Tuesday, June 6th, 2023
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical Lange's Commentary
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Ezekiel 42". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ lcc/ ezekiel-42.html. 1857-84.
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Ezekiel 42". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://studylight.org/
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1And he led me forth to the outer court, the way northwards, and brought me to the chamber [that is, what there was of chambers] which is over against the gizrah, and [in fact] which is over against the building, toward the north. 2Before the length [in front of the length] of a hundred cubits, the opening toward the north, and the breadth fifty cubits. 3Over against the twenty of the inner court, and over against the pavement of the outer court; gallery [was] before gallery in the third (that is, galleries). 4And before the chambers was a walk ten cubits broad, to the inner [court] way of one cubit, and their openings to 5the north. And the upper chambers were shortened, for the galleries consume [take away] from them, from the [the space of the] lower and also from the 6[the space of the] middle as respects the building. For they were three-storied and had no pillars as the pillars of the courts: therefore [space was] taken 7away from the lowest and the middle, from the ground. And a dividing-wall which is outside, close by the chambers, toward the outer court, in front of the chambers, its length was fifty cubits. 8For the length of the chambers which are to the outer court was fifty cubits; and [yet] lo, before the temple a hundred cubits. 9And from under it [the dividing-wal] were these chambers: 10the entrance was on the east in coming to them from the outer court. In the breadth of the dividing-wall of the court, toward the east, fronting the gizrah, 11and fronting the building, were chambers. And a way before them; as the look of the chambers which were towards the north, as their length so their breadth 12and all their outgoings, and as their arrangements, and as their openings, So also the openings of the chambers which were toward the south, an opening was at the head of the way, the way in face of the dividing-wall turned to it, toward the east in Coming [thence] to them [or: eastwards when one came to them (the chambers)]. 13And he said to me, The chambers of the north, the chambers of the south, which are in front of the gizrah, these are chambers of holiness, where the priests who approach Jehovah shall eat the most holy things; there shall they set down the most holy things, and [that] the meat-offering, 14and the sin-offering, and the guilt-offering, for the place is holy. The priests when entering shall not go out of the holy place to the outer court, and [but] there they shall lay down their garments wherein they shall minister; for they are holiness; they shall put on other garments, and [so] approach to 15that which [belongs] to the people. And he finished the measures of the inner house, and led me out the way of the gate whose face is toward the east, and measured it [the house] round and round. 16He measured the east side on [with] the measuring-rod five hundred [cubits?] rods [measured by rods] on the measuring-rod around. 17He measured the north side, “five hundred” in rods with the measuring-rod. 18He measured the south side, “five hundred” in rods with the 19measuring-rod. He turned to the west side; he measured “five hundred” in 20rods with the measuring-rod. Toward the four winds measured he it; a wall was to it round and round, the length “five hundred,” and the breadth “five hundred,” to separate between the holy and the profane.
Ezekiel 42:1. Sept.: ... κατα�. πυλης τ. προς βοῤῥαν κ. εἰσηγαγεν μἐ κ. ἰδου εʼξεδρκι δεκαπεντε, ἐχομεναι του�. ἐχομεναι του διοριζοντος προς βοῤῥαν. Vulg.: … et contra ædem vergentem ad oquilonem.
Ezekiel 42:2. ... ἑκατον μηκος προς βοῤῥαν—Vulg.: … in facie … ostii aquilonis et latitudinis.
Ezekiel 42:3. διαγεγραμμεναι ὁν τροπον αἱ πυλαι τ. αὐλς τ. ἐσωτερας, κ. ὁν τροπον τα περιστυλα τ. αὐλης τ. ἐξωτερας ἐστιχιρμεναι, ἀντιπροσωποι στοαι τρισσαι. Vulg.: … ubi erat porticus juncta porticui triplici.
Ezekiel 42:4. ... ἐπι πηχεις ἑκατον το μηκος, κ. τα—Vulg.: … ad interior a respiciens viæ cubiti unius. Et … (5) ubi erant … humiliora, quia supportabant porticus, quæ ex illis eminebant de inferioribus et de mediis ædificii. (Another reading: ופתתיהן, fem.)
Ezekiel 42:5. κ. οἱ περιπατοι οἱ ὑπερωοι ὡσαυτωςʼ ὁτι ἐξειχετο το περιστυλον ἐξ αὐτος, ἐκτου ὑποκατωθεν περιστυλου, κ. το διαστημἀ οὑτως περιστυλον κ. διαστημα, κ. οὑτως στοαι.
Ezekiel 42:6. Διοτι … στυλοι των ἐξωτερωνʼ δια τουτο ἐξειχοντο των … ἀπο τ. γης. Vulg.: … Tristega … propterea eminebant de … a terra cubitis quinquaginta.
Ezekiel 42:7. Κ. φως ἐξωθεν, ὁν τροπον κ. αἱ ἐξεδραι … της ἐξωτερας αἱ βλεπουσαι�oακτι τ. ἐξεδρων των προς βοῤῥαν—Vulg. Et peribolus exterior secundum—
Ezekiel 42:8. ... των βλεπουσων εἰς τ. αὐλην … κ.αὑται εἰσιν�, το παν
Ezekiel 42:9. Sept.: κ. αι θυραι τ. ἐξεδρων τουτων της εἰσοδου τ. προς ὰνατολκς … δἰ αὐτων—Vulg.: Et erat subter gazo phylacia hæc introitus ab oriente ingredientium in ea—(Qeri: וּמִתַּתַת הַֹלְּשָׁכוֹת and הַמֵּביא f).
Ezekiel 42:10. κατα το φως του ἐν�ʼ κ. τα προς νοτον κατα προσωπον του διοριζοντοςʼ κ. αἱ ἐξεδραι
Ezekiel 42:11. κ. ὀ περιπατος κατα προσωπον αὐτων, κατα τα μετρα τ. ὲξεδρων … κ. κατα πασας τας ἐπιστροφας αὐτων κ. κατα τα φωτα αὐτων κ. κατα τα θυρωματα αὐτων. Vulg.: … et omnis introitus eorum et similitudines et ostia eorum.
Ezekiel 42:12. των ἐξεδρως … κ. κατα τα θυρωματα�̓ ἀρχης του κεριπατου ὡς ἐπι φως διαστηματος καλαμου, κ. κατ̓ ἀνατολας του εἰσκορευεσθαι δἰ αὐτων. Vulg.: Secundum … quæ via erat ante vestibulum separatum per viam orientalem ingredientibus.
Ezekiel 42:13. ... κατα προσωπον των διαστηματων, … αἱἐξεδραι του ἁγιου … οι ςἱοι Σαδδουκ—Vulg.: … ante ædificium separatum … gazophylacia sancta … ad dominum in sancta sanctorum.
Ezekiel 42:14. Οὐκ εἰσελενσονται ἐκει παρεξ των ἱερεων, κ. οὐκ ἐξελευσονται … ὁπως διαπσντος ἁγιοι ὠσιν οἱ προσαγοντεςʼ κ. μη άπτωνται του στολισμου αὐτων … ἐν αὐτοις, διοτι ἁγια ἐστιςʼ … όταν ἁπτωνται του λαου. (Another reading: בהם, masc. Qeri: ולָבְשׁוּ).
Ezekiel 42:15. ... συνετελεσθη ἡ διαμετρησις … ἑσωθεν … διεμετρησεν το ὑποδειγμα τ. οἰκου … ἐν διαταξει.
Ezekiel 42:16. Κ. ἐστη κατα νωτου τ. πυλης τ. βλεπουσης κατʼ ἀνατολας κ. διεμετρησεν πεντακοσιους ἐν τ. καλαμω τ. μετρου. Vulg.: … contra ventum … calamos in calamo mensuræ—(many codd. and all translations read מאות instead of אמות.)
Ezekiel 42:17. Κ. ἐπεστρεψεν προς … κ. διεμετρησεν το κατα προσωπον του βοῤῥα πηχεις πεντακοσιους ἐν τ. καλαμω—
Ezekiel 42:18. Κ. ἐπεστρεψεν προς θαλασσαν κ. διεμετρ. το κατ. προσωπ. τ. θαλασσης, πεντακοσιους. Vulg.: … quingentos calamos … per circuitum.
Ezekiel 42:19. Κ. ἐπεστρ. πρ. νοτον κ. διεμ. κατα προσωπ. τ. νοτου, πεντακοσ. ἐν—Vulg.: Et ad ventum occidentalem.
Ezekiel 42:20. εἰς τα τεσσαρα μερη του αὐτος μετρου. Κ. διεταξεν αὐτον κ. περιβολον αὐτω κυκλω, πεντακοσιων προς�. πεντακοσιων πηχεων εὐρος, του διαστελλειν�. ἀνα μεσον του προτειχισματος του ἐν διαταξει του οἰκου.—Vulg.: … mensus est murum ejus undique … cubitorum … cubitorum, dividentem inter—
Ezekiel 42:1-14. The Chambers of Holiness
The leading forth of Ezekiel 42:1 is easy to be understood, both from Ezekiel 41:0. and from the outer court, where the structure of cells for the priests about to be described is situated, for הַלְּשְׁכָּה suggests to us such a structure. Comp. moreover, Ezekiel 40:17 sq. and Ezekiel 40:44 sq. The outer court here harmonizes with the first passage, while its purpose does not; the one there was designed for the people. It would harmonize with the second passage that there too the purpose was for the priests; on the other hand, the inner court does not harmonize.—That it is added: and brought me, etc., is quite in the copious style of Ezekiel, as the immediately following will likewise show. The general statement: the way northwards, is made more precise by the closer fixing of the locality, in which the expression: over against the gizrah, repeats itself in: over against the building (situated there, Ezekiel 41:12 sq.), just as the northern direction mentioned in the outset does by: towards the north. Hengst. expresses the opinion that, considering the object of the gizrah-building, an adjacent building on either side withdrawing it from view was very appropriate, and that the description is designed to point to that.—In Ezekiel 42:2, אֶלַפְּנֵי׳ can hardly (as Hengst.) mean: “before the length” (determined for the gizrah. from east to west), for the repeated אֶל is merely a continuation. It was the front-length of the cell building to which Ezekiel sees himself brought, as also the opening toward the north shows that the doors of the building opened northwards.—The hundred cubits of length agree with Ezekiel 41:13, so that both buildings simply cover each other as to length; whereas the sacrificial kitchens (Ezekiel 46:19) embarrass Keil, who needs for them still forty cubits of length westwards behind the cell building; while Hengstenberg claims for them no separate building, but, as is usually the case with kitchens, places them below in the cell building. According to Keil, the cell building would stretch along still before the temple.—By the description in Ezekiel 42:3 : over against the twenty, etc., the breadth of fifty cubits is put in relation to the twenty cubits’ breadth of free space belonging to the inner court (Ezekiel 41:10), and at the same time more closely stated to be in a southern direction towards the temple (Hengst.: eastward), as the following: over against the pavement (Ezekiel 40:17), on its part points out clearly the northern direction; or a reference to what is farthest out, the outer court, is added to the reference made by the first נֶגֶד to what is inmost.—By the statement that gallery ran before gallery in the third, Hengst. understands: that one looked down from the walk before the chambers of the third story to another walk that was before the chambers of the second story (?). Keil: one gallery in front of the other or towards it (?). Kliefoth takes עַל=אֶל ( “on,” “over”), but what would עַל־פְּנֵי mean? Also, בַּשְׁלִשִׁיס does not mean, as he supposes with Böttcher: “into the threefold.” As Ezekiel 41:10 can refer only to our verse, we shall in the case of אֶל־פְּנֵי־אַתִּיק have to think of the first-mentioned galleries of the gizrah house, Ezekiel 41:15 sq.; and this so much the more as the description of the cell structure was determined immediately (Ezekiel 42:1) after this building. Thus the galleries of the two buildings ran front to front; and this is said only of the third, namely, the two third galleries, for the first mention of the middle ones is in Ezekiel 42:5; the highest also caught the eye first, and with them at the same time the height of the building could be given as of three stories.
Ezekiel 42:4—before the chambers, which was ten cubits broad, can only be supposed as extending from west to east before the northern long side of the building. To the inner court (Ezekiel 8:3; Ezekiel 8:16; Ezekiel 10:3) was a way of one cubit in breadth; this denotes the narrow approach to the inner court, on which the wider passage round the east wall of the building abutted; and according to this account, returning to the walk, it is said of the doors of the chambers or of the galleries, that they opened on the passage to the north. Hengstenberg makes the walk to be the “approach to the chambers,” from which one had access to the interior of the chambers, and this interior to be “one cubit from the street, which was the thickness of the walls” (!). Keil, who can extract no suitable sense from the text, reads with the Sept.: מֵאָה אַמֹּת, thus making a way of a hundred cubits long lead through the north gate into the inner court (!).
Ezekiel 42:5 harmonizes the galleries with the chambers, speaking first of the upper as Ezekiel 42:3 had spoken of the third galleries. These chambers are said to be shortened, and indeed they were the narrowest; and therefore it is remarked of them alone in the first place, for (the details will become clear in Ezekiel 42:6) the galleries took away from their breadth (יוֹכְלוּ only here, instead of יֹאכְלוּ). They were shorter, it is said, than the lower above all, but also than the middle. So Keil understands the second and third מִן in a comparative sense. If it is to be taken as the first, that in מֵהֵנָּה, then that one must be understood of the chambers in general, and the more exact definition must be given with the two following מֵ, as Hengstenberg says: “in the case of the middle ones, the half of the space which in relation to the lower was cut off by the galleries from the upper.” He makes בִּנְיָןto be “building space—space which otherwise might have been built upon.” The mode of expression indicates that the prophet means to say: the structure, which had lower, middle, and upper chambers (for they were three-storied, Ezekiel 42:6), was shortened in the upper chambers, since the galleries there in particular occupied part of the breadth which the under chambers had entire, and which even the middle chambers had; the reason is, they had no pillars to support the upper galleries to the three stories of chambers, and so the upper chambers were necessarily contracted, and consequently had to lose in breadth, since the galleries which ran along the outer walls had to seek support in rests which were taken from the chambers. The explanatory expression: from the ground, throws light upon the בִּנְיָן of the previous verse; hence the building there comes into consideration as to the ground-space which it could afford on its lower floor for the under and the middle chambers, which thus, especially the first, were broader than the upper, although self-evidently the middle chambers too must have been shortened by their gallery in comparison with the under. As the building became higher, the chambers became shorter.—We have to notice the reference to the pillars of the courts, of which nothing has been said hitherto, and we shall have to suppose them where they are wanting here, namely, in Ezekiel 40:17 sq. and 44 sq. The chambers there, too, may have had stories.—The whole description of the galleries, and the way in which this description is kept in connection with the building on the gizrah, is hardly intended merely to make plain the possibility of access to the chambers of the second and third stories, but is designed to give us the impression, that from the galleries, so easily accessible from the chambers, an equally prompt supervision over this hinder and interior part of the environs of the sanctuary was made possible, as by the guardrooms in the case of the gates; if the chambers here correspond to these guardrooms, then the galleries here correspond to the barriers there.
Ezekiel 42:7. גָדֵר, that which “fences off,” is a dividing-wall, a boundary-fence, which is measured fifty cubits long, and consequently is to be sought for opposite the breadth of the building and on the east side, where the narrow way (Ezekiel 42:4) led to the inner court, in distinction from which the further description will have respect to the outer court. In the first place, however, it is said to be outside, for if this wall ran along the chambers, its position is made plainer by the phrase: towards the outer court (where דֶּרֶךְ may remind us of דֶּרֶךְ, Ezekiel 42:4); as also: in front of the chambers, illustrates still better the phrase: close by (running equally with) the chambers. If this wall concealed the narrow access to the inner court, still more so did it the under chambers on the east towards the outer court, and what had to be performed in these chambers, for
Ezekiel 42:8—the length of the wall corresponded to the length of the chambers which are to the outer court, that is, which here come into consideration for this court, as the eye fell on them in looking from the east. The proper length of a hundred cubits on the north side—before the temple, because the temple rose behind in its length as point of view and boundary—is very perceptibly distinguished by וְהִנֵּה from the above-mentioned so-called length (the breadth of fifty cubits). The reason why there is no mention of a dividing-wall in the case of the chambers of this northern long side perhaps is, that their windows and galleries (comp. on Ezekiel 42:3) lay towards the gizrah, and only the doors opened towards the north (Ezekiel 42:4). Ezekiel 42:9. So the east side chambers rose up from under the dividing-wall, which concealed them only below, but did not cover them so as to cut off the light from them.—The observation regarding the entrance, that it was on the east, which is still further described by: in coming to them from the outer court, may indeed be understood in distinction from the narrow way which led along there to the inner court (Ezekiel 42:7; Ezekiel 42:4), but is rather to be taken as a corroboration, that whereas people for the most part got at these chambers from the east, a fence was requisite on this side also of the outer court. Hengstenberg converts the הַמֵּבִו֯א, sufficiently intelligible by the clause: in coming, etc., into a door which the “fence-wall” must have had.
