And he brought me to the north gate, and measured it according to these measures;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)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.Ezekiel 40:20, and here the little chambers, posts, arches, and steps, in all things agree with those of the other gates: what were observed in it different from the rest, an account is given of it in the following verse. And he brought me to the north gate, and measured it according to these measures;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verses 35-37. - The north gate of the inner court. The same minute specification of the guard-rooms, the pillars, wall-projections, windows, steps, is again repeated, as if to show that all parts in this divinely fashioned edifice were of equal moment.
This word of God directs the prophet to represent by a sign the reunion of the tribes of Israel, which have been divided into two kingdoms (Ezekiel 37:15-17), and to explain this sign to the people (Ezekiel 37:18-21), and predict its sanctification and blessedness under the reign of the future David (Ezekiel 37:22-28). What is new in this word of God is the express prediction embodied in a symbolical action, of the reunion of the divided tribes of Israel into one single people of God, which has been already hinted at in the promise of the raising to life of "the whole house of Israel" (Ezekiel 37:11). This brief indication is here plainly expressed and more fully developed.
Ezekiel 37:15. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Ezekiel 37:16. And thou, son of man, take to thyself a piece of wood, and write upon it: Of Judah, and the sons of Israel, his associates; and take another piece of wood, and write upon it: Of Joseph, the wood of Ephraim, and the whole house of Israel, his associates; Ezekiel 37:17. And put them together, one to the other, into one piece of wood to thee, that they may be united in thy hand. Ezekiel 37:18. And when the sons of thy people say to thee, Wilt thou not show us what thou meanest by this? Ezekiel 37:19. Say to them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will take the wood of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his associates, which I put thereon, with the wood of Judah, and will make them into one stick, that they may be one in my hand. Ezekiel 37:20. And the pieces of wood upon which thou hast written shall be in thy hand before their eyes. Ezekiel 37:21. And say to them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will take the sons of Israel out of the nations among whom they walk, and will gather them from round about, and lead them into their land. Ezekiel 37:22. I will make them into one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel, and one king shall be king over them all; and it shall not become two nations any more, and they shall not henceforth be divided into two kingdoms any more; Ezekiel 37:23. And shall not defile themselves by their idols and their abominations, and by all their transgressions; but I will help them from all their dwelling-places, in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; so that they shall be my people, and I will be their God. Ezekiel 37:24. And my servant David will be king over them, and be a shepherd for them all; and they will walk in my rights, and keep my statutes and do them. Ezekiel 37:25. And they will dwell in the land which I gave to my servant Jacob, in which their fathers dwelt; there will they dwell, and their children's children for ever; and my servant David will be a prince to them for ever. Ezekiel 37:26. And I make a covenant of peace with them for ever, an everlasting covenant shall be with them; and I will place them, and multiply them, and put my sanctuary in the midst of them for ever. Ezekiel 37:27. And my dwelling will be over them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Ezekiel 37:28. And the nation shall know that I am Jehovah, who sanctifieth Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for ever.
The symbolical action commanded in Ezekiel 37:16 and Ezekiel 37:17, which the prophet no doubt performed in all its external reality (cf. Ezekiel 37:19 and Ezekiel 37:20), is easily understood, and expresses the thing to be represented in the the clearest manner. The writing of the names of the tribes composing the two kingdoms recalls to mind the similar act on the part of Moses (Numbers 17:1-13 :17ff.). But the act itself is a different one here, and neither the passage referred to nor Ezekiel 21:15 furnishes any proof that עץ signifies a staff or rod. Ezekiel would undoubtedly have used מטּה for a staff. Nor have we even to think of flat boards, but simply of pieces of wood upon which a few words could be written, and which could be held in one hand. The ל before the names to be written upon each piece of wood is the sign of the genitive, indicating to