Thus saith the Lord GOD; The gate of the inner court that looketh toward the east shall be shut the six working days; but on the sabbath it shall be opened, and in the day of the new moon it shall be opened.
Verses 1-15. - The supplementary directions contained in these verses relate to the worship of the prince and the people on the sabbaths and the new moons (vers. 1-7) and at the appointed feasts generally (vers. 5-15). Verse 1. - Like the preceding sections which introduced distinctly new enactments in Ezekiel's Torah (see Ezekiel 44:9; Ezekiel 45:9, 18), this properly opens with a Thus saith the Lord God, since it refers to the worship that should be celebrated at the gate of the inner court which looketh toward the east. Ewald, after the LXX. (ἡ πύλη ἡ ἐν τῇ αὐλῇ τῇ ἐσωτέρᾳ), changes the text so as to read the outer court gate, and understands the statement here made to be a qualification of that contained in Ezekiel 44:1-3. It is, however, the inner east gate to which the present clause alludes, and the announce-meat made concerning it is that, like the outer east gate, it should be shut on the six working days; literally, the six days of the business (comp. 1 Samuel 20:19); but that, unlike the outer east gate, it should be opened on the sabbath (literally, in the day of the sabbath) and in the day of the new moon, both of which clays had been marked under the Law, and should in future continue to be marked, by special sacrificial celebrations.
And the prince shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate without, and shall stand by the post of the gate, and the priests shall prepare his burnt offering and his peace offerings, and he shall worship at the threshold of the gate: then he shall go forth; but the gate shall not be shut until the evening.
Verse 2. - The reason for the opening of this inner east gate should be that the prince might enter it as far as its threshold, and stand there worshipping by the posts of the gate, while his burnt offerings and his peace offerings were being prepared by the priests, who, rather than the prince, were the proper ministers for conducting the sacrificial ceremony. The prince should reach his station at the threshold of the inner gate, by the way of the porch of that (or, the) gate without; but whether this signified that he should pass through the eastern gate of the outer court, and so advance towards the inner east gate, as Ewald, Keil, Kliefoth, and Plumptre assume, or, as Hengstenberg, Schroder, and Smend suppose, that he should enter the inner gate by the way of the porch of the gate, i.e. from the outside, from the outer court into which he had previously entered through either the north or the south outer gates, cannot be decided. In favor of the former may be urged the consideration that it seems more natural to apply מִהוּצ to the outer gate than to the outer court, since no, one could enter the inner gate except from the outer court, unless he were already in the inner court; but in favor of the latter is
(1) the stringent character of the language in Ezekiel 44:1-3, which expressly declares that the outer east gate should not be opened, and that no man should enter in by it, thus scarcely admitting of an exception; and
(2) the statement in vers. 9, 10 of the present chapter, that in the "appointed feasts" the prince and the people alike should enter the outer court either by the north or the south gate, since, if any of these "feasts" fell upon a sabbath, this regulation would not be practicable, if the prince and the people were required to enter by different doors. The question, however, in itself is immaterial. The points of importance are that the prince should worship in the porch of the inner gate, and that, on finishing his worship, he should retire, and that the gate should not be shut; until the evening.
Likewise the people of the land shall worship at the door of this gate before the LORD in the sabbaths and in the new moons.
Verse 3. - Likewise (or, and) to the people of the land should be accorded permission to worship at this inner gate, only not like the prince, in its porch, but at its door, yet on the same occasions as he, in the sabbaths and in the new moons. Kliefoth, who takes "this gate" to signify the outer gate, through which, according to his interpretation of ver. 2 (see above), the prince should pass so as to reach the inner east gate, conceives the import of the present verse to be that, while the prince should be permitted on the sabbaths and new moons to pass through the eastern gate, the people "should remain standing in front of the outer east gate, and, looking through it and the opened inner east gate, should pray before Jehovah." This, however, is unnatural, even on the hypothesis that the prince should pass through the outer east gate, and the view of Keil is greatly preferable, that "this gate" was the inner east gate, and that the people should reach it (even if the prince did not) by entering the outer court through the north gate or the south.
And the burnt offering that the prince shall offer unto the LORD in the sabbath day shall be six lambs without blemish, and a ram without blemish.
Verses 4, 5 describe the sacrifices the prince should offer unto the Lord on the sabbaths.
(1) A burnt offering of six lambs and a ram, all without blemish. The Mosaic Law, or so-called priests' code, demanded two yearling lambs (Numbers 28:9).
