The entire section (Eze 40-48) appears to be addressing the
"rebellious house of Israel" (see Eze 40:4; 44:6; 45:9). This is a house, or
temple, for Israel -- not for the world!
The temple of the return from exile was built "according to
the command of the God of Israel" (Ezr 6:14). This appears to be a reference to
the outline of Eze 40-48.
Note 13-year gap between (1) Eze 38; 39 and (2) Eze 40. No
immediate context. Eze 40-48 stands alone.
"Probably it is the assumption that the temple was for use in
the millennium which led to this mistaken notion of vast proportions. But where
did that assumption come from? Primarily from the sequence of chapters in
Ezekiel's prophecy: (a) Eze 37 -- the "resurrection" of Israel; (b) Eze 38; 39
-- the great invasion of the Land, and the final divine intervention; (c) Eze
40-48 -- the temple of the future age, surely.
But a careful comparison of Eze 32:1 with Eze 40:1 reveals a
gap of no less than thirteen years between items (b) and (c). The connection of
the temple with the preceding chapters is now seen to be illusory. Eze 40-48
stand well apart from all the rest, and are to be judged entirely on their own
merits and not on context, for the context is non-existent" (FLET).
"The General Truth -- That Christ will build the temple of the
future age as a house of prayer for all people.
"Uncertain Detail -- What will be the size of it? What will be
the shape of it? There are no grounds for absolute certainty. There are strong
[?] grounds for the view presented by bro Sulley in his temple book: but we
should not be justified in making the reception of this view a condition of
fellowship. It is sufficient that the general truth is received. Any view that
may be entertained as to details is not inconsistent with the general truth"
(RR, "True Principles and Uncertain Details").
IN VISIONS OF GOD HE TOOK ME TO THE LAND OF ISRAEL:
Ezekiel's transportation in a vision back to Israel amounted to a kind of
homecoming for him. He had previously been in Babylon in his visions (Eze
3:14,15; 8:3; 11:24), but now the Lord took him, as He would later take all the
Israelites, back to the Promised Land.
A VERY HIGH MOUNTAIN: "And he carried me away in the
Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem,
coming down out of heaven from God" (Rev 21:10).
BRONZE: Bronze in Scripture often represents what is
strong (cf 1Ki 4:13; Job 40:18).
A LINEN CORD AND A MEASURING ROD: The rod to measure
shorter distances and the cord to measure longer ones.
A MEASURING ROD: Cp Zec 2:1; Rev 21:15.
LOOK WITH YOUR EYES AND HEAR WITH YOUR EARS AND PAY
ATTENTION TO EVERYTHING I AM GOING TO SHOW YOU: In other words, 'Use all
your senses, all your faculties, all your wits to understand divine truth.' When
there is light before your eyes, be sure -- take careful pains -- to see; and,
when there is the Word of God spoken to you, be sure to hear. Don't be one of
those men who beholds his image in a mirror, and then goes his way and
immediately forgets what manner of man he is (James 1:23,24). How much more
might we understand of God's word if we gave our whole minds to it. We tell our
children to learn their lessons "by heart". If we put the full meaning into that
expression, that is the way we should learn the things of God. Learn them all
over; take them into yourself by every faculty you possess; strive to get at
their innermost meaning by every power that is given you -- and surely God will
help you to understand.
"Look with your eyes." Examine, inspect, investigate, search!
Do not let the truth flit before you and then say, "Yes, I have seen it." No.
Stop it. Hold it by meditation before the mind's eye, and see with your eyes.
Look into it. Remember what is said of the angels: "Even angels long to look
into these things" (1Pe 1:12); not "to look at", but "to look INTO"! Look into
the gospel message: let your eyes be intent and steadfastly fixed upon every
truth, and God will give you understanding.
"Hear with thine ears." A man cannot use his ears for anything
else, can he? Spy out the meaning with the mind's eye; but, besides that, try to
catch the very tone in which the promise or precept has been uttered. Listen for
the poetry, revel in the imagery, enjoy the "music" of God's Word. Let every
part of the brain, the sensory part as well as the analytical part, HEAR it in
But the Lord demands something more. "Pay attention to
everything I am going to show you." This is surely the way to learn from God --
by loving all that He says -- feeling that, whatever God says, it is the thing
you want to know. Set your whole heart on the word. It has been said, "The man
who has read many books is not always a learned man; but he is a strong man who
has read a few books over and over till he has mastered them. He knows
something. He has a grasp of thoughts and expressions, and these will build up
his life." And even more is this true if we think of the ONE BOOK of God's Word.
