The closing chapter of the prophet's temple-vision treats more particularly of the distribution of the land among the several tribes (Ezekiel 48:1-29), and concludes with a statement concerning the gates, dimensions, and name of the city (Ezekiel 48:30-35).
The distribution of the land among the several tribes. First, the portions north of the terumah (Ezekiel 48:1-7); secondly, the terumah (Ezekiel 48:8-22), embracing the portions of the priests and Levites (Ezekiel 48:8-14), with the portions for the city (Ezekiel 48:15-20) and the prince (Ezekiel 48:21, Ezekiel 48:22); and thirdly, the portions south of the city (Ezekiel 48:23-30).
The portions north of the terumah. These should be seven, lie in parallel strips from the Mediterranean to the east border, and be allocated to the tribes of Dan, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben, and. Judah. The divergences between this and the earlier division under Joshua (14-19.) are apparent.
Ezekiel 48:1, Ezekiel 48:2
The names of the tribes. The tribe of Levi Being excepted, the number twelve should in the future as in the past division of the holy soil be preserved by assigning to Joseph portions (Ezekiel 47:13), one for Ephraim and one for Manasseh. From the north end. On the former occasion the allotment had begun in the south of the land and proceeded northwards; on this it should commence in the north and move regularly southward. The alteration is sufficiently explained by remembering that, after the conquest, the people were viewed as having come from the south, whereas at the restoration they should appear as entering in from the north. To the coast of (better, beside) the way of Hethlon, as one goeth to (literally, to the entering in of) Hamath, Hazar-enan, the border of Damascus. This was the north boundary of the land from west to east, as already defined (Ezekiel 47:16,Ezekiel 47:17); and with this line the portion of Dan should begin. The portion should then, as to situation, be one lying northwards, to the coast of (or rather, beside) Hamath. That is to say, beginning with the border of Hamath, it should extend southwards. For these are his sides, east and west should be, And there shall be to him sides east, west, meaning "the tract between both eastern and western boundaries," rather than as Hitzig translates, "And there shall be to him the east side of the sea," signifying that his territory should embrace the land east of the Mediterranean;" or as Hengstenberg renders, And they shall be to him the east side the sea," equal to "the tract in question should have the sea for its east border." Then, as this applies equally to all the tribe-portions, Hengstenberg regards "to him" ( לוֹ ) as pointing to "the whole of the tribes combined into an ideal unity," but expositors generally agree that "to him" should be referred to Dan, whom the prophet had in mind and was about to mention. A portion for Dan should be Dan one "portion," חֶבֶל (Ezekiel 47:13), rather than "tribe," שֵׁבֶט, as Smend proposes. To take אֶחָד as alluding to the enumeration of the tribes is indeed countenanced by Ezekiel's mode of numbering the gates (verses 30-35); but Ezekiel's style in verses 30-35 will be preserved here also if חֶבֶל precede "Judah," thus: "the portion of Danone." "The presupposition that one tribe should receive exactly as much as another led to the individual tribe's portion being considered as a monas" (Kliefoth). In the first division of the land, Dan's portion was small, and situated west of the territories of Ephraim and Benjamin.
After Dan, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh (the whole tribe) Ephraim, Reuben, and Judah should receive portions, each the size of Dan's, and, like his, stretching from the east side to the west, each joining on to the border of its predecessor, and the seven portions together occupying the whole space between the north boundary of the land and the portion of the Levites. Among the differences distinguishing this from the division made by Joshua, these may be noticed:
The terumah, or priests' portion (Ezekiel 48:8-12), with the portions for the Levites (Ezekiel 48:13, Ezekiel 48:14), for the city (Ezekiel 48:15-20), and for the prince (Ezekiel 48:1, Ezekiel 48:22).
The terumah, already referred to (Ezekiel 45:1-5), is here more minutely described.
refer to the priests' portion proper, setting forth
Ezekiel 48:13, Ezekiel 48:14
The Levites' portion is next described by its situation, as lying over against— לְעֻמַּת, "at or near," answerable to (Revised Version), parallel with (Keil)—the border of the priests ; by its dimensions, as twenty-five thousand reeds in length, from east to west, and ten thousand reeds in breadth, or from north to south, i.e. it should be as large as the priests' portion—in point of fact larger, since the space necessary for the sanctuary required to be deducted from the former; by its tenure, which was such that the Levites could neither sell, exchange, nor alienate it, any more than under the Law the Levites could sell the field of the suburbs or pasture-lands of their cities (Le 25:34); and by its character, which, as consisting of the firstfruits of the land, i.e. of the first portion of the land heaved up or presented in offering (see Ezekiel 45:1), was holy unto the Lord (cf. Ezekiel 44:30). The changes in the text made by the LXX. and favored by Hitzig and Smend—"to the Levites" instead of "the Levites" (Ezekiel 48:13), and "twenty" instead of "ten thousand" (Ezekiel 48:13)—are unnecessary.
.—In the same way the portion for the city receives detailed exposition.
gives four particulars.
