And the settle shall be fourteen cubits long and fourteen broad in the four squares thereof; and the border about it shall be half a cubit; and the bottom thereof shall be a cubit about; and his stairs shall look toward the east.
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His stairs - Jewish tradition says that the approach to the altar was by an inclined plane, because to go up "by steps" was forbidden Exodus 20:26.
The number "twelve" was symbolic of the twelve tribes, "four," of the earth; "sixteen" is the square of "four," and "fourteen" the double of "seven," the number of the covenant, as being composed of "three," the number of God, and of "four," the number of the world. Thus we have in the altar a special instance of Hebrew symbolism.Ezekiel 43:14. By these settles or ledges the altar was narrowed towards the top. "The ascent shall look toward the east;" this ascent was an inclined plane. But these settles, or more properly ledges, as Bp. Newcome translates, may be thus computed. The altar itself was ten feet high and twenty broad; the same as that of Solomon, 2 Chronicles 4:1.
Height Cubits For the base, Ezekiel 43:13, is in height 1 From the surface of the base to the first ledge, Ezekiel 43:14 1 From the lower ledge to the upper, Ezekiel 43:14 4 From the upper ledge to the ariel or hearth, Ezekiel 43:15 4 In all 10 Breadth Cubits And as to the breadth, the upper ledge, Ezekiel 43:17, was 14 Add a cubit on each side for the higher ledge, Ezekiel 43:14, latter part 2 Add a cubit on each side for the lower ledge, Ezekiel 43:14, former part 2 Add a cubit on each side for the base, Ezekiel 43:13 2 In all 20
The altar of burnt-offerings, described Exodus 27:1; Exodus 38:1, was smaller than this, because it was to be removed from place to place with the tabernacle. This was designed for a permanent temple. See Bp. Newcome on this chapter.
and the border about it shall be half a cubit; or the enclosure, as the Targum; the ledge about it, which went round the altar, to keep the fire or sacrifice from falling, or that the feet of the priests might not slip: the Jews expound it of the horns:
and the bottom thereof shall be a cubit about; or the foundation, as the Targum; which was between the altar, and the border on which the priests walked, when they went round it, to do the business of it: here Kimchi owns his ignorance again;
and his stairs shall look towards the east; steps to the altar were forbidden by the law of Moses, Exodus 20:26 wherefore, as the height of the altar of Solomon, and so of the second temple, required some way and method of ascent to the top of it, to do the business upon it; the Jews had what they call "kibbesh", a way made of earth thrown up, which rose gradually, and led to the top of it, and was about two and thirty cubits long, and sixteen broad (a); but here steps or stairs are expressly mentioned, which show that this refers to times when the Mosaic and ceremonial laws should be abolished. These stairs were placed eastward, so that those that went up them looked toward the west, toward the temple and house of God, where he dwelt; and turned their backs to the east, or rising sun, in direct opposition to the worshippers of the sun, whose faces were to the east. How many steps or stairs there were to the altar is not said; Starckius conjectures there might be twelve or fourteen of them, and allows for each step half a cubit; but as the altar was ten, or, as others, eleven cubits high, there should be twenty steps or more, of such a measure. These may signify the several ways and means of coming to, and increasing in, the knowledge of the doctrine of the altar, or of Christ's satisfaction for sin; as hearing, reading, prayer, meditation, &c.And the settle shall be fourteen cubits long and fourteen broad in the four squares thereof; and the border about it shall be half a cubit; and the bottom thereof shall be a cubit about; and his stairs shall look toward the east.
