Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
This chapter contains a description of the several portions of the land belonging to each tribe, together with the portion allotted to the sanctuary, city, suburb, and prince, vv. 1-29; as also the measure and gates of the new city, Eze 48:30-35.
Now these are the names of the tribes - See the division mentioned Num 34:7-12, which casts much light upon this.
The oblation - This was a portion of land twenty-five thousand cubits in length, by ten thousand broad; in the center of which was the temple, which must be destined for the use of the priests, the Levites, and the prince.
And the five thousand that are left - The territory of the Levites was twenty-five thousand square cubits, Eze 48:20, But their city was only four thousand five hundred square cubits, see Eze 48:13 and Eze 48:16; there remained, therefore, ten thousand cubits square to be divided, of which five thousand cubits in breadth, by twenty-five thousand in length, on the east and west sides, were reserved for a sort of second city; or for suburbs where laymen might dwell who were employed by those priests and Levites who lodged in the temple and in the city, Eze 48:18. And another space of one thousand cubits in breadth, by twenty-five thousand in length, which extended only from north to south, was for fields and gardens appointed for the support of those lay servants. On which we may remark, there was no cultivated land between the portion of the Levites and that of the prince, but only on the east and west sides. See Eze 45:6, and the map FF.
And the residue - for the prince - His portion was alongside that of the Levites, from west to east; these were on each side twenty-five thousand cubits in length, from the east to the west. by twelve thousand five hundred cubits in breadth from north to south. The space both above and below was equal, between the tribe of Judah and that of Benjamin to north and south; and the portion of the Levites, which had Judah and Benjamin to the north and south, and the portion of the prince to the east and to the west. See the map.
From Tamar - in Kadesh - The former was on the south of the Dead Sea; and the latter, or Kadesh-Barnea, was still farther south, and at the extremity of the portion of Gad, which was the most southern tribe, as Dan was the most northern.
These are the goings out - Each of the four sides of the city was four thousand five hundred cubits long. There were three gates on each side, as mentioned below; and the whole circumference of the city was eighteen thousand cubits. See the map, plan B. dddd.
The rector of New Haven College, in New England, supposes the preceding representations to refer to the happy state of the Church in what is called the Millennium. Leaving this period out of the question, the following observations are worthy of notice: -
"The Jews, for whom this vision was intended, would conceive their country to be divided to the twelve tribes, in lots of a regular and mathematical form; and not confused or intermixed, as in Joshua's time. Their city laid out larger than before; and exactly foursquare, with regular suburbs; the temple and appendages much more commodious for their sacrifices, and the habitations of the priests and Levites regularly formed round about the temple. So that this whole plan of the division of the country, laying out of the city, temple, and all the appendages, appears to be perfectly regular and uniform, as if it were drawn all at one time, and by one hand, who had power to effect it; and therefore conveyed to the Jews the most complete idea they were capable of conceiving of the most perfect church, commonwealth, city, temple, and conveniences, for Divine worship.
I. The Holy Land, as described chap. 47 and 48, according to the original grant, being about two hundred and fifty miles long, north and south, and about one hundred and fifty miles wide, is divided, by parallel lines east and west, to the twelve tribes, each of them having a portion twenty miles wide. Only between Judah and Benjamin there is a holy portion near ten miles wide; in the middle of which is the holy oblation, twenty-five thousand cubits; that is, about ten miles square for the priests, Levites, city, and temple, Eze 45:1; Eze 48:8; the two ends are for the prince, Eze 45:7, etc.
II. The holy oblation, lying in the middle of the holy portion, is twenty-five thousand cubits square, which is near ten miles; of which ten thousand cubits, or four miles, are taken off from the north side for a habitation for the priests, and as much for the Levites on the south side, Eze 45:4, Eze 45:5, and Eze 48:20; and five thousand cubits in the middle for the city portion, Eze 45:6; in the middle of which is the city, four thousand five hundred cubits square, which is nearly two miles, Eze 48:15, Eze 48:16. Round about this is left two hundred and fifty cubits, near thirty rods, for suburbs, Eze 48:17. The remaining ten thousand cubits on the east side, and the ten thousand cubits on the west side, are for the profit of those who serve the city, out of all the tribes, Eze 48:18, Eze 48:19. The sanctuary is in the midst of the city, Eze 48:8.
