THE BOOK OF EZEKIEL
Part IV: Oracles of Salvation and Promised Restoration
Chapters 46-48: The Conclusion of the Vision of the New Temple
Most Holy Heavenly Father,
You have called Your New Covenant family to a holy priesthood. As a covenant people set apart from the world, we are called to lead lives of holiness in imitation of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Some of us are called out from within the community of believers to serve as ordained ministers, but all of us are called to serve in spreading the Gospel of salvation and to remain steadfast in faith until the glorious return of God the Son. Send Your Holy Spirit, Lord, to lead us in our study of the last chapters of Ezekiel's book. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
+ + +
Then the angel
showed me the River of Life, rising from the throne of God and of the Lamb and
There are theological implications for us in the New Covenant in Christ contained in the description of the duties of the Aaronic priesthood and the Levitical lesser ministers in last week's lesson. It was a hereditary religious authority that the New Covenant disbanded. In the Sinai Covenant the children of Israel were chosen by God as a "nation of priests," and within that corporate body, He ordained a hereditary ministerial priesthood of chief priests and lesser ministers. The organization remains the same in the New Covenant with an ordained priesthood together with lesser ministers (deacons) to serve in the New Covenant liturgy of worship and instruction within the corporate Body of Christ. The difference is that the New Covenant priesthood is not hereditary but called out of the greater body to a consecrated ministerial role.
The community of the Church in the New Covenant, like the Old, is still a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Ex 19:6). However, because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the "priesthood of believers" of the Baptized Christian participating in the priesthood of Christ (CCC 1546) has greater responsibilities than the laity in the Old Covenant. As St. Peter taught the Universal Church: ... like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ... But you are "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises" of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Pt 2:5, 9, quoting Is 43:20b). Our greater responsibilities in the New Covenant include:
The privilege of an ordained ministry within Christ's Kingdom of the Church works in cooperation with the laity and carries with it the burden of responsibility for guiding God's covenant people (see Jesus' direction on the responsibilities for the laity in this regard in Matthew 18:18-20). Ezekiel 44:23-24 and 45:20 suggests how an ordained priesthood works in serving God to fulfill this charge:
The New Covenant ordained priesthood, like the Old, acts as God's representatives in forgiving sins through confession and sacrifice (Lev 4:20b, 26, 31, 35; 5:6, 13, 26/6:7). The difference is, in the New Covenant, our unblemished sacrifice is Jesus Christ who has the power to forgive not just unintentional sin as in the Old Covenant (Num 15:30-31; Ez 45:20) but also intentional sin and restores the sinner to fellowship with God (CCC 979, 1444).
Chapter 46: Miscellaneous Regulations
These last three chapters address:
Ezekiel 46:1-7 ~ Liturgical Obligations of the People
and the Prince
1 The Lord Yahweh says this: "The east gate of the inner court must be kept shut for the six working days. On the Sabbath day, however, it must be opened, as also on the day of the New Moon; 2 and the prince must go in through the porch of the outer gate and take his position by the doorposts of the gate. The priests must then offer his burnt offerings and his communion sacrifice. He must prostrate himself on the threshold of the gate and go out, and the gate must not be shut again until the evening. 3 The people of the country must prostrate themselves in the presence of Yahweh at the entrance to the gate on Sabbaths and days of the New Moon. 4 The burnt offering offered to Yahweh by the prince on the Sabbath day must consist of six unblemished lambs and one unblemished ram, 5 with an oblation of one ephah for the ram, and such oblation as he pleases for the lambs, and a hin of oil for every ephah. 6 On the day of the New Moon it must consist of an unblemished young bull, six unblemished lambs and one unblemished ram, 7 when he must make an oblation of one ephah for the bull and one ephah for the ram, and what he pleases for the lambs, and a hin of oil for every ephah."
This passage proposes Sabbath and New Moon regulations of sacrifices and grain offerings required by the prince. These rules are different from those prescribed according to Mosaic Law that did not require the ruler to offer Sabbath sacrifices in addition to the regular Sabbath sacrifice of two lambs (one in the morning liturgical service and the second in the afternoon) in addition to the Tamid sacrifice in Numbers 28:9-10. They are also different from the New Moon sacrifices in Numbers 28:11-15. The Feast of the New Moon marked the beginning of a new lunar month.
Ezekiel 46:8-12 ~ Entering and Exiting the Temple and Prescribed Sacrifices
8 "When the prince goes in, he must enter by the porch of the gate, and he must leave by the same way. 9 When the people of the country come into the presence of Yahweh at the solemn festivals, those who have come in by the north gate to prostrate themselves must go out by the south gate, and those who have come in by the south gate must go out by the north gate; no one must turn back to leave through the gate by which he entered but must go out on the opposite side. 10 The prince will be with them, coming in like them and going out like them. 11 On feast days and solemn festivals the oblation must be one ephah for every bull, one ephah for every ram, what he pleases for the lambs, and a hin of oil for every ephah. 12 When the prince offers Yahweh voluntary burnt offerings or a voluntary communion sacrifice, the east gate must be opened for him, and he must offer his burnt offerings and his communion sacrifice as he does on the Sabbath day; when he has gone out, the gate must be shut after him."
