Then he brought me back the way of the gate of the outward sanctuary which looks toward the east; and it was shut.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)XLIV.
The altar being consecrated, the next thing is to provide for the purity of the worship of which it is the centre. The pollutions of former times had been largely introduced by the princes, and by the Levites and priests; and these classes are therefore treated of in this chapter. Only three verses are here given to the prince, since he is to be spoken of at greater length hereafter, and the rest of the chapter is occupied with directions as to the exclusion of strangers, and the duties of the Levites and priests.
(1) The gate of the outward sanctuary.—This is better rendered, the outer gate of the sanctuary. The prophet had been in the inner court, or court of the priests, where the altar stood, and is now brought back to the eastern gate of the outer court. He finds it shut, as it was ordinarily to remain; but with the exceptions mentioned in Ezekiel 44:3, and in Ezekiel 46Ezekiel 44:1-2. Then he brought me back, &c. — From the altar to the gate belonging to the court of the priests, and leading to the outward court of the temple. All the courts were reckoned holy ground, and called sometimes by the name of the temple. And it was shut — After that the glory of the Lord had entered that way. Then saith the Lord, This gate shall be shut — Shall be generally kept shut; no man shall enter in by it — None of the common people: see chap. Ezekiel 46:1. Because the Lord hath entered in by it — Namely, that glory which was the visible sign of God’s presence. This order was given, both to perpetuate the remembrance of the solemn entrance of the glory of the Lord into the house, and also to possess the minds of the people with a deep reverence for the Divine Majesty, and with very awful thoughts of his transcendent glory; which was also designed in God’s charge to Moses at the bush, Put off thy shoe from off thy foot.Ezekiel 46:1-2).
Eze 44:1-31. Ordinances for the Prince and the Priests.The east gate assigned only to the prince, Ezekiel 44:1-3. The people reproved for steering strangers to pollute the sanctuary, Ezekiel 44:4-8. Idolaters declared incapable of the priest’s office, Ezekiel 44:9-14. The sons of Zadok are accepted thereto, Ezekiel 44:15,16. Ordinances for the priests, Ezekiel 44:17-31.
and which looketh toward the east: the eastern gate, and was the same he had been at before, and therefore is said to be brought back the way of it; see Ezekiel 43:1,
and it was shut; when he was there before, it was open; for he saw the glory of the Lord enter into the house by the way of it; but now it was shut, and for that reason, because he had entered into it; signifying, among other things, that he would never return, or remove from thence any more. The Misnic doctors (d) interpret this of one of the little doors to the great gate of the temple, that had two little doors, one in the north, the other in the south; that which was in the south no man ever entered in by, and this they say is understood here; but it is not a little door, but a gate here spoken of, and that the eastern one; of which more in the following verses.Then he brought me back the way of the gate of the outward sanctuary which looketh toward the east; and it was shut.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verses 1-3. - The relation of the prince to the sanctuary. Verse 1. - The gate of the outward sanctuary, the outer gate of the sanctuary (Revised Version) - which looketh toward the east. To this door the prophet was conducted back, by way of the inner north or south gate, from the inner court, in which he had received the measurements of the altar and the instructions for its consecration (Ezekiel 43:5). Whether Ezekiel stood upon the outside of this door as in Ezekiel 43:1, or upon its inside, cannot as yet be determined; but in either ease he observed that it was shut - again, whether on the east side towards the temple precincts, or on the west towards the outer court, is not mentioned, and cannot at this stage be decided. What led the seer to notice that the gate was closed was probably the circumstance that the last time he stood beside it it was open (Ezekiel 43:1), though proof cannot be given that he passed through it (Ezekiel 43:5), conjoined with the fact that it formed the principal entrance to the temple, and as such had been described to him and measured (Ezekiel 40:6).
Ezekiel 40:17. And he led me into the outer court, and behold there were cells and pavement made round the court; thirty cells on the pavement. Ezekiel 40:18. And the pavement was by the side of the gates, corresponding to the length of the gates, (namely) the lower pavement. Ezekiel 40:19. And he measured the breadth from the front of the lower gate to the front of the inner court, about a hundred cubits on the east side and on the north side. - Ezekiel having been led through the eastern gate into the outer court, was able to survey it, not on the eastern side only, but also on the northern and southern sides; and there he perceived cells and רצפּה, pavimentum, mosaic pavement, or a floor paved with stones laid in mosaic form (2 Chronicles 7:3; Esther 1:6), made round the court; that is to say, according to the more precise description in v. 18, on both sides of the gate-buildings, of a breadth corresponding to their length, running along the inner side of the wall of the court, and consequently not covering the floor of the court in all its extent, but simply running along the inner side of the surrounding wall as a strip of about fifty cubits broad, and that not uniformly on all four sides, but simply on the eastern, southern, and northern sides, and at the north-west and south-west corners of the western side, so far, namely, as the outer court surrounded the inner court and temple (see Plate I b b b); for on the western side the intervening space from the inner court and temple-house to the surrounding wall of the outer court was filled by a special building of the separate place. It is with this limitation that we have to take סביב סביב. fעשׂוּy may belong either to לשׁכות ורצפּה or merely to רצפּה, so far as grammatical considerations are concerned; for in either case there would be an irregularity in the gender, and the participle is put in the singular as a neuter. If we look fairly at the fact itself, not one of the reasons assigned by Kliefoth, for taking fעשׂוּy as referring to רצפּה only, is applicable throughout. If the pavement ran round by the side of the gate-building on three sides of the court, and the cells were by or upon the pavement, they may have stood on three sides of the court without our being forced to assume, or even warranted in assuming, that they must of necessity have filled up the whole length on every side from the shoulder of the gate-building to the corner, or rather to the space that was set apart in every corner, according to Ezekiel 46:21-24, for the cooking of the sacrificial meals of the people. We therefore prefer to take עשׂוּי as referring to the cells and the pavement; because this answers better than the other, both to the construction and to the fact. In Ezekiel 40:18 the pavement is said to have been by the shoulder of the gates. השּׁערים is in the plural, because Ezekiel had probably also in his mind the two gates which are not described till afterwards. כּתף, the shoulder of the agate-buildings regarded as a body, is the space on either side of the gate-building along the wall, with the two angles formed by the longer side of the gate-buildings and the line of the surrounding wall. This is more precisely defined by 'לעמּת ארך השׁ, alongside of the length of the gates, i.e., running parallel with it (cf. 2 Samuel 16:13), or stretching out on both sides with a breadth corresponding to the length of the gate-buildings. The gates were fifty cubits long, or, deducting the thickness of the outer wall, they projected into the court to the distance of forty-four cubits. Consequently the pavement ran along the inner sides of the surrounding wall with a breadth of forty-four cubits. This pavement is called the lower pavement, in distinction from the pavement or floor of the inner court, which was on a higher elevation.
