Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

Ezekiel 40

Verse 1

General remarks. The last 9 chapters of Ezekiel form a group that has been considered to be among the most puzzling passages in the Old Testament. In matters of "doctrine" or conclusions as to the persona! conduct of man in relation to God no uninspired writer should be regarded as an "authority.” The use that may and should be made of such writers is to seek their assistance In learning the facts and truths that pertain t.o the meaning of language that is used by the inspired writers. This is especially Important as it pertains to statements that depend for their meaning upon history, and on lexicon authority as to the meaning of foreign words. I have consulted some half dozen such works with regard to the chapters now before us. Some of them insist on attaching a great deal of spiritual significance to them as being a picture of things pertaining to Christ and his church, even reaching over into the eternal age. Doubtless there will be found to be some parts of the group that may properly be so interpreted, and when I am convinced that such is the case I shall make my comments accordingly. There is one point on which all of the mentioned writers agree, and that Is that the chapters as a whole are an ideal prediction of the reconslruction period after the 70-year captivity, particularly including the rebuilding of the temple. I believe they are correct in that matter and shall make my comments from that viewpoint. In studying descriptive compositions that are admittedly ideal and figurative, we should be careful not to make a literal application of the various statements. In symbolic language it is permitted lo picture conditions that would even be impossible if taken literally. (See the comments on the first chapter of this book.) This use of illustrative speech is done in par-ables, in which certain actions or cir-cumstances may he supposed that never did or perhaps never could actually happen, in order to compare some spiritual or moral principle that could occur. One purpose in making these extremes and physically impossible descriptions of things is to give emphasis to the facts and truths they are really intended to represent. Doubtless there will be other observations come to mind as we proceed with the chapters before us that could properly have been included in this introduction. However, I shall very earnestly insist that the reader go over this general statement a number of times before entering into the study of the verses, taking speciat interest in its several remarks and considering the whole composition as a KEY to the chapters. Eze 40:1. This verse establishes the date of the present prediction. To understand it we must again refer to the three divisions or stages by which the great 70-vear captiivty was accomplished, for the people of Judah were not taken in Babylon all at the same time. (See comments on the 24th and 25 chapters of 2 Kings In volume 2 of this Commentary.) Ezekiel was taken at the second stage which was 11 years before the city ims smitten at the early stage. It is a simple case of addition to see that an event that came 14 years after the third stage would he 25 years after the second, which the prophet terms our captivity because he was taken to Babylon at that time.

Verse 2

Eze 40:2. Ezekiel did not go bodily into the land of Israel, hut went only in the visions of Gad. This is similar to the experience of John in Rev 1:10; Rev 4:1-2, who never actu-ally left the island of Patmos, but saw and heard things in a vision. The prophet was shown the things in a vision and he saw a very high mountain (mountain meaning kingdom in symbolic language) and near it was a city.

Verse 3

Eze 40:3. Brass is a mixture of two or more metals mostly copper, hence the rendering would properly be that word. It is capable of being brought to a high polish, hence Is a fitting material to represent something that is attractive. This man had two measuring devices in his hand, a tape measure and a reed or rod. The first was for longer distances and the second for closer and specific dimensions. The mere existence of a measuring instrument of any kind indicates that something is to be “checked" by the standard in force. The man stood in the gate which indicated that he was to be admitted into the place with authority for measuring it.

Verse 4

Eze 40:4. The gist of this verse is that Ezekiel was to give his undivided attention to what was soon to be said and done before him. Thou brought hither means the prophet had been put into a vision right there in the land of Babylon. The revelations about to be made to him will be for the information and encouragement of the people of Israel who were In a state of dejection from their bondage in the strange Land.

Verse 5

Eze 40:5. Ezekiel saw a house surrounded by a -wall that was to be measured with the reed mentioned in verse 3. Cubits as measurements of length were of different standards in ancient times. Most of them were based on the human body, beginning at the elbow and extending toward the tip of the fingers, or else reaching only as far as the wrist. The reed which the prophet saw was made on the basis of the cubit that extended from the elbow to the wrist, plus a few inches more, namely, a liandbreadth. The measuring reed in the hand of this “man" was equal to 6 of the cubits described. The building was measured with this reed and it was one reed wide and one reed high.

Verse 6

Eze 40:6. The man entered the building to do some measuring of various parts of it. The point I wish to notice is that each of the parts the man measured was of the same dimension which was one reed.

Verse 7

Eze 40:7. Again the unity of measurements was observed, that they were each one reed. There was a space of 5 cubits (a little less than one length of the reed) between the chambers or rooms, but each of the rooms themselves was one reed. Here is an instance where the thing described was mathematically impossible (consult the KEY), for the rooms in a building could not each be the same in size as the whole structure. But such a thing would be possible were the measurements being cheeked by a law of principles and not of material proportions, The point is that God does not have a "double standard” in his dealings with mankind.

Verse 8

Eze 40:8, The porch was the same in size as the several parts Of the building. See the comments in the preceding verse on the subject of principles of standards.

