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1And he led me back the way of the outer gate of the sanctuary that 2looks to the east; and it was shut. And Jehovah said to me: This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall go in through it; 3because Jehovah, the God of Israel, went in through it; thus it is shut. As to the prince, he [is] prince, he shall sit in it, to eat bread [food] before Jehovah; from the way of the [to the] porch of the gate shall he go in, and 4from its way shall he go out. And he brought me the way of the north gate before the house, and I looked, and behold, the glory of Jehovah filled 5the house of Jehovah; and I fell upon my face. And Jehovah said to me: Son of man, set thy heart, and behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears all that I say unto thee concerning all the ordinances of the house of Jehovah, and all its laws [or: its whole law]; and thou settest [shalt set] thy heart to the approach of the house in [conjunction with] all the out-goings of the 6sanctuary. And thou sayest to the contumacy, to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Cease at last from all your abominations, O house 7of Israel, When ye brought sons of the outland, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in My sanctuary, to desecrate it, even My house; when ye offered My bread [My food] (through them), fat and blood, and they 8broke My covenant in addition to all your abominations. And [yea] ye have not kept the charge of My holy things, and [but] ye set [such, those] to keep My charge for you in My sanctuary. 9Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: A son of the outland, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, shall not come to My sanctuary; in respect of every son of the outland [shall it be said] that Isaiah 10:0 in the midst of the children of Israel. Nay, but the Levites who went far from Me when Israel went astray, who went astray from Me after their 11detestable idols, they bear their guilt; And they are servants in My sanctuary, sentinels at the gates of the house and servants of the house; they shall slay the burnt-offering and the slain-offering for the people, and they 12shall stand before them to serve them. Because they used to serve them before their detestable idols, and were to the house of Israel a stumbling-block of guilt, therefore have I lifted My hand over them,—sentence of the Lord Jehovah,—and they bear their guilt. 13And they shall not draw near to Me, to minister as priests to Me, and to draw near over all My holy things to the most holy place, and [but] they bear their reproach and their abominations 14which they did. And I have given them to be keepers of the charge 15of the house, for all its service and for all that is to be done in it. And [but] the priests the [these] Levites, the sons of Zadok, who kept the charge of My sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from Me, they shall come near to Me to minister unto Me, and stand before Me to offer unto Me fat 16and blood,—sentence of the Lord Jehovah. They shall come to My sanctuary, and they shall draw near to My table to minister unto Me, and to 17keep My charge. And it comes to pass, when they go to the gates of the inner court; they shall put on linen garments, and wool shall not come upon them when they minister in the gates of the inner court and at the house. 18Linen turbans shall be upon their heads, and linen breeches upon their loins; 19they shall not gird themselves in sweat. And on their going out to the outer court, to the outer court to the people, they shall put off their garments in which they minister [ministered], and lay them away [down] in the cells of holiness, and put on other garments; and they shall not sanctify the people in 20[with] their garments. And their head they shall not shave, nor suffer their 21locks to grow long; polling they shall poll their heads. And no priest shall 22drink wine when they go to the inner court. And a widow and a divorced woman shall they not take to themselves for wives; but maidens of the seed of the house of Israel, and the widow who was widow of a priest they may take. 23And they shall teach My people; what [the difference is] between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean, they shall make them 24know. And over [matters of] strife shall they stand to judge in My judgments, and judge them [so]; and My laws and Mine ordinances on all My festivals 25shall they keep; and My Sabbaths shall they hallow. And to a dead body of a man shall he not go to be defiled; but for father, and for mother, and for son, and for daughter, for brother, and for sister who had no husband, 26they may defile themselves. And after his cleansing they shall count to him 27seven days. And on the day of his coming to the sanctuary to the inner court, to minister in the sanctuary, he shall offer his sin-offering,—sentence of 28the Lord Jehovah. And it is to them for an inheritance [namely], I am their inheritance; and a possession shall ye not give them in Israel, I am their 29possession. The meat-offering, and the sin-offering, and the guilt-offering, they shall eat it; and every devoted thing in Israel shall be theirs. 30And the first of all the firstlings of everything, and every oblation of all, out of all your oblations, shall be to the priests, and the first of your [ground] corn shall ye give to the priest, to bring down a blessing upon thy house. Whatever is carrion, or torn, whether of fowl or of beast, 31the priests shall not eat.
Ezekiel 44:2. Sept.: ... ὁτι κυριος … εἰσελευσεται … κ. ἐσται κεκλεισμενη. Vulg.:—eritque clausa (3) principi. Princeps ipse—per viam portæ vestibuli ingredietur et per viam ejus—
Ezekiel 44:3. Διοτι ὁ ἡγουμενος οὑτος … κατα τ. ὁδον αἰλαμ—
Ezekiel 44:4. Κ. εἰσηγαγεν με … πληρης δοξης ὁ οἰκος—(Another reading: ואפל על־פני.)
Ezekiel 44:5. ... ταξον εἰς τ. καρδιαν … κατα παντα … ἐν πασιν τοις ἁγιοις. Vulg.: … de universis ceremoniis in viis templi per omnes exitus—
Ezekiel 44:7. ... κ παρεβαινετε τ. διαθηκην μου ἐν πασαις—(Another reading: את כל and תועבתיהם.)
Ezekiel 44:8. ... κ. διεταξατε του φυλασσειν φυλακας—Vulg.: et non servastis præcepta … et posuistis custodes observationum mearum in—vobismet ipsis.
Ezekiel 44:10. ἁλλ̓ ἠ οἱ—Vulg.: Sed et … qui longe recesserunt—
Ezekiel 44:11. Vulg.: … æditui et janitores portarum—
Ezekiel 44:12. ... και ἐγενετο τω οἰκω—
Ezekiel 44:13. ... οὐδε του προσαγαγειν προς τα ἁγια υἱων Ἰσρ οὐδε προς τ. ἁγια τ. ἁγιων μου … τ. ἀτιμιαν αὐτων ἐν τη πλανησει ἡ ἐπλανηθησαν. Vulg.: … juxta sancta sanctorum (Another reading: אל כל.)
Ezekiel 44:14. Κ. ταξουσιν αὐτους … ὁσα . (Another reading: לו.)
Ezekiel 44:15. ... του προσφερειν μοι θυσιαν, στεαρ—
Ezekiel 44:17. Sept.: ... ἀπο της πυλης … κ. ἐσω.
Ezekiel 44:18. βια.
Ezekiel 44:19. The words repeated are wanting in several manuscripts, and in the Sept., Syr., Vulg., Arab., and Chaldee.
Ezekiel 44:20.—κ. τας κομας αὐτων οὐ μη ψιλωσουσιν, καλυπτοντες καλυψωσιν τας κεφαλας αὐτων. Vulg.:—neque comam nutrient, sed tondentes attondent capita sua.
Ezekiel 44:23. ... κ. ἀνα μεσον καθαρου κ. ἀνα μεσον —
Ezekiel 44:24. Κ. ἐπι κρισιν αἱματος . … τα δικαιωματα μου δικαιωσουσιν, κ. τα κριματα μου κρινουσιν, κ. τα νομιμα—Vulg.: … controversia, stabunt in judiciis meis et judicabunt;—(Another reading: למשפט.)
