|Go to verse:|
|01 |02 |03 |04 |05 |06 |07 |08 |09 |10 |11 |12 |13 |14 |15 |16 |17 |18 |19 |20 |21 |22 |23 |24 |25 |26 |27 |28 |29 |30 |31 |32 |33 |34 |35 |36 |37 |38 |39 |40 |41 |42 |43 |44 |45 |46 |47 |48 |49 |
Go to Bible: Ezekiel 40
“in the beginning of the year, on the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city of Jerusalem was struck down.” The date of this vision has been calculated by some scholars to be April 573, BC, even perhaps April 28, 573 BC.
“twenty-fifth year of our captivity.” Ezekiel 38 and 39 are one vision, and Ezekiel 40:1 starts another. All of the dates like this one in Ezekiel—“In the twenty-fifth year of our captivity, in the beginning of the year, on the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was struck down”—are reckoned from the captivity of Jerusalem when King Jehoiachin was taken captive in 597 BC (2 Kings 24:8-17). This date in Ezekiel 40:1 would be 573 BC. When Nebuchadnezzar conquered Judah during the reign of Jehoiakim (2 Kings 24:1; 2 Chron. 36:5-8) he took “some” of the articles of Yahweh’s Temple to Babylon (2 Chron. 36:7; Dan. 1:2). But when he conquered Judah again after Jehoiakim’s rebellion and installed Jehoiachin, he took “all” Yahweh’s treasures to Babylon (2 Kings 24:13; 2 Chron. 36:10).
This vision is 14 years after the destruction of the Temple, and 20 years after God had shown Ezekiel the evil that was going on at the Temple in Jerusalem (Ezek. 8:1). So just as God showed Ezekiel a vision of why Solomon’s Temple would be destroyed, He now shows Ezekiel a vision of what the Messiah will rebuild in the Millennial Kingdom. [For more on the Millennial Kingdom, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth’].
“captivity.” The Hebrew can also be translated as “exile.” This was the captivity of Judah, when the people were taken captive to Babylon.
“after the city was struck down.” That is, after Nebuchadnezzar’s army destroyed Jerusalem and burned it.
“and he brought me there.” That is, Ezekiel was brought to the land of Israel in his vision. He could see Jerusalem (Ezek. 40:2), but he was brought to the Temple, which was north of the city of Jerusalem.(top)
“In the visions of God.” In Ezekiel 40-48 God takes Ezekiel into the future in a vision, and shows him what the future kingdom of the Messiah will be like when Jesus rules the earth. The Temple and city of Jerusalem are literal and will be as they are described in these chapters (see commentary on Ezek. 40:5). [For much more on the Millennial Kingdom, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth”].
“a very high mountain.” This mountain is Mount Zion, where Jerusalem and the Temple will be during the Millennial Kingdom. Mount Zion will indeed be a very high mountain during the Millennial Kingdom. It will be lifted up to be the highest mountain, while other mountains will be lowered in size (cp. Isa. 2:2; Micah 4:1; Zech. 14:10).
“like a city.” We can see why Ezekiel would look at the Millennial Jerusalem and say it was “like a city.” This new Jerusalem will be a city, but unlike any Ezekiel had ever seen for beauty and brilliance. It will be a very large city by biblical standards; it will be a walled square of about 1.5 miles on each side, with three gates on each side (Ezek. 48:30-35).
“on the south.” In the Millennial Kingdom, the Temple will be on the top of Mount Zion and the New Jerusalem will be on the south side of the mountain. That places Jerusalem, where Christ’s kingly throne will be, on the right hand of the Temple where God will live. This fulfills the prophecy in Psalm 110:1 that the king will be on the “right hand” of God. According to biblical custom, compass directions were oriented to the east, and the Temple looked east, so Christ’s throne was “on the right hand” of God.(top)
“there was a man.” In the early chapters of Ezekiel, there is a supernatural “man” who is actually Yahweh (Ezek. 8:2). However, this “man” is not Yahweh but a supernatural being, most likely an angel. However, God Himself reenters the scene in the form of a man in Ezekiel 43:2 and takes Ezekiel into the inner court of the Temple (Ezek. 43:5) and begins to speak with Ezekiel (Ezek. 43:6).