All that is said concerning the לשׁכות is, that there were thirty of them, and that they were אל הרצפּה (see Plate I C). The dispute whether אל signifies by or upon the pavement has no bearing upon the fact itself. As Ezekiel frequently uses אל for על, and vice vers, the rendering upon can be defended; but it cannot be established, as Hitzig supposes, by referring to 2 Kings 16:17. If we retain the literal meaning of אל, at or against, we cannot picture to ourselves the position of the cells as projecting from the inner edge of the pavement into the unpaved portion of the court; for in that case, to a person crossing the court, they would have stood in front of (לפני) the pavement rather than against the pavement. The prep. אל, against, rather suggests the fact that the cells were built near the surrounding wall, so that the pavement ran along the front of them, which faced the inner court in an unbroken line. In this case it made no difference to the view whether the cells were erected upon the pavement, or the space occupied by the cells was left unpaved, and the pavement simply joined the lower edge of the walls of the cells all round. The text contains no account of the manner in which they were distributed on the three sides of the court. But it is obvious from the use of the plural לשׁכות, that the reference is not to thirty entire buildings, but simply to thirty rooms, as לשׁכּה does not signify a building consisting of several rooms, but always a single room or cell in a building. Thus in 1 Samuel 9:22 it stands for a room appointed for holding the sacrificial meals, and that by no means a small room, but one which could accommodate about thirty persons. In Jeremiah 36:12 it is applied to a room in the king's palace, used as the chancery. Elsewhere לשׁכּה is the term constantly employed for the rooms in the court-buildings and side-buildings of the temple, which served partly as a residence for the officiating priests and Levites, and partly for the storing of the temple dues collected in the form of tithes, fruits, and money (vid., 2 Kings 23:11; Jeremiah 35:4; Jeremiah 36:10; 1 Chronicles 9:26; Nehemiah 10:38 -40). Consequently we must not think of thirty separate buildings, but have to distribute the thirty cells on the three sides of the court in such a manner that there would be ten on each side, and for the sake of symmetry five in every building, standing both right and left between the gate-building and the corner kitchens. - In Ezekiel 40:19 the size or compass of the outer court is determined. The breadth from the front of the lower gate to the front of the inner court was 100 cubits. השּׁער התּחתּונה, the gate of the lower court, i.e., the outer gate, which was lower than the inner. התּחתּונה is not an adjective agreeing with שׁער, for apart from Isaiah 14:31 שׁער is never construed as a feminine; but it is used as a substantive for חצר התּחתּונה, the lower court, see the comm. on Ezekiel 8:3. מלפני denotes the point from which the measuring started, and לפני החצר the direction in which it proceeded, including also the terminus: "to before the inner court," equivalent to "up to the front of the inner court," The terminal point is more precisely defined by מחוּץ, from without, which Hitzig proposes to erase as needless and unusual, but without any reason. For, inasmuch as the gateways of the inner court were built into the outer court, as is evident from what follows, מחוּץ simply affirms that the measuring only extended to the point where the inner court commenced within the outer, namely, to the front of the porch of the gate, not to the boundary wall of the inner court, as this wall stood at a greater distance from the porch of the outer court-gate by the whole length of the court-gate, that is to say, as much as fifty cubits. From this more precise definition of the terminal point it follows still further, that the starting-point was not the boundary-wall, but the porch of the gate of the outer court; in other words, that the hundred cubits measured by the man did not include the fifty cubits' length of the gate-building, but this is expressly excluded. This is placed beyond all doubt by Ezekiel 40:23 and Ezekiel 40:27, where the distance of the inner court-gate from the gate (of the outer court) is said to have been a hundred cubits. - The closing words הקּדים have been very properly separated by the Masoretes from what precedes, by means of the Athnach, for they are not to be taken in close connection with ויּמד; nor are they to be rendered, "he measured...toward the east and toward the north" for this would be at variance with the statement, "to the front of the inner court." They are rather meant to supply a further appositional definition to the whole of the preceding clause: "he measured from...a hundred cubits," relating to the east side and the north side of the court, and affirm that the measuring took place from gate to gate both on the eastern and on the northern side; in other words, that the measure given, a hundred cubits, applied to the eastern side as well as the northern; and thus they prepare the way for the description of the north gate, which follows from Ezekiel 40:20 onwards.
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