Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east:
Verses 1-12. - The consecration of the temple by the entrance into it of the glory of the God of Israel. Verse 1. - Afterward, etc. Having completed the survey of the temple precincts (Ezekiel 42:15-20), the prophet's guide, "the measuring man," conducted him back to the gate that looked towards the east, i.e. to the gate leading into the outer court from the east (see on Ezekiel 40:6), perhaps because this was the principal entrance to the sanctuary, but chiefly because through it the impending theophany was to pass.
And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory.
Verse 2. - Scarcely had the prophet taken up his station at or near the gate when the glory of the God of Israel (see on Ezekiel 1:28; 3:23) came from the way of the east, as if intending to enter the temple by the very door through which it had previously departed from the temple (comp. Ezekiel 10:19; Ezekiel 11:22, 23). The voles which proceeded from the theophany and resembled the noise of many waters, is after the LXX. (καὶ φωνὴ τῆς παρεμβολῆς) by Keil and Smend understood to have been the sound produced by the motion of the wheels and the rustling of the wings of the cherubim (see on Ezekiel 1:2, 4; 10:5), but is better taken, with Kliefoth and Hengstenberg, to signify the voice of the Almighty himself, i.e. of the personal Jehovah (comp. Revelation 1:15). The statement that the earth shined with his glory (comp. Revelation 18:1) has by Havernick, Kliefoth, and others been supposed to indicate the absence of that "cloud" in which the glory of Jehovah appeared in both the Mosaic tabernacle (Exodus 40:34, 35) and the Solomonic temple (1 Kings 8:10, 11), and thereby to point to the clearer and more resplendent manifestations of the Godhead, which were to be given in connection with the new dispensation for which Ezekiel's "house" was being prepared. This, however, as Keil has shown, cannot be main-rained in face of the facts that in both Exodus and 1 Kings "the glory of the Lord" is used synonymously with "the cloud," and that in Ezekiel's vision "the glory" and "the cloud" were alike present (see Ezekiel 10:3, 4). Kliefoth and Schroder hold "the earth" which was illumined to have been "the whole globe," "the entire region of humanity," as in Isaiah 6:3; Isaiah 60:1, etc.; but there does not appear ground for departing from the ordinary sense of the words, that "the path" of the advancing God was irradiated by the brilliance of his material glory.
And it was according to the appearance of the vision which I saw, even according to the vision that I saw when I came to destroy the city: and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face.
Verse 3. - The prophet identifies the vision on which he now looks as the same he had formerly beheld on the hanks of the Chebar, when he came to destroy the city, i.e. when, in obedience to Divine command, he stood forth to announce the destruction of Jerusalem. Ewald and Smend follow the Vulgate. quando venit ut disperderet, in substituting "he," Jehovah, for "I," Ezekiel; but the change is unnecessary, as the prophet's language is perfectly intelligible and quite correct, since "the prophet destroyed the city ideally by his prophecy" (Hitzig), and it is not unusual for Scripture to represent a prophet as himself doing what he is only sent to predict (comp. Ezekiel 4:2; Ezekiel 32:18; Jeremiah 1:10). The prophet's reason for introducing this clause was manifestly the same he had for identifying the visions - to show that, while it was the same Jehovah who had departed from the old temple that was now returning to the new, there was nothing incongruous in the idea that he who in the past had shown himself a God of justice and judgment by overturning and destroying the old, should in the future exhibit himself as a God of grace and mercy by condescending to establish his abode in the new. The impression produced upon the prophet's soul by his vision was the same that had been produced by the former - he fell upon his face in awe and wonder.
And the glory of the LORD came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east.
Verses 4, 5. - The prophet next narrates that he saw the glory of the Lord entering into and taking possession of the "house," as formerly it had entered into and taken possession of the tabernacle and the temple (Exodus 40:34, 35; 1 Kings 8:10, 11), and that of this he was further assured by experiencing immediately thereafter - not a push from the wind, as Luther and Kliefoth translate, but an impulse from the Spirit (not "a spirit," Ewald, though the Hebrew word wants the article), which raised him from the ground upon which he had fallen (ver. 3), took him up (see on Ezekiel 2:2; 3:12), and brought him into the inner court, exactly in front of the "house," where, having looked into the interior, he saw that the glory of the Lord filled the house, the language being that used in connection with the tabernacle and the temple.
So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house.
And I heard him speaking unto me out of the house; and the man stood by me.