Ezekiel 44:25. Κ. ἐπι ψυχην —Vulg.: … ad mortuum hominem … quæalterum virum non habuerit,—
Ezekiel 44:26. Another reading: יספר.
Ezekiel 44:27. ... εἰσπορευωνται εἰς τ. αὐλην … προσοισουσιν ἱλασμον—Vulg.:—ut ministret mihi—
Ezekiel 44:28. κ. ἐσται αὐτοις … Ἐγω … και—Vulg.: Non erit autem eis—
Ezekiel 44:29. Κ. τας θυσιας—
Ezekiel 44:30. Κ. ἀπαρχαι παντων κ. τα πρωτοτοκα παντων κ. τα . ἀπαρχων … κ. τα πρωτογεννηματα ὑμων—Vulg.: Et primitiva omnium primogenitorum et omnia libamenta ex omnibus quæ offeruntur … et primitiva ciborum vestrorum … ut reponat—
Ezekiel 44:31. ... θνησιμαιον κ. θηριαλωτον—
Ezekiel 44:1-3. The Prince in the East Gate
[As the preceding chapter had disclosed the purpose of God to re-occupy, and that for ever, this new temple, and had described the necessary means and rites of consecration in order to its being a source of blessing to His people, so the present chapter lays down regulations for preventing any new desecration of the house, such as might again compel God to withdraw His gracious presence. These regulations refer successively to the prince and the priesthood—the two classes through whom directly the former pollutions had been introduced into the house of God.—Fairbairn.—W. F.]
The prophet observed in the priests’ court (Ezekiel 43:5) all that relates to the altar of burnt-offering. He is thence brought back, as we shall have to suppose, through the inner north or south gate the way to the outer east gate. It is not without significance that the east gate of the outer court (comp. Ezekiel 43:12) is designated as “gate of the sanctuary, the outer one which,” etc. Looking into it from the court (not as Hitzig and Hengstenberg: from before the outer east gate, as Ezekiel 43:1), Ezekiel perceived that it was shut (comp. Ezekiel 40:11); and this, must the more astonish him, as this entrance to the sanctuary had been described to him in Ezekiel 40:0. as forming the rule for all the other gates of the temple. The fact, then, of its being closed demands an explanation, which also Jehovah (comp. on Ezekiel 43:6-7) gives him in Ezekiel 44:2. Since the whole vision points to the future, it is said first of all in reference thereto: This gate shall be shut (יִהְיֶה). Hence the closing shall continue for all futurity, as is again expressly confirmed by the statement: It shall not be opened, and strengthened by this other declaration: And no man (whoever he may be) shall go in through it,—in other words, by the exclusion of every one. When it is thereafter said: Because Jehovah, etc., the בִּי explains certainly the immediate present (וְהָיָה), the present closing of the gate, which, as we see in Ezekiel 44:1, is the first thing treated of; but we shall have to draw upon it for the explanation for the future likewise, for this future has been announced as the continuance of the closing in the present. The way which the glory of Jehovah went (Ezekiel 43:4) is thus a unique way, and will remain such, no man shall tread it henceforth; and this, when we look upon the fulfilment in Christ of all that had been written aforetime, reads like a Messianic prophecy, without its being necessary for us to suppose with the Church Fathers a direct reference to the virginity of Mary (fit porta Christi pervia, referta, plena gratia, transitque rex et permanet clausa ut fuit per sæcula). [The Rabbins have interpreted the closing of the gate to this effect: that the Shechinah shall no longer be able to come out, an idea which Lightfoot has transformed into the ever-during dwelling of the glory of God in the Christian Church; while Hengst. expresses it thus: that the glory of the impending revelation of the Lord “embodies” itself in the door’s remaining shut.]—When, after this quite universal explanation in respect to future and present of the shut east gate, Ezekiel 44:3, by its very commencing with the absolute construction אֶת־הַנָּשִׂיא, directs attention to the prince, and, besides, gives as reason for what is to be said of him in reference to the east gate, ישֶׁב־בּוֹ, that is as much as to say: qua prince it belongs to him; then an exception from the rule just laid down, that is, an exceptional entering of the prince through this gate at certain times and for certain contingencies, is not to be supposed, especially as what is announced regarding him is not: יָבאֹ בוֹ, but simply: יֵשֶׁב־בּוֹ, that he shall sit in this gate, namely (comp. for the expression: to eat bread before God, Exodus 18:12; Luke 13:26), to enjoy the sacrificial banquets. Of this place of the prince in the east gate, Hengst. exclaims: “How glorious must the entering Lord be, when the prince cannot be more highly honoured than by a place in the gate by which He entered!” Now, since according to Ezekiel 44:1-2 the entrance through the east gate was closed to him, the way by which the prince arrived at his place of honour will necessarily have to be given, as is accordingly done; and this account is not to be interpreted, with Keil, of the outside stair over the threshold at the guardroom, and onward to the gate-porch at the inner end of the gate-structure. For such a way surely מִדֶּרֶךְ אוּלָם׳ would be a strange mode of expression! On the contrary, this mode of expression is quite conceivable when we consider the way of the prophet (Ezekiel 44:1), who had been brought from the north or south to the east gate, and finds himself there on the side of the court west of the gate; and hence has the porch right before him, so that he will the more readily define from it the way of the prince into the gate (from its way he shall also go out), as the entering from the way of the porch of the gate forms self-evidently the contrast to an entering from the way of the gate without. Consequently, the prince has (as Hitzig rightly understands) to come through the outer north or south gate into the outer court, and to cross the same, in order to arrive at the place where he will sit, etc. Whether the gate-porch which thus lay on this side (toward the court) of the gate-barrier is meant to be given as the place for the banquets of the prince may be questioned; Hengstenberg recommends, as “specially” adapted for them, “the inner threshold immediately adjacent to the porch.” According to all this, the exception of the prince symbolizes merely, in its own way, the holiness of the sanctuary, the solemnity of drawing near to Jehovah and appearing before Him. It will no longer be as in the former temple, that any one (אִישׁ) will march straight to the sanctuary through the east gate; but the saints of God, His people sanctified for ever, will know how to honour the holiness of Him who sanctified them. ( “In the case of the tabernacle and its court there was only one entrance, from the east, through which all had to go,” Klief.) But it is significant that the civil head of the people (comp. on Ezekiel 43:22), the prince, sits and eats in the east gate closed for every one, on the way which the glory of Jehovah went to fill the house (Ezekiel 44:4), and there enjoys the fruit of that which has been provided. For the significance of the banquets has regard to the communion and friendly relation in which the participants stand to one another, and with the provider of the feast, who in the last resort is Jehovah—at least He participates therein in the sense of Revelation 3:20; just as also the gladness and joy before the Lord, and even the joys of the kingdom of heaven, appear under the figure of a feast (Psalms 23:5; Psalms 36:9 ; Matthew 8:11; Luke 14:15; Revelation 19:9). We have in this the genuine gospel feature, which excels in glory the face of the law. So much the more, however, as regards the prince—who, as has been said, is rather a reflex of the people (comp. Ezekiel 46:10), just as to them also the entrance to the temple has been opened by the setting in operation of the altar of burnt-offering (Ezekiel 43:26)—must we avoid the interpretation which accentuates in him the David of Messianic times (Ezekiel 34:23 sq., Ezekiel 37:24). On this comp. also Ezekiel 45:22; Ezekiel 46:2; Ezekiel 46:16. It would be better to insist with Hengst. on his “cheering” form, as opposed to the ceasing of the magisterial office in the exile, especially when his presence is so incidentally “presupposed.” But this prince ship, which makes orderly civil relations again obtain in Israel, had its post-exile appearance in Zerubbabel, for instance (Zechariah 4:0), and has at all events been perfected in the Messianic kingdom, even as to the side applicable here, which Isaiah 53:10 expresses thus: “The pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper through his hand;” while in Ezekiel 44:11 he is said: “to see,” “to be refreshed;” and similarly Ezekiel 44:12.
