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Ezekiel: Chapter 42

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1Then he led me out into the outer court, toward the north, and he brought me to the chambers that were opposite the temple yard and opposite the building on the north. 2The length of the building that was on the north side b Gk: Heb length was c Cn: Heb vestibule. And the side chambers of the temple and the canopies one hundred cubits, and the width fifty cubits. 3Across the twenty cubits that belonged to the inner court, and facing the pavement that belonged to the outer court, the chambers rose d Gk: Heb door gallery e Gk: Heb before the length by gallery e Gk: Heb before the length in three stories. 4In front of the chambers was a passage on the inner side, ten cubits wide and one hundred cubits deep, f Heb lacks the chambers rose and its g Meaning of Heb uncertain entrances were on the north. 5Now the upper chambers were narrower, for the galleries e Gk: Heb before the length took more away from them than from the lower and middle chambers in the building. 6For they were in three stories, and they had no pillars like the pillars of the outer h Gk Syr: Heb a way of one cubit court; for this reason the upper chambers were set back from the ground more than the lower and the middle ones. 7There was a wall outside parallel to the chambers, toward the outer court, opposite the chambers, fifty cubits long. 8For the chambers on the outer court were fifty cubits long, while those opposite the temple were one hundred cubits long. 9At the foot of these chambers ran a passage that one entered from the east in order to enter them from the outer court. 10The width of the passage i Heb their was fixed by the wall of the court.

On the south j Gk: Heb lacks outer also, opposite the vacant area and opposite the building, there were chambers 11with a passage in front of them; they were similar to the chambers on the north, of the same length and width, with the same exits k Heb lacks of the passage and arrangements and doors. 12So the entrances of the chambers to the south were entered through the entrance at the head of the corresponding passage, from the east, along the matching wall. e Gk: Heb before the length

13Then he said to me, “The north chambers and the south chambers opposite the vacant area are the holy chambers, where the priests who approach the LORD shall eat the most holy offerings; there they shall deposit the most holy offerings—the grain offering, the sin offering, and the guilt offering—for the place is holy. 14When the priests enter the holy place, they shall not go out of it into the outer court without laying there the vestments in which they minister, for these are holy; they shall put on other garments before they go near to the area open to the people.”

15When he had finished measuring the interior of the temple area, he led me out by the gate that faces east, and measured the temple area all around. 16He measured the east side with the measuring reed, five hundred cubits by the measuring reed. 17Then he turned and measured l Gk: Heb east the north side, five hundred cubits by the measuring reed. 18Then he turned and measured l Gk: Heb east the south side, five hundred cubits by the measuring reed. 19Then he turned to the west side and measured, five hundred cubits by the measuring reed. 20He measured it on the four sides. It had a wall around it, five hundred cubits long and five hundred cubits wide, to make a separation between the holy and the common.

Notes:

k Gk: Heb length

a Cn: Heb vestibule. And the side chambers of the temple and the canopies

b Gk: Heb door

c Gk: Heb before the length

d Heb lacks the chambers rose

e Meaning of Heb uncertain

f Gk Syr: Heb a way of one cubit

g Heb their

h Gk: Heb lacks outer

i Heb lacks of the passage

j Gk: Heb east

Text Commentary view alone

40.1–48.35 : Part 5: Blueprint for the restored Temple and land.

The blueprint that Ezekiel details here includes new ideal features that aim to prevent the wrongs of the past that led to the destruction of Solomon's Temple in 586 BCE from ever happening again. Thus, new Temple fortifications and new land boundaries will demarcate the holiness of the land and people (e.g., 42.20n. ), with the Temple functioning as an organizing center of this holiness ( 43.12 ). In accordance with the “Holiness Collection,” the plan provides for the settlements and entire people of Israel to be encompassed by the holiness of God, whose dwelling in their midst is now to be permanently safeguarded ( 43.7; 44.1–3; 48.35 ). This section of Ezekiel does not prophesy a literal future for the Temple; rather, it offers a Temple plan as an embodiment of the community's values. Though it has never actually been built, Ezekiel's “literary temple” has proved more enduring than the physical temples of both his predecessors and his successors.

40.1–42.20 : The new Temple.

The Temple complex is modeled on that built by Solomon, although the plan is more detailed than that given in 1 Kings 6 and 2 Chr 3 .

1–27 : The Temple area and gates.

1–5 :

April 28, 573 BCE. On the twenty‐fifth anniversary of his exile, Ezekiel is transported in a vision (cf. 8.2–3 ) to the Temple mountain (very high mountain, 17.22; Isa 2.2 ).

3 :

Appearance … like bronze, an angelic figure ( 1.7 ).

