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  • ADAM CLARKE'S BIBLE COMMENTARY -
    EZEKIEL 48

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    CHAPTER XLVIII

    This chapter contains a description of the several portions of the land belonging to each tribe, together with the portion allotted to the sanctuary, city, suburb, and prince, 1-29; as also the measure and gates of the new city, 30-35.

    NOTES ON CHAP. XLVIII

    Verse 1. "Now these are the names of the tribes." - See the division mentioned Num. xxxiv. 7-12, which casts much light upon this.

    Verse 9. "The oblation" - This was a portion of land twenty-five thousand cubits in length, by ten thousand broad; in the center of which was the temple, which must be destined for the use of the priests, the Levites, and the prince.

    Verse 15. "And the five thousand that are left" - The territory of the Levites was twenty-five thousand square cubits, ver. 20, But their city was only four thousand five hundred square cubits, see ver. 13 and 16; there remained, therefore, ten thousand cubits square to be divided, of which five thousand cubits in breadth, by twenty-five thousand in length, on the east and west sides, were reserved for a sort of second city; or for suburbs where laymen might dwell who were employed by those priests and Levites who lodged in the temple and in the city, ver. 18. And another space of one thousand cubits in breadth, by twenty-five thousand in length, which extended only from north to south, was for fields and gardens appointed for the support of those lay servants. On which we may remark, there was no cultivated land between the portion of the Levites and that of the prince, but only on the east and west sides. See chap. xlv. 6, and the map FF.

    Verse 21. "And the residue-for the prince" - His portion was alongside that of the Levites, from west to east; these were on each side twenty-five thousand cubits in length, from the east to the west. by twelve thousand five hundred cubits in breadth from north to south. The space both above and below was equal, between the tribe of Judah and that of Benjamin to north and south; and the portion of the Levites, which had Judah and Benjamin to the north and south, and the portion of the prince to the east and to the west. See the map.

    Verse 28. "From Tamar-in Kadesh" - The former was on the south of the Dead Sea; and the latter, or Kadesh-Barnea, was still farther south, and at the extremity of the portion of Gad, which was the most southern tribe, as Dan was the most northern.

    Verse 30. "These are the goings out" - Each of the four sides of the city was four thousand five hundred cubits long. There were three gates on each side, as mentioned below; and the whole circumference of the city was eighteen thousand cubits. See the map, plan B. dddd.

    The rector of New Haven College, in New England, supposes the preceding representations to refer to the happy state of the Church in what is called the Millennium. Leaving this period out of the question, the following observations are worthy of notice:- "The Jews, for whom this vision was intended, would conceive their country to be divided to the twelve tribes, in lots of a regular and mathematical form; and not confused or intermixed, as in Joshua's time.

