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Bible Commentaries

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

Ezekiel 48

 

 

Verses 1-35

Chapter Forty-eight

Jehovah Shammah

Ere the wondrous vision faded away our prophet saw the land far extended, as Isaiah 33:17 tells us, “Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty: they shall behold the land of far distances” (A. V., margin).

“Now these are the names of the tribes: From the north end, beside the way of Hethlon to the entrance of Hamath, Hazarenan at the border of Damascus, northward beside Hamath (and they shall have their sides east and west), Dan, one portion. And by the border of Dan, from the east side unto the west side, Asher, one portion. And by the border of Asher, from the east side even unto the west side, Naphtali, one portion. And by the border of Naphtali, from the east side unto the west side, Manasseh, one portion. And by the border of Manasseh, from the east side unto the west side, Ephraim, one portion. And by the border of Ephraim, from the east side even unto the west side, Reuben, one portion. And by the border of Reuben, from the east side unto the west side, Judah, one portion”-vers. 1-7.

The inheritance of seven tribes is depicted in broad belts running from west to east across the entire land promised to the earthly seed of Abraham (Genesis 15:7; Gen_15:18-21; Gen_17:8). That covenant has never been rescinded, so remains inviolate, for it was based not upon man’s faithfulness but upon pure grace. The universal testimony of the prophets is that when Israel returns to God they will be re-established in their land, never to be rooted out again.

Seven tribes are listed here who will possess the northern part of Canaan and the land east of the Jordan.

“And by the border of Judah, from the east side unto the west side, shall be the oblation which ye shall offer, five and twenty thousand reeds in breadth, and in length as one of the portions, from the east side unto the west side: and the sanctuary shall be in the midst of it. The oblation that ye shall offer unto Jehovah shall be five and twenty thousand reeds in length, and ten thousand in breadth. And for these, even for the priests, shall be the holy oblation; toward the north five and twenty thousand in length, and toward the west ten thousand in breadth, and toward the east ten thousand in breadth, and toward the south five and twenty thousand in length: and the sanctuary of Jehovah shall be in the midst thereof. It shall be for the priests that are sanctified of the sons of Zadok, that have kept My charge, that went not astray when the children of Israel went astray, as the Levites went astray. And it shall be unto them an oblation from the oblation of the land, a thing most holy, by the border of the Levites”-vers. 8-12.

Immediately south of the portion of Judah was the oblation set apart for the priests with the sanctuary in the midst. There the glory of God was seen. It is His delight to dwell amid the praises of His people. As a tender loving Father He would have all His children gathered about Him, enjoying happy fellowship and uninterrupted communion.

It is interesting to note how often this expression in the midst is used in connection with Jehovah’s place among His chosen ones. Of old the tabernacle, God’s dwelling-place, was in the midst of the camp (Numbers 2:17; Num_5:3). God Himself walked in the midst of the camp (Deuteronomy 23:14). He dwelt in the midst of Jerusalem (Psalms 46:5); the Holy One of Israel dwelt in the midst of the nations (Isaiah 12:6; Hosea 11:9); Zephaniah who, like Ezekiel, looked forward to future blessing, saw the Lord again in the midst as of old (Zephaniah 3:5; Zep_3:15). It is this that Ezekiel saw in vision: the tribes resting in peace after all their long centuries of distress and wandering among the nations, and Jehovah dwelling in His sanctuary in the midst of His redeemed ones.

“And answerable unto the border of the priests, the Levites shall have five and twenty thousand in length, and ten thousand in breadth: all the length shall be five and twenty thousand, and the breadth ten thousand. And they shall sell none of it, nor exchange it, nor shall the first-fruits of the land be alienated; for it is holy unto Jehovah”-vers. 13, 14.

That which is dedicated to the Lord must not be alienated for any cause or used for any other purpose. As the first-fruits belonged to Him so with the oblation for His sanctuary. The holy must not be confounded with the secular, but the title of Jehovah is to be ever acknowledged.

“And the five thousand that are left in the breadth, in front of the five and twenty thousand, shall be for common use, for the city, for dwelling and for suburbs; and the city shall be in the midst thereof. And these shall be the measures thereof: the north side four thousand and five hundred, and the south side four thousand and five hundred, and on the east side four thousand and five hundred, and the west side four thousand and five hundred. And the city shall have suburbs: toward the north two hundred and fifty, and toward the south two hundred and fifty, and toward the east two hundred and fifty, and toward the west two hundred and fifty. And the residue in the length, answerable unto the holy oblation, shall be ten thousand eastward, and ten thousand westward; and it shall be answerable unto the holy oblation; and the increase thereof shall be for food unto them that labor in the city. And they that labor in the city, out of all the tribes of Israel, shall till it. All the oblation shall be five and twenty thousand by five and twenty thousand: ye shall offer the holy oblation foursquare, with the possession of the city”-vers. 15-20.

The city and its suburbs occupied a wide and a broad space surrounding the Lord’s portion. Here the people were to dwell comfortably housed and enjoying the fruit of their labor as they tilled the open land surrounding the city itself, thus enjoying the fruits that it would bring forth. When God gets His rightful place His people may be sure that their interests will be well looked after.

“And the residue shall be for the prince, on the one side and on the other of the holy oblation and of the possession of the city; in front of the five and twenty thousand of the oblation toward the east border, and westward in front of the five and twenty thousand toward the west border, answerable unto the portions, it shall be for the prince: and the holy oblation and the sanctuary of the house shall be in the midst thereof. Moreover from the possession of the Levites, and from the possession of the city, being in the midst of that which is the prince’s, between the border of Judah and the border of Benjamin, it shall be for the prince”-vers. 21, 22.

The inheritance of the prince was in close connection with that of the priests and the Levites, near to the sanctuary; thus everyone would have his allotted place according to the plan of God, with whom there is no disorder or confusion.

“And as for the rest of the tribes: from the east side unto the west side, Benjamin, one portion. And by the border of Benjamin, from the east side unto the west side, Simeon, one portion. And by the border of Simeor, from the east side unto the west side, Issachar, one portion. And by the border of Issachar, from the east side unto the west side, Zebulun, one portion. And by the border of Zebulun, from the east side unto the west side, Gad, one portion. And by the border of Gad, at the south side southward, the border shall be even from Tamar unto the waters of Meribath-kadesh, to the brook of Egypt, unto the great sea. This is the land which ye shall divide by lot unto the tribes of Israel for inheritance, and these are their several portions, saith the Lord Jehovah”-vers. 23-29.

Five tribes were seen as located on broad strips of land south of the city, even as seven had been depicted north of it. It is noticeable that the Levites, as of old, were not numbered among the tribes receiving an inheritance in the land because the Lord is their portion, but Joseph is divided into Ephraim and Manasseh, as when they took possession of Palestine of old. The Levites, as we have seen, had their place in the sacred oblation, in the vicinity of the temple.

“And these are the egresses of the city: On the north side four thousand and five hundred reeds by measure; and the gates of the city shall be after the names of the tribes of Israel, three gates northward: the gate of Reuben, one; the gate of Judah, one; the gate of Levi, one. And at the east side four thousand and five hundred reeds, and three gates: even the gate of Joseph, one; the gate of Benjamin, one; the gate of Dan, one. And at the south side four thousand and five hundred reeds by measure, and three gates: the gate of Simeon, one; the gate of Issachar, one; the gate of Zebulun, one. At the west side four thousand and five hundred reeds, with their three gates: the gate of Gad, one; the gate of Asher, one; the gate of Naphtali, one. It shall be eighteen thousand reeds round about: and the name of the city from that day shall be, Jehovah is there”-vers. 30-35.

Ezekiel saw twelve gates to the city of his vision, and on each gate the name of one of the tribes of Israel. In this case Levi was listed as one of the tribes, and Joseph as another, so that the distinction between Ephraim and Manasseh is not recognized here. The heavenly Jerusalem as seen by John also had twelve gates, and on these too the names of the twelve tribes were inscribed. But the one scene is earthly and the other heavenly. Abraham’s literal seed will be partly in heaven and partly on earth. All Old Testament saints will be raised and have their place in Jerusalem which is above. Those living on the earth at the second advent will possess the land as promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, which is Israel.

The account of the vision closes with the declara- tion that the restored earthly city will bear the name of Jehovah Shammah-that is, The Lord is there, for He will, as we have seen, return in glory to His sanctuary and will dwell in the midst of His people throughout the kingdom age.

 


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Bibliography Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Ezekiel 48:4". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/isn/ezekiel-48.html. 1914.

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