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EZEKIEL CHAPTER 40
Ezekiel’s vision of the model of a city, and of an angel with a line and measuring reed taking the dimensions of the temple, Ezekiel 40:1-5. The description of the east gate of the outer court, Ezekiel 40:6-19; of the north gate, Ezekiel 40:20-23; and of the south gate, Ezekiel 40:24-26; of the south gate of the inner court, Ezekiel 40:27-31; of the east gate, Ezekiel 40:32-34; and of the north gate, Ezekiel 40:35-38. The eight tables, Ezekiel 40:39-43. The chambers for the singers and for the priests in waiting, Ezekiel 40:44-47. The porch of the house, Ezekiel 40:48,Ezekiel 40:49.
Of our captivity; of those that with Jeconiah, who is also called Jehoiachin, were carried away into captivity eleven years before Jerusalem was sacked and burnt. And this falls in with the 3374th year of the world, or near it; about 574 years before Christ’s incarnation.
In the beginning of the year; in the month Nisan.
The tenth day; the day that the paschal lamb was to be taken up in order to the feast on the tenth day, on which Israel went out of Egypt.
In the fourteenth year; which appears thus, the city was smitten in the eleventh year of Jeconiah’s captivity, or eleventh year of Zedekiah’s reign, to which if you add fourteen, they amount to twenty-five.
Was smitten; taken, plundered, and spoiled by the Babylonians.
In the selfsame day: this is very particularly noted, as of some weight.
The hand of the Lord; the Spirit of prophecy: see Ezekiel 1:3; Ezekiel 3:14; Ezekiel 8:1.
Brought me; not by local motion carrying his body, but in visional representation, showing the prophet what he relates to us.
Thither; to Jerusalem, the place where it did stand, as appears in the next verse.
In the visions: by this it appears it was not a corporeal transumption of the prophet: see Ezekiel 8:3.
Brought me: see Ezekiel 40:1.
Into the land of Israel; the land of Canaan was in a scheme represented to him.
Set me upon a very high mountain; placed him in the most convenient situation for prospect. It were vain to inquire what mountain this was, since this is a vision; probably it was Mount Moriah here signified.
Was the frame, the portrait and model,
of a city; a goodly, fair city, or, by way of eminence,
the city, or of that city which fourteen years ago was burnt.
On the south; on the south of the mountain where the prophet was set, and this was the situation of Jerusalem, on whose north was Mount Zion, Psalms 48:2.
He brought me; the Lord by his Spirit, as Ezekiel 40:1.
Thither: see Ezekiel 40:1.
A man; the same, no doubt, which appeared to the prophet, Ezekiel 1:26, whose name is The Branch, and who builds the temple, Zechariah 6:12,Zechariah 6:13.
Whose appearance, whose fashion and colour, was like burnished brass; so Revelation 1:15; much like to that Ezekiel 1:27; and speaks glory and strength.
A line of flax; a plumbline, a mason’s line, to discover the rectitude of the building, or its defects.
In the gate; not in the east gate, but in the north gate next toward the east.
The man: see Ezekiel 40:3.
Said unto me; Ezekiel, called here, as in many other places, the
son of man. Behold with thine eyes; diligently view; all accurateness is required here in looking into these things presented to the eye.
Hear with thine ears; like care and attention use also in hearing what shall be spoken: these kind of phrases do bind us to greatest heedfulness.
Set thine heart upon; ponder and weigh with thyself, meditate and study on them. Though here is a supernatural revelation, yet he is required to act the utmost part of a man to know the things revealed.
All; nothing is insignificant here, therefore all must be regarded.
To the intent; this was the reason why thou wast brought hither, and why I am come to meet thee.
Declare; plainly tell them, that they may discern, and tell all, conceal nothing.
A wall: this was that outmost wall, which did encompass the whole ground on which the temple stood, and the courts that belonged to the temple; a wall that encompassed the whole Mount Zion, upon whose top the temple stood.
On the outside: this passage clears which wall it was, viz. the outermost of three, which the floor of the temple and the mount was encircled with.
Of the house; house of God, the temple, as Ezekiel 10:4; 2 Chronicles 2:1,2 Chronicles 2:5.
