Ezekiel 48:18
And the residue in length over against the oblation of the holy portion shall be ten thousand eastward, and ten thousand westward: and it shall be over against the oblation of the holy portion; and the increase thereof shall be for food to them that serve the city.
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(18) Shall be for food.—This piece of land, only four times the size of the city itself, would seem a very insufficient provision for raising all the food required for the labourers of the city. But here, as everywhere, it is to be remembered that the description is ideal

Ezekiel 48:18-20. And the residue in length over against [or beside] the oblation of the holy portion shall be ten thousand eastward and ten thousand westward — These two dimensions, of ten thousand in length both eastward and westward, remain on each side of the area, which is five thousand cubits square, and set apart for the site of the city. It shall be over against [or beside] the oblation of the holy portion — It shall join to the Levites’ portion, both on the east and west side; and it shall lie parallel with the two portions belonging to the priests and Levites. And the increase thereof shall be for food unto them that serve the city — Perform burdensome offices of public utility, whether of a higher or lower kind. They that serve the city shall serve it out of all the tribes — This service being a burden, it was fit that all the tribes should bear their part in it. All the oblation shall be five and twenty thousand, &c. — That is, twenty-five thousand in length, multiplied by twenty-five thousand in breadth. Ye shall offer the oblation four-square — So the heavenly Jerusalem is described, Revelation 21:16, as lying four-square, a square figure being the emblem of perpetuity, strength, and solidity. With the possession of the city — Or the land assigned for the site of the city; which was a square of five thousand cubits, and being added to the portion of the priests and Levites, made their twice ten thousand to be twenty-five thousand in breadth.48:1-35 Here is a description of the several portions of the land belonging to each tribe. In gospel times, behold all things are become new. Much is wrapped up in emblems and numbers. This method God has used to state mysterious truths in his word, not to be more clearly revealed till the proper time and season. But into the church of Christ, both in its state of warfare and triumph, there is free access by faith, from every side. Christ has opened the kingdom of heaven for all believers. Whoever will, may come, and take of the water of life, of the tree of life, freely. The Lord is there, in his church, to be nigh unto them in all they call upon him for. This is true of every real Christian; whatever soul has in it a living principle of grace, it may truly be said, The Lord is there. May we be found citizens of this holy city, and act agreeably to that character; and have the benefit of the Lord's presence with us, in life, in death, and for evermore.Ezekiel 48:18

Then, that serve - i. e., the cultivators or farmers.

15-17. The five thousand rods, apportioned to the city out of the twenty-five thousand square, are to be laid off in a square of four thousand five hundred, with the two hundred fifty all around for suburbs.

profane—that is, not strictly sacred as the sacerdotal portions, but applied to secular uses.

The residue in length, which remains on each side of the five thousand cubits square area, will be ten thousand on the east, and ten thousand on the west.

Shall be over against the oblation; lie parallel and even with the south side of the Levites’ portion both on east and west.

The increase thereof; the product, revenues of this land.

For food; the maintenance, both salary and allowances of bread and wine.

Unto them that serve the city; for the city officers, so that they may live by the city, whose life is spent for the city, that the labourer may, as he is worthy of it, receive his wages. And the residue in length over against the oblation of the holy portion shall be ten thousand eastward, and ten thousand westward,.... What remained in length, which ran parallel with the holy portion of the land, after five thousand reeds were taken out for the city and suburbs, were twenty thousand; ten thousand to the east, and ten thousand to the west:

and it shall be over against the oblation of the holy portion; that is, that space as yet undisposed of, the twenty thousand reeds, ten on the east, and ten on the west of the city, were close to, and ran even with, the oblation of the holy portion assigned to the priests and Levites:

and the increase thereof; or what these twenty thousand reeds of land should produce, or could be made of them:

shall be for food for them that serve the city; not the Gibeonites given to be hewers of wood and drawers of water, as Jarchi interprets it; which sense is justly rejected by Kimchi; since, as he observes, the Gibeonites shall not dwell in Jerusalem the holy city, nor minister in time to come: but either civil magistrates, who serve the church of Christ, when they secure the peace of it, protect and defend it; as they will, especially in the latter day, when these officers will be peace, and these exactors righteousness do all things justly and equitably; and when kings shall be nursing fathers and queens nursing mothers to the church; and it is but right they shall be provided for suitably to their rank, dignity, and office, and tribute be given to whom tribute is due: or ministers of the word, who are the church's servants, and serve it in preaching the Gospel, and administering the ordinances of it; and go by various names, as husbandmen concerned in ploughing, sowing, reaping, and gathering in the harvest; as labourers in the vineyard, and employed in planting, watering, pruning, and propping the vines; and as stewards of the mysteries and manifold grace of God, to give to everyone in the city and family his portion of meat in due season; and as guides and governors, engaged in taking care of the good order and discipline of it; as watchmen, that go about it, or are set on the walls of it: and it is the will of God they should be comfortably provided for, and eat of the fruit of the field and vineyard they labour in; and of the milk of the flock they take care of; and reap carnal things where they have sowed spiritual, things: or else private believers, who serve the interest of Christ and one another by love; praying with and for one another; bearing one another's burdens, and building up each other on their most holy faith: and for whom "food", or "bread" (u), as in the original, both temporal and spiritual, is provided; both being to be had of the Lord, with whom there is enough, and to spare; Christ is the bread of life, and his word and ordinances are the provisions of Zion; which all that serve the city or church of God may partake of.

(u) "in panem", Pagninus, Montanus, Piscator.

And the residue in length over against the oblation of the holy portion shall be ten thousand eastward, and ten thousand westward: and it shall be over against the oblation of the holy portion; and the increase thereof shall be for food unto them that serve the city.
18. As the city with its suburbs was a square of 5000 cubits, there remained of the 25,000 in length assigned to it a portion 10,000 long on the E. and another equally long on the W. In their length these portions lay “over against,” i.e. along, the holy portion of the priests.

that serve the city] The words are very difficult. It is plain that the 10,000 cubits of land E. and W. of the city serve to supply the inhabitants of the city with food. The restored land is a land of husbandmen, and those who dwell in the city live from the city’s domain. Either “serve” or “cultivate,” must be taken in the sense of inhabit and the words be read: for food to them that inhabit the city, 19 and they that inhabit the city &c; though such a usage has no parallel. Or, the word “city” must be taken in a general sense of the city and its domain of land: for food to the tillers of the city, 19 and they that till the city &c.Verses 18, 19. - The remaining portions of the terumah should be two strips of land, each 10,000 × 5000 reeds, one on each side of the city, the increase or produce of which should be for food unto them that serve the city. By "them that serve the city" Hitzig and Smend understand its ordinary inhabitants, since a district may be said to be cultivated through simple residence upon it (compare colere locum). Havernick, after Gesenius, thinks of the workmen who should be employed in building the city, against which may be urged that the city is supposed to be already built. Hengstenberg, with whom Plumptre seems disposed to agree, can only see in the city servers "a militia who take the city in the midst." Keil and Kliefoth find them in the laboring classes, who should not in this future state, as so often in ordinary states among men, be destitute of a possession in land, but should receive an allotment for their maintenance. But an obvious objection to this view is that it hands over the city land exclusively to the laboring classes, forgetting that the "other" classes require support as well as they. Probably the best interpretation is to regard עֹבְדֵי הָעִיר, "them that serve the city," as standing in antithesis to the other two classes already mentioned - the Levites, whose office should be to serve the tabernacle (see Numbers 4:24, 26; Numbers 18:6, in which עָבַד is employed to denote the service of the Levites); and the priests, whose special function should be to serve the altar (see Numbers 18:7, in which, again, the same verb is used). Thus regarded, "they that serve the city" will mean all engaged in secular pursuits in the city, which approximates to the view of Hitzig; and the prophet's language will signify that all such should derive their sustenance from the city lands, i.e. should either have direct access to these lands to cultivate them for themselves, or should obtain a share in the produce of these lands for other services rendered to the city. With this accords the further statement that those who served the city should serve it out of all the tribes of Israel; i.e. its inhabitants should not, as formerly, be drawn chiefly from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, but contain representatives from all the tribes of Israel (comp. Ezekiel 45:6). The Place of the Prince in the Sanctuary. - Ezekiel 44:1. And he brought me back by the way to the outer gate of the sanctuary, which looked toward the east; and it was shut. Ezekiel 44:2. And Jehovah said to me, This gate shall be shut, shall not be opened, and no one shall enter thereby; because Jehovah, the God of Israel, has entered by it, it shall be shut. Ezekiel 44:3. As for the prince, as prince he shall sit therein, to eat bread before Jehovah; from the way to the porch of the gate shall he go in, and from its way shall he go out. - From the inner court where Ezekiel had received the measurements of the altar of burnt-offering and the instructions concerning its consecration (Ezekiel 43:5.), he is taken back to the east gate of the outer court, and finds this gate, which formed the principle entrance to the temple, closed. Jehovah explains this fact to him through the angel (ויּאמר is to be understood according to Ezekiel 43:6 and Ezekiel 43:7) thus: "this gate is to be shut, because Jehovah, the God of Israel, has entered into the temple thereby," as we have already learned from Ezekiel 43:2. Only the prince, as prince, was allowed to sit in it for the purpose of holding sacrificial meals there. So far the meaning of the words is clear and indisputable. For there can be no doubt whatever that Ezekiel 44:3 introduces a more precise statement concerning the closing of the gate; in other words, that the right of sitting in the gate to eat bread before Jehovah, which is conceded to the priest, is intended as an explanation, resp. modification and limitation, of the statement והיה (Ezekiel 44:2). On the other hand, the more precise definition of the prerogative granted to the prince in Ezekiel 44:3 is not quite clear, and therefore open to dispute. Such a prerogative is already indicated in the prominence expressly given to the prince, consisting partly in the fact that את־הנּשׂיא is written first in an absolute form, and partly in the expression נשׂיא הוּא, which is repeated in the form of a circumstantial clause, "prince is he," equivalent to "because he is prince, he is to sit there." נשׂיא is neither the high priest, as many of the older commentators supposed, nor a collective term for the civil authorities of the people of Israel in the Messianic times (Hvernick), but the David who will be prince in Israel at that time, according to Ezekiel 34:23-24, and Ezekiel 37:24. "To eat bread before Jehovah" signifies to hold a sacrificial meal at the place of the divine presence, i.e., in the temple court, and is not to be restricted, as Kliefoth supposes, to that sacrificial meal "which was held after and along with the bloodless sacrifices, viz., the minchoth, and the shew-breads, and the sweet loaves of the Passover." There is no authority in the usage of the language for this literal interpretation of the expression "to eat bread," for אכל לחם means in general to partake of a meal, compare Genesis 31:54, etc., and especially Exodus 18:12, where Jethro "eats bread before God" with Aaron and the elders of Israel, that is to say, joins in a sacrificial meal composed of זבחים or slain-offerings. According to this view, which is the only one supported by usage, the prerogative secured to the נשׂיא of the future is not "that of participating in the sacrificial meals (of the priests), which were to be held daily with the minchoth and shew-bread, in opposition to the law which prevailed before" (Kliefoth), but simply that of holding his sacrificial meals in the gate, i.e., in the porch of the gate, whereas the people were only allowed to hold them in the court, namely, in the vicinity of the sacrificial kitchens.

There is also a difference of opinion concerning the meaning of the second statement in Ezekiel 44:3 : "from the way of the porch of the gate shall he enter in, and thence shall he go out." The suffix in מדּרכּו can only refer to אוּלם, "from the way from which he came (entered), from this way shall he go out again." Hitzig follows the Rabbins, who understand the passage thus: "as the gate is to remain shut, he must go by the way to the porch which is directed inwardly, toward the court (Ezekiel 40:9). He must have gone into the outer court through the north or the south gate, and by the way by which he came he also went back again." But Kliefoth argues, in objection to this, that "if the prince was to eat the bread in the porch, the entrance through the south or the north gate would be of no use to him at all; as the gate which could be shut was at that door of the porch which was turned toward the outer court." Moreover, he affirms that it is not at all the meaning of the text that he was to eat the bread in the porch, but that he was to eat it in the gate-building, and he was to come thither מדּרך אוּלם השּׁער, i.e., "from the place which served as a way to the gate porch, that is to say, the walk from the eastern entrance of the gate-building to the front of the porch, and from that was he to go out again." The prince, therefore, was "to go into the gate-building as far as the front of the porch through the eastern entrance, there to eat his bread before Jehovah, and to come out again from thence, so that the gate at the western side of the gate porch still remained shut." But we cannot regard either of these views as correct. There is no firm foundation in the text for Kliefoth's assertion, that he was not to eat the bread in the porch, but in the gate-building. It is true that the porch is not expressly mentioned as the place where the eating was to take place, but simply the gate (בּו); yet the porch belonged to the gate as an integral part of the gate-building; and if דּרך אוּלם is the way to the porch, or the way leading to the porch, the words, "by the way to the porch shall he enter in," imply clearly enough that he was to go into the porch and to eat bread there. This is also demanded by the circumstance, as the meaning of the words cannot possibly be that the prince was to hold his sacrificial meal upon the threshold of the gate, or in one of the guard-rooms, or in the middle of the gateway; and apart from the porch, there were no other places in the gate-building than those we have named. And again, the statement that the gate on the western side of the gate porch was to be shut, and not that against the eastern wall, is also destitute of proof, as דּרך אוּלם, the way to the porch, is not equivalent to the way "up to the front of the porch." And if the prince was to hold the sacrificial meal behind the inner gate, which was closed, how was the food when it was prepared to be carried into the gate-building? Through a door of one of the guard-rooms? Such a supposition is hardly reconcilable with the significance of a holy sacrificial meal. In fact, it is a question whether eating in the gate-building with the inner door closed, so that it was not even possible to look toward the sanctuary, in which Jehovah was enthroned, could be called eating לפני.

Hitzig's explanation of the words is not exposed to any of these difficulties, but it is beset by others. At the outset it is chargeable with improbability, as it is impossible to see any just ground why the prince, if he was to hold the sacrificial meal in the porch of the east gate, should not have been allowed to enter through this gate, but was obliged to take the circuitous route through the south or the north gate. Again, it is irreconcilable with the analogous statements in Ezekiel 46. According to Ezekiel 46:1., the east gate of the inner court was to be shut, namely, during the six working days; but on the Sabbath and on the new moon it was to be opened. Then the prince was to come by the way of the gate porch from without, and during the preparation of his sacrifice by the priests to stand upon the threshold of the gate and worship. This same thing was to take place when the prince desired to offer a freewill offering on any of the week-days. The east gate was to be opened for him to this end; but after the conclusion of the offering of sacrifice it was to be closed again, whereas on the Sabbaths and new moons it was to stand open till the evening (Ezekiel 46:12 compared with Ezekiel 44:2). It is still further enjoined, that when offering these sacrifices the prince is to enter by the way of the gate porch, and to go out again by the same way (Ezekiel 44:2 and Ezekiel 44:8); whereas on the feast days, on which the people appear before Jehovah, every one who comes, the priest along with the rest, is to go in and out through the north or the south gate (Ezekiel 44:9 and Ezekiel 44:10). If, therefore, on the feast days, when the people appeared before Jehovah, the prince was to go into the temple in the midst of the people through the north or the south gate to worship, whereas on the Sabbaths and new moons, on which the people were not required to appear before the Lord, so that the prince alone had to bring the offerings for himself and the people, he was to enter by the way of the porch of the east gate, and to go out again by the same, and during the ceremony of offering the sacrifice was to stand upon the threshold of the inner east gate, it is obvious that the going in and out by the way of the porch of the gate was to take place by a different way from that through the north or the south gate. This other way could only be through the east gate, as no fourth gate existed. - The conclusion to which this brings us, so far as the passage before us is concerned, is that the shutting of the east gate of the outer court was to be the rule, but that there were certain exceptions which are not fully explained till Ezekiel 46, though they are hinted at in the chapter before us in the directions given there, that the prince was to hold the sacrificial meal in this gate. - The outer east gate, which was probably the one chiefly used by the people when appearing before the Lord in the earlier temple, both for going in and coming out, is to be shut in the new temple, and not to be made use of by the people for either entrance or exit, because the glory of the Lord entered into the temple thereby. This reason is of course not to be understood in the way suggested by the Rabbins, namely, that the departure of the Shechinah from the temple was to be prevented by the closing of the gate; but the thought is this: because this gateway had been rendered holy through the entrance of the Shechinah into the temple thereby, it was not to remain open to the people, so as to be desecrated, but was to be kept perpetually holy. This keeping holy was not prejudiced in any way by the fact that the prince held the sacrificial meal in the gate, and also entered the court through this gateway for the purpose of offering his sacrifice, which was made ready by the priests before the inner gate, and then was present at the offering of the sacrifice upon the altar, standing upon the threshold of the inner gate-building. דּרך אוּלם is therefore the way which led from the outer flight of steps across the threshold past the guard-rooms to the gate porch at the inner end of the gate-building. By this way the priest was to go into the gate opened for him, and hold the sacrificial meal therein, namely, in the porch of this gate. That the offering of the sacrifice necessarily preceded the meal is assumed as self-evident, and the law of sacrifice in Ezekiel 46 first prescribes the manner in which the prince was to behave when offering the sacrifice, and how near to the altar he was to be allowed to go.

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