[ “In regard to the prince, it is impossible for us to think of any one but the royal head, as he is throughout spoken of as an individual, and in the next chapter is directed ‘to prepare for himself, and for all the people of the land,’ a sin-offering (Ezekiel 45:22). So that the idea of Hävernick, that the word is used collectively for the rulers and presidents generally of the people, is quite untenable. And not less so is the opinion, that by the expression is simply to be understood the Messiah; for this is utterly irreconcilable with all the prescriptions given, and in particular with those requiring the presentation of sacrifices and sin-offerings for the prince. It is to be explained precisely as the whole delineation here, and in the preceding visions (Ezekiel 34-39), by viewing it as part of an ideal description of coming realities under the form and aspect of the old relations. And no more than we expect other parts of the vision to find their accomplishment under the gospel by a restoration of the carnal sacrifices and institutions of Judaism, should we look here for an actual prince to follow the regulations prescribed. Standing on the position he did, the prophet must speak of the future under the image of the past; and as it was by means of the earthly head of the Jewish state that many of the former corruptions had been introduced, he now shows how a repetition of such evils is to be guarded against in the future. Whether the kingly power should ever again be concentrated in one person, or should be shared by many, is of no moment as regards the substance of the truth here unfolded.” As for the connection between the prince and the east gate (Ezekiel 44:1-3), “what could this import, but that the prince should feel he now occupied a place of peculiar nearness to God? As God’s vicegerent and deputy among the people, it became him to be the most distinguished representative in public life of God’s holiness, to tread the higher walks of spiritual communion and fellowship with Heaven, and stand pre-eminent in his zeal for the interests of truth and righteousness. Far now from usurping the authority that belonged to God, and abusing to selfish ends and purposes the power which was given by Him for higher ends, all authority and power in Israel should be exercised—if this divine ideal were reduced to practice—in a solemn feeling of subordination to God’s majesty, and with an unfeigned desire for His glory.”—Fairbairn’s Ezekiel, pp. 477, 478.—W. F.]
Ezekiel 44:4-16 The Priests.
Ezekiel 44:4. The outer north gate cannot be the one spoken of, for the prophet stands in the outer court before the porch of the east gate. He is brought אֶל־פְּנֵי הַבַּיִת, and so דֶּרֶךְ־שַׁעַר־הַצָּפוֹן, must be the way to the inner north gate, as this was also the way by which to get near to the temple-house.—Comp. for the rest on Ezekiel 43:5; Ezekiel 43:3. As there the filling of the house with the glory of Jehovah introduced the Thorah of the temple, especially the consecration of the altar of burnt-offering, which certainly forms also the transition to the temple - service, so here by a similar introduction, in which Ezekiel 44:5 refers so far back as to Ezekiel 40:4, the service before Jehovah is now introduced, and that with attentive regard to the personelle. Thus the two parts of the section, Ezekiel 40-46, are even formally-separated.—Jehovah, as in Ezekiel 44:2.—The threefold demand upon the prophet, of which the first, which as the most inward strikes the key for the seeing and hearing, has its ground not exactly in the glory just now seen (Hengst.), but rather in what Jehovah will say to him, and in the abominations committed by Israel, to which it has reference.—What concerns the ordinances and laws of the house (comp. Ezekiel 43:11-12) is certainly limited here by הַמִּקְדָּשׁ to the temple building proper, as is also indicated by the designation: house of Jehovah, repeated from Ezekiel 44:4, so that the approach of the house with all the out-goings is to be understood in reference to the priests.
Ezekiel 44:6. That the house of Israel is to be addressed (Ezekiel 2:7) shows the more plainly how it had been represented by the priesthood of the past.—רַב־לָכֶם מִכָּל׳, literally: there is much to you from all your abominations, sufficient, enough for you, so that you may at last abstain (1 Peter 4:3). Like priest, like people; but also, like people, like priest (Hosea 4:9).
Ezekiel 44:7, in this connection, in which the temple-house accessible to the priests alone is treated of, and priestly ministration is had regard to, can hardly refer to heathens or foreigners living amongst Israel (comp. for this Leviticus 17:10; Leviticus 17:12; Numbers 15:13 sq.; Exodus 12:43-44; 1 Kings 8:41 sq.), foreign merchants as sellers of sacrificial victims, etc., nor heathenized Israelites in general, but must be understood as referring to the introduction of priests, who, as the children of Israel were called “heathens” (גּוֹיִם) in Ezekiel 2:3, were בְּנֵי־נֵכָר, instead of being sons of Jehovah’s house. In what sense the term employed is to be taken is shown by the next clause: uncircumcised in heart, which, if said of genuine born heathens, would be nonsense; whereas, said of Israelites, of the priests here, and conjoined with the following clause: and uncircumcised in flesh, it expresses exactly the same as Romans 2:25, when the περιτομη ,—when the direct opposite of the idea of the symbol realizes itself (comp. besides, Deuteronomy 30:6), the distinction also which the symbol denotes will disappear, the Jew has become heathen. Comp. also Ezekiel 16:3; Zechariah 14:21 (Philippians 3:3). The expression: to be in My sanctuary, which more closely defines the בַּהֲבִיאֲכֶם as the bringing in to the priestly ministration, is still farther illustrated by the clause: to desecrate it, My house. When it is farther said: when ye offered לַחְמִי (in a manner, the daily bread of Jehovah, which is immediately explained to mean the sacrificial food as to its elements: fat and blood, for which comp. Numbers 28:2; Leviticus 3:11; Leviticus 21:6; Leviticus 21:8, etc.), this parallel phrase to: when ye brought to be in My sanctuary, etc., confirms the view that priests are meant who formed the pure contrast to the Israelitish priesthood according to its idea, and this the more plainly as וַיָּפֵרוּ (Ezekiel 16:59; Ezekiel 17:18-19) can scarcely be said of heathens as such, who were outside of the covenant; but when understood of such priests, it looks straight into the inmost relation, from which are derived the sanctuary, the service in it, and the sanctification of Israel. The interchange of ye and they is farther shown to be intentional by the next clause: in addition to all your abominations, inasmuch as not even the priests were correct, with whose holiness the people so frequently think they may venture to dispense with their own. Ezekiel 44:8 accordingly goes on to reprimand such shameful priestly representation of the people in respect to the holy things (Ezekiel 22:8) of Jehovah (comp. Ezekiel 40:45-46). Of this Keil gives a superficial view, when he says that “the people, by unlawfully admitting ungodly heathen into the temple, had not only forgotten the reverence due to the holy things of God (!), but had also made for themselves these heathen, so to say (?), ministers of God in His sanctuary.” How can “permission to tread the temple” be “put on the same level,” even only “spiritually,” with “placing in the temple for superintending the worship”? What is meant flows, moreover, from the general statement, impossible to be understood except in its constant sense: And ye set (namely, such parties) … for you in My sanctuary. לָכֶם implies also the representation of the people by such keepers of the charge, which the sanctuary and the covenant of Jehovah with them bound Israel to keep. (Comp. 1 Kings 12:31) HÄv.: “Not to serve God, but to serve your own sinful inclination.”