The dimensions of the city should be four thousand five hundred reeds on the four sides; in other words, it should form a square (comp. Le Ezekiel 21:16). The חמשׁ, left unpunctuated by the Massorites, and marked as "written but not to be read," should be omitted as an error.
Ezekiel 48:18, Ezekiel 48:19
The remaining portions of the terumah should be two strips of land, each 10,000 x 5000 reeds, one on each side of the city, the increase or produce of which should be for food unto them that serve the city. By "them that serve the city" Hitzig and Smend understand its ordinary inhabitants, since a district may be said to be cultivated through simple residence upon it (compare colere locum). Havernick, after Gesenius, thinks of the workmen who should be employed in building the city, against which may be urged that the city is supposed to be already built. Hengstenberg, with whom Plumptre seems disposed to agree, can only see in the city servers "a militia who take the city in the midst." Keil and Kliefoth find them in the laboring classes, who should not in this future state, as so often in ordinary states among men, be destitute of a possession in land, but should receive an allotment for their maintenance. But an obvious objection to this view is that it hands over the city land exclusively to the laboring classes, forgetting that the "other" classes require support as well as they. Probably the best interpretation is to regard עֹבְדֵי הָעִיר, "them that serve the city," as standing in antithesis to the other two classes already mentioned—the Levites, whose office should be to serve the tabernacle (see Numbers 4:24, Numbers 4:26; Numbers 18:6, in which עָבַד is employed to denote the service of the Levites); and the priests, whose special function should be to serve the altar (see Numbers 18:7, in which, again, the same verb is used). Thus regarded, "they that serve the city" will mean all engaged in secular pursuits in the city, which approximates to the view of Hitzig; and the prophet's language will signify that all such should derive their sustenance from the city lands, i.e. should either have direct access to these lands to cultivate them for themselves, or should obtain a share in the produce of these lands for other services rendered to the city. With this accords the further statement that those who served the city should serve it out of all the tribes of Israel; i.e. its inhabitants should not, as formerly, be drawn chiefly from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, but contain representatives from all the tribes of Israel (comp. Ezekiel 45:6).
All the oblation, the whole terumah, must in this verse include the three portions already marked out for the priests, the Levites, and the city. Added together, they should form a square of five and twenty thousand reeds. Hence it is added in the second clause, Ye shall offer the holy oblation four square, with the possession of the city. Hitzig, Kliefoth, and Keil translate, "To a fourth part shall ye lift off the holy terumah for a possession of the city," as if the sense were that the area of the city possession should be a fourth part of the area of the whole tern-mall. That 5000 of breadth is a fourth part of 20,000 of breadth may be admitted; but that the city portion was not in area a fourth of the other two, a little arithmetic will show—the area of the whole terumah being 25,000 x 25,000 reeds = 625,000,000 square reeds, and that of the city possession being 5000 x 25,000 reeds = 125,000,000 square reeds. Hence the Authorized and Revised Versions are probably correct in taking רְבִיעִית, "a fourth part (see Exodus 29:40 ), as equivalent to רָבוּעַ (Ezekiel 43:16), τετράγωνον (LXX.).
Ezekiel 48:21, Ezekiel 48:22
The prince's portion should take up the residue of the original oblation, or terumah (see Ezekiel 48:8), from which had been withdrawn the aforesaid square containing the portions of the Levites, the priests, and the city. This residue should consist of two strips of land, situated one on each side of the holy oblation (here, of the priests and Levites) and of the possession of the city, and running along the whole length of the five and twenty thousand of the oblation (here the three portions composing the square), and extending eastward to the Jordan and westward to the Mediterranean. The last two clauses of Ezekiel 48:21, which should read, And the holy oblation and the sanctuary of the house shall be in the midst of it, implies that the two parts of the prince's portion, the eastern and the western, should be equal. Ezekiel 48:22 teaches that the whole intermediate territory between the border of Judah (in the north of the terumah) and the border of Benjamin (in the south of the terumah), from the possession of the Levites (the north portion of the terumah) and from (equivalent to "to") the possession of the city (the southern portion of the terumah), should belong to the prince. The mention of the possession of the Levites and the possession of the city as the extreme portions of the terumah, appears to indicate $hat the priests' portion lay between. Ewald translates as if the prophet meant to say the sanctuary should lie between the possession of the Levites and the possession of the city (in the first place), and between the two parts of the prince's land (in the second place), and yet again between the border of Judah and the border of Benjamin (in the third place): but to read thus the text must be changed.
As for the rest of the tribes, these should follow on the south of the city portion, in parallel tracts, from east to west—Benjamin: Simeon, Issachar, Zebulun, Gad—till the southern boundary of the land should be reached, which boundary is again defined as in Ezekiel 47:19. Each tribe should receive, as those north of the terumah, one portion. The exact extent of this equal portion, though not stated, may be calculated—
Latitude of entrance to Hamath—34° 20'
Latitude of Kadesh (say)—30° 30'
60 x 3 5/6—230 geographical miles.