Verse 8 refers to the inner east gate and not the outer east gate that must remain closed (Ez 44:1-2). The regulation concerning entering and leaving by different gates may be because of crowd control, but it was not in Mosaic Law concerning the liturgical services on feast days. The commands for sacrifices on feast days are also different. See the list of sacrifices for the annual liturgical feasts in Numbers 28:16-29:39.
The prescribed sin sacrifices offered by a ruler are in Leviticus 4:22-26, and the general rules for whole burnt offerings and communion offerings are found in Leviticus 2:1-17 and 7:11-17. Once again, it is odd that there is no reference to the duties of a high priest who was God's chief spiritual representative to the covenant people under Mosaic Law. Instead, the nasi/prince seems to have assumed those duties. Ezekiel uses the Hebrew word nasi 35 times. It is a word that renders as "prince" in our translation, but it can also mean "ruler, captain, governor, or chief" (#5387 in Strong's Concordance). From the description of the duties of Ezekiel's nasi, it appears he is more a religious leader than a civil leader.
Ezekiel 46:13-15 ~ The Continual Sacrifice of
13 Every day he must offer an unblemished lamb one year old as a burnt offering to Yahweh; he must offer this every morning. 14 Every morning in addition he must offer an oblation of one-sixth of an ephah and one-third of a hin of oil, for mixing with the flour. This is the oblation to Yahweh, a perpetual decree, fixed forever. 15 The lamb, the oblation and the oil must be offered morning after morning forever.
That the nasi has assumed the duties of a high priest is evident in this passage since he is responsible for the most important sacrifice of the covenant people in the offering of the unblemished Tamid lamb. Concerning the importance of the Tamid sacrifice, 1st-century AD Jewish writer, Philo of Alexandria wrote: "Accordingly, it is commanded that every day the priests should offer up two lambs, one at the dawn of the day, and the other in the evening*; each of them being a sacrifice of thanksgiving; the one for the kindnesses which have been bestowed during the day, and the other for the mercies which have been vouchsafed in the night, which God is incessantly and uninterruptedly pouring upon the race of men" (The Works of Philo, Special Laws, I.35 ; * "evening" is our afternoon).
The single sacrifice of two lambs in a morning and afternoon (evening for the Jews) liturgical worship service was the most important sacrifice offered for the atonement of sin and sanctification of the covenant people. In Exodus 29:38-42, it is the only communal sacrifice before the sin of the Golden Calf. After the sin of the Golden Calf, in Leviticus 6:2-6 and Numbers 28:4-8, God repeats the command for the Tamid sacrifice when communal sacrifices are expanded to weekly, monthly, and yearly communal festival sacrifices in Numbers 28-29. However, God commands that the Tamid must take precedence over all other sacrifices, including the Sabbath sacrifice (repeated fifteen times in Num 28:10, 15, 24 twice, 31; 29:6, 11, 16, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31, 34, and 38). See the e-book, Jesus and the Mystery of the Tamid Sacrifice available at Amazon books at .
Ezekiel's instructions for the whole burnt offering of the Tamid sacrifice does not follow the regulations under Mosaic Law for a morning and evening (afternoon) sacrifice which the exiles followed after they returned (Ezra 3:2-6):
|Tamid Regulations in Exodus 29:38-42||Ezekiel's Regulations in Ezekiel 46:13-15|
|Two yearling lambs each day in perpetuity. The first lamb you will offer at dawn, and the second at twilight* (Ex 29:34-39).||Every day he must offer an unblemished lamb one year old as a burnt offering to Yahweh; he must offer this every morning (Ez 46:13).|
|...and with the first lamb, one-tenth of a measure of fine flour mixed with one quarter a hin of pounded olive oil... (Ex 29:40a)||Every morning in addition he must offer an oblation of one-sixth of an ephah and one-third of a hin of oil, for mixing with the flour Ez 46:14a).|
|...and for a libation, one-quarter of a hin of wine (Ex 29:40b).|
|The second lamb you will offer at twilight*, and do it with a similar cereal offering and libation as at dawn... (Ex 29:41)|
|... a perpetual burnt offering for all your generations to come... (Ex 29:42)||This is the oblation to Yahweh, a perpetual decree, fixed forever. The lamb, the oblation and the oil must be offered morning after morning forever (Ez 46:14b-15).|
|Michal E. Hunt Copyright ©2018|
*The literal Hebrew is "between the twilights," meaning noon (between the twilight of dawn and sunset) when the second lamb was brought out to the altar before the second liturgical service began.
As you can see from the two passages, there are
Question: What is different about Ezekiel's description of the Tamid offering as opposed to the original sacrifice under Mosaic Law?