Verse 9

Eze 40:9. There could be no logical or mechanical reason for varying from the rule of o-ne reed in some parts of the structure to he measured. Neither can we always see any special application of the peculiar descriptions given, In all cases, however, when the reader is confronted with some apparent contraditions or other puzzling statements, lie should consult the KEY at the beginning of this chapter.

Verse 10

Eze 40:10. In giving the measurements of different parts of the structure the idea of unity will be frequently noticed, which is the case in the present verse as we see the term one measure is used twice.

Verse 11

Eze 40:11. Even in the Instance where the figures differ from some others, we may observe the fact that only one basic standard of measurement is used; that is always the “regulation” unit, of cubit or a multiple of it, or else an integral part of it. Such a rule is like the Lord’s plan today, which is to require His people to use one rule only in gauging their speech and conduct; that one rule is “the oracles of God" (1Pe 4:11). But this divine rule does not make the same amount of demand of each person, it is to be according to his ability. But whatever difference of talent there may be, each servant of God must he measured by the same rule which is indicated in Php 3:16.

Verse 12

Eze 40:12. A reference to verse 5 shows that a measurement of 6 cubits is the same as one reed. In this verse the idea of unity in the principles of an authoritative standard is maintained. We have either the whole reed or a recognized portion of it which is a cubit.

Verse 13

Eze 40:13. We usually think of a gate as meaning an opening in a fence or other external protective wall. The lexicon, however, defines it merely as an opening whether a gate or door. In the measurements of this verse the distance from one chamber to another lacked one cubit of being 4 reeds, and the doors were lined up so as to be directly facing each other.

Verse 14

Eze 40:14, In this chapter the word post is always from the same original and is defined in the lexicon as any part that is constructed as a prop or support for some other portion of a structure; the posts of this verse were 10 reeds high.

Verse 15

Eze 40:15. Face is from a Hebrew word that Strong says has many applications. But one part of his definition is that it refers to something that turns, which probably is the reason it is used In connection with the gate of this structure. The distance between the entrance gate to the porch over the inner opening was 50 cubits or 8 reeds.

Verse 16

Eze 40:16. Narrow means somewhat closed in the way of a lattice, and a window was a place that was perforated. This may be understood by remembering that glass and other transparent substances for admission of light had not been devised in those times. It is reasonable to suppose that the kind of windows just described would not admit the amount of light that could be done with transparent glass. That is why they had to have them round about. The palm trees were some kind of ornaments either carved or painted upon the posts.

Verse 17

Eze 40:17. The word court occurs a number of times In the Old Testament and it is from chatser which Strong defines as follows: “A yard (as inclosed by a fence); also a hamlet (similarly surrounded with walls).” Hence in this verse Ezekiel was taken into the open space surrounding the building which was paved. On this pavement there were 30 chambers which Strong defines as “a room In a building (whether for storage, eating or lodging).” There would doubtless be frequent calls for just such a service.

Verse 18

Eze 40:18. The general pavement described in the preceding verse was on a level with the gates, and they were therefore conveniently related to the floors of the chambers. The lower pavement of this verse was by the sides of the gates and not directly connected with the chambers as to the height.

Verse 19

Eze 40:19. The lower gate was one that corresponded in elevation to the lower pavement of the preceding verse. The distance from this lower gate to the wall of the inner court was 100 cubits or more than 16 reeds.Eze 40:20

Verse 20

These courts all were inclosed by some kind of wall and they were provided with gates. All of these gates were measured in order to he “checking” on them to see how they compared with the standard adopted of a cubit or multiple of it.

Verse 21

Eze 40:21. There were three little chambers on each side of the gate that is mentioned in the preceding verse. The posts were reinforcing parts added to strengthen the porch and arched covering over the pavement. This combination or unit was an oblong, being 50 by 25 cubits or about 75 by 37 feet.

Verse 22

Eze 40:22. Their windows means the windows of the preceding verse, and the arches were the porches or shaded covering over the windows. The dimensions of these parts were the same as those described in verse 16.

Verse 23

Eze 40:23. Over against means it was opposite to the other gates In a way that caused the three to face each other. There was a considerable space taken up with this unit of the great structure, for it was 100 cubits or about 150 feet.

Verse 24

Eze 40:24. The parts of the structure described in this verse were similar to those stated in verse 21, which is indicated by, according to these measures.

Verse 25

Eze 40:25. The windows were perforated or latticed places for the admission of light. Like those windows denotes that the windows of the building as a whole were made along the same line, which is in harmony with the principle of uniformity which tie Lord generally maintains In His works.

Verse 26

Eze 40:26. This last gate seems to have been higher than the area immediately adjoining it. for it required 7 steps to reach it.. The palm trees were ornamental items that were either carved or painted on the posts.

Verse 27

Eze 40:27. Tills side was similar to the others in that it had both an inner and outer gate; the gates were 100 cubits or 150 feet apart.

Verse 28

Eze 40:28. Ezekiel and the "man" are still at the south side and the prophet is witnessing the measuring of the gate from the viewpoint of the inner court. According to these measures means he used Lhe same standard that he did in the other places.