Set your heart upon God's word! It is the only way to know it thoroughly: let
your whole nature be plunged into it as cloth into a dye (this, as we know, is
the literal meaning of the word "baptize" in the Greek -- be "immersed" in it!).
Become very familiar with every part of God's Word. And, as you do so, also ask
the Heavenly Father for the grace, to be willing and ready to see all that He
would have you see, and to hear all that He would have you hear, and to receive
into our heart all that He would have you receive. For surely -- in the broadest
sense -- "that is why you have been brought here!"
WALL: Heb "chowmah", occurring about 130 times in the
OT, always ref the wall of a city, not the wall of a building! Sw Eze 42:15-20.
(By contrast, HSul has made the wall of the city exactly the same as the wall of
the building! But the common practice, in tabernacle and temple, is a wall or
partition, separating that which is inside, and holy, from that which is
outside, and common. In HSul's view, the holy building is set right up against
the common, or unholy, outside area.)
LONG CUBITS: A normal cubit was the distance between
the tip of a person's middle finger and the end of his elbow, about 18 inches
(Deu 3:11). A handbreadth was about three inches. A long cubit was about 21
inches long, the length of a normal cubit plus a handbreadth. Since each of the
cubits of the man's measuring rod was a cubit and a handbreadth, it seems that
the cubits in view in these dimensions were long cubits (cf Eze 43:13). Six long
cubits (one rod) = about 10 feet.
The amount of detail devoted to the descriptions of the gate
complexes, both outer and inner, emphasizes that access into the temple will be
strictly controlled. "The entire gate system resembled the multiple entry gates
archaeologists discovered from the Solomonic period. There were several guard
rooms (cf 1Ki 24:28; 2Ch 12:11), or alcoves, on either side of the inner part of
the Solomonic gate" (Alexander, cited in Const).
Ezekiel's guide next measured the gate of the city that faced
east, that is, the gate complex. He probably measured the east gate first
because it was in a direct line with the entrance to the temple proper. Temple
gates provided access but restricted that access in relation to God's presence.
The threshold, the area of the gate at the top of the stairs within the wall (vv
22, 26), was one rod (six cubits) deep (c 10 feet), the thickness of the wall
around the whole temple compound (v 5).
Each guardroom in the gate complex was a square one rod long
and one rod wide (or six cubits by six cubits, 10 feet by 10 feet: v 12). There
were really six guardrooms, three on each side of the hallway through the gate
complex (v 10). A wall five cubits thick separated the guardrooms on the same
sides of the hallway from each other. Beyond these guardrooms there was another
threshold that led to a large portico, or vestibule room. This threshold was the
same size as the one at the other end of the passage, six cubits deep and 10
Vv 8,9: The "portico" or vestibule stood at the far end of the
gate complex and faced the courtyard. It was eight cubits deep and 25 cubits
wide. Evidently the opening from this vestibule into the courtyard was 10 cubits
wide, but the "jambs" or "side pillars" supporting the door frames around the
opening were one cubit wide on each side leaving an opening of eight
There was a total of six guardrooms in the gate complex, three
on each side of the main hallway, and they were all the same size.
The gateway into the gate complex from the east, the main
entrance, was 10 cubits wide. The main hallway ("gateway") was 13 cubits
Generally, "length" and "width", in the early part of
Scripture, relate to the measurements of the Tabernacle (Exo 25:10,17,23;
26:2,8,16; 27:18; 28:16; 30:2; 36:9,15,21; 37:1,6,10,25; 38:1,18; 39:9). Later
they are elements in the descriptions of Solomon's Temple (1Ki 6:2,20; 7:27; 2Ch
3:8; 4:1). And now they are found in Ezekiel's description of a temple (Eze
40:11,20,21,25,36,49; 41:2,4; 42:2).
The NT has two interesting uses. The love of Christ is
described by dimensions -- as in the language of the tabernacle and temple (Eph
3:18). And the city of Rev 21:16 is similarly described, to mark its
relationship to the previous houses of God's Glory.
Each guardroom was six cubits square. Evidently each one had a
one-cubit-thick low wall that defined each of these rooms as separate from the
hallway. This low wall or ledge ran on each side of the hallway in front of the
The interior width of the gate complex, measuring the ceiling
above one guardroom, the hallway, and another guardroom, was 25 cubits (cf v
21). Evidently there were doors in the walls of the guardrooms that covered
windows or niches in those walls (cf v 16; Eze 41:16).
