Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
Entrance of the Glory of the Lord into the New Temple
Eze 43:1. And he led me to the gate, the gate which looked toward the east: Eze 43:2. And behold the glory of the God of Israel came from the east, and its sound was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with His glory. Eze 43:3. And the appearance which I saw, was to look at like the appearance which I saw when I came to destroy the city; and (there were) appearances like the appearance which I had seen by the river Chebar; and I fell down upon my face. Eze 43:4. And the glory of Jehovah came into the house by the way of the gate, the direction of which is toward the east. Eze 43:5. And wind lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of Jehovah filled the house. Eze 43:6. And I heard one speaking to me from the house, and there was a man standing by me. Eze 43:7. And he said to me, Son of man, the place of my throne and the place of the soles of my feet, where I shall dwell in the midst of the sons of Israel for ever; and the house of Israel will no more defile my holy name, they and their kings, through their whoredom and through the corpses of their kings, their high places, Eze 43:8. When they set their threshold by my threshold, and their door-posts by my door-posts, and there was only the wall between me and them, and they defiled my holy name by their abominations which they did, so that I destroyed them in my wrath. Eze 43:9. Now will they remove their whoredom and the corpses of their kings from me, and I shall dwell in the midst of them for ever. Eze 43:10. Thou, son of man, show to the house of Israel this house, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities, and may measure the well-measured building. Eze 43:11. And when they are ashamed of all that they have done, show them the picture of the house and its arrangement, and its goings out and in, and all its forms and all its statutes, and all its forms and all its laws; and write it before their eyes, that they may keep all its form and all its statutes and do them. Eze 43:12. This is the law of the house: Upon the top of the mountain all its territory round about is most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house. - The angel had shown the prophet the new sanctuary as already completed, and had measured it in his presence according to its several parts. But this building only became the house of God when Jehovah as the God of Israel consecrated it, to be the dwelling-place of His divine and gracious presence in the midst of His people, by the entrance of His divine glory into the house.
(Note: "The Lord appears, and fills the house with His own glory; showing that the house will not only be built, but will be filled with the power of God" (Theodoret).)
The description of the new temple closes, therefore, with this act of consecration. That the prophet might see this act of divine grace with his own eyes, the measuring man led him from the ground surrounding the temple (Eze 42:15-20) back again to the east gate (Eze 43:1). The allusion is to the eastern gate of the outer court; for it is not till Eze 43:5 that Ezekiel is taken into the inner court, and, according to Eze 44:1, he was brought back to the east gate of the outer court. Standing in front of this gate, he sees the glory of the God of Israel come by the way from the east with a great noise, and lighting up the earth with its splendour. The coming of the theophany from the east points back to Eze 10:19; Eze 11:1 and Eze 11:23, where the Shechinah, when leaving the ancient temple, went out at the east gate and ascended to the summit of the mountain, which was situated on the east of Jerusalem. It was from the east, therefore, that it returned to enter the new temple. This fact is sufficient of itself to show that the present entrance of the divine glory into the new temple did not lay the foundation for a new and more exalted bond of grace, but was simply intended to restore the relation which had existed before the removal of Israel into captivity. The tabernacle and Solomon's temple had both been consecrated by Jehovah in the same manner as the seat of His throne of grace in Israel (compare Exo 40:34-35; Kg1 8:10-11; and Ch2 5:13-14, and Ch2 7:1-3, from which the expression את־בּית in Eze 43:5 has been borrowed). It is true that Hvernick, Kliefoth, and others find, along with this agreement, a difference in the fact that the glory of Jehovah appeared in the cloud in both the tabernacle and Solomon's temple; whereas here, on the contrary, it appeared in that peculiar form which Ezekiel had already repeatedly seen. But it does not follow that there was really a difference, because the cloud is not mentioned in the verses before us; for it is evident that the cloud was not wanting, even in the manifestation of the glory of God seen by Ezekiel, from the words found in Eze 10:3 : "The cloud filled the inner court, and the glory of Jehovah had risen up from the cherubim to the threshold of the house, and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the splendour of the glory of Jehovah." If, therefore, it is expressly attested in Eze 43:3, as even Kliefoth admits, that the appearance of God which entered the temple as like the appearance which Ezekiel saw by the Chaboras and before the destruction of the temple, and in connection with the last-mentioned appearance the cloud was visible along with the brilliant splendour of the divine doxa, the cloud will certainly not have been wanting when it entered the new temple; and the only reason why it is not expressly mentioned must be, that it did not present a contrast to the brilliant splendour, or tend to obscure the light of the glory of God, but as a shining cloud was simply the atmospheric clothing of the theophany.
