And before the chambers was a walk to ten cubits breadth inward, a way of one cubit; and their doors toward the north.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)A walk of ten cubits breadth inward.—The meaning of this clause depends upon that of the next, “a way of one cubit.” There is every reason to suppose here an error of the text, and that one cubit should be one hundred, as it reads in the Greek. The change requires only a transposition of the first letters in one word, and a consequent alteration of one letter in the other. Exactly the same transposition has occurred in Ezekiel 42:16, where it is corrected in the margin of the Hebrew, and properly translated “five hundred” instead of “five cubits.” One cannot conceive of a walk or an entrance of one cubit (twenty inches) serving any useful purpose. Assuming this change, the meaning will be that a walk (see Plan II., K [Ezekiel 40:44-49]) of 10 cubits wide and 100 long led to the entrance of the chambers. That this was on the north is plain from its being expressly said that the door was on the north. It may seem surprising that this should have been in the outer court, but a glance at the plan in connection with what is said below will explain the reason of the arrangement. The length of the walk, 100 cubits, just reaches to the steps of the north gate of the inner court. It will be remembered that in Ezekiel 40:39-43 this was described as the place for killing and preparing the sacrifices. Now, only the fat and kidneys of the sin and trespass and peace offerings were burnt upon the altar; the whole of the former (ordinarily) and the priests’ portion of the latter were to be carried to this chamber (Ezekiel 42:13). The walk was therefore placed in the best possible situation.Ezekiel 40:12, on which kerb the north doors (leading to the basement) opened. Others follow the Septuagint "And opposite the chambers a walk 10 cubits in width to 100 cubits in length." a way, though not designed for any to walk on it: such ledges we see in many great houses. Every chamber door opened to the north; and so the entrance into these chambers was through the gallery, which looked to the pavement of the outer court. Psalm 119:32 and the moral law, as in the hands of Christ, is a rule of walk and conversation to believers under the Gospel: and besides, there "was a way of one cubit"; which led into the chambers, and out of them into the broad walk: this is a narrow way, as Christ is said to be, Matthew 7:14 and whoever profess faith in him, and in this way enter into a Gospel church state, and into the kingdom of heaven, must be attended with much affliction and persecution, and pass through many tribulations; and there being both a broad walk and a narrow way, and these lying near one another, and a passage from the one to the other, may denote that the churches and people of God are sometimes in prosperity, and sometimes in adversity; one while they walk at liberty, as in a large place; and at other times in great straits and difficulties:
and their doors toward the north; that is, the doors of that row of chambers nearest the temple; these opened to the north into the walk of ten cubits; though one would think that the row opposite to them, their doors must be to the south, into the broad walk between them; unless this is to be understood of the doors that opened into the way of one cubit, and were to the north in both rows; but then the way of one cubit could not in both lead into the broad walk.And before the chambers was a walk to ten cubits breadth inward, a way of one cubit; and their doors toward the north.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)4. inward] i. e. between the two wings (Fig. 3, O). Or possibly: (leading) into the inner court.
a way of one cubit] A mere error of transcription for: a length of 100 cubits. So LXX., Syr. In Ezekiel 42:16 “cubit” and “hundred” (both having the same three letters) have again been confused. The doors of the chambers were to the N., i.e. opened upon this passage of 10 cubits, between the wings.Verse 4. - Before the chambers a walk. Whether this walk ran along the longer, i.e. northern, or in front of the eastern side of the chambers, and how it stood related to the way, which is likewise mentioned in connection with the chambers, are litigated questions. The LXX. identifies the two, and understands a way in front of the chambers of ten cubits broad and a hundred cubits long. Ewald and Keil so far agree with the LXX. as to change the one cubit way into a hundred-cubit way; but whereas Ewald thinks of a passage ten cubits broad and a hundred cubits long, running from west to east between two sets of chambers, Keil speaks of a walk of ten cubits broad and a hundred cubits long in front of the cells, extending into a way of equal breadth and length, leading westward into the inner court. Havernick's, Hengstenberg's, and Kliefoth's idea, favored by Schroder, and probably the best, is that of a walk of ten cubits in front of the cells, and a way of one cubit leading into them from the walk. Dr. Currey reverses this, and makes a walk of ten cubits leading inward, and a way, or kerb, of one cubit in front. Plumptre agrees that the passage leading into the chambers was ten cubits broad, but regards the one cubit as denoting the thickness of the wall separating the walk from the interior of the chambers.
