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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Ezekiel 40

 

 

Verses 1-49

Ezekiel 40:1. In the five and twentieth year of our captivity. When the pious jews were dispirited, the Lord revived them with the hopes of a better temple than that which Solomon had built. This which Ezekiel now saw, in the visions of God, was of larger dimensions than the whole of old Jerusalem, and the city which he saw was larger than the whole land of Canaan. Consequently, it must be understood of the New Jerusalem, mentioned in the Revelation, a spiritual city and temple, which shall be the future abode of the church; and all the nations, washed and sanctified, shall enter her gates and her courts with songs. God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

This glorious vision was evidently designed to raise the hopes of the captive jews, to excite in them a suitable contrition for sin, and reformation of manners. They should yet have a city and a temple, which though not equal to Solomon’s in outward splendour, should nevertheless be a type of the Messiah’s temple, and of the city of God. They rejoiced at the idea of restoration by Cyrus; but as it is usual with the prophets to make a transition to Christ, so here, Ezekiel describes equal portions for each of the twelve tribes, who never did and probably never will return. We must therefore speak of the evangelical Zion, which comprises the patriarchs, the prophets, the apostles, with the jewish and gentile converts of every age. Those who think that Solomon’s temple was principally kept in view by Ezekiel, greatly betray their ignorance of sacred literature. The numerous courts, each of which would hold a nation; the porticos, the gates, the chambers, the pillars, the fountain or river, the paradise of medicinal trees, &c., are altogether superior to any thing which the first temple could boast. Many of the rabbins are therefore anxious to refer Haggai’s words to Ezekiel’s temple. “The glory of this second house shall be greater than the glory of the former.” Hence also we are not to stop in the dark and troublesome age of Zerubbabel, but are to look for the illustration of this glorious temple and holy city in the twenty first and twenty second chapters of the Revelation, which are obviously a continuation of Ezekiel’s prophecy.

Here an objection may be made which seems unanswerable; that if this vision respect Christ’s kingdom, and if Christ be the end of the law, and has abolished carnal ordinances by his death on the cross, why is there throughout the whole vision a continual reference to the law, and in the forty fifth chapter a full ritual, not only of peace-offerings, but also of sin- offerings prescribed at large.

It is replied, as in the note on chap. 38., that the jews will be gathered when but partially converted. Consequently, in their earthly sanctuary, which was ever regarded as a figure of the heavenly, they will be indulged for a time in their offerings, as Moses has enjoined. But after they shall see the glory of the Lord, filling the mercy-seat in his spiritual Zion, as head of the church, the shadow shall give way to the substance, and they shall worship him in spirit and in truth, knowing him then to be one substance with the Father.—This satisfies my mind; and I do regard these nine chapters, with the two preseding ones, as full of glorious hope and comfort to the church.

Villaprandus, Capellus, Cornelius à Lipide, Polanus, Junius, Sanctius, and many others, have regarded them in the same view. Poole also, in his Synopsis of the critics, has selected eighty two folio pages from their works, with wood-cuts to illustrate the vision. In a word, this city and temple were not a model for the Jews to follow after their return from Babylon; nor yet for them to build after their recal from the present Roman dispersion; these works are too stupendous for mortals to achieve; it is a splendid view of the spiritual temple of Christ, which he fills with beauty and glory, reigning on the mercyseat, as in chap. 43. Nor ought it to escape observation, that if this be a spiritual temple, and the reign of Christ spiritual, though we may expect an inconceivable increase of grace in the church; yet we have no positive promise, nor any sufficient presumptive proof that our blessed Lord will personally reign a thousand years visibly among mortal men. A resurrection of the martyrs, and a spiritual reign of righteousness and peace, are the substance of all that is promised on that head.

Ezekiel 40:2. A very high mountain. Not mount Moriah, for that was only a thousand cubits square, but the wall of this temple extended five hundred reeds, or two thousand yards. A reed is twenty four feet. It was three thousand in the square of the area, or about five thousand four hundred feet on each side of the wall. So the rabbins calculate, hoping to see this temple built on earth.

Ezekiel 40:3. Like the appearance of brass. This is of a bright vivid colour. The angel who spoke to Ezekiel in this vision, however great and glorious in himself, is far inferior to the Logos or Messiah who commissioned him, as in the first chapters.

Ezekiel 40:4. The man said unto me, Son of man. The angel or elder is stiled Ish; while Ezekiel is called Adam, having earth for his origin.

Ezekiel 40:5. Six cubits long, by the cubit and a hand-breadth. The prophet explains what sort of cubit he means in the following delineation of the temple, viz. such a one as consists of six hand-breadths, or one hand- breadth over the cubit, used in Chaldea. Therefore the reed was thirteen cubits long, or nearly so.

Ezekiel 40:11. The gate thirteen cubits. By the length of the gate Villaprandus understands the height, which he supposes to have been two reeds, or twelve cubits and a half high. But father Lamy explains the expression of the breadth of the walls on each side of the gate, which he supposes to be six cubits and a half.

Ezekiel 40:14. He made also posts of threescore cubits. The angel made a delineation of the height of the columns which were to support the stories or rooms over the arch of the gate, and these were sixty cubits in height.

Ezekiel 40:19. The inner court without, a hundred cubits. This compartment was surrounded with chambers, pillars, and a court. The court opened with a gate of thirteen cubits, as in Ezekiel 40:11.

Ezekiel 40:23. The gate of the inner court was over against the gate toward the north, and toward the east. This might be translated more plainly thus: The gate of the inner court was proportionable to the gate that was towards the north and towards the east.

Ezekiel 40:24. He brought me toward the south. This presented another view of the temple with courts, chambers, and gates, exactly like those on the north. The palm-trees (the dates) were upon the posts, or capitals of the columns, as before. These beautiful branches represented the flourishing state of the church, as in Psalms 92.

Ezekiel 40:32. The inner court toward the east. Here all the measurements are the same as the north and the south, but with this remarkable addition; eight large tables of hewn stone are placed two and two, outside the gate, on which were laid the instruments, with which they slew the burnt- offerings and the sacrifices.

Ezekiel 40:42. Four tables. Hebrews לעולה leâvalah, not burnt-offerings, but as one goeth up to the gates, a table was placed on each side, for peace- offerings as well as for burnt-offerings. This verse proves that Ezekiel contemplated the rebuilding of the temple, and the offering of all the ancient sacrifices of the law, as Moses had commanded. But being four times bigger than the scite of Solomon’s temple, he must surely have had in view the spiritual temple, as in Isaiah 2. and Micah 4. A temple for all the gentile world, in which legal sacrifices are not named, or according to Daniel, when the daily sacrifice should cease: Daniel 7:27. The measurements of the west are not described here, it being understood that they agreed with those of the other three; but the building on the west contained a new order of arrangements, as in the next chapter.

Ezekiel 40:46. The sons of Zadok. They were deemed the family which had the fairest claims to the sacred mitre and breastplate. Hence we see a continual reference to the Mosaic law of rituals, because these were figurative of the evangelical church, and of the heavenly glory.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Ezekiel 40:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/ezekiel-40.html. 1835.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, December 9th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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