Then he brought me forth into the utter court, and caused me to pass by the four corners of the court; and, behold, in every corner of the court there was a court.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The utter court.—The prophet had just been in those chambers which, although they stood within the area of the outer court, were considered as belonging to the inner. He is now brought into the outer court, properly so called.
In every corner of the court there was a court.—In each of the angles of the outer court a place was set apart for the boiling of the flesh of the peace offerings. These were of considerable size—40 cubits by 30 (Ezekiel 46:22), and appear to have been enclosed by a wall but not covered above. The word translated joined is of very uncertain meaning, but its most probable sense is enclosed. These courts are marked E on Plan II.Ezekiel 46:21-24. Behold, in every corner of the court there was a court — At every corner, where the side walls met in right angles, there was another little court. There were courts joined of forty cubits long, &c. — These little courts were in the shape of an oblong square, joined with inner walls to the outside walls of the greater court. The marginal reading, made with chimneys, gives a sense which very well agrees with the uses for which the courts were designed. There was a row of buildings round about in them — Namely, on the inside of these courts. Then said he, These are the places, &c. — As there was a place in the inner court for boiling the trespass and sin-offering, Ezekiel 46:19-20; so these boiling-places might be appointed for boiling the peace-offerings, which were esteemed inferior in holiness to those above mentioned, and therefore, perhaps, were dressed by the Levites, or inferior ministers; whereas the former were boiled by the priests in the court properly belonging to them. The utter court; either the court of the people, or more likely the court of the priests or Levites, called here utter court, because it was more outward than the court of the temple.
To pass by the four corners, to go about the whole square of the court.
In every corner, where the side walls did meet in right angles.
A court; a smaller court made up on the outer sides with the walls of the greater square, and on the inside made with two walls, the one forty cubits long, the other thirty cubits broad.
and caused me to pass by the four corners of the court; in each of the four corners of the outward court there was another court; signifying that there will be courts or churches in the several parts of the world in the latter day.Then he brought me forth into the utter court, and caused me to pass by the four corners of the court; and, behold, in every corner of the court there was a court.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)21–24. The kitchens for cooking the sacrificial meals of the people. These were situated in the four corners of the outer court. In each of the four corners was a small enclosure or court 40 cubits long and 30 broad (Ezekiel 46:21-22); and in these were situated the kitchens, where the “ministers of the house,” the subordinate officials (Ezekiel 44:10-14), boiled the people’s offering for their sacrificial meal (Ezekiel 46:23-24), Fig. 3 M.Verses 21, 22. - The prophet next observed, as his guide led him round the outer area, that in every corner of the court there was a court - literally, a court in a corner of the court, a court in a corner of the court - and hat these were courts joined of forty cubits long and thirty broad. The word "joined" קְטֻרות) has been variously translated: by Gesenins (see 'Hebrews Lex.,' sub voce), as "vaulted" or "roofed," with which Hitzig seems to agree; by the LXX., whom Bottcher and Ewald follow, μικρά, equal to contracts; by Kliefoth, "uncovered;" by Havernick, "firm," "strongly built;" by Smend," separated;" by Hengstenberg and Schroder, after the Talmudists (fumum exhalantia), "smoking" or "made with chimneys" (Authorized Version margin); but is probably best rendered by the Revised Version, Keil, Currey, after Gesenius ('Thesaurus,' p. 1213), "enclosed," meaning muris cineta et januis elausa. According to the last clause of ver. 22, these four corners were of one measure; or, one measure was to the four cut-away places, i.e. corners, מְהֻקְצָעות being the hoph. participle of קָצַע, "to cut off." This last word is omitted in the LXX. and the Vulgate, Hitzig, and Smend, the puncta extraordinaria showing that the Massorites regarded it as suspicious.