“and he stood in the gate.” That is, the gate of the Millennial Temple. The opening of Ezekiel 40 can be confusing, and so the reader must pay close attention. Ezekiel was in captivity in Babylon when God took him in a vision to Israel. He saw the New Jerusalem on the south side of Mount Zion, but the angel was in the gate of the Temple, north of Jerusalem.(top)
“see with your eyes and hear with your ears.” This is idiomatic for look and listen carefully. God is about to reveal to Ezekiel what the Temple and land of Israel will be like in the Millennial Kingdom, and Ezekiel needed to pay close attention.(top)
“And behold.” This section of Ezekiel is very difficult for a number of reasons. One is that Ezekiel uses a number of technical architectural words whose exact meanings have been lost so exactly how to translate them is disputed. Also, due to the subject matter, some more common words are used in ways that are accepted but are not often used. Another reason is that this chapter has apparently been subject to a number of copyists' errors and scholars disagree on how to reestablish the correct meaning. Still another is that Ezekiel is giving an overview as he sees it, and so some details that we would like to have to build a mental picture of the Temple compound, or try to build a model of it, are simply not given.
“there was a wall all around the outside.” Ezekiel sees the outer wall around the Temple compound, but the angel does not measure it until he has shown Ezekiel all around the inside of the compound. We learn from Ezekiel 42:15-20 and 45:2 that the wall on each side of the Temple is 500 cubits (about 285 yards or 260 meters; just under 3 football fields), and the Temple compound is a square with 500 cubits on each side.
“of the house of God.” The angel took Ezekiel north of the Millennial City of Jerusalem to the Millennial Temple, which was higher up on Mount Zion (on the top of Mount Zion) than the city of Jerusalem, which was on the south slope of Mount Zion (Ezek. 40:2). The Hebrew text, using jargon commonly used in the Old Testament, simply calls the Temple, “the house,” but that could easily be misunderstood by the modern reader. Many English Bibles simply change “house” to “Temple,” but that loses some of the meaning, and also obscures verses such as Acts 2:2, where the Temple of God is called “the house.” The REV has “house of God” for clarity, putting “of God” in italics to show it was added. In this context, the “house” is the entire Temple compound, not just the sanctuary itself. This Temple has a strong wall enclosing the entire Temple compound.
The extremely detailed description of the Temple in Ezekiel tells us that it is a literal building—there will be a physical Temple in Christ’s Millennial Kingdom. Furthermore, there are statements in other prophetic books of the Bible that indicate the Millennial Temple is a literal Temple. For example, Zechariah says that the Messiah will build the Temple of the Lord and be a priest and king (Zech. 6:12-15). Haggai says that when the “desired of the nations comes,” i.e., the Messiah comes, then the glory of the Temple will be more glorious than the glory of Solomon’s Temple (Hag. 2:6-9). The context of Haggai makes it clear he was speaking about a physical temple, not a metaphorical one. Joel 3:18 says there will be a “house of Yahweh” when Christ rules the earth, and that water will flow from it, and that agrees with what Ezekiel and Zechariah say about the Millennial Temple (Ezek. 47:1-12; Zech. 14:8-9). Isaiah 56:5, speaking of the future kingdom of Christ on earth, says that eunuchs who did what pleased God will have a memorial “within my Temple and its walls.” Furthermore, the Millennial Temple will be “a house of prayer for all nations” (Isa. 56:7), which makes sense if the temple is literal, but nowhere in the Bible is a group of believers referred to as a “house of prayer.” Micah 4:2 also testifies to there being a Temple of God in the Kingdom of Christ, “Many nations will come and say, ‘Come and let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh and to the house of the God of Jacob.’” These believers were going to worship at a physical temple; this is not a metaphorical statement. Other verses that speak of a temple being in Israel in the future include Isaiah 60:7.