    Their city laid out larger than before; and exactly foursquare, with regular suburbs; the temple and appendages much more commodious for their sacrifices, and the habitations of the priests and Levites regularly formed round about the temple. So that this whole plan of the division of the country, laying out of the city, temple, and all the appendages, appears to be perfectly regular and uniform, as if it were drawn all at one time, and by one hand, who had power to effect it; and therefore conveyed to the Jews the most complete idea they were capable of conceiving of the most perfect church, commonwealth, city, temple, and conveniences, for Divine worship. I. The Holy Land, as described chap. xlvii. and 48., according to the original grant, being about two hundred and fifty miles long, north and south, and about one hundred and fifty miles wide, is divided, by parallel lines east and west, to the twelve tribes, each of them having a portion twenty miles wide. Only between Judah and Benjamin there is a holy portion near ten miles wide; in the middle of which is the holy oblation, twenty-five thousand cubits; that is, about ten miles square for the priests, Levites, city, and temple, chap. xlv. 1; xlviii. 8; the two ends are for the prince, chap. xlv. 7, &c. II. The holy oblation, lying in the middle of the holy portion, is twenty-five thousand cubits square, which is near ten miles; of which ten thousand cubits, or four miles, are taken off from the north side for a habitation for the priests, and as much for the Levites on the south side, chap. xlv. 4, 5, and xlviii. 20; and five thousand cubits in the middle for the city portion, chap. xlv. 6; in the middle of which is the city, four thousand five hundred cubits square, which is nearly two miles, chap. xlviii. 15, 16. Round about this is left two hundred and fifty cubits, near thirty rods, for suburbs, ver. 17. The remaining ten thousand cubits on the east side, and the ten thousand cubits on the west side, are for the profit of those who serve the city, out of all the tribes, ver. 18, 19. The sanctuary is in the midst o! the city, chap. xlviii. 8. III. The sanctuary or temple, and its appendages, were entirely surrounded with a wall six cubits high and six cubits thick, chap. xl. 5; and five hundred cubits long on each side, chap. xlii. 15, &c., and xlv. 2. In the middle square stands the temple, which was surrounded by a wall one hundred cubits long on each side, chap. xli. 13, and sin cubits thick, chap. xli. 6. The side-chambers on the outside four cubits, ver. 6. The Holy of Holies, at the west end, was twenty cubits square on the inside, ver. 4. The holy place or outer court at the east end, was forty cubits, ver. 12. The length of the porch on the north side was twenty cubits; the breadth was eleven cubits, chap. xl. 49; and the width of the separate place on the south side twenty cubits. On each side of the temple, towards the four gates in the outer wall, stood two courts, eight in the whole, each one hundred cubits square, chap. xl. 19, 23, 27. In each of these were thirty-six little chambers or buildings, about six cubits square, viz., six at the entrance of the gate, chap. xl. 7, 17, 20, &c., and thirty on the pavement, ver. 17, &c., which were for lodgings for the priests, for hanging up their garments, and their part of the sacrifices, chap. xlii. 13." Calmet has constructed a map to show the position of the tribes, and the quantum of space each was to possess. As this will give a better view of the subject than any written description can, I have inserted one constructed for this work, which, consulting the places said to be connected with the possessions of the different tribes, shows that the tribes did not all possess the same quantum of space, five of the southern tribes possessing only one half as much as those of the north.

    Verse 35. "The name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there." - It would have been better to have retained the original words:-

    hm¨ hwhy YEHOVAH SHAMMAH.

    This is an allusion to the shechinah, or symbol of the Divine Presence, which was in the first, but most certainly was not in the second temple; but Ezekiel tells us that the Divine Presence should be in the city of which he speaks; and should be there so fully and so powerfully, that it should give name to the city itself; and that the very name, Jehovah shammah, should remind all men of the supereminently glorious Being who had condescended to make this city his habitation.

    Two points must be considered here: - 1. That the prophet intended that, when they should be restored, they should build the temple, and divide the land as he here directs, if the thing could be found to be practicable. 2. That he had another temple, another holy city, another Promised Land, in view. The land of Immanuel, the city of the New Jerusalem; and his temple, the Christian Church, which is the house of the living God, 1 Tim. iii. 15, in which the presence of Christ shall ever be found; and all its inhabitants, all that believe on his name, shall be temples of the Holy Ghost. Nor can there be any reasonable doubt that the prophet here, by the Spirit of God, not only points out the return of the Israelites from the Babylonish captivity, and what was to befall them previously to the advent of Jesus Christ; but also the glorious spread of the Gospel in the earth, and the final conversion of the tribes of Israel by the preaching of that Gospel.

    In conclusion, I think it necessary to state, that there are but few of the prophets of the Old Testament who have left a more valuable treasure to the Church of God than Ezekiel. It is true, he is in several places obscure; but there is a great proportion of the work that is in the highest degree edifying; and several portions that for the depth of the salvation predicted, and the accuracy and minuteness of the description, have nothing equal to them in the Old Testament Scriptures. On such portions, I have felt it my duty to be very particular, that I might be able to point out spiritual beauties and excellencies in this book which are beyond all praise; while I passed slightly over prophecies and symbols which I did not fully understand; but have left to time, by the fulfillment of the events, to prove to successive generations with what heavenly wisdom this much neglected prophet has spoken. And I take this opportunity to recommend this book to the serious perusal of every pious man; and while he wonders at the extent of the wisdom by which Ezekiel has fathomed the depth of so many Divine mysteries, let him give God the glory for this additional testimony to the unsearchable riches of Christ, and that plenary salvation which he has purchased for, and freely offers to, the vilest of the vile, and to the whole of the descendants of Adam.

    MASORETIC NOTES.

    Number of verses, 1, 273. Middle verse, chap. xxvi. 1. Masoretic sections, 29.

