Ezekiel 40


The prophecy or vision, which begins here, continues to the end

of the Book. The Temple of Jerusalem lying in ruins when

Ezekiel had this vision, (for its date as the fourteenth year

after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar,) the Jews

needed consolation. If they were not promised a restoration of

the temple, they would not feel so great an interest in

returning home. It ts thought by some that no model of

Solomon's Temple had remained. To direct them, therefore, in

the dimensions, parts, order, and rules of their new temple

might be one reason why Ezekiel is so particular in the

description of the old; to which the new was conformable in

figure and parts, though inferior in magnificence, on account

of the poverty of the nation at the time. Whatever was august

or illustrious in the prophetic figures, and not literally

fulfilled in or near their own times, the ancient Jews properly

considered as belonging to the time of the Messiah.

Accordingly, upon finding that the latter temple fell short of

the model of the temple here described by Ezekiel, they

supposed the prophecy to refer, at least in part, to the period

now mentioned. And we, who live under the Gospel dispensation,

have apostolical authority for the assertion that the temple

and temple worship were emblematic of Christ's Church,

frequently represented in the New Testament under the metaphor

of a temple, in allusion to the symmetry, beauty, and firmness

of that of Solomon; to its orderly worship; and to the

manifestations it held of the Divine Presence. This chapter

commences with the time, manner, and end of the vision, 1-5.

We have next a description of the east gate, 6-19,

the north gate, 20-22,

and the south gate, 24-31.

A farther description of the east gate, 32-34,

and of the north gate, 35-38.

Account of the eight tables, 39-43;

of the chambers, 44-47;

and of the porch of the temple, 48, 49.


Verse 1. In the five and twentieth year of our captivity]

According to the date here given, this prophecy was delivered on

Tuesday, April 20, A.M. 3430, in the twenty-fifth year of the

captivity of Jeconiah, and fourteen years after the taking of


The temple here described by Ezekiel is, in all probability, the

same which he saw before his captivity, and which had been burned

by the Chaldeans fourteen years before this vision. On comparing

the Books of Kings and Chronicles with this prophet, we shall find

the same dimensions in the parts described by both; for instance,

the temple, or place which comprehended the sanctuary, the holy

place, and the vestibule or porch before the temple, is found to

measure equally the same both in Ezekiel and the Kings. Compare

1Ki 6:3-16, with Eze 41:2, &c. The inside ornaments of the

temple are entirely the same; in both we see two courts; an inner

one for the priests, and an outer one for the people. Compare

1Ki 6:29-36; 2Ch 4:9; and Eze 41:16, 17, and Eze 48:7-10.

So that there is room to suppose that, in all the rest, the temple

of Ezekiel resembled the old one; and that God's design in

retracing these ideas in the prophet's memory was to preserve the

remembrance of the plan, the dimensions, the ornaments, and whole

structure of this Divine edifice; and that at the return from

captivity the people might more easily repair it, agreeably to

this model. The prophet's applying himself to describe this

edifice was a motive of hope to the Jews of seeing themselves one

day delivered from captivity, the temple rebuilt, and their nation

restored to its ancient inheritance. Ezekiel touches very slightly

upon the description of the temple or house of the Lord, which

comprehended the holy place or sanctuary, and which are so exactly

described in the Books of Kings. He dwells more largely upon the

gates, the galleries, and apartments, of the temple, concerning

which the history of the kings had not spoken, or only just taken

notice of by the way.

This is the judgment of Calmet; and although every Biblical

critic is of the same opinion, yet more labour is spent on

rebuilding this temple of Ezekiel than was spent on that built

by Solomon! The Jesuits, Prada and Vililalpand, have given three

folio volumes on this temple, with abundance of cuts, where the

different parts are exhibited after the finest models of Grecian

and Roman architecture! But still the building is incomplete. Now,

of what consequence is all this to the Christian, or to any other

reader? I confess I see not. While, then, we have the exact

dimensions and accurate description in 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles,

of that built by Solomon, in imitation of which this plan by

Ezekiel was drawn, we need not be very solicitous about the manner

of measuring and describing used by the prophet; as, when we have

laboured through the whole, we have only the measurements and

description of that built by Solomon, and delineated by a hand not

less faithful in the First Book of Kings, chap. vi., and Second

Chronicles, chap. ii., iii., iv., v. and vi.