If, then, the cloud did not present a contrast to the brilliancy of the divine glory, it cannot be inferred from the words, "and the earth shone with His glory," that there was any difference between this and the earlier manifestations of the divine glory at the consecration of the tabernacle and Solomon's temple; more especially as these words to not affirm that it became light on earth, but simply that the earth shone with the glory God, - that is to say, that it threw a bright light upon the earth as it passed along, - so that this remark simply serves to indicate the intensity of the brightness of this theophany. The words 'קולו כקול are not to be understood, as we may learn from Eze 1:24, as referring to a voice of the coming God, but describe the loud noise made by the moving of the theophany on account of the rustling of the wings of the cherubim. This resembled the roaring of mighty waves. In Eze 43:3, the expression וּכּמראה המּראה ...כּמּראה is somewhat heavy in style, but is correct Hebrew; and the remark with which Hitzig seeks to justify his alteration of וכמראה into ומראה, - namely, that כמראה "would signify 'so the appearance,' whereas Ezekiel intends to explain the present appearance from the well-known earlier one," - is false so far as the usage of the language is concerned. When the Hebrew uses two כּ in cases of comparison, which we are accustomed to express in German by so...wie (so...as), he always commences with the thing to which he compares another, and lets the thing which is to be compared follow afterwards. Thus, for example, in Gen 18:25, והיה does not affirm that it happens as to the righteous so to the wicked, but vice versג, that it happens to the righteous as to the wicked; and in Gen 44:18, כּי כמוך does not mean, for like thee so is Pharaoh, but "for thou art like Pharaoh." According to this genuine Hebrew expression, the present appearance of the divine glory is mentioned first in the verse before us, and then in the earlier one which the present resembled. And even the apparent pleonasm מראה המּראה vanishes if we render מראה by "look," - the look of the apparition which I saw was just like the apparition, etc. 'כּבאי לשׁחת וגו refers to the ecstatic transportation of the prophet to Jerusalem (Ezekiel 8-11), to witness the destruction of the city (see more particularly Eze 8:4; Eze 9:1.). "The prophet destroyed the city ideally by his prophecy, of which the fulfilment simply forms the objective reverse side" (Hitzig). וּמראות is appended in loose apposition, - there were appearances, visions, - and the plural is to be taken as in מראות אלהים in Eze 1:1; Eze 40:2. For what follows, compare Eze 3:23; Eze 10:15. For Eze 43:5, compare Eze 3:14; Eze 11:24.
In Eze 43:6 and Eze 43:7 the question arises, who it is who is speaking to the prophet; whether it is Jehovah, who has entered the temple, or the man who is standing by Ezekiel in the inner court? There can be no doubt that מדּבּר is Jehovah here, as in Eze 2:2; though the commentators are divided in opinion whether Jehovah spoke directly to the prophet, or through the medium of the man who stood by his side. Hvernick presses the Hithpael מדּבּר, and imagines that Ezekiel heard God conversing within the sanctuary, in consequence of which the angel stood by his side; so that the words of God consisted chiefly in the command to communicate to Ezekiel the divine revelation which follows in Eze 43:7. But this view is proved to be erroneous by the expression אלי which follows מדּבּר, and which Hvernick has overlooked. Kliefoth, on the other hand, is of opinion that the words contained in Eze 43:7, which proceeded from the מדּבּר, were addressed to the prophet directly by God Himself; for he heard them before anything was said by the man, and neither here nor in what follows is the man said to have spoken. On the contrary, both here and in what follows, even in Eze 46:20,Eze 46:24; Eze 47:6-7, it is always God Himself who appears as the speaker, and the man simply as the prophet's guide. But this is also not correct. Such passages as Eze 46:20 and Eze 46:24 compared with Eze 43:19 and Eze 43:21, and Eze 47:6, Eze 47:8, compared with Eze 43:1 and Eze 43:4, show undeniably that the man who conducted the prophet also talked with him. Consequently, in the case referred to in the verse before us, we must also conclude that he who spoke to the prophet from the temple addressed him through the medium of the man who stood by his side, and that אישׁ is the subject to ויּאמר in Eze 43:7; from which, however, it by no means follows that the מדּבּר was also an angel, who spoke to the prophet, not from the most holy place, but simply from within the house, as Hitzig explains the matter. The meaning is rather, that Ezekiel heard God conversing with him from the sanctuary, whilst a man, i.e., an angel, stood by his side and spoke to him as follows. אישׁ is in that case not some angel merely who spoke in the name of Jehovah, but the angel of Jehovah, God's own speaker, ὁ λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ (Joh 1:1.). But according to his outward habitus, this angel of the Lord, who is designated as אישׁ, is identical with the angel who showed the prophet the temple, and measured it (Eze 40:3 onwards). For according to Eze 47:1. this אישׁ had also a measuring rod, and measured. The absence of the article from אישׁ in Eze 43:6, which prevents Kliefoth from admitting this identity, does not indicate decidedly that a different man from the one mentioned before is introduced here as the prophet's attendant, but simply leaves the identity of this אישׁ with the former indefinite, so that it can only be inferred from the further course of events; because the point of importance here was neither to establish this identity by employing the article, nor to define the medium of the word of God more precisely, but simply to introduce the words which follow as the words of God Himself. The address commences with an explanation on the part of God that the temple into which the glory of the Lord had entered was the place of His throne, where He would dwell for ever among the sons of Israel. The את־מקום is a concise expression, in which את is nota accus., and we have to supply in thought either ראה or הנּה: "behold the place." מקום כּפּות רגלי, the place of the soles of my feet (cf. Isa 60:13), is equivalent to the footstool of my feet in Isa 66:1. The ark of the covenant is called the footstool of God in Ch1 28:2 and Psa 132:7; compare Psa 99:5 and Lam 2:1, where this epithet may possibly be used to designate the temple. This also applies to the throne of Jehovah, since God was enthroned above the cherubim of the ark in the holy of holies (cf. Exo 25:22; Sa1 4:4, etc.). In the sanctuary which Ezekiel saw, no reference is made to the ark of the covenant, and the silence with regard to this is hardly to be regarded as a mere omission to mention it, inasmuch as none of the things contained in the temple are mentioned with the exception of the altars, not even the table of shew-bread or the candlestick. The ark of the covenant is not mentioned, because, as is stated in Jer 3:16, in the Messianic times the ark of the covenant will not be remembered, neither will it be missed.