Answer: In Ezekiel's passage, there is only one lamb in a morning sacrifice, the cereal offerings are different, and there is no mention a wine libation. The only command that is the same is that it must be a perpetual sacrifice.
It is possible that it is assumed the people will know there must be two lambs, one for a morning and the other for an afternoon liturgical service. However, there is no explanation for the other differences. When the exiles returned, they offered the Tamid on the rebuilt and consecrated altar according to Mosaic Law: as prescribed in the Law of Moses man of God. They erected the altar on its old site ... and on it they presented burnt offerings to Yahweh, burnt offerings morning and evening* ... (Ezra 3:2b-3; *the Jewish "evening" is our afternoon since the new day began at sundown).
Ezekiel 46:16-18 ~ The Prince's Hereditary
16 Lord Yahweh says this: "If the prince presents part of his hereditary portion to one of his sons, the gift must pass into the ownership of his sons and become their hereditary property. 17 If, however, he presents part of his hereditary portion to one of his slaves, it will belong to the man only until the year of liberation and then must revert to the prince. Only his sons may retain his hereditary portion. 18 The prince may not take any part of the people's hereditary portion, thus robbing them of what is theirs; he must provide the patrimony of his sons out of his own property, so that no member of my people is robbed of what is his!"
The "year of liberation" in verse 17 refers to the 50th year Jubilee (Lev 25:8-22) and the redemption of the ancestral land when all land previously purchased or controlled by someone else returned to the original tribal family (Lev 25:23-34). This passage identifies the nasi as not a descendant of Aaron since priests and Levites did not receive ancestral property. Verse 18 warns that the nasi must not abuse his office by taking advantage of the common people.
Ezekiel 46:19-24 ~ The Rooms where the Priests
ate Their Sacred Meals and the Kitchens
19 He took me through the entrance at the side of the north gate that leads to the rooms of the Holy Place set apart for the priests. And there before us, to the west, was a space at the end. 20 He said to me, "This is where the priests must boil the slaughtered animals for the sacrifice for sin and the sacrifice of reparation, and where they must bake the oblation, without having to carry them into the outer court and so run the risk of hallowing the people." 21 He then took me into the outer court and led me to each of its four corners; in each corner of the outer court was a compound; 22 in other words, the four corners of the court contained four small compounds, forty cubits by thirty, all four being the same size. 23 All four were enclosed by a wall, with hearths all round the bottom of the wall. 24 He said, "These are the kitchens where the Temple servants must boil the sacrifices offered by the people."
The "he" is the angelic guide. The boiled meat of slaughtered animals is the meat for the sacred meals of the sin sacrifices eaten by the priests and the communion sacrifices that the people consumed with a portion of the communion sacrifice that went to the priests (Lev 6:17-22/24-30; 7:1-8/6:31-36, 11-15/7:1-5, 28-34/18-24; some translations have slightly different verse assignments).
Chapter 47: The Spring in the Temple and the Frontiers of the Holy Land
And Yahweh my
God will come, and all the holy ones with him. That Day, there will be no
light, but only cold and frost. And it will be one continuous day, Yahweh
knows, there will be no more day and night, and it will remain light right into
the time of evening. When that Day comes, living waters will issue from
Jerusalem half towards the eastern sea, half towards the western sea; they will
flow summer and winter. Then Yahweh will become king of the whole world. When
that Day comes, Yahweh will be the one and only and his name the one name.
On the last
day, the great day of the festival, Jesus stood and cried out: "Let anyone who
is thirsty come to me! Let anyone who believes in me come and drink! As
scripture says, "'From his heart shall flow streams of living water.'" He was
speaking of the Spirit which those who believed in him were to receive for
there was no Spirit as yet because Jesus had not yet been glorified.
Then the angel
showed me the river of life, rising from the throne of God and of the Lamb and
flowing crystal-clear. Down the middle of the city street, on either bank of
the river were the trees of life, which bear twelve crops of fruit in a year,
one in each month, and the leaves of which are the cure for the nations.
Ezekiel 47:1-12 ~ The Spring Flowing from the Temple
1 He brought me back to the entrance of the Temple, where a stream flowed eastwards from under the Temple threshold, for the Temple faced east. The water flowed from under the right side of the Temple, south of the altar. 2 He took me out by the north gate and led me right round outside as far as the outer east gate where the water flowed out on the right-hand side. 3 The man went off to the east holding his measuring line and measured off a thousand cubits; he then made me wade across the stream; the water reached my ankles. 4 He measured off another thousand and made me wade across the stream again; the water reached my knees. He measured off another thousand and made me wade across the stream again; the water reached my waist. 5 He measured off another thousand; it was now a river which I could not cross; the stream had swollen and was now deep water, a river impossible to cross. 6 He then said, "Do you see, son of man?" He then took me and brought me back to the bank on the river. 7 Now, when I reached it, I saw an enormous number of trees on each bank of the river. 8 He said, "This water flows east down to the Arabah and to the sea; and flowing into the sea it makes its waters wholesome. 9 Wherever the river flows, all living creatures teeming in it will live. Fish will be very plentiful, for wherever the water goes it brings health, and life teems wherever the river flows. 10 There will be fishermen on its banks. Fishing nets will be spread from En-Gedi to En-Eglaim. The species of fish will be the same as the fish of the Great Sea. 11 The marshes and lagoons, however, will not become wholesome, but will remain salt. 12 Along the river, on either bank, will grow every kind of fruit tree with leaves that never wither and fruit that never fails; they will bear new fruit every month, because this water comes from the sanctuary. And their fruit will be good to eat and the leaves medicinal."
