How Jesus Christ viewed the Book of Ezekiel, Part 2, Chapters 25 thru 48 (Jul 2000)
Like the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah which (as I have shown earlier) were highly edited post-exile compilations of the writings of at least three different authors, it appears evident that the book of Ezekiel is also a post-exile compilation and editing of the writings of at least two different authors. Although chapters 40 through 48 may have started out as an attempt by Ezekiel to create an encouraging "vision of the future", it appears to have been heavily edited after the exile to serve as kind of a "blueprint" for the building of the second temple, the reestablishment of Levitical sacrificial rituals, and for how the land that had been made available to the former exiles should be divided up among the remnants of the twelve tribes of Israel. Unlike the Books of Isaiah and Jeremiah, the book of Ezekiel is compiled pretty much in chronological order. No doubt, this task that was facilitated by the author's frequent use of preludes referencing the number of years that had passed since his own exile had begun. According to scholars, the oldest Aramaic texts of the writings of Ezekiel are in poor condition and contain many linguistic corruptions, so it's uncertain just how well our present English translations reflect what Ezekiel had actually written.
Ezekiel was the son of a Levite priest, possibly from the family lineage of Zadok. He was obviously quite familiar with writings contained in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, and he was evidently quite familiar with the extent to which those laws were being violated by his Judean contemporaries. He was also quite familiar with architecture of King Solomon's Temple. The name "Ezekiel" means "strength of God" or "one strengthened by God." He was a contemporary of Jeremiah and Daniel, and like Daniel he was among the first of the Judeans to be taken into exile by the Babylonians (the ones allegorically described by Jeremiah as being "good figs.") While Jeremiah preached to the Judeans in and around Jerusalem, Ezekiel preached to the exiles in Babylon, and he apparently sent many of his writings to the Judeans in Jerusalem as well. They both shared a great concern over the apostasy, corruption, and misdeeds of their fellow Judeans (including many of their contemporary prophets and religious leaders). According to legend, Jeremiah ended up being killed by his fellow Judeans in Egypt (because he criticized them too much), and Ezekiel ended up being killed by his fellow Judeans in Babylon (because he criticized them too much).
As in my earlier biblical reviews, my own comments will be in [brackets], and I will use "2-hvn" to indicate those comments that are referring to the second-heaven level of interpretation and "3-hvn" to indicate those comments that are referring to the third-heaven (allegorical) level of interpretation.
As before, when I refer to "God's two most fundamental commandments" or "God's guiding principles of truth and love", I am referring to the following (applied without restrictions):
Jesus said to him," 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."
Although I refer to situations in our present world to help illustrate the current relevance of Ezekiel's teachings, the way I am viewing Ezekiel's teachings is essentially the same as the way Jesus viewed those teachings (i.e. from the point of view of God's two most fundamental commandments). More likely than not, this way of viewing Ezekiel will be a new experience for you. Although Ezekiel isn't specifically mentioned in the New Testament, his writings clearly influenced Jesus' own teachings. They both referred to themselves as a "Son of man", and as we shall see, the author of St. John's Book of Revelation borrowed from (or quoted Jesus who borrowed from) quite a few of Ezekiel's allegorical symbolisms. So let's get on with:
[2-hvn. The next eight chapters of Ezekiel are Levite-style "judgments" against Judea's neighboring countries similar to those that can be found in the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah. Theoretically, they were supposedly written between a time when Ezekiel completed his prophecies regarding Judea (and became "mute" with regards to Judean prophecies) and the time when he received word from a direct witness that Jerusalem had been destroyed. However, the content of these chapters contain numerous details that indicate they were written after Jerusalem was finally destroyed by the Babylonians. Given the atrocious manner in which the Judeans had treated people in their neighboring countries over the previous two centuries, it is no surprised to see that many of those neighbors actually sided with the Babylonians in their efforts to capture and destroy Jerusalem and the Judeans in general.]
The word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, set your face against the Ammonites, and prophesy against them. Say to the Ammonites, 'Hear the word of the Lord GOD! Thus says the Lord GOD: "Because you said, 'Aha!' against My sanctuary when it was profaned, and against the land of Israel when it was desolate, and against the house of Judah when they went into captivity, indeed, therefore, I will deliver you as a possession to the men of the East, and they shall set their encampments among you and make their dwellings among you; they shall eat your fruit, and they shall drink your milk. And I will make Rabbah a stable for camels and Ammon a resting place for flocks. Then you shall know that I am the LORD." 'For thus says the Lord GOD: "Because you clapped your hands, stamped your feet, and rejoiced in heart with all your disdain for the land of Israel, indeed, therefore, I will stretch out My hand against you, and give you as plunder to the nations; I will cut you off from the peoples, and I will cause you to perish from the countries; I will destroy you, and you shall know that I am the LORD."
[2-hvn. The Israelites reacted in much the same way when the Egyptian army was (allegedly) wiped out as they attempted to cross the Red Sea. Rejoicing over the death and misery of others can hardly be considered in conformance with God's commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. In these eight chapters, Ezekiel seemed to have lost sight of this.]
Thus says the Lord GOD: "Because Moab and Seir say, 'Look! The house of Judah is like all the nations,'
therefore, behold, I will clear the territory of Moab of cities, of the cities on its frontier, the glory of the country, Beth Jeshimoth, Baal Meon, and Kirjathaim. To the men of the East I will give it as a possession, together with the Ammonites, that the Ammonites may not be remembered among the nations. And I will execute judgments upon Moab, and they shall know that I am the LORD." Thus says the Lord GOD: "Because of what Edom did against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and has greatly offended by avenging itself on them, therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "I will also stretch out My hand against Edom, cut off man and beast from it, and make it desolate from Teman; Dedan shall fall by the sword. I will lay My vengeance on Edom by the hand of My people Israel, that they may do in Edom according to My anger and according to My fury; and they shall know My vengeance," says the Lord GOD. Thus says the Lord GOD: "Because the Philistines dealt vengefully and took vengeance with a spiteful heart, to destroy because of the old hatred, therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "I will stretch out My hand against the Philistines, and I will cut off the Cherethites and destroy the remnant of the seacoast. I will execute great vengeance on them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I lay My vengeance upon them."
[2-hvn. It seems ironic that the canonization of the writings of these Old Testament authors had the effect immortalizing mankind's memory of the Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, Philistines, and others despite their predictions that mankind's memory of them would be lost.]
And it came to pass in the eleventh year, on the first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, because Tyre has said against Jerusalem, 'Aha! She is broken who was the gateway of the peoples; now she is turned over to me; I shall be filled; she is laid waste.'
[3-hvn. It's interesting that Tyre would be portrayed as having referred to Jerusalem as "the gateway of the peoples." Spiritually, Jerusalem was supposed to function as a "gateway of the people" for having a meaningful relationship with God. Apparently, the inhabitants of Tyre were saying something like, "Hah hah. You people claimed to be 'God's chosen people' and NOW look at what has happened to you." For Ezekiel to be offended by such taunts seems a bit odd, since he himself had been predicting such an outcome for years.]
Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'Behold, I am against you, O Tyre, and will cause many nations to come up against you, as the sea causes its waves to come up. And they shall destroy the walls of Tyre and break down her towers; I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock. It shall be a place for spreading nets in the midst of the sea, for I have spoken,' says the Lord GOD; 'it shall become plunder for the nations. Also her daughter villages which are in the fields shall be slain by the sword. Then they shall know that I am the LORD.' For thus says the Lord GOD: 'Behold, I will bring against Tyre from the north Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses, with chariots, and with horsemen, and an army with many people. He will slay with the sword your daughter villages in the fields; he will heap up a siege mound against you, build a wall against you, and raise a defense against you. He will direct his battering rams against your walls, and with his axes he will break down your towers. Because of the abundance of his horses, their dust will cover you; your walls will shake at the noise of the horsemen, the wagons, and the chariots, when he enters your gates, as men enter a city that has been breached. With the hooves of his horses he will trample all your streets; he will slay your people by the sword, and your strong pillars will fall to the ground. They will plunder your riches and pillage your merchandise; they will break down your walls and destroy your pleasant houses; they will lay your stones, your timber, and your soil in the midst of the water. I will put an end to the sound of your songs, and the sound of your harps shall be heard no more. I will make you like the top of a rock; you shall be a place for spreading nets, and you shall never be rebuilt, for I the LORD have spoken,' says the Lord GOD."
[2-hnv. The island fortress of Tyre could be defended easily, because it was nearly impossible to get any heavy siege equipment near enough to its walls to be used effectively. But then, in the immortal words of General George C. Patton, "Fixed fortifications are monuments to the stupidity of man."]
[3-hnv. Allegorically, Tyre represents the ideology of godless materialism. In St. John's Book of Revelation, the "Scarlet Harlot" is referred to as "Babylon the Great", and its description of "Babylon the Great" is similar to this description of Tyre. The destruction of "Babylon the Great" is described in similar terms as well. So it appears that the authors of Revelation borrowed some of it allegorical symbolisms from this part of Ezekiel.]
"Thus says the Lord GOD to Tyre: 'Will the coastlands not shake at the sound of your fall, when the wounded cry, when slaughter is made in the midst of you? Then all the princes of the sea will come down from their thrones, lay aside their robes, and take off their embroidered garments; they will clothe themselves with trembling; they will sit on the ground, tremble every moment, and be astonished at you. And they will take up a lamentation for you, and say to you: "How you have perished, O one inhabited by seafaring men, O renowned city, who was strong at sea, she and her inhabitants, who caused their terror to be on all her inhabitants! Now the coastlands tremble on the day of your fall; yes, the coastlands by the sea are troubled at your departure." For thus says the Lord GOD: 'When I make you a desolate city, like cities that are not inhabited, when I bring the deep upon you, and great waters cover you, then I will bring you down with those who descend into the Pit, to the people of old, and I will make you dwell in the lowest part of the earth, in places desolate from antiquity, with those who go down to the Pit, so that you may never be inhabited; and I shall establish glory in the land of the living. I will make you a terror, and you shall be no more; though you are sought for, you will never be found again,' says the Lord GOD."
[2-hvn. Although some biblical commentators boldly assert that the Babylonians did in fact capture the island fortress of Tyre, so far at least, there appears to be no independent historical evidence to confirm such assertions. Such assertions are belied by the fact that the kingdom of Tyre remained a prominent commercial power in the Middle East until it was destroyed by the Sultan of Egypt in 1291 A. D. (nearly 1,500 years later).]
[3-hvn. Allegorically, "the pit" represents a grave or an "eternal resting place" for those individuals and spirits that are no longer alive. Was Ezekiel predicting that God would eventually bring and end to "godless materialism"? Perhaps. Star Trek and Star Trek The Next Generation portray a world (or universe) where "godless materialism" has in fact been pretty well purged from the human psyche. ]
The word of the LORD came again to me, saying, "Now, son of man, take up a lamentation for Tyre, and say to Tyre, 'You who are situated at the entrance of the sea, merchant of the peoples on many coastlands, thus says the Lord GOD: "O Tyre, you have said, 'I am perfect in beauty.' Your borders are in the midst of the seas. Your builders have perfected your beauty. They made all your planks of fir trees from Senir; they took a cedar from Lebanon to make you a mast. Of oaks from Bashan they made your oars; the company of Ashurites have inlaid your planks with ivory from the coasts of Cyprus. Fine embroidered linen from Egypt was what you spread for your sail; blue and purple from the coasts of Elishah was what covered you. Inhabitants of Sidon and Arvad were your oarsmen; your wise men, O Tyre, were in you; they became your pilots. Elders of Gebal and its wise men were in you to caulk your seams; all the ships of the sea and their oarsmen were in you to market your merchandise. Those from Persia, Lydia, and Libya were in your army as men of war; they hung shield and helmet in you; they gave splendor to you. Men of Arvad with your army were on your walls all around, and the men of Gammad were in your towers; they hung their shields on your walls all around; they made your beauty perfect. Tarshish was your merchant because of your many luxury goods. They gave you silver, iron, tin, and lead for your goods. Javan, Tubal, and Meshech were your traders. They bartered human lives and vessels of bronze for your merchandise. Those from the house of Togarmah traded for your wares with horses, steeds, and mules. The men of Dedan were your traders; many isles were the market of your hand. They brought you ivory tusks and ebony as payment. Syria was your merchant because of the abundance of goods you made. They gave you for your wares emeralds, purple, embroidery, fine linen, corals, and rubies. Judah and the land of Israel were your traders. They traded for your merchandise wheat of Minnith, millet, honey, oil, and balm. Damascus was your merchant because of the abundance of goods you made, because of your many luxury items, with the wine of Helbon and with white wool. Dan and Javan paid for your wares, traversing back and forth. Wrought iron, cassia, and cane were among your merchandise. Dedan was your merchant in saddlecloths for riding. Arabia and all the princes of Kedar were your regular merchants. They traded with you in lambs, rams, and goats. The merchants of Sheba and Raamah were your merchants. They traded for your wares the choicest spices, all kinds of precious stones, and gold. Haran, Canneh, Eden, the merchants of Sheba, Assyria, and Chilmad were your merchants. These were your merchants in choice items--in purple clothes, in embroidered garments, in chests of multicolored apparel, in sturdy woven cords, which were in your marketplace. The ships of Tarshish were carriers of your merchandise. You were filled and very glorious in the midst of the seas.
[2-hnv. This is a remarkable description of the nature of the commerce in that part of the world in Ezekiel's' day. Apparently, Ezekiel had ample opportunity to talk with passing merchants who had conducted business in Tyre. Notice that Ezekiel doesn't imply that such commerce is ungodly in itself, except perhaps for his mention that they "bartered human lives." According to Ezekiel, Tyre's primary sin was it's self-pride ("I am perfect in beauty"), and also it's failure to give God the credit that was due to Him for His contribution to their success. The essential concept of trade is, after all, an example of how people can benefit by following God's commandment to love their neighbors as themselves by engaging in acts that are mutually beneficial.]
