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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 48

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

Verses 1-35

CHAP. 48

1And these are the names of the tribes: from the north end by the way of [toward] Hethlon, as one cometh to Hamath, Hazar-Enon, the border of Damascus northward to the border of Hamath, and they are to him the east2 side, the sea: Dan one. And on the border of Dan, from the east side to 3 the westward side: Asher one. And on the border of Asher, from the eastward 4 side to the westward side: Naphtali one. And on the border of Naphtali, from the eastward side to the westward side: Manasseh one.5 And on the border of Manasseh, from the eastward side to the westward 6 side: Ephraim one. And on the border of Ephraim, from the east side, and 7 to the westward side: Reuben one. And on the border of Reuben, from the 8 east side to the westward side: Judah one. And on the border of Judah, from the east side to the westward side, shall be the oblation which ye shall offer, five and twenty thousand in breadth, and the length as one of the tribe-portions from the eastward side to the westward side; and the sanctuary Isaiah 9:0 in the midst of it. The oblation which ye shall offer to Jehovah is in length 10 five and twenty thousand, and in breadth ten thousand. And to these, to the priests, shall the oblation of holiness be; northward five and twenty thousand, and seaward in breadth ten thousand, and southward in length five and twenty thousand; and the sanctuary of Jehovah is in the midst of it. 11 To the priests is the hallowed portion, [to those descending] from the sons of Zadok, who kept My charge, who went not astray when the sons of Israel 12 went astray, as the Levites went astray. And there is to them a heave-portion from the oblation of the land most holy, by the border [border district] of 13 the Levites. And the Levites [receive], over against the border of the priests, five and twenty thousand in length, and in breadth ten thousand; the whole length five and twenty thousand, and the breadth ten thousand. 14And they shall not sell of it, nor exchange, nor shall the first-fruits of the land pass 15 over [into another hand]; for [it is] holiness to Jehovah. And five thousand that are left in breadth before the five and twenty thousand that is profane, for 16 the city, for dwelling, and for open space; and the city is in its midst. And these are its measures: the north side four thousand and five hundred, and the south side four thousand and five hundred, and on the east side four thousand and five hundred, and the westward side four thousand and five 17 hundred. And there is an open space for the city, northward two hundred and fifty, and southward two hundred and fifty, and eastward two hundred and fifty, and westward two hundred and fifty. 18And the residue in length, over against the oblation of holiness, ten thousand eastward and ten thousand westward; and it is over against the oblation of holiness, and the produce 19 thereof is for food for the labourers of the city. And as to the labourers of 20 the city, they shall labour it out of all the tribes of Israel. The whole oblation is five and twenty thousand by five and twenty thousand: a fourth-part shall ye offer the oblation of holiness, for a possession of the city. 21And the residue [belongs] to the prince, on this side and on that of the oblation of holiness, and of the possession of the city, before the five and twenty thousand of the oblation unto the border eastward, and westward before the five and twenty thousand toward the westward border, over against the tribe-portions, [it belongs] to the prince; and the oblation of holiness and the sanctuary of the 22 house are in its midst. And [namely] from the possession of the Levites, from the possession of the city [from that] in the midst, shall be the prince’s, between the border of Judah and between the border of Benjamin—the prince’s it 23 shall be. And the rest of the tribes: from the eastward side to the westward 24 side: Benjamin one. And on the border of Benjamin, from the eastward 25 side to the westward side: Simeon one. And on the border of Simeon, from 26 the eastward side to the westward side: Issachar one. And on the border 27 of Issachar, from the eastward side to the westward side: Zebulon one. And on the border of Zebulon, from the eastward side to the westward side: Gad 28 one. And on the border of Gad, toward the south side, to the right is the border: from Tamar to the strife-waters of Kadesh is the inheritance [along the brook] to the great sea. 29This is the land which ye shall divide of the inheritance to the tribes of Israel, and these are their portions: sentence of the Lord Jehovah. 30And these are the out-goings of the city: on the north side, four thousand and five hundred by measure. 31And the gates of the city after the names of the tribes of Israel: three gates northward; the gate of 32 Reuben one, the gate of Judah one, the gate of Levi one. And on the eastward side four thousand and five hundred: and three gates; the gate of 33 Joseph one, the gate of Benjamin one, the gate of Dan one. And as to the southward side, four thousand and five hundred by measure: and three gates; the gate of Simeon one, the gate of Issachar one, the gate of Zebulon one. 34 As to the westward side, four thousand and five hundred: its gates three; 35 the gate of Gad one, the gate of Asher one, the gate of Naphtali one. Round about eighteen thousand: and the name of the city from that day: “Jehovah thither” (Jehovah Shammah).

Ezekiel 48:1. Sept.: …ἀπο τ. ἀρχης . . . κατα το μερος της καταβασεως του περισχιζοντος ἐπι την εἰσοθον της Ἡμαθ αὐλης του Αἰναν, . . . Ἡμαθ αὐλης κ. ἐσται αὐτοις τα προς�—Vulg.: … juxta viam … pergentibus Emath atrium Enan—

Ezekiel 48:8. … ἡ�—Vulg.: … primitiæ, quas separabitis—

Vet. 9. … ἡν�—

Ezekiel 48:10. Τουτων ἐσται . . . τοις ἱερευσιν . . . Κ. το ὀρος των ἁγιων—Vulg.: Hæ autem erunt primitiæ sanctuarii sacerdotum—

Ezekiel 48:11. … τοις ἡγιασμενοις υἱοις—Vulg.: Sacerdotibus sanctuarium erit de filiis— (Another reading: בני המקדש, Sept. Arabs.)

Ezekiel 48:12. … ἡ�. ἀπαρχων τ. γης—(Another reading: מתרמות; הקדש pro הארץ.)

Ezekiel 48:14. Οὐ πραθησεται ἐξ αὐτου οὐθε καταμετρηθησεται, οὐθε�. γης—

Ezekiel 48:15. … προτειχισμα ἐσται τη πολει—

Ezekiel 48:17. Another reading: ופאת׳ instead of ומפאת קדים, and ומפאת׳ instead of ופאת־ימה.

Ezekiel 48:18. κ. ἐσονται αί�. ἁγιου, κ. ἑσται . . . τοις ἐργαζομενοις την πολιν. Vulg.: … erunt sicut primitiæ sanctuarii … fruges in panes his qui serviunt civitati.

Ezekiel 48:20. Sept.: … ἀφοριειτε αὐτου την� . . . ἀπο της κατασχεσεως τ. πολεως. Vulg.: Omnes primitiæ … in quadrum, separabuntur in primitias sanctuarii et in possessionem civitatis.

Ezekiel 48:21. … ἐκ τουτου, κ. ἐκ τουτου�. ἀπαρχων . . . κ. εἰς τ. κατασχεσιν . . . κατα προσωπον . . . χιλιαδας μηκος, ἑως των ὁριων τ. προς θαλασσαν, κ. ἐχομενα των μεριδων τ. ἀφηγουμενου· (Another reading: על גבול instead of עד׳.)

Ezekiel 48:22. … ἐν μεσω των� . . . των�.

Ezekiel 48:28. … κ. ἑως των προς λιβα, κ. ἐσται ὁρια αὐτου�. ὑδατος Βαριμωθ Καδης, κληρονομια, ἑως θαλασσης—(Another reading: מפאת pro אל פאת; עד מי׳; עד הים.)

Ezekiel 48:29. Another reading: בנהלה.

Ezekiel 48:34. Another reading: שערים.

Ezekiel 48:35. Κυκλωμα . . . Κ. τ. ὀνομα τ. πολεως, πολεως, ἀφʼ ἡς�. ὀνομκ αὐτης.


Ezekiel 48:1-29.—The Division of the Land among the Tribes, with the Separation of the Part to be separated.

Ezekiel 48:1-7.—The Seven Upper Tribe-portions.

The division of the land, like the fixing of the boundaries (Ezekiel 47:15 sq.), begins in the north, inclining thence to the south. Hitzig denies the significance of the number seven here: “As the section itself regarding the Terumah is put in the middle, so his object is to move the central sanctuary, which must lie between Judah and Benjamin, but historically lay far nearer the south border than the north, as near indeed as possible to the centre, yet also toward the south.” Hengst., on the contrary, argues from the division of the number twelve into seven and five,—a division which often occurs also in the grouping of the Psalms, where “the sacred number seven is always the chief number, and five appears only as its supplement.” “Even upon the land,” says Häv., “is the character of pleasing to God to be stamped throughout.”

