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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Ezekiel 42

 

 

Verses 1-4

Ezekiel 42:1-4. Then he brought me forth into the outer court — Outer with respect to the temple itself, or the outer part of the court, which court was that of the priests, as appears from what follows. Into the chamber that was over against the separate place — Chamber is put for chambers. Before the length, &c., was the north door — This north door faced one of the cloisters, the length of which was a hundred cubits, and its breadth fifty, which was the proportion of all the cloisters. Over against the twenty cubits which were for [or, which belonged to] the inner court, and over against the pavement which was for [or, belonged to] the outer court — One side of these building looked upon the void space about the temple, which contained twenty cubits, mentioned Ezekiel 41:10; and the other side was toward the pavement belonging to the outer court, described Ezekiel 40:17. And before the chamber was a walk of ten cubits — According to our reading of this verse, there seem to have been two rows of these chambers, and a walk between them of ten cubits’ breadth, with an entrance into it from the chambers of the breadth of one cubit. But the LXX., Syriac, Houbigant, and Bishop Newcome, after a walk of ten cubits breadth, add, and of a hundred cubits long.


Verses 5-7

Ezekiel 42:5-7. Now the upper chambers were shorter, &c. — The two upper stories had balconies standing out of them, the breadth of which was taken out of the rooms themselves, and made them so much the narrower, because the weight of the balconies was not supported by pillars, as the rooms over the cloisters were, but only by the wall. The wall that was without, &c., was fifty cubits — The wall that enclosed these buildings was commensurate with the breadth of one of the cloisters of the outer court, which were fifty cubits broad. These three verses are allowed by the Jewish Rabbis Solomon and Kimchi to be very difficult to be understood.


Verses 8-12

Ezekiel 42:8-12. For the length of the chambers, &c. — The chambers that were built over the cloisters were in length fifty cubits. And lo, before the temple were a hundred cubits — In passing from the north to the south side of the temple, Ezekiel 42:11-12, over the space of ground that fronted the east side of it, the prophet was shown that it measured a hundred cubits, Ezekiel 41:14. And from under these chambers was the entry, &c. — The entry into these south chambers was by a pair of stairs at the east corner of the outer court: see Ezekiel 46:19. The chambers were in the thickness — Or rather, in the breadth of the wall — That is, of the ground which that wall enclosed. Over against, or before, the separate place, and before the building — These expressions denote that these south chambers had the same situation with respect to the temple, as the north chambers had, spoken of Ezekiel 42:1. And the way before them, &c. — Such a way led to these chambers, as did to the chambers on the north side. As long as they, and as broad as they — The proportions of both were the same; and the windows, doors, and passages belonging to these, were exactly uniform with those on the north side. The sense of the twelfth verse would be plainer, if the words were thus translated, And such were the doors of the chambers toward the south; namely, as those toward the north. There was a door in the head of the way, &c. — Namely, like that described Ezekiel 42:9.


Verse 13-14

Ezekiel 42:13-14. The north chambers, and the south chambers — Namely, those described in the foregoing part of the chapter; they be holy chambers, where the priests shall eat the most holy things — The show- bread, the remainder of the meat-offering, sin-offering, and trespass- offering, are expressly called the most holy things, Leviticus 6:14; Leviticus 6:17; Leviticus 24:9; and are distinguished from the holy things, such as the peace- offerings, first-fruits, and tithes, Leviticus 21:22. These were to be eaten within the precincts of the temple, by the direction of the Levitical law. There shall they lay the most holy things — These rooms were likewise set apart for laying up the remainder of the sacrifices, till they were eaten by the priests and their families, Leviticus 10:13; Leviticus 22:13. When the priests enter therein — Within the inner court; then shall they not go out of the holy place, &c., but there they shall lay their garments, &c. — They shall not go into the court of the people, in their priestly vestments, but shall lay them up in some of these chambers. The priestly garments were only to be used in the time of their ministration, as appears from Exodus 28:43. And shall put on other garments, and shall approach, &c. — The words should rather be translated, and shall come into the court belonging to the people; the outer court, mentioned at the beginning of the verse.


Verse 15-16

Ezekiel 42:15-16. When he had made an end of measuring the inner house — The inner house denotes the temple, distinguished from the courts about it; he measured the east side, &c. — This and the following verses contain the measures of the holy mountain, or area, upon which the temple stood, and which is described to be an exact square, consisting of five hundred reeds in measure on each side of it, that is, of very near an English mile. The whole area, therefore, was near four miles in compass; a circuit as large as one-half of the whole city of Jerusalem, in its most flourishing condition, and certainly far greater than that occupied either by Solomon’s temple, with all its out-buildings and courts, or by the temple built after the return of the Jews from Babylon; and indeed greater than the mountain of the temple was capable of containing, according to the description given of it by all the Jewish writers. This proves, as Mr. Scott justly observes, that the vision cannot be explained of any temple that has hitherto been built, or indeed of any literal temple, but must be understood figuratively and mystically. Bishop Newcome indeed, following Capellus, says, “Read here, and Ezekiel 42:17-19, אמות, cubits, for קנים, reeds, with the LXX., Ezekiel 42:17 ; Ezekiel 42:20.” But the former word, signifying cubits, does not once occur in the Hebrew text, whereas the word rendered reeds is repeated four times. And as to the LXX., it is evident they “had Solomon’s temple in view, and changed reeds for cubits, in order to adjust the dimensions of this temple to those of Solomon’s; and that late writers have proposed the alteration in the text for the same reason. But if men allow themselves to substitute one word for another in the sacred text, because the alterations would render that consistent with their systems which otherwise would be incompatible with them, there is no knowing to what lengths they may proceed. Surely it is better to acknowledge our ignorance on such abstruse subjects than to support a favourite scheme of interpretation, by giving countenance to so dangerous a measure.” We have said above, that the area here described is an exact square; and it is to be observed, that the heavenly Jerusalem, represented to St. John, Revelation 21:16, is likewise described as foursquare, that figure being an emblem of solidity. And Ezekiel’s vision, as well as St. John’s, is designed, in its mystical sense, to represent the regularity and strength of Christ’s church and kingdom.


Verse 20

Ezekiel 42:20. It had a wall round about — To defend it from being invaded or profaned. Such a square wall as is here described, seems only capable of a mystical sense and interpretation. To make a separation between the sanctuary and the profane place — Between that compass of ground which was included in the precincts of the temple, and was considered as consecrated to the Lord, and where it was not permitted either the heathen, strangers, or impure persons, to present themselves; and that place, here termed profane, which all the world might enter indiscriminately, men, women, pure, impure, Gentiles, and others. We learn from Josephus, that such a place of separation existed at the temple in his time: see Antiq., lib. 15. c. 14, and Calmet.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Ezekiel 42:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/ezekiel-42.html. 1857.

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