The water flowed out of the Temple from the west to the east and out of the closed eastern gate (44:1-2) all the way down the Arabah that is Rift Valley and includes the Jordan River Valley and the Dead Sea area stretching to Elath and the Gulf of Aqaba. Everywhere the water from the Temple flowed it became deeper until it formed a great river, and the land was purified and brought forth life. The only exception was the marshes and lagoons that remained salty. The fruit trees on either side of the river were eternally healthy and continually bearing fruit and leaves that healed sickness.
Question: What are the similarities between
Ezekiel's vision of the River of Life and St. John's vision in the Book of Revelation 22:1-2?
Answer: The comparison between the vision of the River of Life in Ezekiel and the Book of Revelation (see the quote at the beginning of this chapter):
|River of Life in Ezekiel 47:1-12||River of Life in Revelation 22:1-2|
|It began as a stream flowing to the east from under the Temple threshold (Ez 47:1).||The angel identifies the river as "the river of life" (Rev 22:1a).|
|The water flowed out of the Temple's outer east gate on the right side (Ez 47:2).||It began flowing, crystal clear, from the throne of God and the Lamb and flowed down the middle of the new Jerusalem (Rev 22:1b-2a).|
|Every thousand cubits, the stream grew deeper as Ezekiel waded in the waters (Ez 47:3-5).||John sees the river but does not wade into it (Rev 22:1a)|
|It became a great river impossible to cross, and the guide placed Ezekiel on the shore (Ez 47:6).||John only sees the river flowing through the new Jerusalem.|
|Trees grew on either side of the river banks that bore fruit every month and with leaves with healing properties (Ez 47:7, 12).||On either bank were "trees of life" that bore twelve crops of fruit a year and leaves "which are the cure for the nations" (Rev 22:2).|
|The waters flowed east to the Arabah and then south to the Dead Sea which became purified (Ez 47:8).||John does not see the river's destination.|
|Everywhere the river flowed, it brought forth abundant life (Ez 47:9-10).||The river will bring life "to the nations" (Rev 22:2c).|
|The marshes and lagoons will remain salty (Ez 47:11).|
|Michal E. Hunt Copyright © 2018|
Ezekiel shares his vision of the river flowing from the end of the Temple and emptying into the Dead Sea as it revitalizes everything it meets on its journey, including the purification of the salty, lifeless waters of the Dead Sea. However, there is no end to the river's flow that brings the "cure" (of sin) to the nations of the earth.
Question: This is one of the most startling images in the book.
What river does it recall from Genesis Chapter 2 and what tree? What does this
link suggest symbolically? How is this river different and what does this
Answer: The stream flowing out of the Temple in Ezekiel (and the River of Life flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb in Revelation) is reminiscent of the river that flowed out of Eden, dividing into four branches to sustain life on the earth in Genesis 2:10-14 before the fall of Adam. The trees in Ezekiel' vision recall the fruit bearing trees in the Garden of Eden and especially the Tree of Life in the center of the garden (Gen 2:8-9). In Ezekiel and Revelation, however, the single river itself gives life and health, and the trees are all "trees of life." The symbolism of the vision shows that the renewal of liturgical worship will bring blessings to the whole of the covenant people and the land in a new creation. God will present a remedy for the curse of the sin of Adam that hurt humanity and all creation.
Ezekiel's vision of the river of life also recalls Jesus words in John 7:37 on the last day of the Feast of Shelters when He proclaimed: "If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, "'Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'" The Fathers of the Church link this text of St. John with Ezekiel's vision. They saw in the river flowing from the Temple the waters of Christian Baptism that flow from Christ who is life, and from the water that burst forth from Christ's side as He hung on the altar of the Cross (Jn 19:34). St. Barnabas wrote: "We go down to the water's edge steeped in our sins and impurity, and we walk out of the water, our hearts filled with grace, fear of the Lord and hope in Jesus" (Epistles of Barnabas, 11.10).