In the man’s hand: the prophet is called to see and hear, but the standard is not put into his hand: Christ who is this man, hath and keeps the reed in his own hand, as the only fit person to take the measures of all.
Reed, or cane, for this measuring rod or staff was of those canes growing in that country, straight, long, and light, and which architects did make use of.
Of six cubits long; each cubit consisting of eighteen inches in our common account; and though there is much wrangling about the exact dimensions of this cubit, I will not intermeddle with the dispute, it was about one Roman foot and half, which comes very near to our English foot and half, or eighteen inches, or one half-yard.
An hand breadth, added to each six cubits, not, as some have supposed, to each cubit.
The breadth; the thickness of the walls, which were one reed and one hand’s breadth, or three yards and three inches, thick.
The height; and the height equal, taking the measure, not from the bottom of the wall in the valley on the outside, which was of different height, as the valley was of different depth, but taking the measure from the area, or floor, on the inside of the wall, it was in the whole circuit of equal height, as here.
Then, when the prophet had well observed the outer wall and the measuring thereof,
came he, the man with the measuring reed, i.e. Christ.
The gate, either of one of the inner walls, or of the temple itself.
Went up the stairs thereof: till he was got up, he could not measure the threshold, which was laid at the top of the stairs; and these were ten if the measurer be supposed in the gate of the house, or eight if in the gate of the court of the priests, or seven if in the court of Israel, and each stair half a cubit in height, too high at lowest for him to take the measure of the threshold, if he did not go up the stairs.
Measured the threshold; it is like he measured the lower threshold first, as next hand.
The other threshold, i.e. the upper threshold, or lintel of the gate, which was of equal dimensions with the lower, a reed broad, or three yards and three inches broad, or thick.
Along the wall of the porch were chambers, three on one side and three on the other, Ezekiel 40:10, of equal dimensions, each one reed square.
Five cubits, a space of two yards and one half, between each chamber, either filled with some neat posts or pillars, or it may be quite void, and nothing in them.
Within; the inward threshold as well as outward were of the same measures, and curiously arched over head from side to side, and end to end, which was from east to west.
The porch; the posts, which were joined together at the top by an arch, and so made the portico, say some. The open space under the arch between the posts, or the ally which leads from the gate into the more inward parts of the house, or to the inmost. So the French version, puis apres il mesura d’ une eanne l’ alle qui menait a la porte la plus en dedans.
This, say some, was another porch of another gate, distinct from that Ezekiel 40:6. But others, more likely, refer this measuring to the same gate, but where, as before the breadth, now the length is measured.
The posts: these were half columns, that from the floor to the height of the wall jutted out, as if one half of the column were in the wall, and the other without, which was both for beauty and strength; and the protuberance of this half column was one cubit, the other taken up in the wall.
This is a repetition of what the 7th verse hath already acquainted us with; I only observe, these chambers were for the priests and Levites to lodge in during their ministration, according to their courses in the temple, where they kept watch continually night and day. The whole was framed in very great harmony and just proportions.
The breadth of the entry: it is meant of the whole length of the entry, or walk through the porch, which was so wide, and to which they ascended by stairs of a semi-circular form.
The length; the height is meant, but it is called its length, either because height is an erected length, or rather because thirteen cubits is the greater dimension; and this interpreters agree in, it is the height of the gate here measured.
The space; the bound, limit, or rails, as some think, which were set up at a cubit distance from the front of these little chambers, and gave a beauty to them; or else the space of a cubit on the outside for convenient placing of benches for the priests to sit on, while they observed who came in and went out of the gate.
The little chambers: see Ezekiel 40:7.
The space between the rails, or balusters, and the chambers on each side, north and south. There was no difference in the dimensions of these little chambers, they were all alike on each side.
He measured from the extremity of one little chamber on the north side of the gate, to the extremity of the opposite chamber on the south side; and so one cubit and half for the back wall of the one chamber, and as much for the back wall of the other chamber, with the length of the chambers six cubits each, and ten for the breadth of the gate, amounts to twenty-five cubits.