Ezekiel 39:9. Then will the inhabitants of the cities of Israel go forth, and burn and heat with armour and shield and target, with bow and arrows and hand-staves and spears, and will burn fire with them for seven years; Ezekiel 39:10. And will not fetch wood from the field, nor cut wood out of the forests, but will burn fire with the armour, and will spoil those who spoiled them, and plunder those who plundered them, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Ezekiel 39:11. And it will come to pass in that day, that I will give Gog a place where his grave in Israel shall be, the valley of the travellers, and there will they bury Gog and all his multitude, and will call it the valley of Gog's multitude. Ezekiel 39:12. They of the house of Israel will bury them, to purify the land for seven months. V.1 3. And all the people of the land will bury, and it will be to them for a name on the day when I glorify myself, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Ezekiel 39:14. And they will set apart constant men, such as rove about in the land, and such as bury with them that rove about those who remain upon the surface of the ground, to cleanse it, after the lapse of seven months will they search it through. Ezekiel 39:15. And those who rove about will pass through the land; and if one sees a man's bone, he will set up a sign by it, till the buriers of the dead bury it in the valley of the multitude of Gog. Ezekiel 39:16. The name of a city shall also be called Hamonah (multitude). And thus will they cleanse the land. Ezekiel 39:17. And thou, son of man, thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Say to the birds of every plumage, and to all the beasts of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come, gather together from round about to my sacrifice, which I slaughter for you, to a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, and eat flesh and drink blood. Ezekiel 39:18. Flesh of heroes shall ye eat, and drink blood of princes of the earth; rams, lambs, and he-goats, bullocks, all fattened in Bashan. Ezekiel 39:9. And ye shall eat fat to satiety, and drink blood to intoxication, of my sacrifice which I have slaughtered for you. Ezekiel 39:20. And ye shall satiate yourselves at my table with horses and riders, heroes and all kinds of men of war, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - To show how terrible the judgment upon Gog will be, Ezekiel depicts in three special ways the total destruction of his powerful forces. In the first place, the burning of all the weapons of the fallen foe will furnish the inhabitants of the land of Israel with wood for firing for seven years, so that there will be no necessity for them to fetch fuel from the field or from the forest (Ezekiel 39:9 and Ezekiel 39:10). But Hvernick is wrong in supposing that the reason for burning the weapons is that, according to Isaiah 9:5, weapons of war are irreconcilable with the character of the Messianic times of peace. This is not referred to here; but the motive is the complete annihilation of the enemy, the removal of every trace of him. The prophet therefore crowds the words together for the purpose of enumerating every kind of weapon that was combustible, even to the hand-staves which men were accustomed to carry (cf. Numbers 22:27). The quantity of the weapons will be so great, that they will supply the Israelites with all the fuel they need for seven years. The number seven in the seven years as well as in the seven months of burying (Ezekiel 39:11) is symbolical, stamping the overthrow as a punishment inflicted by God, the completion of a divine judgment.
With the gathering of the weapons for burning there is associated the plundering of the fallen foe (Ezekiel 39:10), by which the Israelites do to the enemy what he intended to do to them (Ezekiel 38:12), and the people of God obtain possession of the wealth of their foes (cf. Jeremiah 30:16). In the second place, God will assign a large burying-place for the army of Gog in a valley of Israel, which is to be named in consequence "the multitude of Gog;" just as a city in that region will also be called Hamonah from this event. The Israelites will bury the fallen of Gog there for seven months long, and after the expiration of that time they will have the land explored by men specially appointed for the purpose, and bones that may still have been left unburied will be sought out, and they will have them interred by buriers of the dead, that the land may be thoroughly cleansed (Ezekiel 39:11-16). מקום שׁם, a place where there was a grave in Israel, i.e., a spot in which he might be buried in Israel. There are different opinions as to both the designation and the situation of this place. There is no foundation for the supposition that גּי העברים derives its name from the mountains of Abarim in Numbers 27:12 and Deuteronomy 32:49 (Michaelis, Eichhorn), or that it signifies valley of the haughty ones (Ewald), or that there is an allusion to the valley mentioned in Zechariah 14:4 (Hitzig), or the valley of Jehoshaphat (Kliefoth). The valley cannot even have derived its name (העברים) from the עברים, who passed through the land to search out the bones of the dead that still remained unburied, and have them interred (Ezekiel 39:14, Ezekiel 39:15). For העברים cannot have any other meaning here than that which it has in the circumstantial clause which follows, where those who explored