Your oarsmen brought you into many waters, but the east wind broke you in the midst of the seas. Your riches, wares, and merchandise, your mariners and pilots, your caulkers and merchandisers, all your men of war who are in you, and the entire company which is in your midst, will fall into the midst of the seas on the day of your ruin. The common-land will shake at the sound of the cry of your pilots. All who handle the oar, the mariners, all the pilots of the sea will come down from their ships and stand on the shore. They will make their voice heard because of you; they will cry bitterly and cast dust on their heads; they will roll about in ashes; They will shave themselves completely bald because of you, gird themselves with sackcloth, and weep for you with bitterness of heart and bitter wailing. In their wailing for you they will take up a lamentation, and lament for you: 'What city is like Tyre, destroyed in the midst of the sea? When your wares went out by sea, you satisfied many people; you enriched the kings of the earth with your many luxury goods and your merchandise. But you are broken by the seas in the depths of the waters; your merchandise and the entire company will fall in your midst. All the inhabitants of the isles will be astonished at you; their kings will be greatly afraid, and their countenance will be troubled. The merchants among the peoples will hiss at you; you will become a horror, and be no more forever.'"'"
[2-hvn. As noted above, that didn't really happen until 1291 A.D. According to some accounts, the Babylonians did attempt to capture Tyre at least once. Perhaps one of the reasons that Tyre lasted so long as an economic power in the Middle East was because so many people from so many different countries (especially "the kings of the earth") had far more to gain by helping to ensure its continued operation than they could ever hope to gain if they destroyed that operation while attempting to capture Tyre for themselves. One might say that either God changed His mind (for over 1,500 years) about His predictions of gloom and doom for Tyre, or else Ezekiel wasn't truly representing God when he made these predictions regarding Tyre.]
[3-hvn. Note the expression "the east wind broke you in the midst of the seas." Throughout most of the Bible, the term "east wind" is used allegorically to represent the power of God's truth; it blows away, withers, dries up, or divides man-made concepts, ideologies and popular spirits that are founded upon criteria other than God's two most fundamental commandments. In many places in the Bible, "the sea" or "seas" are used to allegorically represent corrupt or false religious teachings (i.e. teachings that are inspired by Satan but falsely presented as being "the will of God"). So in this case, Ezekiel is predicting that Tyre's false pride and idolatrous promotion of man-made things will be broken by the power of God's truth.]
The word of the LORD came to me again, saying, "Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Because your heart is lifted up, and you say, 'I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods, in the midst of the seas,' yet you are a man, and not a god, though you set your heart as the heart of a god (Behold, you are wiser than Daniel! There is no secret that can be hidden from you! With your wisdom and your understanding you have gained riches for yourself, and gathered gold and silver into your treasuries; By your great wisdom in trade you have increased your riches, and your heart is lifted up because of your riches)," Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Because you have set your heart as the heart of a god, Behold, therefore, I will bring strangers against you, the most terrible of the nations; and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom, and defile your splendor. They shall throw you down into the Pit, and you shall die the death of the slain in the midst of the seas. Will you still say before him who slays you, 'I am a god'? But you shall be a man, and not a god, in the hand of him who slays you. You shall die the death of the uncircumcised by the hand of aliens; for I have spoken," says the Lord GOD.'"
[2-hvn. So far at least, there appears to be no historical evidence that the King of Tyre at that time actually died that way. That being the case, many biblical commentators have looked for an allegorical interpretation of these predictions.]
[3-hvn. Allegorically, the "Prince of Tyre" can be viewed as the practice whereby kings viewed themselves (and portrayed themselves) as being deities. This practice was quite common in those days and only fell "out of fashion" within the past two or three hundred years. Evidently, by portraying themselves as deities, such kings believed that they could more effectively command the loyalty and respect of their subjects. The advent of democratic forms of government has pretty well quashed such pretensions, and for most practical purposes, World Wars I and II effectively brought an end to "absolute monarchies" worldwide.]
Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to him, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created. You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you. By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned; therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; and I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, that they might gaze at you. You defiled your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your trading; therefore I brought fire from your midst; it devoured you, and I turned you to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all who saw you. All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you; you have become a horror, and shall be no more forever."'"
[3-hvn. Well, it took nearly 2,400 years, but the allegorical interpretation of these prophecies has in fact come true. Whether or not this actually happened to the King who was ruling Tyre at that time remains debatable. Given the political turbulence of the Middle East in those days, predicting that a particular King or dynasty would eventually fall was a reasonably safe bet. If anything, Tyre proved to be a notable "exception to that rule" for nearly two thousand years.]
Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, set your face toward Sidon, and prophesy against her, and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I am against you, O Sidon; I will be glorified in your midst; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I execute judgments in her and am hallowed in her. For I will send pestilence upon her, and blood in her streets; the wounded shall be judged in her midst by the sword against her on every side; then they shall know that I am the LORD. And there shall no longer be a pricking brier or a painful thorn for the house of Israel from among all who are around them, who despise them. Then they shall know that I am the Lord GOD."
[2-hvn. Sidon, once the capital of Phoenicia, was indeed captured by the Babylonians. Since the Israelite King Ahab's evil wife Jezebel came from Sidon, and since she was probably the one who introduced the Israelites to the idolatrous worship of Tammuz, Ezekiel evidently felt that a reunited Judea in the future would be far better off without Sidon (a "pricking brier or a painful thorn") around to lead its people astray.]
Thus says the Lord GOD: "When I have gathered the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and am hallowed in them in the sight of the Gentiles, then they will dwell in their own land which I gave to My servant Jacob. And they will dwell safely there, build houses, and plant vineyards; yes, they will dwell securely, when I execute judgments on all those around them who despise them. Then they shall know that I am the LORD their God."'"
[2-hvn. Here Ezekiel strongly implies that Babylon will fall as well, although he doesn't come right out and say it. Unlike Jeremiah, Ezekiel refrained from making dire predictions about Babylon, perhaps because he was under their rule at the time. He generally portrayed Babylon as being an agent of God.]
In the tenth year, in the tenth month, on the twelfth day of the month, the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, set your face against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and prophesy against him, and against all Egypt. Speak, and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I am against you, O Pharaoh king of Egypt, O great monster [crocodile, which was the emblem of Egypt] who lies in the midst of his rivers, who has said, 'My River is my own; I have made it for myself.' But I will put hooks in your jaws, and cause the fish of your rivers to stick to your scales; I will bring you up out of the midst of your rivers, and all the fish in your rivers will stick to your scales. I will leave you in the wilderness, you and all the fish of your rivers; you shall fall on the open field; you shall not be picked up or gathered. I have given you as food to the beasts of the field and to the birds of the heavens. Then all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am the LORD, because they have been a staff of reed to the house of Israel. When they took hold of you with the hand, you broke and tore all their shoulders; when they leaned on you, you broke and made all their backs quiver. Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Surely I will bring a sword upon you and cut off from you man and beast. And the land of Egypt shall become desolate and waste; then they will know that I am the LORD, because he said, 'The River is mine, and I have made it.' Indeed, therefore, I am against you and against your rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from Migdol to Syene, as far as the border of Ethiopia. Neither foot of man shall pass through it nor foot of beast pass through it, and it shall be uninhabited forty years. I will make the land of Egypt desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate; and among the cities that are laid waste, her cities shall be desolate forty years; and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations and disperse them throughout the countries."
[3-hvn. Ezekiel's' references the Egyptians as being "fish" and to the Pharaoh as being a "crocodile" with "scales" clearly shows that this prophesy was intended to be interpreted allegorically. The "fish" in this case represents the Egyptian military and religious teachings ("food" that the crocodile normally "eats" puts his faith in). According to this prophesy, those teachings will in turn "stick to his scales" and in effect start eating him, thereby making him easy prey for the "beasts of the field" (opposing political forces) and "birds of the heavens" (other religious forces.) In other words, the Pharaoh was putting his faith in the principles of anarchy. According to Adam Clarke's commentary, the Pharaoh at that time (Apries) was in fact unseated in an insurrection led by one of his generals (Amasis). After fleeing into the wilderness, Apries was caught and executed. The references to Egypt as being a "staff of reed" reflects considerable resentment by Ezekiel over the fact that the Pharaoh had promised to help defend Judea against the Babylonians, but when they actually met the Babylonian army, the Egyptians turned around and fled back to their homeland. Jeremiah had predicted that the Egyptians would do that, but Israel's King Zedekiah ignored his advice. The "forty years" is apparently referring to the reign of Amasis, which Ezekiel predicted would be so tumultuous that the country would become desolated. Ezekiel's prediction that Egypt would be "uninhabited" never actually happened if taken literally, but it could be viewed allegorically as being "uninhabited" by guidance from God.]
Yet, thus says the Lord GOD: "At the end of forty years I will gather the Egyptians from the peoples among whom they were scattered. I will bring back the captives of Egypt and cause them to return to the land of Pathros, to the land of their origin, and there they shall be a lowly kingdom. It shall be the lowliest of kingdoms; it shall never again exalt itself above the nations, for I will diminish them so that they will not rule over the nations anymore. No longer shall it be the confidence of the house of Israel, but will remind them of their iniquity when they turned to follow them. Then they shall know that I am the Lord GOD."'"
[2-hvn. So here Ezekiel predicted that the Egyptian captives of the Babylonians (or more precisely their descendants) would return to Egypt after forty years, but that Egypt would be a "diminished" country thereafter. Although Egypt continued to exist as an identifiable country, throughout most of the two thousand years thereafter, it was ruled by non-Egyptian Empires (the Persians, Macedonians, Romans, Turks, etc.)]
And it came to pass in the twenty-seventh year, in the first month, on the first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon caused his army to labor strenuously against Tyre; every head was made bald, and every shoulder rubbed raw; yet neither he nor his army received wages from Tyre, for the labor which they expended on it. Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'Surely I will give the land of Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; he shall take away her wealth, carry off her spoil, and remove her pillage; and that will be the wages for his army. I have given him the land of Egypt for his labor, because they worked for Me,' says the Lord GOD.
[1-hvn. Chronologically, this second half of Chapter 29, which was written in the "twenty-seventh year", should have been inserted much later on in this book.]
[2-hvn. So apparently, Egypt became so powerless under the chaotic rule of Amasis that it was eventually taken over by the Babylonians. Notice that the Babylonians never really captured the "spoils" of Tyre. Whether this was because the Babylonians never actually captured the island fortress or because it's defenders escaped by ship and took all their "spoils" with them is still a matter of debate. This does show, however, that collecting the "spoils" of war was one of the major motivating factors for starting new wars in those days, so having a lot of "worldly possessions" would often put a person's life in peril. Such are the ways of Satan and anarchy.]
In that day I will cause the horn of the house of Israel to spring forth, and I will open your mouth to speak in their midst. Then they shall know that I am the LORD.'"
[3-hvn. The "horn" in this case represents Israel's religion, which would be restored after Egypt's defeat (and by implication after the subsequent downfall of Babylon). After Egypt's defeat, those who read Ezekiel's prophecies began to take them seriously and to pay more heed to his teachings. Centuries later, the ten "horns" on the scarlet "nation ional sovereignty" beast described in Rev 17:3 likewise represented religions whose leaders would eventually become "kings for an hour." St. John predicts that someday, "the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot (the idolatry or "religion" of national sovereignty worship), make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire." (Rev 17:16)]
The word of the LORD came to me again, saying, "Son of man, prophesy and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Wail, 'Woe to the day! For the day is near, even the day of the LORD is near; it will be a day of clouds, the time of the Gentiles. The sword shall come upon Egypt, and great anguish shall be in Ethiopia, when the slain fall in Egypt, and they take away her wealth, and her foundations are broken down. Ethiopia, Libya, Lydia, all the mingled people, Chub, and the men of the lands who are allied, shall fall with them by the sword." Thus says the LORD: "Those who uphold Egypt shall fall, and the pride of her power shall come down. From Migdol to Syene those within her shall fall by the sword," says the Lord GOD. " They shall be desolate in the midst of the desolate countries, and her cities shall be in the midst of the cities that are laid waste. Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I have set a fire in Egypt and all her helpers are destroyed. On that day messengers shall go forth from Me in ships to make the careless Ethiopians afraid, and great anguish shall come upon them, as on the day of Egypt; for indeed it is coming!" Thus says the Lord GOD: "I will also make a multitude of Egypt to cease by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. He and his people with him, the most terrible of the nations, shall be brought to destroy the land; they shall draw their swords against Egypt, and fill the land with the slain. I will make the rivers dry, and sell the land into the hand of the wicked; I will make the land waste, and all that is in it, by the hand of aliens. I, the LORD, have spoken." Thus says the Lord GOD: "I will also destroy the idols, and cause the images to cease from Noph; there shall no longer be princes from the land of Egypt; I will put fear in the land of Egypt. I will make Pathros desolate, set fire to Zoan, and execute judgments in No. I will pour My fury on Sin, the strength of Egypt; I will cut off the multitude of No, And set a fire in Egypt; sin shall have great pain, No shall be split open, and Noph shall be in distress daily. The young men of Aven and Pi Beseth shall fall by the sword, and these cities shall go into captivity. At Tehaphnehes the day shall also be darkened, when I break the yokes of Egypt there. And her arrogant strength shall cease in her; as for her, a cloud shall cover her, and her daughters shall go into captivity. Thus I will execute judgments on Egypt, then they shall know that I am the LORD."' "
[2-hvn. Here Ezekiel graphically predicts that Egypt would fall to the Babylonians, and the cost in human lives would be great.]
And it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the first month, on the seventh day of the month, that the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, I have broken the arm of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and see, it has not been bandaged for healing, nor a splint put on to bind it, to make it strong enough to hold a sword. Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'Surely I am against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and will break his arms, both the strong one and the one that was broken; and I will make the sword fall out of his hand. I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and disperse them throughout the countries. I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon and put My sword in his hand; but I will break Pharaoh's arms, and he will groan before him with the groanings of a mortally wounded man. Thus I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, but the arms of Pharaoh shall fall down; they shall know that I am the LORD, when I put My sword into the hand of the king of Babylon and he stretches it out against the land of Egypt. I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations and disperse them throughout the countries. Then they shall know that I am the LORD.'"
