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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 48

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 3430. B.C. 574.

In this chapter we have the division of the country, the boundaries of which were described in the preceding chapter. Here is,

(1,) The portion of seven tribes, Ezekiel 48:1-7 .

(2,) The allotment of land for the sanctuary, priests, and Levites, Ezekiel 48:8-14 .

(3,) For the city and prince, Ezekiel 48:15-22 .

(4,) For the other five tribes, Ezekiel 48:23-29 .

(5,) A plan of the city, its gates and new name, Ezekiel 48:30-35 .

Verses 1-2

Ezekiel 48:1-2. These are the names of the tribes: from the north end, &c. As the description of the boundaries of the land began on the north, so the portion of that tribe to which the most northern lot fell is first named, which is Dan. For these are his sides east and west These are the boundaries belonging to that tribe, from the east point, near mount Libanus and Gilead, to the west point, bounded by the Mediterranean sea. And by the border of Dan a portion for Asher All along from thee south side of Dan, measuring from east to west, shall the share of Asher be.

Verse 7

Ezekiel 48:7. And by the border of Reuben, &c., a portion for Judah From the 1st verse to the 7th, the situation of seven of the twelve tribes is described, which were placed on the north side of the holy portion, the length of Judea, from north to south, being divided into twelve equal parts, (see Ezekiel 47:14,) besides the allotment for the holy portion and for the prince, and the city and temple being placed where they formerly stood. Hence it was necessary that there should be seven shares on the north side of that allotment, and but five on the south side; Jerusalem not standing in the middle of the Holy Land, but more toward the south, as will appear to any one that consults an accurate map of Judea. Many learned men are of opinion, that this particular description of the several portions allotted to the tribes, relates to the settlement of the Jews in their own country, after their conversion to Christianity. Certainly several passages in the prophets bear this aspect: see particularly chap. 36. and 37. of this prophecy. “But without laying too great a stress upon this opinion, we may reasonably suppose that some mystical sense is contained under this description. By the twelve tribes the pure Christian Church is sometimes signified in the New Testament: see Luke 22:3; Revelation 7:4, in which latter book twelve is a hieroglyphical number, denoting the true church, built upon the doctrine of the twelve apostles: see Revelation 12:1; Revelation 21:14. By the same analogy, the number of a hundred and forty and four thousand, (Revelation 7:4; Revelation 14:1,) signifies the church of true Christians, who continue steadfast in the apostolical doctrine, twelve being the square root out of which that number arises; so this division of the land among the twelve tribes may imply, that all true Christians shall be equally sharers in the privileges of the gospel.”

Verse 8

Ezekiel 48:8. By the border of Judah, &c., shall be the offering, &c. Next to the border of Judah, which runs in length from east to west, shall be the offering ye shall set apart for the service of God, Ezekiel 45:1. The word reeds, it must be observed, is not in the original text, either here or in that place, and, as we have there noticed, many learned men think it more probable, that the measure of cubits is intended in both passages: see the note there. And in the length as in one of the other parts Given to the adjoining tribes. From the east side unto the west side Which was likewise twenty-five thousand reeds, or cubits, according to the dimensions of the holy portion, set down Ezekiel 45:1-6, for the oblation was to be four-square, consisting of twenty-five thousand, multiplied by twenty-five thousand.

Verses 9-10

Ezekiel 48:9-10. The oblation ye shall offer unto the Lord For his sanctuary and priests: see Ezekiel 45:1: shall be five and twenty thousand in length See note on Ezekiel 45:3-4. Toward the north five and twenty thousand in length The dimensions from east to west are called by the name of breadth here, but of length, Ezekiel 48:8, and so they truly are, as may appear from the description given of the whole in the notes on the xlvth chapter. But Houbigant reads this verse more intelligibly, as follows: “Toward the north the length shall be twenty-five thousand cubits; likewise toward the south the length shall be twenty-five thousand cubits; and the breadth toward the east shall be ten thousand cubits; and toward the west ten thousand cubits,” &c.

Verses 11-12

Ezekiel 48:11-12. It shall be for the priests of the sons of Zadok See note on Ezekiel 44:10; Ezekiel 44:15. Which went not astray as the Levites Or, as the other Levites went astray. “The word Levites is here used in its greatest latitude, and comprehends the priests, as well as those who were properly called Levites. Many of these had defiled themselves with idolatry, for which crime they were to be degraded from the honours due to those priests who had continued faithful in their office.” Lowth. This oblation shall be unto them a thing most holy As all things dedicated to God were. By the border of the Levites It shall lie next to the portion of the Levites which lay southward between the priests’ and the city’s portion.