[Fairbairn: “The children of Israel are spoken of as doing all this, because the corrupt priesthood was inseparably connected with the sins of the people—the one continually acting and reacting on the other. And the corruption in the priesthood, it will be observed, is expressed as if persons had been put into the office who were not of the tribe of Levi, or even of the seed of Israel, but uncircumcised heathen. Not that literally persons of this description had been admitted into the priestly office; that did not take place, not even in the kingdom of Israel, where still the Israelites were employed, though not of the family of Aaron. But the prophet is viewing all in a spiritual light; he is reading forth the import of the outward transactions, as they appeared to the eye of God; and as in that respect the officiating priesthood had been no better than uncircumcised strangers, so he speaks of them as having actually been such.”—W. F.]
Ezekiel 44:9. We have now, in condemnation of such profanation, Jehovah’s solemn declaration regarding the personelle of His service in future. In the first place, a simple negativing of what has been, that shall no longer be; hence כָּל־בֶּן־נֵכָר, to be understood in the same sense as in Ezekiel 44:7; also the phrase: shall not come to, etc., corresponding to what has been previously said, is to be understood of priests, as: My sanctuary, proves beyond a doubt. But the summary winding up (לְכָל׳, Ewald, Gram. § 310a): that is in the midst of, etc., precludes, by the explanation it gives, every thought of genuine foreigners, or even of the גֵּרִים, strangers, Ezekiel 47:22 sq. “Jewish heathen,” as Hengstenberg designates them, are most expressly excluded by this canon of church discipline, which begins at the house of God. To be a “son of Israel” is the first qualification which Jehovah demands for His priesthood, and this taken strictly explains likewise as antithesis thereto the son of the outland. Ezekiel 44:10. כי אם׳ (a strong “but,” Ewald, Gram. p. 856), after the ample negativing Ezekiel 44:9), introduces the position which makes everything perfectly clear that the discourse is to be concerning the tribe of Levi. This designation is given in the outset, because there will still take place a choix sur choix, a narrower election in respect of the Aaronites, the peculiarly priestly family, and a degradation of priests to be servants and assistants, like the Levites given as such to Aaron and his lineage (Numbers 3:0).—רָהַק (Ezekiel 11:6; Ezekiel 8:15), “to be away,” to depart from, Jeremiah 2:5; Jeremiah 2:8.—תָּעָה is: “to stagger” (Isaiah 28:7), in the wider signification: to go astray (Isaiah 53:6).—אֲשֶׁר׳ can explain “Israel’s going astray” (Ezekiel 6:4), and then it is still people and priest taken together as formerly; and this is especially clear when אֲשֶׁר תָּעוּ׳, corresponding to the רָחֲקוּ אֲשֶׁר, makes it conformable to “Israel’s going astray.”—וְנָשְׂאוּ׳, Ezekiel 14:10; Ezekiel 16:52; Ezekiel 16:58 (Hengst.: “they shall take their iniquity upon them”), the guilt to be borne will be made clear by the immediately following punishment. This idolatrous staggering had at different times seized hold of priest and people, sometimes more, sometimes less. Instead of allowing themselves to be dragged along by the people to active or even passive participation in the service of idols, they ought, from their office, to have restrained the people, Jeremiah 2:8. Comp. moreover, Psalms 16:4. [Hävernick thinks here of “even the old misdeeds of Levi, which will make themselves observable.”]
Ezekiel 44:11. They shall not be excluded from all service in the sanctuary, but degraded from the functions of priests to those of simple Levites; as Rashi expresses it; “to do what strangers and servants and women can perform.” שָׁרַת is used also of priestly service; it is only פְּקֻּדָּה (the function for those discharging it) that with the words expressly added points to the gates of the house, although the word in itself is equivalent to &מִשְׁמֶרֶת מִששְׁמָר. It is still in respectful terms that these degraded priests are spoken of (it is not said: לַעֲבֹד אֶת־עֲבֹדַת, as is said of the Levites specifically, Numbers 16:9). They are porters and house-servants, yet in this at least they still represent the people, that they relieve them of the slaying of the victims; it is only with their “standing before them to serve them” that their being degraded to Levites becomes more marked (comp. Numbers 16:9), because now the punishment corresponding to the guilt is
Ezekiel 44:12—to be mentioned; the guilt which they shall bear is characterized by the punishment for it in this way: what they were accustomed to do in the apostasy at the will of the people—and thus as a stumbling-block which caused to fall into guilt—is now officially imposed upon them.—Comp. on Ezekiel 20:5-6; Ezekiel 20:15; Ezekiel 20:23; Ezekiel 36:7.
Ezekiel 44:13 hereupon expressly cuts them off from being priests as hitherto כָּהַן, the fuller stem of כּוּן, signifies: those who establish anything as it should be according to the divine ordinance, the people continuing always in their functions; according to others: those bending themselves, namely, doing homage to the Eternal; Numbers 16:10 of the priesthood, as distinguished from mere Levite service. ל is therefore antithesis to לְשָׁרְתָם, Ezekiel 44:11. Farther details are given in what follows. By the appositional הַקָּדָשִׁים אֶל־קָדְשֵׁי, the expression: to draw near over all My holy things, is—as itself suggests, and the plural קָדְשֵׁי׳ (comp. Numbers 4:19) confirms—interpreted as referring to the eating of the most holy things (comp. on Ezekiel 42:13), appertaining to the priests alone. For the rest, comp. Ezekiel 16:52.
Ezekiel 44:14 recapitulates and sums up the reproach and guilt to be borne, with respectful reference to their former priestly calling; hence שֹׁמְרֵי מִשְׁ׳, which mode of expression, however, receives its levitical limitation through לְכֹל עֲבֹדַתוֹ(comp. Numbers 16:9, Ezekiel 3:0).