There has been a long debate among scholars as to whether or not there is a Millennial Temple, and if Ezekiel describes it, or whether the temple described in Ezekiel is just a figure of speech, a metaphor for the Church or for something else. However, the evidence leads to the conclusion that Ezekiel is describing a Millennial Temple. The description is so detailed, taking seven chapters (Ezek. 40-46) that there is no reasonable way that the Temple could be the Christian Church. In the New Testament, the Bible simply states that the Church is the Temple of God, but that is not what Ezekiel does. Almost every part of the Temple is described, and not as the Church, but as a building. If this Temple in Ezekiel is a metaphor for the Church, then who are the doors? Who are the walls? Why are the walls and doors even measured? What could that mean in terms of being people? Furthermore, in the New Testament, believers are said to be priests, but in the Millennial Temple there are priests, but also Levites and other people (Ezek. 44). That makes sense if the Millennial Temple is an actual Temple, but how can the New Testament say the people of the Church are priests, but then imply in Ezekiel that not all of them are? Which believers would get to be priests, which would be Levites, and which would be the people of Israel and “foreigners?” Furthermore, the priests in Ezekiel have priestly duties and wear special clothing, which makes sense if the Temple and priests are literal, but how are we to understand special clothing and special duties applying to the Church? Furthermore, Ezekiel describes sacrifices, such as the burnt offering and sin offering, but if they are not literal what are they? What “sacrifice” that Christians make could be represented by killing animals? The extensive and detailed description of the Temple in Ezekiel is a description appropriate for a physical temple, not a metaphor.
Also, in the Bible, physical things and spiritual realities are measured, but metaphors are not. Things that are measured in cubits include Noah’s ark (Gen. 6); Moses’ Tabernacle (Exod. 25-27); city structures in the Promised Land (Num. 35:5); people (1 Sam. 17:4; 1 Chron. 11:23); Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings 6); cherubim (1 Kings 6:24); houses (1 Kings 7:2); execution stakes (Esther 5:14); idols (Dan. 3:1); and Ezekiel’s Temple (Ezek. 40). In contrast, the Christian Church is called a temple, but it is never measured or described in detail. The metaphor of “pillars” is used, but “pillar” was a common term for someone who provided support in an organization, and that expression is still used today. But no one in the Church is called a “door,” “table,” “stairs,” etc. The fact that Ezekiel’s Temple is measured in cubits testifies to it being a real structure and not a metaphor.
Also, and very importantly, if the last chapters of Ezekiel are not literal but are some kind of nine-chapter metaphor, then Ezekiel has nine chapters that metaphorically describe the Church with lots of details that do not clarify things but only raise questions, and the Bible has no chapters that tell us what Christ’s Millennial Kingdom will be like. If we say that the closing nine chapters of Ezekiel are not literal, then God has provided us nine chapters that tell us what will not happen in Christ’s 1,000-year reign, but no chapters that tell us what will happen in Christ’s 1,000-year reign. That seems incredibly unlikely. The description of Ezekiel’s Temple and the City of Jerusalem and the land of Israel leave us with some questions, but they do fit into a cogent picture of Christ as king and High Priest in the Millennial Kingdom, and they do fit with the other places in the Bible that speak of the New Jerusalem and the future Temple.
[For more on the Temple and sacrifices, see commentary on Ezek. 42:13. For more on Christ’s Millennial Kingdom, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth”].
“each cubit being a cubit and a handbreadth.” So the “cubit” that the angel measured with was the long cubit or “royal cubit” of about 21 inches (53.3 cm).
“the thickness of the wall, one reed, and the height, one reed.” So the wall around the Temple was about 10.5 feet thick and 10.5 feet high. The height of this wall is the only height given in the description of the Temple,(top)
“the gate that looks toward the east.” The East Gate was the most important gate in the Temple because the Temple itself had its doors facing east. If the doors and curtains in the Temple were all opened, a person could stand in the innermost chamber, the Holy of Holies, and see the sunrise to the east. The day’s new sun, arising in the east, was always a blessing, bringing light and dispelling darkness as it rose. That was analogized to the Messiah, who was called “the Rising Sun from on High” (Luke 1:78), and the “Sun of Righteousness” (Mal. 4:2).