III. The sanctuary or temple, and its appendages, were entirely surrounded with a wall six cubits high and six cubits thick, Eze 40:5; and five hundred cubits long on each side, Eze 42:15, etc., and Eze 45:2. In the middle square stands the temple, which was surrounded by a wall one hundred cubits long on each side, Eze 41:13, and six cubits thick, Eze 41:5. The side-chambers on the outside four cubits, Eze 41:5. The Holy of Holies, at the west end, was twenty cubits square on the inside, Eze 41:4. The holy place or outer court at the east end, was forty cubits, Eze 41:12. The length of the porch on the north side was twenty cubits; the breadth was eleven cubits, Eze 40:49; and the width of the separate place on the south side twenty cubits. On each side of the temple, towards the four gates in the outer wall, stood two courts, eight in the whole, each one hundred cubits square, Eze 40:19, Eze 40:23, Eze 40:27. In each of these were thirty-six little chambers or buildings, about six cubits square, viz., six at the entrance of the gate, Eze 40:7, Eze 40:17, Eze 40:20, etc., and thirty on the pavement, Eze 40:17, etc., which were for lodgings for the priests, for hanging up their garments, and their part of the sacrifices, Eze 42:13."
Calmet has constructed a map to show the position of the tribes, and the quantum of space each was to possess. As this will give a better view of the subject than any written description can, I have inserted one constructed for this work, which, consulting the places said to be connected with the possessions of the different tribes, shows that the tribes did not all possess the same quantum of space, five of the southern tribes possessing only one half as much as those of the north.
The name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there - It would have been better to have retained the original words: -
This is an allusion to the shechinah, or symbol of the Divine Presence, which was in the first, but most certainly was not in the second temple; but Ezekiel tells us that the Divine Presence should be in the city of which he speaks; and should be there so fully and so powerfully, that it should give name to the city itself; and that the very name, Jehovah shammah, should remind all men of the supereminently glorious Being who had condescended to make this city his habitation.
Two points must be considered here: -
1. That the prophet intended that, when they should be restored, they should build the temple, and divide the land as he here directs, if the thing could be found to be practicable.
2. That he had another temple, another holy city, another Promised Land, in view. The land of Immanuel, the city of the New Jerusalem; and his temple, the Christian Church, which is the house of the living God, Ti1 3:15, in which the presence of Christ shall ever be found; and all its inhabitants, all that believe on his name, shall be temples of the Holy Ghost. Nor can there be any reasonable doubt that the prophet here, by the Spirit of God, not only points out the return of the Israelites from the Babylonish captivity, and what was to befall them previously to the advent of Jesus Christ; but also the glorious spread of the Gospel in the earth, and the final conversion of the tribes of Israel by the preaching of that Gospel.
In conclusion, I think it necessary to state, that there are but few of the prophets of the Old Testament who have left a more valuable treasure to the Church of God than Ezekiel. It is true, he is in several places obscure; but there is a great proportion of the work that is in the highest degree edifying; and several portions that for the depth of the salvation predicted, and the accuracy and minuteness of the description, have nothing equal to them in the Old Testament Scriptures. On such portions, I have felt it my duty to be very particular, that I might be able to point out spiritual beauties and excellencies in this book which are beyond all praise; while I passed slightly over prophecies and symbols which I did not fully understand; but have left to time, by the fulfillment of the events, to prove to successive generations with what heavenly wisdom this much neglected prophet has spoken. And I take this opportunity to recommend this book to the serious perusal of every pious man; and while he wonders at the extent of the wisdom by which Ezekiel has fathomed the depth of so many Divine mysteries, let him give God the glory for this additional testimony to the unsearchable riches of Christ, and that plenary salvation which he has purchased for, and freely offers to, the vilest of the vile, and to the whole of the descendants of Adam.
Number of verses, 1, 273.
Middle verse, Eze 26:1.
Masoretic sections, 29.