לעולם, as in Eze 37:26 and Eze 37:28. The promise culminates in this. לעולם does not apply either to the tabernacle or to Solomon's temple, in which Jehovah also had His dwelling-place, though not for ever. These sanctuaries He left, and gave them up to destruction, because the Israelites had profaned His holy name by their idolatry. This will not take place any more after the erection of the new sanctuary. לא יטמּאוּ is not imperative, but a simple future: "they will no more defiled," because they come to a knowledge of their sins through the punitive judgment of exile, so that they become ashamed of them, and because the Lord will have poured out His Spirit upon them (cf. Eze 37:23., Eze 39:29). - Formerly, however (Eze 43:7), they profaned the holy name of God by their spiritual whoredom (cf. Ezekiel 16) and by dead idols, for which they erected high places in the immediate neighbourhood of the dwelling-place of Jehovah, that is to say, even in the temple courts, so that Jehovah was only separated from the idols by a wall. This is the general meaning of Eze 43:7 and Eze 43:8, in which the exposition of פּגרי is difficulty. Rosenmller, Hהvernick, and others understand by the "corpses of their kings," the dead idols. Ewald, Hitzig, and Kliefoth, on the other hand, take the expression in a literal sense, as referring to the corpses of kings which had been buried near to the temple, so that the temple had been defiled by the proximity of these graves. But the latter view is precluded by the fact that not a single instance can be adduced of the burial of a king in the vicinity of the temple, since Neh 3:15 contains no allusion to anything of the kind, and the tombs of the kings upon Zion were not so near to the temple that it could possibly be defiled in consequence. Moreover, בּמותם cannot be reconciled with this view; and for that reason Ewald and Hitzig propose to read בּמותם, "in their death." The attempt of Kliefoth, however, to defend the reading בּמותם, by taking it as in apposition to בּזנוּתם and not to וּבפּגרי מלכיהם, is a desperate remedy, which clearly shows the impossibility of connecting בּמותם with the "corpses of the kings." We therefore understand by פּגרי the dead idols, in accordance with Lev 26:30 (cf. Jer 16:18); but by מלכיהם we understand, not the idols, but the Israelitish kings, as in the case of the preceding מלכיהם; partly because it cannot be shown that the plural מלכים is ever used in the sense of idols (though the singular מלכּם is used of Baal in Zep 1:5 and Amo 5:26), and partly on account of the harshness involved in interpreting the two מלכיהם when standing so close together, in the first instance of the kings, and in the second of the idols of Israel. The corpses of the kings are therefore the dead idols, for which the kings (for example, Manasseh) had built altars or high places (בּמות) in the sanctuary, i.e., in the courts of the temple (Kg2 21:4-7). The objection that פּגרים without anything further, such, for instance, as גּלּוּלים sa ,ecnatsni rof ,hcus in Lev 26:30, cannot signify the dead idols, will not bear examination, as the more precise definition which is wanting is supplied by the context, where idolatry is the point in question. בּמותם without the preposition ב is a loosely attached apposition to בּפּגרי מלכיהם and בּזנוּתם, which defines more precisely in what way the whoredom of the nation and the dead idols of the kings had amounted to a defiling of the house of the Lord, namely, from the fact that the people and the kings had erected temples of high places (bâmoth) for dead idols by the side of the temple of the living God, and had placed them so close that the threshold and door-posts of these idol-temples touched the threshold and door-posts of the temple of Jehovah, and there was nothing but the wall of the temple (הקיר) between Jehovah and the carcase-gods. בּמותם is explained in this way in Eze 43:8, and then the defiling of the holy name of the Lord is mentioned again for the purpose of appending, by means of ואכל (imperf. Piel of כלה), the allusion to the penal judgment which they had thereby brought upon themselves. Eze 43:9. Such profanation as this will not take place any more in time to come, and Jehovah will dwell for ever in the midst of Israel.