Ezekiel 42:10 makes the transition to a parallel building on the other side, by first repeating the last described, in such a manner, however, that no misunderstanding is possible; hence breadth is said, and not “length,” as in Ezekiel 42:7. The chambers were in the breadth of the dividing-wall, for they were situated in this breadth. The court to this wall is the just now mentioned (Ezekiel 42:9) outer court, and the expression: toward the east, likewise borrowed from Ezekiel 42:9, is a closer description of the position of the dividing-wall and consequently of the chambers, so that הַקָּדִים is not to be changed into הַדָּרוֹם, which definition comes afterward in Ezekiel 42:12. The description: fronting the gizrah, and (as Ezekiel 42:1): fronting the building (upon it), which occupied the whole length, signifies exactly the same as: “in front of the length of a hundred cubits,” in Ezekiel 42:2; hence the chambers were concealed on this side also by the gizrah building. That which in Ezekiel 42:4 is called מַהֲלַךְ, is in Ezekiel 42:11 by way of variety called דֶּרֶךְ, but any misunderstanding is guarded against by the observation: as the look, etc. (that the chambers had the same look as those toward the north). The comprehensive: as the look, etc., said on the occasion of mentioning the way, is specialized by what follows. We would express it thus: As in relation to their length, so in relation to their breadth and in relation to all their, etc. The arrangements are what concerns the way and manner of the whole, and the particulars. Finally, the openings, although already comprehended in the outgoings, are, on account of an appendage to be immediately given to the north chambers, once more specially mentioned.
Ezekiel 42:12, in the first place, shows that the chambers spoken of are to be conceived of as toward the south, in the same way as their patterns were “toward the north” (Ezekiel 42:11); it then proceeds to mention “a door-opening,” which, while only supposed in Ezekiel 42:4; Ezekiel 42:7, is now described in detail. Leading into the inner court, it was situated where the way began, or had its head at the wall of the court; hence it was constructed in this wall, wherefore it is added that the way proceeded בִּפְנֵי, in face of the dividing-wall, that is, so that this wall had it as it were before its eyes. דֶּרֶךְ is perhaps so often repeated because the narrower walk in question (Ezekiel 42:4) is distinguished as דֶּרֶךְ from the longer and broader “walks.” הַגְּדֶרֶת is collective, because said at the same time for the north side, הֲגִינָה occurs only here; it is derived from הָגִן, which Meier interprets by: “to bend off,” “to bend,” “to incline,” translating the adjective here: “bending,” “turning,” or “stretching” towards, which would be quite suitable to בִּפְנֵי׳, but would still more vividly express the thought: the dividing-wall inclined itself to the way passing before its eyes. Gesenius, taking for guide the rabbinical הָגוּן, which means: “noble,” “graceful,” but also: “insignificant,” renders הָגִין by: “convenient,” “suitable,” which Keil transforms into this, that it denotes the wall corresponding to the cells, and running the same distance with them before the east narrow side of the building. In the remainder, similar to Ezekiel 42:9.—The interpretation given of Ezekiel 42:10 sq., almost the same as that of Keil, supposes only two cell buildings, whereas Kliefoth and Hengstenberg reckon three, adding an eastern “priests’ court.” Keil places the building here “at or on the broad-side (?) of the court-wall over against the separate place.”
In Ezekiel 42:13 (as Ezekiel 40:45 sq.) his guide tells the prophet the purpose for which the north and south chambers were intended (only these two kinds of chambers are mentioned, completely refuting the idea of more than two buildings of the kind).—Which are in front, etc., since they ran along in front of the long side (hence also simply gizrah) of the off-place.—הַקֹּדֶשׁ, not abstr. pro concr., but as throughout, holiness, corresponding to the holiness of Jehovah, which is no single divine attribute (comp. Ezekiel 20:39 sq., and on Ezekiel 24:0. p. 343, etc.), but the expression of the entire relation of God to Israel (Bähr, der Salom. Tempel, p. 56 sq.). This relation is once more strongly pronounced in קָדְשֵׁי הַקֳּדָשִׁים, by which are designated the priests’ portions of the offerings, that is, of the offerings named (meat-offering, sin-offering, and guilt-offering), which had to be eaten by the priests alone, to the exclusion of their families (Leviticus 2:3; Leviticus 2:10; Leviticus 6:9 sq., 19 sq., Ezekiel 7:6, Ezekiel 10:12); hence the detailed account of their status (Hengst.: “who are near the Lord”) and official character. In the case of the heave-offering or wave-offering, the priests’ portion was partaken of even by the female members of the priests’ families (Leviticus 10:14). Comp. Bähr, Symb. des Mos. Kultus; Kurtz, Der Alttestamentliche Opferkultus. On the distinction between “eating” and “setting down” Keil says: “Because neither the meal mingled with oil of the meat-offering, nor the flesh of the sin and guilt-offerings, could be eaten by the priests immediately after the presentation of the offering, but first the one had to be baked and the other cooked, they were, until this preparation, allowed to be set aside, but not in any place one pleased.”—The different designation: כִּי הַמָּקוֹם קָדשׁ, shows the distinction from the previous הַקֹּדֶשׁ.
Ezekiel 42:14 still adds, with similar emphasizing of the priests, that after performing their functions (בְּבֹאָם, as the context shows, is not: when they come to the service) in the holy place, that is, the inner room, they are not to repair without ceremony to the outer court (as Keil supposes, had they “been obliged to pass out through the inner gate in order to get to the sacred cells”), but—and for this the door, Ezekiel 42:12, is excellently adapted—the official garments in which they (שָׁרַת, “to order well,” “to administer,” in the Piel of respectful services before kings and princes, especially of service before Jehovah) performed the sacred service are to be put aside, laid down in the chambers mentioned, and exchanged for common garments.—הֵנָּה, namely: the priestly garments.—In וְקָרְבוּ we are instinctively reminded of קְרוֹבִים in Ezekiel 42:13.—אֶל־אֲשֶׁר לָעָם explains more closely the אֶל־הֶחָצֵר הַחִיצוֹנָה, that the people come into consideration there. Not until the service of God is completed are the priests allowed to come into converse with them.
Ezekiel 42:15-20.—The Circumference of the whole.
Ezekiel 42:15. What was begun in Ezekiel 40:3 sq. was now finished. The antithesis of the measures of the inner house is: and he measured it round and round. The prophet therefore is led out,—דֶּרֶךְ הַשַּׁעַר, which may mean the way to the gate, but also the way through it. The return to the east gate (comp. Ezekiel 40:6) depicts to us Ezekiel’s re-entrance into the outer court; and thus the expression: round and round, will the more readily point to the wall (Ezekiel 40:5) from which he then (hence now from the opposite direction) came to the east gate. The inner house comprehends the whole interior up to the wall, of which it is said, Ezekiel 40:5, that it was מִהוּץ לַבַּית םָבִיב םָבִיב. Keil disputes, without due grounds, the reference of the suffix in וּמְדָרוֹ to הַבַּיִת׳, although we must concede to him that some indefiniteness may adhere to the suffix; at all events, round and round is not the wall as wall, which would have also its inner side, but as that which surrounded the house from without, and denoted the outside in reference to the house, so that we are pointed to the outside of the wall-girt sanctuary. Meanwhile, however, if nothing more definite follows, this only says that, after finishing all the measurings in the interior, a total measurement of the whole was taken outside on the circumference of the sanctuary.
Ezekiel 42:16. The measuring begins with the east gate; and hence on the east, דוּח, in the signification it has in the common expression: to the four winds, meaning the four directions whence the wind principally comes, is here said of the east side, as in the following of the north, south, and west sides.—Hengst. takes אֵמוֹת as a blending of אַמּוֹת and מֵאוֹת, and translates: “five hundred cubits, measured in rods with the measuring-rod.” That חֲמֵשׁ־אֵמוֹת cannot mean “five hundred” is clear, but what is the meaning of “five cubits”? Hence the Qeri: מֵאוֹת. Then, however, we get by what follows: “five hundred rods,” or we must say with Hengst. that by: rods on the measuring-rod around, is intended to be observed that the measure would be obtained by measuring not in cubits, but in rods, with the measuring-rod described at the commencement. At all events, Ezekiel 40:5 favours this view, as also the square of five hundred cubits for the whole of the sanctuary, already, on Ezekiel 40:27, observed to be correct, has to be harmonized with the detailed statements. The blending, too, of “a hundred” and “cubits” would agree well with the brevity of similar statements; only, such brevity and obscurity in the case of a summing up, a general survey of the spatial relations of the sanctuary, as Hengst. supposes, is difficult to conceive and hard to accept. On the other hand, the abbreviation: five hundred (thus read with the Qeri), measured by rods, is easy of acceptation, when it is so very clear, not only from the definition of the “rod” given in Ezekiel 40:5, but from a presupposed after-reckoning of all the statements of measuring hitherto coming into consideration, that only cubits can be meant; even in Ezekiel 42:20, where otherwise it might be expected, all mention of rods is omitted. Ewald, too, and Böttcher and Hitzig have decided in favour of cubits. That Ezekiel “gives elsewhere all the greater measures in cubits and not in rods,” as Hengst. insists on, has, however, no significance when the prophet had to refer to a wider space, a space separating the sanctuary from the rest of the land, a space independent of all that had gone before, and which therefore might have been measured by rods, as Klief. and Keil hold. Comp. however, Ezekiel 45:2.
Ezekiel 42:17. Five hundred, and the same in Ezekiel 42:18 and Ezekiel 42:19, merely the number; and this Hengst. explains by saying that, in the case of the other sides, the mere number suffices, so that the number given is self-evidently of cubits, according to Ezekiel 42:16.—Is the question decided in Ezekiel 42:20? But toward the four winds, that is, in the direction of the four cardinal points (it is said סָבַב in Ezekiel 42:19, by which, however, at the same time, may be indicated the going round and round), is a mere résumé of what has been described singly in Ezekiel 42:16-19. Accordingly, the suffix also in מְדָדוֹ is to be understood exactly as in Ezekiel 42:15, that is, as referring to the house.—What now is to be understood by the wall which was to the house (לוֹ)? It is called חוֹמָה, as in Ezekiel 40:5, and, exactly as there, it is said that it was סָבִיב סָבִיב. It is not, indeed, said, as Hengst. expresses himself: “he measured it, namely, the wall, round about;” but the observation here, that the house had a wall, gives no further information than that the measuring will have had respect to this compass of the house! Keil, indeed, refuses to understand the סָבִיב in Ezekiel 42:16-17 of a square five hundred rods in length and breadth on these two sides, yet he gets in Ezekiel 42:20 a space which measured five hundred rods towards each of the cardinal points, that is, a surrounding wall five hundred rods in length on each side; in whole, an area of two hundred and fifty thousand square rods, while the temple, with its courts, claims only two hundred and fifty thousand square cubits. Hengstenberg, at the mention of this in fact so much more considerable space than that of the sanctuary, but neither further defined nor filled up, is reminded of the Hungarian who, looking at a bare expanse, said: “Nothing but space,” and finds a mere vacuum on each of the four sides “intolerable.” But when he finds nothing corresponding in Solomon’s temple, the form of which, however, is perpetually before the prophet’s eyes, and in reply to What he otherwise expresses regarding the “enormous extent” of “useless space,” Kliefoth, in giving the purpose intended: to separate, etc., says: “In the case of the tabernacle and Solomon’s temple the outer court served for this purpose, whereas, in the case of Ezekiel’s temple, the outer court also still belongs to the sanctuary, and is itself holy; and the purpose of separating the sanctuary from the common ground must be effected by this surrounding space, which, in this respect, takes the place in regard to Ezekiel’s temple which the outer court took in the case of that of Solomon.” Keil disputes the latter statement, and says that “the tabernacle had no outer court, and in Solomon’s temple the outer court already formed a part of the sanctuary.” He continues: “Only in the ease of the latter temple, the outer court bordered immediately on the common soil of the city and of the land, so that the pollution of the land produced by the sin of the people could press without obstacle even into the sacred space of the courts. To this a limit shall be set in the sanctuary of the future, by this environing space set apart for separating the holy from the profane.” That the extent of the temple, with its courts, is not rendered insignificant by the twenty-five times’ greater size of the space in question, Keil proves from the circumstance that it “is not covered with buildings,” and hence comes into consideration merely as so significant a separation from the profane, by which “strongly marked separation peculiar to Ezekiel’s temple,” the “inviolable holiness of this sanctuary” is, on the contrary, illustrated in an enhanced measure. That the surface of Mount Moriah affords no room for this is certainly no proof against the above-mentioned view of Keil and Kliefoth, for Ezekiel 40:2 speaks only of a very high mountain.
[Throughout Ezekiel 42:16-20 Dr. Fairbairn abides by the rendering of the English version: “reeds” or “rods,” not “cubits,” and adds: “We regard the immense extent of the sacred area as a symbol of the vast enlargement that was to be given to the kingdom of God in the times of Messiah. It was immeasurably to surpass the old in the extent of its territory, and in the number of its adherents, as well as in the purity of its worship. The wall that surrounded the sacred buildings is expressly said, in Ezekiel 42:20, to have been for separating between the holy and profane; not, therefore, as in Revelation 21:12, and very common elsewhere, for defence and safety; as, indeed, its comparative want of elevation might seem to render it unfit for such a purpose. But its square form, and the square appearance of the entire buildings (as in John’s city, Revelation 21:16), betokened the strength and solidity of the whole, along with a vast increase in extent and number. A perfect cube, it was the emblem of a kingdom that could not be shaken or removed. And thus every way it exhibited, to the, eye of faith, the true ideal of that pure and glorious temple, which, resting on the foundation of the Eternal Son, and girt round by all the perfections of Godhead, shall shine forth the best and noblest workmanship of Heaven.”—Fairbairn’s Ezekiel, p. 470.—W. F.]
On Ch. 42
Ezekiel 42:1 sq.: “As this temple was provided with many chambers, but each had its own purpose, so believing Christians must be sanctified chambers for the glory of God,—one for this use and another for that, 2 Timothy 2:21” (Starke).
Ezekiel 42:5 sq. While in the previous chapter the breadth increased with the elevation, it here becomes narrower. The progressive growth in grace is a wider consciousness of Christ, but a constantly narrowing self-consciousness (1 Corinthians 15:9).—So is the service in the gospel, when with increasing years our view into eternity expands, and similarly contracts in temporal matters; the nearer the day of reckoning is, our responsibility becomes the clearer to us, and the more clearly do we see our many mistakes and disloyalties.—“There are three stages of life: youth, manhood, and old age, and the last is the narrowest of all” (Starck).
Ezekiel 42:7 sq. God is able to set walls around those who desire to keep themselves pure from the stains of the flesh, and to protect them in the hour of trial and temptation.—“True believers are protected, no one can injure them, John 10:27 sq.” (Starck.)—The protection which is in an evangelically-understood official and priestly dignity.—“If God’s servants have no place under heaven, yet they have one in heaven” (Starck).—“By these buildings connected with the temple, and pertaining to its outward economy, we should be reminded that the Lord bestows upon the pious the other necessaries of life also. In Him they find their entire satisfaction; but they use food, drink, intercourse with men, and this whole world, as if they did not use all this. Thus, to the pure all things are pure that they do with pure and upright heart. The word of God makes us strong when it is with us, and blesses also outward things. David never saw a righteous man forsaken (Psalms 37:0). So also has the Lord ordained that they who preach the gospel should live of the gospel, 1 Corinthians 9:13-14” (Œcol.).—“Oh, how sweet it is to cling to the temple like Anna! Luke 2:37” (Starck).
Ezekiel 42:13 sq. “If we have to understand by the priests the early Christians, or those brought up from childhood in the faith of Christ and walking in this way, then in these verses is figured their fellowship with one another in particular, their united inquiry into the word and meditation thereon and on the mystery of Christ for growth of knowledge and increase of joy, so that they are prepared and adorned in one and the same faith, alway to return to and worship at the altar, which is Christ” (Coco.).—“In word, in work, in everything, be Jesus read, and He alone” (Tersteegen).—Glory and holiness in their connection; how this connection is stamped on this temple and its arrangements and purposes, even to the most minute particulars.—His office secures enjoyment, too, to the minister of the gospel, but enjoyment from the holy; the Lord wills to be enjoyment to His own.—Profane ministers profane the sanctuary.—These two verses form a fitting text for introduction and ordination sermons.—That which is seemly for every Christian is, however, special duty for the priests. One should be able to discover in a preacher of the gospel, above all else, above all science, knowledge, culture, etc., that he is in the enjoyment of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world.—“So also we ought not to approach the holy table of the Lord with worldly, impenitent hearts” (Calov.).—From Ezekiel 42:14 much pastoral wisdom may be learned.—“But the lesson is not that a pastor may for a time lay aside his clerical robes or hang them on a nail to make merry with the world” (Berl. Bib.).—A true minister of the gospel does not want to be called a clergyman in distinction from the laity,—a Pharisaic title, which the church regulations of our fathers do not know, and which modern State bureaucracy ought to abolish,—but as. he is so in the spirit of the gospel in contrast to the world, even to the so-called world of culture.—The wrong and dangerous sociability of a minister of the word. The clerical coat does not make the clergyman, yet it is a defence and an admonition. The best clerical garment, and one which we may always put on and wear everywhere, is our sanctification in Christ.—It is as great a mistake to carry about the clerical coat everywhere, like a monk, as to leave it at home from unclerical frivolity or worldly-mindedness.—Paul became all things to all men (1 Corinthians 9:19; 1 Corinthians 9:22), but not at the expense of his ministerial office.—“When we sinners come in contact with Christ by faith, we are made clean, and become a holy, reasonable sacrifice, acceptable to God. But when once we are consecrated to God, we have to be on our guard that we on no occasion defile ourselves” (Œcol.).