Verse 6. - And I heard him (better, one) speaking unto me out of the house; and the (literally, a) man stood by me. Two questions arise - Who was the speaker? and, Who the man? As to the speaker, the natural reply is that the One who addressed Ezekiel from the interior of the "house" was Jehovah himself, whose "glory" had just entered in to take possession of the house, and this view is adopted by most interpreters, though Hengstenberg and Schroder regard the man who stood beside the prophet as the one who addressed him. As to the man, it cannot, as Kliefoth maintains, be decided solely by the absence of the article before "man" that this was a different person from the guide who had hitherto conducted the prophet and measured the Building. The article may have Been emitted because the important point to be recorded was not the circumstance that the "one" who stood beside him was his quondam guide, but the fact that this "one" was a man. That he was also Ezekiel's old conductor is at least a natural suggestion when one finds him afterwards appearing as a measurer with a line in his hand (Ezekiel 47:3).
And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places.
Verses 7-12. - Debate exists as to who the speaker in the seventh verse was, whether Jehovah or the man - some holding with Kliefoth, Ewald, Smend, and Currey, that he was Jehovah; others, with Havernick, Keil, Hengstenberg, and Schroder, that he was "the man;" and still others, with Plumptre, that it cannot be decided which he was. One thing is clear, that if "the man" was the speaker, his words and message were not his own, but Jehovah's. Yet unless the man had been the angel of the Lord - the view of Hengstenberg and Schroder - it will always seem incongruous that he should have addressed Ezekiel without a "Thus saith the Lord." Hence the notion that the speaker was Jehovah is, perhaps, the one freest from difficulty. The message announced or communication made to the prophet related first to Jehovah's purpose in entering the temple (vers. 7-9), and secondly to his object in showing the house to the prophet, viz. that he might show it to the house of Israel (vers. 10-12). Verse 7. - The LXX. and the Vulgate divide the present verse into two parts, and take the first as equivalent to a solemn word of consecration, the former supplying ἑώρακας the latter vidisti, "thou hast seen." The Chaldee Targum inserts, hic est locus, "this is the place," and in so doing is followed by Luther and the Revised Version. Some word, it is obvious, either a "see!" or a "behold!" must be interpolated, in thought at least, unless one adopts the construction of the Authorized Version, with which Smend agrees, and makes "the place of my throne," etc., to be governed By the verb "defile," or, with Ewald, places it under the regimen of "show" in ver. 10, throwing the whole intervening clause into a long parenthesis - a device which does not contribute to lucidity. Of the two expressions here employed to designate the sanctuary - not the temple proper, but the whole house with its surroundings - the former, the place of my throne, though peculiar to Ezekiel, receives explanation from the conception, familiar to earlier writers, of Jehovah as dwelling between the cherubim (Exodus 25:22; 1 Samuel 4:4; 2 Kings 19:15; Psalm 80:1; Isaiah 37:16); the latter, the place of the soles of my feet, was of frequent occurrence to denote the ark of the covenant (1 Chronicles 28:2; Psalm 99:5; Psalm 132:7) and the temple (Isaiah 60:13; Lamentations 2:1). The word of consecration was expressed in the promise, I will dwell (in the temple) in the midst of the children of Israel forever, etc., which went beyond anything that had been spoken concerning either the tabernacle of Moses or the temple of Solomon (comp. Exodus 25:8; Exodus 29:45; 1 Kings 6:13). The second part of the verse announces what would be the result of Jehovah's perpetual inhabitation of the temple - the house of Israel would no more defile his holy Name either by their whoredom or by the carcasses of their kings in their high places, or, according to another reading, in their death. That the whoredom signified idolatry (comp. Ezekiel 16.) commentators are agreed. What divides them is whether this also is alluded to in the alternative clause. Rosenmüller, Havernick, Keil, Fairbairn, and Plumptre believe it is, contending that the "carcasses of their kings" (comp. Leviticus 26:30; and Jeremiah 16:18) was a contemptuous and satirical designation of the idols they had formerly served, that the word "kings ' is frequently employed in this sense in Scripture (see Isaiah 8:21; Amos 5:26; Zephaniah 1:5), and that the special sin complained of, that of building altars for dead idols in the very temple court, had been practiced by more kings than one in Judah (comp. 2 Kings 16:11; 2 Kings 21:4, 5-7); and in support of this view may be urged first that it is favored by the use of the term bamotk, or "high places," in ver. 7, and secondly by the exposition offered in ver. 8 of the nature of the sin. Ewald, Hitzig, Kliefoth, and Smend, on the other hand, regard the sin spoken of in the second clause as different from that indicated in the first, maintaining that while this was the practice of defiling Jehovah's sanctuary by idolatry that was the desecration of the same by the interment in its courts of their dead kings. Against this, however, stands the fact that no authentic instance can be produced of a Judaean sovereign's corpse having been interred in the temple area. David, Solomon, Jehoshaphat, and others were buried in the city of David (1 Kings 2:10; 1 Kings 11:43; 1 Kings 22:50), and a place of sepulchers existed on the south-west comer of Zion in the days of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 3:16); but these prove nothing unless the temple hill be taken, as no doubt it sometimes was, in an extended sense as inclusive of Mount Zion. Similarly, the statement that Manasseh had a burial-place in the garden of Uzzah (2 Kings 21:18, 26) cannot be adduced in support of this view, unless it can be shown that the garden of Uzzah was situated on the temple hill. On the whole, therefore, the balance of argument inclines in favor of the first view, though it does involve the introduction of a figurative sense into the words.