Ezekiel 44:15. Those likewise are called Levites who in contrast to the punishment of the former priests are all the more exalted as priests.—צָדוֹק, the son of Ahitub (1 Chron. 5:34 [1 Chronicles 6:8]), of the line of Eleazar (1 Chronicles 24:1 sq.), was co-high priest with Abiathar of the line of Ithamar, in consequence of the twofold service of worship in David’s time, that at Jerusalem and that at Gibeon (1 Chronicles 16:0. [1 Chronicles 16:17] 1 Chronicles 16:39). After Abiathar had like Joab repeatedly attached himself to Adonijah, the pretender to the crown, and had brought about his own fall and banishment to Anathoth (1 Kings 2:0), Zadok was appointed by Solomon sole high priest, and with him the line of Eleazar again became the alone high-priestly one. We are not to go along with Hengstenberg when he, in order to interpret the sons of Zadok, goes back even to the relation of fatherhood in the Decalogue, and drags in the pope too as a holy father, simply to get a father-priest, after whom all priests (since 1 Kings 2:0) are to be designated as his sons, “even the unfaithful,” says Hengstenberg, “who were excluded in the foregoing passage” (!!). He hazards this contradiction to the connection in order to get the faithful priests first in Ezekiel 48:11, and because he finds in Ezekiel 43:19, instead of “sons of Zadok” (as in Ezekiel 40:46), “that are of the seed of Zadok,” “the heads (!) of the high-priesthood, those who are of the high priest’s kindred (Acts 4:6), officiating at the consecration of the altar of burnt-offering” (that is, it is incorrect to say that in the whole vision the high priest never meets us!). In Zadok we might indeed be reminded of Melchizedek, had not the very name Zadok ( “righteous”), and still more what is historically known of him, symbolized him as a type of the true priestly character. The faithful position which he had taken towards David he did not forsake towards Solomon, as Abiathar did (1 Kings 1:7-8; 1 Kings 1:25-26; 1 Kings 2:22); he even anointed Solomon king over Israel. Consequently, in the theocratic (Messianic) signification of the kingdom of David and Solomon, Zadok kept himself precisely in the relation which is so significant for our vision (see Doct. Reflec.). Comp. also 1 Samuel 2:35.—[Fairbairn: “The promise of a priesthood of the house of Zadok entirely corresponded to the promise of a shepherd with the name of David. It simply indicated a race of faithful and devoted servants, in whom the outward and the inward, the name and the idea, should properly coincide,—a priesthood serving God in newness of spirit, not in the oldness of the letter, as the people whom they represented should also have become true Israelites, themselves a royal priesthood offering up spiritual sacrifices to the Lord. In truth, it is the raising up of a people who should be such a priesthood that is meant by the description, and the sons of Zadok came into notice only because in connection with them there was an historical ground for taking them as representatives of a right-hearted spiritual community.”—W. F.]—But as not all the children of Abraham are of his faith, so here the sons of Zadok are only those who kept, etc., who have kept and will keep themselves faithful to Me. Not until after this essential personal qualification for priest, is the formal and official service described: in general, the “drawing near,” etc. (Ezekiel 40:46; Ezekiel 43:19), in particular, the “standing before Me (in contrast to ‘before them,’ Ezekiel 44:11) to offer unto Me (comp. Ezekiel 44:7) fat,” etc., part of the service at the altar of burnt-offering.—Then in Ezekiel 44:16 comes the treading of the dwelling in the holy place, especially the drawing near to the altar of incense (Ezekiel 41:22), for which the name table is significantly retained. Finally, וְשָׁמְרוּ אֶת־מִשְׁמַרְתִי reverts to the starting-point in Ezekiel 44:15, אֲשֶׁר שָׁמְרוּ׳.
Ezekiel 44:17-31. Priestly Duties and Privileges
Ezekiel 44:17 begins with the most external, the clothing; the duty in this respect will make the symbolized inward obligation the more apparent. The coming to the inner gates implies the intention of service at or in the sanctuary, and thereby involves the duty of putting on (פֵּשֶׁת, “flax”) linen garments, and this makes שֵׁשׁ, as already ordained by Moses, perfectly clear (comp. Exodus 39:28; Exodus 28:39 sq.; Leviticus 6:3 , Ezekiel 16:4; Ezekiel 16:23). The express prohibition of wool (צֶמֶר, what is “drawn together,” hanging together like vellus, ἐρος, εἰρος) gives additional emphasis to the linen, and makes the ministering in the gates of the inner court, that is, within them, and at the house, said of functions discharged within the house, the former in relation to the altar of burnt-offering, and the latter in relation to the altar of incense, still more distinctly prominent.
Ezekiel 44:18, like Ezekiel 44:17, refers to the priest’s garments; פְּאֵר is properly: “adornment,” diadem, which might suggest the special high-priestly מִצְנֶפֶת; the word, however, occurs rather in connection with מִגְבָּעֹת, Exodus 39:28 ( “goodly bonnets”), and we have no warrant for supposing it is a special head-covering for priests in general. It is rather meant to be remarked that they are adorned (פְּאֵר is suggestive of floral ornaments), although with linen.—The covering for the loins (מִכְנְםֵי, plural or dual), reaching from high above the loins down to about the thigh (comp. Exodus 28:42), forms the third of the four articles, as Bähr says, designed for the official dress of the priests (in accordance with “the symbolical place of Jehovah’s testimony and revelation”); while the injunction about “girding,” which, moreover, explains the sense and spirit of the whole linen dress, subjoins the אַבְנֵט, that is, girdle of the priests, as the fourth article. This was worn higher up toward the breast, as would then be confirmed by the added defining clause: not in sweat; which certainly will not bear the meaning: while they sweat, but according to Bähr is meant to imply: where they sweat. But &בַּיָּןַע יֶעַן), found only here, elsewhere זֵעָה, from זוּעַ: what is forced out by pressure or anguish) certainly means nothing but what has been said already: that no wool shall come upon them; for as the white linen makes the cleanness apparent, so sweat, so readily produced by woollen stuff, especially when forming a girdle and thus confining the body, is meant to be guarded against as uncleanness, and on the whole accordingly the holiness of the priests for the sanctification of the people to be signified. [Did the Septuagint mean too tight girding, or girding in violent haste?]
Ezekiel 44:19. The repetition: to the outer court, is meant to strengthen the prohibition, which is particularly strong in our verse; to call attention to the distinction between the outer court and the inner, while both, however, are still only courts; and to the altar in the inner court, where the sanctification of the people willed by Jehovah has to take place. After this (comp. Ezekiel 42:14) comes the laying aside of the priest’s official dress, and the laying of it down at the place suitable to the “holiness of Jehovah” (Ezekiel 42:13), and the putting on of other garments, for the purpose of guarding against the thought of another sanctification than the God-ordained one by the way of sacrifice. Not in their garments, that is, it is not they, although they are priests, who are to sanctify the people (comp. John 17:19!). Consequently, the going out to the people is to be understood in reference to sanctification, and shows moreover that this outer court was for the people. Expositors generally refer here to Leviticus 6:11; Leviticus 6:20 (יקְדָּשׁ); Exodus 29:37; Exodus 30:29; comp. besides, Exodus 28:43; Leviticus 6:4 , Ezekiel 16:23. [That contact with the people defiles the priests when in their official dress, as Keil referring to Leviticus 21:0 supposes, is not said here.]
