Notes on Ezekiel 42

Ezekiel 42  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 9
The survey of the house or sanctuary being ended, the prophet is given to see the cells or chambers for the priests.
“And he brought me forth into the outer court, the way toward the north, and brought me into the cell that [was] opposite the separate place, and that [was] opposite the building toward the north. Before the length of a hundred cubits [was] the north door, and the breadth fifty cubits. Opposite the twenty [cubits] which [were] for the inner court, and opposite the pavement, which [was] for the outer court, [was] gallery against gallery, in three [stories]. And before the cells [was] a walk of ten cubits in breadth inward, a way of one cubit, and their doors [were] toward the north. And the upper chambers [were] shorter, for the galleries contained more than these, than the lower and the middle one, of the building. For they [were] in three [stories], but had not pillars as the pillars of the courts: therefore it was contracted from the lower and the middle ones from the ground. And the wall which [was] without, opposite the cells, by the way of the outer court before the cells—its length [was] fifty cubits. For the length of the cells which [belonged] to the outer court [was] fifty cubits; and, behold, before the temple [were] a hundred cubits. And below these cells [was] the entrance from the east, in one's going into them from the outer court. In the breadth of the wall of the court eastward, before the separate place, and before the building [were] cells. And the way before them [was] as the appearance of the cells which [were] northward, as long and broad as they; and all their outlets according to their fashions and according to their doors. And according to the doors of the cells which [were] toward the south, a door at the head of the way, the way directly before the wall eastward, when one entereth into them” (vss. 1-12).
This account of the chambers for the priests is followed by express regulations as to their eating in them, their laying the offerings in their service, and their dress within and without.
“And he said to me, The cells northward [and] the cells southward, which [are] before the separate place, [are] cells of the holy place, where the priests who draw near to Jehovah shall eat the most holy things; there they shall place the most holy things, both the meat-offering, and the sin-offering, and the trespass-offering, for the place [is] holy. When the priests enter in, they shall not go forth from the holy [place] into the outer court, but they shall leave there their garments with which they ministered, for they [are] holy, and put on other garments, and shall approach the [place] that [is] for the people” (vss. 13-14).
The closing paragraph is a summary of the general extent. “And he finished the measurements of the inner house, and brought me out by way of the gate that looketh eastward, and measured it round about. He measured the east side with the measuring-reed, five hundred reeds, with the measuring-reed, round about. He measured the north side, five hundred reeds; with the measuring-reed round about. He measured the south side, five hundred reeds, with the measuring-reed. Turning to the west side, he measured five hundred reeds with the measuring-reed. He measured it by its four sides; it had a wall round about, five hundred long, and five hundred broad, to make a separation between the holy and the profane place” (vss. 15-20).
It is well known that there has been no little debate as to the reading in verse 16, and whether the word here used (Èקָנים) should be taken in the sense of “reeds”1 or not; for that of the text (five cubits) is clearly an error of transcription, and the “five hundred” of the Keri must be adopted. Some would strike out the measure altogether (and the LXX waver in the verses). Doubtless, the space would be far larger than Mount Moriah as it is; but this is a small difficulty to the believer, who looks for great physical change according to prophecy. To view it as hyperbolical, and yet as leaving the literal interpretation intact, seems to me not only unbelieving but absurd. But when men yield themselves up to unbelief in the presence and power of the Spirit, we must not expect faith in the word of God to be strong; and when they attenuate the effects of the first coming of the Savior as to the reconciliation of His own, why be surprised if the glorious results of His return and kingdom are perverted and frittered away?
1. Mr. H. A. Wassell (Holy Land, W. J. Johnson, 1875) says, “This is evidently a mistake, as it would make the Temple six times as broad as the measurements of the previous chapters; and I may further observe that the measurements of the other parts of the Temple that we have not yet come to exactly agree in making the Temple 500 cubits square. The Septuagint has in this place cubits instead of reeds; and it is a singular fact that the area on Mount Moriah is about 500 cubits or over 300 yards broad” (pp. 25-26).