5 :

An outer wall surrounded the entire Temple area. The long cubit was about 52.5 cm (20.7 in); the ordinary cubit was about 44 cm (17.5 in). The reed was about 3.1m (10.3 ft) long.

6–16 :

The outer court's east gate‐tower was a massive, fortified complex consisting of a threshold, a long hallway with recesses (side rooms), a second threshold, and an inner vestibule room. Heavy pilasters (piers) with windows separated the recessed chambers, or guardrooms, inside the gate‐tower (three on each side). This gate is treated further in 43.1–5; 44.1–3 . The plan of the gate is similar to gateways excavated at Megiddo, Gezer, and Hazor that some scholars have dated to the time of Solomon, mid‐tenth century BCE.

8 :

One cubit, the Hebrew text is problematic here.

16 :

Palm trees also decorated Solomon's Temple (1 Kings 6.29,35 ).

17–19 :

The Temple area's outer courtyard. The thirty chambers around the court's periphery were probably for the use of the Levites and for people to meet and eat together (Jer 35.2; Neh 13.4–14 ). See also 46.21–24 .

20–27 :

The other two (northern and southern) gates of the outer courtyard were identical to the east gate‐tower. That there were steps up to the gates (vv. 22,26 ) shows that the whole Temple platform was an elevated area.

28–46 : The inner gate‐towers.

Ezekiel is shown three gates (south, east, north) leading to the inner court corresponding to those leading to the outer court. Only priests could pass through these inner gates ( 42.14; 44.19; 46.3 ).

31 :

Eight steps, the Temple was built on a succession of terraces, so that height demarcated gradations of holiness, just as did walled perimeters and gates (vv. 34,37 ). Holiness increased as one entered farther up and into the Temple.

38–43 :

The vestibules of the inner gates contained facilities for the preparation of sacrifices. Burnt, sin, and guilt offerings, see Lev 1.1–7.38 .

44–46 :

Priests' chambers. On the north and south sides of the inner court were buildings for the use of the priests. These may be small cells, different from the chambers in 42.1–14 .

44 :

The singers, Levitical priests (cf. 1 Chr 9.33 ). East gate, read “south gate” with the LXX.

46b :

An editorial clarification that only priests descended from Zadok (see 44.15–31n. ), such as Ezekiel and his group, may sacrifice at the altar ( 43.19; 44.15–31n. ).

40.47–41.4 : The Temple proper.

The successive entrances to its three rooms become more narrow, symbolizing increasing holiness ( 40.48;41.2; 41.3 ). According to the LXX (textual note h), the Temple was ten steps (about 3 m [10 ft]; see 41.8 ) above the level of the inner court. (Again, steps indicate increasing holiness; cf. vv. 22,31 .) In front of the vestibule were freestanding pillars (1 Kings 7.15–22 ). The vestibule ( 40.48–49 ) was 10.5 m (34 ft) x 6.3 m (20.5 ft). The nave ( 41.1–2 ), which Ezekiel could enter as a Zadokite priest, was 21 m (69 ft) x 10.5 m (34 ft). The adytum (inner room or most holy place, 41.3–4 ), which Ezekiel did not enter (Lev 16 ), was a square of 10.5 m (34 ft) per side (1 Kings 6.16; 7.50; 8.6; Ex 26.33–34 ).

41.5–15a : Annexes and surroundings.

The three tiers of thirty chambers per tier on the sides of the Temple (1 Kings 6.5–10 ) were probably for equipment for the Temple services, storage, and the Temple treasures (1 Kings 14.26;2 Kings 14.14 ).

10 :

Chambers of the court, 42.1–14 .

12 :

A very large auxiliary building stood west of the Temple; it may also have been intended for storage purposes.

15b–26 : Wall decoration and interior furnishings.

The windows were like those in the gates ( 40.16 ); for the decorative motifs of cherubim and palm trees, see 1 Kings 6.29–30 .

22 :

The table in the nave was for the bread of the Presence; see Ex 25.23–30; Lev 24.5–9 .

42.1–14 : The priests' chambers.

Ezekiel first sees the north sacristy, which was behind (west of) the north gate‐tower to the inner court. Similar chambers were on the Temple's south side (vv. 10–12 ). Perhaps the three stories of chambers were arranged terrace‐fashion against the north and south walls retaining the inner court. A second, smaller, apartment building was opposite, on the outer‐court side.

13 :

On the sacrifices, see 40.38–39n.; 44.28–31; Lev 2.1–10; 7.7–10 .

14 :

See 44.19n.

15–20 : The measuring completed.

The total Temple area was a square of 262 m (861 ft) per side.

20 :

Marking boundaries of holiness, distinguishing between the holy and the common, was a central concern of Zadokites, such as Ezekiel ( 22.26; 44.23; Lev 10.10–11 ).

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