Vv 14,15: The height of the door frames surrounding the main
gate was 60 cubits (100 feet). The gate system's walls wrapped around from the
main wall of the temple enclosure to the door jambs that framed the doorway into
the courtyard (v 9). The total length of the passageway from the front gate to
the doorway into the courtyard was 50 cubits.
There were shuttered windows or alcoves in the exterior walls
of the guardrooms and vestibule. Representations of palm trees decorated the
door frames, one on each side of each door (v 26). Palm trees were symbols of
beauty, fruitfulness, salvation, glory, and the millennial age (cf Lev 23:40;
1Ki 6:29,32,35; 7:36; 2Ch 3:5; Song 7:7; Psa 92:12-14; Neh 8:15; Zech
Vv 17-19: The passageway in the eastern gate complex led into
a courtyard. This was the outer court that contained an inner court within it.
Around the perimeter of this outer court were 30 rooms. It is not clear if they
were on three sides of the courtyard or four, and it is not clear what function
they served. Perhaps they were meeting or storage rooms. A pavement, probably
mosaic (cf 2Ch 7:3; Est 1:6), known as the "lower pavement" formed a
50-cubit-wide border around the outer edge of the outer courtyard (cf v 15).
Ezekiel's guide measured the outer courtyard between the outer and inner gates,
and this space was 100 cubits wide (about 166 feet) on the east and north sides
(and evidently on the south side too).
Vv 20-23: There was a gate complex on the north side of the
wall that was identical to the one on the east (vv 6-16). It too was 50 cubits
long and 25 cubits wide, excluding its stairway. Seven steps led into the gate
complex from the outside up to its threshold (v 6). Looking straight through the
north gate or through the east gate one could see, 100 cubits beyond (cf v 19),
another inner gate complex. Ezekiel saw two of these inner gate complexes, one
on the north side of the inner courtyard and one on the east side.
Vv 24-27: The measuring man took Ezekiel to the south side of
the wall where he discovered the same arrangement that he had seen on the east
and north sides.
Vv 28-47: The inner court. This section includes descriptions
of the three inner gate complexes, the rooms and implements used for preparing
sacrifices, the rooms for the singers and priests, and the inner court itself.
See Lesson, Ezekiel's temple: inner gates.
Vv 28-37: The inner gate complexes.
Vv 28-31: Ezekiel discovered that the south inner gate complex
was the same as the outer gate complexes. All the vestibules of the three gate
complexes totaled 25 cubits across and each of them was five cubits deep (rather
than eight, v 9). Also there were windows or niches on all four sides and eight
steps leading up to it from the outer court (cf v 22). However the portico or
vestibule of this gate complex, as well as the other inner gate complexes, was
facing the outer court.
Vv 32-34: The eastern inner gate complex was exactly like the
southern inner gate complex. Palm tree representations adorned its door frames
Vv 38-47: The rooms and implements used for preparing
Vv 38-41: Ezekiel also saw a room outside each of the three
inner gate complexes close to its doorway. There priests would rinse animals
brought as burnt offerings (see Eze 43:13--46:24). Within each inner gate
complex, in the vestibules, there were four tables where priests slaughtered
animals brought as burnt, sin, and guilt offerings. Two tables stood on one side
of each vestibule and two on the other side. There were also four tables on the
outside of the northern inner gate complex, two on each side of the entrance.
The north gate then had eight tables, four in the vestibule and four just
outside the gate. [Since Ezekiel was describing what he saw at the northern
inner gate complex (vv 35-37), it may be safe to assume that the east and south
gates also had the same number of tables.]
Vv 42,43: In addition to these four tables outside the inner
gate complex, Ezekiel saw four tables of dressed stone, each one and a half
cubits long, one and a half cubits high, and one cubit high. These were
evidently near the other tables outside the entrance to the northern gate
complex and held the utensils used in slaughtering the sacrificial animals. He
also saw double hooks about three inches long hanging on the walls of the
vestibule. Animal flesh was on the tables, animals that were being offered in
Vv 44-46: The rooms for the singers and priests. There were
two rooms for singers in the inner court. One of them stood beside the north
inner gate, and its door faced south. It also accommodated the needs of the
priests who were responsible for the care of the temple. The other room stood
beside the south inner gate, and its door faced north. It was for the use of
singers and the priests in charge of the altar (cf Eze 43:13-17).