(See Plate II 1). - Ezekiel 40:6. And he went to the gate, the direction of which was toward the east, and ascended the steps thereof, and measured the threshold of the gate one rod broad, namely, the first threshold one rod broad, Ezekiel 40:7. And the guard-room one rod long and one rod broad, and between the guard-rooms five cubits, and the threshold of the gate by the porch of the gate from the temple hither one rod. Ezekiel 40:8. And he measured the porch of the gate from the temple hither one rod. Ezekiel 40:9. And he measured the porch of the gate eight cubits, and its pillars two cubits; and the porch of the gate was from the temple hither. Ezekiel 40:10. And of the guard-rooms of the gate toward the east there were three on this side and three on that side; all three had one measure, and the pillars also one measure on this side and on that. Ezekiel 40:11. And he measured the breadth of the opening of the gate ten cubits, the length of the gate thirteen cubits. Ezekiel 40:12. And there was a boundary fence before the guard-rooms of one cubit, and a cubit was the boundary fence on that side, and the guard-rooms were six cubits on this side and six cubits on that side. Ezekiel 40:13. And he measured the gate from the roof of the guard-rooms to the roof of them five and twenty cubits broad, door against door. Ezekiel 40:14. And he fixed the pillars at sixty cubits, and the court round about the gate reached to the pillars. Ezekiel 40:15. And the front of the entrance gate to the front of the porch of the inner gate was fifty cubits. Ezekiel 40:16. And there were closed windows in the guard-rooms, and in their pillars on the inner side of the gate round about, and so also in the projections of the walls; there were windows round about on the inner side, and palms on the pillars. - ויּבוא אל שׁער is not to be rendered, "he went in at the gate." For although this would be grammatically admissible, it is not in harmony with what follows, according to which the man first of all ascended the steps, and then commenced the measuring of the gate-buildings with the threshold of the gate. The steps (B in the illustration) are not to be thought of as in the surrounding wall, but as being outside in front of them; but in the description which follows they are not included in the length of the gate-buildings. The number of steps is not give here, but they have no doubt been fixed correctly by the lxx at seven, as that is the number given in Ezekiel 40:22 and Ezekiel 40:26 in connection with both the northern and southern gates. From the steps the man came to the threshold (C), and measured it. "The actual description of the first building, that of the eastern gate, commences in the inside; first of all, the entire length is traversed (Ezekiel 40:6-9), and the principal divisions are measured on the one side; then (Ezekiel 40:10-12) the inner portions on both sides are given more definitely as to their character, number, and measure; in Ezekiel 40:13-15 the relations and measurement of the whole building are noticed; and finally (Ezekiel 40:16), the wall-decorations observed round about the inside. The exit from the gate is first mentioned in Ezekiel 40:17; consequently all that is given in Ezekiel 40:6-16 must have been visible within the building, just as in the case of the other gates the measurements and descriptions are always to be regarded as given from within" (Bttcher). The threshold (C) was a rod in breadth, - that is to say, measuring from the outside to the inside, - and was therefore just as broad as the wall was thick (Ezekiel 40:5). But this threshold was the one, or first threshold, which had to be crossed by any one who entered the gate from the outside, for the gate-building had a second threshold at the exit into the court, which is mentioned in Ezekiel 40:7. Hence the more precise definition ואת סף אחד, "and that the one, i.e., first threshold," in connection with which the breadth is given a second time. את is neither nota nominativi, nor is it used in the sense of זאת; but it is nota accus., and is also governed by ויּמד. And אחד is not to be taken in a pregnant sense, "only one, i.e., not broken up, or composed of several" (Bttcher, Hvernick), but is employed, as it frequently is in enumeration, for the ordinal number: one for the first (vid., e.g., Genesis 1:5, Genesis 1:7).