(2) A meat offering, consisting of an ephah of fine flour for a ram, and for the lambs as he shall be able to give; literally, a gift of his hand - not a handful, but, as ver. 7 explains, what his hand can attain unto (comp. Leviticus 14:31; Leviticus 25:26), i.e. as much as he can, with a hin of oil to an ephah, for which again the Law required two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mingled with oil (Numbers 28:9).
And the meat offering shall be an ephah for a ram, and the meat offering for the lambs as he shall be able to give, and an hin of oil to an ephah.
And in the day of the new moon it shall be a young bullock without blemish, and six lambs, and a ram: they shall be without blemish.
Verses 6, 7 specify the corresponding sacrifices for the new moons.
(1) A burnt offering of a young bullock without blemish, six lambs, and a ram, with which may be compared the two bullocks, one ram, and seven lambs of the Mosaic Torah (Numbers 28:11-15).
(2) A meat (or, meal) offering of an ephah for the bullock, an ephah for the ram, and for the lambs according as his hand shall attain unto (comp. ver 5; and the similar expressions in Leviticus 5:7, 11; Leviticus 12:8), with a hin of oil to an ephah. This also is less than that which had been demanded by the Law, viz. three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mingled with oil for each bullock, two-tenths for the ram and one-tenth for every lamb (Numbers 28:11-15). The Torah of Ezekiel omits the sin offering of a he-goat, which had a place in the Torah of Moses.
And he shall prepare a meat offering, an ephah for a bullock, and an ephah for a ram, and for the lambs according as his hand shall attain unto, and an hin of oil to an ephah.
And when the prince shall enter, he shall go in by the way of the porch of that gate, and he shall go forth by the way thereof.
Verse 8 begins an ordinance relative to the mode of conducting worship at the appointed festivals (ver. 9; comp. Ezekiel 36:38; Ezekiel 45:17; Leviticus 23:2; Hosea 12:9), by indicating first how the prince should enter and depart from the temple. According to Kliefoth and Keil, the prince's entrance and departure should be by the way of the porch of the outer, according to Hengstenberg, Smend, and Currey, of the inner, east gate (see on ver. 2).
But when the people of the land shall come before the LORD in the solemn feasts, he that entereth in by the way of the north gate to worship shall go out by the way of the south gate; and he that entereth by the way of the south gate shall go forth by the way of the north gate: he shall not return by the way of the gate whereby he came in, but shall go forth over against it.
Verse 9. - But when the people of the land shall come before the Lord. As the preceding verse referred to the prince's entrance into and departure from the inner gate, this was intended to regulate the movements of the prince's subjects when they should enter the outer court at any of the festal seasons - not the high festivals alone, such as the Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles, which are usually denominated חַגּים, but the ordinary appointed feasts (מוְעֲדִים), including, besides the high festivals, the sabbaths and the new moons and such other religions celebrations as were or should be prescribed in the new Torah. In order to prevent confusion, and that all might be conducted with propriety (comp. 1 Corinthians 14:40), no one should depart by the gate through which he had entered, but by the opposite, i.e. he who had entered by the north gate should retire through the south gate, and vice versa. Hengstenberg thinks the reason for this regulation "cannot be sought in the endeavor to avoid a throng," since "in that case it must have been ordained that all should go in by the same gate and go out by the opposite one;" it must, he holds, have been "a theological one," viz. "to signify that each should go out of the sanctuary another man than he came in."
And the prince in the midst of them, when they go in, shall go in; and when they go forth, shall go forth.
Verse 10. - And the prince in the midst of them, when they go in, shall go in, etc. Schroder, but without reason, would restrict this regulation to the celebrations of the first and seventh days of the first month (Ezekiel 45:18, 20); Hengstenberg would confine it to the high festivals (Ezekiel 45:21, 25); Kliefoth, Keil, and commentators generally apply it to all the statutory feasts or appointed seasons and times for united sacrificial worship. The regulation seems to teach that in such observances at least the prince should stand on a level with the people, and both enter and retire by the same door as they.
And in the feasts and in the solemnities the meat offering shall be an ephah to a bullock, and an ephah to a ram, and to the lambs as he is able to give, and an hin of oil to an ephah.
Verse 11 specifies the meat (or, meal) offering which should be presented in the feasts (חַגּים), or high festivals, as the Passover and Feast of Tabernacles, and in the solemnities (מועֲדִים), or appointed feasts generally, viz. an ephah to a bullock, and an ephah to a ram, and to the lambs as he is able to give (comp. vers. 5, 7), with a hin of oil to an ephah. This is the same meat offering as was appointed for the new moons (see ver. 7), but slightly different in quantity from, though the same in principle as, that stipulated for the seven days of the Passover (Ezekiel 45:24).