[2-hvn. Notice that here Ezekiel reverts back to the ancient Levite view of God as being a perpetrator of evil as well as good. Note that is particular paragraph was written in the "eleventh year" (after Pharoah-Necho's army was repulsed and routed at Charchemish and shortly before the fall of Jerusalem). As previously noted, this was long before the events described in the second half of Chapter 29, which was written in the "twenty-seventh year." This error in placement indicates that like the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah, the book of Ezekiel was hastily compiled.]
Now it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the third month, on the first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, say to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his multitude: 'Whom are you like in your greatness? Indeed Assyria was a cedar in Lebanon, with fine branches that shaded the forest, and of high stature; and its top was among the thick boughs. The waters made it grow; Underground waters gave it height, with their rivers running around the place where it was planted, and sent out rivulets to all the trees of the field. Therefore its height was exalted above all the trees of the field; its boughs were multiplied, and its branches became long because of the abundance of water, as it sent them out. All the birds of the heavens made their nests in its boughs; under its branches all the beasts of the field brought forth their young; and in its shadow all great nations made their home. Thus it was beautiful in greatness and in the length of its branches, because its roots reached to abundant waters. The cedars in the garden of God could not hide it; the fir trees were not like its boughs, and the chestnut trees were not like its branches; no tree in the garden of God was like it in beauty. I made it beautiful with a multitude of branches, so that all the trees of Eden envied it, that were in the garden of God.'
[3-hvn. Notice the allegorical similarities between this and the Garden of Eden story in Genesis. It's also similar to Nebuchadnezzar's dream in the fourth chapter of Daniel. Allegorically, that tree represents the "tree of knowledge" and power acquired by the Assyrian Empire fed by the ground "waters" or guidance from the "earth" of mankind's perceptions of popular truths. Ezekiel's point was that the Egyptian Empire was very much like that allegorical "tree", and it was about to be brought down for the very same reason. The "birds of the heavens" and "beasts of the field" represent religious organizations and political entities that enjoyed the protection provided by that allegorical "tree" while it lasted. ]
Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'Because you have increased in height, and it set its top among the thick boughs, and its heart was lifted up in its height, therefore I will deliver it into the hand of the mighty one of the nations, and he shall surely deal with it; I have driven it out for its wickedness. And aliens, the most terrible of the nations, have cut it down and left it; its branches have fallen on the mountains and in all the valleys; its boughs lie broken by all the rivers of the land; and all the peoples of the earth have gone from under its shadow and left it. On its ruin will remain all the birds of the heavens, and all the beasts of the field will come to its branches--So that no trees by the waters may ever again exalt themselves for their height, nor set their tops among the thick boughs, that no tree which drinks water may ever be high enough to reach up to them. 'For they have all been delivered to death, to the depths of the earth, among the children of men who go down to the Pit.'"
[3-hvn. As mighty as it was, God brought the Assyrian Empire down, because it's "waters" came from "underground" (the "earth" of precepts devised by self-serving men) rather than from "heaven" (God).]
Thus says the Lord GOD: "In the day when it went down to hell, I caused mourning. I covered the deep because of it. I restrained its rivers, and the great waters were held back. I caused Lebanon to mourn for it, and all the trees of the field wilted because of it. I made the nations shake at the sound of its fall, when I cast it down to hell together with those who descend into the Pit; and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, were comforted in the depths of the earth. They also went down to hell with it, with those slain by the sword; and those who were its strong arm dwelt in its shadows among the nations. To which of the trees in Eden will you then be likened in glory and greatness? Yet you shall be brought down with the trees of Eden to the depths of the earth; you shall lie in the midst of the uncircumcised, with those slain by the sword. This is Pharaoh and all his multitude,"says the Lord GOD.
[3-hvn. So Ezekiel predicted that God would bring the Egyptians down just as He has brought the Assyrians down. All those who believed or were comforted by their lies will be brought down as well.]
And it came to pass in the twelfth year, in the twelfth month, on the first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Son of man, take up a lamentation for Pharaoh king of Egypt, and say to him: 'You are like a young lion among the nations, and you are like a monster in the seas, bursting forth in your rivers, troubling the waters with your feet, and fouling their rivers.' Thus says the Lord GOD: 'I will therefore spread My net over you with a company of many people, and they will draw you up in My net. Then I will leave you on the land; I will cast you out on the open fields, and cause to settle on you all the birds of the heavens. And with you I will fill the beasts of the whole earth. I will lay your flesh on the mountains, and fill the valleys with your carcass. I will also water the land with the flow of your blood, even to the mountains; and the riverbeds will be full of you. When I put out your light, I will cover the heavens, and make its stars dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. All the bright lights of the heavens I will make dark over you, and bring darkness upon your land,' says the Lord GOD. I will also trouble the hearts of many peoples, when I bring your destruction among the nations, into the countries which you have not known. Yes, I will make many peoples astonished at you, and their kings shall be horribly afraid of you when I brandish My sword before them; and they shall tremble every moment, every man for his own life, in the day of your fall.'" For thus says the Lord GOD: "The sword of the king of Babylon shall come upon you. By the swords of the mighty warriors, all of them the most terrible of the nations, I will cause your multitude to fall. 'They shall plunder the pomp of Egypt, and all its multitude shall be destroyed. Also I will destroy all its animals from beside its great waters; the foot of man shall muddy them no more, nor shall the hooves of animals muddy them. Then I will make their waters clear, and make their rivers run like oil,' says the Lord GOD. When I make the land of Egypt desolate, and the country is destitute of all that once filled it, when I strike all who dwell in it, then they shall know that I am the LORD. This is the lamentation with which they shall lament her; the daughters of the nations shall lament her; they shall lament for her, for Egypt, and for all her multitude, says the Lord GOD.
[3-hvn. This is largely a reiteration of Ezekiel's earlier prophecies regarding Egypt and its Pharaoh. The pattern of repetition in the following verses indicate that these verses may actually be the lyrics to a song or chant.]
It came to pass also in the twelfth year, on the fifteenth day of the month, that the word of the LORD came to me, saying: "Son of man, wail over the multitude of Egypt, and cast them down to the depths of the earth, her and the daughters of the famous nations, with those who go down to the Pit: Whom do you surpass in beauty? Go down, be placed with the uncircumcised. They shall fall in the midst of those slain by the sword; she is delivered to the sword, drawing her and all her multitudes. The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of hell with those who help him: 'They have gone down, they lie with the uncircumcised, slain by the sword.' Assyria is there, and all her company, with their graves all around her, all of them slain, fallen by the sword. Her graves are set in the recesses of the Pit, and her company is all around her grave, all of them slain, fallen by the sword, who caused terror in the land of the living. There is Elam and all her multitude, all around her grave, all of them slain, fallen by the sword, who have gone down uncircumcised to the lower parts of the earth, who caused their terror in the land of the living; now they bear their shame with those who go down to the Pit. They have set her bed in the midst of the slain, with all her multitude, with her graves all around it, all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword; though their terror was caused in the land of the living, yet they bear their shame with those who go down to the Pit; it was put in the midst of the slain. There are Meshech and Tubal and all their multitudes, with all their graves around it, all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword, though they caused their terror in the land of the living. They do not lie with the mighty who are fallen of the uncircumcised, who have gone down to hell with their weapons of war; they have laid their swords under their heads, but their iniquities will be on their bones, because of the terror of the mighty in the land of the living. Yes, you shall be broken in the midst of the uncircumcised, and lie with those slain by the sword. There is Edom, her kings and all her princes, who despite their might are laid beside those slain by the sword; they shall lie with the uncircumcised, and with those who go down to the Pit. There are the princes of the north, all of them, and all the Sidonians, who have gone down with the slain in shame at the terror which they caused by their might; they lie uncircumcised with those slain by the sword, and bear their shame with those who go down to the Pit. Pharaoh will see them and be comforted over all his multitude, Pharaoh and all his army, slain by the sword," says the Lord GOD. For I have caused My terror in the land of the living; and he shall be placed in the midst of the uncircumcised with those slain by the sword, Pharaoh and all his multitude," says the Lord GOD.
[3-hvn. In other words, although they were regarded as "mighty" for a while, they will all end up in "the trash heap of history", because of their murderous, ungodly ways.]
Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: 'When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman's hand.' So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. When I say to the wicked, 'O wicked man, you shall surely die!' and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of Israel: 'Thus you say, "If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?"' Say to them: 'As I live,' says the Lord GOD, 'I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?' "
[2-hvn. This is a reiteration of the God's warning to Ezekiel in Chapter 3 regarding the responsibilities of a watchman. The idea is that if the watchman fails to convey God's warnings to his fellow countrymen, then he will suffer the same fate as they do (without redemption). It also reiterates the theme that those who ignore God's warnings are in effect "killing themselves" or dying as a result of their own actions. This represents a slight, but significant shift away from the Levite teaching that God Himself would be doing the killing. This point is further made clear by God's comments: "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?" These are the words of a loving God, as opposed to the Levite typical image of a vengeful God.]
"Therefore you, O son of man, say to the children of your people: 'The righteousness of the righteous man shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression; as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall because of it in the day that he turns from his wickedness; nor shall the righteous be able to live because of his righteousness in the day that he sins.' When I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, but he trusts in his own righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous works shall be remembered; but because of the iniquity that he has committed, he shall die. Again, when I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right, if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of his sins which he has committed shall be remembered against him; he has done what is lawful and right; he shall surely live."
[2-hvn. These words sound like they could have been uttered by Isaiah (Isa 1:18) or Jesus Christ (Matt 12:31). This point, which Ezekiel is making regarding the forgiveness of sins, is one of the most significant differences between the teachings of Jesus and the teachings of the ancient (death-penalty minded) Levites. In today's world, America's so-call "Christian" preachers who advocate the death penalty are in fact teaching ancient Levitism, not Christianity.]
"Yet the children of your people say, 'The way of the LORD is not fair.' But it is their way which is not fair! When the righteous turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, he shall die because of it. But when the wicked turns from his wickedness and does what is lawful and right, he shall live because of it. Yet you say, 'The way of the LORD is not fair.' O house of Israel, I will judge every one of you according to his own ways."
[2-hvn. Note the similarity between this and the words of Jesus in Luke 6:36-37, "Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." Clearly, at this point in time, Ezekiel (or at least the author of this part of the book of Ezekiel) was following the same Holy Spirit as Jesus. The reason I point this out that it's possible that these verses may have been added at a later time by those mentioned in Ezra 10:15.] The theme of these verses differs significantly from the views and attitudes reflected in the "judgments" against Judea's neighboring countries in Chapters 25 through 32. Perhaps Ezekiel simply had a "change of heart" or "saw the light" more clearly sometime after he wrote those judgment pieces. ]
And it came to pass in the twelfth year of our captivity, in the tenth month, on the fifth day of the month, that one who had escaped from Jerusalem came to me and said, "The city has been captured!" Now the hand of the LORD had been upon me the evening before the man came who had escaped. And He had opened my mouth; so when he came to me in the morning, my mouth was opened, and I was no longer mute. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: "Son of man, they who inhabit those ruins in the land of Israel are saying, 'Abraham was only one, and he inherited the land. But we are many; the land has been given to us as a possession.' Therefore say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "You eat meat with blood, you lift up your eyes toward your idols, and shed blood. Should you then possess the land? You rely on your sword, you commit abominations, and you defile one another's wives. Should you then possess the land?"' Say thus to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "As I live, surely those who are in the ruins shall fall by the sword, and the one who is in the open field I will give to the beasts to be devoured, and those who are in the strongholds and caves shall die of the pestilence. For I will make the land most desolate, her arrogant strength shall cease, and the mountains of Israel shall be so desolate that no one will pass through. Then they shall know that I am the LORD, when I have made the land most desolate because of all their abominations which they have committed."'
[2-hvn. Here Ezekiel reverts to (or continues) his judgment mode, this time regarding the Judeans who survived of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem. There's some disagreement among biblical scholars as to whether or not Ezekiel was totally "mute" while awaiting confirmation of Jerusalem's destruction. Some argue that he was only "mute" as to his prophesies regarding Judea, and that during that period of time he focused his prophecies on Judea's neighboring countries instead. Ezekiel's point here was that those who helped create the situation that resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem would NOT ultimately "possess that land." Instead, he implies that Judea would eventually be repossessed by the more godly descendants of the captives who were deported to Babylon.]
As for you, son of man, the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, 'Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the LORD.' So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them. And when this comes to pass--surely it will come--then they will know that a prophet has been among them."
[2-hvn. This common reaction to true prophets of God was has been documented by Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the authors of the New Testament. And it's still widely happening today. People (including many so-called "Christian" preachers) worship God (and Jesus) "with their lips", but their heart is far from Him (i.e. they are, among other things, hypocrites!).]
And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD to the shepherds: "Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered.
My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them."
[3-hvn. It's pretty clear here that Ezekiel was allegorically using the Levite view that they were "shepherds" and their congregations where their "flocks" by pointing out what lousy "shepherds" they had been. All they were concerned about was "doing whatever it takes" to attract animal sacrifices so as to fill their fat bellies. Believe it or not, this is still happening in today's world.]
Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: as I live," says the Lord GOD, "surely because My flock became a prey, and My flock became food for every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, nor did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock"--therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them."
[2-hvn. It's true. Throughout history, religious leaders (and religious denominations) that have strayed away from following God's two most fundamental commandments have tended to "lose their flocks." Hundreds of them have gone out of existence for that very reason. Those that have survived were only able to do so, because they repented and changed their ways in order to better conform with Gods' two most fundamental commandments.]