But the whole breadth of the terumah was 25,000 reeds = 37 geographical miles. Hence 230—37 = 193 miles, which, divided by 12, gives 16 miles of breadth (from north to south) for each portion. The precise length from east to west is more difficult to estimate, in consequence of the varying widths of the land. Accepting this, however, as 55 miles at Jerusalem, the breadth of the prince's portion from east to west would be only 2½ miles on each side of the terumah; which, multiplied by 50 miles from north to south, would yield an area of 125 square miles on each side, or of 250 square miles in all. The disposition of the southern tribes differs from that made under the earlier division of the land—Simeon alone lying where he had been formerly placed, in the south quarter, Issachar and Zebulun being fetched from the north, Benjamin from the middle, and Gad from the west to keep him company. Upon the whole, the new arrangement has several marked peculiarities which distinguish it from the old. While agreeing with the old in this, that the three tribes, Dan, Asher, and Naphtali retain their original places in the north, and the temple is not deprived of its central position between Judah and Benjamin, it differs from the old in placing the three northern tribes side by side from west to east, but after one another from north to south, and exchanges the positions of Benjamin and Judah, transferring the former to the south and the latter to the north of the temple and the city. Then, while under the old neither priests, Levites, nor prince had a portion, all three obtain one in this. And, finally, while under the old no regard was had to the temple, in the new this forms the central point of the whole.
The closing paragraph is devoted to a statement of the gates, dimensions, and name of the city.
The goings out of the city. These were not, as Hitzig, Gesenius, Ewald, Schroder, and Currey have supposed, the city exits, or gates, which are afterwards referred to, but, as Kliefoth, Keil, Hengstenberg, and Smend suggest, the extensions or boundary-lines of the city, in other words, the city walls in which the gates should be placed, and which are measured before the gates are specified. The north wall, with which the rest should correspond, should be four thousand and five hundred measures; literally, five hundred and four thousand (not cubits, as Ewald states, but reeds) by measure.
The gates of the city. These should be twelve in number, three on each side, and named after the twelve tribes (comp. Revelation 21:12). The gates leading northward should be those of Reuben, Judah, and Levi, all children of Leah (Genesis 29:32, Genesis 29:35), as Keil observes, "the firstborn in age, the firstborn by virtue of the patriarchal blessing, and the one chosen by Jehovah for his own service in the place of the firstborn." The same three occupy the first three places and in the same order in the blessing of Moses (Deuteronomy 33:6-8). Towards the east should lead the gates of Joseph, Benjamin, and Dan, the first and second sons of Rachel, and the third a son of Rachel's handmaid (Genesis 30:6, Genesis 30:24; Genesis 35:18). In the blessing of Moses Benjamin precedes Joseph (Deuteronomy 33:12, Deuteronomy 33:13). The south gates receive the names of Simeon, Issachar, and Zebulun, again all sons of Leah. The west gates are those of Gad, Asher, and Naphtali, that is, two sons of Leah's handmaid and one of Rachel's. It is observable that in the naming of the gates Levi resumes his place among the tribes, which necessitates the substitution of Joseph the original tribe-father instead of Ephraim anti Manasseh his two sons. (On the phrase, one gate of Judah, literally, the gate of Judah one, see on verse 1.)
The entire circuit of the city should, according to the above measurement of the walls, be eighteen thousand reeds, i.e. 18,000 x 6 (cubits) x 1.5 (feet) = 162,000 feet = 30 miles. Josephus ('Wars,' 5.4. 3) reckoned the circuit of Jerusalem in his day to be thirty-three stadia, or four miles. The name of the city from that day should be, The Lord is there. It is debated whether "from that day" ( מִיוֹם ) should be connected with the preceding or the succeeding words, and likewise whether שָׁמָּה should be translated" there" or "thither." The Authorized and Revised Versions, Ewald, Havernick, Hengstenberg, Schroder, and Smend agree that מִיוֹם belongs to the antecedent clause, but differ as to whether it should be understood as equivalent to "from this time forth," i.e. for all time to come (Ewald), or "from henceforth," i.e. from that clay on, i.e. from the day of the city's building (Hengstenberg), which seems the most natural interpretation. Kliefoth and Keil prefer to conjoin "from that day" with the clause following, and expound the prophet's statement as saying that the city's name should be, "Henceforward Jehovah is there, or thither." Ewald, Hitzig, Keil, and Smend, with the two English Versions, decide for "there," Havernick, Hengstenberg, Kliefoth, and Schroder for "thither," as the sense of שָׁמָּה . That "thither" is the ordinary import of שָׁמָּה is undoubted; but that by Ezekiel. (see Ezekiel 23:3; Ezekiel 33:29, Ezekiel 33:30) and others (Jeremiah 18:2; Psalms 122:5; 2 Kings 23:8) it is used as "there" is also correct (see Gesenius, 'Lexicon,' sub rose). Happily, whichever rendering be adopted, the difference in significance is not material. If "there," the sense is that Jehovah will henceforth reside in the city; if "thither," that he will henceforth direct his regards towards the city. To object against the former view that Jehovah was in the future to reside in the temple rather than in the city is hypercritical, since, if Jehovah should make the temple his peculiar habitation, it would be for the sake of the city; if the latter view be taken, Kliefoth's explanation must be set aside that" from this day on Jehovah would direct himself towards the city; that the city and all concerning it may come to pass." As Keil observes, the name Jehovah Shammah was not to be given to the city before but after it was built (comp. Isaiah 60:14).
