EZEKIEL CHAPTER 40.
The Vision of the Temple-Building.
The remaining chapters of Ezekiel’s prophecy give an ideal picture of the spiritual temple of the Lord, of His Church of the New Testament, of his glorious kingdom. It was a wonderful vision which was vouchsafed to the prophet, its beauty being enhanced by the descriptive details. As in the case of every parable, however, it would manifestly be a mistake to stress every point of the parallelism. The exposition, therefore, deals with the larger outlines of the picture only. The ideal temple as here pictured exhibits, under Old Testament forms, which are used as being familiar to the men whom Ezekiel was addressing, the essential character of the Church of Christ and of the worship of Messiah as it would be when lie would exercise Ills rule among His own people, among the believers in every part of the earth.
TILE WALLS AND TILE OUTER GATES. — V. 1. In the five and twentieth year of our captivity, very likely the year 575 B. C., in the beginning of the year, which began in spring, in the month Abib, or Nisan, in the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after that the city was smitten, that is, after it was taken by the Chaldean invaders, in the selfsame day the hand of the Lord was upon me and brought me thither, so that he was, in a state of ecstasy, transported to Jerusalem V. 2. In the visions of God, in which his mind was entirely detached from his body, brought He me into the land of Israel and set me upon a very high mountain, figurative for the mountain of God’s holiness, on which His Church is founded, by which was as the frame of a city on the south, the city-like building of the Temple which is described in the following section, and which the prophet saw as coming from the north. V. 3. And He brought me thither, and, behold, there was a man, a heavenly being in the form and appearance of a man, whose appearance was like the appearance of brass, bright, shining, resplendent, as befitted this singular Angel of Jehovah, Rev. 1, 15, with a line of flax in His hand, used for the purpose of measuring the site, and a measuring-reed, more particularly for the masonry; and He stood in the gate, as though awaiting the newcomer. V. 4. And the Man said unto me, by virtue of His own authority, which is equal to that of God Himself, Son of man, behold with thine eyes and hear with thine ears, observing most carefully with all the senses, and set thine heart, in close attention, upon all that I shall show thee; for to the intent that I might show them unto thee art thou brought hither. It was the purpose of God that Ezekiel should see with his own eyes and take note of the explanation pertaining to every part of the building, so that his own statements concerning it might be accurate and sufficient. Declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel, to the men of all times who professed membership in the spiritual Israel. V. 5. And behold a wall on the outside of the house round about, enclosing the entire complex of buildings, and in the Man’s hand a measuring-reed of six cubits long by the cubit and an hand breadth, or about one rod, the length of the measuring-rod thus being greater than the one usually employed; so He measured the breadth of the building, that of the mason-work of the wall, one reed, or rod, and the height, one reed, a very strong piece of masonry. V. 6. Then came He, apparently having started from the north gate, unto the gate which looketh toward the east, for that was the direction in which the Temple faced, and went up the stairs thereof and measured the threshold of the gate, of this main entrance, which was one reed broad; and the other threshold of the gate, which was one reed broad, rather, one rod broad, “even one threshold one rod broad,” this point being emphasized for the sake of remembering it. V. 7. And every little chamber, the guard-room for the gate-watch, was one reed long and one reed broad, and between the little chambers, of which there seem to have been at least two, were five cubits; and the threshold of the gate by the porch of the gate within, where there was an entrance portico, was one reed. V. 8. He measured also the porch of the gate within, the pillared archway itself, one reed. V. 9. Then measured He the porch of the gate, the length of the portico, eight cubits, and the posts thereof, the pillars supporting its roof, two cubits; and the porch. of the gate was inward, literally, ‘‘away from the house,” serving as an approach to the Temple. V. 10. And the little chambers of the gate eastward, in addition to those flanking the entrance, were three on this side and three on that side; they three were of one measure, the same size as those mentioned in verse 7, and the posts, the pillars or half-columns supporting the pediments or the portico, had one measure on this side and on that side. V 11. And He measured the breadth of the entry of the gate, the entire width of the eastern entrance, ten cubits, and the length of the gate, either the height or, more likely, the depth of the gateway, thirteen cubits. V. 12. The space also, literally, “the limit or boundary,” apparently a low barrier wall, before the little chambers, where they flanked the entrance portico, was one cubit on this side, and the space was one cubit on that side, the barrier thus serving to keep those who entered in the center of the passage amid preventing their crowding into the niche-like cells of the guard-rooms; and the little chambers were six cubits on this side and six cubits on that side. V. 13. He measured then the gate, the entire width of the gate-buildings or entrance porticoes, from the roof of one little chamber to the roof of another, the entire distance between the outside walls; the breadth was five amid twenty cubits, door against door, literally, “opening against opening,’’ that is, the measuring was done straight through the interior, the passage being ten cubits, the total depth of the guard-rooms twelve cubits, and the two outer walls, three cubits. V. 14. He made also posts of threescore cubits, that is, sixty cubits high, these being the gate-pillars, even unto the post of the court round about the gate, literally, “and at the pillar was the court round and round the gate,’’ that is, the outer court of the Temple. V. 15. And from the face of the gate of the entrance, where the steps led up into the Temple, unto the face of the porch of the inner gate, which led to the Sanctuary proper, were fifty cubits, through the entire length of the entrance portico. V. 16. And there were narrow windows to the little chambers, small latticed openings for light, slanting inward from the outside of the wall, so as to offer as much light as possible, and to their posts within the gate round about, pillars projecting from the walls enclosing these windows, and likewise to the arches, or galleries; and windows were round about inward, on the walls of the passage and in the cells, so that they could be seen, no matter which way a person turned; and upon each post were palm-trees, ornaments having the shape of palm-trees. V. 17. Then brought He me into the outward court, that before and around the outer pillars, and, lo, there were chambers, cells or small apartments, and a pavement, a floor of tesselated mosaic, made for the court round about, on the three open sides; thirty chambers were upon the pavement, thus enclosing the court on these three sides. V. 18. And the pavement by the side of the gates, it was constructed there, over against the length of the gates, exactly the length of the gates, was the lower pavement, thereby distinguished from the upper or inner court. V. 19. Then He measured the breadth from the forefront of the lower gate, from that of the lower pavement, or court, unto the forefront of the inner court without, that is, to the entrance of the inner court, as measured from outside, an hundred cubits eastward and northward, the same dimensions being true of the north side as of the east side. V. 20. And the gate of the outward court that looked toward the north, He measured the length thereof and the breadth thereof, just as He had done on the east entrance, the description of this section, therefore, being very brief. V. 21. And the little chambers thereof, the guard-rooms, were three on this side and three on that side; and the posts, or pillars, thereof, and the arches thereof, the galleries, or porticoes, were after the measure of the first gate; the length thereof was fifty cubits, measuring from the outer entrance, and the breadth five and twenty cubits, from outer wall to outer wall of the niches. V. 22. And their windows and their arches and their palm-trees were after the measure of the gate that looketh toward the east, and they went up unto it by seven steps; and the arches thereof, the porches, or pediments, were before them, projecting over against them. V. 23. And the gate of the inner court was over against the gate toward the north and toward the east, so that the gates of the outer and of the inner court were exactly in line with each other; and He measured from gate to gate an hundred cubits. V. 24. After that He brought me toward the south, the entrance portico of which is described just as briefly, and behold a gate toward the south; and He measured the posts thereof and the arches thereof, the pillars and the porches, according to these measures, their dimensions being identical with those of the other entrances. V. 25. And. there were windows in it and in the arches thereof round about, like those windows, the same kind of latticed openings as on the east side; the length was fifty cubits and the breadth five and twenty cubits. V. 26. And there were seven steps to go up to it, and the arches thereof were before them; and it had palm-trees, one on this side and another on that side, upon the posts thereof. V. 27. And there was a gate in the inner court toward the south; and He measured from gate to gate toward the south an hundred cubits. The symmetry and beauty of this figurative Temple are but a faint picture of the greater perfection of the Lord’s temple, of His Church.