[“The territory to be divided being thus obviously viewed in an ideal light, the division itself is conducted in the same manner,—not as it ever could have taken place in the reality, but after rule and measure, in exact and regular portions, running alongside of each other the whole breadth from west to east, and standing in a common relation to the temple in the centre. Seven of the tribes have their portions on the north, on account of the greater stretch of the land in that direction with respect to the actual Jerusalem, and in the following order:—Dan, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben, Judah; the latter having its place close by the central portion on the north, as Benjamin had on its south. This honour appears to have been given to these two tribes in consideration of their relative historical superiority, having so long adhered to the temple and ordinances of God, when the others deserted them. Dan, on the contrary, was placed at the extreme north, on account of the low religious character of the tribe, precisely as John, in representing the whole elect Church by twelve thousand from the several tribes of Israel, leaves Dan out altogether (Revelation 7:0). As there were actually thirteen tribes, he finds his twelve times twelve by omitting Dan, whose idolatrous and semi-heathen character made it border morally, as it did locally, on the Gentiles. Here the two tribes of Joseph are thrown into one, to admit of Dan’s having a place, but it is still the lowest place in the ideal territory of a blessed world. With these exceptions, we can discern no specific grounds for the particular places assigned to the tribes respectively. The order on the south side was, Benjamin, Simeon, Issachar, Zebulon, Gad. But the. city, the temple, the prince, and priesthood, with their respective portions, being situated precisely in the middle, and not within the boundaries of any of the tribes, was intended to intimate that all were now to be regarded as having a common interest in them; and that the miserable and mischievous jealousies which had of old exercised so disastrous an influence, especially between Judah and Ephraim, should finally and for ever cease. All now should stand related as a united and compact brotherhood to the sanctuary of the Lord, from which, as a central fountainhead of life and blessing, there should continually stream forth manifestations of grace to all the people.”—Fairbairn’s Ezekiel, pp. 498, 499.—W. F.]

Ezekiel 48:1. The starting-point: the north end, Ezekiel 47:15.—The course goes from west to east; hence “Hethlon” and “Hamath,” and “Hazar-Enon” as the eastmost point. Hengst.: “from Hazar, etc., to the border,” etc., so that the northmost point is Hamath, Ezekiel 47:17.—The words: and they are (pertain) to him, refer to the tribe immediately named, Dan.—פְאַת־קָדִים הַיָּם, Keil: asyndeton = the east side and the west, the tract toward both sides. Hitzig: “the east side of the sea,” that is, what lies east from the sea, namely, from the north end of this east side, from Hazar-Enon. Hengst.: “the east side, the west sea.” But he takes “him” as the ideal unity of the tribes as a whole, although Dan (he says) was specially in the prophet’s mind. At the division of the land under Joshua, Dan had, west of Benjamin, taken possession of only a part of the land’s breadth; but in the days of the Judges, Danites had pressed northward, and had named the conquered Laish Dan, so that Dan denoted the north border. Hengst. makes one of the prophet’s points of view to be to show the equality of all the tribes as “members of equal rank in the body of the people of God.” Thus in the case of the tribe allotments, and afterwards in the case of the gates, “the sons of the handmaids and of the wives, and those of the latter again among one another, were intentionally and skilfully intermixed (Revelation 7:5-8), and Dan the son of the handmaid stands at the head, because there is with God no respect of persons: Israel is a brotherly people, in which no member may raise itself above another.”—דָּן אֶחָד means: that Dan shall receive an inheritance, as Keil supplies חֶכֶל, from Ezekiel 47:13. Klief.: “the single equal heritage for each tribe being considered as a monad.” Similarly in what follows; and always, in distinction from the former order of things, taking in the whole breadth of Canaan, “from the east side to the seaward side.”

Ezekiel 48:2. Asher.

Ezekiel 48:3. Naphtali.

Ezekiel 48:4. Manasseh.

Ezekiel 48:5. Ephraim.

Ezekiel 48:6. Reuben.

Ezekiel 48:7. Judah, who is thus preceded by three pair of tribes, the list of the seven upper tribes closing with him, just as from him the whole people received even their name. Keil observes: “Asher and Naphtali, who formerly occupied the most northern district, are ranged beside Dan; then follows Manasseh, since half-Manasseh formerly dwelt to the east of Naphtali; and Ephraim is ranged beside Manasseh, as formerly beside the western half-Manasseh. The reason for bringing in Reuben between Ephraim and Judah seems to be that Reuben was the firstborn of Jacob’s sons.”

Ezekiel 48:8-22. The Special Portion cut off from the Land

Ezekiel 48:8 places, moreover, the Terumah on the border of Judah. “The normal condition of Israel is reached, according to which all the life of the whole land streams forth from its truly spiritual centre, and the unity of the whole community rests entirely upon the Lord Himself and His self-revelation in the midst of the people. In this way the fact also is explained that Judah dwells nearest the sanctuary, while Benjamin occupies a corresponding position on the south side of the temple. The reason of this is not so much the warlike character of these two tribes, as their attachment to the temple when the ten tribes revolted from it. Both tribes represent such a disposition, and the prophet’s higher spiritual point of view manifests itself in this division of the tribes, as differing essentially from the old division, inasmuch as this latter was determined principally by outward need and external relations” (Häv.). According to Bunsen, Judah lay sufficiently near the centre in order, with Ephraim, “to form the fulcrum of defence.” The Terumah, which refers us back to Ezekiel 45:1 sq., is employed, according to Hengst., sensu latiori, including also the portion of the prince; it rather appears, however, to be denominated a parte potiori, as it is expressly said: and the sanctuary is in the midst of it, although the five and twenty thousand in breadth will comprehend all, if the clause: and the length as one (any one) of the tribe portions from the eastward side to the westward (seaward) side, is to be understood in accordance with Ezekiel 45:7. Then, however, Ezekiel 48:9, the oblation, as it is distinctively called, which ye shall offer to Jehovah, will not, like that: which ye shall offer, in Ezekiel 48:8, be the Terumah in the special sense. The “sanctuary” in Ezekiel 48:8 forms the transition to this specializing.—Thus also it cannot be misunderstood when in Ezekiel 48:10 the oblation of holiness (comp. on Ezekiel 45:0) is adjudged to the priests, for the sanctuary lies in their portion.—The clause: northward, etc., makes the upper boundary of this main division of the whole the same (25,000) in length, that is, from east to west, as the last-measured boundary southward. Westward and eastward, whereby the breadth is given, that is, in the direction from north to south, the measurement yields the same result in each case, 10,000.—וְהָיָה׳ בְּתוֹכוֹ fixes in some measure more exactly the בְּתוֹכוֹ of Ezekiel 48:8, whose suffix Keil makes refer ad sensum to חֵלֶק, instead of to תְּרוּמָה, At all events, בְּתוֹכוֹ there is not = “therein” (Hitzig).

The expression: “in the midst,” refers, however, neither to one of the tribe-portions nor to the “oblation,” but to the priests’ portion, which the oblation bounds off on all sides. In our verse the suffix refers more definitely to the oblation of holiness in its length and breadth, which are given as to the four sides.

Ezekiel 48:11. Kliefoth renders הַמְקֻדָּשׁ, “the hallowed portion,” to the priests it shall belong. So also Rashi. Pual pass., as it is, can here denote nothing more suitably, especially as the suffix in the previous בְּתוֹכוֹ is thereby most easily explained. Most expositors, following the old translations, and influenced by Isaiah 13:3, render it in a plural sense; and similarly Kimchi takes it distributively: “he who is hallowed of the sons of Zadok.” The participle certainly lies inconveniently between לַכֹּחֲנִים and מִבְּנֵי׳, but the plural in 2 Chronicles 26:18 cannot decide in favour of the singular here, for the singular here would, as Hengst. grants, denote “the hallowed part as distinct from the unconsecrated part,”—a restriction which can no longer be introduced in the case of the sons of Zadok (comp. Ezekiel 44:15 sq.), after they have been repeatedly represented as the hallowed priestly personelle. What does this saying of Hengstenberg’s mean: that they are sanctified “by their fidelity, by which they made their election sure”? It ought rather to be said that the part of the Terumah which is specially the Terumah—the “oblation of holiness” (as in Ezekiel 48:10), or הַמְקֻדָּשׁ, as is said here—belongs to those who are the priests of the future, namely, to the priests who are taken from the sons of Zadok, who kept, etc. (referring to the “sons of Zadok”); comp. Ezekiel 44:15. The מִ denotes no selection or restriction among the sons of Zadok, but simply their descent, whence these priests are, with a reference back to what is contained on that subject in the previous chapters. [Keil’s objection in respect to הַמְקֻדָּשׁ tells, moreover, against such a view as this: “to the priests it is consecrated,”—a view which indeed would correspond neither to the form of the text nor the facts of the case.] The mention of the going astray of the Levites, like whom the children of Israel went astray, shows, what hitherto is manifest throughout, namely, that the tribe of Levi, not the priestly family of Aaron, was intended; whereas Hengst., in order to have the necessary distinction and contrast, thinks of those who were “as a punishment desecrated (?), degraded, and reduced to mere Levites.” The meaning, on the contrary, is simply this: the sons of Zadok stood firm when the rest of Levi stumbled, and along with Levi, Israel. That some of the sons of Zadok also had gone astray, and in contrast to them the description here is given, is not the case.