Now when the prince shall prepare a voluntary burnt offering or peace offerings voluntarily unto the LORD, one shall then open him the gate that looketh toward the east, and he shall prepare his burnt offering and his peace offerings, as he did on the sabbath day: then he shall go forth; and after his going forth one shall shut the gate.
Verse 12 determines the procedure in case of the prince resolving to offer privately, on his own account, a voluntary burnt offering or peace offering; better, a free-will offering (נְדָבָה), a sacrifice prompted by the heart of the offerer, as opposed to one legally enjoined (Exodus 35:29; Leviticus 22:23), which might be either a burnt or a peace offering. In this case the east inner gate should be opened to him as on the sabbath days (see ver. 1), but, differently from what occurred on the sabbath, it should not remain open till the evening (ver. 2), but should be shut immediately the prince's offering was done.
Thou shalt daily prepare a burnt offering unto the LORD of a lamb of the first year without blemish: thou shalt prepare it every morning.
Verses 13-15 supply closing instructions for the daily sacrifice. The daily burnt offering should be a lamb of the first year; literally, a son of his year; whereas the Law of Moses required a lamb twice a day (Exodus 29:38-42; Numbers 28:1-8). The daily meat (or, meal) offering to accompany this should be the sixth part of an ephah, instead of a tenth as under Moses, and the third part of a hin of oil, instead of a fourth as prescribed by the earlier legislation, to temper with - לָרֹס (from רָסַס, a word peculiar to Ezekiel), to moisten or mix with - the fine flour. These sacrifices should be offered every morning; literally, morning by morning; but not every evening as in the Mosaic Law. This difference was not accidental, but intentional, though why in the new order of things the evening sacrifice should have been omitted does not appear. Currey thinks Ezekiel did not intend to enumerate all the sacrifices of the Law, but only a few of them, and that, though not mentioned, the evening sacrifice may have been designed to be retained. The presentation of these sacrifices was not to be the special duty of the prince, but should devolve upon the community as a whole, who are now addressed as "thou" (vers. 13, 14) and "they" (ver. 15), and who should act in its fulfillment through their priests.
And thou shalt prepare a meat offering for it every morning, the sixth part of an ephah, and the third part of an hin of oil, to temper with the fine flour; a meat offering continually by a perpetual ordinance unto the LORD.
Thus shall they prepare the lamb, and the meat offering, and the oil, every morning for a continual burnt offering.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; If the prince give a gift unto any of his sons, the inheritance thereof shall be his sons'; it shall be their possession by inheritance.
Verses 16-18. - Instructions for the prince as to how he should deal with his property are summarized in three regulations, introduced by the solemn formula of "Thus saith the Lord" (comp. ver. 1; Ezekiel 45:9). Verse 16. - The first regulation. The prince might dispose of a portion of his royal property (see Ezekiel 45:7, 8) by presenting part of it as a gift to any of his sons. In this case what was gifted should belong to his son or sons in perpetuity, should be his or theirs as his or their possession by inheritance; it should never again revert to the prince.
But if he give a gift of his inheritance to one of his servants, then it shall be his to the year of liberty; after it shall return to the prince: but his inheritance shall be his sons' for them.
Verse 17. - The second regulation. Should the prince, however, bestow a portion of his inheritance on one of his servants, what was thus bestowed should not belong to that servant in perpetuity, but should be regarded simply as a temporary loan which should be his till the year of liberty, הֲדְּרור שְׁנַת, i.e. the year of free flowing general - comp. Exodus 30:23, מָראּדּרור, pure myrrh (Authorized Version) or flowing myrrh (Revised Version) - hence the year of release; after which it should return to the prince. Smend thinks Ezekiel could hardly have had in view the year of jubilee (Leviticus 25:10; Leviticus 27:24), else he would not have employed the term "liberty," which Jeremiah (Jeremiah 34:8, 15, 17) uses to denote the freedom regained by Hebrew bondmen in the seventh year (Exodus 21:2; Deuteronomy 15:12). But
(1) the seventh year was only a year of the release of bondmen, not of the reversion of property, and to this rather than to that Ezekiel refers.