On the significance of the temple-vision.
The substance of what has been ascertained in the foregoing Exposition may thus be set forth.
1. According to the vision shown to the prophet, on returning to take possession of their Own land in accordance with promises previously given (Ezekiel 34:13; Ezekiel 36:24 : Ezekiel 37:12, Ezekiel 37:21, Ezekiel 37:25), the tribes of restored and reunited Israel should first separate from the soil a holy heave, or terumah, as a portion for Jehovah (Ezekiel 45:1-8). This terumah they should divide into three parallel tracts: assigning that on the north, two-fifths of the whole, to the Levites for chambers anti for lands; that in the middle, also two-fifths of the whole, to the priests, for the sanctuary, which should occupy its center, and for houses in which they might reside; and that in the south, one-fifth of the whole, for the city, which also should stand in its middle, for dwellings and for suburbs (Ezekiel 48:15). Two strips of equal area on either side of the terumah, one extending westward to the Mediterranean and another eastward to the Jordan, should be handed over as a portion for the prince, out of which he should provide burnt, meat, and drink offerings in the feasts, new moans, sabbaths, and other solemnities of the house of Israel (Ezekiel 45:17). The remainder of the laud they should partition among themselves, allotting to each tribe an equal portion, which should extend from east to west across the entire breadth of the territory between the river and the sea, and be parallel to the holy oblation, but locating seven tribes north and five south of the terumah.
2. On returning to their own land, they should find that Jehovah had again, according to premise, established amongst them his sanctuary (Ezekiel 37:26, Ezekiel 37:27), a description of which the prophet gives. It is noticeable that no indication is furnished by the prophet that the people should erect an edifice after the pattern and according to the measurements of the house shown, but simply a statement made that such should be the sanctuary in which they should Worship.
3. On finding themselves once more in possession of the land which had been given to their fathers, and of a sanctuary prepared for them by Jehovah, the people of Israel should thenceforward serve him in accord-ante with the ordinances prescribed in the new Torah (Ezekiel 44-46.); should appear before him in the yearly feasts of the Passover and Tabernacles, in the monthly feasts of the new moon, in the weekly feasts of the sabbath, and in the daily ritual of sacrifice; should devolve upon the Zadokite (i.e. upon faithful) priests the duty of ministering at the altar, upon the Levites, to which rank the apostate (or unfaithful) priests of the monarchy should be reduced, that of attending to the sanctuary, or of serving the priests; and upon the prince that of providing the requisite sacrificial victims for the public festivals; the people for this purpose paying him the sixtieth part of their corn, the hundredth part of their oil, and the two-hundredth head of their flocks annually as a heave offering.
4. When Israel, thus revived and regenerated, restored and reunited, should serve Jehovah with a pure cultus, faithfully per. forming his commandments and walking in his ways, there should flow from the temple, as the habitation of Jehovah and the central institution of the land, down to the Jordan valley and into the Dead Sea, a miraculously increasing river, which should clothe the banks along its course with never-fading beauty and never-failing fertility, and on reaching the sea should render its waters salubrious, so that living creatures and fishes of every kind should swarm therein.
The question, therefore, which remains is—What significance should be attached to this temple-vision? The answer will de-pond on whether the principle of interpretation applied to it is literal or metaphorical, historical or typical, actual or symbolical. Round these two methods of interpretation the different views that have been entertained of this temple-vision may with sufficient accuracy be grouped.
I. VIEWS WHICH GROUND THEMSELVES ON A MORE OR LESS LITERAL INTERPRETATION OF THE VISION. The only point which all the views in this class have in common is that they regard Ezekiel as having furnished the sketch of a new constitution for Israel, civil as well as, but chiefly, religious, to be actually put in force at some time in the future, either immediately subsequent to the exile or afterwards, by the erection of a temple, the institution of a worship and a division of the land in accordance with the specifications furnished by Ezekiel.
1. That the "temple-vision" was designed, in whole or in part, to provide a new constitution for the exiles who should return from Babylon when the seventy years of captivity had run their course, is a view which has always commanded support.
2. A second view deserving mention, if less extended, is that of those who, while finding in the temple-vision a new constitution for restored and reunited Israel, and while conceding that in some small measure or degree it may have been put in force subsequent to the exile, nevertheless anticipate the coming of a golden age, when it will receive an exact and complete fulfillment, when the soil of Palestine will be divided, the temple erected at Jerusalem, and the worship of Jehovah established therein precisely as here outlined by Ezekiel.