Ezekiel 48:12. וְהָיְתָה לָהֶם, although no formal apodosis to Ezekiel 48:11, most expressly confirms the view taken of Ezekiel 48:11.—תְּרוּמִיָּה, as the following מִן likewise shows, is less a part (Klief.) of the oblation, than an abstraction therefrom; hence in a spiritual respect somehow in relation to the oblation, what is most holy in relation to the sanctuary; Keil correctly: “the offering from the oblation.” But this “Terumiah” from the “Terumah” is designated most holy because it is this in relation to the part which belongs to the Levites. Observe how the old ordinances as regards places are converted into ordinances in reference to persons, and thereby Jehovah’s relation comes out as a relation appearing in men. [Hengst.: “the heave-portion which fell to the priests is designated most holy, because it has God’s sanctuary in the midst of it, and belongs to His most eminent ministers, in distinction from the part of the Levites, which has only the second degree of holiness, and from that of the city, which has only the third” (?).] The closing definition: אֶל־גְּבוּל׳, not merely forms the transition to what follows, but also indicates that we have to imagine the priests’ portion as adjoining the south or the north side of the Levites’ portion.—In Ezekiel 48:13, accordingly, this latter is expressed, as it had to be expressed in respect of the Levites, namely: that they are to have their appointed portion close to the border of the priests (לְעֻמַּת). Hengst.: “In the description of the oblation, the prophet, for theological reasons, began with the middle portion, the priests’ part; it was then necessary to guard against the thought that the Levites’ part was separated by the city, or the city by the Levites’ part, from the sanctuary. The servants of the house, and likewise he inhabitants of the city, as constituting the holy assembly at the divine services, behoved to have the sanctuary as near as possible.” Comp. for the determination of the circumference, Ezekiel 45:5. As to the repeated closing clause: the whole length, it will lose its appearance of tautology if we assume with Kliefoth that it is meant to express briefly the two lengths (north and south) and the two breadths (east and west), instead of going through the cardinal points one by one, as in Ezekiel 48:10.

Ezekiel 48:14. Comp. Leviticus 25:34. “It is regarded as the gift of first-fruits to Jehovah, to which the Lord has the sole right, and which thus may never come into the hands of another” (Häv.). “The ordinance applies naturally also to the priests, land, although it is expressly given only for the Levites’ part, because its holiness is less, so that the thought of its being saleable might more readily arise” (Hengst.).—יַעֲבוֹר (Qeri: יַעֲבִיר); the Kal is quite sufficient, there is no need of a Hiphil form.—That which is acknowledged as first-fruits of the land is holy to Jehovah. “Traffic is excluded where God is the landowner and the Levites only usufructuaries” (Hengst.). “This land is an offering; the heaving is one form for it, and the gift of first-fruits the other” (Klief.).

As in Ezekiel 45:6, so now in Ezekiel 48:15, the possession of the city comes after the land of the priests and Levites. Kliefoth observes, referring to Ezekiel 40:2 (?), that the prophet beheld the city to the south; hence it lay south of the priests’ portion and the sanctuary, and so the Levites’ portion lay north of that of the priests. Ezekiel, he goes on to say, setting out as he does from the middle of the Terumah, does not, as in the division of the land among the tribes, follow the direction from north to south, but takes first the more central priests’ portion (Ezekiel 48:9-12); but the fact that he then (Ezekiel 48:13-14) describes the Levites’ portion, lying north of it, and thereafter takes up the city-possession, lying south of the priests’ portion, has its ground in this, that the portion of the Levites is also holy, whereas the portion of the city is profane. It is still simpler to take as motive for the order observed, besides the reference to Ezekiel 45:0., the connection of priests and Levites with the central sanctuary. In this way the Levites necessarily preceded the city. The five thousand are left when we subtract twice ten thousand in breadth (Ezekiel 48:9; Ezekiel 48:13) from five and twenty thousand in breadth, that is, from north to south (Ezekiel 48:8).—הַנּוֹתָר is neuter, according to Hitzig; it is the particip. Niph. of עַל פְּנֵי—יָתַר, before the side in question, namely, from east to west; this gives a third oblong, which, however, is only half the breadth of the two former.—חוֹל is profane, in contrast to the former “most holy” and “holy” of the portion of the priests and Levites. Philippson: “they are common land for the city, for dwellings, and for environs.” These five thousand are set apart generally for the city (לָעִיר), and specially for dwellings and as precincts for free use, pasture, arable land, etc. As the city is the title for this portion of land, so the verse concludes by stating that the city is בְּתוֹכֹה. Hengst. makes the feminine suffix refer to the city in the wider sense (לָעִיר), within which the city in the narrower sense lies. Kliefoth translates: “in the middle in it.” Since the city lies in the midst of the city-district, this makes it, as Klief. observes, lie right opposite the sanctuary in the south.

Ezekiel 48:16 first subjoins the more exact statement in regard to the length from east to west, previously only indicated by עַל פְּנֵי. The oblation affords it a front of five and twenty thousand; its measure, however, is such as to make a square of four thousand five hundred on each side, to which is added in Ezekiel 48:17 an open space of two hundred and fifty on each of the four sides. The ח֯משׁ found in the text, and left by the Masorites unpunctuated, is almost universally considered an error of transcription; Hengst., on the contrary, says: “It points to this, that the south side equally with the north side has 4500 cubits; five stands for: on the five, or: to the five,” etc. The length of the city-district (namely, city and free space), from east to west, amounts to 4500 + 250 + 250 = 5000, and to the same in breadth from north to south, so that the square in this respect occupies the entire breadth of the city-district, while it only comes to a fifth of the 25,000 in length from east to west. [“The small compass of the city district” (cubits!), observes Hengst., “wholly excludes the inhabitants from agriculture.”]

Ezekiel 48:18 disposes of what remains of the length (Klief.: “in the length”) along the holy oblation, the section eastward and the section seaward, 10,000 each. “This is to remain over against the holy Terumah, that is, as a part of it, although it is assigned neither to the priests, nor the Levites, nor the city” (Klief.). Hengst. explains the phrase: “over against the holy oblation,” as indicating “that we are not to imagine that the Levitical part is shoved in between, whereby the holy oblation would be separated from its guardians.” The proventus, the תְּנּוּאָה of the הַנּוֹתָר, what of fruit the soil of these two districts yields, is destined for support (לְלֶחֶם) for the labourers of the city. They are further described in Ezekiel 48:19, where it is said of them: יַעַבְדוּהוּ (1) Häv.: “By these are not meant slaves, nor (as Kimchi) such as cultivate gardens and fields (against which there is the הָעִיר), but, as Gesenius puts it: those who perform service in building the city, which the prophet represents as an honourable office. The holy city as well as the temple belongs now to no single tribe, but to all Israel, so all the tribes take part in building and maintaining it, by workmen chosen for the purpose, who receive their support from land assigned to them situated in the immediate vicinity of the holy temple-district.” Hävernick makes יַעַבְדוּהוּ refer to הַנּוֹתָר, and the last thought of Ezekiel 48:18 to be: “the residue of the city-district shall serve for support to the workmen, and they shall cultivate it, for which they shall be bound to the service of the city.” (2) Hengst. translates thus: “who serve the city;” and “can only understand by this a militia (!) that take the city in the midst,—military service is the only possible service on a large scale to a city,—and, as is so emphatically stated, are encamped as a guard beside the holy oblation with the temple.” “On the north side of the holy oblation are the Levites as the militia sacra (Numbers 4:23; Numbers 8:24); on the south side the ministers of the secular arm, which has to protect the Church.” “Adjoining the provision made for these servants on both sides is the domain of the prince (?!), who is to be considered the commander of these guards.” For עָבַד, in the sense of “military service,” Hengst. refers to Ezekiel 29:20. But if ever an exposition has missed the mark, it is here. We hear the mounting of guard on the Berlin University Platz, and Hengst. must also mention Egypt as an example “of such military colonies endowed with land;” he comforts himself with the thought that this militia “is not to be gathered out of the lands of other lords, as formerly the Cherethites and Pelethites, but is to consist of such as are willing also to serve their Lord in this lower (!) sphere.” (3) Klief.: “The workmen of the city are the labouring class dwelling in it; in this city they are not to be destitute of possession, as is usual in the cities of men, therefore considerable portions of land are assigned to them for support; and to explain this Ezekiel 48:19 subjoins, that from all the tribes of Israel (עָבַד, transitively with the accus.) they are to employ these in labour; namely, when they come from all parts of the land to the holy city to the feasts, and because the land in the capital gives employment to labourers,” etc. (4) Hitzig takes עָבַד as colere locum, of cultivating through residence = to inhabit: hence, “for the inhabitants of the city;” Ezekiel 48:19 : “And as to the inhabitants of the city, people from all the tribes of Israel shall inhabit it.”—הָעֹבֵד, singular, stands as collective, “but the suffix in יַעַבְדוּהוּ does not refer to it, and to make it refer to הַנּוֹתָר would yield no suitable sense; hence we are to read: יַעַבְדוּהָ, and the reference to עִיר, which is certainly not of the common gender, is to be accepted.” As in Ezekiel 48:18 the masculine suffix in תְּבוּאָתֹה refers to הַנּוֹתָר, so also does the suffix in יעבדוּהוּ. Ewald translates thus: “And every labourer of the city will cultivate it.” Neteler: “and as to the workman of the city, one will take him for workman out of,” etc.