“and went up its steps.”As a person entered from outside the Temple compound to the Temple itself, the elevation got higher and higher. There were steps from outside the Temple compound up to the outer gate, then another set of steps from the first courtyard, the “outer” courtyard, up to the “inner gate,” the gate in the inner wall that led into the inner courtyard where the altar of sacrifice was, then there were more steps up to the Temple itself, which had the outer vestibule, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies. Thus, the “lower gate” is the gate in the outer wall of the Temple compound (Ezek. 40:19).(top)
“vestibule.” This has been translated in different ways, but as we see its whole description in Ezekiel 40 we can see that the vestibule was a large covered room at the inner end of the gate complex. It was at the inner end of the gate complex after you passed the guardrooms. Technically a “vestibule” is a passage, hall, or room between the outer door and the interior of a building, in some cases a lobby, but “lobby” would not be correct here. Here it refers to a large room under the roof of the gate just before you enter the outer court of the Temple. In the ancient world, gates tended to be large in order to allow for good defense of the city and they became places of business. It is likely that this large room inside the gate complex would be used for people to meet each other and such things as that. Although the Hebrew has been translated in some versions as “porch” or “portico,” those translations give the wrong impression. The “vestibule” of the gate is a room at the inner end of the gate after passing the three guardrooms on each side of the gate.(top)
“facing toward the house, one reed. Then measured he the vestibule of the gate.” This phrase is omitted in the REV but appears in some English versions. The phrase is in the Masoretic Hebrew text but is omitted in some Hebrew manuscripts, the Septuagint, the Syriac, and the Vulgate, and it is a duplication. It was almost certainly added by dittography in the process of copying and is omitted in the REV and some other English versions.(top)
“eight cubits” This eight cubits (14 feet; 4.2 meters) is the measurement of the vestibule from front to back. From side to side it was much larger.(top)
|Eze 40:10||- (top)|
“Then he measured the width of the opening of the gate, ten cubits.” All three of the outer gates into the Temple compound were the same. The width of the opening was 10 cubits (17 feet, 6 inches; 5.3 meters). The gates were wide enough to let a large number of worshipers into the Temple, after all, this Millennial Temple was to be a house of prayer for all nations (Isa. 56:7; Mark 11:17). Isaiah 2:2 says people will “stream” to Mount Zion, and of course Jerusalem and the Temple that are on Mount Zion. When God is in His Temple in Jerusalem and Christ is reigning as king over the world, the nations will not just “trickle” into Jerusalem, they will come as a river of people. The wide gates will allow all those people access to the Temple.
“total width of the gate.” The total width of the gate was 13 cubits (22 feet, 9 inches; c. 22.5 meters). After measuring the width of the opening of the gate, the angel measured the total width of the gate. The Hebrew text uses the term “length,” but in this context it refers to the total width, not just the width of the opening of the gate. The “length” of the gate from outside to inside is given in Ezekiel 40:15 as 50 cubits (87 feet, 6 inches; 26.6 meters).(top)
“border.” This seems to be some kind of boundary line. It does not seem to be a wall of any kind, for that would make the rooms much less effective and available. Daniel Block refers to it as a “boundary line” (NICOT, The Book of Ezekiel).(top)
|Eze 40:13||- (top)|
“He also measured the vestibule, 60 cubits.” The Masoretic Hebrew text is disputed and is likely corrupted. It is possible that the original reading was more like the ESV or NIV. The ESV reads, “He measured also the vestibule, 20 cubits. And around the vestibule of the gateway was the court.” The NIV reads, “He measured along the faces of the projecting walls all around the inside of the gateway—60 cubits.”