Door against door; either so placed, that the door of the first chamber on the north side answered to the door of the first on the south side; or some think the doors of the chambers were two in each chamber in the east and west parts, and so exactly set, that, the doors being all open, you had a clear prospect through all the chambers to the temple.
He made; measured, and thereby showed what kind of posts they should be.
Posts of threescore cubits: if this might be interpreted by Cyrus’s edict for building this fabric sixty cubits high, it would be a clear confirmation of the Divine mission of the prophet, and the certainty of a future performance of the good he promised in God’s name, when it appears so evident that he had so long before declared to what height the building should be raised by license from Cyrus. But more like it is that it refers to the height of this gate, built up two stories above the arch, and the posts in their height are only mentioned, but imply all the rest of the building over the east gate. These high columns or posts on the inner front of this gate were so disposed, that the last on each side was very near to the first post, or pillar of the court on either side of the gate; and so the posts, and buildings laid on those posts, joined on each side of this gate.
This verse seems to sum up all the dimensions at length, this gate, its porch, and thickness of its walls; and so sum the cubits, six in the thickness of the outer wall, eighteen in the three chambers, twenty in the spaces between the chambers, and six cubits in the thickness of the inner wall of the porch.
Narrow windows: these lights were made through the thickness of the wall of the chambers, and the wall was sloped for that purpose, both within toward the chamber, and without toward the cloister, this outward sloping gathering the light from without, and the inward sloping did disperse it over all the chamber; so they were windows narrowed inward, to the middle.
The little chambers; the three on each side of the porch.
To their posts; the upper lintel of each door, over which was a window to let in light from that side.
To the arches; windows under the arches between post and post, to give light to the five cubits’ space between chamber and chamber.
Windows were round about inward: these were on both sides of the porch within the gate exactly unlike.
Palm trees, i.e. engraven with curious art for beauty, and whose upper branches spreading themselves along under the arches seemed to bear up the arches.
The outward court; so called in regard of the more inward court, between that where he was and the temple itself: this court here, called the outward court, was at least the second about the temple, as you go through the first and greatest court, or floor encompassed with that wall of one reed high, and one thick, through the second, which is the court of the people, and which probably is this in our text.
There were chambers; not only lodging rooms for the priests, but also storehouses for tithes and offerings; these were treasuries, and so rendered by some.
A pavement; a very beautiful floor laid with checker-work, as some say of marble, or of porphyry, which is much richer.
Round about; it was not laid as we see some courts before great houses with us, in a fair walk up from the gate to the door of the house, but the whole floor of this court was thus paved.
Thirty chambers; that is, fifteen on the south side of the gate, and fifteen on the north side, built over the pavement.
The pavement; that mentioned Ezekiel 40:17.
By the side of the gates; that part which lay on each side of the gate, and from thence spread itself towards the chambers, leaving a space of pavement of equal breadth with the porch, or gate in the middle.
The length of the gates: this length was measured fifty cubits, Ezekiel 40:15, from the outside of the first wall to the outside of the inmost wall of the gate and porch, from which, on a pavement somewhat raised, as in other stately walks, this went on to the next gate of the next court.
The lower pavement; the side pavement was laid somewhat lower than this middle pavement, not only for state, but for the more convenient keeping it clean; so the middle pavement rose with a little convex surface, and the edges sunk with a little declivity.
He measured the breadth of the whole ground between the inner front of one gate and porch, to the outer front of the next gate more inward to the temple.
The lower gate; called so in respect to the next gate, which was on the higher ground, and into which the entrance was by stairs or steps. So the first of the fabric was the lowest, the last was the highest, and the middle gates were the one higher than the other, as in all buildings that stand upon such ascents.
Unto the forefront; to the outside front of the gate of the priests’ court, which was next to this gate now measured; that is, from the west front of the lower to the east front of the upper gate. This court was one hundred cubits in length from the west front of the lower gate to the east front of the gate of the inner court; and so was the space from the south front of the court to the north front: so the court was exactly square.
Now is this measurer giving account of the north gate of this outward court, in which is a most exact harmony with the measures, fashion, and ornaments of the east gate, so that nothing needs be here repeated; who would know all particulars of this gate may find them in the east gate.
The first gate; called, Ezekiel 40:22, east gate.
The length thereof was fifty cubits: see Ezekiel 40:15.
The breadth five and twenty cubits: see Ezekiel 40:13.
See Ezekiel 40:16.
By seven steps: it is not said what number of stairs they went up to the east gate, but by this if appears they were seven steps in number, and it is said by some the form was semi-circular.
The arches thereof, of this portico, the curious vaulted roof.
Before them; within, or more inward than the steps or gate.
The gate, the north gate, of
the inner court, or court of the priests.
The gate toward the north; the north gate of the outer court, these were directly over each other.
And toward the east: it is concise, but thus to be expressed fully: The east gate of the inner court was directly over against the east gate of the outer court, and equally distant from each other.
Having finished the measuring of the east gate, and showed the prophet the sameness of the north gate’s buildings, measures, and ornaments, now he is informed of the south gate, and its exact symmetry with the other two, which consult in Ezekiel 40:5-11.
The south; the south point of heaven.
A gate toward the south; south part of the house.
The posts and the arches: see Ezekiel 40:16,Ezekiel 40:21,Ezekiel 40:22.
See Ezekiel 40:16.
Like those windows, which were in the east gate, and already measured there.
Seven steps: see Ezekiel 40:22.
To go up to it; the floor or square court.
Before them: see Ezekiel 40:22. One on this side, and another on that side; on the right and on the left-hand posts, each post had one palm tree.
As before the east gate answered to east, and north to north, so here one south gate answers to the other in the confronting or parallel walls, and in all points exactly uniform. To prevent repetition, I refer you to the particular measures, &c. of the east gate.
He brought me from the south gate of the outer court through the porch, and over the one hundred cubit pavement to the south gate of the inner court, which is he described by its harmony with the other gates, which were before measured, and to them are you referred, lest we needlessly repeat the same things.
Fifty cubits long: see Ezekiel 40:15.
Five and twenty cubits broad: see Ezekiel 40:13.
Five and twenty cubits long: here, as once before, Ezekiel 40:11, length is put for height.
In this verse two things are mentioned wherein this gate differed from the other; first, in the arches or porch, which stood not inward, but outward towards the outer court, the reason whereof will appear in what follows. The next difference lieth in this, that the ascent was by eight steps (more than the other, say some, and so make them fifteen). Now, if the porch to this gate built outward stood upon such ascent, it would be necessary the pillars should be such as Ezekiel 40:30 expresseth them, five cubits in the breadth of the basis, and twenty-five cubits high.
The inner court; the court of the priests, which was next to the house or temple itself.
Toward the east; to the east gate of that court; so he is brought from the south to the east gate.
According to these measures; as the other, so this, exactly like to the first in all dimensions of length and breadth.
Compare Ezekiel 40:33 with Ezekiel 40:6-16, where the form and dimensions are expressly set down.
See Ezekiel 40:31, where this verse is explained.
From the east gate, and taking the measures thereof, he passeth by order to the north gate, where all is exactly conformed to that in the south and east gates.
The chambers; either the six, three on one side, and three on the other, as before in the gates of the outer court, or else chambers built on purpose for the uses here specified, as some conjecture.
The entries; the doors, as well as the chambers, were by the pillars probably adjoining to them. Though some have thought the north gate was that alone where they washed the burnt-offering, yet others conceive it was done at the east gate too, if not at the south also; and the plural number warrants us to look for another gate beside the north, when it is said these chambers were by the posts of the gates, plural. God commanded that the legs and entrails of this burnt-offering should be washed, Leviticus 1:13; now here they did that, and whether these chambers were built for this use only, or put to this to other holy uses, is not greatly material to inquire.
Though the words seem so express, yet doubt is made whether any table were in the very porch itself, and think they would cumber the passage, but sure where only the priests in course of ministration entered, there would be no great crowd; therefore I conceive that these two pairs of tables were set in the very porch of the gate, which is the letter of the text.
On the right hand without, and probably in the open air, or else under the cloister that went eastward, stood two, and on the left hand two, in like manner, for the same end and use, to slay the sacrifices.
Either within the porch two, and without it two, on either side, or else, as some will, four without the porch and gate, in the cloisters on the right and left hand of the gate. However placed, they were eight for number, and designed for slaying the sacrifices on.
The four tables; each four tables, for the prophet speaks of all eight, but names them four, because they were coupled so one four on the one side and the other four on the other side.
Hewn stone: it is not likely these were mean, worthless stones, but either best marble, or else some stone better than marble, and they are exactly square, a cubit and half every way.
One cubit high: here is nothing said of the thickness of these stone tables, it is probable they were of a good thickness, which, added to the cubit height, on which they were set, might raise them to convenient height for use.
They laid the instruments, when they were brought out for present use; at other times we know they were laid up in chambers and cupboards prepared for that end.
Within the house, porch, or whatever the place be called where these tables stood.
Hooks; learned conjectures here, as in many other places, perplex more than explain. Hooks, on which the slaughtered sacrifice might be hanged. while they prepared it further, were needful, and the word imports such iron hooks. It is probable that there might be two hooks of iron fastened to or wrought out, where the plate was so broad, and therefore called hooks in the plural. Fastened to walls, no doubt, near these tables.
Upon the tables was the flesh of the offering; they were careful to keep the holy flesh from lying any where that might look like common ground. It is like that the sacrifice was fastened to these hooks, and rested on these stone tables, while the priests cut them into their pieces.
Without; when he was got though the gate of the inner court.
Were the chambers, several in a row, of the singers; where they lodged both their instruments and themselves during the time of their attendance. In the inner court; next to the temple. The back parts of these lodgings were toward the north wall of the inner court, and their lights and prospects to the south, and stood both on the north-east side and on the north-west side.
One; one row of chambers. This row in length was from east to west, and however this row butted, it is certain the position of their lights was to the north; so these chambers must have their back parts on some building that run out from the east gate into the body of the court westward.
He, who appeared with measuring line and reed, Ezekiel 40:3. This chamber; this range of chambers, for this single number refers to the whole row, not to one particular chamber.
For the priests the sons of Aaron, yet, I think, not excluding others, who had charge under the priests.
The keepers, while, according to their courses, they had the charge of the house of God, and attended on the service of it.
The chamber: see Ezekiel 40:45.
For the priests, the keepers: see Ezekiel 40:45.
Of the charge of the altar; to preserve the fire perpetually on the altar, &c.
Zadok; the high priest, who was put in by Solomon’s depriving of Abiathar, in whose race the high priesthood continued. While God’s order was observed, his sons, especially among the Levites, had this charge, and in their turns took care of the altar, which that they might the better do, they had those chambers, whose prospect I suppose was toward the altar.
The court; the inner court, or court of the priests, who, according to their several charges, had lodgings in it, as Ezekiel 40:46.
Four-square: this court was an exact equilateral square.
The altar: here the place of the altar is only mentioned, the measuring of it is Ezekiel 43:13-18. This altar was placed in the very centre of this square, in a direct line from the north, east, and south gates, and might be seen from the lower courts by those who stood there. The house; the temple itself.
He brought me, from the measuring the building and court, to the porch of the house, that porch which joined to the temple, and was part of the house.
Each post of the porch; the post or wall on each side of the gate. The thickness or space between the outside of the wall and the inside of the wall was five cubits on each side, north and south, if we suppose the breadth of the porch from north to south, and the length from east to west. The whole breadth was eleven cubits, but the breadth of each leaf of this folding gate was three cubits, and they met, or shut, on an upright post, set in the middle of the gatespace, and this one cubit broad; and then each leaf hanged on posts two cubits thick; which amount to eleven cubits.
Though learned men dispute the position of the length, whether from east to west, or from north to south, express word determines the dimensions of this length and breadth. The steps: eight, say some, others eleven, and some say ten, others say twelve; but most say eight.
There were pillars: so soon as he was come into the porch, he saw two pillars, that stood off from the side walls, not joined to them, as the posts were, much like Jachin and Boaz in Solomon’s temple.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Ezekiel 40". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29