Verses 7-9 and 12 also remind us of the promises made to the Church of the redeemed in the Book of Revelation. In Revelation 7:17 and the vision of St. John in Revelation 22:1-5 (quoted previously), he describes the new Jerusalem and the new Temple of the new Heaven and earth after the Second Coming of Christ and the Last Judgment:
The Fathers of the Church saw the River of Life as an allusion to the third Person of the Most Holy Trinity, since living water is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, as in Baptism by water and the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:3, 5; Jn 4:10-14; Acts 1:5; Rev 21:6). On the last day of the Feast of Shelters/Tabernacles, Jesus cried out to the worshippers within the Temple: On the last day, the great day of the festival, Jesus stood and cried out: "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me! Let anyone who believes in me come and drink! As scripture says, "'From his heart shall flow streams of living water.'" He was speaking of the Spirit which those who believed in him were to receive for there was no Spirit as yet because Jesus had not yet been glorified (Jn 7:37-39).
The annual pilgrim feast of the Feast of Shelters/Tabernacles (Dt 16:16) commemorated the Mosaic water-miracle when God made life-giving water flow from a rock (Ex 17:1-7; Num 20:9-11). The festival included readings from Scripture passages foretelling life-giving water for Zion from our Ezekiel passage and Zechariah 14:8. The water of life is God's grace, which flows from Christ to His Church! This life-giving water is available to the Church now in the waters of Christian Baptism that prepare us for the greater gift of eternal life that is to come.
Ezekiel 47:13-23 ~ The Frontiers of the Holy Land
13 The Lord Yahweh says this, "This will be the territory which you must distribute among the twelve tribes of Israel, with two portions for Joseph. 14 You will each have a fair share of it, since I swore to your fathers that I would give it to them, and this country now falls to you as your heritage. 15 These will be the frontiers of the country. On the north, from the Great Sea, the road from Hethlon to the Pass of Hamath, Zedad, 16 Berothah, Sibraim lying between the territories of Damascus and Hamath, to Hazer-ha-Tikon on the borders of Hauran; 17 the frontier will extend from the sea to Hazer-Enon, with the territory of Damascus and the territory of Hamath to the north; that will be the northern frontier. 18 On the east, the Jordan will serve as frontier between Hauran and Damascus, between Gilead and Israel, down to the Eastern Sea as far as Tamar; that will be the eastern frontier. 19 On the south, from Tamar southward to the Waters of Meribah in Kadesh, to the Wadi and the Great Sea; that will be the southern frontier. 20 And to the west, the Great Sea will serve as frontier up to the point opposite the Pass of Hamath; that will be the western frontier. 21 You must distribute this country among yourselves, among the tribes of Israel. 22 You must distribute it as a heritage for yourselves and the aliens settled among you who have fathered children among you, since you must treat them as citizens of Israel. They must draw lots for their heritage with you, among the tribes of Israel. 23 You will give the alien his heritage in the tribe where he has settled, declares the Lord Yahweh."
Yahweh defined the borders of Canaan for the Israelites in Numbers 34:1-15 and Joshua 1:1-5 that were ideal boundaries. The Israelites were unable to secure the promised northern border until the time of David, and then they were unable to keep them (also see lists in Gen 15:18; Dt 1-7; 11:24; Judg 20:1). The political borders of Israel only extended as far north as the territory of Hamath under Kings David of the United Kingdom of Israel (died c. 970 BC, 1 Chr 13:5) and King Jeroboam II of the Northern Kingdom (ruled c. 782-743 BC, 2 Kng 14:25).
This passage repeats some of those traditions, but there are differences. Some of the place-names are different, so cannot be identified, and, apparently, the northern frontier was to pass north of Tripoli and include the territory of Damascus (verses 15-16), which did not happen. The River Jordan marks the eastern frontier, whereas in the original division of the land there were tribes occupying land on the east side of the Jordan River: Gad, Reuben, and half of Manasseh (Num 34:14-15).
Question: What are the "two portions for Joseph"
in verse 13? See Gen 41:50-52; Josh 17:14-18.
Answer: There was a division of Joseph's portion between the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim, the descendants of his two eldest sons adopted by Jacob-Israel.
Question: What is different for the first time in
verses 22-23 compared to the other lists? See Lev 19:34. Of what does this
new regulation remind you in the New Covenant in Christ Jesus according to St.
Paul in Galatians 3:28-29?
Answer: Previously non-Jewish resident aliens were protected by the same laws under which the Israelites lived (Lev 19:34), but, for the first time, Gentiles living among the covenant people are to receive a share in the inheritance of the land. In the New Covenant, Paul taught for Christ there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, male or female because all are equal members of Christ's family in the Sacrament of Baptism
After the conquest of Canaan, the all the tribes (other than the Levites) drew lots to determine their portion of the land, but now only the Gentile residents will draw lots. Drawing lots (verse 22b and also in Josh 18:8-10) reflects Yahweh's ownership of the land and His authority to distribute it to whomever He desires: In the fold of the garment the lot is thrown, but from Yahweh comes the decision (Prov 16:33).