The length of the threshold, i.e., its measure between the two door-posts (from north to south), is not given; but from the breadth of the entrance door mentioned in Ezekiel 40:11, we can infer that it was ten cubits. Proceeding from the threshold, we have next the measurement of the guard-room (G), mentioned in Ezekiel 40:7. According to 1 Kings 14:28, תּא is a room constructed in the gate, for the use of the guard keeping watch at the gate. This was a rod in length, and the same in breadth. A space of five cubits is then mentioned as intervening between the guard-rooms. It is evident from this that there were several guard-rooms in succession; according to Ezekiel 40:10, three on each side of the doorway, but that instead of their immediately joining one another, they were separated by intervening spaces (H) of five cubits each. This required two spaces on each side. These spaces between the guard-rooms, of which we have no further description, must not be thought of as open or unenclosed, for in that case there would have been so many entrances into the court, and the gateway would not be closed; but we must assume "that they were closed by side walls, which connected the guard-rooms with one another" (Kliefoth). - After the guard-rooms there follows, thirdly, the threshold of the gate on the side of, or near the porch of, the gate "in the direction from the house," i.e., the second threshold, which was at the western exit from the gate-buildings near the porch (D); in other words, which stood as you entered immediately in front of the porch leading out into the court (C C), and was also a cubit in breadth, like the first threshold at the eastern entrance into the gate. מהבּית, "in the direction from the house," or, transposing it into our mode of viewing and describing directions, "going toward the temple-house." This is added to אלם השּׁער to indicate clearly the position of this porch as being by the inner passage of the gate-buildings leading into the court, so as to guard against our thinking of a porch erected on the outside in front of the entrance gate. Bttcher, Hitzig, and others are wrong in identifying or interchanging מהבּית with מבּית, inwardly, intrinsecus (Ezekiel 7:15; 1 Kings 6:15), and taking it as referring to סף, as if the intention were to designate this threshold as the inner one lying within the gate-buildings, in contrast to the first threshold mentioned in Ezekiel 40:6.
In Ezekiel 40:8 and Ezekiel 40:9 two different measures of this court-porch (D) are given, viz., first, one rod equals six cubits (Ezekiel 40:8), and then eight cubits (Ezekiel 40:9). The ancient translators stumbled at this difference, and still more at the fact that the definition of the measurement is repeated in the same words; so that, with the exception of the Targumists, they have all omitted the eighth verse; and in consequence of this, modern critics, such as Houbigant, Ewald, Bttcher, and Hitzig, have expunged it from the text as a gloss. But however strange the repetition of the measurement of the porch with a difference in the numbers may appear at the first glance, and however naturally it may suggest the thought of a gloss which has crept into the text through the oversight of a copyists, it is very difficult to understand how such a gloss could have been perpetuated; and this cannot be explained by the groundless assumption that there was an unwillingness to erase what had once been erroneously written. To this must be added the difference in the terms employed to describe the dimensions, viz., first, a rod, and then eight cubits, as well as the circumstance that in Ezekiel 40:9, in addition to the measure of the porch, that of the pillars adjoining the porch is given immediately afterwards. The attempts of the earlier commentators to explain the two measurements of the porch have altogether failed; and Kliefoth was the first to solve the difficulty correctly, by explaining that in Ezekiel 40:8 the measurement of the porch is given in the clear, i.e., according to the length within, or the depth (from east to west), whilst in Ezekiel 40:9 the external length of the southern (or northern) wall of the porch (from east to west) is given. Both of these were necessary, the former to give a correct idea of the inner space of the porch, as in the case of the guard-rooms in Ezekiel 40:8; the latter, to supply the necessary data for the entire length of the gate-buildings, and to make it possible to append to this the dimensions of the pillars adjoining the western porch-wall. As a portion of the gate-entrance or gateway, this porch was open to the east and west; and toward the west, i.e., toward the court, it was closed by the gate built against it. Kliefoth therefore assumes that the porch-walls on the southern and northern sides projected two cubits toward the west beyond the inner space of the porch, which lay between the threshold and the gate that could be closed, and was six cubits long, and that the two gate-pillars, with their thickness of two cubits each, were attached to this prolongation of the side walls. But by this supposition we do not gain a porch (אלם), but a simple extension of the intervening wall between the third guard-room and the western gate. If the continuation of the side walls, which joined the masonry bounding the western threshold on the south and north, was to have the character of a porch, the hinder wall (to the east) could not be entirely wanting; but even if there were a large opening in it for the doorway, it must stand out in some way so as to strike the eye, whether by projections of the wall at the north-east and south-east corners, or what may be more probable, by the fact that the southern and northern side walls receded at least a cubit in the inside, if not more, so that the masonry of the walls of the porch was weaker (thinner) than that at the side of the threshold and by the pillars, and the porch in the clear from north to south was broader than the doorway. The suffix attached to אילו is probably to be taken as referring to אלם השּׁער, and not merely to שׁער, and the word itself to be construed as a plural (איליו): the pillars of the gate-porch (E) were two cubits thick, or strong. This measurement is not to be divided between the two pillars, as the earlier commentators supposed, so that each pillar would be but one cubit thick, but applies to each of them. As the pillars were sixty cubits high (according to Ezekiel 40:14), they must have had the strength of at least two cubits of thickness to secure the requisite firmness. At the close of the ninth verse, the statement that the gate-porch was directed towards the temple-house is made for the third time, because it was this peculiarity in the situation which distinguished the gate-buildings of the outer court from those of the inner; inasmuch as in the case of the latter, although in other respects its construction resembled that of the gate-buildings of the outer court, the situation was reversed, and the gate-porch was at the side turned away from the temple toward the outer court, as is also emphatically stated three times in Ezekiel 40:31, Ezekiel 40:34, and Ezekiel 40:37 (Kliefoth).