II. VIEWS WHICH GROUND THEMSELVES ON A SYMBOLIC INTERPRETATION OF THE VISION. A literal interpretation being impossible, the only alternative is to have recourse to the method of symbolic exposition; and, in addition to what has been already said, some things suggest themselves as strongly corroborative of this conclusion. First, there is the circumstance that the temple-plan, the ritual Torah, and the land act formed three successive parts of one extended "vision," which was shown to the prophet while in a state of "trance" or ecstasy, and were thus, as to mode of communication at least, totally unlike the tabernacle model, the Levitical code, and the land arrangements which were directly exhibited or imparted to Moses without the intervention of a "vision." Besides, the obvious correspondence of this closing vision to the earlier vision or visions (Ezekiel 8-11.), in which were represented the desecration and destruction of the first temple, lends countenance to the inference that here also, as there, the tableaux presented to the prophet's inward eye were designed as symbols. Secondly, there is the absence of any instruction to the prophet, like that given to Moses, to see that all things were made, either by himself or others, according to the pattern which had been shown to him in the mount, From the beginning to the end no hint is discoverable that the prophet or his countrymen were expected to replace the building Nebuchadnezzar had overthrown by one fashioned after the pattern now disclosed. Thirdly, without emphasizing as strongly as Kliefoth does the numbers three, seven, and twelve, that run through the whole, the obvious symmetry maintained alike in the temple-buildings, sacrificial ordinances, and land arrangements, speaks for a symbolic as against a literal interpretation; and this impression is confirmed rather than weakened by observing that in respect both of the temple and the city, only (or principally) ground-measurements are recorded, while no allusion whatever is made to either building materials or architectural details. Fourthly, there are portions of this "vision" to which a symbolic interpretation must of necessity be assigned, as e.g. the temple-river and the healing of the waters of the sea; and this fact alone should be held as decisive, unless it should emerge that there are other portions to which a symbolic exposition is inapplicable. Fifthly, antecedent passages in Ezekiel, to which this temple-vision palpably looks back, declare more or less strongly for a symbolic interpretation. One of these has already been referred to, Ezekiel 8-11. Another is Ezekiel 20:40-41, concerning which it may suffice to quote Plumptre's words in this Commentary: "The fact that Israel itself is said to be the 'sweet savor' (Revised Version) which Jehovah accepts, suggests a like spiritual interpretation of the other offerings, though the literal meaning was probably dominant in the prophet's own thoughts." A third is Ezekiel 37:26-28, in which a literal interpretation can be maintained only at the expense of truth, Sixthly, the analogy of similar prophetic adumbrations of Israel's future supports the idea that here also the writer's thought clothes itself in a symbolic dress. Let the pictures given by Jeremiah, Ezekiel's contemporary (Jeremiah 31:38-40; Jeremiah 33:17-22), by Isaiah (Isaiah 60:1-22), Joel (Joel 3:18), Haggai (Haggai 2:7-9), and Zechariah (Zechariah 6:9-15; Zechariah 8:1-8; Zechariah 14:8-21) be attentively studied, and the conviction will be hard to resist that one and all they were designed in figurative language to foreshadow the spiritual blessings of a future time; and if such was the prophetic style generally, it seems reasonable to infer that Ezekiel. like his predecessors, contemporaries, and successors, was accustomed to use the same. Seventhly, the symbolic interpretation admits of being carried out, which is more than can be affirmed of the literal; and this consideration should decide the question as to how the "vision" should be understood in favor of the former rather than of the latter mode of exposition.
But now assuming the symbolic method of interpretation to have been fully vindicated as the only one properly applicable to the temple-vision, a fresh inquiry rises—Of what was the vision meant to be symbolic? And the reply to this may be stated in terms so general as to unite all who favor the ideal or allegorical method of interpretation. It may be said that the vision was designed to symbolize the great and gracious blessings Jehovah purposed at a future time, when he had turned again the captivity of Israel, to bestow upon his Church. So far as the terminus owl quern of this period of blessing is concerned, it is agreed by all expositors that that is the consummation of all things, when Israel's last and mightiest enemies, Gog and Magog, shall have been destroyed; only then do interpreters fall out when the terminus a quo is required after. Some, like Diedati, Greenhill, and Hengstenberg, find the point of departure in the return from Babylon; others, as Luther, Calvin, Cocceius, Pfeiffer, Fairbairn, Havernick, Kliefoth, and Currey, begin with the Incarnation; while a third group, of whom Keil may be regarded as the representative, restrict the "vision" to the times of the consummation, i.e. to the perfect service of God in the heavenly world.