Ezekiel 48:20 sums up the whole, namely, of the previously described oblation, as a square of 25,000, i.e. inclusive of the possession of the city; and then describes the possession of the city as a fourth-part of the “oblation of holiness,” as the portions of the priests and Levites in the narrower sense are called, which have a breadth of 20,000, of which the 5000 of the possession of the city are a fourth. Philippson, on the other hand, translates thus: “In square form shall ye offer the holy oblation, together with the property of the city;” as similarly Ewald. And already Hävernick took אֶל־ as: “in addition to the possession of the city.”

Ezekiel 48:21; comp. Ezekiel 45:7. The portion of the prince on both sides, east and west, of the “oblation” described in Ezekiel 48:8 (25,000 from east to west). אֶל־פְּנֵי, translated by Ewald: “close to;” by Hengst.: “over against;” by others: “along,” with reference to the east and west skirt of the Terumah, which was only 25,000 long. The position is described first eastward, and then, with some variations (instead of אֶל, now עַל, with omission of the “oblation;” instead of עַד־גְּבוּל, now עַל־גּ׳), westward likewise; while in conclusion there is added: close to the tribe-portions. It is scarcely necessary to remark in explanation, that the prince’s portion abuts on the north (like the Levites’ portion) on the portion of Judah, on the south (like the possession of the city) on the portion of Benjamin. That which lies eastward and westward between Judah and Benjamin belongs to the prince, to whose domain the suffix in בְּתוֹכֹה‌֯ refers, namely, to הַנּוֹתָר.

Ezekiel 48:22 describes the same object, only instead of eastward and westward, it is now from north to south; hence, setting out from the possession of the Levites, namely, in the north, and from the possession of the city.—The designation בְּתוֹךְ does not belong to הָעִיר (Keil), but stands as an asyndeton, like: possession of the Levites, and: possession of the city; and counts as the third the central part, namely, the portion of the priests, with the lately-mentioned temple-sanctuary, after mention has been made of the two outer parts. Thus, what is to be the prince’s domain extends from north to south, namely, on both sides (Ezekiel 48:21); and when it is described as in the direction of north to south, it is represented as lying between the border of Judah and between the border of Benjamin. The question, moreover, of Ezekiel 45:0 is renewed here: rods? or cubits? Keil and Kliefoth reckon by rods, because, reckoned by cubits, “the prince’s land would be more than six times as large as the whole Terumah;” whereas, measuring by rods, the actual size of the land is in correspondence. Hengst. adduces the fifty stadia of Hecatæus in proof of the 18,000 cubits of Jerusalem.

Ezekiel 48:23-29.—The Five Lower Tribe-portions

Ezekiel 48:23.—The rest of the tribes follow southward: first, Benjamin, which tribe opens the series on this side, as Judah closed it on the other. Three pairs precede Judah, and two pairs follow Benjamin: first, Ezekiel 48:24, Simeon; thereafter; Ezekiel 48:25, Issachar; then, Ezekiel 48:26, Zebulon; and, finally, Ezekiel 48:27, Gad.—For Ezekiel 48:28 comp. on Ezekiel 47:19.

Ezekiel 48:29, a closing formula. Hengst.: “It is said of the inheritance, because a part of the whole was not to be distributed, but to be previously set apart as holy ground.”

[“The desire of giving due prominence to the sacred portions in the centre, leads the prophet again to enter into some statements regarding the Terumah, or oblation, and its subdivisions. Nothing of importance is added to what was said before, except that the 5000 rods apportioned out of the 25,000 square to the city is here laid off in a square of 4500, with the 250 all round for suburbs. This space for the city was not strictly holy ground, in the sense that the sacerdotal portions were, and hence it is called profane or common. But being thus immediately connected with the sacred portions, and standing apart from the individual tribes, the city built on it formed a fit and proper centre to the whole land—in its position and its structure the bean-ideal of a theocratic capital, encompassed by the most hallowed influences, and fitted to exert a uniting and healthful effect upon the entire community. Hence the prophet closes the description by the mention of some things regarding the city which might serve more deeply to impress the feeling of its being the suitable representative and common centre of the community. Itself occupying a central position, and immediately in front of the house of God, it was also to have twelve gates, bearing the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel; in token that all the family of faith had their representation in it, and, as if they were actually resident in it, stood before the Lord for the enjoyment of His favour and blessing. He specifies, again, the entire circumference of the city, 18,000 rods (between twenty and thirty miles), as a symbol of the immense numbers of the covenant-people under the new and better dispensation of the future, immeasurably transcending what had existed under the old. And to exhibit the character of the city itself as representative of the community at large, and indicative of its own relative position, it was to bear from that day, namely, from the period of the beginning of this new and better order of things, the honourable name of ‘Jehovah-Shammah’—not, as has been already stated, Jehovah-there, but Jehovah-thither, or thereupon. For it was in the temple, rather than in the city, that the Lord was represented as having His peculiar dwelling-place. But His eyes were to be ever from the temple toward the city, and again from the city toward the whole land. The manifestations of His love and goodness were to radiate from the chosen seat of the kingdom through all its borders; He in all, and all united and blessed in Him. So that the consummation of this vision substantially corresponds with the object prayed for by our Lord, when He sought respecting His people that they might be where He was, and that they might be all one, as He and the Father are one; He in them, and they in Him, that they might be made perfect in one.”—Fairbairn’s Ezekiel, pp. 499, 500.—W. F.]

Ezekiel 48:30-35.—The City as to Extent, Gates, and Name.

In continuation of Ezekiel 48:15 sq., we have now in Ezekiel 48:30 the out-goings of the city, that is, the outlets, with evident reference to the gates; for “the boundary-lines marked out by walls” (Hengst.), “the extremities into which a city runs out” (Keil), are only such in virtue of the gates. The measure here on each of the four sides is 4500; comp. Ezekiel 48:16.—The detailed account begins, as in the dividing of the land, and so with evident reference thereto, from the north.

Ezekiel 48:31. The gates are designated after the names of the tribes of Israel. There are three gates to each side, hence twelve in all; comp. Revelation 21:12. The naming does not follow the position of the tribe-district, and thus the omitted tribe of Levi appears here in the north, honoured by a gate named after it. The three sons of Leah (as Deuteronomy 33:0) are first mentioned; as Keil observes: “the first-born by age, the first-born in virtue of the patriarchal blessing, and the one chosen of Jehovah for His service instead of the first-born of Israel.” In Ezekiel 48:32 the three east gates, where Joseph is named next after Levi, and comprehends in his name his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh (“Rachel’s sons and the son of her handmaid,” Keil). In Ezekiel 48:33 the three south gates bear the names of the other three sons of Leah; and, lastly, in Ezekiel 48:34 the west gates are given, after the names of the other three sons of the handmaids, as Keil observes.