In their setting of their threshold by my thresholds, and their post by my posts, and the wall between me and them, they have even defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed: wherefore I have consumed them in mine anger.
Verse 8. - In their setting of their threshold by my thresholds etc. The first "their" can only refer to "the house of Israel and their kings;" the second "their" may also allude to these, but is best taken as pointing to the "idols," whose thresholds or temples, according to the view adopted of the preceding verse, were set up in the court of Jehovah's temple, and so close to the latter that nothing stood between them except the temple wall Smend, who favors the second view of the preceding verse, considers this verse as a complaint against the kings for having erected their royal residence on Mount Zion, in the immediate vicinity of the temple; but as David's palace was older than the temple, it is not likely Ezekiel was guilty of perverting history in the manner this hypothesis would imply.
Now let them put away their whoredom, and the carcases of their kings, far from me, and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever.
Verse 9. - Now let them put away their whoredom, etc. What has just been declared to be the necessary consequence of Jehovah's abiding in the midst of Israel is now enjoined upon Israel as an indispensable prerequisite of Jehovah's taking up his residence amongst them. Ezekiel's theology in this respect harmonizes with that of Old and New Testament writers generally, who invariably postulate purity of heart and life as a necessary condition of God's abiding in the heart, while asserting that such Divine indwelling in the heart is the only certain creator of such purity (comp. Ezekiel 18:31; Ezekiel 36:26; Isaiah 1:16, 25; Isaiah 26:12; John 14:23; 2 Corinthians 6:17; James 4:8).
Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern.
Verse 10. - Show (or, make known, i.e. publish the revelation concerning) the house to the house of Israel For this purpose the vision had been imparted to the prophet. That they may be ashamed of their iniquities. This told the reason why the vision of the house should be made known to Israel. And let them measure the pattern; sum, number, or well-proportioned building. This explained how, by beholding the house, Israel would be led to repent, and be ashamed of her iniquities. There is no ground for thinking the ultimate object Jehovah had in view, in recommending the house of Israel to note the proportions of the visionary edifice, was, as Wellhausen, Smend, and others allege, that they might reproduce these in the post-exilic building; if they were to measure, i.e. scan and meditate upon the fair dimensions of the "house," it was that they might understand its religious or moral and spiritual significance, both as a whole and in detail.
And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them.
Verse 11. - And if they be ashamed of all that they have done. This cannot signify that Ezekiel was not to show the house until they had evinced a sincere penitence for past wickedness, since the converse has just been stated, that their repentance should flow from a disclosure to them of the house: but that in the event of the presentation to them of the "well-measured" building awaking in them any disposition of regret and sorrow, then the prophet should proceed to unfold to them its details. He should show them first the form of the house, i.e. the external shape of the building, and the fashion thereof, or its well-proportioned and harmonious arrangements; the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, i.e. its exits and entrances (Ezekiel 44:5), and all the forms thereof; which can only mean the shapes of its several parts; and all the ordinances thereof, or regulations concerning its use in worship, and all the forms thereof - the same words as above, and therefore omitted by the LXX. as well as some Hebrew manuscripts, and, after their example, by Dathe, Hitzig, Ewald, Smend, and others, though Keil, Kliefoth, Schroder, and others retain the clause as genuine, and regard it as an illustration of Ezekiel's habit of crowding words together for the sake of emphasis - and all the laws thereof, by which were probably signified "the instructions contained in these statutes for sanctification of life" (Keil). In addition to rehearsing the above in the hearing of the people, the prophet was directed to write them in their sight, if it be not open to understand the "writing" as explanatory of the way in which the" showing" was to be made.
This is the law of the house; Upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house.