Verses 13-14

Ezekiel 48:13-14. Over against the border of the priests It might be better translated, just by, or beside the border of the priests. The words import, that the border of the Levites should run parallel to that of the priests. And in the same sense the words should be translated in the 15th, 18th, and 21st verses of this chapter. And they shall not sell it, neither exchange Or, transfer, &c. As it was God’s portion, they were not to sell, or part with it, upon any pretence of advantage, or of greater convenience. This portion of land is called the first-fruits, as it is styled an oblation, Ezekiel 48:8; Ezekiel 48:12, to denote that the whole land was God’s property.

Verses 15-17

Ezekiel 48:15-17. And the five thousand that are left in the breadth over against [or beside, see Eze 48:13 ] the five and twenty thousand This five thousand, added to the twenty-five thousand in length, and two ten thousands in breadth, mentioned Ezekiel 48:10, makes up a square of twenty- five thousand every way: see Ezekiel 48:20. Shall be a profane place for the city, &c. It is called a profane place comparatively, because it was not so holy as the temple and the sanctuary. And the city, shall be in the midst thereof A square piece of ground, of four thousand five hundred cubits on every side, shall be taken out of the middle of the twenty-five thousand cubits in length, for the area of the city. The north side four thousand five hundred, &c. It shall be an equilateral square, every side being exactly of the same measure, consisting in all of eighteen thousand measures, as is expressed Ezekiel 48:35. According to Josephus, Bell. Jud., 5: 43, Jerusalem was thirty-three stadia in circuit, which the square here described does not greatly exceed. And the suburbs shall be toward the north two hundred and fifty The city and suburbs together making a square of five thousand.

Verses 18-20

Ezekiel 48:18-20. And the residue in length over against [or beside ] the oblation of the holy portion shall be ten thousand eastward and ten thousand westward These two dimensions, of ten thousand in length both eastward and westward, remain on each side of the area, which is five thousand cubits square, and set apart for the site of the city. It shall be over against [or beside ] the oblation of the holy portion It shall join to the Levites’ portion, both on the east and west side; and it shall lie parallel with the two portions belonging to the priests and Levites. And the increase thereof shall be for food unto them that serve the city Perform burdensome offices of public utility, whether of a higher or lower kind. They that serve the city shall serve it out of all the tribes This service being a burden, it was fit that all the tribes should bear their part in it. All the oblation shall be five and twenty thousand, &c. That is, twenty-five thousand in length, multiplied by twenty-five thousand in breadth. Ye shall offer the oblation four-square So the heavenly Jerusalem is described, Revelation 21:16, as lying four-square, a square figure being the emblem of perpetuity, strength, and solidity. With the possession of the city Or the land assigned for the site of the city; which was a square of five thousand cubits, and being added to the portion of the priests and Levites, made their twice ten thousand to be twenty-five thousand in breadth.

Verse 21

Ezekiel 48:21. The residue shall be for the prince on the one side and on the other, &c. The prince’s part shall be extended, both on the east and west side of the several allotments belonging to the priests, the Levites, and the city. Over against the five and twenty thousand, &c. The particle אל פני , translated over against, is rendered before, in the parallel text, Ezekiel 45:7, and thus interpreted makes the sense clearer, the words then importing, that the prince’s portion was to run along eastward and westward, like a frontier before the holy portions; and to extend eastward to Jordan, or the Dead sea, and westward to the great sea, retaining its breadth of twenty-five thousand cubits from north to south.

Verse 22

Ezekiel 48:22. Moreover from, or rather, beyond, the possession of the Levites, and beyond the possession of the city That is, the possessions belonging to the priests and Levites, and the city, were to be bounded on the east and west side with the prince’s portion; so those were to lie in the middle, and this beyond them. Between the border of Judah and the border of Benjamin shall be for the prince The border of Judah was to extend from east to west, next to the holy portion, on the north side, (see Ezekiel 48:1-8,) and the border of Benjamin from east to west, next the allotment set apart for the city, on the south side: see Ezekiel 48:23-28. The several portions allotted for the priests, the Levites, and the city, were to extend only to the length of twenty-five thousand cubits from east to west; so that wherever ground ran in a parallel line eastward and westward beyond that boundary, even to the land’s end, was to belong to the prince. And, supposing the whole country to be sixty miles in breadth, and the holy portion about seven miles square, there will remain above twenty-six miles, both on the east and west side, for the prince’s share.