To lead Israel to this goal, Ezekiel is to show them the house (i.e., the temple). In this way are the further words of God in Eze 43:10-12 attached to what goes before. הגּיד את־הבּית, show or make known the house, is equivalent to proclaim to the people the revelation concerning the new temple. In this were the Israelites to discern the magnitude of the grace of God, that they might blush at their evil deeds, and measure the well-measured building (תּכנית, as in Eze 28:12), i.e., carefully consider and ponder what the Lord had bestowed upon His people through this sanctuary, so that they might suffer themselves to be brought to repentance by means of its glory. And if they felt shame and repentance on account of their transgressions, Ezekiel was to show them the shape and arrangement of the sanctuary, with all its forms and ordinances, an write them out before their eyes, that they might have the picture of it impressed upon their minds, and keep the statutes thereof. In Eze 43:11 the words are crowded together, to indicate that all the several parts and arrangements of the new temple are significant and worthy of being pondered and laid to heart. צוּרה is the shape of the temple generally, its external form; תּכוּנה, the internal arrangement as a whole. Both of these are noticed specifically by the allusion to the goings out and in, as well as to the forms (צוּרות) of the separate parts, and their statutes and laws. חקּות are the precepts concerning the things to be observed by Israel when appearing before the Lord in the temple, the regulations for divine worship. תּורות, the instructions contained in these statutes for sanctification of life. The second וכל־צוּרתו is omitted in the lxx and some of the Hebrew Codd., and has therefore been expunged as a gloss by Dathe, Hitzig, and other critics; but it is undoubtedly genuine, and in conformity with the intentional crowding together of words. - The admonition to keep and to observe everything carefully is closed in Eze 43:12 with a statement of the fundamental law of the temple; that upon the lofty mountain the whole of its domain round about is to be most holy. על־ראשׁ ההר does not belong to הבּית ot g in the sense of the house which is to be built upon the top of the mountain, but to the contents of the thorâh of this house. It is to stand upon the top of the mountain, and to be most holy in all its domain. ראשׁ ההר is to be understood in accordance with Eze 40:2; and גּבלו points back to הבּית. Both by its situation upon a very high mountain, and also by the fact that not merely the inner sanctuary, and not merely the whole of the temple house, but also the whole of its surroundings (all its courts), are to be most holy, the new sanctuary is to be distinguished from the earlier one. What has been already stated - namely, that the temple shall not be profaned any more - is compressed into this clause; and by the repetition of the words, "this is the law of the house,"' the first section of this vision, viz., the description of the temple, is rounded off; whilst the command given to the prophet in Eze 43:10 and Eze 43:11, to make known all the statutes and laws of this temple to the house of Israel, forms at the same time the transition to the section which follows.
Description and Consecration of the Altar of Burnt-Offering
Description of the Altar
Eze 43:13. And these are the measures of the altar in cubits: The cubit a cubit and a handbreadth; a ground-framework of a cubit (in height), and a cubit in breadth, and its moulding on its border round about a span. This is the base of the altar. Eze 43:14. And from the ground-framework of earth to the lower enclosure, two cubits (in height), and a cubit in breadth; and from the small enclosure to the greater enclosure, four cubits (in height), and one cubit in breadth. Eze 43:15. And the mount of God, four cubits; and from the heart of God upwards, the four horns. Eze 43:16. And the hearth of God, twelve cubits in length by twelve cubits in breadth; squared on its four sides. Eze 43:17. And the enclosure, fourteen cubits in length by fourteen cubits in breadth on its four sides; and the moulding round about it, half a cubit; and the ground-framework of it, a cubit round about: and its steps faced the east. - To the heading, "these are the measures of the altar in (according to) cubits," there is once more appended, as in Eze 40:5, in connection with the measuring of the temple, the length of the cubit measure. The description commences with the foundation of the altar, and, proceeding upwards, gives the height and breadth of the several gradations of the walls of the altar, up to the horns at the four corners (Eze 43:13-15). It then passes from above downwards, to supply the length and breadth or the circumference of the different stages (Eze 43:16 and Eze 43:17). As the first, or lowest part, the חיק is mentioned, literally, the bosom or lap; then by transference, the hollow formed by the sides of a chariot (Kg1 22:35); here the lower hollow or base of the altar (p), formed by a border of a definite height, to merely "a frame running round, a stand in which the altar stood" (Hitzig), nor merely "the hollow filled with earth" (Kliefoth), but both together. This ground-framework (p) was a cubit (sc., high) and a cubit broad. That האמּה is to be taken as referring to the height, is evident from the statement of the breadth which follows. חיק האמּה is not to be altered into חיקהּ אמּה, as Ewald proposes, nor is האמּה to be changed into באמּה (Hitzig); but Hvernick's explanation is to be adopted: "and a bosom (was there) the cubit," i.e., of the height of the cubit just described. רחב, breadth, is the extent to which the bosom projected beyond the next enclosure (q) on every side, and formed a support, the circumference of which was a cubit more than the lower cube of the altar on every side. This is shown by the measurements in Eze 43:16 and Eze 43:17. The חיק had a גּבוּל on its שׂפה of a span (half a cubit) in height (o). שׂפה, lip, is the rim (Kg1 7:26; Gen 22:17); and גּבוּל, the bordering on the rim, is a moulding. The feminine suffixes attached to גּבוּלהּ and שׂפתהּ refer to חיק, which is of the masculine gender, no doubt, when used in its literal sense of bosom or lap, but is construed as a feminine in the tropical sense of an inanimate object. The ground-framework, with its moulding, formed the גּב of the altar. גּב, the arched, then a hump or back, signifies here the support of the altar. Upon this support the altar rose in a cubical enclosure or frame, which diminished in circumference by ledges or steps. The enclosure resting upon the support, and therefore the lowest enclosure (q), is mentioned in Eze 43:14; and the one which followed (r) in Eze 43:14.