On reaching the gate-porch and its pillars, the measurer had gone through the entire length of the gate-buildings, and determined the measure of all its component parts, so far as the length was concerned. Having arrived at the inner extremity or exit, the describer returns, in order to supply certain important particulars with regard to the situation and character of the whole structure. He first of all observes (in Ezekiel 40:10), with reference to the number and relative position of the guard-houses (G), that there were three of them on each side opposite to one another, that all six were of the same measure, i.e., one rod in length and one in breadth (Ezekiel 40:7); and then, that the pillars mentioned in Ezekiel 40:9, the measurement of which was determined (E), standing at the gate-porch on either side, were of the same size. Many of the commentators have erroneously imagined that by לאילם we are to understand the walls between the guard-rooms or pillars in the guard-rooms. The connecting walls could not be called אילים; and if pillars belonging to the guard-rooms were intended, we should expect to find לאיליו. - In Ezekiel 40:11 there follow the measurements of the breadth and length of the doorway. The breadth of the opening, i.e., the width of the doorway, was ten cubits. "By this we are naturally to understand the breadth of the whole doorway in its full extent, just as the length of the two thresholds and the seven steps, which was not given in Ezekiel 40:6 and Ezekiel 40:7, is also fixed at ten cubits" (Kliefoth). - The measurement which follows, viz., "the length of the gate, thirteen cubits," is difficult to explain, and has been interpreted in very different ways. The supposition of Lyra, Kliefoth, and others, that by the length of the gate we are to understand the height of the trellised gate, which could be opened and shut, cannot possibly be correct. ארך, length, never stands for קומה, height; and השּׁער in this connection cannot mean the gate that was opened and shut. השּׁער, as distinguished from פּתח השּׁער, can only signify either the whole of the gate-building (as in Ezekiel 40:6), or, in a more limited sense, that portion of the building which bore the character of a gate in a conspicuous way; primarily, therefore, the masonry enclosing the threshold on the two sides, together with its roof; and then, generally, the covered doorway, or that portion of the gate-building which was roofed over, in distinction from the uncovered portion of the building between the two gates (Bttcher, Hitzig, and Hvernick); inasmuch as it cannot be supposed that a gate-building of fifty cubits long was entirely roofed in. Now, as there are two thresholds mentioned in Ezekiel 40:6 and Ezekiel 40:7, and the distinction in Ezekiel 40:15 between the (outer) entrance-gate and the porch of the inner gate implies that the gate-building had two gates, like the gate-building of the city of Mahanaim (2 Samuel 18:24), one might be disposed to distribute the thirteen cubits' length of the gate between the two gates, because each threshold had simply a measurement of six cubits. But such a supposition as this, which is not very probable in itself, is proved to be untenable, by the fact that throughout the whole description we never find the measurements of two or more separate portions added together, so that no other course is open than to assume, as Bttcher, Hitzig, and Hvernick have done, that the length of thirteen cubits refers to one covered doorway, and that, according to the analogy of the measurements of the guard-rooms given in Ezekiel 40:7, it applies to the second gateway also; in which case, out of the forty cubits which constituted the whole length of the gate-building (without the front porch), about two-thirds (twenty-six cubits) would be covered gateway (b b), and the fourteen cubits between would form an uncovered court-yard (c c) enclosed on all sides by the gate-buildings. Consequently the roofing of the gate extended from the eastern and western side over the guard-room, which immediately adjoined the threshold of the gate, and a cubit beyond that, over the wall which intervened between the guard-rooms, so that only the central guard-room on either side, together with a portion of the walls which bounded it, stood in the uncovered portion or court of the gate-building.