    DESCRIPTION OF THE PLAN OF EZEKIEL'S TEMPLE As I utterly despair of making the prophet's description of this temple intelligible without a plan, I have introduced one drawn up with great labour and skill by Dom. August. Calmet, where the measurements, distances, gates chambers, courts, inclosures, &c., are all carefully entered as far as they could possibly be ascertained from Ezekiel's description; which, it must be allowed, though wondrously circumstantial, is in several respects obscure. But by referring to the places, both in Kings and Chronicles, as well as in this prophet, where the same things are mentioned, this obscurity will be considerably diminished, if not entirely removed. At the same time, for a description of the temple in general, I beg leave to refer the reader to 1 Kings 6., at the end, where this subject is considered at large.

    THE PLAN [Let it be observed that the Hebrew cubit is about twenty inches and a half.] AAAA The first inclosure, or wall of six hundred cubits i.e., one thousand and twenty-five royal feet in length on each side, chap. xlv. 2; and six cubits or ten feet three inches high, and as many in breadth, chap. xl. 5.

    BBBB The court of the Gentiles, or first court fifty cubits in breadth, or eighty-five feet five inches, chap. xl. 2.

    CCCC The outward wall of the court of Israel, or inclosure, five hundred cubits square, i.e. eight hundred and fifty-four feet two inches. This wall might be thirty cubits high, taken from the level of the threshold of the gate.

    DDDD The court of Israel, one hundred cubits, or one hundred and seventy feet ten inches broad, chap. xl. 19.

    EEEE The outer wall, or inclosure of the court of the priests, two hundred cubits, or three hundred and forty-one feet eight inches square, is supposed to be thirty cubits, or fifty-one feet three inches in height.

    FFF The court of the priests, one hundred cubits, or one hundred and seventy feet ten inches square, chap. xl. 7; xli. 14, 15.

    G The Sanctuary, or Holy of Holies, twenty cubits, or thirty- four feet two inches square, chap. xli. 4; 1 Kings vi. 2.

    H The holy place, forty cubits long by twenty broad, or sixty-eight feet two inches long by thirty-four feet two inches broad, chap. xli. 2, and 1 Kings vi. 2.

    I The vestibule or porch, twenty cubits in breadth, by ten (or according to Ezekiel, eleven) cubits in length, i.e., thirty-four feet two inches long by seventeen feet one inch broad, chap. xl. 48; 1 Kings vi. 3.

    K The altar of burnt-offerings, twelve cubits, or twenty feet six inches square, according to Ezekiel, chap. xliii. 12, 13, &c., or ten cubits high by twenty broad, i.e., seventeen feet one inch high, and thirty-four feet two inches broad, according to 2 Chronicles iv. 1.

    LLL The wall of separation which encompassed the Temple, and the altar of burntofferings, of which the Scriptures do not give the dimensions. It was twenty cubits from the buildings in the court of the priests, and five from the Temple, chap. xli. 9, 10. Josephus makes it three cubits high, Antiq. lib. viii. c. 2.

    MMMMMM Gates of the court of Israel, and of the court of the priests, all of the same dimensions, chap. xl. 1, 22, 36. Each of the porches was fifty cubits long, i.e., eighty-five feet five inches (as much as the depth of the aisles, chap. xl. 15) and twenty-five cubits, or forty-two feet eight inches and a half in breadth in the opening, and sixty cubits high, i.e., one hundred and two feet six inches, chap. xl. 14. On each side of the porches there were three chambers, each six cubits square, chap. xl. 6. And the separations between the three chambers were five cubits in thickness, chap. xl. 6.

    NNNNNNNN Galleries around the court of Israel, chap. xl. I place there thirty pillars on a line of two hundred cubits in length, which is the same proportion as those given for one hundred cubits long, 1 Kings vii. 2-4, for the court of the palace of Solomon.

    OOOOOOOO Chambers or apartments round the court of Israel; there were thirty on both sides of the gate, or fifteen on each side, chap. xl. 17.

    PPPP The kitchens of the Temple, forty cubits, or sixty-eight feet four inches long by thirty cubits, or fifty-one feet three inches broad, chap. xlv. 21-24.

    Q The north gate of the court of the priests, where the victims were prepared, and where they slew the animals designed for sacrifice, chap. xl. 38, 39.

    RRRR Galleries around the court of the priests, chap. xlii. 3.