The word עזרה, which has probably sprung from עצר by the softening of צ into ז, signifies enclosure, surrounding, and is mostly used for the outer court of the temple; here it is applied to the altar, and signifies the enclosure or framework of the kernel of the altar, consisting of earth. As the altar rose in steps, a distinction is made between the lower or smaller, and the (upper or) greater עזרה. The identity of the lower עזרה and the smaller one (הקּטנּה) is so evident from the course of the description, that it is universally admitted by modern expositors. The lower one (q) is called the small one, in comparison with the large one which stood above it, from the fact that its height was smaller, as it was only two cubits high, whereas the upper one (r) was four. When, therefore, the measurement of the greater one is given in this way in Eze 43:14: "from the small enclosure to the great enclosure, four cubits," this statement cannot be understood in any other way than as meaning, that this enclosure or frame had a height of four cubits from the lower to the upper end, - that is to say, in other words, that the lower ledge was four cubits from the upper. Consequently the statement in Eze 43:14, "from the ground-framework of earth to the lower enclosure, two cubits," can also have no other meaning than that the lower enclosure, from the lower edge by the moulding to the upper edge, at which the second enclosure commenced, was two cubits high. This height is reckoned from the upper edge of the חיק, or from the first (lowest) ledge. The height of these three portions taken together, therefore, was (1 + 2 + 4) seven cubits. To this the mount of God (s), which was four cubits (Eze 43:15), has to be added, making in all eleven cubits. In Eze 43:14 חיק is followed by הארץ: the חיק consisting of earth, or filled with earth. But the חיק, with its moulding, is designated גּב, the back or support of the altar, and is thereby distinguished from the altar itself; so that, for the height of the altar, we have only to reckon the two enclosures, with the mount of God, which amount to ten cubits. Upon the basis of the חיק, with its moulding, and the two enclosures (עזרה), there rose the true altar, with its hearth, and the horns at the four corners, noticed in Eze 43:15. A distinction is here made between הראל, i.e., mount of God, and אריאל; and they are not to be identified, as they have been by many of the commentators, down to Hitzig, after the example of the lxx. אריאל (as the word is to be written according to the Keri) does not mean "lion of God," but "heart of God" (ארי, from ארה, to burn), as in Isa 29:1-2. The hearth of God is the surface of the altar, its fire-hearth (t); whereas הראל, mount of God (s), was the basis or foundation of the hearth. This was four cubits high, whereas no height is mentioned in connection with the hearth of God; but it is simply stated that four horns went upward from it, namely, at the four corners. With the horns of the altar, the size and height of which are not given, and which cannot be reckoned at three cubits, the description of all the parts, from the bottom to the top, is given; and all that remains to complete the measurements, is to describe the circumference of the several parts which rose one above another in the form of steps. This follows in Eze 43:16 and Eze 43:17. The hearth of God is twelve cubits long and twelve cubits broad, and is therefore רבוּע, square, of the same length and breadth on its four sides. Going downwards, there follow in Eze 43:17 the length and breadth of the עזרה, with fourteen cubits, as it was a cubit broader on every side according to Eze 43:14. It is very strange, however, that the length and breadth of only one עזרה are given here, as there are two of different heights mentioned in Eze 43:14. Many of the commentators have therefore identified the mount of God with the great עזרה, and attribute only a height of seven cubits to the altar; whereas Kliefoth regards both the עזרה of Eze 43:17 and the גּבוּל and חיק of Eze 43:15 as different from the parts mentioned by the same name in Eze 43:13 and Eze 43:14, and takes them as referring to an enclosure and a barrier of the mount of God. One is as arbitrary as the other, as the words of the text do not require either of these assumptions. The difficulty, that only one עזרה is mentioned in Eze 43:17, is easily solved, if we consider that in Eze 43:15 only the height of the mount of God is given, and no breadth is mentioned as in the case of the עזרה in Eze 43:14. We may see from this that the mount of God had the same breadth or the same circumference as the upper עזרה (see r and s in the illustration). In that case the length and breadth of all the parts of the altar were given, when, in addition to the length and breadth of the hearth of God (t), those of one עזרה, and that the lower, were given, as this alone was longer and broader than the hearth of God and the mount of God; whereas the length and breadth of the upper עזרה were identical with those of the circumference of the mount of God.
The altar, therefore, upon the upper surface, the hearth of God, was a square, of twelve cubits in length and breath. The mount of God and the upper enclosure had the same length and breadth. The lower enclosure, on the other hand, were fourteen cubits long and broad; and the support, finally, without the moulding, was sixteen cubits in length and breadth. The height of the altar was as follows: the support, with the moulding, a cubit and a half; the lower enclosure, two cubits; the upper, four; and the mount of God, with the hearth, also four cubits in height; whereas the altar in Solomon's temple was ten cubits high, and at its lower basis twenty cubits long and broad (Ch2 4:1). - The description closes in Eze 43:17 with an allusion to steps, which the altar of Ezekiel had upon the eastern side; whereas, in the case of the tabernacle, steps were not allowed to be placed by the altar (Exo 20:23). The form פּנות is taken by Kimchi as a noun. Others regard it as an infin. nominasc.; whilst Hitzig proposes to point it as a participle פּנות.
Consecration of the Altar
Eze 43:18. And he said to me, Son of man, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, These are the statutes of the altar in the day when it is erected, to offer burnt-offerings upon it, and to sprinkle blood thereon. Eze 43:19. Thou shalt give to the priests of the tribe of Levi who are of the seed of Zadok, who draw near to me, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, a bullock, a young ox, for a sin-offering. Eze 43:20. And thou shalt take of its blood, and put it upon is four horns, and upon the four corners of the enclosure, and upon the moulding round about; and so absolve and expiate it. Eze 43:21. And thou shalt take the bullock of the sin-offering, and burn it at the appointed place of the house, outside the sanctuary. Eze 43:22. And on the second day thou shalt offer a faultless he-goat for a sin-offering, that they may absolve the altar, as they absolved it with the bullock. Eze 43:23. When thou hast completed the absolution, thou shalt offer a bullock, a young ox, without fault, and a faultless ram of the flock; Eze 43:24. And shalt bring them before Jehovah, and the priests shall throw salt upon them, and sacrifice them as burnt-offering to Jehovah. Eze 43:25. Seven days shalt thou offer a sin-offering goat daily and a bullock, a young ox, and a ram of the flock without fault shall they prepare. Eze 43:26. Seven days shall they expiate the altar, and cleanse it, and fill its hand. Eze 43:27. And when they have completed these days, it shall come to pass on the eighth day and henceforward, that the priests place your burnt-offerings and your peace-offerings upon the altar, and I will accept you with delight, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah.