Chapter 48: Distribution of the Land and the Gates of Jerusalem
In the spirit,
he carried me to the top of a very high mountain, and showed me Jerusalem, the
holy city, coming down out of heaven from God. It has all the glory of God and
glittered like some precious jewel or crystal-clean diamond. Its wall was of a
great height and had twelve gates; at each of the twelve gates there was an
angel, and over the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of
Israel; on the east there were three gates, on the north three gates, on the
south three gates, and on the west three gates. The city walls stood on twelve
foundation stones, each one of which bore the name of one of the twelve
apostles of the Lamb.
Ezekiel 48:1-29 ~ The Division of the Land
1 "This is the list of the tribes. One portion in the far north by way of Hethlon to the Pass of Hamath, to Hazer-Enon, with the territory of Damascus to the north, and marching with Hamath, from the eastern limit to the western limit: Dan. 2 One portion bordering Dan, from the eastern limit to the western limit: Asher. 3 One portion bordering Asher, from the eastern limit to the western limit: Naphtali. 4 One portion bordering Naphtali, from the eastern limit to the western limit: Manasseh. 5 One portion bordering Manasseh, from the eastern limit to the western limit: Ephraim. 6 One portion bordering Ephraim, from the eastern limit to the western limit: Reuben. 7 One portion bordering Reuben, from the eastern limit to the western limit: Judah. 8 One portion bordering Judah, from the eastern limit to the western limit, is the portion which you must set aside, twenty-five thousand cubits wide, and as long as each of the other portions from the eastern limit to the western limit. The sanctuary will be in the center of it. 9 The portion which you must set aside for Yahweh must be twenty-five thousand cubits long and ten thousand cubits wide. 10 This sacred portion must belong to the priests, being, on the north side, twenty-five thousand cubits; on the west side ten thousand cubits wide, on the east side ten thousand cubits wide and on the south side twenty-five thousand cubits long; the sanctuary of Yahweh will be in the center of it. 11 This will be for the consecrated priests, those of the sons of Zadok who maintained my liturgy and did not go astray with the straying Israelites, as the Levites went astray. 12 And so their portion must be taken out of the especially holy portion of the land, near the territory of the Levites. 13 The territory of the Levites, like the territory of the priests, must be twenty-five thousand cubits long and ten thousand wide-the whole length being twenty-five thousand and the width ten thousand. 14 It will be illegal for them to sell or exchange any part of it, and the domain can never be alienated, since it is consecrated to Yahweh. 15 As regards the remainder, an area of five thousand cubits by twenty-five thousand, this must be for the common use of the city, for houses and pastures. In the middle will be the city. 16 These will be its dimensions: on the north side, four thousand five hundred cubits; on the south side, four thousand five hundred cubits; on the east side, four thousand five hundred cubits; on the west side, four thousand five hundred cubits. 17 The pasture land of the city must extend two hundred and fifty cubits to the north, two hundred and fifty to the south, two hundred and fifty to the east, two hundred and fifty to the west. 18 One strip, contiguous to the sacred portion, must be left over, consisting of ten thousand cubits to eastward and ten thousand to westward, marching with the sacred portion; this will bring in a revenue for feeding the municipal workmen. 19 And the municipal workmen, drawn from all the tribes of Israel, will farm it. 20 The portion must have a total area of twenty-five thousand cubits by twenty-five thousand. You must allocate a square area from the sacred portion to constitute the city. 21 What is left over will be for the prince, on either side of the sacred portion and of the property of the city, marching with the twenty-five thousand cubits to eastward to the eastern frontier, and marching with the twenty-five thousand cubits to westward to the western frontier-running parallel with the other portions and belonging to the prince. In the center will be the sacred portion and the sanctuary of the Temple. 22 Thus, apart from the property of the Levites and the property of the city which lie in the middle of the prince's portion, everything between the borders of Judah and the borders of Benjamin must belong to the prince. 23 As regards the rest of the tribes: One portion from the eastern limit to the western limit: Benjamin. 24 One portion bordering Benjamin, from the eastern limit to the western limit: Simeon. 25 One portion bordering Simeon, from the eastern limit to the western limit: Issachar. 26 One portion bordering Issachar, from the eastern limit to the western limit: Zebulun. 27 One portion bordering Zebulun, from the eastern limit to the western limit: Gad. 28 On the southern border of Gad, on the south side, the border will run from Tamar to the Waters of Meribah in Kadesh, to the Wadi and the Great Sea. 29 This is how you must distribute the country to the tribes of Israel as their heritage, and these must be their portions, declares the Lord Yahweh."
That the division refers to the land of Israel is made clear by the geographic terms that identify the borders of the nation of Israel. The division of the land is not the same as the divisions made by Joshua after the conquest of Canaan when the drawing of lots determined each portion of tribal land (Josh 13:7-19:51). The priests and Levites did not receive a portion of the land. They did receive forty-eight cities and adjoining pasture land in the original partition of the land and six cities of refuge, three on the east side of the Jordan and three on the west side (Josh 20:1-21:42).