Ezekiel 42:15 sq. “God gathers His Church from all the four quarters of the world, Isaiah 49:12” (Starke).—“So wide and spacious will the New Testament Church be, in distinction from the Old Testament Church. A greater than Solomon in all his pomp and glory is here; for Jesus is the Light of all nations, Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:6; Luke 2:32”(Starck).—“All believers in the whole world belong to this temple. The true Church is the collection of the scattered believers that are in the world” (Starck).—“Observe, only after he had learned exactly the internal magnitude did the prophet learn the external. It is labour in vain to labour in investigating nature until we have first laid a good foundation in godliness. Without this we continue too much devoted to the contemplation of visible things, and make them our idols, so that they become a stumbling-block and a snare to ourselves and other inexperienced persons. But when thou hast come to know the inner meaning of spiritual things, and hast tasted the length, height, and depth of the love of God, then thou mayest busy thyself with all visible things. Thou wilt everywhere pause, and, contemplating things with the spiritual eye, say: O Lord our God, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth! Thou who hast made the heavens, declare Thy glory, etc. For by the contemplation of outward things thou wilt be borne along to the praise of the divine glory and the overflowing love of the heavenly Father toward His people, for whose sake He has made also this whole artistically-compacted framework of visible things” (Heim-Hoff.).—“The prophet has now depicted everything so fully and clearly, in order to preach to his contemporaries, as babes in understanding, in a way intelligible to them, the consoling truth that God’s Church is eternal through His grace, and that He will always rebuild His house among us, provided we only desire to be His. Whatever is lost must truly be restored more glorious than ever to them who love God; and where God’s word finds lovers, His kingdom, too, increasingly assumes shape. But in Christ all has assumed such a shape, that through Him the sanctuary now always continues present in humanity; and the true altar of burnt-offering, Golgotha, is always before the eyes of the Most Holy Father, in order, for the sake of the sacrifice thereon offered, to love, sanctify, and protect us all. We thank thee, O most gracious eternal God and Father, who hast set up an eternal sanctuary for us sinners, never to depart from us, and hast sanctified us by the blood of Thy Son, and now givest unto us the four ends of the earth to embrace by Thy gospel; grant unto us to remain faithful in contemplation of Thee, and, ever fuller and fuller of Thy Spirit, to praise Thee through Jesus Christ. Amen” (Diedrich).
DOCTRINAL REFLECTIONS ON CH. 40–46
1. Hävernick rightly finds “the nervous and lofty unity” in the prophecies of Ezekiel “manifested in this section also.” “The visions of the prophet find here their fairest completion and perfect rounding off.” Already in the exposition (on Ezekiel 40:1 sq.) the harmony with the former part of Ezekiel’s prophecy has been remarked. Ezekiel 43:3 expressly refers back to Ezekiel 1:8. The free conformity in expression between our chapters and the whole closing portion generally, and the earlier chapters, has been often proved (comp. Philippson, p. 1294). The proof is the more striking when we consider the complete difference of the subject. That we have a vision here too harmonizes not only with Ezekiel 1:8, but in general with the prophetic character of Ezekiel, Ezekiel 8:15, Ezekiel 8:17. The prophet has repeatedly hinted at this close of his book. Thus Ezekiel 11:16; Ezekiel 20:40; Ezekiel 36:38; Ezekiel 37:26 sq. The last passage in particular might be regarded as the text for Ezekiel 40:0 sq. The eighth and following chapters required by the necessity of the idea our conclusion of the book.
2. In regard to analogies in the other prophets, Ezekiel’s contemporaries, as we may well conceive, will chiefly come into consideration. Hence, above all, Ezekiel’s fellow-labourer Jeremiah. Jeremiah represents the restoration and renewal of Israel as a rebuilding of Jerusalem, Jeremiah 31:38 sq. (with this comp. in our prophet, Ezekiel 47:13 sq., Ezekiel 48:0). Jeremiah 33:18 is similar to Ezekiel 44:9 sq. Haggai 2:7 sq. follows entirely the thought here of a new temple, insisting on its glory in view of a meagre present. But still more analogous are the night-visions of Zechariah (Ezekiel 2:5  sq., Ezekiel 4:0, Ezekiel 6:13 sq., Ezekiel 14:0).
3. The parallel between Isaiah and Ezekiel, as it stands in relation to the vision in Ezekiel 1:0 (p. 41), is not completed by citing Isaiah 60:0 as corresponding to the close of our book; but we shall have to seek the culminating point of Isaiah’s prophecy for the culmination of Ezekiel’s, in accordance with the office of this prophet to be the prophet of Jehovah’s holiness to obdurate Israel, —just as for the commencement Isaiah 6:0 is covered by Ezekiel 1:0—not so much in the close as in Ezekiel 53. The corresponding pendant to our closing chapters is the life-like description given there of the Messiah and His sacrifice of Himself. It is this self-sanctification of Jehovah through His servant Israel which in Isaiah corresponds to the self-glorification of Jehovah in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 40:0 sq.) by means of the new sanctuary and the new nationality; and this, again, accords with Ezekiel’s office, to behold the glory of Jehovah in the misery of the exile. In this respect Ezekiel stands to Isaiah somewhat as Easter and Pentecost do to Good Friday.
4. The different views, especially regarding the vision of the temple, may be distinguished generally as subjective and objective. I. The views which derive the explanation of Ezekiel 40:0 sq. solely or chiefly from Ezekiel’s subjectivity: (1) Already Villalpandus saw everywhere here only reminiscences of Solomon’s temple and of Solomon’s era, and consequently a similar line of thought to that in Ezra 3:12. Similarly Grotius, only that he reconciled the differences between Ezekiel’s temple and that of Solomon by ascribing them to the temple at the time of its destruction, just as Bunsen refers in this connection to 2 Kings 16:0. According to both these expositors, Ezekiel traced out from reminiscences a pattern for the future restoration. Thus, according to Ewald, Ezekiel becomes “a prophetic lawgiver.” “Such an undertaking, quite unusual in the case of earlier prophets,” is explained from the “predominating thoughts and aspirations of the better class of those days for the restoration of the subverted kingdom.” “Ezekiel probably meditated long, with passionate longing and lively remembrance, on the institutions of the demolished temple, etc.; what appeared to him great and glorious became impressed upon his mind as a pattern, with which he compared the Messianic expectations and demands, etc., until at length the outline of the whole arrangement which he here writes down pressed itself upon him!” “Above all, he sketches the holy objects, temple and altar, with the utmost exactness and vividness, as if a spirit (!) impelled him, now when they were destroyed, at least to catch up their image in a faithful and worthy form for the redemption that will one day certainly come; so that he must have diligently instructed himself in these matters from the best written and oral sources” (!). “Thus it is quite in keeping with Ezekiel’s way of prophesying, that he introduces everything as if he had been borne in spirit into the restored and completed temple, accompanied throughout by a heavenly guide, and had learned exactly from him all the single parts of this unique building as to their nature and use.” The paragraph Ezekiel 47:1-12 is, in Ewald’s opinion, “from its great, all-embracing sense, quite adapted to bring to a close briefly and pithily all these presentiments!” “Yet when precepts more moral are to be given, or the perfected kingdom has to be described in its extent, reaching even beyond the temple, this assumed form (!) easily passes over into the simple prophetic discourse.” (2) While the foregoing view looks to realization, Hitzig, for example, entirely rejects the idea that Ezekiel “considered such things (as our chapters contain) possible, feasible, or probable, and relatively commanded and prescribed them.” “One does not or did not reflect that the prophet’s calling was to express the demands of the idea, indifferent in the first instance about their realization.” All is pure fancy, a mere castle-in-the-air, a kind of “Platonic sketch,” as Herder expresses himself. The self-criticism of this view of our chapters can hardly be more suitably given than when Hitzig continues: “Inasmuch as this or that could be set in order otherwise than he imagines, he would not in regard to plans and proposals have resisted obstinately, but would have known how to distinguish the unessential of the execution from the essential of the thing itself. He sketches the future in the form he must wish it to take, in which it really would have the fairest appearance. If the reality falls short of the image, then the idea is defectively realized; but the fault lies in the reality, not in the idea, and Ezekiel is not responsible for it.” This, moreover, is merely what already Doederlein and others have held with respect to the closing portion of our book. Similarly Herder: “Ezekiel’s manner is to paint an image entire and at length; his mode of conception appears to demand great visions, figures written over on all sides, even tiresome, difficult, symbolical acts, of which his whole book is full. Israel in his wandering upon the mountains of his dispersal, among other tongues and peoples, had need of a prophet such as this one was, etc. So also as regards this temple. Another would have sketched it with soaring figures in lofty utterances; he does so in definite measurements. And not only the temple, but also appurtenances, tribes, administration, land, etc. How far has Israel always, so far as depended on his own efforts, remained below the commands, counsels, and promises of God!” (3) Böttcher has attempted to combine both views, and after him Philippson, who expresses himself to the following effect: “Ezekiel the prophet, sunk in himself, brooding over matters in the distance and in solitude, had not, like Jeremiah, upon whom the immediate reality pressed, viewed the occurrences simply as punishment of defection and degeneracy, but was conscious also of their inward signification, which came to him in the appearance of a vision. Hence he represented the destruction of the temple as a suspension of the relation of revelation between God and Israel; and so much the more necessary was it to represent the restoration of that same relation as the return of God into the restored sanctuary. Now, from the peculiar character of Ezekiel, this necessarily had to assume a form at once ideal and real,—ideal in its entirety as something future, real as individual and special, matter of fact in its appearance.” As the “indubitable motive of the prophet,” the following is given: “to keep alive in the exiles in the midst of Babylonian idolatry the idea of the one temple, and the priestly institute consecrated to it, as the centre of the religion of the one God; and at the return into Palestine to confirm the life of the people in their calling, by the removal of all elements of strife, and by approximation to the Mosaic state of things.” Hengstenberg’s view is surprisingly near the above one; he says: “With the exception of the Messianic section in Ezekiel 47:1-12, the fulfilment of all (!) the rest of the prophecy belongs to the times immediately after the return from the Chaldean exile. So must every one of its first hearers and readers have understood it. Jeremiah, whom Ezekiel follows throughout, had prophesied the restoration of the city and temple 70 years after the beginning of the Chaldean servitude, falling in the fourth year of Jehoiakim. Thirty-two years had already elapsed. Forty years after the devastation of Egypt (Ezekiel 29:13), the nations visited by the Chaldeans shall get back to their former state. According to Ezekiel 11:16, the restoration is to follow in a brief space after the destruction of the temple. We have before us a prophecy for which it is essential (!) to give truth and poetry (! !), which contains a kernel of real thoughts, yet does not present them naked, but clothed with flesh and blood, that they may be a counterpoise to the sad reality, because they fill the fancy, that fruitful workshop of despair, with bright (!) images, and thus make it an easier task to live in the word at a time when all that is visible cries aloud, Where is now thy God? The incongruity between the prophecy of Ezekiel and the state of things after the exile, vanishes at once by distinguishing between the thoughts and their clothing, and if we can rightly figure to ourselves the wounds for which the healing plaster is here presented, and at the same time the mental world of the priest (Ezekiel), and the materials given in the circumstances surrounding him, for clothing the higher verities which he had to announce to the people.” II. The views which above all look to and keep hold of the objectivity of the divine inspiration of Ezekiel. The very regard which must, in one way or other, be paid to the circumstances under which the people for whom, and the Babylonian exile in which, Ezekiel prophesied, objectivizes in some measure his subjectivity, so that not all the views hitherto cited of our chapters and the ones that follow are to be designated as purely subjective; the properly objective, however, will be, that “the hand of Jehovah was upon him,” that he was brought “in visions of God” to the land of Israel. Here the distinction is drawn by his own hand between the prophet of Israel and the fanciful Jewish priest; and not only this, but the unavoidable and irreconcilable alternative presents itself: either Ezekiel was a man of God, or a deceiver, for whom the fact that he had deceived himself also with assumed divine objectivity were no excuse, but would only be his self-condemnation. The case of Ezekiel, for the sake of truth, is too solemn for thinking of “poetic clothing” in the case before us. The subjective for the form before us, is to keep in mind when considering it what that form is. It has pleased God to speak to us through men. If we take full account of the national peculiarity of Israel in general during the whole old covenant, and of the peculiar personality in the case of our vision here, that is, that Ezekiel is the priest-prophet, that he above all other prophets is, as Umbreit says, a “born symbolist” ( “in the temple which he erects he makes known his greatness as a symbolist, as well by what he says as by what he passes over in silence”),—if we concede to Umbreit the “surprising skill in popularizing instruction” which he observes in Ezekiel, we shall have to accept as the ultimate ground why Israel was the mediator of the world’s salvation, and Ezekiel was chosen to behold the temple of the future, divine wisdom and its purpose for the world, that is, the objective κατ̓ ἐξοχην above everything subjective. In accordance with this principle, we have to judge of (1) the view objectivized in this sense of a model for the rebuilding of the temple after the return from the exile, the supporters of which assume a building-plan “issued under divine authority,” given by Jehovah through the prophet. Although there is a resemblance between Exodus 25:9; Exodus 25:40 and Ezekiel 40:4, yet it is not said to Ezekiel regarding Israel: “according to all that I show thee, the pattern of the dwelling, etc., even so shall ye make it;” the prophet is only to “convey,” announce (נָגַד) all that he sees to the house of Israel. From this circumstance, and not because the reality fell short of the idea (Hitzig, Herder), or, as Philippson adduces here, “the similar fate of so many Mosaic precepts,” the fact is explained that the post-exile temple was built without any regard to our vision. Only the fundamental reference to Solomon’s temple, which in general obtains in Ezekiel also, meets us in Ezra 3:12. This fact, the more remarkable considering the nearness of time, shows that Ezekiel 40:4, soon after it was written, and when fully known, was not regarded as a divine building-specification. We do not need, therefore, to express, as Hengst., “the obvious impossibility of erecting a building according to the specifications here given.” The circumstance that the building materials are not given has at least not prevented the temple of Ezekiel from being, with more or less success, constructed and fashioned after his statements. Bunsen says that “the temple here forms a very easily realized, congruous whole, of which an exact outline may be made, as the prophet also has evidently done.” Umbreit, too, holds this latter view. And although we have to do not with an architect but with a prophet, yet nothing stands in the way of our believing that the subjectivity of Ezekiel was preeminently qualified for this vision, from the fact that he possessed architectural capacity” (Introd. § 7). (2) The symbolical view. It corresponds generally to the character of Holy Writ. (Comp. Lange, Rev. Introd. p. 11.) In particular it pays due regard to the law of Moses, to the part of it relating to worship, the subject here. Especially when the whole worship of Israel is concentrated in the temple, a symbolical view respecting a vision thereof will be quite in place. Thereby only its due right is given to this objective, to the divine idea, in the shape which it has above all assumed in