whom it belongs, as in the case of the heading to David's psalms (לדוד). This is evident from the fact that in אץ אפרים the construct state is used instead. The name is to indicate that the piece of wood belongs to Judah or Ephraim, and represents it. The command to Ezekiel to write upon one piece of wood, not only Judah, but "the sons of Israel, his associates," arose from the circumstance that the kingdom of Judah included, in addition to the tribe of Judah, the greater portion of Benjamin and Simeon, the tribe of Levi and those pious Israelites who emigrated at different times from the kingdom of the ten tribes into that of Judah, who either were or became associates of Judah (2 Chronicles 11:12., 2 Chronicles 15:9; 2 Chronicles 30:11, 2 Chronicles 30:18; 2 Chronicles 31:1). In the writing upon the second piece of wood, אץ אפרים is an explanatory apposition to ליוסף, and an accusative governed by כּתב. But the command is not to be understood as signifying that Ezekiel was to write the words עץ אפרים upon the piece of wood; all that he was to write was, "Joseph and the whole house of Israel, his associates." The name of Joseph is chosen, in all probability, not as the more honourable name, as Hvernick supposes, but because the house of Joseph, consisting of the two powerful tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, formed the trunk of the kingdom of the ten tribes (Kliefoth). The "whole house of Israel, his associates," are the rest of the tribes belonging to that kingdom. The two pieces of wood, with these inscriptions upon them, Ezekiel is to put together, and hold in his hand bound together in one. מה־אלּה לּך, what these (two pieces of wood) are to thee, is equivalent to, what thou meanest to indicate by them. For the rest, compare Ezekiel 24:19. In the word of God explaining the action (Ezekiel 37:19), the wood of Joseph is not the piece of wood with Joseph's name written upon it, but the kingdom represented by this piece of wood which was in Ephraim's hand, inasmuch as the hegemony was with the tribe of Ephraim. Instead of the wood, therefore, the tribes (not staffs) of Israel, i.e., the Israelites who constituted these tribes, are mentioned as his associates. God will put these upon the wood of Joseph (עליו), i.e., will join them together, and then place them with the wood of Judah, i.e., the kingdom of Judah, and unite them into one wood (or nation). את־עץ , the construction of which has been misunderstood by Hitzig, is neither in apposition to עליו, nor governed by נתתּי: "and will put them thereupon, upon the wood of Judah" (Hitzig and Kliefoth), or, "I add them to it, (namely) with the wood of Judah" (De Wette); but it is dependent upon לקח, "I take the wood of Joseph...and the tribes of Israel, his associates, which I put thereon, along with the wood of Judah, and make them into one wood." The construction is rendered obscure simply by the fact that the relative clause, "which I put thereon," is attached to the principal clause 'אני לקח וגו by Vav consec. In בּידי, "they shall be one in my hand," there is probably an antithesis to בּיד אפרים, those who have come into Ephraim's hand, the tribes severed by Ephraim from the kingdom of God, will God once more bring together with Judah, and hold in His hand as an undivided nation. - In Ezekiel 37:20 the description of the sign is completed by the additional statement, that the pieces of wood on which the prophet has written are to be in his hand before their eyes, and consequently that the prophet is to perform the act in such a way that his countrymen may see it; from which it follows that he performed it in its outward reality. The fulfilment of the instructions is not specially mentioned, as being self-evident; but in Ezekiel 37:21-28 the further explanation of the symbolical action is given at once; and the interpretation goes beyond the symbol, inasmuch as it not only describes the manner in which God will effect the union of the divided tribes, but also what He will do for the preservation of the unity of the reunited people, and for the promotion of their blessedness. This explanation is arranged in two strophes through the repetition of the concluding thought: "they will be my people," etc., in Ezekiel 37:23 and Ezekiel 37:27. Each of these strophes contains a twofold promise.