THESE ARE THE SONS OF ZADOK: The faithful high priest
who served during David and Solomon's reigns (cf Eze 44:15; 1Sa 2:31-33; 2Sa
15:24-29; 1Ki 1:5-26,32-35; 2:26,27,35; 1Ch 6:3-8; 24:3).
V 47: The inner court itself. The inner court, bounded
by the three inner gates and the temple itself, was a square 100 cubits (166
feet) on each side. An altar stood in this square in front of the entrance to
the temple proper.
"In front of" is correct rendering of "paniym" (lit, "in the
face of"). This relative position is true of all previous Temples -- where the
altar of sacrifice is the means of entrance to the Most Holy, and so --
therefore -- outside the Most Holy!
This is not compatible with Henry Sulley's structure, which
places the altar on top of a great mountain "in the center of" the Most
"1. Concerning the altar which is described as being "before
the House" (Eze 40:47), the author [Henry Sulley, "The Temple of Ezekiel's
Prophecy"], having already decided in favor of a square frame of buildings,
cannot put this altar 'before the House' without putting it outside the House
altogether. So he asserts (very dubiously) that the Hebrew preposition really
means 'in the presence of,' and from this he infers that the altar will be at
the center. But the word used is the ordinary Hebrew word for 'before.' It is so
translated scores and scores of times (Young's Concordance does not attempt to
list more than a few, and on this Strong's is only bewildering to the student
who has no Hebrew) in such phrases as 'before the Lord', 'before the
tabernacle': eg, Lev 1:5; 3:8. By contrast, the reconstruction of the temple on
a pattern similar to that of Solomon's temple -- which is the kind of conclusion
reached by practically all students of this prophecy except Henry Sulley -- puts
the altar in the court of the temple, east of the Sanctuary and therefore
literally and precisely 'before the House'.
"2. A second argument for this central siting of the altar is
put thus, on p 51 [of HS's book]: 'This altar is hypostatically representative
of the divine presence' -- therefore it must be at the center! but was not the
altar of burnt offering in the Tabernacle and in the First Temple just as
'hypostatically representative of the divine presence'? Yet neither of those was
in the center of the Sanctuary. The argument is a poor one.
"3. A third argument is adduced: 'This altar must of necessity
be in the center, because those who approach to it in the performance of
priestly duty enter the Most Holy for that purpose' (p 51). But does Ezekiel say
so? The present writer has not been able to find any such statement. The author
is surely assuming what he wants to prove.
"4. Finally on this point: 'Ezekiel gives the detailed
measurements of the altar when he is in the Most Holy' -- and this is mentioned
on p 151 as 'confirmation of this conclusion.' Again there is something
suspiciously like carelessness. For Ezekiel does not say the altar is in the
Most Holy (Eze 43:12 is about the entire temple area; cp Eze 42:2; and RV
rightly begins a new paragraph at v 13). Nor is it true that Ezekiel went into
the Most Holy. On the contrary, when the Most Holy is being measured, Ezekiel is
careful to say: "Then went he (the angel) inward, and measured..." (Eze 41:3).
As a priest who was not a High Priest, Ezekiel knew that he himself had no right
to enter the Most Holy.
"These four points, none of them at all satisfactory,
constitute all the reasons advanced for the highly revolutionary theory that the
altar must be in the center of the temple" (FLET).
Placing the altar in the center of the Most Holy, as HSul
does, is very unsatisfactory for the following reason: that the animals to be
offered on the altar would presumably have to be driven through the temple
itself, as well as the Most Holy Place. This defies common sense, and Bible
teaching as regards other altars and other sacrifices: for these were always the
means by which man might be purified, and cleansed, and prepared for entrance
into the divine presence, and so the altars in all previous tabernacles and
temples were OUTSIDE the house itself, and certainly not in the CENTER of the
Eze 40:48 -- Eze 41:26: The temple and its outbuilding. It is
interesting to compare this temple with the one that Solomon built (1Ki 6; 7).
There are similarities but also differences.
Vv 48,49: The temple entrance. The walls that supported the
door frames leading into the vestibule of the temple were five cubits deep on
each side of the opening. These walls protruded three cubits from the side walls
of the temple on each side. The vestibule itself was 20 cubits wide and 11
cubits deep. Two columns (pillars) stood at the top of the stairs on either side
of the entrance to the vestibule (cf 1Ki 7:16-20).