As the altar of the tabernacle and that of Solomon's temple were consecrated before they were used (Lev 8:11, Lev 8:15, Lev 8:19, Lev 8:33; Kg1 8:62-66; Ch2 7:4-10), and God commanded and regulated this consecration of the altar of the tabernacle (Exo 29:10.), so also is the altar of burnt-offering in the new sanctuary to be consecrated before it is used. This command is given to Ezekiel, and the consecration enjoined upon him, not as the representative of the nation, but as a prophet, upon whom, as is frequently the case in the prophetical narratives, those things are said to be enjoined, which are to be set in operation through his proclamation. This commission is given to him, however, for the day (the time) when the altar will be made or restored, from which alone we may see that the execution of the command belongs to the future, in which the temple shown him in the spirit is to be erected, and that it will take place in a manner corresponding to the realization of the temple; so that we cannot infer from this command alone that the reference is to the building of a temple and altar of stone, metal, and wood. חקּות are not the regulations prescribed for the altar service generally, but simply those relating to its consecration. If we compare these with the account of the consecration of the altars of the earlier sanctuaries, we find that no detailed description is given of the consecration of the altar of Solomon's temple, but that it is simply stated that it lasted seven days (Ch2 7:9). The consecration of the altar of the tabernacle lasted just the same time (Exo 29:37; Lev 8:33). And the same period is appointed here (Eze 43:26). But the consecration of the altar of the tabernacle was associated with the consecration of the priests. Here, on the contrary, the existence of the priesthood is presupposed, and only the altar is consecrated. The consecration of the Mosaic altar commenced with the anointing of the altar and all its utensils, by the sprinkling of it seven times by Moses with the holy anointing oil, for the purpose of sanctifying it (Lev 8:11). Here, on the other hand, nothing is said about the anointing of the altar; only the absolving of it by sacrifice is mentioned, which followed the anointing in the case of the Mosaic altar. At the altar in the tabernacle Moses performed the whole act of consecration, as the mediator of the covenant, the anointing as well as the preparation of the sacrifices. Here, however, the priests already consecrated for their service are to complete the sacrificial ceremony. It is true that the expressions used in Eze 43:20, "take of its blood," etc., and in Eze 43:21, "take the bullock of the sin-offering," etc., apparently indicate that the prophet was to perform the sprinkling of the blood and the burning of the sin-offering. But it is obvious that this is only to be understood as signifying that he was to do it through the medium of the priests, i.e., was to enjoin the performance of it upon them, from the use of the plural הטּאוּ in Eze 43:22: "they shall absolve the altar, as they have absolved it with the bullock." It is not all the priests of the tribe of Levi however, who are to perform this service, but simply those of the family of Zadok, who alone are selected in the new temple for specifically priestly service (cf. Eze 40:46 and Eze 44:15.).
The sacred ceremony commences with the offering of a young ox as a sin-offering; Eze 43:19, Eze 43:20, as in Lev 8:14, compared with Exo 29:1, Exo 29:10. The blood of the ox is to be put upon the four horns and the four corners of the enclosure, and upon the moulding below it round about; and the flesh is to be burned at an appointed place outside the sanctuary. For the article in הפּר החטּאת (Eze 43:21), see Ewald, 290b. The pouring out of the blood - that was not used for smearing the places indicated - at the foot of the altar is not mentioned, nor the burning of the fat portions of the sacrifice upon the altar. We cannot infer, from the omission of the latter circumstance, that the fat was not consumed upon the altar, but was burned, with the flesh, skin, and bones of the animal, outside the sanctuary, as Kliefoth supposes. Without the burning of certain definite portions of the victim upon the altar, the slaughtering of the animal would not have been a complete sacrifice at all; the smearing of the blood upon the altar would not have sufficed for this. And the fact that in Eze 43:21 the command is given, "take the bullock and burn it," does not prove that the animal was to be burned along with those fat portions which were to be consumed upon the altar in the case of every sin-offering. In Lev 8:17 also, את־הפּר stands in the place of את־בּשׂר הפּר, Exo 29:14. Ezekiel generally presupposes that the sacrificial ritual is well known, and therefore mentions only those points in which deviations from the ordinary ritual took place in connection with this sacrifice, such as the sprinkling of the blood, because the blood was to be smeared on particular parts of the altar, and the burning of the flesh, on account of the place where this was to be done. In the case of the burnt-offering in Eze 43:23, no directions are given concerning the ceremonial; because this was to be in conformity with the standing ritual, with the exception of the sprinkling with salt, which was not to be performed in the same manner as in the ordinary sacrifices. The burning is to take place בּמפקד , outside the sanctuary. מפקד is a place commanded or appointed; and מפקד is a place in the temple set apart for that purpose. It follows from this that the place in question, since it belonged to the house, i.e., to the temple, is to be sought for within the square of five hundred cubits in extent, which was covered by the temple and its courts; and at the same time that it was outside the מקדּשׁ, i.e., upon a spot which did not form part of the sanctuary in the stricter sense of the word. Kliefoth therefore thinks of a spot within the gizrah (Eze 41:12), the name of which implies that the space which it covered did not belong to the true מקדּשׁ. This view is the most probable one; whereas Ewald's conjecture, that the place intended is the locality of the sacrificial kitchens of the priests described in Eze 46:19, is decidedly erroneous, as these kitchens, which were set apart for the cooking of the holy sacrificial flesh to be eaten by the priests alone, were certainly reckoned as forming part of the מקדּשׁ. - Eze 43:22. On the second day, a he-goat was to be brought for a sin-offering, and the altar was to be cleansed from sin with this just as with the bullock on the first day; which implies that the same ceremonial was to be observed with this sacrifice as with that of the sin-offering.