Ezekiel 48:35. Then follows the close of the book; it closes with a name, with the symbolical name of the city, whose whole compass—doubtless calculated likewise in a symbolical point of view—is given as: 4 × 4500 = 18,000. Kliefoth remarks on this number, that it =Isaiah 12:0 × 1500; hence, a product of 12 by a multiple of 10. “The city of the people of God,” says he, “has now become the capital of the new world.” Neteler connects with it the millennial kingdom, saying: “A thousand years are with God as one day, and one day as a thousand years; hence the city is called the millennial kingdom” (!).—The name of the city is annexed to its whole circumference, just as before the gates named follow the statement of the extent. Thus it appears that the name of the city itself now expresses the same relation to Jehovah which the names of the gates did to the people of the covenant. Hitzig translates: “The name of the city is from that day: Jehovah there,” and understands this to mean: from the day of its being built. Hävernick makes the following excellent remarks on the whole connection: “Already in the foregoing the thought was made prominent, that Jerusalem should be the common property of all the tribes. Over against the temple, the place of the divine revelation is Jerusalem, the Church of God, living before and in Him. As such, it forms a closely knit together, indissoluble whole, a stately unity rooting itself in God. In order duly to set forth this thought, there is annexed to the division of the land among the individual tribes a consideration of the city itself. For that division is nothing less than an isolating or dissevering of the individual tribes; but forthwith the higher unity of the prophetic intuition, again embracing and knitting all firmly together, presents itself. The community is one accepted of God and hallowed to Him; standing itself in the presence of God, it forms the one true stem of the new Church, and has thereby reached its full destination. In the first place, the greatness of the community expresses itself to the prophet in the compass of the city; and then in its name, its quality, its holiness. ‘From that day,’ that is: henceforth for ever, Isaiah 43:13. The name itself is: ‘Jehovah thither,’ not: Jehovah shall dwell there. For Ezekiel distinguishes between temple and city: Jehovah does not properly dwell in Jerusalem, but, in the proper and highest sense, only in His sanctuary. Thence He looks toward Jerusalem, is turned thither with the fulness of His love and grace. What now makes Jerusalem a true city of God is the love entirely turned toward it, the good pleasure of God resting upon it,” etc. Hengst.: מִיּוֹם means: from the day when what is described will be so; it does not and cannot mean: “always,” and just as little can it mean: “from to-day.” שָׁמָּה is not: “there,” but, as always: “thither.” But query Ezekiel 23:3 in Ezekiel himself, if not Ezekiel 32:29 sq. He explains the name from Deuteronomy 11:12. “This ‘Jehovah thither’ manifested itself in the most glorious manner in the appearing of Christ, in the many attempts He made to gather the children of Jerusalem, in His tears over Jerusalem. When, however, His own would not receive Him, then the ‘Jehovah thither,’ which had availed for the restored city five hundred years, passed over to the new people of God, the legitimate continuation of Israel and Jerusalem (Matthew 21:43), to which Jesus had promised to be with them unto the end of the world.”—Kliefoth with right expresses himself against an alteration of the punctuation (שָׁמָּה into שְׁמָהּ, “and the name of the city is henceforth: Jehovah is its name”), and also against the idea that שָׁמָּה can mean anything else than: “thither.” “But then the name purports that Jehovah will raise Himself up thither, toward the city, and will do so from the day, that is, from to-day, that this city and what depends upon it may come into being.”

In view of the total ruin of the people of God, the whole comfort of the prophet’s predictions, the full significance of his labours, is yet once more completely summed up in the last words of his ministry. Schmieder says: “Notwithstanding the irregularity of the natural boundaries, Ezekiel views the Holy Land as a rectangular, oblong quadrilateral, etc. The centre falls exactly at Sychar, where Jesus speaks to the woman of Samaria (John 4:0). Mount Gerizim is the site of the new temple, but the Holy City is at a distance of about five miles off; the place in which it is situated is ‘the place of Bethel.’ The revelation of John contains in its closing chapters cognate views, which presuppose and surpass, but do not exactly interpret Ezekiel.”


[“Thus ends the marvellous vision of the prophet—alike marvellous whether we look to the lofty pattern (true in the spirit, though unavoidably wearing the garb of imperfect forms and shadowy relations) which it embodied of better things to come in God’s kingdom, or to the time chosen for presenting this to the Church of God. The cause of Heaven was then at its lowest ebb. The temple that had been, together with the kingdom it symbolized and represented, were laid in ruins; they were to be seen only in broken fragments and mournful dilapidations, as if smitten with the powerful curse of an irrecoverable perdition. Yet from the midst of these howling desolations, as from the very ‘suburbs of hell,’ the prophet ascends, with assured step, the mount of vision, and has there exhibited to his view, not, indeed, the very image of better things to come, but the ideal pattern after which the blessed and glorious future was to be fashioned. He even sees it as already present; and, with such imperfect materials of thought and utterance as then stood at his command, he gives it forth to the Church and the world as a thing which his own eyes had beheld, showing how God would certainly dwell with His people in a manner He had never done before—how He would at once immeasurably extend the sphere of His kingdom, and greatly elevate the condition of those who belonged to it—and how, through the copious effusions of His life-giving Spirit, the former imperfections should be done away, the most remote regions of the divine territory hallowed and blessed, and even the peculiar haunts of cursing and desolation made to rejoice and blossom like the rose.
‘O scenes surpassing fable, and yet true !
Scenes of accomplished bliss! which, who can see,
Though but in distant pro pect, and not feel
His soul refreshed with foretaste of the joy?’
“That such scenes should hare been described with such assured confidence, and at a time so deeply overspread with gloom, was indeed an ennobling triumph of faith over sight. It gave a most illustrious proof of the height in spiritual discernment, and far-reaching insight into the purposes of Heaven, which is sometimes imparted in the hour of greatest need, especially to the more select instruments of the Spirit’s working. And surely the children of the kingdom now must be chargeable with neglecting an important privilege, if they fail to profit by so inspiriting an example. Here the heart of faith is taught never to despair—not even in the darkest seasons. And when it is seen how much of the scheme delineated in the prophetic vision has already been accomplished, should not believers feel encouraged to look and strive for its complete realization, assured that God is ready to hear their cry, and to second with the aid of His Spirit the efforts that are made to dispossess and drive out the hostile powers that continue to linger in His kingdom? It is theirs, if they feel thus, not only to contend in the best of causes, but also with the surest prospect of success; for the Lord Himself is upon their side, and His Word of promise must be established.
‘Thus heavenward all things tend. For all were once
Perfect, and all must be at length restored.
So God has greatly purposed; who would else
In His dishonoured works Himself endure
Dishonour, and be wronged without redress!
—Come, then, and added to Thy many crowns,
Receive yet one as radiant as the rest,
Due to Thy last and most effectual work,
Thy word fulfilled, the conquest of a world.’ ”
—Fairbairn’s Ezekiel, pp. 501, 502.—W. F.]


1. Ch. 40–46 show the temple and its service; Ezekiel 47, 48, the land and the city. It may be said that in these two parallels temple and service stand related to each other, as do land and city. The temple comes to expression in its service, as the land finds its most expressive name in the city, Ezekiel 48:35. But the land gets sanctification, healing, and quickening from the temple; so that the waters which stream forth from the temple in connection with the entrance of the glory of Jehovah into the sanctuary, and transmit the blessing of the temple to the land, are the kernel, as they are the connecting link between the two closing sections of our prophetic book.

2. Hävernick sums up what has preceded in the expression (Revelation 22:3): “And the throne of God, etc., shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.” Ch. 40–43 treat of “the new and glorious indwelling of the Lord in Israel;” Ezekiel 44-45 “of the new service of the Lord which shall follow on the ground of that completion of all the divine manifestations of grace;” now, however, according to him, “the rich blessing of God which comes upon the new community from the new indwelling of God” is described. This latter assertion cannot be upheld in the face of Ezekiel 47:0; at least, Ezekiel 48:1-12 of that chapter, keeping, as they do, within Canaan, appear to exhibit in a very characteristic manner the perfection of Israel, rather than to contain an account of what accrues to the new community of the Lord in the way of a rich blessing of God. The community of the future, with the service which obtains in this temple, is described as being what it should be. For as Jehovah (Ezekiel 36:27) puts His Spirit within Israel, so He makes them walk in His statutes, and keep and do His judgments. But this sanctification of Israel comes (Ezekiel 37:28) with the sanctuary in the midst of them. Hence not only the specially priestly temple-service (Ezekiel 44:0), but likewise the representation therein of the people by the prince, yea, the people themselves (Ezekiel 46:3; Ezekiel 46:9), and that, as Ezekiel 45:0 shows, as to judgment and justice (comp. Ezekiel 44:24) in all their affairs (Ezekiel 45:9 sq.), appear in connection with the sanctuary. When Ezekiel portrays the new community as conformed to the law in their worship, this specially manifests the connection of the sanctification of Israel with the sanctuary of Jehovah (in accordance with Ezekiel 37:28); in general, however, the prophet comes in this way only to that which he has always throughout his book prophesied as the form of the sanctification and holiness of Israel. Only the deviations here and there from the Mosaic law in the service of the future defined by the temple, and in general, the freedom which prevails in this respect in the ordinances (while Ezra’s scrupulously exact adherence to the law shows the direct opposite), presuppose so very significantly for this future of which Ezekiel prophesies the fulfilling of the law in the popular life. The letter of the law is, as to its spirit, learned in the Spirit which Jehovah put within Israel (comp. also Ezekiel 39:29), in that it is lived, in that the idea of the law has become the life of the people. Thus there is an end to the pædagogy of the law. The fulfilled idea of the law, as exemplified by our prophet, realizes itself in a newness of life. But that this newness has still its expression in a legal form, in the forms of the Mosaic worship, as little disparages the new reality of the future, as when in the New Testament the sacrificial service furnishes clothing for the thoughts of the Christian life. It is, however, a proof not only of the priestly, but of the historical standpoint generally of Ezekiel’s prophecy; it is the necessary shell which adheres thereto. Comp. besides the Doct. Reflec. on Ezekiel 40-46.