Verse 12. - This is the law of the house. In this instance "the house" must not be restricted to the temple proper, consisting of the holy place and the holy of holies, but extended to the whole free space encompassing the outer court, the quadrangular area of three thousand cubits square (Ezekiel 42:16-20); and concerning this house as so defined, the fundamental torah, law, or regulation, is declared to be that of its complete sanctity. Ewald and Smend, as usual, unite with the LXX. in connecting "upon the top of the mountain" with "house;" but expositors generally agree that the clause belong to the words that follow, Upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about; and that the prophet's thought is that the entire territory upon the mountain summit included within the above specified border, and not merely the inner sanctuary, or even that with its chambers and courts, was to be regarded as most holy, or as a holy of holies, i.e. was to be consecrated as the innermost adytum of the tabernacle and temple had been. by the indwelling of Jehovah. Smend notes that "This is the law" is the customary underwriting and superscription of the laws of the priest-code (see Leviticus 6:9, 14; Leviticus 7:1, 37; Leviticus 11:46; Leviticus 12:7; Leviticus 13:59; Leviticus 14:54; Leviticus 15:32); but it need not result from this that the priest. code borrowed this expression from Ezekiel, who employs it only in this verse. The more rational hypothesis is that Ezekiel, himself a priest, made use of this formula, because acquainted with it as already existing in the so-called priest-code.
And these are the measures of the altar after the cubits: The cubit is a cubit and an hand breadth; even the bottom shall be a cubit, and the breadth a cubit, and the border thereof by the edge thereof round about shall be a span: and this shall be the higher place of the altar.
Verses 13-27. - The temple-altar described (vers. 13-17), and the ritual for its consecration explained (vers. 18-27). Verse 13. - The measures of the altar. The altar is הַמִּזְבֵּחַ, that formerly mentioned as standing in the inner court, immediately in front of the" house" (Ezekiel 40:47), the altar of burnt offering, and not the altar of incense in the holy place (Ezekiel 41:22). Its dimensions, then omitted, are now reported in connection with its consecration, which also is narrated as a pendant to that of the "house," because of the intimate connection between the two - the consecration of the altar being practically equivalent to the consecration of the house, and the consecration of the house finding approximate expression in the consecration of the altar. As in the other portions of the temple, so in this, the measurements are given after the cubits, i.e. by or in cubits, the length of each cubit being noted at "a cubit and an hand-breadth," as in Ezekiel 40:5. They are likewise taken first from the foundation upwards (vers. 13-15), and then from the top downwards (vers. 16, 17). The first portion measured is the bottom; literally, the bosom (Hebrew, חֵיק, "that which embraces," from הוּק "to embrace;" LXX., κόλπωμα: Vulgate, sinus); but what exactly that signified is debated among interpreters. Gesenius thinks of "the hollowed part for the fire;" Hitzig, of "a frame running round, a stand in which the altar stood;" Kliefoth, of "a deepening on the wooden ring in which the whole altar stands;" Keil, of" a lower hollow or base of the altar, formed by a border of a definite height;" Smend, of "the channel or gutter of the altar base, which should receive the sacrificial blood;" Havernick, Currey, and Plumptre, of "a base upon which the altar stood." If Smend's feasible notion be not adopted, then probably that of Hitzig, Kliefoth, or Keil most nearly expresses the conception of the Hebrew term. The altar was surrounded by an enclosure in which it seemed to be set, or out of which to rise; the dimensions of this "stand" or "enclosure" being a cubit in height, and a cubit in breadth, with a border on its edge round about a span or half a cubit high. This, the stand just described, should be the higher place; literally, the back; hence the support, base (Revised Version), or elevation, ὕψος (LXX.) of the altar.
And from the bottom upon the ground even to the lower settle shall be two cubits, and the breadth one cubit; and from the lesser settle even to the greater settle shall be four cubits, and the breadth one cubit.
Verse 14. - The next measurements which are taken from the bottom upon the ground, i.e. from the הֵיק, "base," or ground framework above described, to the lower settle, i.e. to the top of the undermost of the two "terraces," or enclosures," or "platforms," of which the altar consisted, are two cubits of height with one cubit of breadth; the measurements which follow, from the lesser settle, i.e. the undermost, to the greater settle, i.e. the uppermost, are four cubits of height with one cubit of breadth.
So the altar shall be four cubits; and from the altar and upward shall be four horns.
