oneness of the whole. Instead of the “violence-inflicting and heaven-assailing tower of Babel” (Neteler), “the tabernacle of Shem” has become “a divine sanctuary,” which then no longer symbolizes solely Jehovah’s dwelling in Israel, but is at the same time a type for mankind in general of His tabernacle with men (Revelation 21:3), and of their being united to and under Him. Comp. the Doct. Reflec. on Ezekiel 47, 48.

22. Chiliasm—and this is conceivable of the Jewish Chiliasm, whereas such a final Judaism cannot but prove injurious to modern Christian Chiliasm (Galatians 3:3)—forgets, while studying these closing chapters of our prophet, the beginning of his prophecy, the cosmic character of Ezekiel 1:0, which relates to creation generally, and on which the whole book is based. But indeed if πας ʼΙσραηλ in Romans 11:0 is the people, i.e. Israel after the flesh, then it is only logically consistent to interpret the requickening in Ezekiel 37:0 as a bodily resurrection of all dead Jews. Those who are raised become by this fact, or as at one stroke, converted to Christ; those who are alive are Christians already, or will become so in consequence of this; and this whole Israel returns to Palestine, and forms in a transformed state, as it is already marked out for being by this awakening, the focus of the “millennial kingdom” for fresh salvation to all nations. It is illogical to wish to pick out one piece here, and to understand another merely spiritually; but he who here says A must also say B. Whether the converted Jews are to live in their own land, “under kings of the house of David, as a people who are to be preserved and finally also converted,” as Kliefoth allows to be the doctrine of Scripture, or whether King David will then return and rule over Israel in glory, is rather an antiquarian than a theological question. Scripture teaches none of these fancies; nor does it speak of a kingdom of glory in the earthly Jerusalem, in which the Gentile Church is to be joined to Israel under the dominion of the then reappeared Christ-Messiah (as Baumgarten). According to the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, it has been the destination of Israel, as the people separated from all nations from the time of their first fathers, to be a blessing to mankind. And the more its national theocracy expanded itself to universal Christocracy, which comprehended also the Gentiles under the blessing of the Messiah, the more evidently there becomes exhibited in Israel, with its ecclesiastical and political forms, the preformation of an Israel which wholly is what Israel exhibits only in type,—a people of God that comprehends the redeemed, the saints of all mankind; in which accordingly, as to its worship, and as to its nationality in general, traced back to its original idea, and also viewed with respect to its future realization, the whole and (what is specially emphasized) every part always exhibits holiness and sanctification, the service of the holy God in spirit and in truth (Psalms 22:28 [Psalms 22:27] sq., Psa 47:10 [Psalms 47:9], Psalms 102:16 [Psalms 102:15] sq.; Isaiah 26:2; Isaiah 51, 60; Luke 1:17; Romans 9:24 sq.; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 2:5 sq., 1 Peter 2:9-10, etc.). Nation and nationality are historical and hence perishable colourings of the idea of mankind, which have entirely faded since the eternal idea of Israel has been fulfilled in Christ, in whom there is neither Jew nor Greek (Galatians 3:0), but man, the new man (Ephesians 2:0) ἐν δικαιοσυνη και ὁσιοτητι της�. What could be fulfilled according to the letter—which, however, is the expression borne by the spirit of fulfilment—has been fulfilled in the people of Israel by their rising and revival from the graves of the exile, by their return thenceforth to Canaan under Judah as “Jews,” by the period of the Maccabees, certainly in historical prelude only to the ideal, the entire, true fulfilment of the spirit-letter in the kingdom of God through Christ; according to which fulfilment the elect people are the people of the elect from all mankind, and the Jewish people now neither exist as a people, nor have a future such as Kliefoth would assign to them, namely, to be “holy in the same way that every Christianized nation (!) now is,” for ἐφθασε ἐπʼ αὐτους ἡ ὀργη εἰς τελος (1 Thessalonians 2:16). For the Church of God in Christ, so far as it belongs to this world, the representation of its spiritual life in a service of atoning sacrifices and cleansings, as here in Ezekiel, can be no antithesis; for still, according to Hebrews 12:0, the εὐπεριστατος ἁμαρτια has to be laid aside, and (James 3:2) πολλαʼ πταιομεν ἁπαντες (comp. Ezekiel 45:20). But to Ezekiel no other representation of the future could be given than in types of the sacred past of Israel—as of its law, so of the Davidic royalty and of Canaan as the land of promise. “But however prominent,” observes Keil, “is the Old Testament clothing of the Messianic prophecy in Ezekiel, yet even in this guise lineaments are found by which we recognise that the Israelitish-theocratic guise is only the drapery in which is concealed the New Testament form of the kingdom of God;” and he very justly refers to 1 Peter 1:10 sq., while he farther says: “Even although the prophets, in their uninspired meditations on what they had prophesied as moved by the Holy Ghost, may not have known the typical signification of their own utterances, yet we who live in the times of fulfilment, and know not only the beginning in the appearing of our Lord, etc., but a considerable course of the fulfilment too in the eighteen hundred years’ spread of the kingdom of heaven on earth, have not so much to inquire after what the Old Testament prophets thought in their searching into the prophecies with which they were inspired by the Holy Ghost,—if these thoughts of theirs could be in any way ascertained,—but we have to inquire, in the light of the present measure of fulfilment (comp. 2 Peter 1:19), what the Spirit of Christ, which enabled the prophets to behold and prophesy the future of His kingdom in figures of the Old Testament kingdom of God, has announced and revealed to us by these figures.” Apart from the occasional references of Ezekiel’s representation to paradise, to the first creation (comp. on Ezekiel 36:35; Ezekiel 16:53), to which there is a return in Christ through God’s new creation, the whole handling of the Mosaic law in Ezekiel, of its forms of worship as hieroglyphs of the future to be prophesied of the true Israel, can be understood only from the point of view of a transmutation of the law into its fulfilment.


[1]Douglas’ Structure of Prophecy, p. 71.

[2]See the Typology of Scripture, vol. i. Ezekiel 1, 2, for the establishment of the principles referred to regarding the tabernacle: and vol. ii. part iii., for the application of them to particular parts.

[3]Hävernick, Comm. p. 623.

[4]It will each time be a more definite person, but that does not determine who it will be: only this perhaps is implied, that each nation may retain what is natural to it, what accords with its special character and historic development. The Bible dictates neither a church constitution nor a state constitution; but in Ezekiel there is symbolized what in every constitution, in itself human, ought to be the abiding, the higher: the humanly highest one (הַנָּשִׂיא) sits and eats in the east gate of the Highest, of Jehovah.

[5]“The final fulfilment comes with Christ and His kingdom; accordingly, the Lord’s Anointed, before whom the approved priest shall alway walk, is not Solomon, but David and David’s Son, whose kingdom shall endure for ever” (Keil).

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Ezekiel 40". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/ezekiel-40.html. 1857-84.
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