3. The waters from the sanctuary—to which they are finally traced back again in Ezekiel 48:12, and consequently are represented as belonging thereto—no doubt raise up fruit-bearing trees on their banks; but the significance of this is not the amplification, e.g. of Ezekiel 34:26 sq., that is, the fruitfulness of the land (Ezekiel 36:8 sq., 29 sq.); for as the aim of this water is the healing of the Dead Sea (Ezekiel 47:8 sq.), so likewise the foliage of these fruit-trees serves for healing (Ezekiel 47:12). We may say: As the aim of the temple-sanctuary is sanctification, so that of the waters from the sanctuary is healing, so that sanctification and healing are the two leading theological thoughts dominating the whole closing part of Ezekiel. But with the thought of healing the completion of Israel is already alluded to.

4.Ezekiel 16:53; Ezekiel 16:53 prophesied the ethical restoration of Sodom, and the same thought returns here with the healing of the waters of the Dead Sea. Since the Dead Sea, like Sodom and Gomorrah, stands throughout the whole of Scripture as a type of judgment, the judgment is, in the character of threatening, by its healing symbolically removed from the sight of Israel. Israel by its sanctification is exempted from judgment, has no further judgment to fear (Ezekiel 39:29). The healing of the Dead Sea in its land, which immediately precedes the settling of the boundaries and the division of the land (Ezekiel 47:13 sq.), is the characteristic symbol of the completion of Israel, the community of God. Only the salt pools and pits of Ezekiel 47:11 still remain, but in the same way as when in the closing verse of Isaiah (Isaiah 66:24) they go out and look upon the carcases of the apostates, whose worm dieth not, etc., and who are an abhorring unto all flesh.

5. From Genesis onward, which also relates the genesis of Israel as the people of God, there runs through Holy Scripture a twofold reference, namely, to the people of the promise, and to the Promised Land. This twofold reference meets us here also in these closing chapters. But as we have repeatedly seen, the people of Israel are to be taken in their prophetical character of the future as referring to mankind, and the land of Israel is to be taken as referring to the earth. Now in Ezekiel, people and land become united in the symbol of the sanctuary, of the temple in the midst of the twelve tribes and their portions of land, as indeed the prophet accentuates this centre, which thus unites all the parts into a whole. By this the idea is symbolized which has realized itself in the Son of man, who unites mankind in Himself; who as the second Adam is the centre for the whole earth; who can say: To Me is given all power in heaven and on earth, go ye therefore and make disciples of all nations, and preach the gospel to the whole creation! We have there the sanctuary for sanctification, and here the Saviour for healing; preparation and fulfilment, beginning and end.

6. Stier on John 7:38 rightly interprets the word of Scripture to which our Lord appeals there as referring to Christ Himself (Words of the Lord Jesus, vol. 5 p. 282 sq.; Clark’s Tr.). When here in Ezekiel the healing, life-giving waters flow from the temple, then, at least according to what Scripture here says (but comp. also Joel 4[3] 18, and afterwards Zechariah 14:8), the fulfilment cannot possibly be sought for in him who believes in Christ, (ὁ πιστευων εἰς ἐμε corresponds to the ἐρχεσθω προς ἐμε (Ezekiel 48:37), just as in John 6:35 ὁ ἐρχομενος προς με and ὁ πιστευων εἰς ἐμε mutually correspond.) The αὐτος, out of whose κοιλια ποταμοι ῥευσουσιν ὑδατος ζωντος, can also according to John only be He ἐφʼ ὁν the Baptist (John 1:33) Saw το πνευμα καταβαινον και μενον ἐπ̓ αὐτον, and with allusion to whom he says in general (John 3:34): οὐ γαρ ἐκ μετρου διδωσιν ὁ θεος το πνευμα. This One who is the Anointed κατʼ ἐξοχην explains to the Jews (John 2:0) the temple of His body. Consequently He not only could, but must have understood of Himself what the Scripture says of the “rivers of living water flowing out,” as He also began by saying: If any man thirst, let him come unto Me; and this quite apart from the circumstance that, as the feast suggested ever since the march through the wilderness, “the spiritual rock that followed” was, as Paul expressly says in 1 Corinthians 10:4, the Anointed One. Zechariah 12:10 also was very clearly uttered with this reference, as Jesus, too, in John 7:39 spoke of the Spirit, not that should flow out from him that believes on Him, but “that they should receive (λαμβανειν) who believe on Him; for πνευμα ἁγιον (in the sense of the outpouring of Zechariah 12:10) was not yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” Comp. John 20:22. Thus Christ has interpreted Ezekiel 47:1-12 as referring to the Spirit of Pentecost. When Stier, in accordance with his apocalyptic mysticism, makes the thought be included here of “the community of the Lord, particularly in its glorious final perfection, but only the community as a whole, in so far as the Lord Himself flows through and tills it, sends forth from it His streams of blessing,”—that goes beyond the letter, upon which Stier insists so much, and beyond the sense and spirit of the letter in John; and, moreover, the word of prophecy in Ezekiel does not point to such a perfection. We may at all events say with Roffhack (Ev. Johannis, i. p. 302 sq.): “In the derived sense the saying may hold good of believers; for twelve Galilean fishermen and publicans produced that spiritual movement in the world, the swell of whose waves still at the present time presses onward to the remotest ends of the earth.” “Interpreted as referring to believers generally,” observes Roffhack, “it could not but wholly mislead thousands regarding their own faith and that of their brethren.”

7. Hengstenberg says in his commentary on our prophet: “We shall have to regard as the Mediator of this salvation for the whole world the exalted Descendant of David, who, according to Ezekiel 17:23, grows up from a feeble sapling to a glorious cedar, under which all fowls dwell; to the fowls of every wing there, correspond here the fish of every kind in Ezekiel 48:10. In harmony with our prophecy, the salvation here announced took its beginning in the time of the second temple, and poured itself forth from the place where Jesus had the chief seat of His activity over the nations of the earth” (comp. on John 7:3-4). In the Christology, 2d ed., he observes in particular: “In Ezekiel the water issues forth under the threshold of the house toward the east; according to the Apocalypse, the stream of water proceeds from the throne of God and of the Lamb. John has completed Ezekiel 47:1 from Ezekiel 43:7. The reason why the streams of salvation now proceed from the sanctuary, is that the Lord has entered into it with His glory. From the temple, now lying in ruins, they could not issue, because the temple was not yet truly the place of God’s throne. This the sanctuary, that is, the Church, first became through Him in whom dwells the fulness of the Godhead bodily. Henceforth it is called ‘Jehovah there,’ Ezekiel 48:35. As the announcement of the indwelling of the glory of the Lord in Ezekiel 43:0 found its fulfilment in Christ, so John points to this when he speaks of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” In his commentary he says: “The relations of the New Testament to our section (Ezekiel 47:1-12) are very rich and manifold. In reference to it the Lord, in Matthew 4:18-19, speaks to Peter and Andrew. On it rests the miraculous draught of fishes by Peter at the beginning of the ministry of Jesus (Luke 5:0), and likewise the draught after the resurrection (John 21:0). Jesus with evident design embodies, at the commencement and the close, the contents of our prophecy in a symbolic act. Not less allusive to our prophecy is the parable of the net which gathered of every kind (Matthew 13:47). Finally, in Revelation 22:1-2, the last and most glorious fulfilment is announced.”

8. “Other prophets, too, have the symbol of a temple fountain (comp. Joel 4:[3] 18, and Zechariah 14:8), but nowhere is it seen so beautifully carried out as here” (Umbreit). The fundamental passage, or at least the older passage, is Joel’s. It is not necessary, however, to consider Ezekiel as borrowing from Joel; the thought is applied as originally in him as in Joel or Zechariah; the only thing common to the three is the water. But unmistakeably there is a connection between the three prophetic passages. That which the healing of the Dead Sea, this removal of a spectacle of judgment as old as the days of Abraham, signifies in Ezekiel as to the fulfilment of Israel, is in Joel, likewise as to Israel, expressed in the watering of the valley of Shittim, which symbolizes as fulfilled the wilderness-journey of Israel, their period of probation generally. With the east sea Zechariah takes up Ezekiel’s thought of judgment of the Dead Sea, but with the west sea he subjoins thereto reference to the salvation coming from the Jews unto the Gentiles. The Israel completed in the Messiah, in Christ, the temple, draws water with joy from the wells of salvation (Isaiah 12:3). When Jehovah counts and writes up His people among the nations (Psalms 87:0), all His springs are in Zion. “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters,” it is said in Isaiah 55:0, for there is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the dwelling-place of the Most High (Psalms 46:0), whereas judgment passes over the world in the morning of the day of the Lord. Peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; I healed it, Isaiah 57:19.

