The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Ezekiel 42

Eze 42:1

Vv 1-14: The priests' eating and dressing rooms. See Lesson, Ezekiel's temple: priests' rooms.

Vv 1,2: Ezekiel's guide next took him out the north inner gate into the outer court and showed him another building. It stood between the "separate area," the 20-cubit space that bordered the temple proper, and "the building toward the north," evidently the complex of rooms in the outer court that stood against the north wall of the temple complex. The length of this building, east to west, was 100 cubits, and its width, north to south, was 50 cubits. This structure had a door on its north side.

Eze 42:3

Vv 3,4: There were colonnades (galleries, covered porches) outside this building facing the inner and outer courts (north and south). These matching colonnades were three stories high as was the building itself. A 10-cubit-wide interior hallway ran the length of this building east to west and provided access to the rooms.

Eze 42:5

Vv 5,6: The rooms on the third story were smaller than the ones on the first and second stories because the colonnade on the third story took more room than the colonnades on the first and second stories. The third story colonnade did not rest on the exterior walls that reached down to the ground but on top of second-story rooms. Thus the third story colonnade was set back from the exterior walls rather than flush with the ones below it.

Eze 42:7

Vv 7-9: The north facade of this building, facing the outer court, was only 50 cubits wide. Perhaps the roof line was 100 cubits long, and there was an open space 50 cubits wide under the roof to the east of this facade. The south facade was 100 cubits long, the west facade was 50 cubits long, and the north facade was 50 cubits long.

Eze 42:10

Vv 10-12: There was a corresponding structure on the south side of the temple proper, the mirror image of the one on the north. It too stood between the outer court and the "separate area" and faced the temple building.

THE SOUTH SIDE: The Hebrew text describes this building as on the "east", but it must have been on the "south", as the LXX translators concluded, in view of the complete symmetry of the whole temple complex.

Eze 42:13

Vv 13,14: Ezekiel's guide informed him that the rooms to the north and south of the "separate area" were for the priests to use when they ate the sacrifices that people brought to the temple. They would deposit the offerings in these rooms. They were also dressing rooms for the priests since they could not go from the "separate area" or the inner court into the outer court without changing their clothes. In view of this statement, there must have been access into each of these two buildings from the "separate area" as well as from the outer court.

"If the Jews were a peculiar, a consecrated, a holy people, it may be said that their sanctity was concentrated in the temple -- the building which was 'holiness unto the Lord', and in the holy priesthood, set apart for the ministrations of the sanctuary. The angel who showed Ezekiel the temple of vision laid great stress upon this characteristic of the marvelous and symmetrical building. This ceremonial holiness is exhibited as affecting: (1) The priests, who were set apart from the rest of the people. How should they be clean who bear the vessels of the Lord! (2) Their residences. During the period of their officiation in the temple services and sacrifices, they had their dwelling in certain chambers within the precincts, and these chambers were deemed holy places, (3) Their food. They are said to 'eat the most holy things', that is, there were certain regulations as to food which were prescribed for them that had no reference to the people generally. (4) Their garments. The priests were provided with raiment which they were required to wear when ministering before the Lord. Holy functions necessitated holy vestments. (5) Their offerings. As the reader of this passage is reminded, it was the duty of the priests to present meal offerings, sin offering, and guilt offerings. As these were offered upon the holy altar to the holy God, they themselves were holy.

"It thus appears that everything connected with the position, the life, the ministrations, of the priests was marked by ceremonial sanctity.

"What was the purpose of all the arrangements described in this and other passages of Old Testament Scripture? Why was this artificial separation introduced into the religion and life of the Hebrew people?... It is evident that it was intended to convey to Israel and to mankind: (1) A conception of the holy nature of God. Very different was the character claimed for Himself by Jehovah from the character attributed to the deities of the heathen nations around. Whilst these deities were disfigured by selfishness, cruelty, and lust, Jehovah's attributes were righteousness, holiness, and benevolence. Everything connected with the worship of God, as practiced in the temple at Jerusalem, was adapted to convey to men's minds the idea of God's infinite and spotless holiness. (2) A conception of the holy character of acceptable worship. Concerning idolatrous worship, we know that it was distinguished by perfunctoriness and superstition, and in some cases by impurity. Religious rites among the heathen are usually corrupt, or else mechanical and spiritually valueless. On the contrary, the worship of the true Hebrew, as is evident to the attentive reader of the Book of Psalms and of the prophets, was a sincere, holy, and spiritual worship. It was well understood that no other worship could be acceptable to the holy and heart-searching King of kings. And the arrangements described in this passage of the Book of Ezekiel were evidently adapted to produce and to deepen this impression. (3) A conception of the holy services of obedience and praise. Sacrifices were enjoined and required of the pious Hebrew; but sacrifices were not the only or the chief services to be presented by the devout worshipper. In connection with these, and beyond these, were the offerings which God ever delights to accept from His own people -- spiritual offerings of devotion and of active services. And if these are distinguished by one characteristic above another, that characteristic is true holiness" (Pulpit).

WHERE THE PRIESTS WHO APPROACH THE LORD WILL EAT THE MOST HOLY OFFERINGS: So, in the place where God has truly put His Name -- that is, in the Lord Jesus Christ -- believers may eat the most holy things: the emblems of his body and his blood in remembrance of the atonement.

THE GRAIN OFFERINGS, THE SIN OFFERINGS AND THE GUILT OFFERINGS: Under the Mosaic Law, the priests obtained parts of the burnt, grain, peace, sin and trespass (guilt) offerings (Lev 6; 7).

Eze 42:14

The purity of the priestly garments was a theme of the law (Exo 29:4-9, Lev 8:7,13,33-35). Spiritually, this reflects the difference between the clothing believers have in the flesh, and what they have in the spirit (Rom 13:14; 2Co 5:1-4).

Eze 42:15

Vv 15-20: When the man had finished measuring the temple and the structures immediately associated with it, he led Ezekiel out the east outer gate. He measured the exterior of the temple wall, and it was 500 cubits (about 830 feet) on each of its four sides (cf Rev 21:13). This enclosed area is about 18 acres, larger than 13 American football fields. The man measured the wall with his measuring reed. The wall around the temple area separated what was holy inside from what was common outside.

Eze 42:17

FIVE HUNDRED CUBITS: This -- as the mg indicates -- is based on the LXX. "The Heb text has 'rods' rather than 'reeds' [= 6 long cubits: cp Eze 40:5; 41:8]. This would result in the walls being 3,000 cubits [at least 4,500 feet!] on each side and the temple enclosure being almost one mile square. This seems much larger than what the dimensions of courts and structures inside the wall picture (cf Eze 45:2)" (Const).

Eze 42:20

WALL: Heb "chowmah", always ref the wall of a city, not the wall of a building!

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