Verse 29

Eze 40:29. Little chambers are still the smaller rooms or resting places that were situated in various convenient places connected with the building. The windows and arches (covered porches) were like the others in both form and dimensions,

Verse 30

Eze 40:30. Lest the reader's memory be dulled by the many repetitions and become confused by the different measurements, 1 shall again explain that these arches were parts that were in the nature of porches or porticoes. They served as a protection for the gates, as well as to add beauty to the architecture by conforming to the principles of symmetry and thus pleasing the eye when beholding it,

Verse 31

Eze 40:31. These arches or porches served as an overhead shield or protective covering for the parts where they were erected. One of them extended toward the outer court and the posts of it were ornamented with the like-nesses of palm trees. The elevation of thiB porch was 8 steps above the adjoining area.

Verse 32

Eze 40:32. The prophet was taken from one side of these structures to the other. He has been on the north and south, now he is brought into the inner court toward the east. According to these measures means the same standard of measurements was used that wag adopted at the beginning of the inspection.

Verse 33

Eze 40:33, The little chambers were the small resting places that were built round at the outer border of the pavement. They were all covered by arches or porches, reinforced by the posts. These porches were provided with windows or perforated spaces and the entire unit was built according to these measures or in harmony with the authoritative standard issued by the Lord which consisted of 6 cubits to a reed.

Verse 34

Eze 40:34, The present work of inspection was in the inner court according to verse 32, but the arches or porches were extended toward the outward court Since these arches were a sort of shield for the Walkways, we are not surprised to find them in so many places. These arches were supported by the posts which were ornamented with the same kind of engraving or painting that we have seen in the other places. This walkway was higher than the surrounding area so that it required 8 steps to reach it.

Verse 35

Eze 40:35. Again the "inspector" went to the north gate and applied the same standard of measuring tape that was used in other instances.

Verse 36

Eze 40:36. The measurements and other details observed here are the same as they were at the other gates generally speaking. There was a wonderful uniformity in all of the major parts of the great building.

Verse 37

Eze 40:37. Utter means the exterior and the thought is that the posts were provided for the porch to the extent of the outside area. There were two rows of the posts and all of them had the ornaments of palm trees, and it was necessary also to make 8 steps by which to reach the floor of this walkway.

Verse 38

Eze 40:38. Washed the burnt offering. The law of Moses required that animals intended for sacrifice on the altar must be washed (Lev 1:9; Lev 1:13; Lev 9:14).

Verse 39

Eze 40:39. The people of Israel were promised their release from captivity after the proper period of chastisement, at which time they were to return to Palestine and resume their worship of the true God. That would include the offering of animal sacrifices, and these tables were provided for the slaying of the victims.

Verse 40

Eze 40:40. A. great many beasts would be slain to meet the services of the people and many places of the entries to the building, 8 tables in all.

Verse 41

Eze 40:41. The location of the tables was in groups of 4 tables each.

Verse 42

Eze 40:42. The tables were hewn out of solid stone and were one and a half cubits square by one cubit high. The stone being less porous than wood made them more sanitary. The instruments needed in preparing the animals were kept on the tables. Burnt offering . . . sacrifice. For practical purposes these words may generally be used interchangeably, but when a distinction is made one means something voluntarily brought to the service while the other is specifically required. However, the two are so interwoven in their application that I shall quote the definition from Strong for each. Offering is from quaiiAN and defined, “Something brought near the altar, i.e,, a sacrificial present.” Sacrifice is from ZEBACH which is defined, "Properly a slaughter, i.e. the flesh of an animal; by implication a sacrifice {the victim or the act)."

Verse 43

Eze 40:43. Within means just inside the porch were hooks and they were used for convenience in handling the parts of the sacrifices.

Verse 44

Eze 40:44. These singers were the persons who conducted the services that had been started by David. This group was provided with some of the chambers or resting places on the inside of the court. These “booths” were located by the side of the north gate and they faced toward the south. Then another was at the side of the east gate, and it faced toward the north.

Verse 45

Eze 40:45. These chambers were used also by the priests and their work was classified, one group having charge of the temple!

Verse 46

Eze 40:46. The other chamber was for the priests who served at the altar. Sons of Zadok means those who descended from that line of the priesthood.

Verse 47

Eze 40:47, This court was different from the one mentioned before. It was 100 cubits square and contained the altar upon which were burned the various sacrifices.

Verse 48

Eze 40:48. He brought me means the “man” introduced in verse 3 who was conducting this inspection tour for the information of Ezekiel, Porch of the house means an entry to the main building. It had large posts or col-umns on each side, seveii and a half feet in thickness, for strength and massiveness in appearance.

Verse 49

Eze 40:49. This entry was a magnificent structure. It was 30 feet long and about 17 feet wide. Its floor was higher than the adjoining area and was reached by steps. In addition to the reinforcing posts there were pillars on each side of the entrance.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Ezekiel 40". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.