In the five and twentieth year of our captivity, in the beginning of the year, in the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after that the city was smitten, in the selfsame day the hand of the LORD was upon me, and brought me thither.
In the first and twentieth year - This was the fiftieth year from the 18th of Josiah, the year of his memorable Passover 2 Kings 23:22. See the Ezekiel 1:1 note. If that was a jubilee year, which is highly probable, this vision also falls in a jubilee year, which seems appropriate. The jubilee year began with the month of Tisri, a sufficient reason for speaking of the time as "the beginning of the year." The tenth day of this month was the day of atonement Leviticus 16:29-30.
In the visions of God brought he me into the land of Israel, and set me upon a very high mountain, by which was as the frame of a city on the south.
By which - Better as in the margin. (compare Ezekiel 43:12).
As the frame of a city - It is not "a city" which is seen, but a building (the temple and its courts) like a city in its construction, surrounded by massive walls.
On the south - southward, i. e., on the southern slope, just as the temple actually stood on Mount Moriah. The temple was at the northeast corner of the city - part of the western portion of the city being more to the north, but no part directly north of the temple.
And he brought me thither, and, behold, there was a man, whose appearance was like the appearance of brass, with a line of flax in his hand, and a measuring reed; and he stood in the gate.
The appearance of brass - Brightly shining.
A line of flax - For measuring the ground plan.
A measuring reed - For the walls (compare Jeremiah 31:38-39). To measure implied a separation for sacred purposes. The measurements are:
(1) exact, to show that the promise is certain;
(2) equal, to denote harmony;
(3) vast, to mark majesty and grandeur.
And the man said unto me, Son of man, behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and set thine heart upon all that I shall shew thee; for to the intent that I might shew them unto thee art thou brought hither: declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel.
And behold a wall on the outside of the house round about, and in the man's hand a measuring reed of six cubits long by the cubit and an hand breadth: so he measured the breadth of the building, one reed; and the height, one reed.
The boundary wall of the temple-courts. See Plan II.
A wall on the outside of the house - The wall enclosing the courts in which were the entrance gates.
By the cubit and an hand breadth - The Jews first used a cubit of fifteen inches, applying it principally to the vessels and furniture of the temple; next a cubit of eighteen inches ("a hand-breadth" longer than the former cubit); and lastly, after the captivity, the Babylonian cubit of twenty-one inches (a "hand-breadth" more). In the temple measurements they used only the cubit of eighteen inches; hence, the "cubit and hand-breadth" is the cubit of eighteen inches.
Then came he unto the gate which looketh toward the east, and went up the stairs thereof, and measured the threshold of the gate, which was one reed broad; and the other threshold of the gate, which was one reed broad.
The east gate-building. See Plan III.
Stairs - Seven in number Ezekiel 40:22. Each threshold of the gate (was) one reed broad (or 9 ft.). The measurements are being taken from East to west, i. e., in depth.
And every little chamber was one reed long, and one reed broad; and between the little chambers were five cubits; and the threshold of the gate by the porch of the gate within was one reed.
Every little chamber - The guard-chambers (a) for the use of the Levites who kept watch in the temple.
The threshold of the gate by the porch - The second threshold in the easternmost gate-way (c).
Porch - Hebrew אולם 'ûlâm; the Septuagint: αἰλάμ ailam; Vulgate: vestibulum. The word probably means porch or portico, connected with "ail" post or pillar.
He measured also the porch of the gate within, one reed.
Then measured he the porch of the gate, eight cubits; and the posts thereof, two cubits; and the porch of the gate was inward.
The porch is now measured from north to south in "wide." "The breadth of the entry of the gate" was "ten cubits," made up of the "eight cubits," with "a cubit" for "a post" or pillar on each side Ezekiel 40:11.
Posts - A projection like a ram's horn; in architecture, a column projecting from the wall with its base, shaft, and capital, or it may be the "base" only Ezekiel 40:16, Ezekiel 40:49. Here "post" represents the lower part of the column. and the dimensions given are those of the section of the base.
And the little chambers of the gate eastward were three on this side, and three on that side; they three were of one measure: and the posts had one measure on this side and on that side.
In front of each guard-chamber were columns, whose "posts" (bases) were each one cubit square.
And he measured the breadth of the entry of the gate, ten cubits; and the length of the gate, thirteen cubits.
The length of the gate - The length of the gateway (including the porch, E.) from the court to the uncovered space. The threshold was "six cubits," and the porch "six." In addition one cubit was probably allowed in front of the porch, as before the porch of the temple itself Ezekiel 40:49.
The space also before the little chambers was one cubit on this side, and the space was one cubit on that side: and the little chambers were six cubits on this side, and six cubits on that side.
He measured then the gate from the roof of one little chamber to the roof of another: the breadth was five and twenty cubits, door against door.
This measurement is across the gate-building from north to south. The breadth of the gate-building was exactly half its length Ezekiel 40:15.
He made also posts of threescore cubits, even unto the post of the court round about the gate.