1. It seems impossible to doubt that the "vision" had a reference to the times immediately subsequent to the exile. Without conceding to Hengstenberg that the whole prophecy, with the exception of Ezekiel 47:1-12, was destined then to receive fulfillment, or to Wellhausen that it was expressly composed as a new constitution for pest-exilic Judaism, it may be granted that the exiles in Babylonia were intended to derive from it the hope and promise of a return to their own land, a re-erection of their fallen temple, and a reinstitution of their ancient worship. Indeed, it is hard to see how they could have failed to deduce such an inference from a perusal of the prophet's words. Forming, as the "vision" did, the last and culminating note of crenellation addressed to the exiles, if the picture it held up before their minds was not a mere ignis fatuus intended to mislead—if it represented (even symbolically) any underlying reality—then that reality could only have been that in the future, it might be Aim and distant, Israel and Judah, once more united and enlarged by accessions from the Gentiles, or the Church of God whom they represented, should serve Jehovah with a pure cultus in a land he had prepared for and given to them: and not a large amount of insight would be required to conclude that if Israel and Judah had any such destiny before them in the future, then assuredly their exile must terminate and their divided tribes be once more united in the old country. Whatever may have been the true significance of that picture, if it symbolized anything in which Israel and Judah were to have a share, it could not but occur, at least to the prophet himself and the more thoughtful of his first readers, that it prognosticated the dawning of brighter days, when Jehovah should turn again the captivity of his people, and re-establish them in their own land.
2. Similarly, the view of those who find in the vision a symbol of the Christian Church as a whole, or, in the words of Kliefoth, "the Christian Church in its origin, its development and influence in the world, and its completion in the hereafter," has much to support it. That Ezekiel perfectly understood the significance of his own "vision" is not asserted, and is not likely to have been the case (see 1 Peter 1:11); all that is wished to be affirmed by those who adopt this view is that Ezekiel's picture of a new temple, a new worship, and a new land pointed to a state and condition of things which first began to be realized when the Christian dispensation was established by the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; and certainly there are few particulars in which the import of the symbol (looked at in this light) cannot be at once and clearly traced. Without claiming it as a point in favor of this view that the vision makes no mention of any building materials, inasmuch as the Christian Church is composed of "lively stones," or believing and gracious souls (1 Peter 2:5), the entrance into the temple of the glory of God (Ezekiel 43:1-6) found and still retains its counterpart in the perpetual inhabitation of the Church by the Spirit of Christ (Ephesians 2:21, Ephesians 2:22). The awful sanctity with which the temple was surrounded, increasing as one approached it from the outside, beginning with the holy terumah, and advancing successively to the priests' portion in the midst of which the temple stood, to the precincts five hundred reeds square which encompassed the court, to the suburbs or "void places" which ran round the outer wall, to the seven steps which conducted into the gateway, to the outer court, to the eight steps leading up to the inner court, and finally to the ascent by which access was gained to the "house,"—all this fitly symbolized the superior holiness which should belong, and in point of fact does belong, to the Church of God under the gospel. So the absence of both high priest and great Day of Atonement in Ezekiel's temple was an adumbration of the time when the ever-living High Priest of the house of God having put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, all Jehovah's worshippers should be priests in their own right, whose services should be acceptable through Jesus Christ. The daily sin offering, and the similar offerings on the solemn feast-days, meant that in the Church of the future there should be a constant remembrance of the great Propitiation that had been offered once for all, and an ever-renewed appropriation of the same by those who worshipped. The greater symmetry and fullness in the burnt offerings and meal offerings served to typify the more thorough self-consecration of Jehovah's worshippers, and their more intimate fellowship with him in the new dispensation. That the prince should be charged with the responsibility of providing victims for all the public festivals, and on the occasion of their celebration should enter and retire from the temple courts in their midst, was a foreshadowing of the truth that all the offerings of s Christian worshipper must be presented through Christ, who thus, as it were, ideally approaches the heavenly throne surrounded by his people. The miraculously flowing river rising in the temple, and increasing in width and depth as it flows, creating life and beauty wheresoever it comes, was an easily understood picture of the spiritually healthful and vivifying influences of the gospel The equal division of the land among the tribes, and the introduction of the sons of the stranger to equal privileges with the Israelite, may have been designed to intimate that when the new condition of things arrived to which the vision looked forward, i.e. when the Christian era dawned, the distinction between Jew and Gentile should no more exist (Ephesians 2:14-16), and all the members of the new Israel should share alike in the inheritance of which Canaan was the earthly emblem. The separation of the temple from the city may have pointed to the fact that in that coming age the Church should be an institution altogether distinct from and no longer identical with the state, as under the Hebrew dispensation it had been. These, with other instances that might be given, show how easily the whole symbol may be understood of the Christian Church on earth, which was the view commonly entertained by the Reformed theologians, who did not, except indirectly, employ it as typical of the kingdom of God in its perfect or heavenly condition.
