Now these are the names of the tribes. From the north end to the coast of the way of Hethlon, as one goeth to Hamath, Hazarenan, the border of Damascus northward, to the coast of Hamath; for these are his sides east and west; a portion for Dan.
Verses 1-29. - The distribution of the land among the several tribes. First, the portions north of the terumah (vers. 1-7); secondly, the terumah (vers. 8-22), embracing the portions of the priests and Levites (vers. 8-14), with the portions for the city (vers. 15-20) and the prince (vers. 21, 22); and thirdly, the portions south of the city (vers. 23-30). Verses 1-7. - The portions north of the terumah. These should be seven, lie in parallel strips from the Mediterranean to the east border, and be allocated to the tribes of Dan, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben, and. Judah. The divergences between this and the earlier division under Joshua (14-19.) are apparent.
(1) In that Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh received portions on the east of Jordan; in this no tribe obtains a lot outside of the boundary of the Holy Land.
(2) In that the allocation commenced in the south with Judah; in this it begins in the north with Dan (for the reason, see Exposition).
(3) In that the most northern portions, those of Asher and Naphtali, started from a point a little above Tyre; in this the most northern portion, that of Dan, proceeds from the entering in or the south border of Hamath, some fifty or sixty miles north of Damascus.
(4) In that the portions were scarcely ever parallel; in this they always are.
(5) In that the portions of Judah and Reuben lay south, and that of Dan west of Jerusalem; in this all three are situated north of the city. Verses 1, 2. - The names of the tribes. The tribe of Levi Being excepted, the number twelve should in the future as in the past division of the holy soil be preserved by assigning to Joseph portions (Ezekiel 47:13), one for Ephraim and one for Manasseh. From the north end. On the former occasion the allotment had begun in the south of the land and proceeded northwards; on this it should commence in the north and move regularly southward. The alteration is sufficiently explained by remembering that, after the conquest, the people were viewed as having come from the south, whereas at the restoration they should appear as entering in from the north. To the coast of (better, beside) the way of Hethlon, as one goeth to (literally, to the entering in of) Hamath, Hazar-enan, the border of Damascus. This was the north boundary of the land from west to east, as already defined (Ezekiel 47:16, 17); and with this line the portion of Dan should begin. The portion should then, as to situation, be one lying northwards, to the coast of (or rather, beside) Hamath. That is to say, beginning with the border of Hamath, it should extend southwards. For these are his sides, east and west should be, And there shall be to him sides east, west, meaning "the tract between both eastern and western boundaries," rather than as Hitzig translates, "And there shall be to him the east side of the sea," signifying that his territory should embrace the land east of the Mediterranean;" or as Hengstenberg renders, And they shall be to him the east side the sea," equal to "the tract in question should have the sea for its east border." Then, as this applies equally to all the tribe-portions, Hengstenberg regards "to him" (לו) as pointing to "the whole of the tribes combined into an ideal unity," but expositors generally agree that "to him" should be referred to Dan, whom the prophet had in mind and was about to mention. A portion for Dan should be Dan one "portion," חֶבֶל (Ezekiel 47:13), rather than "tribe," שֵׁבֶט, as Smend proposes. To take אֶחָד as alluding to the enumeration of the tribes is indeed countenanced by Ezekiel's mode of numbering the gates (vers. 30-35); but Ezekiel's style in vers. 30-35 will be preserved here also if חֶבֶל precede "Judah," thus: "the portion of Danone." "The presupposition that one tribe should receive exactly as much as another led to the individual tribe's portion being considered as a monas" (Kliefoth). In the first division of the land, Dan's portion was small, and situated west of the territories of Ephraim and Benjamin.
And by the border of Dan, from the east side unto the west side, a portion for Asher.
And by the border of Asher, from the east side even unto the west side, a portion for Naphtali.
Verses 3-7. - After Dan, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh (the whole tribe) Ephraim, Reuben, and Judah should receive portions, each the size of Dan's, and, like his, stretching from the east side to the west, each joining on to the border of its predecessor, and the seven portions together occupying the whole space between the north boundary of the land and the portion of the Levites. Among the differences distinguishing this from the division made by Joshua, these may be noticed:
(1) Reuben and Manasseh are brought from the east of Jordan to the west, and Reuben inserted between Judah and Ephraim.
(2) In order to make room for these, Zebulon, Ephraim, and Benjamin are displaced, and located south of the city.
(3) Dan heads the list, instead of fetching up the rear as on the last occasion.
(4) Ephraim loses her former position next to Judah.
And by the border of Naphtali, from the east side unto the west side, a portion for Manasseh.