For thus says the Lord GOD: "Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel. There they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down," says the Lord GOD. I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment." And as for you, O My flock, thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats. Is it too little for you to have eaten up the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the residue of your pasture--and to have drunk of the clear waters, that you must foul the residue with your feet? And as for My flock, they eat what you have trampled with your feet, and they drink what you have fouled with your feet." Therefore thus says the Lord GOD to them: "Behold, I Myself will judge between the fat and the lean sheep. Because you have pushed with side and shoulder, butted all the weak ones with your horns, and scattered them abroad, therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep. I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them-- My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I, the LORD, have spoken."
[3-hvn. This is one of the many prophesies in the Old Testament that predict the coming of a "Messiah" out of the lineage of King David. Here it appears that Ezekiel is predicting the "return of the Jews" to Judea following their Babylonian exile. But in fact, the author of this part of Ezekiel is predicting an event that is more in nature like the "Second Coming of Christ" where the faithful sheep will be separated from the unfaithful sheep. Notice that the faithful sheep are portrayed as having to live off the remains of grass that had been eaten by the unfaithful sheep and having to drink water that had been fouled by the unfaithful sheep. Evidently, this is a not-too-subtle reference to the subjugation of true servants of God to the ungodly teachings and practices of the Levite "establishment" created by Ezra and Nehemiah following the Babylonian exile. It was that Levite "establishment" that re-established the ungodly ideological assumptions that led to the destruction of Jerusalem again in 70 A.D. (for essentially the same reasons that Jerusalem was destroyed the first time). Centuries later, those assumptions (especially Ezra's Jews-only restriction on their definition of "neighbor") significantly contributed to creating the hatreds that led to Hitler's holocaust of the Jews in Europe. As Jesus said, you will "know them (Ezra, and others) by their fruits." The authors of this part of Ezekiel are probably one or more of those mentioned in Ezra 10:15. Their point was that that although their teachings were being suppressed by Ezra's "establishment" at that time, the true sheep of God would ultimately prevail, because they were the ones who were truly following God's Holy Spirit.]
"I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land; and they will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing. Then the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase. They shall be safe in their land; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke and delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them. And they shall no longer be a prey for the nations, nor shall beasts of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and no one shall make them afraid. I will raise up for them a garden of renown, and they shall no longer be consumed with hunger in the land, nor bear the shame of the Gentiles anymore. Thus they shall know that I, the LORD their God, am with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are My people," says the Lord GOD.'" You are My flock, the flock of My pasture; you are men, and I am your God," says the Lord GOD.'"
[3-hvn. This is clearly an "end times" prophesy which as yet to be fulfilled, although some may argue that the establishment of the present state of Israel may have fulfilled it. The residents of present-day Israel can hardly be considered "safe in their land."]
Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, set your face against Mount Seir and prophesy against it, and say to it, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, O Mount Seir, I am against you; I will stretch out My hand against you, and make you most desolate; I shall lay your cities waste, and you shall be desolate. Then you shall know that I am the LORD. Because you have had an ancient hatred, and have shed the blood of the children of Israel by the power of the sword at the time of their calamity, when their iniquity came to an end, therefore, as I live," says the Lord GOD, "I will prepare you for blood, and blood shall pursue you; since you have not hated blood, therefore blood shall pursue you. Thus I will make Mount Seir most desolate, and cut off from it the one who leaves and the one who returns. And I will fill its mountains with the slain; on your hills and in your valleys and in all your ravines those who are slain by the sword shall fall. I will make you perpetually desolate, and your cities shall be uninhabited; then you shall know that I am the LORD. Because you have said, 'These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will possess them,' although the LORD was there, therefore, as I live," says the Lord GOD, "I will do according to your anger and according to the envy which you showed in your hatred against them; and I will make Myself known among them when I judge you. Then you shall know that I am the LORD. I have heard all your blasphemies which you have spoken against the mountains of Israel, saying, 'They are desolate; they are given to us to consume.' Thus with your mouth you have boasted against Me and multiplied your words against Me; I have heard them." Thus says the Lord GOD: "The whole earth will rejoice when I make you desolate. As you rejoiced because the inheritance of the house of Israel was desolate, so I will do to you; you shall be desolate, O Mount Seir, as well as all of Edom--all of it! Then they shall know that I am the LORD."'
[2-hvn. Mount Seir refers to the Edomites (descendants of Esau) who understandably hated the Judeans for a very long time after King David's genocidal attempt to slaughter every male his army could find throughout all of Edom (1 Kings 11-12). After the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem and devastated most of Judea, the descendants of those Edomites began to move in to take over what had been Judean territory. According to Ezekiel, God was quite angry at the Edomites for doing that. Indeed, about 5 years later, the Babylonian army returned and devastated most of Edom, so it appears that Ezekiel's prophecy was pretty much fulfilled in this case. However, at no time during these centuries did Judea or its neighboring countries become literally as desolate as Ezekiel had predicted. So one might say that although he proved to be essentially correct in most of his prophecies, he did tend to exaggerate a bit. Nevertheless, one can't help but admire the inherent poetry and sense of godly justice expressed in such comments as, "since you have not hated blood, therefore blood shall pursue you."]
"And you, son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel, and say, 'O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD: "Because the enemy has said of you, 'Aha! The ancient heights have become our possession,' therefore prophesy, and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Because they made you desolate and swallowed you up on every side, so that you became the possession of the rest of the nations, and you are taken up by the lips of talkers and slandered by the people"--therefore, O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD! Thus says the Lord GOD to the mountains, the hills, the rivers, the valleys, the desolate wastes, and the cities that have been forsaken, which became plunder and mockery to the rest of the nations all around--therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Surely I have spoken in My burning jealousy against the rest of the nations and against all Edom, who gave My land to themselves as a possession, with whole-hearted joy and spiteful minds, in order to plunder its open country."' Therefore prophesy concerning the land of Israel, and say to the mountains, the hills, the rivers, and the valleys, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I have spoken in My jealousy and My fury, because you have borne the shame of the nations."
[2-hvn. This is a continuation of the same theme as in Chapter 35, but it is addressed to Judea's neighbors as well.]
Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "I have raised My hand in an oath that surely the nations that are around you shall bear their own shame. But you, O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to My people Israel, for they are about to come. For indeed I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you shall be tilled and sown. I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, all of it; and the cities shall be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bear young; I will make you inhabited as in former times, and do better for you than at your beginnings. Then you shall know that I am the LORD. Yes, I will cause men to walk on you, My people Israel; they shall take possession of you, and you shall be their inheritance; no more shall you bereave them of their children." Thus says the Lord GOD: "Because they say to you, 'You devour men and bereave your nation of children,' therefore you shall devour men no more, nor bereave your nation anymore," says the Lord GOD. Nor will I let you hear the taunts of the nations anymore, nor bear the reproach of the peoples anymore, nor shall you cause your nation to stumble anymore," says the Lord GOD.'"
[3-hvn. As in chapter 6, the expression "prophesy to the mountains" shows that the author had an allegorical interpretation in mind when he wrote this prophesy. He's not just talking about mountains, hills, rivers, and valleys. He's talking about a revised Hebrew religion as a foundation for their future prosperity.
Historically, the traditional Hebrew religion as taught by the Levites actually did have a tendency tend to "devour men and bereave their nation of children" (as pointed out in many of the earlier articles on www.onesalt.com). At one point, the Levite's teachings got so badly out of control that they had to establish "cities of refuge" where their countrymen could flee for their lives from alleged violations of the so-called "Laws of Moses." And, if you compare the totals from the census taken by Moses-2 and the census taken centuries later by Kind David, one can see that the modest increase in Israel's population fell FAR short of what would one would expect from a nation whose religion endorsed polygamy and whose religious leaders encouraged the production of as many children as possible!]
Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying: "Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own ways and deeds; to Me their way was like the uncleanness of a woman in her customary impurity. Therefore I poured out My fury on them for the blood they had shed on the land, and for their idols with which they had defiled it. So I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed throughout the countries; I judged them according to their ways and their deeds. When they came to the nations, wherever they went, they profaned My holy name--when they said of them, 'These are the people of the LORD, and yet they have gone out of His land.' But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations wherever they went. Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name's sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD," says the Lord GOD, "when I am hallowed in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. I will call for the grain and multiply it, and bring no famine upon you. And I will multiply the fruit of your trees and the increase of your fields, so that you need never again bear the reproach of famine among the nations. Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good; and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities and your abominations. Not for your sake do I do this," says the Lord GOD, "let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel!"
[3-hvn. When God said, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh", He was in effect promising them a "new covenant" based on love rather than rules written in stone. According to this author, God wasn't going to do this for their sake, but rather to save His own reputation, which the Judeans had so badly damaged. By making His intentions and loving Spirit more clearly understood, He would be helping far more people than just the Judeans who returned from exile.]
Thus says the Lord GOD: "On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will also enable you to dwell in the cities, and the ruins shall be rebuilt. The desolate land shall be tilled instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass by. So they will say, 'This land that was desolate has become like the Garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.' Then the nations which are left all around you shall know that I, the LORD, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted what was desolate. I, the LORD, have spoken it, and I will do it." Thus says the Lord GOD: "I will also let the house of Israel inquire of Me to do this for them: I will increase their men like a flock. Like a flock offered as holy sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem on its feast days, so shall the ruined cities be filled with flocks of men. Then they shall know that I am the LORD."'"
[3-hvn. Notice that the author portrays God Himself as using the Levite's allegorical view that their congregations were like flocks of sheep. Jesus used this allegory as well in his parables and in Luke 12:32. But notice that, unlike the Levites, in Jesus' teachings the "Shepherd" is God's Holy Spirit, NOT mortal earthly religious leaders. As you can see above, the author of this portion of Ezekiel was making that very same point.]
The hand of the LORD came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" So I answered, "O Lord GOD, You know." Again He said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 'Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: "Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the LORD."'" So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them. Then He said to me, "Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live."'" So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.
[3-hvn. Even Jack Van Impe, who boldly claims that he interprets the scriptures "literally", nevertheless recognizes that this is an allegorical vision, but he interprets it as applying to the present-day nation state of Israel. However, the details show that it's more likely that the author of this chapter was thinking in terms of the return of the exiles from Babylon and Assyria.]
Then He said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, 'Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!' Therefore prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it," says the LORD.'"
[3-hvn. It seems clear to me that this was intended to be interpreted allegorically to mean that their descendants would come out of the darkness ("graves"), recognize, and then follow the light of God's guiding principles of truth and love. But many so-called "Christian" preachers cite this portion of Ezekiel as being a literal promise by God to create a supernatural resurrection of believers who have been long dead and buried. According to the authors of the New Testament, Jesus resurrected Lazarus from a tomb and was himself resurrected after three days. Perhaps this portion of Ezekiel was where the whole idea of supernatural resurrections originated. On the other hand, Jesus may have had an allegorical interpretation of these verses in mind when he likened the scribes and Pharisees to "whitewashed tombs" in Matthew 23:27.]
Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, As for you, son of man, take a stick for yourself and write on it: 'For Judah and for the children of Israel, his companions.' Then take another stick and write on it, 'For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel, his companions.' Then join them one to another for yourself into one stick, and they will become one in your hand. And when the children of your people speak to you, saying, 'Will you not show us what you mean by these?'--say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Surely I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will join them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand."' And the sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes. Then say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again. They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. Then they shall be My people, and I will be their God. David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children's children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people. The nations also will know that I, the LORD, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore."'"
[3-hvn. The binding of the two sticks clearly shows that the author was thinking in terms of reuniting the exiles from Assyria and Babylon rather than the present-day nation state of Israel. The prophesy "My servant David shall be their prince forever" clearly refers to a descendant of Kind David (like Jesus), but it's also clear that such a prince would have to rule in spirit in order be a "prince forever." Jesus fit that description, and his Spirit (the Holy Spirit) really has ruled those who have seriously sought to follow God's two most fundamental commandments. Notice that according to this author, God specifically mentions the He will make a new covenant with his followers, a covenant of peace that will be everlasting. That's essentially what Jesus taught as well. The final point that the "nations also will know that I, the LORD, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore" clearly hasn't happened yet. That's referring to the event commonly referred to as "The Second Coming of Christ" which will encompass ALL nations, not just the nation state of Israel.]
Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all splendidly clothed, a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords. Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer and all its troops; the house of Togarmah from the far north and all its troops--many people are with you. Prepare yourself and be ready, you and all your companies that are gathered about you; and be a guard for them. After many days you will be visited. In the latter years you will come into the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate; they were brought out of the nations, and now all of them dwell safely. You will ascend, coming like a storm, covering the land like a cloud, you and all your troops and many peoples with you."
[3-hvn. Jack Van Impe and many other religious leaders who dubiously claim to interpret the scriptures "literally" often claim that Rosh refers to Russia and that this prophesy refers to an event which is about to occur in the Middle East within the next decade or so. They claim that the Russians will ally themselves with various Muslim nations (Magog, etc.) and launch a military ground attack in an attempt to destroy the present nation-state of Israel, but that they will be wiped out in something resembling a nuclear holocaust. However, Meshech and Tubal are mentioned in Ezekiel 27:13 and Ezekiel 32:26, so it's far more likely that the author(s) of this portion of Ezekiel were thinking no further ahead than the century or so following the return of the Jews from their Babylonian exile. Notice that horsemen, shields, and swords are specifically mentioned in this prophesy. These are not the kind of armaments a 21st century army would employ. Perhaps this was a written to serve as a warning to the northern countries in general (possibly including the Scythians) not to attempt to attack the fledgling new Israel as it attempt to re-establish itself in Judea.
Gog and Magog are referred to in Revelation 20:8, but if taken "literally", they appear in that verse to represent the names of two leading generals in the army that Satan will raise when he is released for a while after Christ has ruled (in Spirit, at least) for a thousand years. Since a "thousand year reign of Christ" hasn't happened yet, a literal battle involving Gog and Magog won't occur for at least another thousand years, so Jack Van Impe, Hal Lindsay, et al have been "blowing smoke" in that regard.