Israelitish worship. The symbolical character, moreover, is specially appropriate for the prophetic writings. As has already been often said and pointed out, the symbolical predominates in Ezekiel; and as to these concluding chapters, Hävernick adduces, as indicating their general character, the description of the circuit of the new temple (Ezekiel 42:15 sq.), the representation of the entrance, etc. of the divine glory (Ezekiel 43:1 sq.), the river (Ezekiel 47:1 sq. etc.), and observes that “it is just such passages that form the conclusion to the previous description, and hence cast a light on it.” Comp. on Ezekiel 43:10 sq. But everything architectonic is not a symbol, although everything of that nature will indeed primarily relate to the building to be erected, and will thereby at the same time in some way serve the idea of the whole. This character comes out clearly even in individual statements of number, yet all such measurements are not therefore to be interpreted symbolically. Nay, as the exposition shows, there are here bare numbers, resisting every attempt to trace them back to the idea. It is sufficient in respect to the numbers, that (comp. Umbreit, p. 259 sq.) 4, as “signature not only of regularity but also of the revelation of God in space,” e.g. in the quadrangle of the temple; 3, “the signature of the divine,” e.g. in the sets of three gates; 10, “perfection complete in itself,” occurring often; likewise the “sacred number” 7; and the number 12 in the tables for preparing the offerings (Ezekiel 40:0), represent symbolism. (On the symbolism of numbers, comp. Lange on Rev. Introd. p. 14.) Umbreit rightly maintains: “It is a symbolical temple, notwithstanding the arid and dry description, in which only exact specifications of the number of cubits and the apparently most insignificant calculations and measurings occur;” as he says, “quite in keeping with the poverty of the immediately succeeding age and the dignity of the most significant inwardness.” (3) The Messianic view (for which comp. Lange on Kings, p. 60 sq.) is only the taking full advantage of and applying the symbolic view in general. Symbol and type, emblem and pattern, must mutually interpenetrate one another in a law like that of Israel. What separates Israel from the heathen is its law; what qualifies Israel for the whole world is its promise. But now, because of sin, the law has come in between the promise and the fulfilment; that sin becoming the more powerful as transgression may make manifest for faith the grace which alone is still more powerful, and that consequently the necessity of the promise should be the more apparent; that is, the pedagogy of the law (and especially of its ethical part) to Christ. Thus the law of Israel is the theocratic expression of Israel, the servant of God, as he ought to be, and hence prefigures the servant of Jehovah who is the fulfilling of the law, as He is the personal fulfilling of Israel, inasmuch as in Him who was delivered for our transgressions, and raised again for our δικαιωσις, Israel after the Spirit is represented; so that here out of the law relating to worship rise up, as on the one hand sacrifice and the priesthood, so on the other the concentration of the whole of worship in the temple, this parable of the future, with reference to which Christ, John 2:0, gives the σημειον: Destroy (λυσατε) this temple, and in three days I will raise it up (ἐγερω), saying this of the temple of His body; as also the disciples remembered when He had risen from the dead, and as the accusation against Him ran (Matthew 26:61). Accordingly the law, and especially the temple and its service, is σκιαν ἐχων των μελλοντων: the future σωμα is given in the σωμα του Χριστου (σωμα δε κατηρτισω μου, Hebrews 10:0). “This reference to the future,” says Ziegler (in his thoughtful little work on the “historical development of divine revelation”), “is the most dynamical among all the references of the law; its significance for its own time is so weak and unimportant, that it seems to exist solely for the sake of the future, although its office is the opposite of the office of the New Testament, which is formed and abiding in the hearts of men (διακονια της δικαιοσυνης, του τνευματος); still it was a sensible type, a strongly marked and distinctly stamped shadow of the coming substances, and yet, moreover, a veil which concealed it.” What has been said shows the typical signification of the vision of Ezekiel, in which the symbolical view of it is completed, and the pedagogic and providential necessity of that form borrowed from the legal worship in which it is enshrined. Here is more than what (as Hengstenberg can say) “suffices to employ the fancy.” For the anointed one is τελος του νομου. But as the Messianic view of our chapters is thus justified by the symbolic view, when we have taken into account the law, particularly the law of worship in Israel, so likewise the already (Doct. Reflec. 1) noted connection of Ezekiel 40:0 sq. with the previous chapters, especially with Ezekiel 37:26 sq. (p. 351), yields the same result, as also the position after Ezekiel 38, 39 and the relation to this prophecy will have to be taken into consideration. What holds good of Ezekiel 37:26 sq. will also be a hint for our chapters. But even the Talmudists saw themselves compelled (principally because of the treatment of the law of Moses, to be spoken of presently) to acknowledge “that the exposition of this portion would be first given in Messianic times,” as the “best” (according to Philippson) Jewish expositors recognised here “the type of a third temple.” The saying of Jesus in John ii. possibly alluded to the exegetical tradition of the Jews. Hävernick accommodates as follows: “The shattered old theocratic forms rather than new ones were above all cognate to the priestly mind of Ezekiel;” so “he sees nothing perish of that which Jehovah has founded for eternity; those forms beam before him revivified, animated with fresh breath, and lit up in the splendour of true glory; he recognises their full realization as coming in first in Messianic times.” As errors are still committed, e.g. by Schmieder, in the symbolizing of particulars, so the Messianic typology of a Cocceius has deserved, although only in part, the anathema on “mystical allegories,” which above all modern criticism utters; for our defect in understanding in respect of many particulars will always have to be conceded. The Christian idea, however, the Old Testament typical symbolizing of which we have here to expound, is not only the idea of Christ, but also the idea of the Christian Church, the kingdom of God in Christ. If the resurrection of the Anointed One comes into consideration in the first respect, so in the latter does the consummation of the kingdom of grace, after its last affliction, into the kingdom of glory; comp. Revelation 21:22. The one is as eschatological in the wider, that is, christological in the narrower sense, as the other is eschatological in the narrower, or christological in the wider sense. By the translating of our passage into the higher key of John’s Apocalypse, the relation of Ezekiel 40:0 sq. to Ezekiel 38, 39 must be so much the more evident. Comp. Doct. Reflec. on xxxviii. and xxxix. We refer, finally, to what has been said in the Introduction, § 7, that Jehovah’s building in Ezekiel here (still more in its already actual reality for the seer, so that what already existed had only to be measured to him) forms the architectonic antithesis to the buildings of Nebuchadnezzar. As the figure of Gog with his people may have presented itself to our prophet through means of Babylon (comp. Doct. Reflec. on Ezekiel 38 39, p. 375), so from that same quarter may have been derived the representation given of the kingdom of God in its victorious opposition to the world. Hitzig, too (as we now first see when treating of the closing chapters), supposes that there probably “flitted before the eyes of the author living in Chaldea, when describing his quadrangle, the capital of the country and the temple of Belus,—the former, like the latter, forming a square, with streets intersecting one another at right angles.” Umbreit says of the vision of Ezekiel as a whole: “It is a great thought, which presents itself unadorned to our view in the prophetico-symbolic temple: God henceforth dwells in perfect peace, revealing Himself in the unbounded fulness of His glory, which is returning to Jerusalem, in the purest and most blissful unison with His sanctified people, making Himself known in the living word of progressive, saving, and sanctifying redemption. Everything is placed upon the ample circuit of the temple, whose extended courts receive all people, and through whose high and open gates the King of Glory is to enter in (Psalms 24:7; Psalms 24:9), and then upon the order and harmony of the divine habitation, the well-proportioned building (Ezekiel 42:10); and the revelations of the holiest are stored up in the pure, deep water of His word, which in life-giving streams issues from the temple. The stone tables of the law are consumed (?), and the fresh and free fountain of eternal truth streams forth from the temple of the Spirit, quickening and vivifying in land and sea, awakening by its creative and fructifying power a new and mighty race on earth. And thus hast thou, much misjudged yet lofty seer, in the unconscious depth of thy mysteriously flowing language, set up upon the great, undistinguishing (comp. Jeremiah 31:34), well-proportioned, and beautifully compacted building, a type of the simple yet lofty temple of Christ, from which flows the spiritual fountain of life !” From this Messianic view of the section we have to reject (4) the chiliastic-literal view, according to which Ezekiel describes what may be called either the Jewish temple of the future, or the Jewish future of the Christian Church. It is interesting to observe what kind of spirits meet together here in the flesh; e.g. Baumgarten and Auberlen, Hofmann and Volck (who acts as champion for him, and that partly with striking power of demonstration against Kliefoth), are combined here only in general because they make the community of God at our Lord’s Parousia to be an Israelite one. Comp. moreover, p. 357 and § 10 of the Introduction. Auberlen (Daniel and the Revelation of John, p. 348 sq., Clark’s tr.) expresses the apocalyptic phantasm as follows: “Israel brought back to his own land becomes the people of God in a far higher and more inward sense than before, etc.; a new period of revelation begins, the Spirit of God is richly poured forth, and a fulness of gracious gifts is conferred, such as the apostolic Church possessed typically” (!). (One can hardly go farther in the delusion of “deeper” knowledge of Scripture than to make primitive and original Christianity a type of Judaism!) “But this rich spirit-imparted life finds its completed representation in a priestly as well as in a kingly manner. That which in the ages of the Old Covenant obtained only outwardly in the letter, and that which conversely in the age of the Church withdrew itself into inward, hidden spirituality, will then in a pneumatic (!) manner assume also an outward appearance and form. In the Old Covenant the whole national life of Israel in its various manifestations—household and state, labour and art, literature and culture—was determined by religion, but only in an external legal manner; the Church, again, has to insist above all on a renewal of the heart, and must leave those outward forms of life free, enjoining it on the conscience of each individual to glorify Christ in these relations also; but in the millennial kingdom all these spheres of life will be truly Christianized from within outwardly. Thus looked at, it will no longer be offensive (?) to say that the Mosaic ceremonial law corresponds to the priesthood of Israel, and the civil law to its kingship. The Gentile Church could adopt only the moral law; so certainly the sole means of influence assigned to her is that which works inwardly,—the preaching of the word, the exercise of the prophetic office.”
(The Romish Church, however, has known how to serve itself heir satis superque to the Jewish ceremonial law!) “But when once the priesthood and the kingship arise again, then also—without prejudice to the principles laid down in the Epistle to the Hebrews (?)—the ceremonial and civil law of Moses will unfold its spiritual depths in the cultus and the constitution of the millennial kingdom (Matthew 5:17-19). The present is still the time of preaching, but then the time of the liturgy shall have come, which presupposes a congregation consisting solely of converted people,” etc. etc. When Hengstenberg calls such interpretation “altogether unhappy,” that is the least that one can say about it; but even that could not have been said if Ezekiel’s descriptions really had the “Utopian character” which Hengstenberg attributes to them. He, however, justly animadverts upon the incongruity of expecting the restoration of the temple, the Old Testament festivals, the bloody sacrifices (!!), and the priesthood of the sons of Zadok, within the bounds of the New Covenant. Comp. Keil, p. 500 sq., who, both from the prophetic parts of the Old Testament and from the New, refutes at length the notion of a transformation of Canaan before the last judgment, and a kingdom of glory at Jerusalem before the end of the world. (Auberlen, who looks on the “first resurrection” as a “bodily coming forth of the whole community of believers from their hitherto invisibility with Christ in heaven,” makes the now “transformed Church again return thither with Christ, and the saints rule from heaven over the earth;” and from this he concludes that “the intercourse between the world above and the world below will then be more active and free,” etc. Hofmann’s transference of the glorified Church to earth, and his further connecting therewith the national regeneration of Israel, Auberlen declares to be “incompatible with the whole of Old Testament prophecy, to say nothing of its internal improbability.”)
ADDITIONAL NOTE ON Ezekiel 40-46
[Dr. Fairbairn’s classification of the views which have been held of Ezekiel’s closing vision generally, and in particular of the description contained in it respecting the temple, is as follows: 1. The historico-literal view, “which takes all as a prosaic description of what had existed in the times immediately before the captivity, in connection with the temple which is usually called Solomon’s.” 2. The historico-ideal view, that “the pattern exhibited to Ezekiel differed materially from anything that previously existed, and presented for the first time what should have been after the return from the captivity, though, from the remissness and corruption of the people, it never was properly realized.” 3. The Jewish-carnal view, held by certain Jewish writers, who maintain that Ezekiel’s description was actually followed, although in a necessarily imperfect manner, by the children of the captivity, and afterwards by Herod; but that “it waits to be properly accomplished by the Messiah, who, when He appears, shall cause the temple to be reared precisely as here described, and carry out all the other subordinate arrangements,”—a view which, strangely enough, is in substance held also by certain parties in the Christian Church, who “expect the vision to receive a complete and literal fulfilment at the period of Christ’s second coming.” 4. The Christian-spiritual or typical view, “according to which the whole representation was not intended to find either in Jewish or Christian times an express and formal realization, but was a grand, complicated symbol of the good God had in reserve for His Church, especially under the coming dispensation of the gospel. From the Fathers downwards this has been the prevailing view in the Christian Church. The greater part have held it, to the exclusion of every other; in particular, among the Reformers and their successors, Luther, Calvin, Capellus, Cocceius, Pfeiffer, followed by the majority of evangelical divines of our own country.”
To this fourth and last view Dr. Fairbairn himself strenuously adheres, expounding, illustrating, and defending it at considerable length, and with marked ability and success. We give his remarks in a somewhat condensed form.
“1. First of all, it is to be borne in mind that the description purports to be a vision,—a scheme of things exhibited to the mental eye of the prophet ‘in the visions of God.’ This alone marks it to be of an ideal character, as contradistinguished from anything that ever had been, or ever was to be found in actual existence after the precise form given to it in the description. Such we have uniformly seen to be the character of the earlier visions imparted to the prophet. The things described in chap, 1–3 and 8–11, which were seen by him ‘in the visions of God,’ were all of this nature. They presented a vivid picture of what either then actually existed or was soon to take place, but in a form quite different from the external reality. Not the very image or the formal appearance of things was given, but rather a compressed delineation of their inward being and substance. And such, too, was found to be the case with other portions, which are of an entirely similar nature, though not expressly designated visions; such, for example, as Ezekiel 4:12, 21, all containing delineations and precepts, as if speaking of what was to be done and transacted in real life, and yet it is necessary to understand them as ideal representations, exhibiting the character, but not the precise form and lineaments, of the coming transactions. … Never at any period of His Church has God given laws and ordinances to it simply by vision; and when Moses was commissioned to give such in the wilderness, his authority to do so was formally based on the ground of his office being different from the ordinarily prophetical, and of his instructions being communicated otherwise than by vision (Numbers 12:6). So that to speak by way of vision, and at the same time in the form of precept, as if enjoining laws and ordinances materially differing from those of Moses, was itself a palpable and incontrovertible proof of the ideal character of the revelation. It was a distinct testimony that Ezekiel was no new lawgiver coming to modify or supplant what had been written by him with whom God spake face to face upon the mount.
“2. What has been said respecting the form of the prophet’s communication, is confirmed by the substance of it—as there is much in this that seems obviously designed to force on us the conviction of its ideal character. There are things in the description which, taken literally, are in the highest degree improbable, and even involve natural impossibilities.” Thus, for example, “according to the most exact modes of computation, the prophet’s measurements give for the outer wall of the temple a square of an English mile and about a seventh on each side, and for the whole city [i.e. including the oblation of holy ground for the prince, the priests, and the Levites] a space of between three and four thousand square miles. Now there is no reason to suppose that the boundaries of the ancient city exceeded two miles and a half in circumference (see Robinson’s Researches, vol. i.), while here the circumference of the wall of the temple is nearly twice as much.” And then, taking the land of Canaan at the largest, as including all that Israel ever possessed on both sides of the Jordan, it amounted only to somewhere between ten and eleven thousand square miles. Surely “the allotment of a portion nearly equal to one-half of the whole for the prince, the priests, and Levites is a manifest proof of the ideal character of the representation; the more especially, when we consider that that sacred portion is laid off in a regular square, with the temple on Mount Zion in the centre. … The measurements of the prophet were made to involve a literal incongruity, as did also the literal extravagances of the vision in chap. 38, 39, that men might be forced to look for something else than a literal accomplishment. …
“3. Some, perhaps, may be disposed to imagine that, as they expect certain physical changes to be effected upon the land before the prophecy can be carried into fulfilment, these may be adjusted in such a manner as to admit of the prophet’s measurements being literally applied. It is impossible, however, to admit such a supposition. For the boundaries of the land itself are given, not new boundaries of the prophet’s own, but those originally laid down by Moses. And as the measurements of the temple and city are out of all proportion to these, no alterations can be made on the physical condition of the country that could bring the one into proper agreement with the other. Then there are other things in the description, which, if they could not of themselves so conclusively prove the impossibility of a literal sense as the consideration arising from the measurements, lend great force to this consideration, and, on any other supposition than their being parts of an ideal representation, must wear an improbable and fanciful aspect. Of this kind is the distribution of the remainder of the land in equal portions among the twelve tribes, in parallel sections, running straight across from east to west, without any respect to the particular circumstances of each, or their relative numbers. More especially, the assignment of five of these parallel sections to the south of the city, which, after making allowance for the sacred portion, would leave at the farthest a breadth of only three or four miles a piece! Of the same kind also is the supposed separate existence of the twelve tribes, which now, at least, can scarcely be regarded otherwise than a natural impossibility, since it is an ascertained fact that such separate tribeships no longer exist; the course of Providence has been ordered so as to destroy them; and once destroyed, they cannot possibly be reproduced. … Of the same kind, farther, is ‘the very high mountain’ on which the vision of the temple was presented to the eye of the prophet; for as this unquestionably refers to the old site of the temple, the little eminence on which it stood could only be designated thus in a moral or ideal, and not in a literal sense. Finally, of the same kind is the account given of the stream issuing from the eastern threshold of the temple, and flowing into the Dead Sea, which, both for the rapidity of its increase and for the quality of its waters, is unlike anything that ever was known in Judea, or in any other region of the world. Putting all together, it seems as if the prophet had taken every possible precaution, by the general character of the delineation, to debar the expectation of a literal fulfilment; and I should despair of being able in any case to draw the line of demarcation between the ideal and the literal, if the circumstances now mentioned did not warrant us in looking for something else than a fulfilment according to the letter of the vision.