After the completion of the expiation a burnt-offering was to be presented to the Lord of a bullock and a ram (Eze 43:23 and Eze 43:24). There is a difference of opinion as to the meaning of בּכלותך in these verses. Hitzig and Kliefoth suppose that the expiation was only completed on the second day, with the offering of the he-goat as a sin-offering. They both of them lay stress upon the fact that, on the one hand, in Eze 43:23 and Eze 43:24 the offering of the burnt-offering is mentioned on the second day, and not on the first day also; and on the other hand, in Eze 43:25, for the seven days of consecration, only the preparation of a he-goat for the sin-offering and the preparation of the two animals appointed for the burnt-offering are mentioned. Hitzig also adduces the fact that in Eze 43:26 there is no further reference to חטּא, but simply to כפּר and טהר, and draws the conclusion from this, that the sin attaching to the altar was removed with two sin-offerings on two days, and then through seven days further by means of burnt-offerings the anger of God which followed the sin was appeased (כפּר), and the uncleanness or profane character of the altar was expunged (טהר), so that the seven days of Eze 43:25 are not to be dated from Eze 43:19 onwards. According to this view, the consecration of the altar lasted nine days, and not seven, and the eighth day mentioned in Eze 43:27 would really be the tenth day, reckoning from the commencement of the consecration. To carry out this view, Hitzig is obliged to erase not only the וכפּרתּהוּ of Eze 43:20, but also the first half of Eze 43:25 as glosses; a fact which carries its condemnation with it, as even the Septuagint furnishes no warrant for the erasure of Eze 43:25. Moreover, the distinction which Hitzig draws between חטּא on the one hand, and כּפּר and טהר on the other, is quite erroneous. Purification (טהר) is never mentioned in the law as the effect produced by a burnt-offering. A sin-offering followed by a burnt-offering is invariably prescribed for the removal of uncleanness; for "reconciliation and purification take place through the absolution effected by the sin-offering; and to such a sin-offering and its purifying operation the burnt-offering is then added to secure the good pleasure of God for that which has been already cleansed" (Kliefoth).
But we cannot regard even Kliefoth's view as well founded, namely, that on the first day a sin-offering alone was presented, and it was only from the second day onwards that a sin-offering and burnt-offering were presented, and this lasted for seven days, so that the consecration of the altar continued fully eight days, and on the ninth day (not the eighth, as stated in Eze 43:27) the regular use of the altar commenced. Kliefoth bases this conclusion principally upon the fact that Eze 43:19-21 attribute only the sin-offering of a bullock to the first day; and that, on the other hand, Eze 43:25 and Eze 43:26 extend in all its details to seven days the very same ceremony as Eze 43:22-24 assign to the second day, whereas they do not contain a syllable to the effect that the sin-offering of the bullock was to be repeated every day, or that the sacrifices described in Eze 43:22-24 were also to be offered on the first day. The sinew of this demonstration consists in silentio, therefore; and this precarious basis of argument crumbles here, as in most other cases, as is evident from the words of Eze 43:26 : "seven days shall ye reconcile the altar, and purify it." This perfectly general statement, which is not connected with Eze 43:25 by any Vav copul., or placed in subordination to it, affirms in the clearest manner that the consecration of the altar was to last seven days, neither more nor less; so that if these seven days are to be reckoned from the second day, the sin-offering of the bullock upon the first day must be deprived of its reconciling and purifying worth, in direct contradiction not only to Eze 43:20, according to which the altar was to be absolved and reconciled through the sin-offering of the bullock to be offered on the first day, but also to Eze 43:22, according to which they were to absolve the altar by the sin-offering of the he-goat, in just the same manner as they had absolved it by the sin-offering of the bullock (on the first day). To take the כּפּר and מהר in Eze 43:26 merely as the effect produced by the sacrifices mentioned in Eze 43:25, renders the שׁבעת standing at the head of Eze 43:26 an impossibility. Unless, therefore, we would impose upon the words of the prophet a gross contradiction, we must lay no stress either upon the fact that in Eze 43:23 the offering of the burnt-offering is not mentioned till after the direction concerning he sin-offering to be presented on the second day, or upon the circumstance that in Eze 43:25 the he-goat is mentioned as a sin-offering for all the seven days, and no allusion is made to the fact that the sin-offering of the first day was a bullock. The former (the reference to the burnt-offering after the sin-offering of the second day) may be explained very simply, on the ground that the sin-offerings of the first two days are mentioned one after the other, because different animals were prescribed for the purpose, and then, first, the burnt-offerings, which were the same for every day. And it is obvious that the explanation is to be sought for in this formal arrangement, and not in the fact that only a sin-offering without a burnt-offering was to be presented on the first day, and consequently that the expression "on the second day" refers solely to the sin-offering of that day, from the words בּכלותך מחטּא in Eze 43:23; since מחטּא cannot be understood in a different sense from that which it bears in Eze 43:22, the clause immediately preceding, i.e., must not be restricted to the sin-offering of the second day, but must be taken as referring to the sin-offerings of both the first and second days. The meaning of the words is therefore this: when the absolution by means of the