Ezekiel 46:1-24

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The Lord YHWH declared that the gate of the inner court facing east should remain shut on the six work days. On the “day of the Sabbath” or the “day of the new moon” (the first day of the month), however, the gate should be opened. (46:1) From outside, the prince or leader should enter the porch (ailam [LXX]) of this gate and then position himself at the “doorpost of the gate.” In the inner court, the priests should sacrifice his holocaust and his peace offerings (offerings of well-being or communion sacrifices), and the prince should bow down in worship at the “threshold of the gate.” Thereafter he should leave by way of the gate he had entered, but the gate should be left open until the evening. (46:2; see the Notes section.) At the entrance of this gate, the “people of the land” (or the people generally) should “bow down” in worship before YHWH “on the Sabbaths and on the new moons” (or on the first day of each month). (46:3)

On the Sabbath day, the prince should offer to YHWH six unblemished male lambs and one unblemished ram. (46:4) For the ram, he should present a grain offering of an ephah (c. 20 dry quarts; c. 22 liters). In the case of the male lambs, he could choose the amount he wanted to present (literally, a “gift of his hand”) as a grain offering. Each ephah of grain was to be accompanied by a hin (c. 7¾ pints; c. 3.67 liters) of olive oil. (46:5; see the Notes section.) “On the day of the new moon,” the first day of each month, the offering should be one unblemished young bull, six unblemished male lambs, and an unblemished ram. (46:6) The grain offering required of the prince for the bull and also for the ram was one ephah (c. 20 dry quarts; c. 22 liters). For the male lambs, the amount of the grain offering is described as being “as much as his hand can reach,” probably meaning as much as he considered himself in a position to give. Additionally, the required amount for each ephah of grain was a hin (c. 7¾ pints; c. 3.67 liters) of olive oil. (46:7; see the Notes section.)

When the prince entered the temple complex, he was do so by way of the “porch [ailam (LXX)] of the gate” and then depart through this gate. (46:8; see the Notes section.) The “people of the land” or the people generally were to enter the temple complex either through the north gate or the south gate when coming before YHWH to worship at appointed times. There they would bow down in worship and thereafter leave by way of a gate they had not entered. The person who entered the north gate would leave through the south gate, and the one who entered the south gate would depart through the north gate. Unlike the prince, the people were required never to leave through the gate that they had entered. (46:9) At the time the people entered the temple complex, the prince also was to enter and to depart when they left. (46:10)

On festival days or at other appointed times, the required grain offering for each young bull and for each ram was one ephah (c. 20 dry quarts; c. 22 liters). The amount of olive oil for each ephah was to be a hin (c. 7¾ pints; c. 3.67 liters). The amount of the grain offering for the lambs apparently was a matter of choice (literally, a “gift of his hand”). (46:11; see the Notes section.)

The prince shall have opened to him the gate facing east when coming to present a “freewill offering,” either a “holocaust or peace offerings” (offering of well-being or a communion sacrifices), to YHWH. He should then “offer his holocaust or his peace offerings” as he customarily would on the Sabbath day. The prince would leave by way of the gate he had entered, and it would be closed. (46:12)

In the Hebrew text, the verb relating to the action of providing the unblemished year-old male lamb is second person singular (probably meaning the people), but the Septuagint indicates that the leader or prince would do this. Each day a lamb was to be offered, one lamb every morning. (46:13) Also in the case of the grain offering that accompanied the offering of the lamb, the Hebrew text may be understood to refer to the people as providing it, whereas the Septuagint attributes the act to the leader or prince. Each morning, a sixth of an ephah (c. 3⅓ dry quarts; c. 3.67 liters) was the grain offering to accompany the offering of the lamb. A third of a hin (c. 2.6 pints; c. 1.2 liters) of olive oil was to be used to moisten the flour of the grain offering. The regulation governing the grain offering to YHWH is identified as a statute for limitless time to come. (46:14; see the Notes section regarding the “hin.”) The lamb, the grain offering, and the olive oil were to be presented every morning as a perpetual holocaust (one to be regularly presented for limitless time in the future). (46:15; see the Notes section.)

YHWH declared that the prince’s gift of land to any one of his sons would become the inheritance of that son. This son could then pass on the property to his sons, and it would be their hereditary possession. (46:16) If the prince made a gift from his inheritance to one of his servants, the servant would retain ownership of the property until the “year of liberty” (or the Jubilee), at which time the land would return to the prince. The inheritance of the prince could only be passed to his sons as their possession. (46:17) He would not be permitted to take any inheritance from the people, forcing them off their land. The prince could only give his sons an inheritance from his own property. This would prevent the people from being unjustly dispossessed (literally, “scattered”). (46:18)

The angel who served as Ezekiel’s guide led him through the entrance at the side of the gate to the priests’ holy chambers that faced north. Two different readings of the Hebrew text (one in the main text and the other one in the margin) then refer to what Ezekiel saw (a “place in the rear of them to the west”; a “place on both rear sides to the west”). The Septuagint does not include any reference to the “west” and only mentions a “separated place.” Many modern translations are more specific in their renderings than is the wording of the Hebrew text. “Then he led me into the passage at the side of the gate to the sacred chambers of the priests, which face north, and there, at the rear of it, in the west, I saw a space.” (Tanakh [JPS, 1985 edition]) “Then the man brought me through the entrance at the side of the gate to the sacred rooms facing north, which belonged to the priests, and showed me a place at the western end.” (NIV) “He took me through the entrance at the side of the north gate that leads to the rooms of the Holy Place set apart for the priests. And there before us, to the west, was a space at the end.” (NJB) “Then the man took me to the entrance of the rooms facing north near the gate on the south side of the inner courtyard. These are holy rooms for the priests. He pointed out a place on the west side of the rooms …” (TEV) “The man who was showing me the temple then took me back to the inner courtyard. We walked to the south side of the courtyard and stopped at the door to the sacred rooms that belonged to the priests. He showed me more rooms at the western edge of the courtyard …” (CEV) “Then the man brought me through the entrance by the side of the gate to the rooms which face north, the rooms set apart for the priests, and, pointing to a place on their west side, he said to me …” (REB) (46:19)