The new plan divides the land oddly into parallel strips running north to south from the eastern frontier of the Jordan River to the Mediterranean and divided into fourteen portions. Agreeing with the boundaries set to the land in Chapter 47, this passage shows that the former Transjordan tribes resettled to the west of the Jordan River. There are seven tribes to the north. In the center is Yahweh's portion surrounding Jerusalem. This sacred portion subdivides between the priests (with Jerusalem and the Temple) and the Levites, with what is leftover assigned to Jerusalem as common land. The territory of the nasi/prince stretches from the east and west of this sacred portion. Finally, there are five tribes to the south.
48:30-35 ~ The Conclusion of the Vision
In the spirit,
he carried me to the top of a very high mountain and showed me Jerusalem, the
holy city, coming down out of heaven from God. It had all the glory of God and
glittered like some precious jewel of crystal-clear diamond. Its wall was of a
great height and had twelve gates; at each of the twelve gates there was an
angel, and over the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of
Israel; on the east there were three gates, on the north three gates, on the
south three gates, and on the west three gates. The city walls stood on twelve
foundation stones, each one of which bore the name of one of the twelve
apostles of the Lamb.
In the final vision (Chapters 40-48), Ezekiel will mention the "city" seventeen times in the Hebrew text (40:1, 2, 3; 45:6, 7 twice; 48:15 twice, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 30, 31, 35), but he never calls it Jerusalem. We assume he is referring to Jerusalem from his reference to the "city" because he mentions its "capture" or "destruction" (40:1) and that it is south of the Temple on "the high mountain" (40:2).
Ezekiel 48:30-35 ~ The Gates of the City
30 "Here are the exits from the city. On the north side, four thousand five hundred cubits are to be measured off. 31 The gates of the city are to be named after the tribes of Israel. Three gates to the north: one the gate of Reuben; one the gate of Judah; one the gate of Levi. 32 On the east side, there will be four thousand five hundred cubits and three gates: one the gate of Joseph; one the gate of Benjamin; one the gate of Dan. 33 On the south side, four thousand five hundred cubits are to be measured off, and there are to be three gates: one the gate of Simeon; one the gate of Issachar; one the gate of Zebulun. 34 On the west side, there will be four thousand five hundred cubits and three gates: one the gate of Gad; one the gate of Asher; one the gate of Naphtali. 35 Total perimeter: eighteen thousand cubits. The name of the city in future must be: Yahweh-is-there."
The list of gates in Revelation 21:12-13 begins on the east instead of on the north as in Ezekiel's description. You will recall that in 44:1-2 the outer east gate must remain closed because the glory of God passed through it into the Temple complex (Ez 43:1-4); but to which of the three outer gates does this prohibition refer? It is probably the Benjamin gate that is the middle eastern gate and mentioned in Zechariah's prophecy of the return of God to the Mount of Olives (Zech 14:10-11).
Question: Into which gate did Jesus, the divine Son of God, enter Jerusalem on Palm/Passion Sunday coming from Bethany on the Mount of Olives? See Zech 14:4
Answer: Since the Mount of Olives is to the east of the city of Jerusalem, He must have entered through the east gate.
Sometime after the conquest of the Holy Land by Muslim armies in the 7th century AD, their imams became aware of the prophecy concerning the return of the Jewish-Christian Messiah through the eastern gate (Zech 14:1-5; Acts 1:11). In response to the prophecy, they walled up the eastern gate that faces the Mount of Olives and dug graves up to the wall to make the site ritually unclean for a Jew. It has remained closed ever since.
Zechariah 14:1-11 prophesies that the God/the Davidic Messiah will return to Jerusalem through the eastern gate. When that day comes, the prophecy continues, Living waters will issue from Jerusalem, half towards the eastern sea, half towards the western sea; they will flow summer and winter. Then Yahweh will become king of the whole world. When that Day comes, Yahweh will be the one and only and his name the one name (Zech 14:8-9). At the Ascension of Christ, angels confirmed Zechariah's prophecy to the disciples, telling them that Jesus would return to the Mount of Olives in His Second Advent in Acts 1:9-11.
The walled-in Gate in Jerusalem's eastern wall facing the Mount of Olives.
name of the city in future must be: Yahweh-is-there."
Abraham renamed the city of Salem, the city ruled by his ancestor the priest-King Shem whose title was "King of Righteousness" (Gen 11:10-26; 14:18-19) in Genesis 22:13-14, calling it Yahweh-provides/will provide-peace or Yirehsalem/Jerusalem. The new name in this verse is Yahweh-sham, "Yahweh-is-there." The name gives the promise of God's continual divine presence among His people and recalls Isaiah's prophecy that the Davidic Messiah born from a virgin will be called "God is with us" (Emmanuel/Immanuel in Is 7:14). It is a promise Jesus will repeat just before His Ascension to the disciples when He tells them: "And look, I am with you always; yes, to the end of time" (Mt 28:20b).