Verse 15. - Noteworthy is the word altar, which in this verse renders two distinct Hebrew terms, הַרְאֵל and אֲרִיאֵל, which Gesenius, Hitzig, Ewald, Smend, and others, after the LXX. (τὸ ἀριὴλ), identify as synonymous, and translate by "hearth." But the first can only signify "the mount of God," while the latter may mean either "lion of God" or "hearth of God." Kliefoth, deriving the latter from אָרָה, "to consume," and אַיִכ, "a ram," prefers as its import "ram-devourer;" Hengstenberg, resolving into אַיִל "a ram," and אְרַיִ, "a lion," proposes as its equivalent "ram-lion." i.e. "the lion that consumes the rams for God" - a ten-doting closely allied to that of Kliefoth. In any case, the terms allude to parts of the altar: the second, Ariel (equivalent to the hearth on which God's fire burns), according to Keil, Kliefoth, and the best expositors, meaning the flat surface of the altar; and the first, Harel (conveying the ideas of elevation and sanctity), the base on which it rested. The height of this base was four cubits, while from the hearth projected four horns, as in the altars of the Mosaic tabernacle (Exodus 27:2; Exodus 38:2; Leviticus 4:7, 18; Leviticus 8:15) and Solomonic temple (Psalm 118:27). If the length of these be set down, as Kliefoth suggests, at three cubits, then the whole height of the altar will be in cubits - one for the ground bottom, two for the lower settle, four for the upper, four for the bases of the hearth, with three for the horns, equal to fourteen in all; or, omitting the horns, of which the length is not given, and the altar base, which is distinguished from the altar, ten cubits in all for the altar proper. As to the symbolic import of the "horns," Kurtz, after Hofmaun and Kliefoth, finds this in the idea of elevation, the "horns," as the highest point in the altar, bringing the blood put upon them nearer to God than the sides did the blood sprinkled on them (see 'Sacrificial Worship of the Old Testament,' § 13); Keil, after Bahr, in the notions of strength, beauty, and blessing, the horns of an animal being the points in which its power, grace, and fullness of life are concentrated, and therefore fitting emblems of those points in the altar in which appears "its significance as a place of the revelation of Divine might and strength, of Divine salvation and blessing" ('Biblische Archaologie,' § 20).
And the altar shall be twelve cubits long, twelve broad, square in the four squares thereof.
Verses 16, 17. - The measurements that now begin concern the breadth of the altar, and proceed from above downwards. First the altar, or, hearth of God (Hebrew, ariel) was twelve cubits long and twelve broad, i.e. was square in the four squares (or, sides) thereof, or a perfect square (comp. Exodus 27:1; Revelation 21:16). Next the settle, or, enclosure (Hebrew, הָעֲזָרָה) of ver. 14, was fourteen cubits long, and fourteen broad in the four squares (or, sides) thereof; the fourteen being made up of the twelve cubits of the altar-hearth's side with one cubit of ledge from the settle all round. The only question is to which "settle," the upper or the under, reference is made. Some expositors, identifying the greater Azarah with the Harel, i.e. the "upper settle," with "the mount of God" or the base of the hearth, make the altar height only seven cubits from the ground to the hearth. The general belief, however, is that they cannot be so identified. Among interpreters who distinguish them, Kliefoth, with whom Smend agrees, holds the "settle" in this verse to be the harel, or "mount of God," which extended (Smend says with a hek. or "gutter") one cubit on each side beyond the ariel, or "hearth of God," so that the "mount of God," on which the" hearth of God" rested, was fourteen cubits square. Then, assuming a similar extension of one cubit at each stage - in the greater azarah, the lesser azarah, and the hek, or ground bottom - he finds the surface of the greater azarah to be sixteen, of the lesser azarah eighteen, and of the ground bottom twenty cubits square. Keil, with whom Schroder and Currey agree, objects to this as involving too much of arbitrary assumption, and takes the" settle" of this verse to mean the lower azarah; so that no additional measurements are required beyond those given in the text. If the square surface of the greater azarah be considered as having been the same as that of the harel, so that their sides were continuous, then, as the "ground bottom" extended one cubit on each side beyond the lower azarsh, the altar at its base was a square of sixteen cubits. Comparing now these measurements with those of the altar of burnt offering in the tabernacle and the temple, one finds that the former was only five cubits square and three cubits high (Exodus 27:1), while the latter was twenty cubits broad, but only ten cubits high (2 Chronicles 4:1), which awakes the suspicion that the different views above noted have been insensibly influenced by a desire on the part of their authors to make them harmonize with the measurements of the temple. But there does not appear sufficient reason why the measurements of Ezekiel's altar should have agreed with those of Solomon's rather than with those of Moses', The border (or, parapet) of half a cubit which ran round the ledge, or bottom, of a cubit, at the foot of the lower azarah was clearly designed, not for the protection of the priest officiating, but for ornament. The stairs (or, steps), mention of which closes the description, mark a departure, not from the pattern of the Solomonic temple, in which the altar must have had steps (see Keil's 'Biblische Archaologie,' p. 141), but from the pattern of the tabernacle, in which altar-steps were disallowed (Exodus 20:26) and did not exist (Exodus 38:1-7). But if, as Jewish tradition asserts, the pest-exilic altar had no steps as Ezekiel's had, having been reached by an inclined plane, because in the so-called book of the covenant steps were forbidden, how does this harmonize with the theory that Ezekiel's vision temple was designed as a model for the post-exilic temple? And why, if the priest-code was the composition of a writer who worked in the spirit and on the lines of Ezekiel, should it have omitted to assign steps to the tabernacle altar?