The first (Ezekiel 37:21-23) promises (a) the gathering of the Israelites out of their dispersion, their restoration to their own land, and their union as one nation under the rule of David (Ezekiel 37:21, Ezekiel 37:22); (b) their purification from all sins, and sanctification as the true people of the Lord (Ezekiel 37:23). The second strophe (Ezekiel 37:24-27) promises (a) their undisturbed eternal abode in the land, under David their prince (Ezekiel 37:25); (b) the blessedness conferred upon them through the conclusion of an everlasting covenant of peace (Ezekiel 37:26 and Ezekiel 37:27). This second promise, therefore, constitutes the completion of the first, securing to the nation of Israel its restoration and sanctification for all time. The whole promise, however, is merely a repetition of that contained in Ezekiel 34:11-31 and Ezekiel 36:22-30. - The three factors - the gathering out of the nations, restoration to the land of Israel, and reunion as one people - form the first act of divine grace. The union of the Israelites, when brought back to their land, is accomplished by God giving them in David a king who will so rule the reunited people that they will not be divided any more into two peoples and two kingdoms. The Chetib יהיה is not to be altered into the plural יהיוּ, as in the Keri; but גּוי is to be supplied in thought, from the preceding clause, as the subject to the verb. The division of the nation into two kingdoms had its roots, no doubt, in the ancient jealousy existing between the two tribes Ephraim and Judah; but it was primarily brought to pass through the falling away of Solomon from the Lord. Consequently it could only be completely and for ever terminated through the righteous government of the second David, and the purification of the people from their sins. This is the way in which Ezekiel 36:23 is attached to Ezekiel 36:22. For Ezekiel 36:23 compare Ezekiel 14:11 and Ezekiel 36:25. Different interpretations have been given of the words, "I help them from all their dwelling-places, in which they have sinned." They recall to mind Ezekiel 36:29, "I help them from all their uncleannesses." As הושׁע מן signifies, in that case, "to preserve therefrom," so in the present instance the thought can only be, "God will preserve them from all the dwelling-places in which they have sinned." Hengstenberg is of opinion that the redemption from the dwelling-places does not take place locally, but spiritually, through the cleansing away of all traces of sin, first from the hearts, and then, in consequence, from all around. In this way is the land changed, through the power of the Lord, into another land, from a sinful to a holy one; just as before it had been changed from a holy to a sinful one through the guilt of the people. But if this were the only thought which the words contained, Ezekiel would certainly have placed the וטהרתּי אותם before 'והושׁעתּי וגו. As the words read, the deliverance of the people from their sinful dwelling-places is to precede their purification, to prepare the way for it and bring it to pass, and not to follow after it. The dwelling-places, at or in which they have sinned, cannot be the settlements in foreign lands, as Hitzig supposes, but only the dwelling-places in Canaan, to which the Lord would bring them after gathering them from their dispersion. הושׁע does not signify, "leading out from these dwelling-places," which is the explanation given by Kliefoth, who consequently thinks that we must understand the words as denoting the leading over of Israel from the present Canaan, or the Canaan of this life, to which its sins adhere, to the glorified, new, and eternal Canaan. This view is utterly irreconcilable both with the words themselves and also with the context. Even if הושׁע meant to lead out, it would not be allowable to transform the "leading out" from the sinful Canaan into a "leading in" to the glorified and heavenly Canaan. Moreover, the further development of this promise in Ezekiel 37:25 also shows that it is not in the glorified, eternal Canaan that Israel is to dwell, but in the earthly Canaan in which its fathers dwelt. It is obvious from this, that in all the promise here given there is no allusion to a transformation and glorification of Canaan itself. The helping or saving from all dwelling-places in which they have sinned would rather consist in the fact, therefore, that God would remove from their dwelling-places everything that could offer them an inducement to sin. For although sin has its seat, not in the things without us, but in the heart, the external circumstances of a man do offer various inducements to sin. Before the captivity, Canaan offered such an inducement to the Israelites through the idolatry and moral corruption of the Canaanites who were left in the land. And with reference to this the Lord promises that in future, when His people are brought back to Canaan, He will preserve them from the sinful influence of their dwelling-places. But this preservation will only be effected with complete success when God purifies Israel itself, and, by means of its renovation, eradicates all sinful desire from the heart (cf. Ezekiel 36:26-27). In this way וטהרתּי is appended in the most fitting way to 'והושׁעתּי . - Through the removal of all sinful influences from around them, and the purifying of the heart, Israel will then become in truth the people of God, and Jehovah the God of Israel (Ezekiel 37:23).