After having brought Ezekiel to the location in the inner court of the temple complex, the angel told Ezekiel, “This [is] the place where the priests shall boil the guilt offering and the sin offering.” It was also there that they would do baking with the flour of the grain offering (manaa [LXX]). In view of their doing the boiling and baking in the designated sacred area of the inner court, the priests would not be taking sacred items “into the outer court” and thus would avoid communicating holiness to the people. As the people would not have been authorized to be in the presence of YHWH in the same manner as were the priests, their coming into contact with the holy items would have been unacceptable and, therefore, would have led to adverse consequences for them. (46:20; see the Notes section.)

The angel conducted Ezekiel out of the inner court into the outer court and led him past the four corners of the court. In each corner of this outer court, Ezekiel saw another court or an enclosed area. (46:21) Each one of the four small courts measured 40 (cubits [LXX]; c. 70 feet; over 21 meters) in length and 30 (cubits [LXX]); c. 52½ feet; c. 16 meters) in width. (46:22) It appears that around the perimeter of these courts there were rows of stone or brick, and hearths or cooking places were located at the bottom of these rows. Modern translations commonly are more specific in their renderings than is the somewhat obscure wording of the Hebrew text. “A stone wall surrounded them on four sides, and ovens were built along the bottom of the walls all the way around.” (NAB, revised edition) “All four were enclosed by a wall, with hearths all round the bottom of the wall.” (NJB) “Along the inside of these walls was a ledge of stone with fireplaces under the ledge all the way around.” (NLT) “Each one had a stone wall around it, with fireplaces built against the wall.” (TEV) “Round each of the four was a course of stonework, with fire-places constructed close up against the stones.” (REB) “Around the inside of these smaller courtyards was a low wall of stones, and against the wall were places to build fires.” (CEV) (46:23; see the Notes section.) The angel explained to Ezekiel that the four areas at the corners of the outer court functioned as kitchens (literally, “houses of the cooking places”) where those ministering at the temple boiled the sacrifices of the people.(46:24)


Expository comments: If the “prince” in chapter 46 is the Anointed One, Messiah, Christ, or (according to Ezekiel 34:24) YHWH’s “servant David,” the sacrifices the priests offered for him may here be a prophetic indication that Jesus the Messiah or Christ, would live as a man according to the Mosaic law (Galatians 4:4) and would recognize the temple as his Father’s house (John 2:13-17) and the legitimacy of the priestly services. (Luke 5:14) As the unique Son of God, Jesus could speak of the temple as his Father’s house and, therefore, also could say that he was not obligated to pay the temple tax. (Matthew 17:24-27) Perhaps there is a prophetic allusion to this in what is stated in Ezekiel chapter 46 about where the “prince” was to enter and to leave the temple complex. His place of entering and departing differed from that of the people.

Although Jesus had no children as a man on earth, the prophetic words of Isaiah 9:6 and 7 indicate that the Messiah or Christ, the royal descendant in the line of King David, would be the “eternal Father.” These words do apply to Jesus Christ, for through him life will be bestowed on all who will have a share in the age to come, the time when he will be exercising dominion and when the last enemy death will be destroyed. (John 5:26-29; 1 Corinthians 15:25, 26) His role as the “eternal Father” would provide a basis for concluding that he could be prophetically referred to in Ezekiel chapter 46 as having “sons.” As the eternal Father, Jesus can give an inheritance to the sons who owe their life to him.

It should be noted, however, that not every aspect regarding the “prince,” his “sons,” and his “servants,” can be linked to Jesus Christ in a direct way, and it may be that there is an allusion to a future earthly administration under the “son of David,” the unique son of God. (Also see the expository comments on chapters 40 and 45 in the respective Notes sections.)

In verses 2 and 8, the Septuagint contains a transliterated form of the Hebrew word for “porch” (ailam).

Sources vary in assigning a value to the “hin” mentioned in verses 5, 7, and 14. The Jewish historian Josephus wrote in his Antiquities that a hin “contains two Athenian choas [III, viii, 3],” and that the “bath is able to contain 72 sextaries [VIII, ii, 9].” Other ancient sources indicate that two choes equaled 12 sextaries. With the bath measure reckoned at about 5.81 gallons or about 22 liters, a hin of two Athenian choas would be one sixth of a bath or about 7¾ pints (c. 3.67 liters).

The Septuagint translator does not appear to have understood the reference to the grain offering and the ephah. In verses 5, 7, and 11, the Septuagint rendering for the Hebrew expression designating a “grain offering” is a transliteration (manaa), and the rendering for the ephah measure is pémma (cake or pastry).

In verse 14, the Septuagint transliterates the Hebrew expression referring to the “grain offering” as manaa and renders “ephah” as “measure” (métron).

In verses 15 and 20, the Septuagint rendering for the Hebrew expression designating a “grain offering” is a transliteration (manaa).

The oldest extant Greek text of verse 23 says that the length was 30 cubits, not 40 cubits.