Verses 23-28

Ezekiel 48:23-28. As for the rest of the tribes, &c. The portion assigned for Judah being situate next to the holy portion on the north side, that assigned to Benjamin lay next to the ground allotted to the city on the south side. All these allotments ran from east to west in length, and from north to south in breadth. In the 24th and the next three verses, the four remaining tribes have their allotments assigned them, lying on the south side of the holy portion.

Verse 31

Ezekiel 48:31. And the gates of the city shall be after the names of the tribes of Israel It had twelve gates in all, three on each side, which was very proper, since it lay four-square; and these twelve gates were inscribed to the twelve tribes. Because the city was to be served out of all the tribes of Israel, Ezekiel 48:19, it was fit that each tribe should have its gate; and Levi being here taken in to keep to the number twelve, Ephraim and Manasseh are made one in Joseph. Conformable to this, in St. John’s vision, Revelation 21:12-13, the New Jerusalem (for so the holy city is called there, though not here) has twelve gates, three on a side, and on them are written the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. Observe, reader, into the church of Christ, whether militant or triumphant, there is a free access by faith for all that come, of every tribe, from every quarter. Christ has opened the kingdom of heaven for all believers. Whoever will may come, and take of the water of life, and of the tree of life, freely.

Verse 35

Ezekiel 48:35. The name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there It is very frequently said in Scripture, that a person or thing should be called by a certain name, when it was to be invested with qualities which might entitle it to that denomination. Thus Isaiah, foretelling the coming of the Messiah, says, His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace, because he was to possess the qualities which should serve as a foundation for all those titles. In like manner, 2 Samuel 12:25, it is said, that Solomon should be called Jedidiah, or, the Beloved of the Lord; and, Isaiah 1:26; Isaiah 62:4; Isaiah 62:12, that Jerusalem should be called The City of Righteousness, The Faithful City, Hephzibah, or the Lord’s Delight, Sought Out, A City not forsaken. Not that it was to quit its ancient name, and assume all these; but it was to be crowned with the favours of heaven in such a manner as to draw upon itself all these honourable titles. Here the prophetic declaration, that the name of the city should be THE LORD IS THERE, might be intended to signify, 1st, That the captives, after their return, should have manifest tokens of God’s presence with them, and of his residence among them, both in his ordinances and in his providences; so that they should have no occasion to ask, as their fathers did, Is the Lord among us or not? for they should see and acknowledge that he was among them of a truth. And then, though their troubles should be many and threatening, they would be like the bush which burned, but was not consumed, because the Lord was there. More especially it was meant to signify, 2d, That the gospel church should have the presence of God in it; though not in the Shechinah, or cloud of glory, as of old, yet in a token no less sure, namely, that of the Holy Spirit in his gifts and graces. Where the gospel is faithfully preached, gospel ordinances duly administered, and God worshipped in the name of Jesus Christ only, it may be truly said, The Lord is there; for, faithful is he that hath promised, and will fulfil his word, Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. The Lord is in his church, to rule and govern it, to protect and defend it, and graciously to own, accept, and bless his sincere worshippers, and to show himself nigh unto them in all that they call upon him for. This should engage us to keep close to the communion of saints, and not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together; for where two or three are met in the name of Jesus, he is there. Nay, the Lord is present with and in every true and genuine Christian: God dwells in him, and he in God. It may be truly said of every one who has a living principle of grace in his soul, The Lord is there. And, as this is the chief privilege, glory, and happiness of the church militant, that the Lord is present with and in her; Song of Solomon , 3 d, It is the principal blessing of the church triumphant. That the pure in heart shall there see God; shall see his face, and his name shall be on their foreheads; that God himself, who sits on the throne, shall be with them, and dwell among them, (Revelation 7:2, and Revelation 21:3,) is the crowning blessing of the heavenly city, and the consummation of the felicity of all its inhabitants. For in his presence is fulness of joy, and at his right hand are pleasures for evermore. Let us therefore give all diligence to secure to ourselves a place in that city, that we may be for ever with the Lord.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Ezekiel 48". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/ezekiel-48.html. 1857.
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