3. This, however, is the view taken of the vision by both Kliefoth and Keil, the first of whom does not, while the second does, exclude all allusion to the present or historical condition of the Christian Church. In the vision Kliefoth, while discovering some things, as for instance the sin offerings, that can only be applied to the present or temporal form of the Church, finds others, as e.g. the temple-river, which he holds can only have its counterpart in the river of the Apocalypse (Revelation 22:1). On the other hand, Keil argues that only one thing presupposes that Israel has still to take possession of (the heavenly) Canaan, viz." the directions concerning the boundaries and the division of the land," and proceeds to say, "It fellows from this that the prophetic picture does not furnish a typical exhibition of the Church of Christ in its gradual development, but sets forth the kingdom of God established by Christ in its perfect form." In short, Keil regards the whole "vision" as a symbolic representation, in Old Testament language and ideas—the only way in which such representation could have been given so as to be intelligible to Ezekiel's readers—of the introduction of God's spiritual Israel into their heavenly Canaan, and of the perfect service they shall there render to Jehovah. That the heavenly condition of the Church of God was designed to be depicted it seems necessary to hold, both from the position of the vision in Ezekiel's book and from the contents (in part) of the vision itself. The vision occurs, as the last note of consolation offered to the exiles, after the vision of their moral and spiritual resuscitation and establishment in their own land, with David, Jehovah's Servant and King, ruling over them, and in close connection with, if not immediately after, the final conflict with Gog, which leads up, one should say, quite naturally to the complete blessedness of the future life. Then the correspondence between the river in John's description of the heavenly Jerusalem, and this temple-stream in Ezekiel's vision, renders it impossible to exclude from the latter all allusion to the heavenly state. At the same time, there are points, even on Keil's showing, that cannot well be harmonized with the theory that only the heavenly and glorified form of the Church is symbolized by the vision. One of these has been mentioned, the perpetuation of the sin offering; another is the precept concerning the hereditary property of the prince and its transmission to his sons; a third is the separation between the temple and the city; a fourth is the invasion of Gog, which, as Keil has observed, is represented as occurring after Israel has taken possession of the land. Hence probably it is wrong to restrict the significance of the "vision" so exclusively as Keil does to the heavenly world.
Upon the whole, it seems best to find a place for each of the above views in any interpretation of the vision; and this may be done by supposing that the vision was designed by its real Author—the Spirit of Christ (1 Peter 1:11)—to set forth, by means of Old Testament imagery, a picture of that perfect service which ought to have been rendered from the first by Israel (after the flesh) to Jehovah, but was not, and which it was Jehovah's promise to the exiles would ultimately be rendered by that new Israel (according to the Spirit) he was soon to call out of the ruins of the old. In this way, as setting forth the ideal of a perfect worship which will not be completely realized until Israel reaches the heavenly Canaan, the "vision" admits of Keil's interpretation; but inasmuch as this ideal worship will not be attained to there unless the worship itself begins on earth in the Christian Church—to which not a few features in the symbol point—the vision is also susceptible of Kliefoth's exposition; while as the first step towards the calling out of the new Israel was taken when God turned again the captivity of the exiles, the view of Hengstenberg cannot be excluded.
A few words may be added on the bearing which the view just taken of the significance of the temple-vision has upon the chief critical question of the day as to the structure of the Pentateuch. The modern theory, begun by Graf and Reuss, but per-leered by Kuenen and Wellhausen, it is well known, is that, while the book of the covenant (Exodus 21-23 originated in the early years of the monarchy, and Deuteronomy not later than the reign of Josiah, the priest-code, as it is styled (Exodus 24-40. with some exceptions, the whole of Leviticus, and the most of Numbers), is a work of post-exilic origin, and that Ezekiel (40-48.) constituted, as it were, the bridge by which the law-making spirit of the Hebrew religion passed over from the popular legislation of the Fifth Book of Moses to the highly developed and minutely articulated system of Leviticus. Into the general question it would be out of place in this work to enter; the most that can be (lone is to indicate how far the theory is entitled to claim support from the temple-vision which has just been expounded and interpreted. Nor is it needful, in doing so, to dwell upon the alleged evidence of Ezekiel's priority to Leviticus, derived from Ezekiel's language and the contents of his sacrificial Torah—this has been more or less done in the course of exposition—since the validity or invalidity of such (so-called) evidence depends entirely on the correctness or incorrectness of the presupposition which is commonly made, viz. that Ezekiel designed to draft a new constitution for the post-exilic Church. Could this have been made out, it would by no means have followed that Ezekiel's Torah, by its divergences from that of Leviticus, proved the later origin of the latter, since Ezekiel, having himself been prophet, no less than Moses, was at liberty to abrogate or modify any pre-existing law if impelled to do so by the Spirit that originally taught Moses; but inasmuch as it has not been and cannot be made out beyond reachable doubt—rather, inasmuch as strong grounds exist for holding that Ezekiel had no such intention, but designed to provide a complex symbol of the perfect relations which should subsist between God and his (spiritual) Israel, it is clearly not permissible to argue that Ezekiel was suggesting for the first time the course which temple-legislation should pursue in the new era which should commence when the exile was ended and the restoration begun. If all that Ezekiel had in contemplation was to furnish a symbol of the sort already indicated, it is manifestly an inference not warranted by the premises that he desired to initiate a distinction which should afterwards be put in force between the priests who should serve the altar and the Levites who should serve the tabernacle, and to assign the former honor to the sons of Zadok, while inflicting the latter degradation on the Levites who had ministered at pre-exilic high places. If Ezekiel's fetching in of the sons of Zadok was merely a device to obtain a symbol of faithful and pure service, then the whole theory which has been so ingeniously erected on the so-called degradation of the Levites—a passage which has been styled "the key to the Old Testament "—runs the risk of falling to pieces, and, to use the words of Delitzsch, "the degradation of the Levites, which certainly appears in Ezekiel as an innovation," becomes "another thing than a riddle to be solved by the new Pentateuchal theory."