The Masoretic Hebrew text reads more like, “He also made side pillars, 60 cubits [105 feet], and the court reached to the posts around the gate.” It is unlikely that the original text read “pillars” or that the measurement of 60 cubits refers to the height of the pillars. It is most likely that a height is not being given here because it would be the only thing in the entire description of the Temple buildings whose height is described. Also, as Daniel Block describes, it would only take a “simple orthographic adjustment” in the Hebrew text for “vestibule” to be miscopied to “pillar” (NICOT, The Book of Ezekiel). Ezekiel 40:14 is likely a description of the vestibule but the measurement is disputed. Furthermore, the measurement of 60 cubits may be correct or it may be corrupted, and the English versions reflect that fact and read differently: “20 cubits” (BBE; ESV; NJB; NRSV; RSV; Rotherham), “six cubits” (NAB). Also, the scholars differ as to exactly what was being measured, which is also reflected in the versions.(top)
“from the front of the gate at the outside entrance to the front of the vestibule on the inside side of the gate.” The Hebrew text of this verse can be confusing, and translations that woodenly follow it, such as the NASB, are confusing as well. Nevertheless, the meaning of the text is quite clear. The total length of the gate, from the front of its outer entrance as people enter the Temple compound, to where the gate ends and people leave the gate and enter the inner court, which is “the front of the vestibule on the inside side of the gate,” was 50 cubits (87 feet 6 inches; c. 26:6 meters). A number of English versions translate this quite clearly (cp. CJB; CSB; NAB; NIV; NLT; NRSV; RSV). The words “at the entrance” are a likely guess. The Hebrew word is an architectural term of unknown meaning and it only occurs here in the entire Bible. People in Ezekiel’s day knew what the term meant, but its meaning has been lost in history.(top)
“narrowing inwards.” The Hebrew can also mean “closed; shuttered,” and some translations have that meaning here (cp. KJV).
“on the jambs were palm trees.” Solomon’s Temple also was decorated with palm trees (1 Kings 6:29, 32, 35).(top)
“there were rooms and a pavement laid out around the entire court.” This seems to be the meaning of the Hebrew text. Daniel Block is correct when he writes, “What he [Ezekiel] sees is not entirely clear because he employs technical architectural terms whose meanings are disputed” (NICOT, The Book of Ezekiel). So even though Ezekiel described what he saw, we today do not have complete clarity on what that was. Furthermore, even though some things were described in great detail, every detail of the Temple was not described, so there are things we have to assume or guess at. On the other hand, enough is described that a good representation of this Temple can be drawn and thus is depicted in many commentaries and study Bibles.
What seems clear is that butted up against the outer walls of the Temple compound were 30 rooms. There is less room for these rooms on the west wall than on the other walls because there were rooms for the priests on the west wall, so if there were eight rooms on the north, east, and south walls and six rooms on the west wall that would make 30 rooms. These rooms will likely be used for worshipers who have come to the Temple, much like the porticos that abutted Herod’s Temple and were used by worshipers. Perhaps worshipers will relax, eat, and fellowship in these rooms. “Solomon’s porch” was one of the porticos abutted against the east wall of Herod’s Temple where people went and hung out and fellowshipped together (John 10:23; Acts 5:12).
It also seems clear that covering the floor of the outer courtyard there was a pavement that had two levels, because Ezekiel 40:18 refers to the lower pavement. So the outer courtyard will be paved, not just a dirt floor like in the Tabernacle of Moses.
“30 rooms.” In the Millennial Kingdom, Christ will rule the whole world and there will not be any pagan worship, so people will come from all over the world to worship God in this Temple, so it will be a busy place and lots of rooms will be needed for different purposes. Here Ezekiel mentions 30, but we later see there are more than that, but these 30 are against the outer wall of the Temple.(top)
|Eze 40:18||- (top)|
“the width of the court.” The words “of the court” are in the Septuagint and can be supplied from the context even though they are not in the Masoretic Hebrew text.