sin-offering on the first and on the second day is ended, then shalt thou bring a burnt-offering. But if this is the meaning of the words, the offering of the burnt-offering prescribed in Eze 43:23 does not fall so exclusively under the definition of time contained in the words "on the second day," as to warrant our assigning it to the second day alone, and concluding that no such offering was presented on the first day. There was no necessity for Ezekiel to express himself more clearly on this point, as there was no fear of any misunderstanding on the part of those who were acquainted with the law; since every Israelites who had been instructed in the law knew full well that no sin-offering could ever be presented without being followed by a burnt-offering, that in fact the burnt-offering was indispensable to the accomplishment of the כּפּרה, for which the sin-offering was presented. And in Eze 43:25 also, Ezekiel had no occasion to fear that the somewhat loose expression, "seven days shalt thou prepare a he-goat sin-offering for the day," would be misunderstood; as he had already stated that a bullock was to be taken for the sin-offering of the first day, and the period of seven days was so universally prescribed in the law for every act of consecration which lasted more than one day, that he would have indicated in a clearer manner any deviation from this rule. We therefore regard the change of the seven days devoted to the consecration of the altar into eight as being just as groundless as that into nine, and adhere to the traditional explanation of these verses, namely, that the consecration of the altar lasted only seven days, and that on every one of these days a sin-offering and a burnt-offering were to be presented, the sin-offering on the first day being a bullock, and on the other days a he-goat, whilst the burnt-offerings were to consist on all seven days of a young ox and a ram.
With regard to the burnt-offering, the direction given, that the priests are to throw or pour (השׁליך), and not merely to strew or sprinkle, salt upon it, is to be regarded as significant. According to Lev 2:13, salt was to be added to every קרבּן (bloody or bloodless) sacrifice. The express allusion to the salting of these consecrating burnt-offerings, and also the choice of the verb השׁליך, point to a copious strewing with salt for the purpose of giving greater intensity to the force of these sacrifices. On the significance of salt in relation to the sacrifices, see the comm. on Lev 2:13. The ו attached to the Chetib וכפּרוּ in Eze 43:26 is to be explained from the fact that the definition of the time שׁבעת is placed at the head absolutely. There is something bold in the application of the expression מלּא יד to the altar; since this expression arose from the ceremony peculiar to the consecrating sacrifice of the priests, namely, that the fat and fleshy portions of this sacrifice, which were intended partly for consumption upon the altar, and partly as a heave-offering for Jehovah, were to be given into the hands of the priests to be consecrated for the purpose of investing them symbolically with the gifts, which they were to offer in part to the Lord in the altar fire in the fulfilment of their official duties, and to receive in part for their service (see the comm. on Lev 8:25-29). Filling the hand of the altar, therefore, is equivalent to providing it with sacrificial gifts, so that it should never be without them. In this sense the symbolical act was connected with the completion of its consecration as a place of sacrifice. The Keri ידו is incorrect, and ידו the proper reading; inasmuch as even at the consecration of the priests, when the sacrificial portions were placed in the hands of the priests, מלּא only is used, and not ידים (cf. Exo 29:9; Lev 21:10, etc.).
If we compare the directions given in the section before us concerning the consecration of the altar, with the consecration which was prescribed in Ex 29 for the altar of burnt-offering in the tabernacle, and was fully carried out according to Lev 8, we find the following points of difference: - (1) the anointing of the altar is wanting here; (2) at the consecration of the Mosaic altar a bullock (young ox) was prescribed as the sin-offering for all the seven days (Exo 29:36), in Ezekiel for the first day only, and a he-goat for the rest; (3) the blood of this sin-offering is smeared upon the horns of the altar in the former consecration (Exo 29:12; Lev 8:15), in the latter upon the horns and the corners of the walls, and upon the lower moulding round about; (4) the burnt-offering there consists in a ram every day, here in a bullock and a ram daily; (5) on the other hand, the ram offered as a sacrifice of consecration in the Mosaic ceremony, which was specially connected with the institution of the priests in their office, is omitted here, as the priests were already holding their office; so that the sacrifice of consecration might be said to be here absorbed into the burnt-offering. All essential differences therefore reduce themselves to the fact that in Ezekiel the anointing of the altar is wanting, and the sin-offering of the last six days is diminished by the selection of an inferior animal, in place of which the burnt-offering is considerably intensified by the demand of a bullock and a ram for this, the same thing being also indicated by the copious pouring of salt thereon. - For the symbolical meaning of these sacrifices, compare the commentary on Lev 8. - The consecration of the altar was completed in seven days; and from the eighth day onwards the priests were to offer the regular sacrifices upon it (Eze 43:27); whereas at the Mosaic consecration of the altar and priests, the constant altar service of the priests was still further inaugurated by a solemn sacrifice on the eighth day (Lev 9). Burnt-offerings and peace-offerings are mentioned in Eze 43:27 instar omnium as being the principal and most frequent sacrifices, whilst sin-offerings and meat-offerings are implied therein.