the land cannot possibly be intended, although even this clause is also obscure. The only other passage in which חסם occurs is Deuteronomy 25:4, where it signifies a muzzle, and in the Arabic it means to obstruct, or cut off; and hence, in the passage before us, probably, to stop the way. העברים are not the Scythians (Hitzig), for the word עבר is never applied to their invasion of the land, but generally the travellers who pass through the land, or more especially those who cross from Peraea to Canaan. The valley of העברים is no doubt the valley of the Jordan above the Dead Sea. The definition indicates this, viz., קדמת, on the front of the sea; not to the east of the sea, as it is generally rendered, for קדמת never has this meaning (see the comm. on Genesis 2:14). By היּם we cannot understand "the Mediterranean,"as the majority of the commentators have done, as there would then be no meaning in the words, since the whole of the land of Israel was situated to the east of the Mediterranean Sea. היּם is the Dead Sea, generally called היּם הקּדמוני (Ezekiel 47:18); and קדמת, "on the front side of the (Dead) Sea," as looked at from Jerusalem, the central point of the land, is probably the valley of the Jordan, the principal crossing place from Gilead into Canaan proper, and the broadest part of the Jordan-valley, which was therefore well adapted to be the burial-place for the multitude of slaughtered foes. But in consequence of the army of Gog having there found its grave, this valley will in future block up the way to the travellers who desire to pass to and fro. This appears to be the meaning of the circumstantial clause.
From the fact that Gog's multitude is buried there, the valley itself will receive the name of Hamon-Gog. The Israelites will occupy seven months in burying them, so enormously great will be the number of the dead to be buried (Ezekiel 39:12), and this labour will be for a name, i.e., for renown, to the whole nation. This does not mean, of course, "that it will be a source of honour to them to assist in this work;" nor is the renown to be sought in the fact, that as a privileged people, protected by God, they can possess the grave of Gog in their land (Hitzig), - a thought which is altogether remote, and perfectly foreign to Israelitish views; but the burying of Gog's multitude of troops will be for a name to the people of Israel, inasmuch as they thereby cleanse the land and manifest their zeal to show themselves a holy people by sweeping all uncleanness away. יום is an accusative of time: on the day when I glorify myself. - Ezekiel 39:14, Ezekiel 39:15. The effort made to cleanse the land perfectly from the uncleanness arising from the bones of the dead will be so great, that after the great mass of the slain have been buried in seven months, there will be men specially appointed to bury the bones of the dead that still lie scattered here and there about the land. אנשׁי תּמיד are people who have a permanent duty to discharge. The participles עברים and מקבּרים are co-ordinate, and are written together asyndetos, men who go about the land, and men who bury with those who go about. That the words are to be understood in this sense is evident from Ezekiel 39:15, according to which those who go about do not perform the task of burying, but simply search for bones that have been left, and put up a sign for the buriers of the dead. ראה, with the subject indefinite; if one sees a human bone, he builds (erects) a ציּוּן, or stone, by the side of it (cf. 2 Kings 23:17). - Ezekiel 39:16. A city shall also receive the name of Hamonah, i.e., multitude or tumult. To שׁם־עיר we may easily supply יהיה from the context, since this puts in the future the statement, "the name of the city is," for which no verb was required in Hebrew. In the last words, וטהרוּ הארץ, the main thought is finally repeated and the picture brought to a close. - Ezekiel 39:17-20. In the third place, God will provide the birds of prey and beasts of prey with an abundant meal from this slaughter. This cannot be understood as signifying that only what remain of the corpses, and have not been cleared away in the manner depicted in Ezekiel 39:11-16, will become the prey of wild beasts; but the beasts of prey will make their meal of the corpses before it is possible to bury them, since the burying cannot be effected immediately or all at once. - The several features in the picture, of the manner in which the enemies are to be destroyed till the last trace of them is gone, are not arranged in chronological order, but according to the subject-matter; and the thought that the slaughtered foes are to become the prey of wild beasts is mentioned last as being the more striking, because it is in this that their ignominious destruction culminates. To give due prominence to this thought, the birds and beasts of prey are summoned by God to gather together to the meal prepared for them. The picture given of it as a sacrificial meal is based upon Isaiah 34:6 and Jeremiah 46:10. In harmony with this picture the slaughtered foes are designated as fattened sacrificial beasts, rams, lambs, he-goats, bullocks; on which Grotius has correctly remarked, that "these names of animals, which were generally employed in the sacrifices, are to be understood as signifying different orders of men, chiefs, generals, soldiers, as the Chaldee also observes."
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