“from the front of the lower gate.” The “lower gate” is the gate in the outer wall of the Temple compound. As a person entered from outside the Temple compound to the Temple itself, the elevation got higher and higher. There were steps from the outside to the outer gate, then another set of steps from the first courtyard, the “outer” courtyard, up to the “inner gate,” the gate in the inner wall that led into the inner courtyard where the altar of sacrifice was, then there were more steps up to the Temple itself with the outer vestibule, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies.(top)
“the gate of the outer court that faced toward the north.” This is the north gate of the Temple complex.(top)
|Eze 40:21||- (top)|
“And people.” The Hebrew text reads “and they,” but it refers to the worshipers.
“would go up to it by seven steps.” As a person entered from outside the Temple compound to the Temple itself, the elevation got higher and higher. There were steps from outside the Temple compound up to the outer gate, then another set of steps from the first courtyard, the “outer” courtyard, up to the “inner gate,” the gate in the inner wall that led into the inner courtyard where the altar of sacrifice was, then there were more steps up to the Temple itself, which had the outer vestibule, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies.(top)
“And the inner court had a north gate opposite the outer gate on the north, just like the gate on the east did.” From the outside of the Temple compound going in, from the north, east, and south there was an outer gate that led into the Temple compound and then an inner gate opposite the outer gate that led into the inner court where the altar and Temple proper was. So there were six gates in all; three outer gates with three inner gates directly opposite them. There was about 175 feet (c. 53 meters) from each outer gate to its corresponding inner gate.(top)
“there was a gate on the south.” This is the south gate in the outer wall.(top)
|Eze 40:25||- (top)|
“seven steps going up to it.” The Temple compound was higher than the ground around it, and as one entered the Temple compound the courts got higher and higher as one approached the Temple proper where the Holy Place and Holy of Holies was. Thus we see steps to enter the Temple compound through the outer gate, more steps to enter from the outer courtyard to the inner courtyard, and still more steps to go from the inner courtyard to the Temple itself (see commentary on Ezek. 40:6).
“was before them.” This is explaining the same thing that is expressed in Ezekiel 40:22, that “before them” is referring to “in front of the person who just walked up the steps, i.e., that a person walking up the steps to the gate would have the vestibule in front of them. We know that technically the guardrooms on the sides of the gate came before the vestibule, but since the average worshiper would simply pass by them it was the vestibule where people could meet and that led into the Temple that Ezekiel portrays in his explanation.(top)
“from gate to gate toward the south.” From the south gate of the inner court to the south gate of the Temple was 100 cubits or 175 feet.(top)
“Then he brought me through the south gate to the inner court.” The “tour” the angel is giving Ezekiel now takes him from the outer court to the inner court. The fact that there are gates to the inner court tells us that it had a wall around it just like there was a wall around the whole Temple compound. So there was an outer wall with gates around the whole Temple compound, and then another wall with gates around the area of the Temple building itself. Inside the inner wall was the inner courtyard with the altar of sacrifice, and then west of that was the Temple proper with the Holy Place and Holy of Holies.(top)
“according to those same measurements.” That is, the measurements of each gate were the same.(top)
“The vestibules all around.” The vestibules at all the gates on the north, south, and east side were all the same size. There was no gate on the west side of the outer wall or inner wall.(top)
“and its stairway had eight steps.” The Temple compound was higher than the ground around it, and as one entered the Temple compound the courts got higher and higher as one approached the Temple proper where the Holy Place and Holy of Holies was. Thus we see steps to enter the Temple compound through the outer gate, more steps to enter from the outer courtyard to the inner courtyard, and still more steps to go from the inner courtyard to the Temple itself. This was the stairway on the south side from the outer courtyard into the inner courtyard, and it had eight steps. [For more on the steps into the Temple, see commentary on Ezek. 40:6].(top)
“and he measured the gate.” This is the east gate in the inner wall, leading from the outer court into the inner court where the altar was.(top)
|Eze 40:33||- (top)|
“the stairway to it had eight steps.” The Temple compound was higher than the ground around it, and as one entered the Temple compound the courts got higher and higher as one approached the Temple proper where the Holy Place and Holy of Holies was. Thus we see steps to enter the Temple compound through the outer gate, more steps to enter from the outer courtyard to the inner courtyard, and still more steps to go from the inner courtyard to the Temple itself. This was the stairway on the east side from the outer courtyard into the inner courtyard, and it had eight steps. [For more on the Temple steps, see commentary on Ezek. 40:6].(top)
“Then he brought me to the north gate.” This is the north gate of the inner wall, the gate that led from the outer court into the inner court where the altar was.(top)
|Eze 40:36||- (top)|
“the stairway to it had eight steps.” The Temple compound was higher than the ground around it, and as one entered the Temple compound the courts got higher and higher as one approached the Temple proper where the Holy Place and Holy of Holies was. Thus we see steps to enter the Temple compound through the outer gate, more steps to enter from the outer courtyard to the inner courtyard, and still more steps to go from the inner courtyard to the Temple itself. This was the stairway on the north side from the outer courtyard into the inner courtyard, and it had eight steps. [For more on the Temple steps, see commentary on Ezek. 40:6].(top)
“by the jambs.” The Hebrew text reads “jambs,” but many scholars say that does not make sense and say it should be “vestibule.”
