SACRIFICES AND OFFERINGS, CHAPS. 45, 46.
1-8.Having given directions as to what the temple ministers should eat, the prophet now specifically states what portion of land shall be theirs, and also what portions shall be for the prince and the city (Ezekiel 45:7). The only measure mentioned in the text is that of the Hebrew cubit (Ezekiel 45:2).
Perhaps in every case where the A.V. supplies “reed” in the text it ought to be “cubit.” If this be the case, the “oblation” or “holy portion” of land thus set apart for the temple grounds, including the residence of the priests and Levites (Ezekiel 45:4-5), would be a square of twenty-five thousand cubits [about seven miles). This square is divided by lot — or probably merely “allotted” — into several parts, as stated in the text and shown in the chart, page 235. The central “oblation,” or holy territory reserved for Jehovah, is twenty-five thousand cubits long (E. to W.) by twenty thousand cubits (Ezekiel 45:1, LXX.) broad (N. to S.). In the exact center of this (Ezekiel 48:8) is the sanctuary, five hundred by five hundred cubits (compare Ezekiel 42:20) surrounded on every side by an open space of fifty cubits (Ezekiel 45:2). Of the first “measure,” or area, a rectangle is cut off twenty-five thousand by ten thousand cubits (Ezekiel 45:3), in which must necessarily fall the sanctuary, “which is most holy” (R.V.), and also the houses of the priests (Ezekiel 45:4). This gives the priests a holy residence district in which to live, as well as a holy place for the sanctuary. Another rectangle exactly equal to that assigned to the priests is now assigned to the Levites “for a possession unto themselves” (R.V.), for “cities to dwell in” (LXX.). Still another rectangle just half the size allotted to the priests and Levites is now cut off from this central sacred area for the city (Ezekiel 45:6), while “the prince shall have the land on both sides of the sacred reservation and the territory of the city, facing the two on the west and on the east, and equal in length to one of the portions of the tribes from the west border to the east border of the land. It shall be his possession in Israel; and the princes of Israel shall no more oppress my people, but shall give the land,” etc. (Toy, Ezekiel 45:7-8).
9.Take away your exactions — Or, relieve my people from your [unjust] ejectments (Toy). The history of Israel is full of the oppression of the princes (see Ezekiel 22:25; Ezekiel 34; 1 Kings 12:4-11; 2 Kings 23:25; Jeremiah 22:17), and the expulsion of the owners from their property (Isaiah 5:8; Micah 2:9; Micah 3:3).
10-11.The Israelitish merchants needed these injunctions. (Compare Leviticus 19:35-36; Deuteronomy 25:13-15; Micah 6:10-11; Amos 8:5.) The Hebrews had been in constant relation with the Babylonians from the earliest times, and had adopted their sexagesimal system. The ephah and the bath were equal in contents (according to Haupt, measuring between nine and ten gallons), but the former is only mentioned as a dry, and the latter as a liquid measure. Ezekiel’s horror of commercial dishonesty may be compared with the Egyptian confession: —
I am not a falsifier of measures in the temple.
I do not add to the weight of the scale.
I do not falsify the indicator of the balance.
12.The LXX. is to be preferred, “And the shekel shall be for you twenty gerah, five shekels a V; and ten shekels a X; and fifty shekels the maneh.” This was according to the old Hebrew usage. In later times, according to Professor Peters, there were sixty shekels in the maneh (Journal of Biblical Literature, xii), but Kautzsch considers this to be the earlier usage, and thinks Ezekiel here changes from the old sexagesimal to the new decimal system. Coined money was certainly used elsewhere in this century (see Introduction to Daniel, III, 2, 3), and perhaps this marks the time of its introduction among the Hebrews. Dr. Davidson quotes from Bertheau the following table of values: —
Toy calculates the Hebrew silver shekel to have been worth about fifty-five cents, though its purchasing power was at least ten times as great, and quotes Dr. G.A. Reisner’s opinion, that the ratio of gold and silver among the old Babylonians was not 1:13½, or 1:16, but about 1:30. It has been proved from many examples of Babylonian weights, of Ezekiel’s day and earlier, digged up in recent years, that there were several systems in use — the light maneh, for example, only weighing about half as much as the heavy maneh — so there was great need of a corrected scale such as the above.
13-17.The people are to pay the prince 1/60 of their wheat and barley crop (Ezekiel 45:13), 1/100 of their oil (the cor being equal to the homer, which contained ten baths, Ezekiel 45:11), and 1/200 of their lambs. The prince from these gifts furnishes the sacrificial offerings of the temple, “to make atonement for the house of Israel” (Ezekiel 45:17). For “of a homer” (Ezekiel 45:13) read, “out of.” For “the fat pastures” (Ezekiel 45:15) LXX. reads, “out of all the families of Israel.”
18-20.Here are given specific directions for these offerings at the great feast. Twice in the year, on the first of Abib (Ezekiel 45:18), and on the seventh of the same month, or, with LXX., on the first of the seventh month (Ezekiel 45:20, compare Ezekiel 43:20; Leviticus 16:16-18), an atonement for the sanctuary must be made by the offering of a young bullock, whose blood must be applied to the doorposts (Ezekiel 41:21), and the corners of “the ledge of the altar” (Ezekiel 45:19; Ezekiel 43:20), and to the posts of the gateway of the inner court. (Compare Exodus 12:3-6; Leviticus 16:11-16; Leviticus 23:27.) This was to make “atonement for the house” (R.V., Ezekiel 45:20) with special reference to ceremonial impurity or uncleanness contracted through the accidental mistake or ignorance of some worshiper or administrator. (Compare Leviticus 4.)
21-25.It is commanded that on the fourteenth day of Abib (compare Exodus 12:6) the passover shall be celebrated (Ezekiel 45:21) and the prince “shall provide” (Ezekiel 45:22-23; compare Ezekiel 45:17) the sin offering and burnt offering. While the Levitical law required only two bullocks, one ram, and seven lambs as the daily offering, this most holy symbolic legislation requires seven bullocks and seven rams, and considerably more flour and oil. In the feast of tabernacles (Ezekiel 45:25; compare Leviticus 23:33, etc.; Numbers 29:13, etc.) he shall offer the same sacrifices as in the passover feast. This divergence from the Levitical legislation is either because the Levitical law, as we now possess it, represents a later and more complex ceremonial than that of Ezekiel, or because there was a symbolic meaning, and therefore spiritual instruction, in these deviations from a well-known and ancient law. That every one of these ceremonial observances pictured visibly some spiritual lesson no one doubts; but just what lesson each sacrifice and offering taught we are not able to tell. (Yet compare notes Ezekiel 43:10-12.)
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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Ezekiel 45". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany