And by the border of Manasseh, from the east side to the west side, a portion for Ephraim.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Ezekiel 48. The order of the original occupation by the tribes under Joshua is partly, but only partly, followed. It is a new order of things - and its ideal character is evinced as elsewhere, by exact and equal measurements. From north to south seven tribes succeed each other. Then comes a portion, separated as an offering to the Lord, subdivided into:
(1) a northern portion for the Levites,
(2) a central portion for the priests and the temple,
(3) a southern portion for the city and those who serve it.
These three form a square, which does not occupy the whole breadth of the land, but is flanked on either side, east and west, by portions assigned to the prince. Then follow, south of the city, five portions for the five remaining tribes - similar to those assigned to the seven. Thus the Levites, the temple, and city, are guarded by Judah and Benjamin, the two tribes who had throughout preserved their allegiance to the true sovereignty of Yahweh, and thus the plan expresses the presence of Yahweh among His people, summed up in the name of the city, with which Ezekiel's prophecy closes, the Lord is there.
The breadth of the portions is not given, but since the exact breadth of the oblation was about 30 geog. miles (Ezekiel 45:1 note), and seven tribes were between the entrance of Hamath and the oblation, the "breadth of one portion" was about 17 geog. miles. The breadth of the Levites' portion and of the priests' portion was in each case about 15 geog. miles. Ain-el-Weibeh, if Kadesh, ( (?),see Numbers 13:26) would be very nearly the southern border.
The general lines of existing features are followed with considerable fidelity, but accommodation is made to give the required symbolic expression. "Dan" had originally an allotment west of Benjamin, but having colonized and given its name to Laish in the north, was regarded as the most northern occupant of Canaan Judges 18:29. "Zebulun and Issachar" are removed to the south to make room for the second half of "Manasseh" brought over from the east of Jordan. "Reuben," brought over from the east, is placed between "Ephraim and Judah." "Benjamin" comes immediately south of the city, and "Gad" is brought over from the east to the extreme south.Ezekiel 47:13, the two portions there given him being here allotted to his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. And by the border of Manasseh, from the east side unto the west side, a portion for Ephraim.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Description of the Altar
Ezekiel 43:13. And these are the measures of the altar in cubits: The cubit a cubit and a handbreadth; a ground-framework of a cubit (in height), and a cubit in breadth, and its moulding on its border round about a span. This is the base of the altar. Ezekiel 43:14. And from the ground-framework of earth to the lower enclosure, two cubits (in height), and a cubit in breadth; and from the small enclosure to the greater enclosure, four cubits (in height), and one cubit in breadth. Ezekiel 43:15. And the mount of God, four cubits; and from the heart of God upwards, the four horns. Ezekiel 43:16. And the hearth of God, twelve cubits in length by twelve cubits in breadth; squared on its four sides. Ezekiel 43:17. And the enclosure, fourteen cubits in length by fourteen cubits in breadth on its four sides; and the moulding round about it, half a cubit; and the ground-framework of it, a cubit round about: and its steps faced the east. - To the heading, "these are the measures of the altar in (according to) cubits," there is once more appended, as in Ezekiel 40:5, in connection with the measuring of the temple, the length of the cubit measure. The description commences with the foundation of the altar, and, proceeding upwards, gives the height and breadth of the several gradations of the walls of the altar, up to the horns at the four corners (Ezekiel 43:13-15). It then passes from above downwards, to supply the length and breadth or the circumference of the different stages (Ezekiel 43:16 and Ezekiel 43:17). As the first, or lowest part, the חיק is mentioned, literally, the bosom or lap; then by transference, the hollow formed by the sides of a chariot (1 Kings 22:35); here the lower hollow or base of the altar (p), formed by a border of a definite height, to merely "a frame running round, a stand in which the altar stood" (Hitzig), nor merely "the hollow filled with earth" (Kliefoth), but both together. This ground-framework (p) was a cubit (sc., high) and a cubit broad. That האמּה is to be taken as referring to the height, is evident from the statement of the breadth which follows. חיק האמּה is not to be altered into חיקהּ אמּה, as Ewald proposes, nor is האמּה to be changed into באמּה (Hitzig); but Hvernick's explanation is to be adopted: "and a bosom (was there) the cubit," i.e., of the height of the cubit just described. רחב, breadth, is the extent to which the bosom projected beyond the next enclosure (q) on every side, and formed a support, the circumference of which was a cubit more than the lower cube of the altar on every side. This is shown by the measurements in Ezekiel 43:16 and Ezekiel 43:17. The חיק had a גּבוּל on its שׂפה of a span (half a cubit) in height (o). שׂפה, lip, is the rim (1 Kings 7:26; Genesis 22:17); and גּבוּל, the bordering on the rim, is a moulding. The feminine suffixes attached to גּבוּלהּ and שׂפתהּ refer to חיק, which is of the masculine gender, no doubt, when used in its literal sense of bosom or lap, but is construed as a feminine in the tropical sense of an inanimate object. The ground-framework, with its moulding, formed the גּב of the altar. גּב, the arched, then a hump or back, signifies here the support of the altar. Upon this support the altar rose in a cubical enclosure or frame, which diminished in circumference by ledges or steps. The enclosure resting upon the support, and therefore the lowest enclosure (q), is mentioned in Ezekiel 43:14; and the one which followed (r) in Ezekiel 43:14.