“at the gates.” These “gates” are the gates that have just been mentioned. They are the inner gates that lead from the outer court to the inner court where the altar of burnt offering is.
“they washed the burnt offering there.” Here we see the physical tied to the spiritual. Being physically clean did not necessarily mean being spiritually clean, and vice-versa, but here the animals are washed as an act of ritual cleansing before going further into the Temple. It is also possible that they washed the slaughtered pieces of the animal before offering them on the altar; that was prescribed in the Mosaic Law for parts of the sacrifices (Lev. 1:9, 13). [For more on the sacrifices in the Millennial Temple, such as the burnt offering, see commentary on Ezek. 42:13].(top)
“on which to slaughter the burnt offering and the sin offering and the trespass offering.” The slaughter of these animals is not described in detail like it is in Leviticus, so presumably the animals were slaughtered and sacrificed the way it is prescribed in the Mosaic Law. [For more on the sacrifices in the Millennial Temple, such as the burnt offering and sin offering, see commentary on Ezek. 42:13].(top)
“as one goes up to the entrance of the north gate.” The platform of the inner court and the Temple proper was higher than the platform of the outer court. The elevation of the platforms got higher as one got closer to the Temple proper and thus to God in the Temple.(top)
|Eze 40:41||- (top)|
“with which the burnt offering and the sacrifice were slaughtered.” [For more on the sacrifices in the Millennial Temple, such as the burnt offering and sin offering, see commentary on Ezek. 42:13].(top)
“hooks.” The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain. “Hooks” seems to be the most likely possibility and that reading is supported by the Aramaic Targum, but the Septuagint, Vulgate, and Syriac say a shelf or projection. The Hebrew word is also dual, which is why some versions say “double hooks.” If the projections are shelves, then they are only a handbreadth wide—about 3 inches—which does not seem to be wide enough to be functional as a shelf.(top)
“On the outside of the inner gate.” This wording can be confusing, but it refers to outside the gate on the inner side, toward the Temple, not outside the gate in the outer court. According to our Western way of speaking, we would normally say “inside the inner gate,” but the Hebrew custom is different. In any case, the rooms were on the outside of the gate on the inner side.
“there were two rooms.” The Masoretic Hebrew text reads “rooms for the singers,” but that does not seem correct. For one thing, the Bible then goes on to say that the south room is for the priests who are in charge of the Temple, and the north room is for the priests who are in charge of the altar. Neither is for the singers. Furthermore, in this instance the copying error that led to the reading “singers” can be easily explained, as Daniel Block points out, “the reading of the LXX [the Septuagint] makes perfect sense, and the rendering of the MT [Masoretic Hebrew text] is readily explained as a spelling error, a taw having been misread as a resh” (NICOT, The Book of Ezekiel. Block also gives other reasons that “singers” is unlikely). Many scholars agree that “two rooms” is the correct reading, and that reading occurs in many versions (BBE; CEB; DBY; ESV; NAB; NIV; NJB; NLT; RSV).