THE INNER COURT WITH ITS GATES, CELLS, AND SACRIFICIAL TABLES. — V. 28. And He brought me to the inner court by the south gate, that is, through this gate, so that they were now within the holy court; and He measured the south gate according to these measures, those used for the other parts of the building, v. 29. and the little chambers thereof, the guard-rooms, and the posts thereof and the arches thereof, according to these measures; and there were windows in it and in the arches thereof round about; it was fifty cubits long and five and twenty cubits broad. V. 30. And the arches round about, the pediments, or galleries, were five and twenty cubits long and five cubits broad. V. 31. And the arches thereof were toward the utter court, the wall projections extending into the outer court, and palm-trees were upon the posts thereof, as ornaments sculptured in relief, and the going up to it had eight steps, for the inner court rose higher above the outer court than the latter did above the exterior. V. 32. And He brought me, as they continued their walk throughout the complex of Temple-buildings, into the inner court toward the east; and He measured the gate according to these measures, those employed in the other parts of the building. V. 33. And the little chambers thereof and the posts thereof and the arches thereof were according to these measures; and there were windows therein and in the arches thereof round about; it was fifty cubits long and five and twenty cubits broad, the same dimensions as the other approaches. V. 34. And the arches thereof were toward the outward court; and palm-trees were upon the posts thereof on this side and on that side; and the going up to it had eight steps, the symmetry of the entire structure thus being shown once more. V. 35. And He brought me to the north gate and measured it according to these measures: v. 36. the little chambers thereof, the posts thereof, and the arches thereof, and the windows to it round about; the length was fifty cubits and the breadth five and twenty cubits. V. 37. And the posts thereof, the pillars bearing the special pediments, were toward the utter court; and palm-trees were upon the posts thereof on this side and on that side; and the going up to it had eight steps. V. 38. And the chambers and the entries thereof were by the posts of the gates, literally, “And a cell with its entry was at either pillar at the gates,” or at pillars at the gates, for the cell seems to have had a door leading to each of the three interior gates, where they washed the burnt offering, a rite which, in the old Temple, had been performed in the Priests’ Court only. V. 39. And in the porch of the gate were two tables on this side and two tables on that side to slay thereon the burnt offering and the sin-offering and the trespass-offering, that is, to cut up the carcasses of the slain animals according to the rules observed by the priests from olden times. V. 40. And at the side without, as one goeth up to the entry of the north gate, on the outside of the Temple-hall, were two tables; and on the other side, which was at the porch of the gate, against the wall of the left side, were two tables. V. 41. Four tables were on this side and four tables on that side, by the side of the gate, on either side of the approach to the inner hail; eight tables whereupon they slew their sacrifices, cutting them up according to the prescribed formulas. These tables were evidently of wood, as the next sentence indicates. V. 42. And the four tables were of hewn stone for the burnt offering, rather, “and four tables at the ascent,” the stairway, “of hewn stone,” of a cubit and an half long and a cubit and an half broad and one cubit high, apparently lower than the wooden tables, whereupon also they laid the instruments wherewith they slew the burnt offering and the sacrifice, the knives and cleavers which they used for dividing the carcasses. V. 43. And within were hooks, double staples or forked hooks, an hand broad, fastened round about, for the purpose of suspending the slain animals; and upon the tables was the flesh of the offering, placed upon them for the purpose indicated. V. 44. And without the inner gate were the chambers of the singers in the inner court, these two cells being immediately at the entrance of the court, which was at the side of the north gate, and their prospect was toward the south, that is, the one faced in that direction; one at the side of the east gate having the prospect toward the north, so that the two faced each other. V. 45. And He said unto me, This chamber, whose prospect is toward the south, is for the priests, the keepers of the charge of the house, that is, in charge of the Temple-buildings, superintendents of the entire Temple area. “That the singers are here so prominent is explained by the fact that in the state of exaltation of the community of God more ample material will be given them for new songs, so that in the worship of the new Temple the singing must play a chief part.” (Hengstenberg.) V. 46. And the chamber whose prospect is toward the north is for the priests, the keepers of the charge of the altar, the superintendents of the sacrificial part of the Temple-worship; these are the Sons of Zadok among the sons of Levi, for in this line the priesthood was to continue, 1 Kings 2, 35, which come near to the Lord to minister unto Him, and the priests were also active in the liturgical part of the Temple-worship. V. 47. So He measured the court, an hundred cubits long and an hundred cubits broad, four-square, and the altar, namely, that of burnt offering, that was before the house, out before the entrance of the Holy Place. V. 48. And He brought me to the porch of the house, the large portico which was before the Sanctuary proper, and measured each post, or pillar, of the porch, five cubits on this side and five cubits on that side; and the breadth of the gate was three cubits on this side and three cubits on that side. V. 49. The length of the porch was twenty cubits and the breadth eleven cubits; and He brought me by the steps whereby they went up to it, ten in number; and there were pillars by the posts, one on this side and another on that side, like the towers Jachin and Boaz in the Temple of Solomon. Cp. 1 Kings 7. The effort of some commentators to find exact parallels and to draw minute pictures of the new Temple according to this description are bound to be futile. It is evident throughout that an ideal structure is here pictured, one whose exact dimensions may he expounded only with a per-feet understanding of the essence of the Church.