And by the border of Manasseh, from the east side unto the west side, a portion for Ephraim.
And by the border of Ephraim, from the east side even unto the west side, a portion for Reuben.
And by the border of Reuben, from the east side unto the west side, a portion for Judah.
And by the border of Judah, from the east side unto the west side, shall be the offering which ye shall offer of five and twenty thousand reeds in breadth, and in length as one of the other parts, from the east side unto the west side: and the sanctuary shall be in the midst of it.
Verses 8-22. - The terumah, or priests' portion (vers. 8-12), with the portions for the Levites (vers. 13, 14), for the city (vers. 15-20), and for the prince (vers. 21, 22). Verse 8. - The terumah, already referred to (Ezekiel 45:1-5), is here more minutely described.
(1) In situation, it should be by the border of Judah, i.e. contiguous to Judah's territory on the south. Hence it should embrace all the above specified portions.
(2) In breadth, from north to south, it should be twenty-five thousand reeds, this being undoubtedly the word to be supplied.
(3) In length, it should be as one of the other parts, extending from the east to the west side of the land.
(4) In relation to the sanctuary, this should be in the midst of it, not necessarily in the exact geographical center of the whole terumah in the larger sense, but generally in a central position.
The oblation that ye shall offer unto the LORD shall be of five and twenty thousand in length, and of ten thousand in breadth.
Verses 9-12 refer to the priests' portion proper, setting forth
(1) its dimensions, 25,000 reeds along the north and south boundaries from east to west, and 10,000 reeds from north to south along the east and west sides, so that it should form an oblong or rectangle of 25,000 × 10,000 reeds - 548 square (geographical) miles;
(2) its relation to the sanctuary, which should stand in its midst, in this case should occupy the exact geographical center;
(3) its destination, viz. for the priests that are sanctified of the sons of Zadok - better than "that which is sanctified is for the priests," as Ewald and Hitzig propose;
(4) its character, most holy; and
(5) its petition, by the border of the Levites, i.e. with the Levites portion adjoining it, but whether on the north or the south is not stated, and cannot yet be determined (see on ver. 22).
And for them, even for the priests, shall be this holy oblation; toward the north five and twenty thousand in length, and toward the west ten thousand in breadth, and toward the east ten thousand in breadth, and toward the south five and twenty thousand in length: and the sanctuary of the LORD shall be in the midst thereof.
It shall be for the priests that are sanctified of the sons of Zadok; which have kept my charge, which went not astray when the children of Israel went astray, as the Levites went astray.
And this oblation of the land that is offered shall be unto them a thing most holy by the border of the Levites.
And over against the border of the priests the Levites shall have five and twenty thousand in length, and ten thousand in breadth: all the length shall be five and twenty thousand, and the breadth ten thousand.
Verses 13, 14. - The Levites' portion is next described by its situation, as lying over against - לְעֻמַּת, "at or near," answerable to (Revised Version), parallel with (Keil) - the border of the priests; by its dimensions, as twenty-five thousand reeds in length, from east to west, and ten thousand reeds in breadth, or from north to south, i.e. it should be as large as the priests' portion - in point of fact larger, since the space necessary for the sanctuary required to be deducted from the former; by its tenure, which was such that the Levites could neither sell, exchange, nor alienate it, any more than under the Law the Levites could sell the field of the suburbs or pasture-lands of their cities (Leviticus 25:34); and by its character, which, as consisting of the firstfruits of the land, i.e. of the first portion of the land heaved up or presented in offering (see Ezekiel 45:1), was holy unto the Lord (cf. Ezekiel 44:30). The changes in the text made by the LXX. and favored by Hitzig and Smend - "to the Levites" instead of "the Levites" (ver. 13), and "twenty" instead of "ten thousand" (ver. 13) - are unnecessary.
And they shall not sell of it, neither exchange, nor alienate the firstfruits of the land: for it is holy unto the LORD.
And the five thousand, that are left in the breadth over against the five and twenty thousand, shall be a profane place for the city, for dwelling, and for suburbs: and the city shall be in the midst thereof.
Verses 15-19. - In the same way the portion for the city receives detailed exposition. Verse 15 gives four particulars.
(1) The city portion should consist of the five thousand reeds' breadth of the entire terumah remaining after the deduction of the priests' and Levites' portions.
(2) It should lie over against (עַל־פְּנֵי); in front of, and therefore parallel with, the five and twenty thousand cubit-lengths of which these were composed.