(2) The year of jubilee might properly be called the "year of liberty," since in it both slaves were emancipated and property was liberated. And
(3) Ezekiel's phraseology is not framed (nor is Jeremiah's) in imitation of either Exodus or Deuteronomy, the latter of which in particular speaks of "the year of release" (שְׁםנת הַשְּׂמִטָּה), but adheres closely to the style of Leviticus, which, in fact, it presupposes. שְׁנַת הַדְּרור can only signify the year of the release, i.e. the well-known year of emancipation. The last clause should be rendered, as in the Revised Version, "As for his inheritance (generally), it shall be for his sons," or, as Keil translates, "Only his inheritance it is," i.e. the prince's; "as for his sons, it shall be for them."
Moreover the prince shall not take of the people's inheritance by oppression, to thrust them out of their possession; but he shall give his sons inheritance out of his own possession: that my people be not scattered every man from his possession.
Verse 18. - The third regulation. The prince in all cases should endow his sons (or others) out of his own, and not out of his subjects' possessions, of which they have been violently robbed. A good rule for other princes besides this, and for owners of property in general
After he brought me through the entry, which was at the side of the gate, into the holy chambers of the priests, which looked toward the north: and, behold, there was a place on the two sides westward.
Verses 19-24. - The sacrificial kitchens for the priests and for the people. This passage has been transferred by Ewald to Ezekiel 42, and inserted after ver. 14; but the Exposition will show it must have originally stood where it is. Verse 19. - After (or, and) he - i.e. the measuring man, who had hitherto acted as the prophet's conductor - brought me through the entry, which was at the side of the gate. This was the inner north gate, from which the prophet had been conducted to the front of the house in order to receive the sacrificial Torah (Ezekiel 44:4), and to which, when this was finished, he had been seemingly led back. From this gate, then, he was taken by his guide along the entry or passage (Ezekiel 42:9), which ran towards and extended in front of the holy chambers of (or, for) the priests, which looked toward the north, and which had already been described (Ezekiel 42:1-14). Arrived at the western corner of the chambers, he perceived a place on the two sides - or, on the hinder part (Revised Version) - westward. The translation in the Authorized Version was obviously suggested by the dual form יַדְכָּתַיִם, which properly signifies "on both sides" but when applied to the tabernacle (Exodus 26:23) or temple (1 Kings 6:16), always describes the back part or rear. That a similar "place" existed on the south side is more than probable; though Smend thinks there was not a "place" on the south. The LXX. omits the words after "place," and supplies κεχωρισμένος, "separated." Keil finds in the description here given of the passage towards the holy chambers a proof that this section could not have steed originally after Ezekiel 42:14, as in that ease no such description would have been needed. Nor would the language in Ezekiel 47:1, "and he brought me back," have been required or appropriate had the prophet not in the mean while changed his place, which he does to visit the holy chambers.
Then said he unto me, This is the place where the priests shall boil the trespass offering and the sin offering, where they shall bake the meat offering; that they bear them not out into the utter court, to sanctify the people.
Verse 20. - The "place" was designed as a kitchen where the priests should boil the trespass and the sin offerings and bake the meat (or, meal) offering, i.e. cook the portions of the sacrifices they should eat in their official capacity (see Ezekiel 42:13). The Law of Moses (Leviticus 8:31) required the flesh to be boiled (and probably also the flour to be baked) at the tabernacle door. The last clause, that they, i.e. the priests, bear them, i.e. the offerings, not out into the utter (or, outer) court, to sanctify the people, is by most interpreters understood in the sense of Ezekiel 44:19 (which see). To this, however, Kliefoth objects that the conception of deriving ceremonial sanctity from contact with such offerings is completely strange to the Old Testament (see Haggai 2:12), and accordingly he connects the words. "to sanctify the people," with the "baking" and "boiling" of the preceding clause.
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.
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.
In the four corners of the court there were courts joined of forty cubits long and thirty broad: these four corners were of one measure.
And there was a row of building round about in them, round about them four, and it was made with boiling places under the rows round about.
Verse 23. - And there was a row of building round about in them; but whether טור meant a "wall," "fence," or "enclosure," as Gesenius, Havernick, and Ewald translate, or "row," "series," "a shelf of brickwork which had several separate shelves under which the cooking-hearths were placed," as Keil explains, the obvious intention was to describe the range of boiling places which were built along the inside walls of these corner courts, as the next verse states.
Then said he unto me, These are the places of them that boil, where the ministers of the house shall boil the sacrifice of the people.
Verse 24. - These are the places (literally, houses) of them that boil - hence kitchens - where the ministers of the house (or, romple) - e.g. the Levites (see Ezekiel 44:11, 12) - shall boil the sacrifice of the people; i.e. the portions of the people's offerings which fall to be consumed by the priests.