And the settle shall be fourteen cubits long and fourteen broad in the four squares thereof; and the border about it shall be half a cubit; and the bottom thereof shall be a cubit about; and his stairs shall look toward the east.
And he said unto me, Son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; These are the ordinances of the altar in the day when they shall make it, to offer burnt offerings thereon, and to sprinkle blood thereon.
Verse 18. - The ordinances of the altar. These were not the regulations for the sacrificial worship to be afterwards performed upon this altar, but the rites to be observed at its consecration when the day should arrive for its construction. As the altar in the tabernacle (Exodus 29:1-46; Leviticus 8:11-33), and that in Solomon's temple (1 Kings 8:63-66; 2 Chronicles 7:4-10), so was this in Ezekiel's "house" dedicated by a special ceremonial before being brought into ordinary use. The particular ritual observed by Solomon is not described in detail; but a comparison between that enjoined upon and practiced by Moses with that revealed to and published by Ezekiel shows that while in some respects they agreed, in other important particulars they differed. In both the ceremony largely consisted in offering sacrifice and smearing blood, and lasted seven days; but in the former the ceremony was performed exclusively by Moses, consisted, in addition to the above, of an anointing of the altar, the holy utensils, and the tabernacle itself with oil, and was associated with the consecration of the priests; whereas in the latter, in addition to some variations in the sacrificial victims, which will be noted in the course of exposition, the priests should bear an active part - there should be no anointing with oil, and no consecration of the priests, the priesthood being assumed as already existing. If in Ezekiel's ritual there was no mention of a cleansing of the sanctuary (that of Ezekiel 45:18 referring to a special ease), but only of the altar, that was sufficiently explained by the circumstance that Jehovah was already in the "house." The final clause, to offer burnt offerings thereon, and to sprinkle blood thereon, indicates the purpose for which the altar was to be used.
And thou shalt give to the priests the Levites that be of the seed of Zadok, which approach unto me, to minister unto me, saith the Lord GOD, a young bullock for a sin offering.
Verse 19. - Thou shalt give to the priests. This injunction, which was addressed to Ezekiel, not as the representative of the people or of the priests (Smend), but as the prophet of Jehovah, made it clear that Ezekiel was not to act in the future consecration of the altar alone as Moses did in the dedication of the tabernacle altar, but that the priests were to bear their part in the ceremonial. If some expressions, as the use of "thou" in this and the following verses, appear to suggest that Ezekiel alone should officiate, the employment of "they" in vers. 22, 24, 25, 26 as plainly indicates that Ezekiel's share in the ceremonial was to be performed through the medium of the priests. And, indeed, if the temple was a pattern designed to be converted into an actual building after the return from captivity, as the newer criticism contends, it is apparent that Ezekiel could not have been expected to have any hand in its erection. The Levites that be of the seed of Zadok. The assistants of Ezekiel and the officiating priests at the new altar were not to be the whole body of the Levitical priesthood, but those only who derived their descent from Zadok (see on Ezekiel 44:15). A young bullock for a sin offering. With the offering of this the ritual commenced, as in Exodus 29:1, 10 and Leviticus 8:14 (comp. Ezekiel 45:18). It is observable that in the Levitical code a young bullock, i.e. of a bullock in the full vigor of youth, is appointed as the requisite sin offering for the priest, i.e. the high priest, who was the head and representative of the people.
And thou shalt take of the blood thereof, and put it on the four horns of it, and on the four corners of the settle, and upon the border round about: thus shalt thou cleanse and purge it.
Verse 20. - And thou shalt take of the blood thereof, and put it. The application of the victim's blood to and upon the altar formed an integral part of every expiatory offering; but "whereas in all the other kinds of sacrifice the blood was poured indifferently round about the altar of the fore court, in the sin offering it was not to be sprinkled, lest the intention should be overlooked, but smeared with the finger upon the horns of the altar ('And the priest shall put of the blood upon the horns,' Leviticus 4:7, 18, 25, 30, 34) (Kurtz, 'Sacrificial Worship of the Old Testament,' § 107). In the present instance the blood was to be carefully put upon the four horns of the altar - the only part to be smeared with blood in the Mosaic consecration (Exodus 29:12) - the four corners of the settle, or azarah, but whether the greater or lesser is left undecided, though in all probability it was the under, if not both, and the border round about, that mentioned in ver. 17; and the effect of this smearing with blood should be to cleanse and purge, or, make atonement for, the altar; not for the people, as Havernick interprets, saying, "without an atoned-for altar, no atoned-for people (ohne entsuhnten Altar, kein entsuhntes Volk)," but for the altar, either, as Kliefoth suggests, because, being made out of a part of the sinful earth and world, it required to be sanctified, or because, as Plumptre prefers, the sins of the people having been, as it were, transferred to it, it stood in need of cleansing.