Israel, when thus renewed, will walk in the rights of the Lord and fulfil His commandments, under the protection of its one shepherd David, i.e., of the Messiah (Ezekiel 37:24, cf. Ezekiel 36:27, and Ezekiel 34:23); and its children and children's children will dwell for ever in its own land, David being its prince for ever (Ezekiel 37:25, and cf. Ezekiel 36:28 and Ezekiel 34:24). What is new in this promise, which is repeated from Ezekiel 34 and 36, is contained in לעולם, which is to be taken in the strict sense of the word. Neither the dwelling of Israel in Canaan, nor the government of the David-Messiah, will ever have an end. לעולם is therefore repeated in Ezekiel 37:26 in the promise of the covenant which the Lord will make with His people. The thought itself has already been expressed in Ezekiel 34:25, and בּרית שׁלוּם is to be understood, both here and there, as comprehending all the saving good which the Lord will bestow upon all His sanctified people. There are only two factors of this salvation mentioned here in Ezekiel 37:26 and Ezekiel 37:27, namely, the multiplication of the people, as the earthly side of the divine blessing, and the establishing of His eternal sanctuary in the midst of them as the spiritual side. These two points refer back to the former acts of God, and hold up to view the certain and full realization in the future of what has hitherto been neither perfectly nor permanently accomplished on account of the sins of the people. וּנתתּים, in Ezekiel 37:26, is not to be taken in connection with והרבּיתּי אותם, so as to form one idea in the sense of dabo eos multiplicatos (Venema and Hengstenberg), for we have no analogies of such a mode of combination; but נתתּים, I make, or place them, is to be taken by itself, and completed from the context, "I make them into a nation, and I multiply them (cf. Ezekiel 36:10-11, Ezekiel 36:37). Ezekiel has here Leviticus 26:9 and Leviticus 26:11 in his mind, as we may see from the fact that the words, "I give my sanctuary in the midst of them for ever," are obviously formed after Leviticus 26:11, "I give my dwelling in the midst of them;" in such a manner, however, that by the substitution of מקדּשׁי for משׁכּני, and the addition of לעולם, the promise is both deepened and strengthened. In the change of משׁכּני into מקדּשׁי, he may indeed have had the words of Exodus 25:8 floating before his mind, "they shall make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them;" nevertheless he deliberately selected the expression "my sanctuary," to indicate that the Lord would dwell in the midst of Israel as the Holy One, and the Sanctifier of His people. Moreover, the words are not, "my dwelling will be in the midst of them, or among them" (בּתוכם), but עליהם, over them. This expression is transferred from the site of the temple, towering above the city (Psalm 68:30), to the dwelling of God among His people, to give prominence to the protective power and saving grace of the God who rules in Israel (cf. Hengstenberg on Psalm 68:30). The sanctuary which Jehovah will give in Israel for ever, i.e., will found and cause to endure, that He may dwelling the midst of it to shelter and bless, is the temple, but not the temple built by Zerubbabel. As an objection to this Jewish interpretation, Jerome has justly said: "but how could it be said to stand 'for ever,' when that temple which was built in the time of Zerubbabel, and afterwards restored by many others, was consumed by Roman fire? All these things are to be taken as referring to the church in the time of the Saviour, when His tabernacle was placed in the church." There is no reference whatever here to the rebuilding of the temple by Zerubbabel; not because that temple did not stand for ever and was destroyed by the Romans, but chiefly because God did not make it His abode, or fill this temple with His gracious presence (Shechinah). The sanctuary which God will place for ever among His people is the sanctuary seen by Ezekiel in Ezekiel 40ff.; and this is merely a figurative representation of the "dwelling of God in the midst of His people through His Son and Holy Spirit" (cf. Vitringa, Observv. I. p. 161), which began to be realized in the incarnation of the Logos, who is set forth in John 1:14 as the true משׁכּן, in the words ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, and is continued in the spiritual dwelling of God in the heart of believers (1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19), and will be completed at the second coming of our Lord in the "tabernacle (σκηνή) of God with men" of the new Jerusalem, of which the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple, since Israel will then first have become in truth the people of God, and Jehovah (God with them) their God (Revelation 21:3, Revelation 21:22). - The promise concludes in Ezekiel 37:28 with an allusion to the impression which these acts of God in Israel will make upon the heathen (cf. Ezekiel 36:36). From the fact that Jehovah erects His sanctuary in the midst of Israel for ever, they will learn that it is He who sanctifieth Israel. קדּשׁ, to sanctify, means, "to remove from all connection either with sin or with its consequences. Here the reference is to the latter, because these alone strike the eyes of the heathen; but the former is presupposed as the necessary foundation" (Hengstenberg). The words rest upon the promises of the Pentateuch, where God describes Himself as He who will and does sanctify Israel (compare Exodus 31:13; Leviticus 22:31-33). This promise, which has hitherto been only imperfectly fulfilled on account of Israel's guilt, will be perfectly realized in the future, when Israel will walk in the ways of the Lord, renewed by the Spirit of God.