Ezekiel 42:1. And he brought me out into the outer court by the way toward the north, and brought me to the cell-building, which was opposite to the separate place, and opposite to the building toward the north, Ezekiel 42:2. Before the long side of a hundred cubits, with the door toward the north, and the breadth fifty cubits, Ezekiel 42:3. Opposite to the twenty of the inner court and opposite to the stone pavement of the outer-court; gallery against gallery was in the third storey. Ezekiel 42:4. And before the cells a walk, ten cubits broad; to the inner a way of a hundred cubits; and their doors went to the north. Ezekiel 42:5. And the upper cells were shortened, because the galleries took away space from them, in comparison with the lower and the central ones in the building. Ezekiel 42:6. For they were three-storied, and had no columns, like the columns of the courts; therefore a deduction was made from the lower and from the central ones from the ground. Ezekiel 42:7. And a wall outside parallel with the cells ran toward the outer court in front of the cells; its length fifty cubits. Ezekiel 42:8. For the length of the cells of the outer court was fifty cubits, and, behold, against the sanctuary it was a hundred cubits. Ezekiel 42:9. And out from underneath it rose up these cells; the entrance was from the east, when one went to them from the outer court. Ezekiel 42:10. In the breadth of the court wall toward the south, before the separate place and before the building, there were cells, Ezekiel 42:11. With a way before them, like the cells, which stood toward the north, as according to their length so according to their breadth, and according to all their exits as according to all their arrangements. And as their doorways, Ezekiel 42:12. So were also the doorways of the cells, which were toward the south, an entrance at the head of the way, of the way opposite to the corresponding wall, of the way from the east when one came to them. Ezekiel 42:13. And he said to me, The cells in the north, the cells in the south, which stood in front of the separate place, are the holy cells where the priests, who draw near to Jehovah, shall eat the most holy thing; there they shall place the most holy thing, both the meat-offering and the sin-offering and the trespass-offering; for the place is holy. Ezekiel 42:14. When they go in, the priests, they shall not go out of the holy place into the outer court; but there shall they place their clothes, in which they perform the service, for they are holy; they shall put on other clothes, and so draw near to what belongs to the people.
It is evident from Ezekiel 42:13 and Ezekiel 42:14, which furnish particulars concerning the cells already described, that the description itself refers to two cell-buildings only, one on the north side and the other on the south side of the separate place (see Plate I L). Of these the one situated on the north is described in a more circumstantial manner (Ezekiel 42:1-9); that on the south, on the contrary, is merely stated in the briefest manner to have resembled the other in the main (Ezekiel 42:10-12). That these two cell-buildings are not identical either with those mentioned in Ezekiel 40:44. or with those of Ezekiel 40:17, as Hvernick supposes, but are distinct from both, is so obvious that it is impossible to understand how they could ever have been identified. The difference in the description is sufficient to show that they are not the same as those in Ezekiel 40:44. The cells mentioned in Ezekiel 40:44 were set apart as dwelling-places for the priests during their administration of the service in the holy place and at the altar; whereas these serve as places for depositing the most holy sacrificial gifts and the official dresses of the priests. To this may be added the difference of situation, which distinguishes those mentioned here both from those of Ezekiel 40:44., and also from those of Ezekiel 40:17. Those in Ezekiel 40:44 were in the inner court, ours in the outer. It is true that those mentioned in Ezekiel 40:17 were also in the latter, but in entirely different situations, as the description of the position of those noticed in the chapter before us indisputably proves. Ezekiel is led out of the inner court into the outer, by the way in the direction toward the north, to הלּשׁכּה, the cell-building (that הלּשׁכּה is used here in a collective sense is evident from the plural לשׁכות in Ezekiel 42:4, Ezekiel 42:5). This stood opposite to the gizrah, i.e., the separate space behind the temple house (Ezekiel 41:12.), and opposite to the בּנין, i.e., neither the outer court wall, which is designated as בּנין in Ezekiel 40:5, but cannot be intended here, where there is no further definition, nor the temple house, as Kliefoth imagines, for this is invariably called הבּית. We have rather to understand by הבּנין the building upon the gizrah described in Ezekiel 41:12., to which no valid objection can be offered on the ground of the repetition of the relative ואשׁר, as it is omitted in Ezekiel 42:10, and in general simply serves to give greater prominence to the second definition in the sense of "and, indeed, opposite to the building (sc., of the separate place) toward the north."
As אל־הצּפון belongs to אשׁר as a more precise definition of the direction indicated by נגד, the 'אל־פּני א which follows in Ezekiel 42:2 depends upon ויביאני, and is co-ordinate with אל־הלּשׁכּה, defining the side of the cell-building to which Ezekiel was taken: "to the face of the length," i.e., to the long side of the building, which extended to a hundred cubits. The article in המּאה requires that the words should be connected in this manner, as it could not be used if the words were intended to mean "on the surface of a length of a hundred cubits." Since, then, the separate place was also a hundred cubits, that is to say, of the same length as the cell-building opposite to it, we might be disposed to assume that as the separate place reached to the outer court wall on the west, the cell-building also extended to the latter with its western narrow side. But this would be at variance with the fact that, according to Ezekiel 46:19-20, the sacrificial kitchens for the priests stood at the western end of this portion of the court, and therefore behind the cell-building. The size of these kitchens is not given; but judging from the size of the sacrificial kitchens for the people (Ezekiel 46:22), we must reserve a space of forty cubits in length; and consequently the cell-building, which was a hundred cubits long, if built close against the kitchens, would reach the line of the back wall of the temple house with its front (or eastern) narrow side, since, according to the calculation given in the comm. on Ezekiel 41:1-11, this wall was forty cubits from the front of the separate place, so that there was no prominent building standing opposite to the true sanctuary on the northern or southern side, by which any portion of it could have been concealed. And not only is there no reason for leaving a vacant space between the sacrificial kitchens and the cell-buildings, but this is precluded by the fact that if the kitchens had been separated from the cell building by an intervening space, it would have been necessary to carry the holy sacrificial flesh from the kitchen to the cell in which it was eaten, after being cooked, across a portion of the outer court. It is not stated here how far this cell-building was from the northern boundary of the gizrah, and the open space (מנּח) surrounding the temple house; but this may be inferred from Ezekiel 41:10, according to which the intervening space between the munnach and the cells was twenty cubits. For the cells mentioned there can only be those of our cell-building, as there were no other cells opposite to the northern and southern sides of the temple house. But if the distance of the southern longer side of the cell-building, so far as it stood opposite to the temple house, was only twenty cubits, the southern wall of the cell-building coincided with the boundary wall of the inner court, so that it could be regarded as a continuation of that wall. - The further definition פּתח , door to the north, is to be taken as subordinate to the preceding clause, in the sense of "with the door to the north," because it would otherwise come in between the accounts of the length and breadth of the building, so as to disturb the connection. The breadth of the building corresponds to the breadth of the gate-buildings of the inner court.
The meaning of the third verse is a subject of dispute. "האשׂרים," says Bttcher, "is difficult on account of the article as well as the number, inasmuch as, with the exception of the twenty cubits left open in the temple ground (Ezekiel 41:10), there are no אשׂרים mentioned as belonging to the actual 'חצר הפן, and the numeral does not stand with sufficient appropriateness by the side of the following רצפה." But there is not sufficient weight in the last objection to render the reference to the twenty cubits a doubtful one, since the "twenty cubits" is simply a contracted form of expression for "the space of twenty cubits," and this space forms a fitting antithesis to the pavement (רצפה), i.e., the paved portion of the court. Moreover, it is most natural to supply the missing substantive to the "twenty" from the אמּות mentioned just before, - much more natural certainly than to supply לשׁכות, as there is no allusion either before or afterwards to any other cells than those whose situation is intended to be defined according to the twenty. We therefore agree with J. H. Michaelis, Rosenmller, Hvernick, and Hitzig, that the only admissible course is to supply אמּות; for the description of the priests' cells in Ezekiel 40:44, to which Kliefoth imagines that האשׂרים refers, is far too distant for us to be able to take the word לשׁכות thence and supply it to העשׂרים. And again, the situation of these priests' cells to the east of the cell-building referred to here does not harmonize with the נגד, as the second definition introduced by the correlative ונגד points to the stone pavement on the north. East and north do not form such a vis--vis as the double נגד requires. - Our view of the העשׂרים eht is also in harmony with the explanatory relative clause, "which were to the inner court," i.e., belonged to it. For the open space of twenty cubits' breadth, which ran by the long side of the temple house between the munnach belonging to the temple and the wall of the inner court, formed the continuation of the inner court which surrounded the temple house on the north, west, and south.