According to Ezekiel 40:12, there was a גּבוּל, or boundary, in front of the guard-rooms, i.e., a boundary fence of a cubit in breadth, along the whole of the guard-room, with its breadth of six cubits on either side. The construction of this boundary fence or barrier (a) is not explained; but the design of it is clear, namely to enable the sentry to come without obstruction out of the guard-room, to observe what was going on in the gate both on the right and left, without being disturbed by those who were passing through the gate. These boundary fences in front of the guard-rooms projected into the gateway to the extent described, so that there were only eight (10-2) cubits open space between the guard-rooms, for those who were going out and in. In Ezekiel 40:12 we must supply מפּה after the first אחת because of the parallelism. Ezekiel 40:12 is a substantial repetition of Ezekiel 40:7. - In Ezekiel 40:13 there follows the measure of the breadth of the gate-building. From the roof of the one guard-room to the roof of the other guard-room opposite (לגגּו is an abbreviated expression for לגג התּא) the breadth was twenty-five cubits, "door against door." These last words are added for the sake of clearness, to designate the direction of the measurement as taken right across the gateway. The door of the guard-room, however, can only be the door in the outer wall, by which the sentries passed to and fro between the room and the court. The measurement given will not allow of our thinking of a door in the inner wall, i.e., the wall of the barrier of the gateway, without touching the question in dispute among the commentators, whether the guard-rooms had walls toward the gateway or not, i.e., whether they were rooms that could be closed, or sentry-boxes open in front. All that the measuring from roof to roof presupposes is indisputable is, that the guard-rooms had a roof. The measurement given agrees, moreover, with the other measurements. The breadth of the gateway with its ten cubits, added to that of each guard-room with six; and therefore of both together with twelve, makes twenty-two cubits in all; so that if we add three cubits for the thickness of the two outer walls, or a cubit and a half each, that is to say, according to Ezekiel 40:42, the breadth of one hewn square stone, we obtain twenty-five cubits for the breadth of the whole gate-building, the dimension given in Ezekiel 40:21, Ezekiel 40:25, and Ezekiel 40:29.
There is a further difficulty in Ezekiel 40:14. The אילים, whose measurement is fixed in the first clause at sixty cubits, can only be the gate-pillars (איליו) mentioned in Ezekiel 40:9; and the measurement given can only refer to their height. The height of sixty cubits serves to explain the choice of the verb ויּעשׂ, in the general sense of constituit, instead of ויּמד, inasmuch as such a height could not be measured from the bottom to the top with the measuring rod, but could only be estimated and fixed at such and such a result. With regard to the offence taken by modern critics at the sixty cubits, Kliefoth has very correctly observed, that "if it had been considered that our church towers have also grown out of gate-pillars, that we may see for ourselves not only in Egyptian obelisks and Turkish minarets, but in our own hollow factory-chimneys, how pillars of sixty cubits can be erected upon a pedestal of two cubits square; and lastly, that we have here to do with a colossal building seen in a vision, - there would have been no critical difficulties discovered in this statement as to the height." Moreover, not only the number, but the whole text is verified as correct by the Targum and Vulgate, and defended by them against all critical caprice; whilst the verdict of Bttcher himself concerning the Greek and Syriac texts is, that they are senselessly mutilated and disfigured. - In the second half of the verse איל stands in a collective sense: "and the court touched the pillars." החצר is not a court situated within the gate-building (Hitzig, Hvernick, and others), but the outer court of the temple. השּׁער is an accusative, literally, with regard to the gate round about, i.e., encompassing the gate-building round about, that is to say, on three sides. These words plainly affirm what is implied in the preceding account, namely, that the gate-building stood within the outer court, and that not merely so far as the porch was concerned, but in its whole extent. - To this there is very