9. Before we take up for comparison the representation given in the Revelation of John, let us first consider the order in our prophet. That which was prophesied to Israel specially in Ezekiel 37:26 is carried into effect in Ezekiel 40-48, in which the Messianic salvation as to land and city is symbolically set forth in the temple, its service, and the waters. These chapters are eschatological in the sense that Christ and the Christian Church are the end, the fulfilment of Israel. Ch. 38 and 39, again, contain eschatology in another sense, that is, the Christian sense; see p. 374 sq. These chapters are a specifically apocalyptic enclave in Ezekiel, whose close (Ezekiel 39:21 sq.) then points back to Ezekiel 37:0, by way of preparation for the following chapters, and to form connection with them. Thus Gog and Magog stretch beyond Ezekiel 40-48. Since, then, the schema of the fulfilment of Israel, as sanctification to be God’s people in the spirit that is to be poured forth—this fulfilment set down just as it took place through the Messiah, by means of the Christian Church—is summarily expressed in Ezekiel 37:26 sq. and Ezekiel 39:29, the last conflict of this fulfilled Israel, that is, of the Christian Church, is foreseen in the apocalyptic chapters 38 and 39, so that the world-progress of the gospel, and the development of the nationalities for and against Christ and His community, will lie between Ezekiel 37:26 sq., or, we may say, between Ezekiel 39:21 sq., and Ezekiel 38–39 Ezekiel 38:1-20. After the legal γραμμα, with which, although according to the freedom of the spirit of fulfilment, the completion of the Old Testament Church is described in Ezekiel 40:0 sq., there comes, as early as Ezekiel 45:0, but much more in Ezekiel 47:13 sq., the historical γραμμα of the taking possession of and dividing the Promised Land. As, in order to understand the temple, we must go back to its idea, especially after the entrance of the glory of the Lord (Ezekiel 43:0), and as in connection therewith (Ezekiel 44:0) the service of the community of this sanctuary is understood of the worship of the Father through the Son in the Holy Ghost, so in like manner the only significance which the undeniably symbolical temple-water assigns to the land and the twelve tribes, and to the city with its gates, is that which the people of Israel has, through the Christian Church, obtained for the earth, “the territorium of the kingdom of God” (Keil); for, in the Church of Christ, Israel has become complete as to the members, just as in Christ, the Messiah of Israel, as to the head. The Chiliastic interpretation of our chapters, even if correct in assuming that the letter of Ezekiel’s prophecy—which, however, is symbolical—relates to Israel and Canaan, that is, that what is meant is an earthly, historical fulfilment, must still be regarded as advocating a restoration to the pristine condition, irrespective of the fulfilment of the Old Covenant in the New.

10. It harmonizes with the chronological order given in Ezekiel that John’s Apocalypse takes up in Ezekiel 20:8 sq. the prophecy of Ezekiel through Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38:0.), that is, in its specifically apocalyptic passage (p. 373), and this after previously introducing in Revelation 19:17 sq. the final conflict against Christ of anti-christianism and pseudo-Christianity, and the judgment and overthrow of the latter as the beginning of the end; we have seen (p. 377) why the colouring of the description in the Apocalypse is borrowed from Ezekiel 39:17 sq. That this and the other final conflict (Gog’s) both belong to the history of the Christian Church of Israel, is perhaps indicated by the mention of the χαραγμα του θηριου, both as to those who have it (Revelation 19:20) and those who have it not (Revelation 20:4), which reads as parallel to Ezekiel 44:15, although the Old Testament framework of the description of the sons of Zadok has something essentially different of its own (not yet overthrow, but degradation is inflicted upon those who stumbled, in contrast to the sons of Zadok). But if Ezekiel in Ezekiel 40-48 beholds Israel perfected on earth in the temple and its service, and placed in its twelve tribes within the bounds of Canaan, and if this symbolical representation is a prophecy of Christ and the Christian Church, the kingdom of God in this guise on earth, then the Apocalypse of John interprets the certainly apocalyptic hint that these closing chapters of our prophet come after the attack, etc. of Gog, and, beginning by making Revelation 20:11 sq. the end of the world, the last resurrection and the final judgment precede Gog’s attack; hence it interprets our Ezekiel 40-48 as referring to the perfection of the Christian Church, the kingdom of glory (Revelation 21:1 to Revelation 22:4); and here, corresponding to Ezekiel’s earthly description (Canaan), the Apocalypse describes a new earth, and also retains throughout the Old Testament colouring of our prophet. The justification of interpreting John’s Apocalypse with this application is to be found in the principle that the perfection of the Christian kingdom of God at the end of the world is just the full final perfection of Israel in Christ, just as Israel after the Spirit and the Church of Christ are only one continuous thing. That which the general judgment in John carries out in its reference is indicated by the giving over to salt in Ezekiel 47:11, with respect to the completion of Israel; and as the (Dead) Sea, in Ezekiel 48:8 there, is healed to life, so in Revelation 20:13 the sea gives up its dead, and there is no more sea (Ezekiel 21:1), and there shall be no more death (Ezekiel 21:4). That Keil says too much when he says: “The prophetic picture in Ezekiel 40-48 gives a clear idea of the kingdom of God erected by Christ in its full configuration,” is already evident from his own limitation of this assertion, for he supposes merely a “partial Old Testament outline to this New Testament image of the heavenly Jerusalem, Revelation 21:22” But still more markedly does the comparison of the Apocalypse present essential differences. While Ezekiel’s temple is situated in Canaan, as repeatedly stated in Ezekiel 45, 48, the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2; Revelation 21:10) comes down out of heaven from God. The distinction is not this, that in Ezekiel city and temple are separated, but that the Now Jerusalem of the Apocalypse has no temple whatever, God and the Lamb are its temple (Ezekiel 21:22); and this furnishes the most express confirmation of the explanation given of Ezekiel’s temple, as referring to the dwelling of God in Christ. While in Ezekiel the entire circuit of the temple is most holy (Ezekiel 43:12; Ezekiel 45:3), in John this now holds of the city. The glory of God entering into and filling the temple in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 43, 44) lightens the city, etc., in Revelation 21:23; its gates, too, are not shut; compare, on the contrary, Ezekiel 44:2; Ezekiel 46:1 sq. So also it can be said that the holy city of the Apocalypse is called the “bride” (Ezekiel 21:2; Ezekiel 21:9) of the Lamb, just as He is alike her Temple and her Bridegroom. The closing representation of John’s Revelation is occupied with this city of twelve gates, and is accordingly borrowed from the close of Ezekiel, from the city “Jehovah Shammah” (Ezekiel 48:35). Apart from particulars, the ample magnificence of precious stones and gold, etc. in Revelation 21:18 sq. forms a noteworthy contrast to the meagre simplicity of Ezekiel’s temple (p. 445). Moreover, the cube form (Revelation 21:16), like the most holy place, comes very specially into consideration for the New Jerusalem. But in respect of the river of the water of life (Revelation 22:1 sq.), it has to be noticed that in the Apocalypse it flows in the midst of the street of the city, and that the leaves of the tree of life on either side are designated as εἰς θεραπειαν των ἐθνων, a still clearer reference to Ezekiel (Ezekiel 47:0), and, in accordance with the original promise that in Abraham’s seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed, removing for the Gentile world (as already in Revelation 21:24) the apparent limitation to Israel of Ezekiel’s prophetic description; as Neumann expresses it: “The transformation of Israel to a blessed eternity is the consecration of the nations, Isaiah 60:3 sq.” Hengst., who in the 2d edition of his Christology makes the symbolical view of our closing chapters be confirmed beyond question by the Apocalypse, just as he attributes “to the entire description of the new temple, in its main points, a Messianic character” (“and of such a kind that under the New Testament the fulfilment is always going on, while the completion belongs to the future”),in his commentary on Ezekiel cannot keep the Apocalypse and the prophet far enough apart, simply, indeed, on the ground that “in Ezekiel everything is mundane, there everything is supramundane;” neither of which is the case, not even in the form of expression, and also not so in the sense expressed. At all events, Hengstenberg finally concedes in his commentary that “the fact cannot be mistaken, that in a certain (?) sense the entire description of the new temple bears a Messianic character,” etc.

11. The Mosaic law may, in respect to worship, be said to culminate in the temple, just as its goal and that of the temple is the Anointed One, as the fulfilling of the law in general; and so the spirit of the law, as well as the Spirit of Christ, may be considered as the water flowing from the temple. Both met together at the first Pentecost of the Christian Church, and moreover, those of Israel on whom the Spirit was poured forth were assembled in the temple; and the preaching of Peter was like a first bursting forth of these waters from the temple.
12. “The Dead Sea has its place in worship also. The Talmud Menachoth prescribes that the salt used in sacrifice should be salt of Sodom. Every sacrifice receives in the salt the death-consecration, and consequently it is just this use which explains why the waters of life flow into the sea of death. As all the health and blessedness of a glorified future well forth in the former, so in the latter surges the torment of the curse, all the woe of the divine judgments which culminate in death” (Neum.).

