|@October 9, 2023||ESV (2016)||ESV Prophets Plan 2023|
- Division of the Land
- The Gates of the City
The final chapter of Ezekiel opens with the naming of the tribes and portioning of the land. The tribal allotments of Israel in the coming age will begin at the northern frontier with Dan. Since the tribe of Levi was not to receive land (Ezek. 48:28), Joseph’s two sons Manasseh and Ephraim would inherit land just as they had done throughout Israel’s history (Gen. 48:8–22). The order of the tribes listed here has no conformity to any other such list in Israel’s history. The tribes that originated through the handmaids of Jacob’s wives will be placed on the outer extremities. The tribes that originated from Jacob’s wives Rachel and Leah will be given land in the center of the nation (cp. Gn 35:23–26). Judah (listed last in this first section) and Benjamin will occupy the privileged positions next to the land’s special sacred portion. Ezekiel 48:8–22 enlarges and expands on Ezek. 45:1–8.
Ezek. 48:8-14 describes the allotment of land for the sanctuary and priests. South of Judah will be the portion already assigned to the prince, and including the sanctuary and the city of Jerusalem. This “holy district” will be a large square area bordering on the northern part of the Dead Sea. It will be divided into three horizontal strips, the northernmost one belonging to the priests, and having the Millennial temple in its center. The middle strip will be for the Levites, and the southern strip for the common people, with Jerusalem in its center. The remaining territory east and west of the square will belong to the prince. The portion for the priests cannot be sold, exchanged or alienated (Ezek. 48:14) because it is holy to the LORD.
Ezek. 48:15-20 represents the measurements and portions for the common use of the city, dwellings and open country. This common-use portion is to be alongside the holy portion and used for food production (Ezek. 48:18-19).
Ezek. 48:21-22 describes what remains on both sides of the holy portion as the prince’s portion. The prince’s portion will lie between the borders of Judah and Benjamin. The prince will have a higher rank than the average Israelite, yet his role will be below that of priests and Levites.
Ezek. 48:23-29 is the remaining tribal portions, starting with the portion of Benjamin. Interesting to note is that the order of land portioning in the chapter (with the portions for the sanctuary and prince in the middle of the chapter) similarly reflects the physical land portioning itself.
The remaining verses of the chapter and book of Ezekiel (Ezek. 48:30-35) are the listing of gates and exits of the city along with the city’s new name. There will be three gates for each side of the city and the names of the gates adhere more to Israel’s conventional genealogical traditions. Once all of the land allotments are made, the city will be named, “The LORD Is There.” (Ezek. 48:35).
The book of Ezekiel closes with a listing of the land allotments for the tribes of Israel along with the placement of the prince and sanctuary portions toward the north/south geographic center. The portioning of the land similarly reflects the progressive holiness of the sanctuary. The holy portion is in the center with the Levites, a special portion within the holy portion for the Zadokite priests and within that is the sanctuary and temple. Once all of the portioning is complete, the city will be named, “The LORD Is There”.
This final thought of the chapter and book is truly captivating. Our God desires to be among His creation and His plan has always been to have His chosen people close to Himself. God made this divine inclination most salient in the sending of His Son to take on flesh, to dwell with us and to die for us. What’s more, as followers of Jesus living in the new covenant era, we get to experience the most intimate manifestation of His presence prior to consummation: His Spirit dwelling within us. The LORD is there; in us, for us and working through us by His Spirit. What an amazing thing to consider that our God would choose so saturate us with Himself.
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)