Thus does this prophecy of Ezekiel span the whole future of the people of God even to eternity. But the promise in which it culminates, namely, that the Lord will erect His sanctuary in the midst of His restored people, and there take up His abode above them for ever (Ezekiel 37:26.), is of importance as helping to decide the question, how we are to understand the fulfilment of the restoration to Canaan into the land given to the fathers, which is promised to all Israel; whether, in a literal manner, by the restoration of the Israelites to Palestine; or spiritually, by the gathering together of the Israelites converted to the Lord their God and Saviour, and their introduction into the kingdom of God founded by Christ, in which case Canaan, as the site of the Old Testament kingdom of God, would be a symbolical or typical designation of the earthly soil of the heavenly kingdom, which has appeared in the Christian church. - These two different views have stood opposed to one another from time immemorial, inasmuch as the Jews expect from the Messiah, for whose advent they still hope, not only their restoration to Palestine, but the erection of the kingdom of David and the rebuilding of the temple upon Mount Zion, together with the sacrificial worship of the Levitical law; whereas in the Christian church, on the ground of the New Testament doctrine, that the old covenant has been abolished along with the Levitical temple-worship through the perfect fulfilment of the law by Christ and the perpetual efficacy of His atoning sacrifice, the view has prevailed that, with the abolition of the Old Testament form of the kingdom of God, even Palestine has ceased to be the chosen land of the revelation of the saving grace of God, and under the new covenant Canaan extends as far as the Israel of the new covenant, the church of Jesus Christ, is spread abroad over the earth, and that Zion or Jerusalem is to be sought wherever Christendom worships God in spirit and in truth, wherever Christ is with His people, and dwells in the hearts of believers through the Holy Spirit. It was by J. A. Bengel and C. F. Oetinger that the so-called "realistic" interpretation of the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament - according to which, after the future conversion to Christ of the Jewish people who are hardened still, the establishment of the kingdom of God in Palestine and its capital Jerusalem is to be expected - has been revived and made into one of the leading articles of Christian hope. By means of this "realistic" exposition of the prophetic word the chiliastic dogma of the establishment of a kingdom of glory before the last judgment and the end of the world is then deduced from the twentieth chapter of the Apocalypse; and many of the theologians of our day regard this as the certain resultant of a deeper study of the Scriptures. In the more precise definition of the dogma itself, the several supporters diverge very widely from one another; but they all agree in this, that they base the doctrine chiefly upon the prophetic announcement of the eventual conversion and glorification of all Israel. - As Ezekiel then stands out among all the prophets as the one who gives the most elaborate prediction of the restoration of Israel under the government of the Messiah, and he not only draws in Ezekiel 40-48 a detailed picture of the new form of the kingdom of God, but also in Ezekiel 38 and 39, in the prophecy concerning Gog and Magog, foretells an attack on the part of the heathen world upon the restored kingdom of God, which appears, according to Revelation 20:7-9, to constitute the close of the thousand years' reign; we must look somewhat more closely at this view, and by examining the arguments pro and con, endeavour to decide the question as to the fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the future of Israel. In doing this, however, we shall fix our attention exclusively upon the exegetical arguments adduced in support of the chiliastic view by its latest supporters.
(Note: These are, C. A. Auberlen, "The Prophet Daniel and the Revelation of John;" also in a treastise on the Messianic Prophecies of the Mosaic times, in the Jahrbb.f. deutsche Theologie, IV pp. 778ff.; J. C. K. Hofmann, in his Weissagung und Erfllung im A. u. N. Testamente, and in the Schriftbeweis, vol. 2 Peter 2; Mich. Baumgarten, article "Ezekiel" in Herzog's Cyclopaedia, and here and there in his commentary on the Old Testament; C. E. Luthardt, The Doctrine of the Last Things in Treatises and Expositions of Scripture (1851); and Dr. Volck, in the Dorpater Zeitschfit fr Theologie und Kirche, IX pp. 142ff.; and others.)
The prophetic announcement, that the Lord will one day gather together again the people of Israel, which has been thrust out among the heathen for its unfaithfulness, will bring it back into the land given to the fathers, and there bless and greatly multiply it, has its roots in the promises of the law. If the stiff-necked transgressors of the commandments of God - these are the words of Leviticus 26:40-45 - bear the punishment of their iniquity in the land of their enemies, and confess their sins, and their uncircumcised heart is humbled, then will the Lord remember His covenant with the patriarchs, and not cast them off even in the land of their enemies, to destroy them, and to break His covenant with them; but will remember the covenant which He made with their ancestors, when He brought them out of Egypt before the eyes of the nations to be their God. He will, as this is more precisely defined in Deuteronomy 30:3., gather them together again out of the heathen nations, lead them back into the land which their fathers possessed, and multiply Israel more than its fathers. On the ground of this promise, of which Moses gives a still further pledge to the people in his dying song (Deuteronomy 32:36-43), all the prophets announce the restoration and ultimate glorification of Israel. This song, which closes with the promise, "Rejoice, ye nations, over His people; for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and repay vengeance to His adversaries, and expiate His land, His people," continues to resound - to use the words of Hofmann (Schriftbeweis, II 2, pp. 89, 90) - "thr
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