Ezekiel 44:20 forbids, as already Leviticus 19:27; Leviticus 21:5, the shaving of the head smooth, as heathenish; censuring the Creator (!?), says Hengst.; according to Bähr, as mourning, a sign of fellowship with the dead, inasmuch as the hair is a proof of life and vigour of body. The Egyptian priests kept the head always close shaved. On the contrary, the priests of Israel are to bear their head high, as the mediators of an eternal life in holiness through grace.—פֶּרַע implies: “breaking forth,” “being on the top;” hence, the hair on the head. The covering for the head is treated of next to the garments for the body. Keil cites for שָׁלַח ( “to let loose”), as “to let grow freely,” Leviticus 10:6 and Numbers 6:5. But the first passage must not be so understood, and we need not suppose here, in accordance with the second, a prohibition of Nazaritism, but, as the markedly positive clause shows, the hair is simply to be kept short, to be polled. Comp. 1 Corinthians 11:14 sq. (Revelation 9:8). (כָּסֹם is found only here.). On this Hengstenberg observes: “That which is the sign of a wild, disorderly man, who lets nature take its free course, might indeed be permitted to the Nazarite, in consequence of a vow undertaken for a time, in order thereby to typify his separation from the world; but not to the priest, whose duty it was to hold converse with the world, and adapt himself to society, to enter which with shorn hair was the custom even in Joseph’s time. The priest should be no separated person.” If flowing locks and the growth of hair generally is the sign of vigorous natural life, as the forbidden shaving also on its part symbolizes, then by forbidding the priest as representative of a holy people to let his locks grow long, the false positive, in addition to the false negative, is forbidden; the maxim that: every one is his own law (as every one his own devil), unbounded naturalism is forbidden. Neither annihilation nor yet glorification of nature, neither askesis unto death nor honouring of the flesh, but simply law, divine order, is the watchword for the servant of Jehovah. The sanctification treated of is neither heathenishly self-chosen, one’s own fabrication, self-sanctification, nor is it a natural holiness of one’s own, which needs not a sanctification in Jehovah’s way.
Ezekiel 44:21. Although abstinence from wine is demanded, yet our passage has nothing to do with the Nazarite proper. His was a vow regulated by law; but always a free-will dedication pro tempore, where the man thus devoted himself to God with all his naturalism, just as he had grown up. That the priests are not to drink wine (Leviticus 10:9) is grounded on no temporary, formal separation from the world, is no drastic consecration, as in the case of the Nazarite, but is simply an emblem of what is seemly, of sobriety of soul, of the true spirit of a servant of God, who goes into the inner court,—the reason assigned for the prohibition.
Ezekiel 44:22. From their manner of life in respect to drinking, and no doubt generally (Romans 13:14), the obligation of the priests turns to their married life. The injunction not to marry a widow (Leviticus 21:14; Leviticus 21:13) is extended here from the high priest to the whole body of priests, who in this respect then appear high-priestly, just as in Ezekiel 43:12 everything upon the mountain round about was most holy. The ordinary priest also is not allowed to marry (Leviticus 21:7) אִשָּׁה גְּרוּשָׁה, a woman put away by her husband, of course with reason, because of guilt; one of this kind is classified as a factitious widow with those who are really widows. The permission to take a priest’s widow forms a pendant to the judgment pronounced on the daughter of a priest in Leviticus 21:9. For the rest, the verse relates to the priests’ being holy with reference to the holiness of Jehovah. [The Jewish Talmudic view limits the first part to the high priest, understanding מכּהֵן of the other priests: “Yet the widow who is (really) a widow, those who occupy the position of ordinary priests may take.”]
Ezekiel 44:23 defines the official duties of the priests. יָרָה (Hiph.), “to spread out,” the hand, for example, to point to something, to teach, here the people, of whom Jehovah says: My people (Deuteronomy 17:10 sq., Ezekiel 33:10; Leviticus 10:10); and above all to teach them the difference between, etc., for which comp. Ezekiel 22:26. The priestly service, then, is to comprehend worship and doctrine, representation of the people before God, and representation of God before the people. (Comp. Malachi 2:7) But above all, everything with an eye to sanctification.
Ezekiel 44:24 gives in addition to this the court of judicature which they form in disputed cases (Deuteronomy 17:8 sq., Deuteronomy 19:17): עַל־רִיב, they are to stand over the confused and complicated points raised by the parties, and because they have the power to stand over them as judges, since they have to judge in My judgments, they will always find in the law of Jehovah what is right in every case. Qeri: לְמִשְׁפָּט, and Qeri: יִשׁפְּטֻהוּ, are both equally unnecessary. What this administration of justice is in civil life—it too being a sanctification of the people through the judgment of God—has its counterpart in church life, in the observance of all the laws and ordinances, on all the festivals of Jehovah, the key-note for which is given with the hallowing of the Sabbaths (comp. for the reverse, Ezekiel 22:26), while at the same time we are told what is always the main matter in priestly ministration.
Ezekiel 44:25 therefore shows how the priests have to keep themselves from defilement.—לֹא יָבוֹא individualizes, to speak exactly.—The exception (כִּי אִם) affects the same blood-relations as Leviticus 21:0. The exception of the high priest (Leviticus 21:10 sq.) is not noticed, just as there is no notice of the high priest in the whole book. Ezekiel 44:26 is, according to Keil, the command to purify from uncleanness by the dead sharpened, inasmuch as he believes the seven days are appointed over and above the space of seven days prescribed by the law (Numbers 19:11 sq.), and finds this indicated in טָהֳרָתוֹ, in which he thinks he sees a compensation for the previously permitted coming of the priests to the dead, which in the law had been forbidden to the high priest even in the case of father or mother. Rather perhaps the number seven simply points the more strongly to holiness and sanctification. Hengstenberg, on the other hand, insists on the distinction between: having been cleansed, and: “cleansing,” which, he says, began with the beginning of the seven days (Numbers 19:0), seven days being the longest period which any uncleanness lasts. At all events it cannot be denied that Ezekiel 44:27 still demands the offering of a sin-offering when the priest enters again on his ministry.
After the duties come now the privileges of the priests, what is to accrue to them for their service.—In Ezekiel 44:28 we have, first of all, the fundamental condition known from the law (comp. Numbers 18:20; Deuteronomy 10:9; Deuteronomy 18:1), expressed first positively, then negatively, and finally once more positively; which the Israelite priestly consciousness received and retained in living and in dying. For, since the priests of Israel are no foreigners, no dominant race, but of Israel, like all their brethren, it would be natural, when Canaan was promised by God as נַחֲלָה to the people to whom they belonged, that to them also there should be a definite tribal territory for inheritance and possession (אֲחֻזָּה, something which one grasps and retains). But they represent Israel not as to the flesh but as to the spirit, as to the idea which from the outset makes of this people God’s peculiar possession, and thereby God their peculiar possession: “My” people, and I am Jehovah, “thy God.” Now, as the Lord already (Genesis 15:1) says to Abraham, the father of all believers: I am thy very great reward, so this is to the priests for an inheritance, that I am their inheritance (נַחֲלָה), as Jehovah says. They are thereby in such a position that nothing more is to be given to them (לֹא־תִתְּנוּ לָהֶם), at least by their fellow-countrymen, to whom on the contrary they give an earnest of the ideality of their nationality, of the eternal inheritance, of the possession of Canaan in truth, in that they as matter of fact teach Israel its better self, its true aspiration, its eternal future. [Ezekiel 44:28 does not, as Keil supposes, treat of cities to dwell in, with the houses and pasture-grounds belonging thereto, which in the Mosaic economy Jehovah assigns to the Levites and priests from His own peculiar possession in land; comp. Ezekiel 45:0]
Ezekiel 44:29. On the contrary, they have their livelihood from the offerings, and in so far live from Jehovah’s hand. On the meat, sin, and guilt-offerings here mentioned, comp. in the law Leviticus 2:1-10; 1 Corinthians 9:13.—חֵרֶם ( “separating”) is what is devoted to Jehovah without possibility of redemption; for this comp. Leviticus 27:21; Leviticus 27:28.