However, if taken allegorically, Gog and Magog can be interpreted as representing a king (or head of state) and his country; together they can be interpreted as representing the concept known in this age as "national sovereignty." They can also be viewed as representing two highly popular concepts OTHER than God's two most fundamental commandments. If that's the case, then the concept of national sovereignty (king and country) can be viewed as the most powerful of the evil agents (or spirits) of Satan that end up being defeated by Christ's Spirit before AND after Christ's thousand year reign. When viewed this way, rather than a physical battle, Ezekiel 38 and 39 can be viewed as a Kingdom of God ("New Jerusalem") vs. national sovereignty spiritual battle or ideological showdown. Unfortunately for mankind, in spite of these prophesies, it may require an incident like a literal nuclear war in order to convince the world's surviving religious leaders to decide to start taking God's two most fundamental commandments SERIOUSLY and actually wage that spiritual battle. As the "peace talks" in the Middle East continue to falter, such an incident could happen any time now.]
Thus says the Lord GOD: "On that day it shall come to pass that thoughts will arise in your mind, and you will make an evil plan: You will say, 'I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates'--to take plunder and to take booty, to stretch out your hand against the waste places that are again inhabited, and against a people gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell in the midst of the land. Sheba, Dedan, the merchants of Tarshish, and all their young lions will say to you, 'Have you come to take plunder? Have you gathered your army to take booty, to carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to take great plunder?'"' Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "On that day when My people Israel dwell safely, will you not know it? Then you will come from your place out of the far north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great company and a mighty army. You will come up against My people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land. It will be in the latter days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me, when I am hallowed in you, O Gog, before their eyes."
[2-hvn. So evidently, the original author(s) of these two chapters viewed the "latter days" as being only a century or two in the future. Perhaps they were concerned that those who returned from exile to Judea would be highly vulnerable for a while (having "unwalled villages", etc.). ]
Thus says the Lord GOD: "Are you he of whom I have spoken in former days by My servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied for years in those days that I would bring you against them? And it will come to pass at the same time, when Gog comes against the land of Israel," says the Lord GOD, "that My fury will show in My face. For in My jealousy and in the fire of My wrath I have spoken: 'Surely in that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel, so that the fish of the sea, the birds of the heavens, the beasts of the field, all creeping things that creep on the earth, and all men who are on the face of the earth shall shake at My presence. The mountains shall be thrown down, the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.' I will call for a sword against Gog throughout all My mountains," says the Lord GOD. "Every man's sword will be against his brother. And I will bring him to judgment with pestilence and bloodshed; I will rain down on him, on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. Thus I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will be known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the LORD."'
[3-hvn. Here the author(s) employ the allegorical scheme from Genesis where the "earth" represents mankind's perceptions of popular truths, etc. Because of the timelessness of that allegorical scheme, much of this part of the prophecy can also be applied to the upcoming spiritual showdown commonly referred to as "The Second Coming of Christ." "Every man's sword will be against his brother" could be referring to the way our present "national sovereignty system" inspires people who are genetically related to fight and kill one another.]
And you, son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal; and I will turn you around and lead you on, bringing you up from the far north, and bring you against the mountains of Israel. Then I will knock the bow out of your left hand, and cause the arrows to fall out of your right hand. You shall fall upon the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops and the peoples who are with you; I will give you to birds of prey of every sort and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. You shall fall on the open field; for I have spoken," says the Lord GOD. And I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in security in the coastlands. Then they shall know that I am the LORD. So I will make My holy name known in the midst of My people Israel, and I will not let them profane My holy name anymore. Then the nations shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.
[3-hvn. Again, it appears that the author(s) believed an event something like the spiritual showdown referred to as the "The Second Coming of Christ" would occur within a century or so after the Jews returned from exile to Judea. Centuries later, Jesus' disciples (and some may argue that Jesus himself) apparently believed it would occur within their lifetimes following Jesus' crucifixion. But it's only been since the invention and widespread use of television that such an event has become technically feasible. The invention of nuclear weapons has made a literal interpretation of some of these prophecies technically feasible as well.]
"Surely it is coming, and it shall be done," says the Lord GOD. "This is the day of which I have spoken.
Then those who dwell in the cities of Israel will go out and set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and bucklers, the bows and arrows, the javelins and spears; and they will make fires with them for seven years. They will not take wood from the field nor cut down any from the forests, because they will make fires with the weapons; and they will plunder those who plundered them, and pillage those who pillaged them," says the Lord GOD. It will come to pass in that day that I will give Gog a burial place there in Israel, the valley of those who pass by east of the sea; and it will obstruct travelers, because there they will bury Gog and all his multitude. Therefore they will call it the Valley of Hamon Gog. For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them, in order to cleanse the land. Indeed all the people of the land will be burying them, and they will gain renown for it on the day that I am glorified," says the Lord GOD. They will set apart men regularly employed, with the help of a search party, to pass through the land and bury those bodies remaining on the ground, in order to cleanse it. At the end of seven months they will make a search. The search party will pass through the land; and whenever anyone sees a man's bone, he shall set up a marker by it, till the buriers have buried it in the Valley of Hamon Gog. The name of the city will also be Hamonah. Thus they shall cleanse the land."'
[1-hvn. If taken literally, this clearly hasn't happened yet.]
[2-hvn. In some ways, burning up the weapons of war has already begun with the agreed-upon destruction of some Russian and US chemical, nuclear, and biological weapons.]
[3-hvn. As for the burying of Gog and his multitudes in an Israeli valley over a seven-month period, this can be allegorically interpreted as the "burying" or depopularizing of ungodly "spirits" (concepts) in the "earth" (valley) of mankind's perceptions of popular truths (once mankind learns about and accepts the wisdom and supremacy of God's guiding principles of truth and love).]
"And as for you, son of man, thus says the Lord GOD, 'Speak to every sort of bird and to every beast of the field: "Assemble yourselves and come; gather together from all sides to My sacrificial meal which I am sacrificing for you, a great sacrificial meal on the mountains of Israel, that you may eat flesh and drink blood. [The Last Supper?] You shall eat the flesh of the mighty, drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams and lambs, of goats and bulls, all of them fatlings of Bashan. You shall eat fat till you are full, and drink blood till you are drunk, at My sacrificial meal which I am sacrificing for you. You shall be filled at My table with horses and riders, with mighty men and with all the men of war," says the Lord GOD. I will set My glory among the nations; all the nations shall see My judgment which I have executed, and My hand which I have laid on them. So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day forward. The Gentiles shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity; because they were unfaithful to Me, therefore I hid My face from them. I gave them into the hand of their enemies, and they all fell by the sword. According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions I have dealt with them, and hidden My face from them."'
[3-hvn. This also appears to be referring to the century or so following the return of the Jews from exile. If taken literally, the statement attributed to God that "You shall eat the flesh of the mighty, drink the blood of the princes of the earth" would be shocking to the Jews and quite contrary to the teachings of the Levites. So it's clear that the authors intended these passages to be interpreted allegorically, as were Jesus' teachings regarding "flesh" and "blood" during his last supper. In many parts of the Bible, "flesh" or "meat" are allegorically used to represent godly teachings from others regarding specific issues, and "water" or "blood" are allegorically used to represent God's love (or more precisely, the perceptions of God's love and its possible applications that one gets while following God's Holy Spirit). So the intended allegorical interpretation of the above paragraph is surprisingly the OPPOSITE of the literal (1-hvn) interpretation. What the authors above are saying allegorically is that in the future the true Israelites would learn to understand and LOVE their enemies, mighty though they may be, just as Jesus taught centuries later. The authors mentioned in Ezra 10:15 probably "had a hand in writing this." Are you skeptical about that? Don't feel lonely, English translations of the scriptures have traditionally been slanted or twisted to accommodate the worship of "national sovereignty" (i.e. to permit the idolatrous worship of national flags to be successfully portrayed as being "holy"). The NIV translation of Ezekiel 39:17-24 is a bit more accurate in this regard:
"Son of man, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Call out to every kind of bird and all the wild animals: 'Assemble and come together from all around to the sacrifice I am preparing for you, the great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel. There you will eat flesh and drink blood. You will eat the flesh of mighty men and drink the blood of the princes of the earth as if they were rams and lambs, goats and bulls--all of them fattened animals from Bashan. At the sacrifice I am preparing for you, you will eat fat till you are glutted and drink blood till you are drunk. At my table you will eat your fill of horses and riders, mighty men and soldiers of every kind,' declares the Sovereign LORD. "I will display my glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the punishment I inflict and the hand I lay upon them. From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the LORD their God. And the nations will know that the people of Israel went into exile for their sin, because they were unfaithful to me. So I hid my face from them and handed them over to their enemies, and they all fell by the sword. I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their offenses, and I hid my face from them."
Anyhow, this is how Jesus evidently interpreted this portion of Ezekiel based on the Aramaic texts that were available to him. He used the same (literally shocking) allegorical scheme in the teachings regarding his "flesh" and "blood" during his last supper.]
"Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'Now I will bring back the captives of Jacob, and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name--after they have borne their shame, and all their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, when they dwelt safely in their own land and no one made them afraid. When I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them out of their enemies' lands, and I am hallowed in them in the sight of many nations, then they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their own land, and left none of them captive any longer. And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,' says the Lord GOD."
[3-hvn. Well, this reflects the hope, at least, of the author(s) of this part of Ezekiel. It didn't actually turn out that way, largely due to the efforts of Ezra to reinstitute some of the most serious mistakes made by the Levites.]
[2-hvn. For reasons that will be pointed out as we proceed, it appears that only about two thirds to three quarters of the remaining nine chapters of Ezekiel were actually written by Ezekiel. Many portions of the chapters which follow appear to have been written by Ezra, and there are a few places where the "redactors" (probably those described in Ezra 10:15) added a some points of their own. The author of St. John's Revelation 11:1-2 (who was probably reflecting his first-hand knowledge of the teachings of Jesus) actually ridicules the vision of God's Temple presented in these chapters of Ezekiel as being far too limited in size, scope, and especially in its definition of "neighbor". In the final chapters of Revelation, he predicts that this vision will be replaced with a spiritual "Kingdom of God" or "New Jerusalem" that will encompass the entire earth; God would no longer be viewed as "residing" in a temple.]
In the twenty-fifth year of our captivity, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was captured, on the very same day the hand of the LORD was upon me; and He took me there. In the visions of God He took me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain; on it toward the south was something like the structure of a city. He took me there, and behold, there was a man whose appearance was like the appearance of bronze. He had a line of flax and a measuring rod in his hand, and he stood in the gateway. And the man said to me, "Son of man, look with your eyes and hear with your ears, and fix your mind on everything I show you; for you were brought here so that I might show them to you. Declare to the house of Israel everything you see."
[3-hvn. Like the authors of this part of Ezekiel, the authors of St. John's Book of Revelation likewise adopted the convention of being shown around "the heavens" by an angelic tour guide. Some commentators surmise that this tour guide was actually Jesus Christ, but in St. John's Book of Revelation, the tour guide makes it clear that one should worship God, not the tour guide.]
Now there was a wall all around the outside of the temple. In the man's hand was a measuring rod six cubits long, each being a cubit and a handbreadth; and he measured the width of the wall structure, one rod; and the height, one rod. Then he went to the gateway which faced east; and he went up its stairs and measured the threshold of the gateway, which was one rod wide, and the other threshold was one rod wide. Each gate chamber was one rod long and one rod wide; between the gate chambers was a space of five cubits; and the threshold of the gateway by the vestibule of the inside gate was one rod. He also measured the vestibule of the inside gate, one rod. Then he measured the vestibule of the gateway, eight cubits; and the gateposts, two cubits. The vestibule of the gate was on the inside. In the eastern gateway were three gate chambers on one side and three on the other; the three were all the same size; also the gateposts were of the same size on this side and that side. He measured the width of the entrance to the gateway, ten cubits; and the length of the gate, thirteen cubits. There was a space in front of the gate chambers, one cubit on this side and one cubit on that side; the gate chambers were six cubits on this side and six cubits on that side. Then he measured the gateway from the roof of one gate chamber to the roof of the other; the width was twenty-five cubits, as door faces door. He measured the gateposts, sixty cubits high, and the court all around the gateway extended to the gatepost. From the front of the entrance gate to the front of the vestibule of the inner gate was fifty cubits. There were beveled window frames in the gate chambers and in their intervening archways on the inside of the gateway all around, and likewise in the vestibules. There were windows all around on the inside. And on each gatepost were palm trees. Then he brought me into the outer court; and there were chambers and a pavement made all around the court; thirty chambers faced the pavement. The pavement was by the side of the gateways, corresponding to the length of the gateways; this was the lower pavement. Then he measured the width from the front of the lower gateway to the front of the inner court exterior, one hundred cubits toward the east and the north. On the outer court was also a gateway facing north, and he measured its length and its width. Its gate chambers, three on this side and three on that side, its gateposts and its archways, had the same measurements as the first gate; its length was fifty cubits and its width twenty-five cubits. Its windows and those of its archways, and also its palm trees, had the same measurements as the gateway facing east; it was ascended by seven steps, and its archway was in front of it. A gate of the inner court was opposite the northern gateway, just as the eastern gateway; and he measured from gateway to gateway, one hundred cubits. After that he brought me toward the south, and there a gateway was facing south; and he measured its gateposts and archways according to these same measurements. There were windows in it and in its archways all around like those windows; its length was fifty cubits and its width twenty-five cubits. Seven steps led up to it, and its archway was in front of them; and it had palm trees on its gateposts, one on this side and one on that side. There was also a gateway on the inner court, facing south; and he measured from gateway to gateway toward the south, one hundred cubits. Then he brought me to the inner court through the southern gateway; he measured the southern gateway according to these same measurements. Also its gate chambers, its gateposts, and its archways were according to these same measurements; there were windows in it and in its archways all around; it was fifty cubits long and twenty-five cubits wide. There were archways all around, twenty-five cubits long and five cubits wide. Its archways faced the outer court, palm trees were on its gateposts, and going up to it were eight steps. Then he brought me into the inner court facing east; he measured the gateway according to these same measurements. Also its gate chambers, its gateposts, and its archways were according to these same measurements; and there were windows in it and in its archways all around; it was fifty cubits long and twenty-five cubits wide. Its archways faced the outer court, and palm trees were on its gateposts on this side and on that side; and going up to it were eight steps. Then he brought me to the north gateway and measured it according to these same measurements--also its gate chambers, its gateposts, and its archways. It had windows all around; its length was fifty cubits and its width twenty-five cubits. Its gateposts faced the outer court, palm trees were on its gateposts on this side and on that side, and going up to it were eight steps. There was a chamber and its entrance by the gateposts of the gateway, where they washed the burnt offering. In the vestibule of the gateway were two tables on this side and two tables on that side, on which to slay the burnt offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering. At the outer side of the vestibule, as one goes up to the entrance of the northern gateway, were two tables; and on the other side of the vestibule of the gateway were two tables. Four tables were on this side and four tables on that side, by the side of the gateway, eight tables on which they slaughtered the sacrifices. There were also four tables of hewn stone for the burnt offering, one cubit and a half long, one cubit and a half wide, and one cubit high; on these they laid the instruments with which they slaughtered the burnt offering and the sacrifice. Inside were hooks, a handbreadth wide, fastened all around; and the flesh of the sacrifices was on the tables. Outside the inner gate were the chambers for the singers in the inner court, one facing south at the side of the northern gateway, and the other facing north at the side of the southern gateway.