Posts of threescore cubits - Sixty cubits were the length of a series of columns. This gives us another feature of the gate-building. Between the porch (E) and the two most western guard-chambers was a space of five cubits (through which the road passed), forming a kind of hall with columns along the sides. This hall is called the "arches" Ezekiel 40:16. A hall of the same dimensions was between the boundary wall and eastern guard-chambers Ezekiel 40:31. It is probable that in one of these halls (that of the eastern gateway of the inner court) the prince "ate bread" on solemn festivals Ezekiel 44:3.
Unto the post of the court round about the gate - This hall or colonnade extended the whole breadth of the building to the pavement (Ezekiel 40:18, H, Plan II). Outside the building on the pavement was a series of pillars.
And from the face of the gate of the entrance unto the face of the porch of the inner gate were fifty cubits.
The whole length of the gate-building was thus made up:
Thickness of boundary wall 6 cubits Hall of the entrance 5 cubits Three guard-chambers (6 cubits) 18 cubits Spaces between guard-chambers 10 cubits Hall of the porch 5 cubits The porch 6 cubits Total 50 cubits Ezekiel 40:16
The "narrow" (closed and (?)latticed "windows" lit up both the guard-chambers and the hall. On the square base of the "post" stood the shaft in the form of a palm-tree, as we see in ancient buildings in the east.
And there were narrow windows to the little chambers, and to their posts within the gate round about, and likewise to the arches: and windows were round about inward: and upon each post were palm trees.
Then brought he me into the outward court, and, lo, there were chambers, and a pavement made for the court round about: thirty chambers were upon the pavement.
The "outward" or outer "court" (o, Plan II) corresponds to what was in Herod's temple the court of Women, into which all Jews, but not Gentiles were admitted.
Chambers - (I) See Jeremiah 35:2.
A pavement - (H) Of mosaic work 2 Chronicles 7:3; Esther 1:6 which formed a border of forty-four cubits. On each side of the court in which there were gates, i. e., on east, north, and south. It was called the "lower pavement" to distinguish it from the pavement of the inner court; the outer court being lower than the inner Ezekiel 40:31.
And the pavement by the side of the gates over against the length of the gates was the lower pavement.
Then he measured the breadth from the forefront of the lower gate unto the forefront of the inner court without, an hundred cubits eastward and northward.
There were eastern, northern, and southern gates of entrance from the outer to the inner court (B).
Without - Not as in the margin, but looking outward, i. e., the outward front of the inner gate toward the outer court.
And the gate of the outward court that looked toward the north, he measured the length thereof, and the breadth thereof.
The gates both of the outer and of the inner court. Compare Plan II.
And the little chambers thereof were three on this side and three on that side; and the posts thereof and the arches thereof were after the measure of the first gate: the length thereof was fifty cubits, and the breadth five and twenty cubits.
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 were before them.
And the gate of the inner court was over against the gate toward the north, and toward the east; and he measured from gate to gate an hundred cubits.
After that he brought me toward the south, and behold a gate toward the south: and he measured the posts thereof and the arches thereof according to these measures.
And there were windows in it and in the arches thereof round about, like those windows: the length was fifty cubits, and the breadth five and twenty cubits.
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.
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.
And he brought me to the inner court by the south gate: and he measured the south gate according to these measures;
And the little chambers thereof, 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.
And the arches round about were five and twenty cubits long, and five cubits broad.
And the arches thereof were toward the utter court; and palm trees were upon the posts thereof: and the going up to it had eight steps.
Utter court - Translate outward court Ezekiel 40:37; Ezekiel 42:1, Ezekiel 42:7, Ezekiel 42:14; Ezekiel 44:19; Ezekiel 46:20-21.
Arches toward the outward court - See Ezekiel 40:14 note.
Eight steps - So for the east Ezekiel 40:34 and north gates Ezekiel 40:37. From the precincts to the outer court were "seven" steps, from the outer to the inner court "eight," making together the number of the Psalms Ps. 120-134, supposed by some to have been called Psalms of Degrees, because they were sung by the choir of Levites upon the steps ("degrees") of the temple-courts. In later times these Psalms were used as pilgrims' songs by the Jews who went up from their abodes in foreign countries to Jerusalem on the solemn feasts.
And he brought me into the inner court toward the east: and he measured the gate according to these measures.
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.
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.
And he brought me to the north gate, and measured it according to these measures;
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.
And the posts thereof 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.
And the chambers and the entries thereof were by the posts of the gates, where they washed the burnt offering.
The chambers - Render it: and chambers, not yet described. They were north of the altar, by the "posts" or pillars in front and along the sides of the gate-building. There were several gates in the gate-building.
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.
In the porch - Not under the covered portico, which was only ten cubits broad Ezekiel 40:9, but in the angles formed by the porch and gate-front. If the gate-building projected with its porch forward on to the pavement of the inner court, the tables were fitly placed for carrying out the directions of the Law.
And at the side without, as one goeth up to the entry of the north gate, were two tables; and on the other side, which was at the porch of the gate, were two tables.
On either side of the entrance of the north gate (from the inner court), were two tables on the one side and two tables on the other side of the porch.