So we learn that when Ezekiel is taken into the inner court, he sees two rooms, one at the north gate and one at the south gate, which are for the priests who minister there and have charge of the Temple proper and the altar.
“south gate.” The Masoretic Hebrew text reads “east gate,” which does not make sense in this context; the Septuagint reads “south gate” which is almost certainly correct.(top)
“keep charge.” The Hebrew word means to guard, but it can also refer to other kinds of service duties.
“the house.” That is, the Temple.(top)
|Eze 40:46||- (top)|
“the altar was in front of the house.” The altar was east of the Temple. In the biblical culture, maps and directions were oriented to the east, so anything to the east was “in front of” anything west of it. Similarly, anything south of something else was “on the right hand” or to the right side of it. When Jesus rules from his palace which will be on the south side of Temple (Ezek. 40:2), he will be “on the right hand” of God, who lives in the Temple (Ps. 110:1, 5).(top)
“Then he brought me.” The angel now begins to give Ezekiel a tour of the Temple proper, which had three main rooms: the vestibule (or lobby) before entering in the Holy Place, then the Holy Place where the Menorah and Bread of the Presence are, then the Holy of Holies. Ezekiel 40:48 should have started a new chapter and been labeled as Ezekiel 41:1, because the information about the Temple proper started with Ezekiel 40:48 and then keeps on going through Ezekiel 41. All those verses should have been one chapter, which would have made understanding this vision of Ezekiel a little easier. When a chapter marking is put in the wrong place it causes confusion, as it well could here.
“the vestibule of the house.” The “house” is the Temple. In the Millennial Temple there will be a vestibule, a foyer or lobby, if you will, before one even enters the Holy Place. So to get to God in the Holy of Holies, one must walk up the steps to the Temple, walk through the vestibule, then walk through the Holy Place, and then finally walk into the Holy of Holies.
“measured each jamb of the porch, five cubits on this side and five cubits on that side.” The door jambs were over 8 feet, 9 inches wide, but that is not excessive for the size of the Temple that they are supporting.
“14 cubits, and the sidewalls were.” This phrase apparently got dropped from the Masoretic Hebrew text in the process of copying, but is restored from the Septuagint.(top)
“The vestibule was 20 cubits wide and 12 cubits deep.” The way this is written can be confusing. In this case, “wide” is the length of the vestibule from side to side, and “deep” is the depth of the vestibule from front to back. The vestibule is wider than it is deep. Many versions read like the ESV: “The length of the vestibule was 20 cubits, and the breadth 12 cubits,” but we must see things as Ezekiel is looking at them, from inside the courtyard to outside the gate. From his perspective, the length (side to side) was 20 cubits while the “breadth” (width; depth) from front to back was 12 cubits.
“12 cubits.” The Masoretic Hebrew text reads “11 cubits,” but the Septuagint reads 12, and that is almost certainly correct because the overall measurements of the Temple are given (Ezek. 41:13) and the width needs to be 12 so the numbers come out correctly.
“ten.” The “ten” is supplied by the Septuagint. The evidence is that the Masoretic Hebrew text suffered quite a bit in the process of copying this section of Ezekiel, and the Septuagint seems better in many places. Here it seems that the number “ten” was dropped from the Hebrew but remained in the Septuagint.
“steps led up to it.” The Temple compound was higher than the ground around it, and as one entered the Temple compound the courts got higher and higher as one approached the Temple proper where the Holy Place and Holy of Holies were. Thus we see steps to enter the Temple compound through the outer gate, more steps to enter from the outer courtyard to the inner courtyard, and still more steps to go from the inner courtyard to the Temple itself. This was the stairway from the inner courtyard up to the Temple itself. There was an increasing sense of holiness as one got closer and closer to God in the Holy of Holies. [For more on the Temple steps, see commentary on Ezek. 40:6].(top)