(Note: The statement of Kliefoth, that "this space of twenty cubits in breadth did not belong to the inner court at all," cannot be established from Ezekiel 40:47, where the size of the inner court is given as a hundred cubits in length and the same in breadth. For this measurement simply refers to the space in front of the temple.)
If, therefore, this first definition of the נגד refers to what was opposite to the cell-building on the south, the second נגד defines what stood opposite to it on the northern side. There the portion of the outer court which was paved with stones ran along the inner side of the surrounding wall. This serves to define as clearly as possible the position of the broad side of the cell-building. For Kliefoth and Hitzig are right in connecting these definitions with Ezekiel 42:2, and taking the words from אתּיק onwards as introducing a fresh statement. Even the expression itself אל־פּני אתּיק does not properly harmonize with the combination of the two halves of the third verse as one sentence, as Bttcher proposes, thus: "against the twenty cubits of the inner court and against the pavement of the outer court there ran gallery in front of gallery threefold." For if the galleries of the building were opposite to the pavement on the north, and to the space in front of the temple on the south of the building, they must of necessity have run along the northern and southern walls of the building in a parallel direction, and אל־פּני is not the correct expression for this. אל־פּני, to the front - that is to say, one gallery to the front of the other, or up to the other. This could only be the case if the galleries surrounded the building on all four sides, or at any rate on three; for with the latter arrangement, the gallery upon the eastern side would terminate against those on the southern and northern sides. Again, the rendering "threefold," or into the threefold, cannot be defended either from the usage of the language or from the facts. The only other passage in which the plural שׁלשׁים occurs is Genesis 6:16, where it signifies chambers, or rooms of the third storey, and the singular שׁלשׁי means the third. Consequently בּשׁלשׁים is "in the third row of chambers or rooms," i.e., in the third storey. And so far as the fact is concerned, it does not follow from the allusion to upper, central, and lower cells (Ezekiel 42:5 and Ezekiel 42:6), that there were galleries round every one of the three storeys.
Ezekiel 42:4. "Before the cells there was a walk of ten cubits' breadth" (m). In what sense we are to understand לפני, "before," whether running along the northern longer side of the building, or in front of the eastern wall, depends upon the explanation of the words which follow, and chiefly of the words דּרך אמּה אחת, by which alone the sense in which אל־הפּנימית is to be understood can also be determined. Hvernick and Kliefoth take דּרך אמּה אחת, "a way of one cubit," in the sense of "the approaches (entrances into the rooms) were a cubit broad." But the words cannot possibly have this meaning; not only because the collective use of דּרך after the preceding מהלך, which is not collective, and with the plural פּתחיהם following, is extremely improbable, if not impossible; but principally because דּרך, a way, is not synonymous with מבוא, an entrance, or פּתח, a doorway. Moreover, an entrance, if only a cubit in breadth, to a large building would be much too narrow, and bear no proportion whatever to the walk of ten cubits in breadth. It is impossible to get any suitable meaning from the words as they stand, "a way of one cubit;" and no other course remains than to alter אמה אחת into מאה אמּת, after the ἐπὶ πήχεις ἑκατόν of the Septuagint. There is no question that we have such a change of מאה into אמּה in Ezekiel 42:16, where even the Rabbins acknowledge that it has occurred. And when once מאה had been turned into אמּה, this change would naturally be followed by the alteration of אמת into a numeral - that is to say, into אחת. The statement itself, "a way of a hundred cubits" (in length), might be taken as referring to the length of the walk in front of the cells, as the cell-building was a hundred cubits long. But אל־הפּנימית is hardly reconcilable with this. If, for example, we take these words in connection with the preceding clause, "a walk of ten cubits broad into the interior," the statement, "a way of a hundred cubits," does not square with this. For if the walk which ran in front of the cells was a hundred cubits long, it did not lead into the interior of the cell-building, but led past it to the outer western wall. We must therefore take אל־הפּנימית in connection with what follows, so that it corresponds to לפני הלשׁכות: in front of the cells there was a walk of ten cubits in breadth, and to the inner there led a way of a hundred cubits in length. הפּנימית would then signify, not the interior of the cell-building, but the