Ezekiel 44:30. בִּכּוּרִים are the first-fruits of tree-fruit and of corn (from בָּכַר, “to break forth”). Comp. Exodus 23:19; Exodus 34:26; Numbers 18:13; Deuteronomy 18:4.—תְּרוּמָה is said of parts of the offerings with reference to the ceremonial of heaving and waving, which likewise signified consecration to Jehovah. The Rabbins explain the word of the gift “separated” for the Lord; for thus it took place with all the first-fruits, sheaves as well as loaves. At all events, the heave-offering is in general whatever is according to precept or of free will lifted up for Jehovah as a consecrated gift to the sanctuary, indirectly to its ministers (Exodus 25:2 sq., Ezekiel 30:13 sq.; Numbers 15:19 sq., Ezekiel 18:27 sq.). Comp. Ezekiel 20:40.—עֲרִיסָה, used only in the plural, is supposed to be “groats,” or “peeled grain” (Gesenius), with which רֵאשִׁית does not well harmonize; hence Meier supposes grain-corn. Comp. Numbers 15:20 sq.—Everything mentioned in Ezekiel 44:29 tends to sanctification; the heaving and waving in particular involved the thought, that in consequence of such gifts to the priest the blessing of God is brought down on the individual house. Hengstenberg translates: “and that thou mayest make blessing rest in thy house,” and cites Matthew 15:4-5. Comp. Malachi 3:10.
Ezekiel 44:31 brings to a close what refers to the sustenance of the priests, mentioning the things to be excluded therefrom. נְבֵלָה, a dead body, what lies stretched out of men and beasts, cadaver. טְרֵפָה, “something torn off,” torn by wild beasts. Comp. Ezekiel 4:14; Exodus 22:30 ; Leviticus 22:8. Leviticus 17:15 marks this as defiling for any man, how much more so for the priests of Jehovah; so that by this the idea of holiness is exemplified. “Only what Jehovah gives to them and His sanctuary in offerings and dues, which, however, must never be unclean, shall accrue to them; and this at the same time forms the best transition to the awards which follow” (Ewald).
On Ch. 44
Ezekiel 44:1 sq. “Blessed are they who walk under God’s guidance, whom He brings back as here to the principal gate toward the east” (Starck).—“God’s connection with mankind remains a secret” (Diedrich).—“The shut gate is the book sealed with seven seals, which only the victorious Lion of the tribe of Judah opens, and no one shuts (Revelation 5:5). When we draw near to Him who is the Door of the sheepfold, He, because He is the only-begotten of the Father, will open unto us and show us the Father” (Œcol.).—“Christ needs no successor to figure as His vicar in the Church” (Berl. Bib.).—“But certainly in what follows a prerogative is indicated which pious princes, magistrates, and lords may have” (Cocc.).—“Our heart, too, should be shut to the world and the devil, when once the Holy God has entered into it, and His glory has swallowed up sin and misery in us” (Starke).—“Alas, if the door of heaven should be shut!” (Starck.)
Ezekiel 44:3. The position of the prince in the sanctuary of the Lord.—Even the highest civil power has nothing to complete here, but only enjoys the fruits of the completed, perfect sacrifice of Christ.—Princedom and power in the light of the glory of Christ.—The Christian ruler and the rule of Christ.—Privileges and the corresponding responsibility.—“The nearer we are to the sanctuary, the more holy and godly ought we to be” (Starck).—The Christian ruler ought to be the Christian pattern to his people.—He is not to preach, just as it is not his office to offer sacrifice; but he is to nourish and protect the Church and avow its faith.—“Christ is the gate, the only gate; through Him the glory of God has entered into the Church. It also belongs to Him alone to speak the word of God. Hence even the prince is not allowed to enter the Church for the purpose of making his own discourses be heard there. For in the Church is the throne of Christ alone, and of no one else. What is said of the prince is rather this, that he ought to have a good conscience and joy before the Lord because of his princely office, which does not merely consist in this, that we live in peace and quiet under his sceptre, but also that the people may hear the word of God, and without fear offer to Him the sacrifices of their worship” (Cocc.). (Interpreting the prince as the Messiah: “No one knoweth the Father but the Son, who is from God, because He says: My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me” (John 4:34), (Œcol.)
Ezekiel 44:4. “If the prophet here again falls to the ground before the glory of the Lord, have we not humbly to acknowledge and confess our frailty and weakness in presence of the divine mysteries? No plummet of the understanding sounds the abyss of the mysteries of God. Let us be content with what revelation presents to us” (after Jerome).—“God reveals His glory to His servants, especially when He calls on them to make known His will to the people, Acts 18:9; Acts 23:11” (Tüb. Bib.).—“Consider, O Christian, whether thou art what thou art called; whether thou hast God or some one else dwelling in thy heart; whether thou art full of glory or of worldliness, sensuality, and carnality!” (Starke.
Ezekiel 44:5 sq. Divine things are not to be drowsily listened to, or drowsily engaged in.—In everything there must be heart—in seeing, in hearing, in doing.—Pectus theologum facit, not pathos.—The goings in and out of the sanctuary, a solemn consideration for every one, but especially for those who keep the charge of the sanctuary, whatever their rank in the service.—“The sin which still adheres to believers makes them often inattentive in the most necessary things; hence they need many a stirring up and putting in remembrance, 2 Peter 1:13” (Starke).
Ezekiel 44:6. Sinners make light of their doings; but God suddenly says: Enough.—“He who seeks to be saved out of this lost world must once for all have enough of it” (Starck).—The feeling of final surfeit of the world must, however, include aversion; for repentance is conversion, not so weariness of the world, disgust with the world, or such like.—There is a difference between the Israel after the flesh and the Israel after the Spirit.
Ezekiel 44:7. “The false Israel gives the sacraments to the heathen, and elects heretics to office” (Diedrich).—I know thy works, saith the Lord, but of thy faithfulness I know nothing. Quite enough to remove the candlestick, although baptizing, marrying, and dispensing the Lord’s Supper still go on.—The so-called liberal clergy.—The voice of the people, the choice of the people, is not God’s voice, God’s choice, but frequently God’s judgment to the full.—Strange doctrine indicates an uncircumcised heart; and where that is, in spite of ordination and consistorial confirmation, and whatever else pertains to circumcision, there is nothing but the foreskin of a hireling, a thief, and a murderer of the sheep.—“Self-chosen divine service is an abomination to the Lord” (Starke).—The responsibility in the election of a pastor.—The outward discharge of the ministerial office, however exact, does not make a minister such as he should be according to God’s word,—A person baptized in due form may yet be no Christian alter the Spirit.