Four tables were on this side, and four tables on that side, by the side of the gate; eight tables, whereupon they slew their sacrifices.
And the four tables were of hewn stone for the burnt offering, of a cubit and an half long, and a cubit and an half broad, and one cubit high: whereupon also they laid the instruments wherewith they slew the burnt offering and the sacrifice.
Omit "the" and "were." These "four tables" are not the same as those mentioned before. The eight tables (T) were for slaying and preparing the victims, and were probably of wood, these (S) were of "hewn stone." There may be in the number twelve a reference to the twelve tribes of Israel.
And within were hooks, an hand broad, fastened round about: and upon the tables was the flesh of the offering.
Hooks - The alternative renderings given in the margin indicate the doubtfulness of the translation of the original word. The form is dual, and indicates that it is some object usually found in pairs. Some suggest that they were borders or ledges set, on either side of the tables, a handbreadth from the edges, to prevent the instruments placed on them from falling off. If the rendering "hooks" be adopted, it is to be explained thus: that these hooks were set on the wall "within," that each hook was forked (hence, the "dual" form), and projected from the wall one span; and that on these hooks were hung the carcasses of the slain animals.
And without the inner gate were the chambers of the singers in the inner court, which was at the side of the north gate; and their prospect was toward the south: one at the side of the east gate having the prospect toward the north.
Without - Outside of the gate in the inner court. See N, Plan II.
Singers - These were Levites of particular families, those of Heman, Asaph, and Merari, whose genealogy is carefully traced up to Levi (see marginal reference). These chambers (N, Plan II) may have been for the "singers and priests" who were for the time being engaged in the services of the temple. Other chambers (Ezekiel 42:1 ff) were for the use of the "priests" at other times; and the Levites and singers, when "not" on duty, would find accommodation in the thirty chambers of the outer court. If there is a departure here from the symmetry elsewhere observed, it may be accounted for by the fact that as the sacrifices were to be made on the "north" side of the altar, and therefore the "tables" for the sacrifices were on that side only, so those who had charge of the house and its singers might have rooms near. Others correct the Hebrew text by the Septuagint, and read the passage thus: And without the "inner gate" two chambers (i. e., rows of chambers) "in the inner court, one at the side of the north gate, and their prospect toward the south, one at the side of the south gate, and the prospect toward the north."
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.
The priests, whose chambers (L) are here provided, were those whose business it was to exercise this oversight which had devolved upon them as descendants of Aaron Numbers 3:32.
And the chamber whose prospect is toward the north is for the priests, the keepers of the charge of the altar: these are the sons of Zadok among the sons of Levi, which come near to the LORD to minister unto him.
The position of the "chamber" looking to the north commanded a view of the brasen altar and the sacrifices, which were prepared at the north side of the altar.
The sons of Zadok - The priests were all descended from one or other of the two sons of Aaron, Eleazar and Ithamar. David distributed the priestly offices between the families of Zadok, the representative of Eleazar, and Ahimelech, the representative of Ithamar 1 Chronicles 24:3. From the time of Solomon not only the high priesthood, but the priesthood itself, so far as concerned its service, that of offering upon the two altars, seems to have been confined to the descendants of Zadok (see 1 Chronicles 6:49-53). Perhaps the other offices, such as those mentioned in Ezekiel 40:45, were performed by the descendants of Abiathar and Ithamar. Compare 1 Samuel 2:36, and below, Ezekiel 43:19; Ezekiel 44:15; Ezekiel 48:11. The priests who had charge of the sacrifices were distinguished from the rest of the Levitical priests, "as they which come near to the Lord, and Ezekiel 42:13 the priests that approach unto the Lord."
So he measured the court, an hundred cubits long, and an hundred cubits broad, foursquare; and the altar that was before the house.
The court - The inner court (B) where was the brass altar Ezekiel 43:13.
The new chapter would begin better at Ezekiel 40:48.
And he brought me to the porch of the house, and measured each post 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.
The Porch of the House. The front of the temple-porch (see G, Plan I) consisted of a central opening with two columns on either side. Two columns with the space between them were called "a post of the gate." "The breadth of the gate" on either side was a side opening, that is, the opening between two columns. The columns having bases of a cubit square, two columns and the "breadth of the gate," which we are told was three cubits, made up the "five cubits" on either side the central entrance, which, like the entrance into the temple itself, was ten cubits. Thus we have twenty cubits for the porch-front.
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: and there were pillars by the posts, one on this side, and another on that side.
The porch of Solomon's Temple was twenty cubits broad and ten deep 1 Kings 6:3. This corresponds nearly with the dimensions of Ezekiel's porch; the difference in the breadth may be explained by supposing a space of one cubit in front of the porch (as Ezekiel 40:11-12). The circumstance of this porch being approached by stairs of probably ten steps makes this more probable, a small space in front of the porch being naturally required.
Pillars by the posts - literally, to "the posts," meaning that upon the bases (posts) stood shafts (pillars). These shafts were probably in the form of palm-trees Ezekiel 40:16. The porch with its steps must have jutted into the inner court.