suitably attached in Ezekiel 40:15 the account of the length of the whole building. The words, "at the front of the entrance gate to the front of the porch of the inner gate," are a concise topographical expression for "from the front side of the entrance gate to the front side of the porch of the inner gate." At the starting-point of the measurement מן (מעל) was unnecessary, as the point of commencement is indicated by the position of the word; and in על לפני, as distinguished from על פּני, the direction toward the terminal point is shown, so that there is no necessity to alter על into עד, since על, when used of the direction in which the object aimed at lies, frequently touches the ordinary meaning of עד (cf. על קצותם, Psalm 19:7, and על תּבליתם, Isaiah 10:25); whilst here the direction is rendered perfectly plain by the ל (in לפני). The Chetib היאתון, a misspelling for האיתון, we agree with Gesenius and others in regarding as a substantive: "entrance." The entrance gate is the outer gate, at the flight of steps leading into the gate-building. Opposite to this was the "inner gate" as the end of the gate-building, by the porch leading into the court. The length from the outer to the inner gate was fifty cubits, which is the resultant obtained from the measurements of the several portions of the gate-building, as given in Ezekiel 40:6-10; namely, six cubits the breadth of the first threshold, 3 x 6 equals 18 cubits that of the three guard-rooms, 2 x 5 equals 10 cubits that of the spaces intervening between the guard-rooms, 6 cubits that of the inner threshold, 8 cubits that of the gate-porch, and 2 cubits that of the gate-pillars (6 + 18 + 10 + 6 + 8 + 2 equals 50).
Lastly, in Ezekiel 40:16, the windows and decorations of the gate-buildings are mentioned. חלּונות, closed windows, is, no doubt, a contracted expression for חלּוני שׁקפים אטמים (1 Kings 6:4), windows of closed bars, i.e., windows, the lattice-work of which was made so fast, that they could not be opened at pleasure like the windows of dwelling-houses. but it is difficult to determine the situation of these windows. According to the words of the text, they were in the guard-rooms and in אליהמּה and also לאלמּות, and that לפנימה into the interior of the gate-building, i.e., going into the inner side of the gateway סביב סביב, round about, i.e., surrounding the gateway on all sides. To understand these statements, we must endeavour, first of all, to get a clear idea of the meaning of the words אילים and אלמּות. The first occurs in the singular איל, not only in Ezekiel 40:14, Ezekiel 40:16, and Ezekiel 41:3, but also in 1 Kings 6:31; in the plural only in this chapter and in Ezekiel 41:1. The second אילם or אלם is met with only in this chapter, and always in the plural, in the form אלמּות mrof e only in Ezekiel 40:16 and Ezekiel 40:30, in other cases always אילמּים, or with a suffix אילמּיו, after the analogy of תּאות in Ezekiel 40:12 by the side of תּאים in Ezekiel 40:7 and Ezekiel 40:16, תּאי in Ezekiel 40:10, and תּאיו or תּאו in Ezekiel 40:21, Ezekiel 40:29, Ezekiel 40:33, Ezekiel 40:36, from which it is apparent that the difference in the formation of the plural (אילמות and אילמים) has no influence upon the meaning of the word. On the other hand, it is evident from our verse (Ezekiel 40:16), and still more so from the expression אילי ואל, which is repeated in Ezekiel 40:21, Ezekiel 40:24, Ezekiel 40:29, Ezekiel 40:33, and Ezekiel 40:36 (cf. Ezekiel 40:26, Ezekiel 40:31, and Ezekiel 40:34), that אלים and אלמּים must signify different things, and are not to be identified, as Bttcher and others suppose. The word איל, as an architectural term, never occurs except in connection with doors or gates. It is used in this connection as early as 1 Kings 6:31, in the description of the door of the most holy place in Solomon's temple, where האיל signifies the projection on the door-posts, i.e., the projecting portion of the wall in which the door-posts were fixed. Ezekiel uses איל הפּתח in Ezekiel 41:3 in the same sense in relation to the door of the most holy place, and in an analogous manner applies the term אילים to the pillars which rose up to a colossal height at or by the gates of the courts (Ezekiel 40:9, Ezekiel 40:10, Ezekiel 40:14, Ezekiel 40:21,
and the border
his stairs. Rather, `its ascents.' , probably an inclined plane; for the law ordained that the priest should not ascend by stairs.
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