“4. Yet there is the farther consideration to be mentioned, viz. that the vision of the prophet, as it must, if understood literally, imply the ultimate restoration of the ceremonials of Judaism, so it inevitably places the prophet in direct contradiction to the writers of the New Testament. The entire and total cessation of the peculiarities of Jewish worship is as plainly taught by our Lord and His apostles as language could do it, and on grounds which are not of temporary, but of permanent validity and force. The word of Christ to the woman of Samaria: ‘Woman, believe me, the hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father,’ is alone conclusive of the matter; for if it means anything worthy of so solemn an asseveration, it indicates that Jerusalem was presently to lose its distinctive character, and a mode of worship to be introduced capable of being celebrated in any other place as well as there. But when we find the apostles afterwards contending for the cessation of the Jewish ritual, because suited only to a church ‘in bondage to the elements of the world,’ and consisting of what were comparatively but ‘weak and beggarly elements;’ and when, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, we also find the disannulling of the Old Covenant, with its Aaronic priesthood and carnal ordinances, argued at length, and especially ‘because of the weakness and unprofitableness thereof,’ that is, its own inherent imperfections, we must certainly hold, either that the shadowy services of Judaism are finally and for ever gone, or that these sacred writers very much misrepresented their Master’s mind regarding them. No intelligent and sincere Christian can adopt the latter alternative; he ought, therefore, to rest in the former. And he will do so, in the rational persuasion, that as in the wise administration of God there must ever be a conformity in the condition of men to the laws and ordinances under which they are placed, so the carnal institutions, which were adapted to the Church’s pupilage, can never, in the nature of things, be in proper correspondence with her state of manhood, perfection, and millennial glory. To regard the prophet here as exhibiting a prospect founded on such an unnatural conjunction, is to ascribe to him the foolish part of seeking to have the new wine of the kingdom put back into the old bottles again, and while occupying himself with the highest hopes of the Church, treating her only to a showy spectacle of carnal superficialities. We have far too high ideas of the spiritual insight and calling of an Old Testament prophet, to believe that it was possible for him to act so unseemly a part, or contemplate a state of things so utterly anomalous. And we are perfectly justified by the explicit statement of Scripture in saying, that ‘a temple with sacrifices now would be the most daring denial of the all-sufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ, and of the efficacy of the blood of His atonement. He who sacrificed before, confessed the Messiah; he who should sacrifice now, would most solemnly and sacrilegiously deny Him.’1
“5. Holding the description, then, in this last vision to be conclusively of an ideal character, we advance a step farther, and affirm that the idealism here is precisely of the same kind as that which appeared in some of the earlier visions,—visions that must necessarily have already passed into fulfilment, and which therefore may justly be regarded as furnishing a key to the right understanding of the one before us. The leading characteristic of those earlier visions, which coincide in nature with this, we have found to be the historical cast of their idealism. The representation of things to come is thrown into the mould of something similar in the past, and presented as simply a reproduction of the old, or a returning back again of what is past, only with such diversities as might be necessary to adapt it to the altered circumstances contemplated; while still the thing meant was, not that the outward form, but that the essential nature of the past should revive.” In this connection, Dr. Fairbairn refers to the vision of the iniquity-bearing in Ezekiel 4:0; to the sojourn in the wilderness spoken of in Ezekiel 20:0; to the ideal representation given of the king of Tyre in Ezekiel 28:11-19; and to the prediction of Egypt’s humiliation in Ezekiel 29:1-16. “Now in all these cases,” he goes on to remark, “of an apparent, we should entirely err if we looked for an actual repetition of the past. It is the nature of the transactions and events, not their precise form or external conditions, that is unfolded to our view. The representation is of an ideal kind, and the history of the past merely supplies the mould into which it is cast. The spiritual eye of the prophet discerned the old, as to its real character, becoming alive again in the new. He saw substantially the same procedure followed again, and the unchangeable Jehovah must display the uniformity of His character and dealings by visiting it with substantially the same treatment. If, now, we bring the light furnished by those earlier revelations of the prophet, in respect to which we can compare the prediction with the fulfilment, so as to read by its help, and according to its instruction, the vision before us, we shall only be giving the prophet the benefit of the common rule, of interpreting a writer by a special respect to his own peculiar method, and explaining the more obscure by the more intelligible parts of his writings. In all the other cases referred to, where his representation takes the form of a revival of the past, we see it is the spirit and not the letter of the representation that is mainly to be regarded; and why should we expect it to be otherwise here? In this remarkable vision we have the old produced again, in respect to what was most excellent and glorious in Israel’s past condition,—its temple, with every necessary accompaniment of sacredness and attraction—the symbol of the divine presence within—the ministrations and ordinances proceeding in due order without—the prince and the priesthood—everything, in short, required to constitute the beau-ideal of a sacred commonwealth according to the ancient patterns of things. But, at the same time, there are such changes and alterations superinduced upon the old as sufficiently indicate that something far greater and better than the past was concealed under this antiquated form. Not the coming realities, in their exact nature and glorious fulness—not even the very image of these things, could the prophet as yet distinctly unfold. While the old dispensation lasted, they must be thrown into the narrow and imperfect shell of its earthly relations. But those who lived under that dispensation might get the liveliest idea they were able to obtain of the brighter future, by simply letting their minds rest on the past, as here modified and shaped anew by the prophet; just as now, the highest notions we can form to ourselves of the state of glory is by conceiving the best of the Church’s present condition refined and elevated to heavenly perfection. Exhibited at the time the vision was, and constructed as it is, one should no more expect to see a visible temple realizing the conditions, and a reoccupied Canaan, after the regular squares and parallelograms of the prophet, than in the case of Tyre to find her monarch literally dwelling in Eden, and, as a cherub, occupying the immediate presence of God, or to behold Israel sent back again to make trial of Egyptian bondage and the troubles of the desert. Whatever might be granted in providence of an outward conformity to the plan of the vision, it should only be regarded as a pledge of the far greater good really contemplated, and a help to faith in waiting for its proper accomplishment.
“6. But still, looking to the manifold and minute particulars given in the description, some may be disposed to think it highly improbable that anything short of an exact and literal fulfilment should have been intended. Had it been only a general sketch of a city and temple, as in the 60th chapter of Isaiah, and other portions of prophecy, they could more easily enter into the ideal character of the description, and understand how it might chiefly point to the better things of the gospel dispensation. But with so many exact measurements before them, and such an infinite variety of particulars of all sorts, they cannot conceive how there can be a proper fulfilment without corresponding objective realities. It is precisely here, however, that we are met by another very marked characteristic of our prophet. Above all the prophetical writers, he is distinguished, as we have seen, for his numberless particularisms. What Isaiah depicts in a few bold and graphic strokes, as in the case of Tyre, for example, Ezekiel spreads over a series of chapters, filling up the picture with all manner of details,—not only telling us of her singular greatness, but also of every element, far and near, that contributed to produce it, and not only predicting her downfall, but coupling it with every conceivable circumstance that might add to its mortification and completeness. We have seen the same features strikingly exhibited in the prophecy on Egypt, in the description of Jerusalem’s condition and punishment under the images of the boiling caldron (Ezekiel 24:0) and the exposed infant (Ezekiel 16:0), in the vision of the iniquity-bearing (Ezekiel 4:0), in the typical representation of going into exile (Ezekiel 13:0), and indeed in all the more important delineations of the prophet, which, even when descriptive of ideal scenes, are characterized by such minute and varied details as to give them the appearance of a most definitely shaped and lifelike reality.
“… Considering his peculiar manner, it was no more than might have been expected, that when going to present a grand outline of the good in store for God’s Church and people, the picture should be drawn with the fullest detail. If he has done so on similar but less important occasions, he could not fail to do it here, when rising to the very top and climax of all his revelations. For it is pre-eminently by means of the minuteness and completeness of his descriptions that he seeks to impress our minds with a feeling of the divine certainty of the truth disclosed in them, and to give, as it were, weight and body to our apprehensions.
“7. In farther support of the view we have given, it may also be asked, whether the feeling against a spiritual understanding of the vision, and a demand for outward scenes and objects literally corresponding to it, does not spring, to a large extent, from false notions regarding the ancient temple and its ministrations and ordinances of worship, as if these possessed an independent value apart from the spiritual truths they symbolically expressed? On the contrary, the temple, with all that belonged to it, was an embodied representation of divine realities. It presented to the eye of the worshippers a manifold and varied instruction respecting the things of God’s kingdom. And it was by what they saw embodied in those visible forms and external transactions that the people were to learn how they should think of God, and act toward Him in the different relations and scenes of life—when they were absent from the temple, as well as when they were near and around it. It was an image and emblem of the kingdom of God itself, whether viewed in respect to the temporary dispensation then present, or to the grander development everything was to receive at the advent of Christ. And it was one of the capital ‘errors of the Jews, in all periods of their history, to pay too exclusive a regard to the mere externals of the temple and its worship, without discerning the spiritual truths and principles that lay concealed under them. But such being the case, the necessity for an outward an literal realization of Ezekiel’s plan obviously alls to the ground. For if all connected with it was ordered and arranged chiefly for its symbolical value at any rate, why might not the description itself be given forth for the edification and comfort of the Church, on account of what it contained of symbolical instruction? Even if the plan had been fitted and designed for being actually reduced to practice, it would still have been principally with a view to its being a mirror in which to see reflected the mind and purposes of God. But if so, why might not the delineation itself be made to serve for such a mirror? In other words, why might not God have spoken to His Church of good things to come by the wise adjustment of a symbolical plan? … Let the same rules be applied to the interpretation of Ezekiel’s visionary temple which, on the express warrant of Scripture, we apply to Solomon’s literal one, and it will be impossible to show why, so far as the ends of instruction are concerned, the same great purposes might not be served by the simple delineation of the one, as by the actual construction of the other.2
“It is also not to be overlooked, in support of this line of reflection, that in other and earlier communications Ezekiel makes much account of the symbolical character of the temple and the things belonging to it. It is as a priest he gives us to understand at the outset, and for the purpose of doing priest-like service for the covenant-people, that he received his prophetical calling, and had visions of God displayed to him (see on Ezekiel 1:1-3). In the series of visions contained in Ezekiel 8-11, the guilt of the people was represented as concentrating itself there, and determining God’s procedure in regard to it. By the divine glory being seen to leave the temple was symbolized the withdrawing of God’s gracious presence from Jerusalem; and by His promising to become for a little a sanctuary to the pious remnant in Chaldea, it was virtually said that the temple, as to its spiritual reality, was going to be transferred thither. This closing vision comes now as the happy counterpart of those earlier ones, giving promise of a complete rectification of preceding evils and disorders. It assured the Church that all should yet be set right again; nay, that greater and better things, should be found in the future than had ever been known in the past,—things too great and good to be presented merely under the old symbolical forms; these must be modelled and adjusted anew to adapt them to the higher objects in prospect. Nor is Ezekiel at all singular in this. The other prophets represent the coming future with a reference to the symbolical places and ordinances of the past, adjusting and modifying these to suit their immediate design. Thus Jeremiah says, in Ezekiel 31:38–40: ‘Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the city shall be built to the Lord from the gate of Hananeel to the corner gate. And the measuring line shall go forth opposite to it still farther over the hill Gareb (the hill of the leprous), and shall compass about to Goath (the place of execution). And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields to the brook Kedron, unto the corner of the horse-gate toward the east, shall be holy to the Lord.’ That is, there shall be a rebuilt Jerusalem in token of the revival of God’s cause, in consequence of which even the places formerly unclean shall become holiness to the Lord: not only shall the loss be recovered, but also the evil inherent in the past purged out, and the cause of righteousness made completely triumphant. The sublime passage in Isaiah 60:0 is entirely parallel as to its general import. And in the two last chapters of Revelation we have a quite similar vision to the one before us, employed to set forth the ultimate condition of the redeemed Church. There are differences in the one as compared with the other, precisely as in the vision of Ezekiel there are differences as compared with anything that existed under the Old Covenant. In particular, while the temple forms the very heart and centre of Ezekiel’s plan, in John’s no temple whatever was to be seen. But in the two descriptions the same truth is symbolized, though in the last it appears in a state of more perfect development than in the other. The temple in Ezekiel, with God’s glory returned to it, bespoke God’s presence among His people to sanctify and bless them; the no-temple in John indicated that such a select spot was no longer needed, that the gracious presence of God was everywhere seen and felt. It is the same truth in both, only in the latter represented, in accordance with the genius of the new dispensation, as less connected with the circumstantials of place and form.
“8. It only remains to be stated, that in the interpretation of the vision we must keep carefully in mind the circumstances in which it was given, and look at it, not as from a New, but as from an Old Testament point of view. We must throw ourselves back as far as possible into the position of the prophet himself. We must think of him as having just seen the divine fabric which had been reared in the sacred and civil constitution of Israel dashed in pieces, and apparently become a hopeless wreck. But in strong faith in Jehovah’s word, and with divine insight into His future purposes, he sees that that never can perish which carries in its bosom the element of God’s unchangeableness; that the hand of the Spirit will assuredly be applied to raise up the old anew; and not only that, but also that it shall be inspired with fresh life and vigour, enabling it to burst the former limits, and rise into a greatness and perfection and majesty never known or conceived of in the past. He speaks, therefore, chiefly of gospel times, but as one still dwelling under the veil, and uttering the language of legal times. And of the substance of his communication, both as to its general correspondence with the past and its difference in particular parts, we submit the following summary, as given by Hävernick:—‘1. In the gospel times there is to be on the part of Jehovah a solemn occupation anew of His sanctuary, in which the entire fulness of the divine glory shall dwell and manifest itself. At the last there is to rise a new temple, diverse from the old, to be made every way suitable to that grand and lofty intention, and worthy of it; in particular, of vast compass for the new community, and with a holiness stretching over the entire extent of the temple, so that in this respect there should no longer be any distinction between the different parts. Throughout, everything is subjected to the most exact and particular appointments; individual parts, and especially such as had formerly remained indeterminate, obtain now an immediate divine sanction; so that every idea of any kind of arbitrariness must be altogether excluded from this temple. Accordingly, this sanctuary is the thoroughly sufficient, perfect manifestation of God for the salvation of His people (Ezekiel 40:1 to Ezekiel 43:12). 2. From this sanctuary, as from the new centre of all religious life, there gushes forth an unbounded fulness of blessings upon the people, who in consequence attain to a new condition. There come also into being a new glorious worship, a truly acceptable priesthood and theocratical ruler, and equity and righteousness reign among the entire community, who, being purified from all stains, rise indeed to possess the life that is in God (Ezekiel 43:13 to Ezekiel 47:12). 3. To the people who have become renewed by such blessings, the Lord gives the land of promise; Canaan is a second time divided among them, where, in perfect harmony and blessed fellowship, they serve the living God, who abides and manifests Himself among them’3 (Ezekiel 47:13-23).”—Fairbairn’s Ezekiel, pp. 436–450.—W. F.]
5. In connection with the wall with which the description begins, mention is forthwith made (Ezekiel 40:5) of the “house.” This makes clear in the outset what is the principal building, to which all else is subordinate, although the wall is called a “building.” However large, then, that which the wall comprehends may appear to be,—and it is said in 40:2 to be “a city-like building,”—the “house” is still the kernel. Comp. the measuring from it in 40:7 sq. Hence the symbolized idea is the dwelling of Jehovah as a permanent one, especially when we compare Ezekiel 37:26 sq. As type, the realization of the idea is to be found in the Word become flesh (John 1:14), as also the χαι νυν ἐστιν (John 4:23) farther shows that the worship in spirit and in truth, and thereby the fulfilling of the worship at Jerusalem, has come with Christ. Salvation (ἡ σωτηρια) is of the Jews, as our vision also sets forth in an architectonic form; they worship what they know. But as the law was given by Moses, so grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. The original influence of the sanctuary on the first constituting of Israel as a people through the making of a divine covenant is still held by in Ezekiel 37:26 sq. (Yes, Israel is Jehovah’s family, His house, εἰς τα ἰδια ἠλθε, John 1:11; Jehovah’s covenant with Israel is a marriage-covenant, Ezekiel 16:0.) The visibility of Jehovah’s dwelling, even in the vision here, although spiritual, must be looked on as a pledge of the entire relation of Jehovah to Israel, and especially of the promise of the Messiah. This is the sacramental character of Ezekiel’s vision of the temple specially insisted on by Hengstenberg. But the temple as the abode of Jehovah is a place of farther revelation, for Jehovah is the Self-revealing One. The very name Jehovah contains a pledge for the whole future of the kingdom of God, the Church of the future. Now this name, as is well known, coincides most essentially and intimately with the destination of this “house;” Ezekiel repeatedly emphasizes the fact that it is the name of His holiness, just as in connection therewith the sanctification of Israel is again and again expressed. Now, as this expresses also the ultimate aim of all Jehovah’s revelation in Israel, we must have got before us in the sanctuary the perspective to the end of God’s way with Israel and mankind in general, the vision of Israel fulfilling its destiny of being God’s tabernacle with men, and the consummation of the world in glory, Revelation 21:22. But the holiness of Jehovah, the sanctification of Israel, is signified forthwith by the wall “round about the house.”
6. The significance of the wall, however, comes first info consideration in respect to the court of the people, so that in special the sanctification of Israel as the end and object of Jehovah’s dwelling in their midst is before all thus symbolically expressed. If the “house” is the central point of the whole, still the court completes the idea of the house; as we have the temple in its entirety, as it was meant to be, only when it has the two courts conjoined with it. The reference to the city, and farther to the whole land, which undoubtedly was always contained in the idea of the court, is moreover expressly given shape to in Ezekiel (comp. Ezekiel 48:0). The court here represents the Israel in the widest extent that appears before Jehovah, as it lives in the light of His countenance and of intercourse with Him; that is to say, it refers to the idea proper of a holy people. When, accordingly, the visionary-prophetic description in Ezekiel exhibits a striking difference from the brevity, incompleteness, and indefiniteness of the historical account in the books of Kings and Chronicles, this indicates, as respects the idea, another Israel than the people had hitherto been. Hävernick remarks on “the wide compass, in order to contain the new community,” and “the sanctuary extending itself on all sides of the temple indiscriminately,” “that which was formerly undefined is now,” as he says, “to receive a higher, a divine sanction.” Bähr, speaking of Solomon’s temple, says that the “almost total indefiniteness” of its court is owing to its “human character” in contrast to the idea and purpose of the house, and that even the court of the tabernacle, although measured and defined more exactly than that of the temple, shows numbers and measurements which indicate “imperfection and incompleteness.” This latter statement might possibly give a hint as to Ezekiel’s description of the courts of the temple, which is, on the contrary, so exact and detailed, and would at least be plainer than what Bähr says of the human as “not divine,” etc., while yet he must concede to the court a mediate divineness. Israel in the wilderness might, as Jehovah’s host, as the people under His most special guidance, still in some measure stamp this relation on the court of the tabernacle. In Solomon’s temple, on the contrary, the self-development, left more to the freedom of the people, especially as they now had kings like other nations, and when their position under Solomon was so influential, would be expressed in the characteristic indefiniteness of the people’s part in the sanctuary. But the Israel of the future, Ezekiel in fine would say, will be exactly and distinctly Jehovah’s possession. Hävernick (and Bähr too) cites for the conformation of the court, “shaping itself according to the need of the people and the times,” its well-known division by Solomon into two courts. After referring to 2 Chronicles 20:5, and the various annexes, the cells, and the frequent defilement of this locality (2 Kings 23:11-12), he concludes thus: “The treading of the courts (Isaiah 1:12) has now come to an end; the repentant people are ashamed of their sins, and draw near to their God in a new spirit, Ezekiel 43:10. The new condition of the courts is a figure, an expression of the new condition of the community. (Comp. Zechariah 3:7; Revelation 11:2.) Thus in Ezekiel’s symbolism the new garnishing of the courts comes to view as the quickening anew, the glorious restoration of the community of Israel.” [Comp. additional note on p. 388.—W. F.]
