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RETURN OF JEHOVAH TO HIS NEW TEMPLE, AND ITS CONSECRATION TO HIS SERVICE.
1-5. The Lord’s glory returns to the temple by the same gate through which the prophet had seen it depart (Ezekiel 43:1-2; Ezekiel 10:19; Ezekiel 11:23), and the sound of the chariot’s movement was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory (Ezekiel 3:23; compare Ezekiel 1:4-13; Ezekiel 1:24; Ezekiel 10:4-5). It was the same vision which Ezekiel had seen at the Chebar (Ezekiel 1:1), and also in Jerusalem when he was summoned thither to announce its overthrow (Ezekiel 43:3; Ezekiel 8:4; Ezekiel 10:0). Overawed by the glory he falls upon his face, but is lifted up by the spirit as previously (see notes Ezekiel 2:2; Ezekiel 3:12), and is carried from the eastern gate into the inner court (Ezekiel 43:1; Ezekiel 43:5).
6-9. The prophet is here addressed by one speaking from within, while “the man” or “a man” probably the man with the measuring reed (Ezekiel 40:3) stood by his side. This voice from the divine glory was that of Jehovah, who addressed the prophet by his well-known title (see note Ezekiel 2:1) and declared, This is the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever, etc. (Compare Isaiah 60:13; Psalms 99:5; Psalms 132:7.) This abiding presence of Jehovah is due to the holiness of his people, who will “no more defile my sacred name with their idolatry and with the corpses of their kings,” etc. Expositors here differ as to whether “kings” refers to the idols which had such dominion over them, or to the bodies of the Hebrew kings or princes which were buried not far from the temple (1 Kings 2:10; 1 Kings 11:43). But as Ezekiel in no other place indicated that the bones of the kings ought to be removed from their long resting place at the restoration, and as he is constantly using figures of speech fitted to arouse attention and comparison, the former seems to be the better view. The images which they had brought into their places of worship had already been broken down (Ezekiel 6:4-6; Ezekiel 6:13; Ezekiel 8:10; Ezekiel 8:18) and the princes and rulers of Israel had been slain and their carcasses left where they had fallen (Ezekiel 8:16; Ezekiel 9:6-7). Their idolatry and every vestige of such idolatry would now be removed.
10-12. These verses prove that there was a deep symbolic meaning, which would be understood by those for whom Ezekiel wrote, in all these minute particulars. This picture of a perfectly holy worship was intended to bring the exiles to repentance. (Compare the method used in the book of Hebrews.) Principal Douglas ( Expository Times, May-July, 1898; compare also Godet, Studies in the Old Testament) points out that much of the deviation from the Levitical law by Ezekiel is due to the principle enunciated in Ezekiel 43:12, that the whole limit should be most holy. For this reason the veil or door which in the tabernacle and in Solomon’s temple had separated the holy from the most holy place was removed, making the entire sanctuary most holy (compare Hebrews 9:7-11; Hebrews 10:19-23), and removing every barrier between God and his believing worshipers. So the altar, the chief thing in all the worship, becomes conspicuous for its height (Ezekiel 43:13-17), and the laver and the brazen sea are omitted, for these are no longer needed when the holy purifying stream springs from the temple; so the censer and the incense become unimportant in the presence of the living cherubim, and the golden candlesticks and all the ancient golden ornaments cease to be necessary since the presence of Jehovah fills the house with splendor. The greater holiness of the temple and the presence of the divine glory explain, therefore, the main differences in ritual between Ezekiel and Leviticus; even the king becoming merely a “prince” before this supreme majesty.
13-17. Here follows the measure of the sacred temple altar of burnt offering (Ezekiel 40:47). Every measure is explicitly declared to be with the sacred cubit. (See note Ezekiel 40:5.) The height of the altar proper was ten sacred cubits, while the platform on which it was built (“the hearth of God,” or “mount of God,” Ezekiel 43:16, A.V., “altar;” compare Sayce’s Higher Criticism, pp. 28:141, 350, 376) was a square of twelve sacred cubits. The steps to the altar faced the rising sun and four horns projected from the “hearth of God.” The horns in all the Levitical law had a peculiar sacredness perhaps because of their elevation, being nearer to heaven than any other part of the altar (Leviticus 4:18), or because of their symbolization of power and sovereignty (compare Daniel 8:3-9). To grasp the horns of the altar was an appeal to the divine judgment to take the place of human law; therefore the altar became a place of asylum for those fleeing from enemies (1 Kings 1:50).
18-27. The consecration of the altar is here described. It is much like that in Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 8:63-66; 2 Chronicles 7:4-10) excepting that here there is no need of cleansing the house and the different vessels; for Jehovah has already entered the temple, and it is already holy. For the same reason the priests of the family of Zadok (see Ezekiel 44:15) need no consecration before taking part in the most sacred ordinances of the dedication ceremony. These holy priests now offer for a sin offering the same sacrifice which formerly Aaron and his sons offered (Leviticus 8:14). Only the altar on which was laid the sins of the people had need of cleansing by the application of sacrificial blood to the uplifted horns, ledge, and border (see note Ezekiel 43:13-17); “thus shall they cleanse it and make atonement for it.” (Compare Leviticus 4:7; Leviticus 4:34.) The body of the bullock was burned in a place outside the sanctuary. (Compare Leviticus 4:10; Leviticus 4:12; Hebrews 13:11; Hebrews 13:13.) Perhaps the “separate place” (Ezekiel 41:12), which was outside the sanctuary proper, is meant. (See H, chart facing page 209.) The second day’s ritual (Ezekiel 43:22), with those which followed, demanded “a he-goat without blemish” (compare Leviticus 4:23-24), thus deviating from the Mosaic order (Exodus 29:36), after which followed the burnt offering (Ezekiel 43:23-24; compare Leviticus 1:3-5; Leviticus 8:18), which, as in the old law, was sprinkled with salt, the well-known symbol of entire consecration (Leviticus 2:13; see notes Ezekiel 16:4; Religion of the Semites, 4:435). “Seven days shall they make atonement for the altar, and purify, and consecrate it,” after which it shall be ready for the regular sacrifices (Ezekiel 43:27). “The prominence given to ‘burnt’ and ‘peace’ offerings, as distinguished from ‘sin offerings,’ may, as Schrader suggests, have pointed to the fact that the sacrificers who should use this altar would be a people in a state of grace, to whom Jehovah was prepared to say, ‘I will accept you; not your offerings alone, but your persons as well.’” Pulpit Commentary.
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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Ezekiel 43". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent