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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Ezekiel 46



Verses 4-7

4-7. Instead of two lambs for a burnt offering the prince in this new and ideal commonwealth shall offer six on the Sabbath (Numbers 28:9), and instead of two tenths of an ephah of flour mingled with oil for a meat and drink offering (ibid.) an entire ephah is required and a bin of oil (about 1½ gals.) to each ephah of flour (about 9 gals.). The amount of flour for each lamb is left to the liberality of his hand (Ezekiel 46:5; Ezekiel 46:7). The offering at the new moons, however, is less than the Levitical law required (Numbers 28:11-15), and the sin offering is entirely omitted. The divergences between the directions of Ezekiel and the Pentateuchal law are as yet inexplicable, as we are too little acquainted with the sacrificial symbolism to explain them. To declare that this law was later than Ezekiel and based upon his legislation does not remove the difficulty; for such small changes as these could not have been made without sufficient reason, and we cannot now know what that reason was; though we may be pretty confident that in the Hebrew ritual, as in that of other nations, each act of the priest and each sacrifice had some definite religious meaning. (Compare Ezekiel 43:11-12.)

Verses 8-10

8-10. Even the way by which the prince and people shall enter and depart from the sacrificial gateway has a religious significance the full import of which we cannot now catch. (See note Ezekiel 46:4-7.) To suppose that this regulation was merely to avoid a throng is to go contrary to the analogy of similar regulations in all other ancient rituals. The ordinary text (Ezekiel 46:10) seems to declare that the prince and people should enter and leave the place of sacrifice at the same time — which would compel the prince to meet the entire throng as he attempted to leave by the same gate at which he had entered the temple (Ezekiel 46:8). Perhaps the Syriac is correct in reading, as quoted by Davidson, “But the prince in their midst, by the gate at which he came in shall he go out.” The fact of the inner gate being left open after the prince had completed his acts of worship (Ezekiel 46:2) would suggest the probability that other worshipers (“the people”) were to pass by the sacred doorway and look upon the sacrifices after the prince had left the temple. It seems improbable that the prince and the people should have been put upon such an equality as the A.V. would indicate, and especially improbable that the prince should have been compelled by the law to beat against the crowd when he attempted to leave the sacred place (Ezekiel 46:8; Ezekiel 46:10, A.V.).

Verse 11-12

11, 12. When the prince, in addition to the sacrifices required by law, brings a personal “freewill offering” (compare Exodus 35:29; Leviticus 22:23) he shall enter the temple just as on the Sabbath and new moons, but the gate shall be closed immediately upon his departure, instead of remaining open until evening, as in the other cases (Ezekiel 46:2), for the accommodation of other worshipers interested in the sacrifices. (See note preceding; in regard to the offerings in Ezekiel 46:11, see note on Ezekiel 46:4-7.)

Verses 13-15

13-15. Instead of two lambs a day, one in the morning and one in the evening (Exodus 29:38-42; Numbers 28:1-8), the daily morning offering shall be one “yearling lamb without blemish,” and instead of one tenth ephah of meal one sixth is here required, and instead of one fourth bin of oil one third is here necessary “to moisten” (R.V.) the “meal” (R.V.) offering. Why no evening offering was made and why these seemingly unimportant differences are found between the two legislations cannot now be explained. (See note Ezekiel 46:4-7.)

Verses 16-18

16-18. These regulations protecting the sons of the prince prove that Ezekiel thought of him as a civil officer. The old interpreters who tried to make every phrase concerning the prince point to a coming heavenly Messiah were wrong. That every ceremonial act of the prince, king, and priests, in the Hebrew, as in every other ancient ritual, was intended to teach some religious lesson cannot be doubted; but what these lessons were must be determined by the symbolic language of the age and not by pressing our Christian conceptions into the Old Testament law (note Ezekiel 43:10-11). The property of the prince (Ezekiel 45:7-8) if given to a servant must revert back to the prince at the “year of release” (probably the fiftieth, the year of jubilee, Leviticus 25:10; Leviticus 27:24; though it is possibly the seventh, the year of release from debts, Jeremiah 34:14; Deuteronomy 15:12). But the gifts of the prince to his sons should be theirs forever: “as for his inheritance, it shall be for his sons” (R.V., Ezekiel 46:17). The prince must not, however, take any of the people’s lands in order to increase the inheritance of the royal princes (Ezekiel 46:18; compare 1 Kings 21). The rights of each Hebrew citizen to a portion of the land were sacredly guarded by the old law (Leviticus 25:23; Numbers 26, 27).

Verses 19-24

19-24. The kitchens of the priests are now described. “Then he brought me through the entry,… and behold, there was a place on the hinder part westward” (R.V.). See L in chart facing page 209. The kitchens where the priests prepared their own meals from the sacrificial offerings (Ezekiel 44:29) were at the west ends of the inner court. Nothing was allowed to pass from this inner court to the outer, for ceremonial and practical reasons. (See note Ezekiel 44:11-19.) In the “outer court” (Ezekiel 46:21, R.V.), in each of the four corners were the kitchens in which the other offerings of the people were boiled or baked by the Levites (Ezekiel 44:11-12; Leviticus 8:31; see M of chart facing page 209).

It is almost universally recognized that these closing paragraphs of this strange prophecy cannot be taken literally. “But,” says Dr. Terry, “if the last two chapters are explained as ideal pictures, so must the others be, for they are all parts of one great symbolic vision.… What, then, is the real import of these concluding chapters? Our answer is that, like the corresponding conclusion of John’s Apocalypse, this vision of the restored and perfected temple, service, and land symbolizes the perfected kingdom of God and his Messiah.… Of the times and the seasons of the completion of the Messianic kingdom Ezekiel utters no definite word. Like the descent of the new Jerusalem in the visions of John (Revelation 21:2), which was seen after the overthrow of Gog and Magog and their innumerable host (Revelation 20:8-9), this final glorification of Israel also follows the overthrow of the last enemies. This is the only natural, logical, and pictorial order consistent with the grand ideal of triumph. This interpretation of the symbolism necessarily excludes all Jewish carnal theories of a literal restoration of Jerusalem and the Jewish state. The notion prevalent among some schools of Second Adventists, that at

Christ's second coming Jerusalem and the temple will be rebuilt and become the throne center of the kingdom of the Messiah, is inconsistent with a rational interpretation of the prophets and the spiritual nature of the kingdom of Christ"(Apocalyptics).



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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Ezekiel 46:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

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