13. The fishers in the vision (Ezekiel 47:1-12) are not mere figures in the landscape, however true it is not for the East alone that fishing is part of the picturesque in a well-watered region. For what Ezekiel treats of is not so much the abundance of water as the abundance of life, of living fishes. And so, too, Neumann has no right to bring in the fishes as palatable food (Numbers 11:5; Nehemiah 13:16), as the third kind of Sabbath food among the Jews, in order to get “an inviting attraction,” which is altogether foreign to our vision. True it is, however, and needing no reference to the fishponds beside the temples of Paphos and Hierapolis, and the fish idols Derceto, Oannes, and Dagon, that “in the multitude of fish is mirrored the most exuberant (!) and richest fulness of life.” Neumann observes, moreover, “the lively movement in the element of all purity, in order to contemplate in this figure the most blessed existence of the sinless.” In the Talmud the Messiah, too, is called “fish,” and according to Abarbanel the constellation Pisces announces His birth. The swarming life of the fishes in Ezekiel 48:9 sq. is dramatized by means of the fishes. Neumann says on this occasion: “To man was given the dominion also over the fish of the sea, Genesis 1:28; Psalms 8:9 [8]. He has now grasped the sceptre. Comp. Isaiah 19:5; Isaiah 19:8. The greatness of the affliction there testifies to the greatness of the blessing here. In Jeremiah 16:16 the fishers are the executors of the judgment; in Ezekiel 26:3 they are sureties for the fulfilled judgment. Yet where a Dead Sea became alive, there the fishers in their ceaseless movement, in the ardour of their activity, testify that here the curse is changed into a blessing.”

14. The palms of Engedi continued to be known to a late period, and although the vineyards of Song of Solomon 1:14 have disappeared, still there was here a place of life not far from the seat of death. May not (asks Neumann) the other fountain (Eneglaim) have been in equally beautiful natural scenery? like two oases on the border of the Dead Sea? “And the names fountain for oxen and fountain for goats surely indicate pasture grounds. Thus the fountains would encompass like a silver frame the steppe that was to be transformed, and from their brilliancy the figure itself would become light.”

15. It is only in accordance with the specifically Israelitish tenor of Ezekiel’s prophecy, particularly in this closing section, that in Ezekiel 47:22 the reference to the Gentiles keeps itself within Israel; enough has been said in the earlier chapters for supplementing and explaining. Hofmann compares Isaiah 14:1 sq.; on which Delitzsch observes that “the letter of the promise at all events is not in a New Testament form, because the community (ecclesia) has no other mode of manifestation for Old Testament days and Old Testament perception than the national form. This national form of the community is broken up in the New Testament, and will never be restored.”

16. “When the new earth is designated as Canaan, and the new humanity as the nation of Israel with its twelve tribes, this is because that has appeared in the new humanity and the new earth which was aimed at, begun, and prefigured in Israel and Canaan. In proportion, however, as the kingdom of God extends itself on earth, and the salvation of Christ finds faith in men, the people of God become œcumenical, gain over the earth, and obtain the mastery of the world, until God gifts it to them as a new world. The Revelation of John omits all features which refer back to the previous development, because it has to do with the absolute consummation. God will one day make the new altar; life will give health to the sea of nations; at last we have the consummation before our eyes. Our temple-vision may be compared to paintings” (Kaulbach’s frescoes), “which attempt to represent historical developments upon one sheet, and must be interpreted and understood like these” (Klief.).

17. The city Jehovah Shammah forms the antithesis not to Babylon alone, but also to the city of Gog (Ezekiel 39:16). Perhaps, too, the permanent grave of Gog (Ezekiel 39:11 sq.) and the healed Dead Sea stand to each other in significant contrast.

18. Hofmann thinks “the hope which was ever and anon whispered to the national community of God under all circumstances is not lost either to the community of God which then existed in the form of a nation, or to the nation which was called as such to be the community of God; and the fulfilment will correspond in both respects to the prophecy.”


On Ch. 48

Ezekiel 48:1 sq. “As the tribe of Dan stands at the beginning, so in the kingdom of God the last are first, Matthew 19:30” (Starck).—Believers are all Israel, and are so in truth, because according to the Spirit of sanctification.

Ezekiel 48:8 sq. “Thy heart is in thy midst; take heed to whom it belongs: is it a temple of God in which His Spirit dwells, 1 Corinthians 3:0? or is it a habitation of unclean spirits, Luke 11:26?” (Starke.)—God has an eternal right to the centre of man; hence He says to man: Give Me thine heart; God is the centre of the spirit world, and in Him everything lives and moves.—“We ourselves ought to be God’s oblation” (Starck).

Ezekiel 48:11 sq. “Teachers, above all men, ought to keep God’s commands and do that which they teach others. They ought to attach themselves chiefly to the sanctuary of the Lord, around which they dwell” (Starke).—God is near to them who show themselves to be His priests and ministers in this world.—“To err with the erring excuses no one; the way is broad, not for us to walk on it, but to call attention to the narrow path of life” (Starck).

Ezekiel 48:14. “Simon Magus wanted to buy the power of imparting the Spirit; but that is not permitted, because it comes solely from the Lord’s portion, which may not be bought or sold” (Heim-Hoff.).—“In the administration of church-estates nothing ought to be applied to one’s own use” (Starke).

Ezekiel 48:15 sq. Wherever believers dwell, their city is always one and the same.—“The city pertains to the holy, as respects the eternal destination of its inhabitants, for the members of the Church are called with a holy calling; it is in very truth the fellowship of the saints, of the truly anointed, for Christ, the glorious Head, is its Temple and Sanctuary. But in the actual state in which the Church appears in this world, the righteous and the hypocrites are intermixed, and there are many nominal Christians who count as dead, that is, in the death-list of the Church, in which list, indeed, those who have died in the Lord are not inserted; but from the appearance which she presents here, the Church universal on earth must also be regarded as a profane Church” (after Starck).—On all the four sides which bound the world, and always by thousands. Thus the Church has spread from the fulness of the Godhead. This her false friends forget when they believe they must enrich her; but not less so her enemies and persecutors, when they imagine they needed only to rush upon her at full speed, thinking her small and contemptible, and that she and God and conscience, etc., are nothing but vain imaginations inherited from our ancestors.

Ezekiel 48:18 sq. “Behold here the great goodness of God, who thinks of even the labourers in the city and cares for them, James 5:4” (Starck).—But every Christian ought to be an upright labourer, as every stone, wherever it is placed, belongs to the building and contributes to its erection.

Ezekiel 48:21 sq. The prince protects the holy portion, the centre of the whole land, “on the east and on the west;” by which may be signified, that a state which has comprehended the nature and signification of the Church, both in her eastern and western course, shall stand alongside of her.

Ezekiel 48:23 sq. “Let every man be content with the portion of temporal goods which he possesses, for the Lord has apportioned it, Matthew 20:14” (Tüb. Bib.).

Ezekiel 48:29. “Thou rejoicest when thou obtainest an earthly inheritance, which thou often canst possess only a very short time: strive rather for the heavenly inheritance, for the inheritance that fadeth not away, which is reserved in heaven for the children of God, 1 Peter 1:4” (Starke).

Ezekiel 48:30 sq. The goings-out of the city of God are toward the four quarters of the world; its power, like its mission, extends to all places; yea, our faith is the victory which overcometh the world.—The names of the gates are the names of the tribes; the names of the tribes are the names of the sons of Israel; thus the gates taken together are the whole of Israel—that is, however, Israel in spirit and in truth.—“In this holy city, which represents the Church of Christ, the Lord is always graciously present, who says: Where two or three, etc. (Matthew 18:20), and: I am with you alway, etc. (Matthew 28:20). Comp. also John 14:23. Happy are we when we receive such a name that it can be said of us, The Lord is there! When the Lord dwells in us, then our hope ascends to the New Jerusalem, which cometh down from heaven, etc., Revelation 21:0” (Heim-Hoff.)—“The dream of the patriarch Jacob has been fulfilled: God has a city upon earth, in which all nations are to share. The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, etc. Bethel has by this obtained its fulfilment even to the name. Thus, then, God Himself has set the prophet free from Jerusalem, and the old temple, and the old ordinances, and shown him a higher form of the kingdom of God. Ezekiel proves that he was a true prophet of God by the fact that he withdrew his nation from the service of the flesh, and with plain words, and also in figures, prepared them for Christ,” etc. (Diedrich.)—“The name of the prophet denotes one in relation to whom God is strong, who speaks not from his own heart, but is impelled and guided by a supra-mundane power. We have the verification of this name in the prophecies before us. That holds good of them throughout which the Lord said to Peter: Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven. Not one of His words has fallen to the ground. The whole course of history has verified His saying in Ezekiel 33:33 : They shall know that a prophet hath been among them” (Hengst.).

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Ezekiel 48". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/ezekiel-48.html. 1857-84.
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