7. But the description in our vision begins with the gates, dwelling specially on the east gate. For the copiousness with which the gates are described, comp. Ezekiel 43:11; Ezekiel 48:31 sq. Hävernick, against Böttcher, dwells on their significance (p. 641 sq.); makes them since Solomon have acquired under his successors the “disturbing character of the incidental;” remarks that the law says nothing definitely regarding them; points out the profane use to which they were put (Jeremiah 20:2); and maintains that, on the contrary, “the prophet assigns to them a definite relation to the whole of the building, so that they are thoroughly in conformity with the idea of the building.” But the contrast to Ezekiel 8:0 and those that follow is to be very specially observed. “Brought to the gates of the temple, the prophet had been witness of the idol-worship prevalent there. And he had seen the Shechinah departing out of the east gate. To this we have now a beautiful and complete contrast. Henceforth Jehovah will no longer see the holy passages in and out so contemptuously desecrated and defiled (Ezekiel 43:7 sq.); on the contrary, the holy bands that keep the feast and offer sacrifice shall go in and out with the prince of the people in their midst (Ezekiel 46:8 sq.; comp. Revelation 21:25 sq.). But above all, the glory of Jehovah shall enter in by the east gate (Ezekiel 43:1 sq.). Hence this gate is the pattern for all the others,” etc.
8. From the relation on the whole to the temple of Solomon, Bunsen thinks that “in general the old temple was the model;” only, on the one hand, the disposition of the parts was “simpler and less showy,” and on the other, “an effort was exhibited to attain to symmetry in the proportions and regularity in general.” While Tholuck and others remark on “the colossal size” in different respects, as indicating the pre-eminence of the future community, Hengstenberg finds throughout “always very moderate dimensions.” Unmistakeably there is a reference throughout to the temple which Ezekiel had seen with his own eyes; this explains the brevity and incompleteness partially attaching to the description, although in respect to the sanctuary proper this peculiarity of Ezekiel, who is otherwise so pictorial, demands some farther explanation. That the knowledge of the temple, whenever it could be supposed, is supposed in our vision (comp. on Ezekiel 41:0), especially when what was seen presented itself, as it were, in short-hand to the prophet, is only what we should naturally expect. But it corresponded also to the typology of Solomon and the glorious age of Solomon, which had entered so deeply into the consciousness of Israel, and was so popular, when Solomon’s temple forms the foil for the still future revelation of glory and the form it assumes. Ezekiel’s vision presupposes, indeed, that which it passes over in silence, but certainly not always that which it suppresses, as having to be supplied from the days of Solomon. A supposition of this kind is least of all permissible for the metallic ornaments, of which nothing whatever is said in passages in which, on the contrary, e.g. Ezekiel 41:22, what is made “of wood” is particularly mentioned, or when explanations are made, such, for example, as: “This is the table which is before Jehovah.” The old is presupposed, and also something new and different is inserted in the old when not put in its place. What Hävernick observes generally regarding the use made of the sacred symbols of the Old Testament and the allusions to the law by our prophet, may be applied to the way in which reference is made to Solomon’s temple and the knowledge of it supposed: “He lives therein with his whole soul, but by the Spirit of God he is led beyond the merely legal consciousness, he rises superior to the legal symbolism,” etc. In the prophetic description in the chapters before us, we can perceive a struggle as of a dawning day with the clouds of morning; and if something testifies to the derivation of our vision from a higher source than a fancy, however pious, would be, we may take that something to be the sudden advent of peculiar and quite unexpected lights, which have in them at least something strange and surprising in the case of Ezekiel, who was not only familiar with ancestral tenets and priestly tradition, but strongly attached to both. One might sometimes say a less than Solomon is here (Matthew 12:42), and yet not be satisfied with Hengstenberg’s reference to the troublous times in which temple and city were to be rebuilt, but (as Umbreit beautifully says) will feel constrained to take still more into consideration the “worth of the most significant inwardness” for “the poverty of the immediately succeeding times,” in view of “the new temple for the new covenant,” so that whatever of “apparently meagre simplicity” attaches to our temple-vision may have to be read according to the rule given in Matthew 6:29. Umbreit aptly says: “In the interior of the abode of the Holy One of Israel, quite a different appearance indeed is presented from that in Solomon’s temple, and the splendour of gold and brilliant hues is in vain sought for therein; no special mention is made of the sacred vessels, and only the altar of incense is changed into a table of the Lord, which, instead of all other symbols, simply suggests the purely spiritual impartation of the divine life. The ark of the covenant was destroyed by the fire of God, and our prophet no more than Jeremiah cared to know about a new one being made, as also, indeed, it was actually wanting in the so-called second temple. It is enough that the cherubim resume their place in the sanctuary, and, entering through the open doors, now fill the whole empty house, in which the distinctions of the old temple are very significantly left out; for we no longer see the veils, and the whole temple has become a holy of holies.” In the same strain Hävernick says: “If Jehovah wills to dwell among a new people, He must do so in a new manner, although in one analogous to the former. It is the same temple, but its precincts have become different, in order to contain a much more numerous people; and all the arrangements and adjustments here testify to the faithfulness and zeal with which the Lord is sought and served. The whole sacred temple area has become a holy of holies; in this temple there is no place for the ark of the covenant (Jeremiah 3:16), instead of which comes the full revelation of the Shechinah.” On the one hand, the legal form of worship is retained in every iota, or tacitly supposed; on the other, a new element, as with Ezekiel 41:22, almost exactly what Christendom calls “the Lord’s table,” sheds its light over everything previously existing. On the one hand, the numbers and proportions express a magnitude and beauty, a majestic harmony, surpassing both the “tent” and the “temple” (Ezekiel 41:1); on the other, there are unmistakeable indications, as respects the μορφη θεου, in the simplicity and plainness of the whole and the parts, of an ἐν ὁμοιωματι�, a χενωσις, and ταπεινωσις and here and there even a hint is perceptible of the outward poverty of the Church in the last times. Moreover, as the temple of Ezekiel consolingly presented to those who returned from the exile, approaching the more closely to them as respects its human character, its divinity and spirituality in their temple building, so again it contained a sacred criticism on the splendid edifice erected by Herod 500 years later (of the immensa opulentia of which the Roman Tacitus speaks),—a criticism which He who walked in this last temple of Israel, and who was Himself the fulfilling of the temple, completed κατα πνευμα, and as κρισις, κριμα.
9. The treatment of the side-building (Ezekiel 41:5 sq.), especially in its connection with the temple-house, and the detailed description, kept now first in due correspondence with the sanctuary, of the building on the gizrah (Ezekiel 41:12 sq.), are worthy of observation, although not so important as Hävernick makes them. With a touch of human nature, Hengstenberg connects the side chambers with Ezekiel’s dearest youthful reminiscences, reminding us at the same time of Samuel, who, as well as Eli, had even his bedroom in such a side-chamber of the tabernacle. According to Hävernick, Ezekiel’s description is meant to keep the annexe in fairest proportion to the sanctuary itself, etc.; it is the perfect building, instead of the still defective and imperfect one described in 1 Kings 6:0. The side-building and the gizrah are evidently distinguished in relation to the temple as addition and contrast. The description, too, given of both, suggests a still farther realization of the temple-idea, as regards priestly service and other modes of showing reverence to God, and also of the “in spirit and in truth” for this future worship.
10. As to the temple of Ezekiel’s vision considered æsthetically, Bähr’s thoughtful analysis (Der sal. Tempel, pp. 7 sq., 269 sq.) is so much the more applicable, as this visionary temple is still more animated and dominated by the religious idea of Israel, which in its futurity is the Messianic idea. The temple before us is in the highest sense of the word music of the future, although only a variation of an old theme. The import of this old theme, Solomon’s temple and the original tabernacle, will first find full expression in Ezekiel’s temple, whether its measures and numbers are the old ones or different. We must not employ here the classical criterion of the beautiful; sensuous beauty of form is not to be found here. The adornment of the edifice is limited to cherubim and palms, either together or separate; and of the cherubim it must be granted that, æsthetically considered, they are figures the reverse of beautiful. We meet, however, with nothing tasteless or repulsive, like the dog or bird-headed human forms, the green and blue faces of the Egyptian gods, or the many armed idols of the Indian cultus. But what a difference is there between the temple of Ezekiel’s vision and the fancy edifice, for example, the description of which is to be found in the younger Titurel (strophe 311–415, edited by Hahn; comp. Sulp. Boisseree on the description of the temple of the Holy Grail, Munich 1834),—the wondrous sanctuary on Mont Salvage, in which the ideal German architecture consecrates its poetic expression under the influence of reminiscences of Revelation 21:11 sq.! (The chapel of the Holy Cross at Castle Karlstein, near Prague, presents to this day a partial imitation, and on a reduced scale, of the temple of the Grail.) A large fortress with walls and innumerable towers surrounds the temple of the Grail, like an extensive and dense forest of ebony trees, cypresses, and cedars. Instead of the guard-rooms (Ezekiel 40:0) and the express charge of the house (Ezekiel 44:0) of Ezekiel, are the guardians and protectors of the Grail,—the templars, a band of spiritual knights of the noblest kind, humble, pure, faithful, chaste men. And whatever of precious stones, imagery, gold, and pearls the poetic fancy was able to imagine, is collected around the shrine of the Holy Grail. In the heathen temple, with its attempts to represent the divine, and especially in the Greek temple, conformably to the innate artistic taste of the Greeks, with such beautiful natural scenery cherishing and demanding this taste, where sky, earth, and sea on every side suggest the divine as also the beautiful, the execution, form, and shape, distribution and arrangement of the parts, as well as all its decorations, correspond to the demands of æsthetics; but already in Solomon’s temple the ethical-religious principle of the covenant, and consequently of the theocratic presence of Jehovah among His people, penetrates and pervades everything else. Thus the tabernacle, and also the whole temple building, culminates in the holy of holies, which contains the ark of the covenant with the tables of the law, and in which the atonement par excellence is completed. A relation like this, then, is served by any form which rather fulfils its office than strives after artistic configuration, and the form has answered its purpose, provided it only is a religiously significant form. “Solomon’s temple,” says Bähr, “cannot stand as a great work of art before the forum of the æsthetic.” Human art in general goes along with nature, hence its mainly heathenish, its cosmic (κοσμος, “decoration”) character. Jehovah, on the contrary, is holiness, and no necessity of nature of any kind, no nationality as such, no deification of nature, no magic consecration binds Him to Israel, but the freest covenant grace, which has as its aim the sanctification of Israel as His people, with a view to all mankind. That Phœnician artists executed the building of Solomon’s temple (comp. for this the exhaustive critique of Bähr in the work quoted above, p. 250 sq.)—although (Krause, die drei ältesten Kunsturkunden der Freimaurer-brüderschaft, Dresden 1819) freemasonry makes grand masters after Solomon, who is held to represent the Father (omnipotence), King Hiram as Son (wisdom), and Hiram Abif as Spirit (harmony, beauty)—concerns chiefly the technical working in wood and metal. If the artistic execution, thus limited, of the temple decoration bore on it a Phœnician character, and the employment of table work coated with silver showed signs of Hither Asia in general, yet the Phœnician element, this mundane configuration, would not amount to much more than what the Greek language was, in which the gospel of the New Covenant, as well as that of the Old, came before the world. But a specifically Christian element, the really fundamental element in the first and oldest Christian church architecture, namely, that what is also called (it is true) “God’s house” is simply an enclosure of the congregation (οἰκο; ἐκκλησιας, των ἐκκλησιων οἰκος, domus ecclesiœ), is an approximation to the extension of the outer court in Ezekiel, which extension is quite in unison with the Christological method of our prophet, with the peculiar regard he pays to the people of the Messiah (Introd. § 9). Comp. 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:20 sq.; 1 Peter 2:4. The Christian community forms in future the house of God, the temple; as also its development, externally and internally, is in the New Testament called edification, building. Voltaire has declared that he could remember in all antiquity no public building, no national temple, so small as Solomon’s; and J. D. Michaelis held that his house in Göttingen was larger; whereas Hengstenberg ascribes to Solomon’s temple, “inclusive of the courts, an imposing size.” The prominence given in Ezekiel to the east gate of the new temple, although the holy of holies still lies towards the west, may remind us of the projecting eastward of Christian church buildings from the earliest age, and especially of the Concha closing them on the east. As the glory of the God of Israel comes from the east (Ezekiel 43:0), so in the east is the Dayspring from on high (Luke 1:78; the Sun of Righteousness, Mal. 3:20 [4:2]), the Light of the world (John 8:12; Isaiah 4:0), which has brought a new day, the precursor and pledge of the future new morning and day of eternal glory (Romans 13:12; 2 Timothy 4:8). If the light-concealing stained windows of the Middle Ages are not to be traced back to the parts shut up and covered in Ezekiel’s temple, still the powerful tendency to elevation upwards, so appropriate to the Gothic style, has at least some support in the pillars (Ezekiel 40:14), and even suggests an ἀνω τον νουν (Philippians 3:20; Colossians 3:1 sq.).
11. The designation of the temple in Ezekiel 43:0. as the place of Jehovah’s throne, etc., might make us suppose the existence of the ark of the covenant, unless its significance as (to borrow Bähr’s words) “centre, heart, root, and soul of the whole edifice” necessarily demanded an express mention, when, for example, we have in Ezekiel most exact accounts of the altars; comp on Ezekiel 41:22. Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 8:0) first became what it was meant to be from the fact that the ark of the covenant came into it. But the post-exile temple had an empty holy of holies, as Tacitus (Hist. v. 9) relates of Pompey, that “he by his right as conqueror entered the temple, from which time it became known that no divine image was in it, but only an empty abode, and that there was nothing in the mystery of the Jews.” (Comp. Josephus, Bell. Jud. v. 5. 5) The most probable supposition is, that the ark of the covenant disappeared at the destruction of Solomon’s temple, that it was consumed by fire. For the traditions of what became of it are mere myths; e.g. in 2 Maccabees 2, that Jeremiah, among other things, by divine command hid the ark in a cave in Mount Nebo, but when they who had gone with him could not again find the place, he rebuked them, and pointed to the future, when the Lord would again be gracious to His people and reveal i to them, and the glory of the Lord and the cloud would appear as formerly. [The Mishna makes it be hid in a cave under the temple, a statement which the Rabbins endeavour to confirm from 2 Chronicles 35:3. Carpzov supposes the ark included in 2 Chronicles 36:10, and holds that it was restored by Cyrus, Ezra 1:7; a statement which Winer rightly cannot find in that passage, but rather the reverse; while at the same time he is unable to agree with Hitzig, who concludes from Jeremiah 3:16 that the ark of the covenant was no longer in existence even in the days of this prophet. According to the Mishna (Joma v. 2), there had been put in its place an altar-stone rising three fingers above the ground, on which the high priest on the great day of atonement set the censer.] That the symbolical designation of the temple expressed in Ezekiel with reference to the ark of the covenant is simply a legal technical term may be the more readily believed, as in certain respects in contrast thereto, at least in distinction therefrom (although this is strangely denied by Hengst.), the whole precincts of the temple, in consequence of the re-entrance of the glory of Jehovah, became a holy of holies in accordance with the law of this house; comp. on Ezekiel 43:12. W. Neumann expounds Jeremiah 3:16 of the new birth of Israel, when Jehovah will be glorified in the midst of His saints, that these shall no longer celebrate the ark of the covenant. He rejects the opinion of Abendana, who, from 43:17 of the same chapter, inferred that the whole of Jerusalem is to be a holy dwelling-place, and holds to Rashi’s view, that the entire community will be holy, and that Jehovah will dwell in its midst as if it were the ark of the covenant. “For the ark of the covenant as such is a symbolical vessel. As it contains within it the law, which testifies to the covenant (Deuteronomy 4:13; Deuteronomy 26:17 sq.), so the covenant-people are represented in it, the bearers of the law through worldly life, until the days when it shall be written on the hearts of the saints (Jeremiah 31:31 sq.). The Capporeth represents the transformation of the creature transformed by Israel’s perfection in the Lord (?), the new heavens and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness, Isaiah 66:22-23. If this is the thought which lies at the root of the symbolism, then when the ark of the covenant is no longer kept in commemoration, the shadows of the Old Covenant have passed away, all has become new, and the redeemed are the holy seed (Isaiah 6:13), to whom Jehovah’s law has become the law of their life.” The eloquent silence in our prophet regarding the ark of the covenant will, moreover, be understood in respect to the man who speaks as Jehovah (comp. on Ezekiel 43:7), that is, in a Messianic-christological sense, notwithstanding that Ezekiel’s Christology (Introd. § 9) has the Messianic people principally in view.