(3) In character it should be a profane place, i.e. a place devoted to common use as opposed to consecrated ground (comp. Leviticus 10:10) and designed for the city, i.e. for dwelling, and for suburbs, i.e. for the erection of houses, and for an open space or precinct (מִגְרָשׁ) around the city, similar to that around the sanctuary (see Ezekiel 45:2). Among the Romans "a space of ground was left free from buildings, both within and without the walls, which was called pomaerium, and was likewise held sacred" (see Adam's 'Roman Antiquities,' p. 62).
(4) The city should stand in the midst thereof, as the sanctuary in the midst of the priests' portion (ver. 10).
And these shall be the measures thereof; the north side four thousand and five hundred, and the south side four thousand and five hundred, and on the east side four thousand and five hundred, and the west side four thousand and five hundred.
Verse 16. - The dimensions of the city should be four thousand five hundred reeds on the four sides; in other words, it should form a square (comp. Leviticus 21:16). The חמשׁ, left unpunctuated by the Massorites, and marked as "written but not to be read," should be omitted as an error.
And the suburbs of the city shall be toward the north two hundred and fifty, and toward the south two hundred and fifty, and toward the east two hundred and fifty, and toward the west two hundred and fifty.
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.
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).
And they that serve the city shall serve it out of all the tribes of Israel.
All the oblation shall be five and twenty thousand by five and twenty thousand: ye shall offer the holy oblation foursquare, with the possession of the city.
Verse 20. - All the oblation, the whole terumah, must in this verse include the three portions already marked out for the priests, the Levites, and the city. Added together, they should form a square of five and twenty thousand reeds. Hence it is added in the second clause, Ye shall offer the holy oblation four square, with the possession of the city. Hitzig, Kliefoth, and Keil translate, "To a fourth part shall ye lift off the holy terumah for a possession of the city," as if the sense were that the area of the city possession should be a fourth part of the area of the whole tern-mall. That 5000 of breadth is a fourth part of 20,000 of breadth may be admitted; but that the city portion was not in area a fourth of the other two, a little arithmetic will show - the area of the whole terumah being 25,000 × 25,000 reeds = 625,000,000 square reeds, and that of the city possession being 5000 × 25,000 reeds = 125,000,000 square reeds. Hence the Authorized and Revised Versions are probably correct in taking רְבִיעִית, "a fourth part (see Exodus 29:40), as equivalent to רָבוּעַ (Ezekiel 43:16), τετράγωνον (LXX.).
And the residue shall be for the prince, on the one side and on the other of the holy oblation, and of the possession of the city, over against the five and twenty thousand of the oblation toward the east border, and westward over against the five and twenty thousand toward the west border, over against the portions for the prince: and it shall be the holy oblation; and the sanctuary of the house shall be in the midst thereof.
Verses 21, 22. - The prince's portion should take up the residue of the original oblation, or terumah (see ver. 8), from which had been withdrawn the aforesaid square containing the portions of the Levites, the priests, and the city. This residue should consist of two strips of land, situated one on each side of the holy oblation (here, of the priests and Levites) and of the possession of the city, and running along the whole length of the five and twenty thousand of the oblation (here the three portions composing the square), and extending eastward to the Jordan and westward to the Mediterranean. The last two clauses of ver. 21, which should read, And the holy oblation and the sanctuary of the house shall be in the midst of it, implies that the two parts of the prince's portion, the eastern and the western, should be equal. Ver. 22 teaches that the whole intermediate territory between the border of Judah (in the north of the terumah) and the border of Benjamin (in the south of the terumah), from the possession of the Levites (the north portion of the terumah) and from (equivalent to "to") the possession of the city (the southern portion of the terumah), should belong to the prince. The mention of the possession of the Levites and the possession of the city as the extreme portions of the terumah, appears to indicate that the priests' portion lay between. Ewald translates as if the prophet meant to say the sanctuary should lie between the possession of the Levites and the possession of the city (in the first place), and between the two parts of the prince's land (in the second place), and yet again between the border of Judah and the border of Benjamin (in the third place): but to read thus the text must be changed.
Moreover from the possession of the Levites, and from the possession of the city, being in the midst of that which is the prince's, between the border of Judah and the border of Benjamin, shall be for the prince.
As for the rest of the tribes, from the east side unto the west side, Benjamin shall have a portion.