As the prophet knew that the Chaldeans had utterly destroyed the

temple, he thought it necessary to preserve an exact description

of it, that on their restoration the people might build one on the

same model. As to allegorical meanings relative to this temple, I

can say nothing: God has given no data by which any thing of this

kind can be known or applied; and as to those who have laboured in

this way, perhaps "Solomon's Temple Spiritualized, by John

Bunyan," is equally good with their well-intended inventions.

Those who wish to enter much into the particulars of this temple

must have recourse to the more voluminous expositors, who on this

subject seem to have thought that they could never say enough. See

also the accompanying map.

Verse 2. Set me upon a very high mountain] Mount Moriah, the

mount on which Solomon's temple was built, 2Ch 3:1.

Verse 3. A man, whose appearance was like-brass] Like bright

polished brass, which strongly reflected the rays of light.

Probably he had what we would term a nimbus or glory round his

head. This was either an angel; or, as some think, a personal

appearance of our blessed Lord.

Verse 4. Declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel]

That they may know how to build the second temple, when they shall

be restored from their captivity.

Verse 5. A measuring reed of six cubits long] The Hebrew cubit

is supposed to be about twenty and a half inches; and a palm,

about three inches more; the length of the rod about ten feet six


The breadth-one reed; and the height, one reed.] As this wall

was as broad as it was high, it must have been a kind of parapet,

which was carried, of the same dimensions, all round the temple.

See AAAA in the plan. Eze 48:35

Verse 6. Went up the stairs thereof] As the temple was built

upon an eminence, there must have been steps on the outside,

opposite to each door, to ascend by. And it appears there were

steps to go up from one court to another, see

Eze 40:22, 26, 34, 37; and also from the

court of the priests to the sanctuary, Eze 40:49. See MMMMM in

the plan. Eze 48:35

Verse 7. And every little chamber was one reed] These were the

chambers of the buildings which were within the inclosure of the

temple round the court, and these chambers appear to have been

numerous. See the map, which has been carefully copied from that

of Calmet.

Verse 9. The porch of the gate] See account of the gates in the

plan. Eze 48:35

Verse 15. Fifty cubits.] The length of the building. See MMMMM

in the plan. See Clarke on Eze 48:35.

Verse 17. The outward court] This was the court of the people.

Verse 21. And the little chambers thereof were three, &c.] See

the plan. See Clarke on Eze 48:35.

Arches] Porch. The arch was not known at this period.

Verse 24. According to these measures.] The same measures that

had been used at the eastern court.

Verse 30. And the arches round about were five and twenty cubits

long] That the five cubits broad should be read twenty-five is

evident from Eze 40:21, 25, 29, 33, 36, The word

veesrim, twenty, has probably been lost out of the text. Indeed

the whole verse is wanting in two of Kennicott's MSS., one of

De Rossi's, and one of mine, (Cod. B.) It has been added in the

margin of mine by a later hand. It is reported to have been

anciently wanting in many MSS.

Verse 39. The porch of the gate] The north gate of the court of

the priests. See Q in the plan. See Clarke on Eze 48:35.

Two tables] Some say of marble. See dddd in the plan.

See Clarke on Eze 48:35.

Verse 41. Four tables] These were in the porch of the north

gate, in the court of the priests: on them they slew, flayed, and

cut up the victims. See dddd in the plan. See Clarke on Eze 48:35.

Verse 47. He measured the court] This was the court of the

priests. See FFF in the plan. See Clarke on Eze 48:35.

Verse 48. Breadth of the gate] It is evident that the gate was a

bivalve, or had folding doors. The length of the porch was twenty

cubits. Josephus says the vestibule was twenty cubits long and ten

broad. Antiq. lib. viii. 3, 2.

Verse 49. By the steps] This was a flight of steps that led to

the temple; there were eight steps in each flight. See YY in the

plan. See Clarke on Eze 48:35.

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