12. Ezekiel’s vision rests throughout on the law of Moses. Were it otherwise in our chapters, Ezekiel could have been no prophet of Israel, nor the Mosaic law the law of God. This legal character was, moreover, well adapted to put an arrest on a mere fancy portraiture, if not to make it altogether impossible. As to the departure from the law of Moses, which, however, he must concede, Philippson maintains that it is “not great,” and “is limited to the number of victims” (? ?). Hengstenberg denies any difference, calling it merely “alleged.” On the other hand, Hävernick, with whom many agree, speaks of Ezekiel’s “many differences and definitions going beyond the law of the Old Covenant,” while at the same time he rejects the idea that the prophet forms the transition to the farther improved system of the Pentateuch (Vatke), and affirms against J. D. Michaelis the unchangeable character of the law of Moses. Hävernick says: “These discrepancies rather show with so much the more stringent necessity, that a new condition of things is spoken of in the prophet, in which the old law will continue in glorious transformation, not abrogated, but fulfilled and to be fulfilled, coming into full truth and reality.” Bunsen speaks to this effect: “Ezekiel’s design was to make the ritual more spiritual, and to break the tyranny of the high-priesthood. For mention is nowhere made of a high priest, whereas a high-priestly obligation, although slightly relaxed, is laid upon the priests (Ezekiel 44:22). The daily evening sacrifice falls away, and among the yearly feasts we miss Pentecost and the Great Day of Atonement, all which accords with the absence of the high priest and the ark of the covenant; instead of these comes an additional feast of atonement at the beginning of the year (Ezekiel 45:18 sq.), and the amount of the morning sacrifice and the festal sacrifices is enhanced. There is, indeed, much reference to the original law throughout, and it is anew set forth with respect to transgressions and abuses that had crept in, special weight being laid on the precepts concerning clean and unclean (Ezekiel 44:17 sq.; comp. Ezekiel 22:26); but still more does Ezekiel go beyond the law, and gives additional force to its precepts.” We must call to mind the position generally of prophecy to the law of Moses. As prophecy is provided for in the law in the proper place (comp. our Comment on Deut. p. 134), namely, when Moses’ departure demanded it, so its foundation is traced back in Deuteronomy 18:16 sq. to Sinai, and thus it is thenceforth comprehended historically in the legislation. But although it thus stands and falls with the law, having by its own account, like all the institutions of Israel, its norm in the law, yet it rejoices in its extraordinary fellowship with God, its divine endowment and inspiration. And this not in order, like the priesthood, to teach after the letter, and to serve in the ceremonial; but the provision made and charge given already on Mount Sinai, as they make the official duty of prophecy to be the representation of God’s holy will against every other will, so they give to it the character of a legitimate as well as legitimatized officiality, which, like Moses, has to serve as the chosen means of intermediation in relation to the will of the Most High Lawgiver revealing itself; the calling is ordained in Israel for the continuity of the divine legislation. This latter qualification of the prophets of Jehovah in Israel afforded a foundation for their deepening of the legal worship, as opposed to hypocrisy and torpid formality, for their spiritual interpretation of the ceremonial; as, in view of their position towards the future, a consideration of the ecclesiastical and civil law in their bearing on the future followed as a matter of course. The idea which for this end dominates Ezekiel’s closing vision is the holiness of Jehovah, and the corresponding sanctification of Israel, their separation to Jehovah as a possession. It is the root idea which the law expresses and symbolizes in all its forms, whether of morality, worship, or polity. And as it is said already in Exodus 19:0 : “Ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests,” so it is also said in 1 Peter 2:0 of the Christian community, that they who are lively stones are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (comp. 1 Peter 2:9). Peter thus makes a New Testament use of the same mode of expression regarding worship, which, carried out in Old Testament form, is Ezekiel’s representation of Jehovah’s service of the future, when Jehovah shall dwell for ever in His people. Comp. Ezekiel 20:40. Ezekiel’s position, therefore, to the law of Moses is not that of freedom from legal restraints,—a position which might be subjective and arbitrary,—but what he applies from the law for the illustration of the future, and the way in which he does so, passing by some things, more strongly emphasizing others, or putting them into new shapes, derives its legal justification from the idea of the law as it shall be realized in a true Israel, that is, the Messianic Israel. That the Messiah, who says in John 17:0 : “And for them I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth,” remains as a person in the background, is quite in correspondence with Ezekiel’s Christology (Introd. § 9), which, as already said, characterizes the times and the salvation of the Messiah through the Messianic people.
13. “The proper significance of the new temple lies in the full revelation of Jehovah in His sanctuary, in the new and living fellowship into which God enters with His people by this His dwelling among them” (Häv.). As being a return, which it is in relation to Ezekiel 11:0, the entrance of the glory of the Eternal has, although with a New Testament application, corresponding to the: ἐγω μεθʼ ὑμων πασας τας ἡμερας ἑως της συντελειας του αἰωνος (Matthew 28:20), also its Apocalyptic significance, as John says before the close of his Revelation (Ezekiel 22:0): ναι ἐρχου, Κυριε ʼΙησου.
14. If the idea of the court is unquestionably that of the people, whose Messianic perfection as Israel Ezekiel is to behold, then, since everything on the mountain of the vision here is “most holy” (Ezekiel 43:12), the immediately following detailed description of the altar of burnt-offering and its consecration can only point to the future manifestation of Jehovah’s holiness and the sanctification of His peculiar people (1 Peter 2:9). “What holds good of the altar refers also to the whole court; the blessing of the altar includes in it that of the community. By means of the expiation of the altar, the purpose of the divine love, to see a holy people assembled, is effected. The first act, consequently, in which the significance of the new sanctuary is expressed, is the complete expiation of the people, and its efficacy in this respect far surpasses in extent and glory that of the old sanctuary” (Häv.). Accordingly, if they who are sanctified are perfected εἰς το διηνεκες by the προσφορα μια (Hebrews 10:14), the full and complete offering on Golgotha, then the idea also of this altar of burnt-offering upon the very high mountain must be fulfilled. But as the offering which fulfils is the most personal priestly offering, so the sanctification of the people in Ezekiel’s typical temple takes place on the altar of burnt-offering in the priests’ court, which therefore still remains separated from the court of the people, as in Solomon’s temple, whereas in the tabernacle there was only one court. The symbolical representation of the dominant idea of the sanctification of the people was, from their being represented by the priests, rightly localized in a priests’ court, which gives it due prominence here, where everything hinges on locality and arrangement. Thus also, as Bähr observes, in the camp of Israel the priestly family in its four main branches encamped close around the sanctuary on its four sides. [Comp. with this section the Additional Note on Ezekiel 43:13-27, p. 410.—W. F.]
15. As the shutting of the east gate (Ezekiel 44:0) for the future puts the key of Ezekiel’s temple into the hand of Him who, according to the typology of the law and the prediction of the prophets, is the Coming One of Israel, so the prince’s sitting and eating in the east gate must be taken as throwing light on the Messianic future of the people of the promise. It is very evident that by the “prince” is not to be understood the high priest of Israel. This interpretation, which was a Maccabean prolepsis, has now been abandoned. Kliefoth, Keil, and Hitzig justly dispute the indefinite sense which Hävernick gives to the נָשִׂיא, yet they do not sufficiently attend to what may be said in defence of Hävernick’s indefiniteness, and which certainly tells against those who make the future theocratic ruler to be one with the King David of Ezekiel 34, 37, because he too is called נָשִׂיא, as indeed he is also called רֹעֶה. They must own, however, that there is a difference between: “My servant David shall be king over them,” between the “one shepherd” who is “prince for ever,” and the הַנָּשִׂיא here, who comes into consideration quâ נָשִׂיא. Now if this must be granted, then it is only with justice that Hävernick observes that the designation נָשִׂיא sets before us the original, or, as he calls it, “the purely natural constitution of the Israelites” (Exodus 22:27 ), although not so much because “the time of the exile had again limited the people to this original constitution, or left them only a poor remainder of it,” as because, looking, as in our vision we always should do, at the Messiah and His times, the discrepancy between theocracy and kingly power, which showed itself at the rise of the latter under Samuel, is to be adjusted on the original ground of the peculiarity of Israel. The נָשִׂיא is the prince of the tribe, as the tribal constitution of Israel put the juridical power and the executive into the hands of the natural superiors, the heads, of families and tribes. And even when in time of need, as in the days of the judges, a dictatorship, the power of one over all others, is had recourse to, it is potestas delegata, and is on both sides considered as nothing else. With a tribal constitution such as the natural constitution of Israel was, the want of an outward centrum unitatis might in itself be painfully felt, and the instituting of one be looked on as a political necessity; but that for Israel the necessity of the time as such should have demanded a permanent institution of the kind, is strikingly refuted by the days of the judges, for the present aid of Jehovah answered to the momentary distress, and raised up the competent helper from out of the tribes of Israel,—“then when they entreated and wept, the faithfulness of God helped them, and sooner than they supposed all distress was over,”—just as the former examples of Moses and Joshua showed that in the Israelitish theocracy the right men were not wanting at the right time. Jehovah alone, as on another side the fundamental canon of the priesthood still held up before the people, claimed as His due to be Israel’s king in political respects also. Originally there could be beside Him no other political sovereign, but merely the institution, in subordination to Him, of the princes of the tribes, and a sort of hegemony of a single tribe. The unity of the religious sentiment, which made the twelve externally separate tribes internally one community, had in earlier times made up for the want of an external centrum unitatis, and the free authority of certain individual representatives of this sentiment was quite in harmony therewith. Hence Jehovah says in 1 Samuel 8:0 : “They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.” Thus the demand of the people requesting a king must, having regard to Samuel, who occupied in Israel a position similar to that of Moses, be looked on as a symptom of disease, although the disease was one of development. We may concede to the elders of Israel who come before Samuel, Samuel’s age, which they urge; and still more, as the occasion of their demand, the evil walk of his sons. We can point to the picture exhibited in the later period of the judges, when everything, even the temporary alliance of individual tribes, appears to be in a state of dissolution; we can along therewith take into account the pride of Ephraim, in whose midst the sanctuary stood, and to whose claims of superiority, even over Judah, all the tribes were more or less compelled to bow. Nay, even in the law (Deuteronomy 17:14 sq.), where it refers to the future taking possession of Canaan, the future development of an Israelitish kingdom is taken into view by Jehovah Himself, and the very form foreseen in which the demand came to Samuel: “I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are about me.” But although this possible desire of the people, because tolerated, is not expressly blamed, yet neither the self-derived resolution there: “when thou sayest: I will,” etc., nor the pattern: “like all the nations that are about me,” is spoken of approvingly; nor can there be behind the emphatic command: “thou shalt in any wise set him to be king over thee whom Jehovah thy God shall choose,” anything but a presupposed conflict with the kingly authority of Jehovah, against which provision must be made in the very outset. Accordingly, when Jehovah Himself takes into view the earthly kingship for Israel, He does so in a way not very different from what Christ says in Matthew 19:0 regarding the Mosaic permission of divorce because of Israel’s hard-heartedness: ἀπ’ ἀρχης θε οὐ γεγονεν οὑτω. But Jehovah is the Physician of Israel, who (Numbers 21:0) made Moses set the brazen serpent on a pole, as a remedy against the bite of the fiery serpents. That which expresses to the full the sentiment of the people under Samuel is also the undisguised: “like all the nations;” with this their request before Samuel closes emphatically as its culminating point. Although to Samuel the thing that personally concerned him: “that he may judge us,” which they gave as their object in the case of the king to be appointed, was displeasing, was in his eyes the bad element in the request, Jehovah first set the matter before him in the light that in His eyes the request for the “king” (מֶלֶךְ) was rather a rejection of His reigning over them, and explained to him the: “like all the nations,” in the mouth of the elders of the people, by their hereditary disposition: “they forsook Me, and served other gods.” Kingly power, such as the heathen nations have from early times, is a necessary self-defence of polytheism against its own divisive and centrifugal elements in the realm of politics; it is a socialistic attempt to arrange a life in community, and that is to unite, both to make the internal unity and order strong and powerful externally, and to keep them so. For מֶלֶךְ, from מָלַךְ, is derived from: “judging,” as still attested by the Syrian signification: “to advise,” and also by the fact that the kingly power in Israel arose from that of the judges: the ruler is he who stands over the opposing parties, over the strife, he who unites; very different from whom is מוֹשֵׁל, the tyrant, עָרִיץ, the coming to power by the right of the strongest. Thus kingly power is from the first peculiar to heathenism;
and because the boundary between the human and the divine is to the heathen consciousness a fluctuating one, kingship, especially in connection with the idolatrous worship thereof which grew up among the heathen nations, comes to be regarded as the contrast to the theocratic relations of the monotheistic people of Israel. Accordingly, when the people of Jehovah ask a king such as all the nations have (comp. 1 Samuel 8:20), this indicates that the theocratic consciousness is darkened and weakened in them; and thus a visible king appears necessary to them, because the invisible Ruler has, as it were, disappeared from their view. In times of religious and moral insensibility, inquiries are always directed to the political constitution; not to the state of society, but to the civil arrangements. And when Israel, forgetting the divine national prerogative they had enjoyed since leaving Egypt, placed themselves on a level with the heathen, then they must have looked on themselves with eyes like those of the heathen; it could not but occur to them, that in comparison with heathen monarchy they were, as Ziegler says, “a people poorly and weakly organized, visibly only republican, and therefore easy to be overcome by the heathen, whose power was concentrated in monarchy.” Thus Israel’s disease in desiring a monarchy “like the nations” was, that they had become infected by the political miasma of the polytheistic spirit of the age. For while the first king of Israel, Saul, very soon entered on the path of the heathen, the monarchy which is in accordance with the law of Israel first assumes shape with David, and then chiefly internally, and with Solomon, and then almost entirely externally. This, too, explains the significance of these two types of kings for the Messianic idea. Ziegler calls David: “the king among kings.” “He comprehended thoroughly the office of a king in a theocracy; he was the best mediator between the people and Jehovah. Because he was the servant of Jehovah, he was also the lawful king. Through him the kingdom became the very best means for attaining to the divine purposes.” Comp. Doct. Reflec. 14, etc. on Ezekiel 34:0, and Doct. Reflec. 21 on Ezekiel 37:0 But already with David—so that Solomon’s sinking down from the greatest external kingly glory into the surrounding polytheism, and the after-division of the royal power through its being broken into two kingdoms, only furnish the foil to it—the wider and higher future of Israel was founded in spirit, namely, as this future should be realized in the Messiah. According to the flesh, the Coming One of Israel is the son of David; according to the spirit of Messianic prophecy, David is the historico-personal basis, its personal foundation, a thoroughly prophetic personality; as Ziegler says: “Partly inasmuch as he is manifestly a τυπος του μελλοντος in many phases of his character and life, even in the minute particulars,—that, like Christ, he began his official career in his thirtieth year, and that he went weeping over the Kedron, and ascended the Mount of Olives with covered head; but also partly because in his psalms he manifests himself a prophet in the narrower sense of the word, a prophet who by his psalms really adds new elements of revelation to the old, his prophecies entering into the most minute details, his Son is the Spirit of his poetry. If the people were comprehended in Moses as the κεφαλη as to the law, we may say of David that they are gathered together in him as to the theocratic kingdom.” Hence these are far-seeing divine thoughts, and bearing special reference to the Messianic salvation which in 1 Samuel 8:0. Jehovah repeatedly urged upon Samuel, viz. to listen to the voice of the people, although the people will not at all listen to Samuel’s voice. Not that Israel had, as Ziegler supposes, to be set by the monarchy on a level with he world in order to be preserved in the world,—for it was just the monarchy that destroyed its national existence, by drawing it into the politics of the great world,—but (and this is the sole object in view in the law regarding the king in Deuteronomy 17:0) the possible conflict with Jehovah’s royal dominion over Israel was guarded against by this, that in the Israelitish monarchy, especially as represented by David personally and by Solomon regally, Jehovah made His “Anointed” for eternity assume a preparatory shape, that is, filled the heathen-political form of government, which might be and still more might become such a contrast to the true, the theocratic Israel, with that which is the final purpose of God’s dominion over Israel (just as already to the patriarchs kings were promised as their descendants). Accordingly in Deuteronomy also, as the Israelitish kingship rises up as on the foundation of the judgeship, so, parallel therewith, and in connection with the priestly office, the prophetic office rises up as a continuation of the revelation by Moses (כָּמֹנִי or כָּמוֹךָ, Deuteronomy 18:0), in whom, according to Peter, was the πνευμα Χριστου. And not less significantly does “the prince” in Ezekiel sit and eat in the gate, through which the glory of Jehovah had entered, and which it has Messianically sanctified. With him Israel appears again as what it was, just as the elders of Israel asked from Samuel a king like the nations, to be chief representative of Israel according to its tribal constitution; he who can be styled directly הַנָּשִׂיא,4 will be so in Messianic consecration and sanctification, so that Christian kingship might be symbolized. Umbreit observes: “Whereas at first every particular tribe had its Nasi, they now are all reunited under a single one. Thus an old name, and yet again new in its signification.” From this Umbreit infers a prince “clothed with great splendour (?), like another Melchizedek, who may combine well the rights of the state and of the Church in one spirit,” etc. etc. Yet surely Hävernick is right in finding indicated here the “true and complete harmony of civil and ecclesiastical order in the days of the Messiah.” “Christ has no vicar; to no one but Himself shall the kingdoms of the world belong; but to pious princes (to princes as they ought to be), to lawful magistrates and lords, pertains a prerogative over the faithful, which again is a duty and a service” (Cocc.). Comp. what is said on this point in the exposition of Ezekiel 46:2. [See also Additional Note on p. 417.]