Verses 23-29. - As for the rest of the tribes, these should follow on the south of the city portion, in parallel tracts, from east to west - Benjamin: Simeon, Issachar, Zebulun, Gad - till the southern boundary of the land should be reached, which boundary is again defined as in Ezekiel 47:19. Each tribe should receive, as those north of the terumah, one portion. The exact extent of this equal portion, though not stated, may be calculated - Latitude of entrance to Hamath 34° 20' Latitude of Kadesh (say) 30° 30' 3° 50' 60 × 3 5/6 - 230 geographical miles. But the whole breadth of the terumah was 25,000 reeds = 37 geographical miles. Hence 230 - 37 - 193 miles, which, divided by 12, gives 16 miles of breadth (from north to south) for each portion. The precise length from east to west is more difficult to estimate, in consequence of the varying widths of the land. Accepting this, however, as 55 miles at Jerusalem, the breadth of the prince's portion from east to west would be only 2½ miles on each side of the terumah; which, multiplied by 50 miles from north to south, would yield an area of 125 square miles on each side, or of 250 square miles in all. The disposition of the southern tribes differs from that made under the earlier division of the land - Simeon alone lying where he had been formerly placed, in the south quarter, Issachar and Zebulun being fetched from the north, Benjamin from the middle, and Gad from the west to keep him company. Upon the whole, the new arrangement has several marked peculiarities which distinguish it from the old. While agreeing with the old in this, that the three tribes, Dan, Asher, and Naphtali retain their original places in the north, and the temple is not deprived of its central position between Judah and Benjamin, it differs from the old in placing the three northern tribes side by side from west to east, but after one another from north to south, and exchanges the positions of Benjamin and Judah, transferring the former to the south and the latter to the north of the temple and the city. Then, while under the old neither priests, Levites, nor prince had a portion, all three obtain one in this. And, finally, while under the old no regard was had to the temple, in the new this forms the central point of the whole.
And by the border of Benjamin, from the east side unto the west side, Simeon shall have a portion.
And by the border of Simeon, from the east side unto the west side, Issachar a portion.
And by the border of Issachar, from the east side unto the west side, Zebulun a portion.
And by the border of Zebulun, from the east side unto the west side, Gad a portion.
And by the border of Gad, at the south side southward, the border shall be even from Tamar unto the waters of strife in Kadesh, and to the river toward the great sea.
This is the land which ye shall divide by lot unto the tribes of Israel for inheritance, and these are their portions, saith the Lord GOD.
And these are the goings out of the city on the north side, four thousand and five hundred measures.
Verses 30-35. - The closing paragraph is devoted to a statement of the gates, dimensions, and name of the city. Verse 30. - The goings out of the city. These were not, as Hitzig, Gesenius, Ewald, Schroder, and Currey have supposed, the city exits, or gates, which are afterwards referred to, but, as Kliefoth, Keil, Hengstenberg, and Smend suggest, the extensions or boundary-lines of the city, in other words, the city walls in which the gates should be placed, and which are measured before the gates are specified. The north wall, with which the rest should correspond, should be four thousand and five hundred measures; literally, five hundred and four thousand (not cubits, as Ewald states, but reeds) by measure.
And the gates of the city shall be after the names of the tribes of Israel: three gates northward; one gate of Reuben, one gate of Judah, one gate of Levi.
Verses 31-34. - The gates of the city. These should be twelve in number, three on each side, and named after the twelve tribes (comp. Revelation 21:12). The gates leading northward should be those of Reuben, Judah, and Levi, all children of Leah (Genesis 29:32, 35), as Keil observes, "the firstborn in age, the firstborn by virtue of the patriarchal blessing, and the one chosen by Jehovah for his own service in the place of the firstborn." The same three occupy the first three places and in the same order in the blessing of Moses (Deuteronomy 33:6-8). Towards the east should lead the gates of Joseph, Benjamin, and Dan, the first and second sons of Rachel, and the third a son of Rachel's handmaid (Genesis 30:6, 24; Genesis 35:18). In the blessing of Moses Benjamin precedes Joseph (Deuteronomy 33:12, 13). The south gates receive the names of Simeon, Issachar, and Zebulun, again all sons of Leah. The west gates are those of Gad, Asher, and Naphtali, that is, two sons of Leah's handmaid and one of Rachel's. It is observable that in the naming of the gates Levi resumes his place among the tribes, which necessitates the substitution of Joseph the original tribe-father instead of Ephraim and Manasseh his two sons. (On the phrase, one gate of Judah, literally, the gate of Judah one, see on ver. 1.)
And at the east side four thousand and five hundred: and three gates; and one gate of Joseph, one gate of Benjamin, one gate of Dan.
And at the south side four thousand and five hundred measures: and three gates; one gate of Simeon, one gate of Issachar, one gate of Zebulun.
At the west side four thousand and five hundred, with their three gates; one gate of Gad, one gate of Asher, one gate of Naphtali.
It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there.
Verse 35. - The entire circuit of the city should, according to the above measurement of the walls, be eighteen thousand reeds, i.e. 18,000 × 6 (cubits) × 1.5 (feet) = 162,000 feet = 3