Vv 1-7: Tribal allotments in the north: The tribe of Dan was
to receive the northernmost section of the Promised Land. The order of tribes
from north to south, north of the sacred district, was Dan, Asher, Naphtali,
Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben and Judah -- seven tribal allotments of equal size
(Eze 47:14). Since they will be of equal size, and since the east-west width of
the Promised Land would vary depending on the latitude of each allotment, the
north-south distance would also vary somewhat.
The order of these tribes does not conform to any other in
Scripture. These tribal allotments are not like those that Joshua assigned nor
are they as large (cf Jos 14--22). There is a general progression from the most
unfaithful tribe, Dan, to the most faithful, Judah. Judah, from which Messiah
came, received the blessing of being adjacent to the holy allotment. The tribes
that descended from Jacob's concubines (Dan, Asher, Naphtali, and Gad) received
land to the far north and far south. Those that descended from Jacob's wives
received land toward the center of the land (cp Gen 35:23-26).
Vv 8-22: The holy allotment.
South of Judah's portion would be a special territory, which
would be the same size as the other tribal allotments. It would include a
section 25,000 cubits wide, and the temple sanctuary would stand in its center.
Vv 9-12: This portion would be 25,000 cubits long, from east
to west, and 10,000 cubits wide, from north to south. It would be for the
descendants of the Zadokite priests who remained faithful to the Lord. This
would be a most holy place next to the territory for the other Levitical
Vv 13,14: The other Levitical priests would have an allotment
the same size next to the allotment of the Zadokite priests. They were not to
sell or exchange any of this land for other land because it was holy to the
Vv 15-19: The remaining portion of this allotment, a section
25,000 cubits wide by 5,000 cubits north to south, would be for the holy city
and the open spaces beside it. The city itself would occupy the central portion
of this section. It would be for the common use of the Israelites, as would be
its open spaces and home sites. The city itself would be 4,500 cubits square
with a 250 cubit open space border on each of its four sides, another green belt
like the one around the temple complex (cf Eze 45:2). The 10,000 cubit-wide
areas on the east and west sides of the city would also be for the production of
food for those who lived in the city. Those who lived in the city, from all the
tribes of Israel, would cultivate those fields.
Whereas cities have always been known as places of moral
corruption and rebellion, this city will be a place of eternal rest, refuge, and
personal fellowship with others and God (Eze 48:8-20,30-35).
The total holy allotment would be 25,000 cubits square
including the city and its adjacent lands as well as the territories for the
Levites and Zadokites. This is an area of almost 70 square miles.
Vv 21,22: The prince would receive the rest of this allotment,
on the east and west sides of this square and between the boundaries of the
tribes of Judah on the north and Benjamin on the south.
Vv 23-29: Tribal allotments in the south: The tribal
allotments south of this special territory would fall to Benjamin, Simeon,
Issachar, Zebulun, and Gad. This was the total land to be divided by lot and the
tribes' individual portions.
The tribe of Benjamin received land next to the holy allotment
-- possibly because Benjamin was one of Rachel's sons, or because the Benjamites
supported David (2Sa 19:16,17) and allied with Judah to form the Southern
Vv 30-35: The city, its gates, and its name.
Vv 30-34: The Lord next specified the gates of the holy city.
Though Ezekiel did not name the city, Zechariah did. It is Jerusalem (Zec 14:8).
On each of its 4,500 cubit-long sides there would be three gates. The ones
facing north would be named in honor of the tribes of Reuben (Jacob's
firstborn), Judah (the kingly tribe), and Levi (the priestly tribe). All three
of these patriarchs were Leah's sons. The gates on the east would bear the names
of Joseph and Benjamin (Rachel's sons), and Dan (a son of Bilhah). The south
gates would honor Simeon, Issachar, and Zebulun (Leah's other three sons). The
west gates would bear the names of Gad, Asher, and Naphtali (all sons of the two
handmaids, Zilpah and Bilhah). The many gates illustrate the accessibility of
The New Jerusalem of Revelation is similarly described: having
three gates on each of its four sides, each named for one of the 12 sons of
Jacob (Rev 21:12,13). That city will also be square, but it will be a cube, ie
of three dimensions -- like the most holy place (Rev 21:16). Also it will be
very much larger (Rev 21:16,17). Thus it seems that the "eternal city" will be
similar to but not identical with the city of Ezekiel's vision.
The circumference of the city proper would be 18,000 cubits,
less than six miles. And its name from the day of its establishment would be
"The LORD is there" (Heb "Yahweh shammah").
AND THE NAME OF THE CITY FROM THAT TIME ON WILL BE: THE
LORD IS THERE: "Jehovah-Shammah", or "Yahweh-Shammah". The new name indicates a
new character, as always in Scripture, namely that the Lord would forever reside
among His people: thus He will be the great Immanuel: "God is with us" (cf Isa
7:14). Despite what fortunes and misfortunes beset the people of God, this is
His promise: there will come a time when their God would never again depart from
them or send them out of His land. He will forever dwell among them, and they
will forever enjoy the unbroken fellowship with God that He intended since the
creation of the world. The Book of Ezekiel -- just like the Book of Revelation
-- ends with a description of a New Jerusalem. However, the New Jerusalem of
Ezekiel has to do with earlier times, and is dependent upon the faithfulness of
Israel; whereas, the New Jerusalem at the end of Revelation is absolute and
Twenty-two years and 48 chapters earlier Ezekiel began his
book with a vision of a storm picturing the destruction of Old Jerusalem (Eze
1), and God's departure from it (Eze 10; 11). He ends it with another vision of
the Glory of God returning to His city and temple (Eze 43:2-5), and the building
of a special temple-city to be named "The LORD is there" (Eze 48:35). The glory
of the LORD is the unifying feature that ties the book together and runs through
it from beginning to end.
Due to man's unbelief and disobedience, God's glory departs
from him. But when man's unbelief gives way to faith, and his disobedience to
obedience, then that wondrous Glory may yet return to him. And when -- through
the mercies of our God -- all sins are forgiven, then will be ushered in the Age
of "God who is all in all" (1Co 15:28), and the Glory will return to His land
and His city and His temple and His people, never to depart again. Truly "THE
LORD WILL BE THERE": "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with
them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their
God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or
mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who
was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' " (Rev 21:3-5).