inner court (החצר הפּנימית, Ezekiel 44:17; Ezekiel 21:27, etc.). This explanation derives its principal support from the circumstance that, according to Ezekiel 42:9 and Ezekiel 42:11, a way ran from the east, i.e., from the steps of the inner court gates, on the northern and southern sides, to the cell-buildings on the north and south of the separate place, the length of which, from the steps of the gate-buildings already mentioned to the north-eastern and south-eastern corners of our cell-buildings, was exactly a hundred cubits, as we may see from the plan in Plate I. This way (l) was continued in the walk in front of the cells (m), and may safely be assumed to have been of the same breadth as the walk. - The last statement of the fourth verse is perfectly clear; the doorways to the cells were turned toward the north, so that one could go from the walk in front of the cells directly into the cells themselves.
In Ezekiel 42:5 and Ezekiel 42:6 there follow certain statements concerning the manner in which the cells were built. The building contained upper, lower, and middle cells; so that it was three-storied. This is expressed in the words כּי משׁלּשׁות , "for the cells were tripled;" three rows stood one above another. But they were not all built alike; the upper ones were shortened in comparison with the lower and the central ones, i.e., were shorter than these (מן before התּחתּנות and התּיכונות is comparative); "for galleries ate away part of them" - that is to say, took away a portion of them (יוכלוּ for יאכלוּ, in an architectural sense, to take away from). How far this took place is shown in the first two clauses of the sixth verse, the first of which explains the reference to upper, lower, and middle cells, while the second gives the reason for the shortening of the upper in comparison with the lower and the central cones. As the three rows of cells built one above another had no columns on which the galleries of the upper row could rest, it was necessary, in order to get a foundation for the gallery of the third storey, that the cells should be thrown back from the outer wall, or built as far inwards as the breadth of the gallery required. This is expressly stated in the last clause, 'על־כּן נאצל וגו. נאצל, with an indefinite subject: there was deducted from the lower and the middle cells from the ground, sc. which these rooms covered. מהארץ is added for the purpose of elucidation. From the allusion to the columns of the courts we may see that the courts had colonnades, like the courts in the Herodian temple, and probably also in that of Solomon, though their character is nowhere described, and no allusion is made to them in the description of the courts.
The further statements concerning this cell-building in Ezekiel 42:7-9 are obscure. גּדר is a wall serving to enclose courtyards, vineyards, and the like. The predicate to וגּדר follows in אל־פּני הלשׁכות: a boundary wall ran along the front of the cells (אל־פּני stands for על־פּני rof sdn, as the corresponding על־פּני ההיכל in Ezekiel 42:8 shows). The course of this wall (n) is more precisely defined by the relative clause, "which ran outwards parallel with the cells in the direction of the outer court," i.e., toward the outer court. The length of this wall was fifty cubits. It is evident from this that the wall did not run along the north side of the building, - for in that case it must have been a hundred cubits in length, - but along the narrow side, the length of which was fifty cubits. Whether it was on the western or eastern side cannot be determined with certainty from Ezekiel 42:7, although אל פּני favours the eastern, i.e., the front side, rather than the western side, or back. And what follows is decisive in favour of the eastern narrow side. In explanation of the reason why this wall was fifty cubits long, it is stated in Ezekiel 42:8 that "the length of the cells, which were to the outer court, was fifty cubits; but, behold, toward the temple front a hundred cubits." Consequently "the cells which the outer court had" can only be the cells whose windows were toward the outer court - that is to say, those on the eastern narrow side of the building; for the sacrificial kitchens were on the western narrow side (Ezekiel 46:19-20). The second statement in Ezekiel 42:8, which is introduced by הנּה is an indication of something important, is intended to preclude any misinterpretation of ארך הלשׁ' fo noitat, as though by length we must necessarily understand the extension of the building from east to west, as in Ezekiel 42:2 and most of the other measurements. The use of ארך for the extension of the narrow side of the building is also suggested by the ארכוּ, "length of the wall," in Ezekiel 42:7, where רחב would have been inadmissible, because רחב, the breadth of a wall, would have been taken to mean its thickness. פּני ההיכל is the outer side of the temple house which faced the north.
