“the offering.” Here in Ezekiel 48:8, the “offering” is an area of land in the middle of the tribes of Israel that stretches from the Mediterranean Sea on the west to the Jordan River on the east, and is 25,000 cubits, just over 8 miles, from north to south (25,000 cubits is just over 8 miles; some scholars would say 8.12 miles or 13.06 km). We know that it stretches from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River because it is “as long as one of the other portions” and the other portions are for the other tribes of Israel, especially Judah and Benjamin that border this offering area, and the Jordan River has always been the natural boundary of the central portion of Israel.
Ezekiel 48:8-21 can be somewhat confusing because the word “offering” refers to different areas of land, all of which are offerings to Yahweh. Here in Ezekiel 48:8, the “offering” is the whole strip of land that is about 8 miles from north to south between the tribal area of Judah to the north and the tribal area of Benjamin to the south.
Inside the “offering” of the strip of land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River is another “offering” that is a square of land that is 25,000 cubits by 25,000 cubits (8.12 miles; 13.06 km); thus a square of just over 8 miles (Ezek. 48:20). The 25,000-cubit square “offering” area is divided into three separate “offerings” that are each rectangular in shape.
The northernmost rectangular area is for the Levites, and it is 25,000 cubits east to west and 10,000 cubits (3.25 miles; 5.23 km) north to south (Ezek. 48:13).
South of the area of the Levites is another area that is 25,000 cubits (8.12 miles; 13.06 km) by 10,000 cubits (3.25 miles; 5.23 km), and it is for the priests (Ezek. 48:9-12). Ezekiel describes it as the offering for the priests who had remained faithful when Israel and the Levites went astray (Ezek. 48:11). It called an “offering” (Ezek. 48:9, 12), a “holy offering” (Ezek. 48:10), and a “most holy place” (Ezek. 48:12). We can tell that the section for the priests is the center section of the three areas because it has the temple in it (Ezek. 48:10), and the temple is in the middle of the whole 25,000-cubit square offering area (Ezek. 48:8). Having the Levites occupy the north section, the priests occupy the center section, and Jerusalem occupy the south section, is the only way to get the temple to be in the center of the 25,000-cubit square area.
South of the area for the priests is the “offering” that is the area for the city of Jerusalem. That area is also 25,000 cubits from east to west, but is only half the size from north to south; 5,000 cubits instead of 10,000 cubits (Ezek. 48:15). The dimensions and partial description of the Millennial city of Jerusalem are given in Ezekiel 48:16-20; 30-35). Jerusalem is on the south side of Mount Zion as described here and stated in Ezekiel 40:2. So as seen from an airplane’s viewpoint, Mount Zion is a high mountain with the Temple on the top which has an area for the priests associated with it. North of the area for the priests, on the north slope of the mountain, is an area for the Levites, and south of the area for the priests, on the south slope of Mount Zion, is the city of Jerusalem, which is just under 1.5 miles (2.4 km) square. The description of Jerusalem can be somewhat difficult in Ezekiel 48 because it is only called “the city,” and never by its name, Jerusalem.
[For more information on the measurements, see commentary on Ezek. 48:8, “25,000 cubits.” For more information on Christ’s Millennial Kingdom, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth.”]
“25,000 cubits.” The standard of measurement in chapter 48 is never given, but because of the size of Israel and the areas given, and because in Ezekiel 40:5 the measuring reed used was in royal cubits, it is logical to conclude that the “royal cubit” (which is a regular cubit and a hand width: Ezek. 40:5) of about 20.59 inches (52.3 centimeters) is the standard of measurement used in Ezekiel 48. The actual lengths of the cubit and royal cubit are debated by scholars, but they generally estimate the length of the royal cubit to be between 20.3 inches (51.56 cent.) and 20.7 inches (52.57 cent), although some go up to 21 inches (53.34 cent). Nevertheless, recent study done in Israel has led researchers to conclude that the ancient royal cubit was 52.3 centimeters, or 20.59 inches.
If that is the case, then 25,000 royal cubits is just over 8 miles (8.12 miles; 13.06 km), and the sacred area in the Millennial Kingdom will be a square of just over 8 miles. The 10,000 royal cubits (cp. Ezek. 48:9) is roughly 3.25 miles (5.23 km). The 5,000 royal cubits (Ezek. 48:14) is about 1.62 miles (2.6 km).
“in width.” In this context, “width” is the north-south measurement. Since the biblical worldview was oriented to the east, “width” was usually, but not always, a north-south measurement.
“and the sanctuary will be in its middle.” The “sanctuary” is the Millennial Temple. South of the territory of Judah, and north of the territory allotted to Benjamin, will be an area that is set apart. It will be about 8 1/3 miles wide from north to south, and as wide from east to west as the areas allotted to the other tribes (generally from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea). In the center of this special area will be an area 8 1/3 miles square, which will be divided into three parts: a part for the Levites, a part for the priests, and a part for the city of Jerusalem. In the very middle of this special area (in the area designated for the priests), will be the Millennial Temple.