[2-hnv. Apparently, Ezekiel was attempting to document his recollections of the precise features and dimensions of King Solomon's Temple, so that the exiles who returned to Judea later on could use his writings as a "blueprint" for rebuilding a temple just like it. In many cases, the dimensions he cites are the same as those cited in 1st Kings and 2nd Chronicles, but in some cases they are larger. Numerous people have attempted to build a model of King Solomon's Temple as described in 1st Kings, 2nd Chronicles and Ezekiel, but they have encountered problems with the consistency and completeness of the measurements, so the models they create vary considerably in appearance even though they conform for the most part with the published dimensions.]
Then he said to me, "This chamber which faces south is for the priests who have charge of the temple. The chamber which faces north is for the priests who have charge of the altar; these are the sons of Zadok, from the sons of Levi, who come near the LORD to minister to Him." And he measured the court, one hundred cubits long and one hundred cubits wide, foursquare. The altar was in front of the temple. Then he brought me to the vestibule of the temple and measured the doorposts of the vestibule, five cubits on this side and five cubits on that side; and the width of the gateway was three cubits on this side and three cubits on that side. The length of the vestibule was twenty cubits, and the width eleven cubits; and by the steps which led up to it there were pillars by the doorposts, one on this side and another on that side.
[2-hvn. The references to the "sons of Zadok" were probably added by Ezra in order to justify the privileged positions and responsibilities he and his relatives had assumed for themselves. In Chapter 48, his additions to the text go so far as to claim that throughout the era of King Solomon's Temple, the sons of Zadok "didn't stray from the Lord"; it was those "other Levites" who strayed. However, the earlier chapters of Ezekiel (as well as the writings of Isaiah and Jeremiah) clearly show such claims to be a highly "whitewashed" assessment of their performance.]
Then he brought me into the sanctuary and measured the doorposts, six cubits wide on one side and six cubits wide on the other side--the width of the tabernacle. The width of the entryway was ten cubits, and the side walls of the entrance were five cubits on this side and five cubits on the other side; and he measured its length, forty cubits, and its width, twenty cubits. Also he went inside and measured the doorposts, two cubits; and the entrance, six cubits high; and the width of the entrance, seven cubits. He measured the length, twenty cubits; and the width, twenty cubits, beyond the sanctuary; and he said to me, "This is the Most Holy Place."
[2-hvn. "This is the Most Holy Place." Would Jesus make a statement like that?]
Next, he measured the wall of the temple, six cubits. The width of each side chamber all around the temple was four cubits on every side. The side chambers were in three stories, one above the other, thirty chambers in each story; they rested on ledges which were for the side chambers all around, that they might be supported, but not fastened to the wall of the temple. As one went up from story to story, the side chambers became wider all around, because their supporting ledges in the wall of the temple ascended like steps; therefore the width of the structure increased as one went up from the lowest story to the highest by way of the middle one. I also saw an elevation all around the temple; it was the foundation of the side chambers, a full rod, that is, six cubits high. The thickness of the outer wall of the side chambers was five cubits, and so also the remaining terrace by the place of the side chambers of the temple. And between it and the wall chambers was a width of twenty cubits all around the temple on every side. The doors of the side chambers opened on the terrace, one door toward the north and another toward the south; and the width of the terrace was five cubits all around. The building that fronted the separating courtyard at its western end was seventy cubits wide; the wall of the building was five cubits thick all around, and its length ninety cubits. So he measured the temple, one hundred cubits long; and the separating courtyard with the building and its walls was one hundred cubits long; also the width of the eastern face of the temple, including the separating courtyard, was one hundred cubits. He measured the length of the building behind it, facing the separating courtyard, with its galleries on the one side and on the other side, one hundred cubits, as well as the inner temple and the porches of the court, their doorposts and the beveled window frames. And the galleries all around their three stories opposite the threshold were paneled with wood from the ground to the windows--the windows were covered--from the space above the door, even to the inner room, as well as outside, and on every wall all around, inside and outside, by measure. And it was made with cherubim and palm trees, a palm tree between cherub and cherub. Each cherub had two faces, so that the face of a man was toward a palm tree on one side, and the face of a young lion toward a palm tree on the other side; thus it was made throughout the temple all around. From the floor to the space above the door, and on the wall of the sanctuary, cherubim and palm trees were carved. The doorposts of the temple were square, and so also the front of the sanctuary; the appearance of the one was like the appearance of the other. The altar was of wood, three cubits high, and its length two cubits. Its corners, its length, and its sides were of wood; and he said to me, "This is the table that is before the LORD."
[3-hvn. It's details like his description of the cherubs, which indicate Ezekiel was describing King Solomon's temple rather than some idealized new "perfect" temple. Allegorically, the authors of the Bible often used a lion to symbolize the tribe of Judah (starting in Genesis 49:9).]
The temple and the sanctuary had two doors. The doors had two panels apiece, two folding panels: two panels for one door and two panels for the other door. Cherubim and palm trees were carved on the doors of the temple just as they were carved on the walls. A wooden canopy was on the front of the vestibule outside. There were beveled window frames and palm trees on one side and on the other, on the sides of the vestibule--also on the side chambers of the temple and on the canopies.
[3-hvn. Carvings of palm trees were commonly featured in temples of that period. Palms leaves were often viewed as being symbols of victory or victorious adoration, as when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey that symbolized King David's donkey. That ride, by the way, harkened back to day when the half-Hittite Solomon assumed the position of King of Israel.]
Then he brought me out into the outer court, by the way toward the north; and he brought me into the chamber which was opposite the separating courtyard, and which was opposite the building toward the north. Facing the length, which was one hundred cubits (the width was fifty cubits), was the north door. Opposite the inner court of twenty cubits, and opposite the pavement of the outer court, was gallery against gallery in three stories. In front of the chambers, toward the inside, was a walk ten cubits wide, at a distance of one cubit; and their doors faced north. Now the upper chambers were shorter, because the galleries took away space from them more than from the lower and middle stories of the building. For they were in three stories and did not have pillars like the pillars of the courts; therefore the upper level was shortened more than the lower and middle levels from the ground up. And a wall which was outside ran parallel to the chambers, at the front of the chambers, toward the outer court; its length was fifty cubits. The length of the chambers toward the outer court was fifty cubits, whereas that facing the temple was one hundred cubits. At the lower chambers was the entrance on the east side, as one goes into them from the outer court. There were also chambers in the thickness of the wall of the court toward the east, opposite the separating courtyard and opposite the building. There was a walk in front of them also, and their appearance was like the chambers which were toward the north; they were as long and as wide as the others, and all their exits and entrances were according to plan. And corresponding to the doors of the chambers that were facing south, as one enters them, there was a door in front of the walk, the way directly in front of the wall toward the east. Then he said to me, "The north chambers and the south chambers, which are opposite the separating courtyard, are the holy chambers where the priests who approach the LORD shall eat the most holy offerings. There they shall lay the most holy offerings--the grain offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering--for the place is holy. When the priests enter them, they shall not go out of the holy chamber into the outer court; but there they shall leave their garments in which they minister, for they are holy. They shall put on other garments; then they may approach that which is for the people."
[2-hvn. So it appears that the layout in King Solomon's Temple was in some ways similar to a present day three-level shopping mall. Some of the "chambers" were apparently used a living quarters for the Levites who administered the temple activities. According to Isaiah, Jeremiah and the earlier chapters of Ezekiel, other chambers were eventually used as "mini-houses-of-worship" for the followers of various idol-worshipping religions. At times, some of those chambers were even used as facilities for male and female religious prostitutes, or as one might say today, "Anything to make a buck!" All these kinds of "abominations" occurred under the religious administration of the "sons of Zadok" who was a descendant of Aaron, the guy who fashioned the golden calf for the "children of Israel" to worship at Mount Sinai. Can one recognize a recurring pattern here?]
[3-hvn. The idea that the priests should wear one set of (white) garments inside the sanctuary and change them before leaving the sanctuary is interesting. To some extent, this is still being practiced today, even in some Protestant denominations. Why would God want them to "change their appearance" before "meeting the people"? This teaching, which was probably inserted later on by Ezra, contrasts sharply with the teachings of Jesus that are reflected in Revelation 7:9-14 (NKJ):
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen." Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?" And I said to him, "Sir, you know." So he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."]
Now when he had finished measuring the inner temple, he brought me out through the gateway that faces toward the east, and measured it all around. He measured the east side with the measuring rod, five hundred rods by the measuring rod all around. He measured the north side, five hundred rods by the measuring rod all around. He measured the south side, five hundred rods by the measuring rod. He came around to the west side and measured five hundred rods by the measuring rod. He measured it on the four sides; it had a wall all around, five hundred cubits long and five hundred wide, to separate the holy areas from the common.
[2-hvn. The fact that that platform upon which King Solomon's Temple rested was 500 rods square is one of the few biblically recorded dimensions regarding that temple that virtually all biblical scholars seem to agree was true.]
Afterward he brought me to the gate, the gate that faces toward the east. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east. His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory. It was like the appearance of the vision which I saw--like the vision which I saw when I came to destroy the city. The visions were like the vision which I saw by the River Chebar; and I fell on my face. And the glory of the LORD came into the temple by way of the gate which faces toward the east. The Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple. Then I heard Him speaking to me from the temple, while a man stood beside me. And He said to me, "Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever. No more shall the house of Israel defile My holy name, they nor their kings, by their harlotry or with the carcasses of their kings on their high places.
[2-hvn. This paragraph and the paragraph following to the two sentences below are apparently the only parts of this chapter that where written by Ezekiel himself, because they reflect the way in which Ezekiel typically viewed the Lord.]
[3-hvn. Once again, God is portrayed as coming "from the east" (like the light of the rising sun).]
When they set their threshold by My threshold, and their doorpost by My doorpost, with a wall between them and Me, they defiled My holy name by the abominations which they committed; therefore I have consumed them in My anger. Now let them put their harlotry and the carcasses of their kings far away from Me, and I will dwell in their midst forever."
[3-hvn. These two sentences, which appear to have been inserted later (probably by one of those mentioned in Ezra 10:15), may have had a profound influence on the teachings of Jesus Christ. What they are saying allegorically is that the "house of Israel" had defiled God's holy name by creating legalistic "thresholds" (standards) and "doorposts" (criteria) for salvation beside God's standards of truth and criterion of love, and that they had thereby in effect created an ideological "wall" between God's guidance and their (less-than-godly) guidance. That was one of the main reasons that God allowed ancient Israel to be destroyed. Luke 11:44-52 (NKJ) records how Jesus recognized that the Judean religious leaders, scribes, and lawyers of his day were doing the very same thing:
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like graves which are not seen, and the men who walk over them are not aware of them." Then one of the lawyers answered and said to Him, "Teacher, by saying these things You reproach us also." And He said, "Woe to you also, lawyers! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. In fact, you bear witness that you approve the deeds of your fathers; for they indeed killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore the wisdom of God also said, 'I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute, that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple.' Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge (God's two most fundamental commandments). You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered."
In other words, their man-made legalistic rules had created an ideological "wall" that was distracting people from recognizing and following God's guiding principles of truth and love. Many of the people whom Jesus criticized paid with their lives for that deception when the Romans sacked Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Likewise, in today's world there are many religious leaders (Hal Lindsay and Jack Van Impe, for example) who have successfully based their ministries on promoting what amounts to the same kind of deception. They are not only "apostles of national sovereignty", they are also "antichrists" in the sense that they are falsely claiming to represent Jesus Christ while teaching principles that are the OPPOSITE of what Jesus would teach.]
"Son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and let them measure the pattern. And if they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the temple and its arrangement, its exits and its entrances, its entire design and all its ordinances, all its forms and all its laws. Write it down in their sight, so that they may keep its whole design and all its ordinances, and perform them. This is the law of the temple: The whole area surrounding the mountaintop shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the temple. These are the measurements of the altar in cubits (the cubit is one cubit and a handbreadth): the base one cubit high and one cubit wide, with a rim all around its edge of one span. This is the height of the altar: from the base on the ground to the lower ledge, two cubits; the width of the ledge, one cubit; from the smaller ledge to the larger ledge, four cubits; and the width of the ledge, one cubit. The altar hearth is four cubits high, with four horns extending upward from the hearth. The altar hearth is twelve cubits long, twelve wide, square at its four corners; the ledge, fourteen cubits long and fourteen wide on its four sides, with a rim of half a cubit around it; its base, one cubit all around; and its steps face toward the east."