The word עזרה, which has probably sprung from עצר by the softening of צ into ז, signifies enclosure, surrounding, and is mostly used for the outer court of the temple; here it is applied to the altar, and signifies the enclosure or framework of the kernel of the altar, consisting of earth. As the altar rose in steps, a distinction is made between the lower or smaller, and the (upper or) greater עזרה. The identity of the lower עזרה and the smaller one (הקּטנּה) is so evident from the course of the description, that it is universally admitted by modern expositors. The lower one (q) is called the small one, in comparison with the large one which stood above it, from the fact that its height was smaller, as it was only two cubits high, whereas the upper one (r) was four. When, therefore, the measurement of the greater one is given in this way in Ezekiel 43:14: "from the small enclosure to the great enclosure, four cubits," this statement cannot be understood in any other way than as meaning, that this enclosure or frame had a height of four cubits from the lower to the upper end, - that is to say, in other words, that the lower ledge was four cubits from the upper. Consequently the statement in Ezekiel 43:14, "from the ground-framework of earth to the lower enclosure, two cubits," can also have no other meaning than that the lower enclosure, from the lower edge by the moulding to the upper edge, at which the second enclosure commenced, was two cubits high. This height is reckoned from the upper edge of the חיק, or from the first (lowest) ledge. The height of these three portions taken together, therefore, was (1 + 2 + 4) seven cubits. To this the mount of God (s), which was four cubits (Ezekiel 43:15), has to be added, making in all eleven cubits. In Ezekiel 43:14 חיק is followed by הארץ: the חיק consisting of earth, or filled with earth. But the חיק, with its moulding, is designated גּב, the back or support of the altar, and is thereby distinguished from the altar itself; so that, for the height of the altar, we have only to reckon the two enclosures, with the mount of God, which amount to ten cubits. Upon the basis of the חיק, with its moulding, and the two enclosures (עזרה), there rose the true altar, with its hearth, and the horns at the four corners, noticed in Ezekiel 43:15. A distinction is here made between הראל, i.e., mount of God, and אריאל; and they are not to be identified, as they have been by many of the commentators, down to Hitzig, after the example of the lxx. אריאל (as the word is to be written according to the Keri) does not mean "lion of God," but "heart of God" (ארי, from ארה, to burn), as in Isaiah 29:1-2. The hearth of God is the surface of the altar, its fire-hearth (t); whereas הראל, mount of God (s), was the basis or foundation of the hearth. This was four cubits high, whereas no height is mentioned in connection with the hearth of God; but it is simply stated that four horns went upward from it, namely, at the four corners. With the horns of the altar, the size and height of which are not given, and which cannot be reckoned at three cubits, the description of all the parts, from the bottom to the top, is given; and all that remains to complete the measurements, is to describe the circumference of the several parts which rose one above another in the form of steps. This follows in Ezekiel 43:16 and Ezekiel 43:17. The hearth of God is twelve cubits long and twelve cubits broad, and is therefore רבוּע, square, of the same length and breadth on its four sides. Going downwards, there follow in Ezekiel 43:17 the length and breadth of the עזרה, with fourteen cubits, as it was a cubit broader on every side according to Ezekiel 43:14. It is very strange, however, that the length and breadth of only one עזרה are given here, as there are two of different heights mentioned in Ezekiel 43:14. Many of the commentators have therefore identified the mount of God with the great עזרה, and attribute only a height of seven cubits to the altar; whereas Kliefoth regards both the עזרה of Ezekiel 43:17 and the גּבוּל and חיק of Ezekiel 43:15 as different from the parts mentioned by the same name in Ezekiel 43:13 and Ezekiel 43:14, and takes them as referring to an enclosure and a barrier of the mount of God. One is as arbitrary as the other, as the words of the text do not require either of these assumptions. The difficulty, that only one עזרה is mentioned in Ezekiel 43:17, is easily solved, if we consider that in Ezekiel 43:15 only the height of the mount of God is given, and no breadth is mentioned as in the case of the עזרה in Ezekiel 43:14. We may see from this that the mount of God had the same breadth or the same circumference as the upper עזרה (see r and s in the illustration). In that case the length and breadth of all the parts of the altar were given, when, in addition to the length and breadth of the hearth of God (t), those of one עזרה, and that the lower, were given, as this alone was longer and broader than the hearth of God and the mount of God; whereas the length and breadth of the upper עזרה were identical with those of the circumference of the mount of God.
The altar, therefore, upon the upper surface, the hearth of God, was a square, of twelve cubits in length and breath. The mount of God and the upper enclosure had the same length and breadth. The lower enclosure, on the other hand, were fourteen cubits long and broad; and the support, finally, without the moulding, was sixteen cubits in length and breadth. The height of the altar was as follows: the support, with the moulding, a cubit and a half; the lower enclosure, two cubits; the upper, four; and the mount of God, with the hearth, also four cubits in height; whereas the altar in Solomon's temple was ten cubits high, and at its lower basis twenty cubits long and broad (2 Chronicles 4:1). - The description closes in Ezekiel 43:17 with an allusion to steps, which the altar of Ezekiel had upon the eastern side; whereas, in the case of the tabernacle, steps were not allowed to be placed by the altar (Exodus 20:23). The form פּנות is taken by Kimchi as a noun. Others regard it as an infin. nominasc.; whilst Hitzig proposes to point it as a participle פּנות.
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