A further confirmation of the fact that the boundary wall was situated on the eastern narrow side of the building is given in the first clause of the ninth verse, in which, however, the reading fluctuates. The Chetib gives מתּחתּהּ לשׁכות, the Keri מתּחת הלשׁכות. But as we generally find, the Keri is an alteration for the worse, occasioned by the objection felt by the Masoretes, partly to the unusual circumstance that the singular form of the suffix is attached to תּחת, whereas it usually takes the suffixes in the plural form, and partly to the omission of the article from לשׁכות by the side of the demonstrative האלּה, which is defined by the article. But these two deviations from the ordinary rule do not warrant any alterations, as there are analogies in favour of both. תּחת has a singular suffix not only in תּחתּנּה (Genesis 2:21) and תּחתּני (2 Samuel 22:37, 2 Samuel 22:40, and 2 Samuel 22:48), instead of תּחתּי (Psalm 18:37, Psalm 18:40,Psalm 18:48), which may undoubtedly be explained on the ground that the direction whither is thought of (Ges. 103. 1, Anm. 3), but also in תּחתּם, which occurs more frequently than תּחתּיהם, and that without any difference in the meaning (compare, for example, Deuteronomy 2:12, Deuteronomy 2:21-23; Joshua 5:7; Job 34:24, and Job 40:12, with 1 Kings 20:24; 1 Chronicles 5:22; 2 Chronicles 12:10). And לשׁכות האלּה is analogous to הר in Zechariah 4:7, and many other combinations, in which the force of the definition (by means of the article) is only placed in the middle for the sake of convenience (vid., Ewald, ֗293a). If, therefore, the Chetib is to be taken without reserve as the original reading, the suffix in תּחתּהּ can only refer to גּדר, which is of common gender: from underneath the wall were these cells, i.e., the cells turned toward the outer court; and the meaning is the following: toward the bottom these cells were covered by the wall, which ran in front of them, so that, when a person coming toward them from the east fixed his eyes upon these cells, they appeared to rise out of the wall. Kliefoth, therefore, who was the first to perceive the true meaning of this clause, has given expression to the conjecture that the design of the wall was to hide the windows of the lower row of cells which looked toward the east, so that, when the priests were putting on their official clothes, they might not be seen from the outside. - המבוא commences a fresh statement. To connect these words with the preceding clause ("underneath these cells was the entrance from the east"), as Bttcher has done, yields no meaning with which a rational idea can possibly be associated, unless the מן in מתּחתּהּ be altogether ignored. The lxx have therefore changed וּמתּחתּהּ, which was unintelligible to them, into καὶ αἱ θύραι (ופתחי), and Hitzig has followed them in doing so. No such conjecture is necessary if וּמתּחתּהּ be rightly interpreted, for in that case המבוא must be the commencement of a new sentence. המבוא (by the side of which the senseless reading of the Keri המּביא cannot be taken into consideration for a moment) is the approach, or the way which led to the cells. This was from the east, from the outer court, not from the inner court, against the northern boundary of which the building stood. מהחצר החצנה is not to be taken in connection with בּבאו להנּה, but is co-ordinate with מהקּדים, of which it is
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