|@October 1, 2023||ESV (2016)||ESV Prophets Plan 2023|
- Vision of the New Temple
- The East Gate to the Outer Court
- The Outer Court
- The North Gate
- The South Gate
- The Inner Court
- Chambers for the Priests
- The Vestibule of the Temple
The chapter opens with a date of Ezekiel being brought “in visions…to the land of Israel” which, when calculated, is April 28, 573. The 10th day of the first month was the date the lamb was to be selected for Passover (see Exod. 12:3). The vision provides a literary and conceptual envelope for the entire book. It complements especially the visions of GOd’s departure and the temple’s destruction in Ezek. 9-11. This vision is the longest vision in the Bible apart from the book of Revelation.
Ezek. 40:3-4 describe how, when brought to the city, Ezekiel is approached by a man “whose appearance was like bronze, with a linen cord and a measuring reed in his hand” (Ezek. 40:3)The cord and the reed were both measuring tools. The cord was for longer measurements, the reed for shorter lengths. The prophet Zechariah also sees an angel with a measuring line in Zech. 2:1–2. Ezekiel is told to look all that he is shown by the man and to declare all that he sees to the house of Israel (Ezek. 40:4).
The remainder of the chapter consists of descriptions and measurements of the temple, along with its courts, rooms, gates, vestibules, jambs (door posts) and the like. The dimensions of the temple and the city are dominated by multiples of five. Ezekiel’s vision largely traces from the outermost parts inward to the most holy areas of the temple complex.
In Ezek. 40:17-19, Ezekiel is brought into the outer court and a pavement. A paved surface functioned something like a border around the outside edges of the outer court. The elevation, number of steps and levels of holiness gradually increased within the temple complex. The walls, chambers, and outer court provided a buffer for the holier space of the inner court and the temple itself.
Ezek. 40:44-47 describe the two chambers in the inner court that were for the priests who had charge of the temple (the south-facing chamber) and for the priests who had charge of the altar (the north-facing chamber). The priests were the “sons of Zadok” were the only ones who could “come near to the LORD to minister to him” (Ezek. 40:46). According to the book of Ezekiel, the Zadokites will be distinguished from the Levites in the coming age. The Zadokites were sons of Zadok, who traced his Levitical lineage to Aaron through Aaron’s son Eleazar (1 Chron. 6:50–53). Zadok served as a priest under David, along with Abiathar (2 Sam. 8:17; 2 Sam. 15:24–29; 2 Sam. 20:25). Zadok was appointed chief priest during Solomon’s reign because he supported Solomon as king (1 Kings 1:32–35; 1 Kings 2:26–27, 1 Kings 35).
The final section (Ezek. 40:48) is of the vestibule of the temple, the holiest place of this chapter and “people would go up to it by ten steps” (Ezek. 40:49), the greatest number of steps specified in Ezekiel’s temple vision. Interestingly, the Hebrew text lacks the number 10 and simply states “stairs by which they would go up.” The Greek translation of the Bible (the Septuagint) specifies “10” steps and probably reflects a more accurate Hebrew original. The Hebrew words for “10” and “which” differ by only one letter, and they would have been pronounced similarly.
Fourteen years after the destruction of Jerusalem, Ezekiel was brought “in visions” to “the land of Israel”. He was approached by a man “whose appearance was like bronze” who would show him around the temple and provide measurements. The chapter is largely dedicated to the description and measurements of the temple elements.
These types of chapters are often difficult to glean application and this one is certainly no different. However, everything in God’s Word is profitable and so it is important that we not gloss over them. As I read this and other areas of Scripture pertaining to numbers and measurements, I find my appreciation grow for the level of precision and detail. Ezekiel is here very purposeful in providing his vision of the temple in order that we might capture it and see what he sees. It is good to take the time to really ponder these things and consider how it fits within the broader context of Ezekiel’s book as well as the entire Biblical narrative.
Scripture Journal Notes
Commentaries & Resources Used
- ESV Study Bible. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008)
- Faithlife Study Bible (Lexham Press, 2016)
- Believer’s Bible Commentary (Thomas Nelson, 2016)
- CSB Study Bible Notes (Holman Bible Publishers, 2017)
- Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (Guardian Press, 1976)
- The Bible: A Reader’s Guide (Sterling Publishing, 2011)
- The Infographic Bible (Zondervan, 2018)
- ESV Digital Scripture Journal (Crossway, 2019)