[2-hvn. This above paragraph appears to have been written by Ezekiel, based on his recollections of King Solomon's Temple. It's doubtful that as a young boy he took to time to actually make such measurements, so these are probably just "guest mates" on his part. Evidently, he felt (or was persuaded by God) that such detailed descriptions of a restored temple would help create a vision of hope and unity for the Judean exiles. It was something for them to look forward to when they were finally set free.]
And He said to me, "Son of man, thus says the Lord GOD: 'These are the ordinances for the altar on the day when it is made, for sacrificing burnt offerings on it, and for sprinkling blood on it. You shall give a young bull for a sin offering to the priests, the Levites, who are of the seed of Zadok, who approach Me to minister to Me,' says the Lord GOD. You shall take some of its blood and put it on the four horns of the altar, on the four corners of the ledge, and on the rim around it; thus you shall cleanse it and make atonement for it. Then you shall also take the bull of the sin offering, and burn it in the appointed place of the temple, outside the sanctuary. On the second day you shall offer a kid of the goats without blemish for a sin offering; and they shall cleanse the altar, as they cleansed it with the bull. When you have finished cleansing it, you shall offer a young bull without blemish, and a ram from the flock without blemish. When you offer them before the LORD, the priests shall throw salt on them, and they will offer them up as a burnt offering to the LORD. Every day for seven days you shall prepare a goat for a sin offering; they shall also prepare a young bull and a ram from the flock, both without blemish. Seven days they shall make atonement for the altar and purify it, and so consecrate it. When these days are over it shall be, on the eighth day and thereafter, that the priests shall offer your burnt offerings and your peace offerings on the altar; and I will accept you,' says the Lord GOD."
[2-hvn. This last paragraph was probably added by Ezra, because it's whole tone is like that of an instruction manual for his fellow priests to follow, and it is designed primarily to serve the interests of the priests. It's doubtful that decades earlier Ezekiel (or his fellow Judeans at that time) would have been concerned about such procedures.]
[3-hvn. The concept that "sprinkling blood" on some thing or person can "cleanse" that thing or person is actually an allegorical concept apparently originated by Moses (Exodus 29) to symbolize how the placing of lamb's blood on their door posts saved the children of Israel from the tenth plague in Egypt. That act, in turn, allegorically represented the incident where Abraham demonstrated his willingness to sacrifice what was most dear to him (his son, Isaac) in order to show his obedience to God (and to His two most fundamental commandments) but changed his plan when God provided a ram to take his son's place. In actuality, it was their willingness to "sacrifice everything" and follow God that ultimately saved the children of Israel from those plagues. Today, we recognize that literally "sprinkling blood" on things and people could create some serious health problems. Even the Levites eventually recognized this when they created a specific set of rules regarding how to deal with dead bodies.]
Then He brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary which faces toward the east, but it was shut. And the LORD said to me, "This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter by it, because the LORD God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut. As for the prince, because he is the prince, he may sit in it to eat bread before the LORD; he shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gateway, and go out the same way."
[2-hvn. So the "prince" (or political leader of the restored Judea) was to be given special privileges--his own private entrance into the temple of God, as if God were really concerned about such aristocratic considerations.]
Also He brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the temple; so I looked, and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD; and I fell on my face. And the LORD said to me, "Son of man, mark well, see with your eyes and hear with your ears, all that I say to you concerning all the ordinances of the house of the LORD and all its laws. Mark well who may enter the house and all who go out from the sanctuary. Now say to the rebellious, to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "O house of Israel, let us have no more of all your abominations. When you brought in foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in My sanctuary to defile it--My house--and when you offered My food, the fat and the blood, then they broke My covenant because of all your abominations. And you have not kept charge of My holy things, but you have set others to keep charge of My sanctuary for you." Thus says the Lord GOD: "No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart or uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter My sanctuary, including any foreigner who is among the children of Israel."
[2-hvn. The reference to the "glory of the Lord filling the house of the Lord" appears to be similar to what happened when King Solomon first dedicated his newly constructed temple to God. But there's a significant difference this time. King Solomon welcomed foreigners to come and worship God in his temple along with the Israelites, but the authors of this part of Ezekiel (probably Ezra) prohibit foreigners from entering the temple and make it (ungodly) clear that they don't like foreigners at all.
It's interesting to note that the "Ark of the Covenant", which was the religious centerpiece of King Solomon's Temple, isn't mentioned at all in Ezekiel. Nor is there any mention in Jeremiah, Ezekiel, or the writings of the Babylonians as to what actually happened to it. Were all of the witness to its destruction killed in the process? Some claim that it was quietly smuggled out of Jerusalem before it fell, and that it now resides (hidden) in a small temple in Ethiopia. This is still regarded as one of the "great mysteries of the Bible."]
And the Levites who went far from Me, when Israel went astray, who strayed away from Me after their idols, they shall bear their iniquity. Yet they shall be ministers in My sanctuary, as gatekeepers of the house and ministers of the house; they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister to them. Because they ministered to them before their idols and caused the house of Israel to fall into iniquity, therefore I have raised My hand in an oath against them," says the Lord GOD, "that they shall bear their iniquity. And they shall not come near Me to minister to Me as priest, nor come near any of My holy things, nor into the Most Holy Place; but they shall bear their shame and their abominations which they have committed. Nevertheless I will make them keep charge of the temple, for all its work, and for all that has to be done in it. But the priests, the Levites, the sons of Zadok, who kept charge of My sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from Me, they shall come near Me to minister to Me; and they shall stand before Me to offer to Me the fat and the blood," says the Lord GOD. They shall enter My sanctuary, and they shall come near My table to minister to Me, and they shall keep My charge.
[2-hvn. Once again, the authors of these later chapters of Ezekiel are making false claims regarding the past performance of the "sons of Zadok" (apparently to justify their privileged position relative to those "other" Levites). When Jesus washed the feet of his disciples just prior to his last supper, he was making a point that was diametrically opposed to the teachings of these aristocratic "sons of Zadok."]
And it shall be, whenever they enter the gates of the inner court, that they shall put on linen garments; no wool shall come upon them while they minister within the gates of the inner court or within the house. They shall have linen turbans on their heads and linen trousers on their bodies; they shall not clothe themselves with anything that causes sweat. When they go out to the outer court, to the outer court to the people, they shall take off their garments in which they have ministered, leave them in the holy chambers, and put on other garments; and in their holy garments they shall not sanctify the people. They shall neither shave their heads nor let their hair grow long; but they shall keep their hair well trimmed. No priest shall drink wine when he enters the inner court. They shall not take as wife a widow or a divorced woman, but take virgins of the descendants of the house of Israel, or widows of priests. And they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the unholy, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. In controversy they shall stand as judges, and judge it according to My judgments. They shall keep My laws and My statutes in all My appointed meetings, and they shall hallow My Sabbaths. They shall not defile themselves by coming near a dead person. Only for father or mother, for son or daughter, for brother or unmarried sister may they defile themselves. After he is cleansed, they shall count seven days for him. And on the day that he goes to the sanctuary to minister in the sanctuary, he must offer his sin offering in the inner court," says the Lord GOD.
[2-hvn. This was probably written by Ezra. Notice the special (aristocratic) status this author gives to the widows of priests and to the reaffirmation of Ezra's decree that the Judeans were only allowed to marry "virgins from the House of Israel", thereby creating an ungodly (racial) restriction on their definition of "neighbor."]
"It shall be, in regard to their inheritance, that I am their inheritance. You shall give them no possession in Israel, for I am their possession. They shall eat the grain offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering; every dedicated thing in Israel shall be theirs. The best of all firstfruits of any kind, and every sacrifice of any kind from all your sacrifices, shall be the priest's; also you shall give to the priest the first of your ground meal, to cause a blessing to rest on your house. The priests shall not eat anything, bird or beast, that died naturally or was torn by wild animals.
[2-hvn. Here they are writing the rules so that the priests will only get the best of what the people had to offer. That's kind of like "naming your own pay." So even though they theoretically "had no possessions of their own", these priests were setting things up so that they would be "well fixed." We can see in the New Testament the kinds of attitudes and practices that led to.]
"Moreover, when you divide the land by lot into inheritance, you shall set apart a district for the LORD, a holy portion of the land; its length shall be twenty-five thousand cubits, and the width ten thousand. It shall be holy throughout its territory all around. Of this there shall be a square plot for the sanctuary, five hundred by five hundred rods, with fifty cubits around it for an open space. So this is the district you shall measure: twenty-five thousand cubits long and ten thousand wide; in it shall be the sanctuary, the Most Holy Place. It shall be a holy section of the land, belonging to the priests, the ministers of the sanctuary, who come near to minister to the LORD; it shall be a place for their houses and a holy place for the sanctuary. An area twenty-five thousand cubits long and ten thousand wide shall belong to the Levites, the ministers of the temple; they shall have twenty chambers as a possession. You shall appoint as the property of the city an area five thousand cubits wide and twenty-five thousand long, adjacent to the district of the holy section; it shall belong to the whole house of Israel. The prince shall have a section on one side and the other of the holy district and the city's property; and bordering on the holy district and the city's property, extending westward on the west side and eastward on the east side, the length shall be side by side with one of the tribal portions, from the west border to the east border. The land shall be his possession in Israel; and My princes shall no more oppress My people, but they shall give the rest of the land to the house of Israel, according to their tribes." Thus says the Lord GOD: "Enough, O princes of Israel! Remove violence and plundering, execute justice and righteousness, and stop dispossessing My people," says the Lord GOD.
[2-hvn. Notice how all these nit-picking details regarding who gets what are being presented as if they were coming "out of the mouth of the Lord." Well, at least someone added that point that the princes should no longer oppress the people.]
"You shall have honest scales, an honest ephah, and an honest bath. The ephah and the bath shall be of the same measure, so that the bath contains one-tenth of a homer, and the ephah one-tenth of a homer; their measure shall be according to the homer. The shekel shall be twenty gerahs; twenty shekels, twenty-five shekels, and fifteen shekels shall be your mina. This is the offering which you shall offer: you shall give one-sixth of an ephah from a homer of wheat, and one-sixth of an ephah from a homer of barley. The ordinance concerning oil, the bath of oil, is one-tenth of a bath from a kor. A kor is a homer or ten baths, for ten baths are a homer."
[2-hvn. Here they are portraying God as dictating the standards that are to be used for commerce. God no doubt wants people to be honest, but specifying the standards that are to be used for commerce is a bit of a stretch. It's doubtful that Ezekiel would have written such things.]
And one lamb shall be given from a flock of two hundred, from the rich pastures of Israel. These shall be for grain offerings, burnt offerings, and peace offerings, to make atonement for them," says the Lord GOD. All the people of the land shall give this offering for the prince in Israel. Then it shall be the prince's part to give burnt offerings, grain offerings, and drink offerings, at the feasts, the New Moons, the Sabbaths, and at all the appointed seasons of the house of Israel. He shall prepare the sin offering, the grain offering, the burnt offering, and the peace offerings to make atonement for the house of Israel."
[2-hvn. Here they portray God as specifying standards for taxation along with instructions regarding how those taxes should be spent.]
Thus says the Lord GOD: "In the first month, on the first day of the month, you shall take a young bull without blemish and cleanse the sanctuary. The priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering and put it on the doorposts of the temple, on the four corners of the ledge of the altar, and on the gateposts of the gate of the inner court. And so you shall do on the seventh day of the month for everyone who has sinned unintentionally or in ignorance. Thus you shall make atonement for the temple. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you shall observe the Passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten. And on that day the prince shall prepare for himself and for all the people of the land a bull for a sin offering. On the seven days of the feast he shall prepare a burnt offering to the LORD, seven bulls and seven rams without blemish, daily for seven days, and a kid of the goats daily for a sin offering. And he shall prepare a grain offering of one ephah for each bull and one ephah for each ram, together with a hin of oil for each ephah. In the seventh month, on the fifteenth day of the month, at the feast, he shall do likewise for seven days, according to the sin offering, the burnt offering, the grain offering, and the oil."
[2-hvn. This pretty well describes how the priests planned to make their living.]
Thus says the Lord GOD: "The gateway of the inner court that faces toward the east shall be shut the six working days; but on the Sabbath it shall be opened, and on the day of the New Moon it shall be opened. The prince shall enter by way of the vestibule of that gateway from the outside, and stand by the gatepost. The priests shall prepare his burnt offering and his peace offerings. He shall worship at the threshold of the gate. Then he shall go out, but the gate shall not be shut until evening. Likewise the people of the land shall worship at the entrance to this gateway before the LORD on the Sabbaths and the New Moons. The burnt offering that the prince offers to the LORD on the Sabbath day shall be six lambs without blemish, and a ram without blemish; and the grain offering shall be one ephah for a ram, and the grain offering for the lambs, as much as he wants to give, as well as a hin of oil with every ephah. On the day of the New Moon it shall be a young bull without blemish, six lambs, and a ram; they shall be without blemish. He shall prepare a grain offering of an ephah for a bull, an ephah for a ram, as much as he wants to give for the lambs, and a hin of oil with every ephah.
[2-hvn. Here they even portray God as specifying how and where the prince should worship.]
When the prince enters, he shall go in by way of the vestibule of that gateway, and go out the same way. But when the people of the land come before the LORD on the appointed feast days, whoever enters by way of the north gate to worship shall go out by way of the south gate; and whoever enters by way of the south gate shall go out by way of the north gate. He shall not return by way of the gate through which he came, but shall go out through the opposite gate. The prince shall then be in their midst. When they go in, he shall go in; and when they go out, he shall go out."
[2-hvn. Here they portray God as specifying how the movement of the crowds should be controlled. The people are instructed to basically flow through the temple. If large numbers of people were allowed to turn around and go out the way they came, crowd control might become a chaotic mess.]