Thou shalt take the bullock also of the sin offering, and he shall burn it in the appointed place of the house, without the sanctuary.
Verse 21. - As a further stage in the ceremony, the Bullock of the sin offering, i.e. the carcass of the victim, was to be burned by Ezekiel or the priest acting for him in the appointed place of the house, without the sanctuary, as in the Mosaic code it was prescribed that the flesh of the bullock, with his skin and dung, should be burned without the camp (Exodus 29:14; Leviticus 4:12, 21; Leviticus 9:11, 15; comp. Hebrews 13:13). Ewald at first sought the place here referred to in the sacrificial kitchens (Ezekiel 46:19), which it could not be, as these belonged to the "sanctuary" in the strictest sense; he has, however, since adopted the view of Kliefoth, which is doubtless correct, that the "place of the house, without the sanctuary" meant the gizrah, or separate place (Ezekiel 41:12), which was a part of the "house" in the widest sense, and yet belonged not to the "sanctuary" in the strictest sense. Smend thinks of the migrash, "suburbs" or "open spaces," which surrounded the temple precincts (Ezekiel 45:2); and these were certainly without the sanctuary, while they were also appointed for the holy place, and might have been designated, as here, miphkadh, as being always under the inspection of the temple watchmen. The fact that in post-exilic times one of the city gates was called Hammiphkadh (Nehemiah 3:31) lends countenance to this view. That in this "appointed place" the carcass of the bullock should be consumed was a deviation from the Mosaic ritual, which prescribed that the fat portions should be burned upon the altar, and the rest eaten as a sacrificial meal (Leviticus 4:10, 26, 35; Leviticus 7:15, 81; Deuteronomy 12:7, 17, 18). Keil appears to think that the fat portions may have been burned upon the altar, although it is not so mentioned, and that only "those points" were mentioned "in which deviations from the ordinary ritual took place."
And on the second day thou shalt offer a kid of the goats without blemish for a sin offering; and they shall cleanse the altar, as they did cleanse it with the bullock.
Verse 22. - The second day's ceremonial should begin with the offering of a kid of the goats (rather, a he-goat) without blemish for a sin offering, the ritual observed being probably the same as that of the preceding day. The substitution of a "he-goat," the offering for a ruler who sins (Leviticus 4:23, 24), instead of a "young bullock," which formed the first day's offering, was a deviation from the ritual prescribed for the consecration of the Mosaic altar and priesthood (Exodus 29:36). The object of the offering of the "he-goat" was the same as that of the offering of the "bullock," viz. to cleanse the altar; not, however, as if the previous day's cleansing had been insufficient and required to be supplemented, or had already become inefficient so as to call for renewal, but in the sense of recalling the meaning and impression of the previous day's ceremonial, and so in a manner linking it on with the several rites of the succeeding days.
When thou hast made an end of cleansing it, thou shalt offer a young bullock without blemish, and a ram out of the flock without blemish.
Verses 23, 24. - The presentation of a burnt offering unto the Lord was the next item in the ritual that should be observed. The material composing it should consist of a young bullock without blemish, as in the ordinary sacrificial cede (Leviticus 1:3, 4, 5), and a ram out of the flock without blemish, as in the consecration of the priests (Exodus 29:18) and of the altar (Leviticus 8:18). The persons presenting it should be the prophet, thou, and the priests, they, as his representatives. The mode of offering should be by burning, the distinctive act in a burnt offering, as that of a sin offering was sprinkling, and that of a peace offering the sacrificial meal, and by casting salt upon the carcass, a feature in every meat offering (Leviticus 2:13), and here added probably to intensify the idea of purification. "In the corrosive and antiseptic property of salt there is hidden something of the purifying and consuming nature of fire; hence the Redeemer, in Mark 9:49, combines the salting of the sacrifice with the purifying fire of self- denial" (Kurtz, 'Sacrificial Worship of the Old Testament,' § 145). The significance of it should be an expression of complete self-surrender unto Jehovah, as the necessary outcome of the antecedent act of expiation. The time of its presentation should be immediately after the cleansing of the altar on the second day, and presumably also on the succeeding days. Whether the burnt offering was, as Keil maintains, or was not, as Kliefoth contends, offered also on the first day is difficult to decide, though the former opinion has, perhaps, most in its favor. The Mosaic ritual always enjoined a burnt offering to be offered as a sequel to the sin offering (comp. Exodus 29:14, 18, with Leviticus 8:14, 18; and see Kurtz, 'Sacrificial Worship of the Old Testament,' § 86); and, in accordance with this, vers. 23 and 24 naturally follow on vers. 19-21, ver. 22 being interposed because of the variation in the sin offering for the second day.