16. In regard to the priests of Ezekiel’s temple, Hengstenberg thinks the prophet “wishes to draw away the view from the dreary present,—the priests without prospect of office, the ruins of the priesthood,—and, on the contrary, presents to the eye priests in office and honour, in whom the Mosaic ordinances are again in full exercise and authority; and next he wishes to labour for the regeneration of the priesthood.” It is only surprising, when in accordance with Hengstenberg’s general view of our chapters the fancy is worked on here too by ideas of Mosaic priests, that the idea of the high priest is wanting, that this most powerful impression is disregarded. But as regards the removal of the degradation of the pre-exile priesthood, the mention of Zadok sets forth too prominently for this end just the age of David and Solomon. Ezekiel’s priests certainly are Mosaic priests, but the Mosaic priests had a people to represent of whom it is said in Exodus 19:6 : “Ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation” (at the passover the whole people acted as priests); so that it is certainly Mosaic, although according to the inmost idea of the Mosaic law, when the people of the future are in Ezekiel specially represented by the priests. But it is quite peculiar to Ezekiel, that, in order duly to set forth the sanctification of the people by the lofty holiness of their priests, the high priest appears in certain respects absorbed into the priests, and these are represented in a high-priestly aspect. As the people are dealt with in Ezekiel 44:6 sq. for the bad priests set to keep the charge of Jehovah’s holy things (44:8), so the exemplification of priestly instruction of the people given in 44:23 is that of the true priests’ teaching to discern the difference between the holy and the profane, the unclean and the clean: the high-priestly sanctity of the priests is to serve for a high-priestly sanctification of the people; the high-priestly idea is to become a national reality, just as the aggregate of these Old Testament letters (for which comp. Zechariah 6:0) is the fulfilling word of the “body of Christ” as the Church. For the figure of Zadok, the typical high priest, taken from the very specially Messianically-typical age of David and Solomon, corresponds to only such a Messianic prospect. Zadok’s sons are called the true priests of the people, just as the true Shepherd of the people (Ezekiel 34, 37) is a descendant of David. And here we have a parallel exactly similar to that of Jeremiah 33:0, where the continuance of the Levitical priesthood is guaranteed in like manner as the continuance of the race of David, and similarly as to the increase of both,—in which respect there shall, according to Isaiah 66:0, be taken of the Gentiles for priests and for Levites; and so in this way the position of priests among the Gentiles, promised to Israel in Isaiah 61:0, fulfils itself as a universal priestly position. Hävernick makes a “special” blessing for the priesthood be connected with the “general blessing of the theocracy,” inasmuch as “not its hitherto meagre (?) form,” but the priestly office, “as a faithful expression of the idea inherent in it, will be established in perpetuity;” and he compares Malachi 3:3 : “A new priesthood, made anew by the power of the Lord, arises on the soil of the Old Testament priesthood in the new theocracy;” just as Ezekiel’s main concern is “the priestly office in general,” so also the idea “of a really spiritual priesthood” comes to light in his writings, etc. When Hengstenberg compares Psalms 24:0 for the reformation of the priesthood, we observe that the “demands on His people,” spoken of there “from the coming of the Lord of glory,” are no specially priestly demands, but are addressed to the whole house of Israel; and the same is really the case with Isaiah 40:0, which he also cites. The Messianic references of the priesthood of the sons of Zadok, whereby (neither by Zadok personally, nor by Samuel) the prophetic word spoken to Eli (1 Samuel 2:27 sq.) is fulfilled, is not only maintained by the Fathers, but also by Keil;5 comp. on 1 Samuel 2:35 sq. The Berleburg Bible observes: “As in the person of Solomon the Spirit of prophecy pointed to the true and anointed Solomon, so also in this priest it points to the great High Priest, Jesus Christ.” Hengst. remains “quite on the ordinary priestly ground; the prospect into the New Testament relations remains completely closed.” According to him, the prophet has to do only with what is “to be accomplished after brief delay,” etc. On the other hand, Umbreit says: “The priesthood is quite in accordance with the transformation of the house of God. The old class of mediators between Jehovah and His people, consecrated by descent, has disappeared, and we no more find the high priest than we find the ark of the covenant. Instead of the Levites, who, together with the people, have to bear the guilt of the profanation of the covenant, there have come now only the inwardly worthy, the sons of Zadok, who should fulfil their significant name by maintaining fidelity in this ideal sense; and the supreme enhanced law of the new priesthood is the maintaining of inward purity from every outward stain, etc. Their outward support is the holy gift of Jehovah, so that they can say with the godly man in Psalms 16:0 : ‘Jehovah is my portion and my cup; my lot has fallen to me in pleasant places’ (Psalms 16:5 sq.).” [Comp. Additional Note at pp. 419, 420.]
17. The temple building, with its sacred architecture on the basis of the first tabernacle, as Solomon’s temple most richly displays it, symbolizes essentially the same as that which in the priesthood of the temple of Ezekiel’s vision is illustrated liturgically by the ministrations in this temple. For the accomplished dwelling of the Holy One in Israel proclaims His people to be a sanctified, and therefore a holy people. These are the worshippers that the Father desires (John 4:0), a kingdom of priests, or a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:0); just as the “prince,” representing the people civilly and politically, fulfils his idea in King-Messiah; while the priests, the “sons of Zadok,” represent them ecclesiastically and spiritually. This is the purpose and constitution of Israel, the people of God. What the temple is “in spirit,” the representation by the priesthood of the new temple gives “in truth,” that is, in faithfulness and trueness of life. In the former, everything is most holy; in the latter, all are high-priestly. But in Christ the idea to be represented is realized in so much the more priestly a manner, because we have here the community of the Lord, the κυριακον, where, in the case of Israel, was the congregation of the people, the עֵדָה, the קָהֵל. We might, moreover, find some difficulty in reconciling the omissions, and also the occasional so pregnant additions and stricter definitions taken from the idea of the law, in the ordinances regarding the priesthood, with what Hengst. maintains, namely, that the aim is, “by a few well-chosen strokes, to bring out the thought of the restoration of the Mosaic priesthood in its customs and its rights,” while it has been so easy for the exposition (which comp.) to show the prominence given throughout to the priestliness and sanctity of the priests’ office and the priestly order with reference to the people to be represented. As, moreover, the prince is, in Ezekiel 44:0, advanced to a privileged relation to the sanctuary (comp. Ezekiel 45:13 sq.), so along with teaching, instruction, especially in holiness (בֵּין קֹדֶֹש לְחֹל) and sanctification (וּנֵין־טָמֵא לְטָהוֹר, Ezekiel 44:23), the settlement of disputes by the judgment of God, the establishing of righteousness (as is perhaps indicated in the name “Zadok”), is specified in 44:24 among the official duties of the priests. The prince eats in the east gate in the enjoyment of peace; the priests have always to restore peace.
18. As, on the one hand, the burnt-offering is the predominant note in this temple-system of the future, so, on the other, in Ezekiel 45:0 “oblation” is said in reference to the whole land. It is the same idea of devotion to Jehovah which is expressed by both,—the national life consecrated to the Lord in fellowship with Him (comp. the sacrificial feasts, in the east gate, of the prince of this people), Israel’s state of grace. The disquisition on the oblation of holiness, etc., preliminary to Ezekiel 47, 48, and for which Ezekiel 44:28 sq. furnishes the occasion, is significant from the very fact of being thus occasioned. For where priests and Levites are taken account of expressly according to their ministry in relation to Jehovah (Ezekiel 45:0), there the whole house of Israel (45:6), and the prince in particular, with their portions of land, appear in the light of sacred property belonging to Jehovah, and also as His servants, who, while His more peculiar servants, the priests, are to see to holiness and sanctification, have to endeavour after judgment and righteousness. In this way the new nationality dedicated to the Lord (chiefly by the burnt-offering, and symbolized by the “oblation”) has to exhibit itself in civil, social, and secular life. It is actually a new nationality in relation to land and people; but, considered by itself, and apart from Ezekiel 44:28 sq., it appears to mean the division of the land, and especially the “oblation.” Spring has come, yea, the fields are now already white for the harvest (John 4:0). The “oblation of holiness” announces itself as the commencement of the future harvest. Ewald: “The holy portion, which is previously taken from the rest of the land (like the tithes from the fruits of the field), and set apart for its own special purpose, is here very expressively mentioned in the outset, and with manifest reference to the now completed description of the temple (44:2; comp. Ezekiel 42:20); while the prophet evidently hastens more quickly over the portions connected therewith of the common Levites and the city of Jerusalem, in order to come to the portion and duties of the prince,” etc.
19. Hävernick says on Ezekiel 45:0 : “After the description of a so newly reviving order of things in church matters, it appears as a matter of course that the land itself must be treated as a new land, and stand in need of a new special division. This division stands in a converse relation to that under Joshua. While at that time the people before all, each particular tribe, receive their portion, and not until afterwards was a fixed seat in the land assigned to Jehovah, here Jehovah first of all receives a holy gift, which is presented to Him. A portion of land is separated for the sanctuary and the priests, and one of equal size for the Levites. The new temple is moreover kept separate by a kind of suburb, in order to point out its special holiness.”
20. The design of the Mosaic regulation, according to which priests and Levites, especially the latter, were to dwell dispersed among all the tribes, whereby the curse formerly uttered with respect to Levi by Jacob in his blessing of the patriarchs (Genesis 49:0) became fulfilled as a blessing for Levi and for all Israel, was to settle the tribe among Israel in accordance with its calling. Bähr says: “If the Levites were to preserve the law and word of God, and thereby spread religious knowledge, promote religious life, pronounce judicial decisions in accordance therewith, etc., then it was not only suitable, but necessary, that they should not all dwell in one place, in one district. Their dwelling dispersed reminded them to spread the light of the fear of God and piety among the whole people, to give preference to no tribe, and to neglect none.” On this we observe, that it is certainly not to be looked on as an abolition of the Mosaic ordinance that in Ezekiel priests and Levites are all concentrated in one place,—the negation of the former would necessarily have to be formally announced,—but the fulfilment simply comes in place of the former arrangement, inasmuch as the end proposed by that arrangement and regulation is present with and in the future Church. Hengst. thinks the relation of the priests and Levites to the sanctuary is meant to be made clear by their concentration in its neighbourhood. But already before this the cities of the priests at least were to be found in those tribal districts which lay nearest to the place of worship. The idea from which the grouping of the priests and Levites around the sanctuary has to be understood is rather what Jeremiah predicts: that they shall no more teach every man his brother, etc., that from the least to the greatest they all shall know Jehovah (Jeremiah 31:34). The aim of dividing Levi among all the tribes, viz. to care for, preserve, and spread abroad everywhere the law and the testimony, is thus attained. The people of the future will be such that their liturgical representation and the dwelling of their priests and Levites in the neighbourhood of the temple suffice; and besides, this significantly brings out the thought that Levi, this election from the elect people, is a “people of God in the people of God” (Bähr). For, what was designed by the appointed cities, in which we already see them collected while they were dispersed among all the tribes, is fully accomplished in the land of the priests and the Levites (Ezekiel 45:0); and if Bähr’s interpretation of the number of the 48 cities of the priests and Levites as referring to the sanctuary (Symb. d. mos. Kult. ii. p. 51) needed confirmation, it might have it here, where what this interpretation makes of Levi’s dwelling in the midst of Israel is expressly stated of the dwelling-place of the priestly Levites: “a holy place for the sanctuary” (45:4). Accordingly it is with this diversity as respects the Mosaic law, which Philippson calls “the real” diversity, exactly as Christ says in Matthew 5:0.: “I am come not to destroy (καταλυσαι), but to fulfil,” and that: “not one jot or one tittle shall pass from the law till all be fulfilled.”
21. The sanctuary, the land of the priests and Levites, and the prince’s portion, form almost the centre of the land. The city does not include the sanctuary, but is situated beside it, also in the midst of the land. “No jealousy about the possession of them can any longer separate the tribes” (Häv.). “This whole district,” says Bunsen, “is not to lie in the territory of a single tribe, which might thereby appear privileged, but, as accords with its sanctity, is separated from the tribal territories. In other words, the union-authority of the confederacy is to have a special seat for manifesting its activity. No wiser political idea could be devised. Hence Jerusalem still remains Jerusalem, but it no longer belongs to Benjamin.” The central sanctuary is that which unifies also the tribes of Israel, just as the priesthood, royalty, and public property grouped around it give local expression to the unity and oneness of the whole. Instead of the “violence-inflicting and heaven-assailing tower of Babel” (Neteler), “the tabernacle of Shem” has become “a divine sanctuary,” which then no longer symbolizes solely Jehovah’s dwelling in Israel, but is at the same time a type for mankind in general of His tabernacle with men (Revelation 21:3), and of their being united to and under Him. Comp. the Doct. Reflec. on Ezekiel 47, 48.
22. Chiliasm—and this is conceivable of the Jewish Chiliasm, whereas such a final Judaism cannot but prove injurious to modern Christian Chiliasm (Galatians 3:3)—forgets, while studying these closing chapters of our prophet, the beginning of his prophecy, the cosmic character of Ezekiel 1:0, which relates to creation generally, and on which the whole book is based. But indeed if πας ʼΙσραηλ in Romans 11:0 is the people, i.e. Israel after the flesh, then it is only logically consistent to interpret the requickening in Ezekiel 37:0 as a bodily resurrection of all dead Jews. Those who are raised become by this fact, or as at one stroke, converted to Christ; those who are alive are Christians already, or will become so in consequence of this; and this whole Israel returns to Palestine, and forms in a transformed state, as it is already marked out for being by this awakening, the focus of the “millennial kingdom” for fresh salvation to all nations. It is illogical to wish to pick out one piece here, and to understand another merely spiritually; but he who here says A must also say B. Whether the converted Jews are to live in their own land, “under kings of the house of David, as a people who are to be preserved and finally also converted,” as Kliefoth allows to be the doctrine of Scripture, or whether King David will then return and rule over Israel in glory, is rather an antiquarian than a theological question. Scripture teaches none of these fancies; nor does it speak of a kingdom of glory in the earthly Jerusalem, in which the Gentile Church is to be joined to Israel under the dominion of the then reappeared Christ-Messiah (as Baumgarten). According to the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, it has been the destination of Israel, as the people separated from all nations from the time of their first fathers, to be a blessing to mankind. And the more its national theocracy expanded itself to universal Christocracy, which comprehended also the Gentiles under the blessing of the Messiah, the more evidently there becomes exhibited in Israel, with its ecclesiastical and political forms, the preformation of an Israel which wholly is what Israel exhibits only in type,—a people of God that comprehends the redeemed, the saints of all mankind; in which accordingly, as to its worship, and as to its nationality in general, traced back to its original idea, and also viewed with respect to its future realization, the whole and (what is specially emphasized) every part always exhibits holiness and sanctification, the service of the holy God in spirit and in truth (Psalms 22:28 [Psalms 22:27] sq., Psa 47:10 [Psalms 47:9], Psalms 102:16 [Psalms 102:15] sq.; Isaiah 26:2; Isaiah 51, 60; Luke 1:17; Romans 9:24 sq.; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 2:5 sq., 1 Peter 2:9-10, etc.). Nation and nationality are historical and hence perishable colourings of the idea of mankind, which have entirely faded since the eternal idea of Israel has been fulfilled in Christ, in whom there is neither Jew nor Greek (Galatians 3:0), but man, the new man (Ephesians 2:0) ἐν δικαιοσυνη και ὁσιοτητι της�. What could be fulfilled according to the letter—which, however, is the expression borne by the spirit of fulfilment—has been fulfilled in the people of Israel by their rising and revival from the graves of the exile, by their return thenceforth to Canaan under Judah as “Jews,” by the period of the Maccabees, certainly in historical prelude only to the ideal, the entire, true fulfilment of the spirit-letter in the kingdom of God through Christ; according to which fulfilment the elect people are the people of the elect from all mankind, and the Jewish people now neither exist as a people, nor have a future such as Kliefoth would assign to them, namely, to be “holy in the same way that every Christianized nation (!) now is,” for ἐφθασε ἐπʼ αὐτους ἡ ὀργη εἰς τελος (1 Thessalonians 2:16). For the Church of God in Christ, so far as it belongs to this world, the representation of its spiritual life in a service of atoning sacrifices and cleansings, as here in Ezekiel, can be no antithesis; for still, according to Hebrews 12:0, the εὐπεριστατος ἁμαρτια has to be laid aside, and (James 3:2) πολλαʼ πταιομεν ἁπαντες (comp. Ezekiel 45:20). But to Ezekiel no other representation of the future could be given than in types of the sacred past of Israel—as of its law, so of the Davidic royalty and of Canaan as the land of promise. “But however prominent,” observes Keil, “is the Old Testament clothing of the Messianic prophecy in Ezekiel, yet even in this guise lineaments are found by which we recognise that the Israelitish-theocratic guise is only the drapery in which is concealed the New Testament form of the kingdom of God;” and he very justly refers to 1 Peter 1:10 sq., while he farther says: “Even although the prophets, in their uninspired meditations on what they had prophesied as moved by the Holy Ghost, may not have known the typical signification of their own utterances, yet we who live in the times of fulfilment, and know not only the beginning in the appearing of our Lord, etc., but a considerable course of the fulfilment too in the eighteen hundred years’ spread of the kingdom of heaven on earth, have not so much to inquire after what the Old Testament prophets thought in their searching into the prophecies with which they were inspired by the Holy Ghost,—if these thoughts of theirs could be in any way ascertained,—but we have to inquire, in the light of the present measure of fulfilment (comp. 2 Peter 1:19), what the Spirit of Christ, which enabled the prophets to behold and prophesy the future of His kingdom in figures of the Old Testament kingdom of God, has announced and revealed to us by these figures.” Apart from the occasional references of Ezekiel’s representation to paradise, to the first creation (comp. on Ezekiel 36:35; Ezekiel 16:53), to which there is a return in Christ through God’s new creation, the whole handling of the Mosaic law in Ezekiel, of its forms of worship as hieroglyphs of the future to be prophesied of the true Israel, can be understood only from the point of view of a transmutation of the law into its fulfilment.
Douglas’ Structure of Prophecy, p. 71.
See the Typology of Scripture, vol. i. Ezekiel 1, 2, for the establishment of the principles referred to regarding the tabernacle: and vol. ii. part iii., for the application of them to particular parts.
Hävernick, Comm. p. 623.
It will each time be a more definite person, but that does not determine who it will be: only this perhaps is implied, that each nation may retain what is natural to it, what accords with its special character and historic development. The Bible dictates neither a church constitution nor a state constitution; but in Ezekiel there is symbolized what in every constitution, in itself human, ought to be the abiding, the higher: the humanly highest one (הַנָּשִׂיא) sits and eats in the east gate of the Highest, of Jehovah.
“The final fulfilment comes with Christ and His kingdom; accordingly, the Lord’s Anointed, before whom the approved priest shall alway walk, is not Solomon, but David and David’s Son, whose kingdom shall endure for ever” (Keil).