"At the festivals and the appointed feast days the grain offering shall be an ephah for a bull, an ephah for a ram, as much as he wants to give for the lambs, and a hin of oil with every ephah. Now when the prince makes a voluntary burnt offering or voluntary peace offering to the LORD, the gate that faces toward the east shall then be opened for him; and he shall prepare his burnt offering and his peace offerings as he did on the Sabbath day. Then he shall go out, and after he goes out the gate shall be shut. You shall daily make a burnt offering to the LORD of a lamb of the first year without blemish; you shall prepare it every morning. And you shall prepare a grain offering with it every morning, a sixth of an ephah, and a third of a hin of oil to moisten the fine flour. This grain offering is a perpetual ordinance, to be made regularly to the LORD. Thus they shall prepare the lamb, the grain offering, and the oil, as a regular burnt offering every morning."
[2-hvn. Here we have more instructions to ensure that the priests are well provided for, along with special provisions to encourage the prince to make additional, voluntary offerings.]
Thus says the Lord GOD: "If the prince gives a gift of some of his inheritance to any of his sons, it shall belong to his sons; it is their possession by inheritance. But if he gives a gift of some of his inheritance to one of his servants, it shall be his until the year of liberty, after which it shall return to the prince. But his inheritance shall belong to his sons; it shall become theirs. Moreover the prince shall not take any of the people's inheritance by evicting them from their property; he shall provide an inheritance for his sons from his own property, so that none of My people may be scattered from his property."
[2-hvn. Here they are re-instituting the mistake initially made by Abraham and then by Moses, namely that property should stay within "blood lines" or "within the tribe" (i.e. a further restriction on their definition of "neighbor.") Jesus taught otherwise (i.e. "Give your wealth to the poor").]
Now he brought me through the entrance, which was at the side of the gate, into the holy chambers of the priests which face toward the north; and there a place was situated at their extreme western end. And he said to me, "This is the place where the priests shall boil the trespass offering and the sin offering, and where they shall bake the grain offering, so that they do not bring them out into the outer court to sanctify the people." Then he brought me out into the outer court and caused me to pass by the four corners of the court; and in fact, in every corner of the court there was another court. In the four corners of the court were enclosed courts, forty cubits long and thirty wide; all four corners were the same size. There was a row of building stones all around in them, all around the four of them; and cooking hearths were made under the rows of stones all around. And he said to me, "These are the kitchens where the ministers of the temple shall boil the sacrifices of the people."
[2-hvn. Here they portray God as providing them with some specific cooking instructions.]
Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and there was water, flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the front of the temple faced east; the water was flowing from under the right side of the temple, south of the altar. He brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me around on the outside to the outer gateway that faces east; and there was water, running out on the right side. And when the man went out to the east with the line in his hand, he measured one thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the water came up to my ankles. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through the waters; the water came up to my knees. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through; the water came up to my waist. Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross; for the water was too deep, water in which one must swim, a river that could not be crossed.
[3-hvn. As in other parts of the Bible (starting with the river flowing out of the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2:10 through to Revelation 22:1), rivers and seas are used to represent religious teachings, and "living waters" are used to represent insights or lessons that actually come from God (God's Holy Spirit). Some commentators allegorically interpret this river as representing how the teachings of Jesus Christ would originate from Jerusalem but flow over time to eventually engulf the entire earth. But it's more likely that the authors of this portion of Ezekiel viewed such teachings as coming from the priests in the Second Temple who had learned (from the errors of their predecessors) how important it was to follow God's two most fundamental commandments. As it turned out, the Second Temple was built to be less than half the size of King Solomon's Temple, because King Cyrus the Great decreed that it's height could be no more than 60 cubits, so Ezekiel's "blueprint" for the restoration of King Solomon's Temple was pretty much abandoned. That being the case, some Judeans believed that the Second Temple would be destroyed someday and that it would eventually be replaced with one that more accurately resembles King Solomon's Temple. The Second Temple was in fact destroyed and rebuilt by King Herod who made it 40 cubits higher, but it still didn't measure up to Ezekiel's specifications. Less than a century later, King Herod's Temple was destroyed by the Romans in response to a Judean effort to attain "Judean national sovereignty." The Muslim "Dome of the Rock" now occupies that spot, but there are still many Jews and Christians who claim that it will eventually be replaced with a Jewish Temple that will in fact meet Ezekiel's specifications.]
He said to me, "Son of man, have you seen this?" Then he brought me and returned me to the bank of the river. When I returned, there, along the bank of the river, were very many trees on one side and the other. Then he said to me: "This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes. It shall be that fishermen will stand by it from En Gedi to En Eglaim; they will be places for spreading their nets. Their fish will be of the same kinds as the fish of the Great Sea, exceedingly many. But its swamps and marshes will not be healed; they will be given over to salt. Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine."
[3-hvn. This allegorically describes the healing powers of the insights and lessons that anyone can receive by following God's two most fundamental commandments. Sincerely following God's two most fundamental commandments tends to heal human relationship problems of all kinds. As before, the "fish" represent people who drink and put their faith in such "waters", and the "fishermen" represent godly religious leaders like Jesus, and his apostles (who "fish for men rather than fish"). The allegorical "swamps and marshes" represent a mixture of godly and worldly (earthly) views which will not be healed and nor will they be fruitful, from God's point of view. This part may have been written by Ezekiel, but it seem more likely to have been written by the redactors (Ezra 10:15).]
Thus says the Lord GOD: "These are the borders by which you shall divide the land as an inheritance among the twelve tribes of Israel. Joseph shall have two portions. You shall inherit it equally with one another; for I raised My hand in an oath to give it to your fathers, and this land shall fall to you as your inheritance. This shall be the border of the land on the north: from the Great Sea, by the road to Hethlon, as one goes to Zedad, Hamath, Berothah, Sibraim (which is between the border of Damascus and the border of Hamath), to Hazar Hatticon (which is on the border of Hauran). Thus the boundary shall be from the Sea to Hazar Enan, the border of Damascus; and as for the north, northward, it is the border of Hamath. This is the north side. On the east side you shall mark out the border from between Hauran and Damascus, and between Gilead and the land of Israel, along the Jordan, and along the eastern side of the sea. This is the east side. The south side, toward the South, shall be from Tamar to the waters of Meribah by Kadesh, along the brook to the Great Sea. This is the south side, toward the South. The west side shall be the Great Sea, from the southern boundary until one comes to a point opposite Hamath. This is the west side. Thus you shall divide this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel.
[2-hvn. Here the authors portray God as decreeing how to divide up the territory that Cyrus the Great had given to the Judean exiles.]
It shall be that you will divide it by lot as an inheritance for yourselves, and for the strangers who sojourn among you and who bear children among you. They shall be to you as native-born among the children of Israel; they shall have an inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. And it shall be that in whatever tribe the stranger sojourns, there you shall give him his inheritance," says the Lord GOD.
[2-hvn. These last three sentences are especially interesting, because they portray God as countermanding in principle Ezra's ungodly and racist decree that the exiles who returned to Judea prior to him "put away" non-Judean wives and children. In light of Ezra's Levite way of thinking, "put away" was probably a euphemism for "execute." These last three sentences were almost certainly inserted by the redactors listed in Ezra 10:15. It's quite amazing that they were able to sneak these three sentences "under Ezra's nose", so to speak. They probably did it while manually "making copies of the text." This may be what led to the creation of the story in Genesis 27 where Jacob sneaks the birthright of the firstborn from an aged, nearly blind Isaac by "pulling the wool under his eyes." ]
"Now these are the names of the tribes: From the northern border along the road to Hethlon at the entrance of Hamath, to Hazar Enan, the border of Damascus northward, in the direction of Hamath, there shall be one section for Dan from its east to its west side; by the border of Dan, from the east side to the west, one section for Asher; by the border of Asher, from the east side to the west, one section for Naphtali; by the border of Naphtali, from the east side to the west, one section for Manasseh; by the border of Manasseh, from the east side to the west, one section for Ephraim; by the border of Ephraim, from the east side to the west, one section for Reuben; by the border of Reuben, from the east side to the west, one section for Judah; by the border of Judah, from the east side to the west, shall be the district which you shall set apart, twenty-five thousand cubits in width, and in length the same as one of the other portions, from the east side to the west, with the sanctuary in the center. The district that you shall set apart for the LORD shall be twenty-five thousand cubits in length and ten thousand in width. To these--to the priests--the holy district shall belong: on the north twenty-five thousand cubits in length, on the west ten thousand in width, on the east ten thousand in width, and on the south twenty-five thousand in length. The sanctuary of the LORD shall be in the center. It shall be for the priests of the sons of Zadok, who are sanctified, who have kept My charge, who did not go astray when the children of Israel went astray, as the Levites went astray.
[2-hvn. As previously mentioned, it's highly unlikely that Ezekiel himself would have ever said that the sons of Zadok didn't go astray when the children of Israel went astray. After King Solomon banished the House of Abiathar from serving as priests in the Temple, virtually all of the priests who remained to serve in King Solomon's Temple were sons or relatives of Zadok. And, as documented by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and in the earlier chapters of Ezekiel, those priests did indeed become quite corrupt. These (false) claims regarding the "sons of Zadok" were apparently added by Ezra to justify the privileged position of authority he and his relatives had assumed. You should keep this in mind the next time you hear some "Christian fundamentalist" boldly claiming that the authors of the Bible "never lied" or that everything one reads in the Bible "is the absolute truth."]
And this district of land that is set apart shall be to them a thing most holy by the border of the Levites. Opposite the border of the priests, the Levites shall have an area twenty-five thousand cubits in length and ten thousand in width; its entire length shall be twenty-five thousand and its width ten thousand. And they shall not sell or exchange any of it; they may not alienate this best part of the land, for it is holy to the LORD. The five thousand cubits in width that remain, along the edge of the twenty-five thousand, shall be for general use by the city, for dwellings and common-land; and the city shall be in the center. These shall be its measurements: the north side four thousand five hundred cubits, the south side four thousand five hundred, the east side four thousand five hundred, and the west side four thousand five hundred. The common-land of the city shall be: to the north two hundred and fifty cubits, to the south two hundred and fifty, to the east two hundred and fifty, and to the west two hundred and fifty. The rest of the length, alongside the district of the holy section, shall be ten thousand cubits to the east and ten thousand to the west. It shall be adjacent to the district of the holy section, and its produce shall be food for the workers of the city. The workers of the city, from all the tribes of Israel, shall cultivate it. The entire district shall be twenty-five thousand cubits by twenty-five thousand cubits, foursquare. You shall set apart the holy district with the property of the city."
[2-hvn. It's interesting that these decrees regarding how the land should be divided would include a common area for cultivation by the poor. The author of the 35th chapter of Numbers was apparently the first to document this concept when God was portrayed as decreeing that "cities of refuge" be created where Israelites could flee from neighbors who were attempting to kill them for violating the "Laws of Moses." The fact that the beneficiaries of the above provisions were limited to descendants of the tribes of Israel indicates that this was probably penned by Ezra. This principle, which some may call "communistic" or "socialistic", is still being practiced "kibbutz" (or "commune") communities in the present day state of Israel. Numbers 35 and Ezekiel 48 disprove the claims of some American "right-wing" preachers that socialism or communism are inherently "ungodly." One of the greatest mistakes Karl Marx made was his linking of communism with atheism (because the churches in his day satanically rejected nearly everything he had to say).
From God's point of view, communism, socialism, and capitalism aren't inherently good or evil. They are merely economic theories regarding how powers and responsibilities should be divided up between public (government) and private (including corporate) entities. What concerns God is how well those systems actually help to fulfill His commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. As far as God is concerned, that fact that someone calls such economic systems "capitalist", "socialist", or "communist" is irrelevant.]
"The rest shall belong to the prince, on one side and on the other of the holy district and of the city's property, next to the twenty-five thousand cubits of the holy district as far as the eastern border, and westward next to the twenty-five thousand as far as the western border, adjacent to the tribal portions; it shall belong to the prince. It shall be the holy district, and the sanctuary of the temple shall be in the center. Moreover, apart from the possession of the Levites and the possession of the city which are in the midst of what belongs to the prince, the area between the border of Judah and the border of Benjamin shall belong to the prince."
[2-hvn. Since it was quite necessary that such rules regarding the division of property and various divisions of responsibility be worked out and agreed upon in writing in order to help this fledgling Judean community to work peacefully together, it can be safely assumed that most of these rules were indeed needed and were therefore "inspired by God." Whether or not they were physically decreed by God or merely portrayed as such in these chapters is different issue.]
"As for the rest of the tribes, from the east side to the west, Benjamin shall have one section; by the border of Benjamin, from the east side to the west, Simeon shall have one section; by the border of Simeon, from the east side to the west, Issachar shall have one section; by the border of Issachar, from the east side to the west, Zebulun shall have one section; by the border of Zebulun, from the east side to the west, Gad shall have one section; by the border of Gad, on the south side, toward the South, the border shall be from Tamar to the waters of Meribah by Kadesh, along the brook to the Great Sea. This is the land which you shall divide by lot as an inheritance among the tribes of Israel, and these are their portions," says the Lord GOD. These are the exits of the city. On the north side, measuring four thousand five hundred cubits the gates of the city shall be named after the tribes of Israel), the three gates northward: one gate for Reuben, one gate for Judah, and one gate for Levi; on the east side, four thousand five hundred cubits, three gates: one gate for Joseph, one gate for Benjamin, and one gate for Dan; on the south side, measuring four thousand five hundred cubits, three gates: one gate for Simeon, one gate for Issachar, and one gate for Zebulun; on the west side, four thousand five hundred cubits with their three gates: one gate for Gad, one gate for Asher, and one gate for Naphtali. All the way around shall be eighteen thousand cubits; and the name of the city from that day shall be: THE LORD IS THERE."
[2-hvn. So, as you can see, the last two chapters of Ezekiel are like a post exile revision of the Numbers and Leviticus.]
The next book we will examine will be Daniel, which is one of the most interesting and allegorically significant books in the Old Testament. This will require a substantial amount of "third heaven level" analysis and explanation, so I'm not sure how soon I be able to get that article done.
(one gain of salt)
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