Ezekiel 44:8. The false teachers, who please the spirit of the age and have the applause of the world.—What general can employ a soldier who is everything else, but no soldier? And the general superintendents [bishops, presbyteries] ordain year by year men who have got through their examinations and are of canonical age, but who are fitter for anything else than for being pastors.
Ezekiel 44:9. “It is accordingly a token of the greatest decline of the Church when the wicked and manifest hypocrites are not only not expelled, but go freely in and out, and even have the ruling power” (Berl. Bib.).—The Church of the future of Jesus Christ, a pure church.
Ezekiel 44:10 sq. The judgment on the priests of the sanctuary, already begun inwardly, is their evil conscience, that cripples all energy in presence of the world, and degrades them to the position of paid domestics; and outwardly too, for even men of the world have no respect for them, although they do not revile them as fanatics.—The false righteousness, which is not God’s righteousness, is also a detestable idol, behind which so many preachers commit adultery.—“Where there are ungodly teachers there is no want of ungodly hearers, Jeremiah 5:31” (Starke).—The lower service in the sanctuary a question of conscience reaching into many a pastor’s life.—Degraded priests a mirror for pastors.
Ezekiel 44:11. But even in the performance of subordinate service, where one originally stood higher, the grace of God may be with us, provided we let God’s humbling of us issue in conversion of heart, and look upon the punishment as a righteous recompense. It is not at all necessary that we should, as the world calls it, make a successful career in the clerical profession.—It is not natural gifts, but heartfelt piety, which decides as to the testimonials which the Lord grants, and as to capacity for office in His eyes.
Ezekiel 44:12. Least of all should a preacher be a stumbling-block and cause of destruction to others. Yet the grace of God will still raise up from their fall even those who caused others to fall. Grace and always grace. Let us not despise the offer, let us not neglect the day of grace.—But there is no grace without self-judgment and self-condemnation.—The sins of the preacher in their consequences as regards the life of the community.—“A minister of the Church ought to be a pattern to the flock in doctrine and life, 1Ti 4:12; 2 Timothy 1:13; Titus 2:7” (Starck).The servant who knows his lord’s will and does it not shall receive a double amount of stripes.
Ezekiel 44:13-14. The ignominy of failure in ministerial life: personal access to God is hindered, and the office becomes a torment.—“Wherein can they who have cause to be ashamed before others of their former doings, and have given much offence to others, complain of God that the first have become last, when God still finally receives and takes hold of them, although they do not attain to such a high position as otherwise they might have attained to, and which others have attained to? Should they not rather extol God’s exceeding great and undeserved mercy to them?” (Berl. Bib:)
Ezekiel 44:15-16. The sons of Zadok are those who have neither received the mark of the beast in their hand nor in their forehead (Revelation 13:0).—“Faithful servants of God are highly esteemed in His sight, Psalms 105:15” (Cr.).
Ezekiel 44:16 sq. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Matthew 5:0).—“Sheep they ought to be, but neither to keep the sheep for the sake of the fleece, nor to enter in in sheep’s clothing” (Berl. Bib.).—“Let him who desires to be found at last among them that are clothed in white robes, be diligent to have a conscience void of offence, Acts 24:15 sq.” (Starke).—The precepts according to the law should remind us that preachers particularly run within lists, as Paul writes of the Christians. What is fitting for any one else may yet be far from seemly in a preacher.—But it is just those who take things easy that speak most of their severe toil and the heavy labour they have to undergo.
Ezekiel 44:19 sq. “Let them manifest their intimate fellowship with God and the glorious privileges over which their soul rejoices in a becoming walk and conversation. They are not to conform to the world, but to shine as lights among men (Philippians 2:15); while at the same time they are not to make a show of their inward life, lest the people from hypocrisy should imitate that to which their mind is a stranger” (Heim-Hoff.).—“They certainly should go among the people, but not seek to exalt themselves over the people because of their prerogatives, but to hold converse with them as brethren with brethren” (Cocc.). (Comp. on Ezekiel 42:14.)—He who ministers at the sanctuary must never seem profane, nor a fop in his attire, nor comic in his speech, nor a man of the world in his transactions. He may seem ridiculous to the world, only never conformed to the world.—But the pretended sanctification through holy priests is also of the devil, for of God Christ is made to us sanctification, etc., and there is no other mediator than He the only Mediator between God and men.
Ezekiel 44:20 sq. Seemly, but not remarkable either in defect or excess.—Men of extremes are unfit for the holy ministry.—“The spirit of believers is a spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind, 2 Timothy 1:7” (Berl. Bib.).
Ezekiel 44:22. Ministers’ widows an exception among widows.—But this neither bids ministers marry, nor forbids their remaining unmarried, only the marriage ought to be a priestly one.—The spiritual side of the married state.
Ezekiel 44:23. As their life, so above all their teaching ought to preserve the people from defilement, and train them to purity.
Ezekiel 44:24. God’s word is God’s judgment, the righteous Judge, right law and upright judgment.—The servant of God as umpire in disputes. He must not be a party man, but stands over the parties.—The Sabbath in the pastor’s house also a subject for reflection.
Ezekiel 44:25 sq. They who are the messengers, heralds, and representatives of an eternal life shall neither have their serenity disturbed by the death of believers, which is no death, nor their pure walk defiled by the life of the spiritually dead, which is no life.—“Have no fellowship with those who love dead works but hate the life of God” (Berl. Bib.).—We too are allowed to wipe our eyes, as God wipes away every tear from the eyes of His saints.—At Jehovah’s altar is peace and joy in the Holy Ghost (Psalms 132:9; Psalms 132:16).
Ezekiel 44:28. “Why dost thou, O teacher, strive for a larger stipend and greater income? Knowest thou not that the Lord Himself will be thine inheritance and thy exceeding great reward, or wishest thou not that He should be so?” (Tüb. Bib.)—“All who have first the kingdom of God for their possession, are also truly priests. God feeds them wholly on what is hallowed, and he who will have a blessing in his house must evince love to them” (Diedrich).—What greater inheritance can there be than God, the Lord of all; and what greater possession than He who made, who sustains, and rules heaven and earth?—“So Christians ought not to endeavour after filthy lucre; they are not to have their portion in this world, but to have their home in heaven” (Œcol.).
Ezekiel 44:31. “In God’s service there is no filthy lucre. The Lord purifies everything for them who eat with Him” (Diedrich).
DOCTRINAL REFLECTIONS ON CH. 40–46
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  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.”)
ADDITIONAL NOTE ON Ezekiel 40-46
[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 ), 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.
Douglas’ Structure of Prophecy, p. 71.
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.
Hävernick, Comm. p. 623.
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.
“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).
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Ezekiel 44". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25