And thou shalt offer them before the LORD, and the priests shall cast salt upon them, and they shall offer them up for a burnt offering unto the LORD.
Seven days shalt thou prepare every day a goat for a sin offering: they shall also prepare a young bullock, and a ram out of the flock, without blemish.
Verse 25. - Seven days. Hitzig reckons these as additional to the first (ver. 19) and second (ver. 22) days; Kliefoth begins them with the second; Keil, Schroder, Currey, and the majority of expositors take them as inclusive of the first and second. Hitzig's proposal may be set aside, since it cannot be maintained without erasing "thou shalt make atonement for it" in ver. 20, and the first half of the present verse. In favor of Kliefoth's view may be urged that the first day appears to stand out from the others, 'and to be distinguished by the peculiar character of its offering - a young bullock for a sin offering, without any accompanying burnt offering; that the offerings on the second and subsequent days are alike, a he-goat and a ram; that on each of the seven days a goat is mentioned for a sin offering, whereas on the first day it was a young bullock that was slain; and that in Zechariah 3:9 occurs an allusion to what seems a special day such as this first day of Ezekiel. In support of Keil's interpretation it is contended that the seven days were to be employed in purging or making atonement for, and purifying the altar, which was in part at least (even admitting a distinction in meaning between חָטָּא and טָהַר) the business of the first day; that the general statement in ver. 20 as to a goat for a sin offering on the seven days admits of easy qualification by the previous statement in ver. 19; and that seven days was the normal duration of religious solemnities under the Law (see Leviticus 8:33; 1 Kings 8:65; 2 Chronicles 7:8, 9).
Seven days shall they purge the altar and purify it; and they shall consecrate themselves.
Verse 26. - They shall purge the altar. Smend thinks it strange that only the purification of the altar should be mentioned here, while that of the sanctuary is referred to later (Ezekiel 45:18), and finds in this an explanation (at least, perhaps) of the fact that in Exodus 29:36 only the consecration of the Mosaic altar - not of the Mosaic tabernacle - is reported. He conceives it likely that the author of Exodus 29:36 copied Ezekiel, but does not explain why Ezekiel may not have copied the author of Exodus 29:36. And they shall consecrate themselves; more correctly, they - i.e. the priests - shall consecrate it; literally, fill its hand. The phrase, מִלֵּאיָד, "to fill one's hand," sc. with gifts, occurs with reference to Jehovah (Exodus 32:29; 1 Chronicles 29:5; 2 Chronicles 29:31). It is also employed in the sense of filling the hand of another, as e.g. of a priest, with sacrificial gifts, when he is instituted into his sacred office (Exodus 28:41; Exodus 29:9; Leviticus 21:10; comp, Leviticus 8:27). Here the hand to be filled is that of the altar, which is personified for the purpose (compare the use of the terms "bosom" and "lip" in connection with the altar). The meaning is that the altar, at its consecration, should have a plentiful supply of gifts, to symbolize that the offering of such gifts was the work for which it was set apart, and that it should never be without them.
And when these days are expired, it shall be, that upon the eighth day, and so forward, the priests shall make your burnt offerings upon the altar, and your peace offerings; and I will accept you, saith the Lord GOD.
Verse 27. - The eighth day, and so forward. Omit "so." With this day the regular sacrificial service should commence. Thenceforward the priests should offer upon the altar the burnt offerings and peace offerings of the people. The omission of sin offerings is explained by Keil, on the principle that "burnt offerings" and "peace offerings" were "the principal and most frequent sacrifices, whilst sin offerings and meat offerings were implied therein;" Kliefoth adding that Ezekiel 44:27, 29; Ezekiel 45:17, 19, 22, 23, 25; and Ezekiel 46:20 show it cannot be inferred that sin offerings were no more to be offered on this altar. At the same time, the prominence given to "burnt" and "peace" as distinguished from "sin offerings" may, as Schroder suggests, have pointed to the fact that the sacrificers who should use this altar would be "a people in a state of grace," to whom Jehovah was prepared to say, I will accept you, not your offerings alone, but your persons as well; and not these because of those, but contrariwise, these on account of these. Kliefoth's idea, that the first day symbolized the future day of Christ's sacrifice, that the seven intermediate days (on his hypothesis) pointed to the period of the Christian Church, and that the eighth day looked forward to the time of the end, while not without elements of truth, is open to this objection, that in the period of the Christian Church there should have been "no more sacrifice for sin;" and yet, as Kliefoth admits, "sin offerings" were afterwards to be made upon this altar.