When St. John witnesses the new heaven and new earth and the passing away of the first heaven and first earth, he also saw the holy city of the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven like a Bride and heard the voice of God call from the throne, "Look, here God lives among human beings. He will make his home among them, they will be his people, and he will be their God, God-with-them (Rev 21:4). This is the classic formula of covenant formation (Gen 17:8; Ex 25:8; Lev 26:11-12; Jer 31:33; Ez 37:27; and cf. 2 Cor 6:16). The intimate presence of God among His people is the mark of His covenant relationship. It will reach its climax at the end of time in the return of the Divine Messiah-King (Rev 21:4). In the meantime, God "is there" with His Church, filling the lives of all His Baptized faithful washed with His Spirit and nourishing them with the Eucharist on their journey through life to His home in Heaven.
Questions for discussion or reflection:
Take some time to recall the features that were unique to Ezekiel's Temple as opposed to Solomon's Temple or the Desert Sanctuary. You may recall the furniture in the Holy Place and Holy of Holies was a replica of what Moses observed in the heavenly Sanctuary (Ex 25:8-9).
Ezekiel's last vision from Chapters 40-48 generates many unanswered questions:
Perhaps it is easier to discern what the visionary Temple isn't as opposed to what it is:
The answer to the question why there is no Ark probably lies in Jeremiah's prophecy in Jeremiah 3:16 that one day the Ark will no longer have importance. Jeremiah hid the Ark and the Altar of Incense before the destruction of the Temple, and it was never recovered (2 Mac 2:4-6). But why is there no High Priest and why does the nasi seem to assume his role?
In 1 Corinthians 13:12, St. Paul wrote: Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles, but then we shall be seeing face to face. Now, I can know only imperfectly; but then I shall know just as fully as I am myself known. It is possible that the closed eastern gate, the wooden altar-table, and the stream under the Temple are the keys to this metaphorical riddle? The Fathers of the Church believed the closed gate referred to the womb and birth canal of the Virgin Mary. Once God enfleshed had passed through, no other mortal could use the same entrance to the world of man (Ez 44:1-2). Does this mean everything in the vision points to the New Covenant in Christ Jesus? Is it possible that:
The wooden altar-table (Ez 41:22), the closed gate that God passed through to return to His people (44:1-2), and the River of Life flowing from the Temple (47:1-12) are all significant clues to understanding Ezekiel's vision:
St. John will see the same vision in Revelation 22:1-2 that, like Ezekiel's vision, also recalls the river flowing out of Eden, nourishing the earth of the first creation in Genesis 2:10-14. Under the old Sinai Covenant, people had to journey to the Jerusalem Temple to be spiritually cleansed. However, in the New Covenant, the Spirit of God becomes a mighty river of grace and life for the world. Ezekiel saw many trees on the banks of the river. St. John expands on this and tells us that "on each side of the River was the Tree of Life," but it is not a single tree. Instead, Ezekiel and John see forests of Tree-of-Life with healing powers lining the riverbanks. The blessing that Adam forfeited has been restored in Christ in superabundance, for what we have gained in Christ is, as St. Paul wrote, "much more" than what we lost in Adam (Rom 5:15-21). In Christ, mankind's relationship with God is not only restored; it is consummated and brought to fulfillment and fruition in a new creation where "Yahweh-is-there" (Ex 48:35) at every Eucharistic gathering with His covenant people. And, according to St. Jerome, it is the spiritual waters flowing from the Temple that are the teachings of the Church (Commentary on Ezekiel, 14.47.6-12).
The word "tree" is xulon in Greek. It is a word often used in reference to the Cross of Christ (Acts 5:30; 10:39; 13:29; and 1 Pt 2:24). In Galatians 3:13, St. Paul saw Christ's crucifixion as the fulfillment and release of the Old Covenant curse on the sinner hung on a tree (Dt 21:23; Josh 10:26-27). St. Irenaeus (m. 202 AD) saw the Cross as the Tree of Life and contrasted it with the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil through which Adam fell from grace. He wrote that Jesus Christ "has destroyed the handwriting of our debt, and fastened it to the Cross [Col 2:14]; so that, just as by means of a tree we were made debtors to God, so also by means of a tree we may obtain the remission of our debt" (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, v.xvii.3).
The era of Ezekiel and the Old Covenant was the world's "Dark Night." With the Advent of Christ, the world has come into the "Age of the Light." The great day of the Lord was established at His Ascension to the Father, and His full inauguration of the New Covenant at Pentecost with the Holy Spirit's River of Life washing over the earth through the Sacraments Christ gave His Church, preparing mankind for Christ's Second Advent at the end of time.
"And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age" (Mt 28:20 NAB).
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2018 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.
Sacrifice of the Eucharist (CCC 1323, 1331, 1339, 1374-75, 1382, 1391, 1393, 1416)
Christ is the fulfillment of the old Law (CCC 577-82, 592)
Christ is our New Covenant High Priest (CCC 1070; 1085; 1366; 1540)
The Catholic Church is the new Israel (CCC 877)
Water as a symbol of the Holy Spirit (CCC 694, 1137, 2652)