(first clause, "Now these are the names of the tribes")
The tribes are here severally named. Elsewhere whole pages of the Bible are taken up with lists of names. Let us consider the significance of this method of assortment.
I. NAMES INDICATE INDIVIDUALS. Each tribe has its name; each person also has his own private name. Thus the community is broken up into its several constituent elements. God does not treat men in the mass. He takes "one of a city, and two of a family" (Jeremiah 3:14). Each tribe of Israel had its separate district, each family its own allotted inheritance.
II. NAMES DESCRIBE CHARACTERS. This was the case with names in Old Testament times. It does not apply among us, excepting in the case of soubriquets. But the old suggestiveness contains a lesson for all time. Different men have different characters. All these varieties are known to God, even though some of them may be concealed from our fellow-men. It might often have happened that by some accident, misunderstanding, or act of malice, a false name would be given to a person—a good name to a Bad man, or a bad name to a good man. No such error can be found in God's books, the books in which he reads the names of his people. There he notes the true character of all.
III. NAMES DIRECT APPEALS. We call a person by name to arrest his attention and to show that we desire to speak to him individually, and we write his name on a letter in order that it may be sent to him and accepted by him as intended for himself. Christ calls his sheep by name (John 10:3). He knows each member of his flock separately, and has direct, separate, personal dealings with every one. God called young Samuel by name. We do not expect audible appeals from heaven. Yet God is changeless, and he just as truly seeks us out separately now as he sought out Samuel in the days of the judges.
IV. NAMES PRESERVE MEMORIES. History would be a hopeless morass but for the solid ground afforded in definite names. If a man has done anything worthy of fame he is said to have made a name. His name is now treated with respect and handed down to subsequent generations. There are names of honor and names of infamy. To Christ is given the name that is above every name (Philippians 2:9). If one lives an ill life he may earnestly desire to be forgotten; but, alas! the stigma of disgrace is indelibly stamped on his name.
V. NAMES JUSTIFY CLAIMS. A signature gives authority. A name in a will entitles its owner to what is bequeathed under it. There are names "written in the Lamb's book of life" (Revelation 21:27), and all who own those names are entitled to an eternal inheritance with the saints in light. A man's name may not be down in the list of Israel's heirs, nor recorded in any Doomsday book on earth; yet if it is written in Christ's records it is secure for a possession better and richer than the most valuable estate that can ever be enjoyed in this world.
VI. A CHANGE OF NAME SIGNIFIES A CHANGE OF STATUS. Jacob, "the Supplanter," is named afresh Israel, "God's prince" Christ's people have a new name on their foreheads (Revelation 22:4). We may leave the evil name of the old life and enjoy the blessings that attach themselves to a true Christian name.
An inalienable possession.
The people were not permitted to sell their allotments, and especial provision was made to prevent the priests from parting with their share of the fruits of the land.
I. THE CHRISTIAN INHERITANCE IS AN INALIENABLE POSSESSION.
1. No enemy can take it away. Christ secures it for his people, so that it is theirs forever. We may lose all earthly things in the shocks and changes of life, but the heavenly treasure abides. So long as we hold it truly, no moth nor rust can corrupt it, no thief can then break through and steal it.
2. The Christian has no right to part with it. He can deny Christ, renounce the gift of God, and abdicate his position as one of the kings and priests of God. But he has no right to act in this way. When once he is called into the kingdom it is with a view of never departing from it. Though left free from external constraints, the bands of conscience forbid his ever giving up his glorious heritage. The vows of Christian fidelity are irrevocable.
II. IT IS A SIN TO ENDANGER THE CHRISTIAN INHERITANCE. AS Christians, we have a charge to keep. Our estate in the kingdom of heaven is entrusted to us. But we may be false to our trust in various ways.
1. By neglecting it. So long as our heritage is faithfully kept no enemy can enter or injure it. But if the hedge is broken down the wild boar from the wood may come through and root up the tender vines (Psalms 80:13). We need to watch over and carefully guard the privileges of the Christian life.
2. By renouncing it for worldly things. The priest might grow tired of his sacred office, and might prefer to have a farm of his own rather than be dependent on the sacrificial offerings of the people, while a lay Israelite, ambitious of the priesthood, might be glad to barter his estate for rank and office in the temple. This was forbidden. The Christian has no right to give up his allegiance to Christ and his inheritance in heavenly things for any earthly consideration. Having put his hand to the plough, he is never to look back.
III. THE INALIENABILITY OF THE CHRISTIAN INHERITANCE RESULTS FROM ITS RELATIONS TO GOD. The portion of the priests was holy, not because they had it, but because it was primarily God's share of the p