    SSSSSS Apartments continued round the court of the priests. The aisle, which was to the south of the eastern gate, was for the priests employed as guards of the Temple, chap. xl. 45. The aisle on the north side of the said gate was appointed for the singers, chap. xl. 44; the aisle that was on the eastern side of the south gate was for the priests employed about the altar, chap. xl. 46; the aisles which were to the west of the north gate and of the south gate, contained the halls where the priests ate, chap. xlii. 13.

    TT The kitchens of the court of the priests were those where they dressed the trespass-offering, sin-offering, and the meat-offerings, forty cubits, or sixty-eight feet four inches long, and thirty cubits, or fifty-one feet five inches broad, chap. xlvi. 20. He speaks only of that on the north.

    VVVV Flights of steps which led to the court of the people. In each flight there were seven steps, chap. xl. 22-26.

    XXX Flights of steps which led to the court of the priests; in each there were eighty steps, chap. xl. 31, 34, 37.

    YY A flight of steps which led to the porch of the Temple, eight steps in each, chap. xl. 49.

    aaa Chambers about the Temple, thirty-three in number, Ezekiel makes them four cubits in breadth, chap. xli. 5; but in 1 Kings vi. 5, 6, they are stated to be five cubits in the lower stage, six in the second, and seven in the third.

    bb Flights of steps opposite to the chambers, which were continued round the temple, chap. xli. 7, and 1 Kings vi. 8.

    c The steps of the altar of burnt-offerings turned toward the east, chap. xliii. 15, 16.

    dddd Tables of hewn stone, which were in the portico of the north gate of the priests' court, where they slew, flayed, and cut up the victims. Each table was one and a half cubits square, chap. xl. 38, 39-41.

    The great walls of the temple were all six cubits, or ten feet three inches thick. These walls were:

    1. That which formed the first inclosure; 2. The wall of the court of Israel:

    3. The wall of the court of the priests; and, 4.

    The walls of the Temple. But the outward wall of the thtrty- three chambers, which were round the holy place and the sanctuary, was only five cubits broad, and fifteen high; i.e., eight feet six inches and a half in thickness, and twenty-five feet seven inches and a half in height, chap. xli. 9, 12.

    All the gates of the two courts, that of Israel and that of the priests, are of the same dimensions. The wall where was the opening was six cubits, or ten feet three inches in thickness. The gate was eight cubits, or thirteen feet eight inches wide; and the opening of the gate was one cubit, and the gate was thirteen cubits, or twenty-two feet two inches and a half high, chap. xl. 9, 11.

    The western gate of the Temple is not mentioned by Ezekiel, because, according to his plan, the king's palace was not to be near the temple; and consequently this gate, which was the gate of the king, did not exist. But this was not followed, as we find that, after the return from Babylon, there were gates on the western side of the Temple, according to Josephus; and before the captivity the western gate did most certainly exist, see chap. xliii. 8; 2 Kings xi. 6; xvi. 18; 1 Chron. ix. 24; xxvi. 16, 18.

    1. The gate of the porch of the holy place was fourteen cubits wide, i.e., twenty-three feet eleven inches, chap. xl. 48; 1 Kings vi. 3.

    2. The gate of the holy place was ten cubits, or seventeen feet one inch wide, chap. xli. 1, 2.

    3. The gate of the sanctuary was six cubits or ten feet three inches wide.

    The wall of the separation was only two cubits, chap. xli. 1, 3.

    4. The east gate of the court of the priests was shut all the week, and was not opened but on the Sabbath and new moons, according to Ezekiel. It was there that the king had his seat, a sort of tribunal, chap. xliv. 2-4; xlvi. 1, 2, &c.

    Calmet observes, with respect to his plan, that he assigns only two galleries to the apartments which were around the court of Israel; but those which were around the court of the priests had three, chap. xlii. 3, 5, 6.

    There is another difference between the palace (atrium) of the court of the priests, and that of the court of Israel. The walls of the first were built with three rows of hewn stones and one of cedar alternately, 1 Kings vi. 36; but this is not said to be the same in the structure of the outward court, or that of the people.

    In the Old Testament we find no mention of the court of the Gentiles.

    Only two courts are mentioned there, one of the priests, the other of the people; one the inner, the other the outer court; but it is certain that such a court did exist, and is here marked BBBB.

    The height of the aisles, or apartments that were around the two courts, is not mentioned any where in the Scriptures, but they are here fixed at thirty cubits; for the temple was not higher, neither was Solomon's palace. See 1 Kings vii. 2.

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