Afterward, etc. Having completed the survey of the temple precincts (Eze_42:15-20), the prophet’s guide, “the measuring man,” conducted him back to the gate that looked towards the east, i.e. to the gate leading into the outer court from the east (see on Eze_40:6), perhaps because this was the principal entrance to the sanctuary, but chiefly because through it the impending theophany was to pass.
Scarcely had the prophet taken up his station at or near the gate when the glory of the God of Israel (see on Eze_1:28; Eze_3:23) came from the way of the east, as if intending to enter the temple by the very door through which it had previously departed from the temple (comp. Ezekiel, Eze_10:19; Eze_11:22, Eze_11:23). The voles which proceeded from the theophany and resembled the noise of many waters, is after the LXX. (καὶ φωνὴ τῆς παρεμβολῆς) by Keil and Smend understood to have been the sound produced by the motion of the wheels and the rustling of the wings of the cherubim (see on Eze_1:2, Eze_1:4; Eze_10:5), but is better taken, with Kliefoth and Hengstenberg, to signify the voice of the Almighty himself, i.e. of the personal Jehovah (comp. Rev_1:15). The statement that the earth shined with his glory (comp. Rev_18:1) has by Havernick, Kliefoth, and others been supposed to indicate the absence of that “cloud” in which the glory of Jehovah appeared in both the Mosaic tabernacle (Exo_40:34, Exo_40:35) and the Solomonic temple (1Ki_8:10, 1Ki_8:11), and thereby to point to the clearer and more resplendent manifestations of the Godhead, which were to be given in connection with the new dispensation for which Ezekiel’s “house” was being prepared. This, however, as Keil has shown, cannot be main-rained in face of the facts that in both Exodus and 1 Kings “the glory of the Lord” is used synonymously with “the cloud,” and that in Ezekiel’s vision “the glory” and “the cloud” were alike present (see Eze_10:3, Eze_10:4). Kliefoth and Schroder hold “the earth” which was illumined to have been “the whole globe,” “the entire region of humanity,” as in Isa_6:3; Isa_60:1, etc.; but there does not appear ground for departing from the ordinary sense of the words, that “the path” of the advancing God was irradiated by the brilliance of his material glory.
The prophet identifies the vision on which he now looks as the same he had formerly beheld on the hanks of the Chebar, when he came to destroy the city, i.e. when, in obedience to Divine command, he stood forth to announce the destruction of Jerusalem. Ewald and Smend follow the Vulgate. quando venit ut disperderet, in substituting “he,” Jehovah, for “I,” Ezekiel; but the change is unnecessary, as the prophet’s language is perfectly intelligible and quite correct, since “the prophet destroyed the city ideally by his prophecy” (Hitzig), and it is not unusual for Scripture to represent a prophet as himself doing what he is only sent to predict (comp. Eze_4:2; Eze_32:18; Jer_1:10). The prophet’s reason for introducing this clause was manifestly the same he had for identifying the visions—to show that, while it was the same Jehovah who had departed from the old temple that was now returning to the new, there was nothing incongruous in the idea that he who in the past had shown himself a God of justice and judgment by overturning and destroying the old, should in the future exhibit himself as a God of grace and mercy by condescending to establish his abode in the new. The impression produced upon the prophet’s soul by his vision was the same that had been produced by the former—he fell upon his face in awe and wonder.
The prophet next narrates that he saw the glory of the Lord entering into and taking possession of the “house,” as formerly it had entered into and taken possession of the tabernacle and the temple (Exo_40:34, Exo_40:35; 1Ki_8:10, 1Ki_8:11), and that of this he was further assured by experiencing immediately thereafter—not a push from the wind, as Luther and Kliefoth translate, but an impulse from the Spirit (not “a spirit,” Ewald, though the Hebrew word wants the article), which raised him from the ground upon which he had fallen (Eze_43:3), took him up (see on Eze_2:2; Eze_3:12), and brought him into the inner court, exactly in front of the “house,” where, having looked into the interior, he saw that the glory of the Lord filled the house, the language being that used in connection with the tabernacle and the temple.
And I heard him (better, one) speaking unto me out of the house; and the (literally, a) man stood by me. Two questions arise—Who was the speaker? and, Who the man? As to the speaker, the natural reply is that the One who addressed Ezekiel from the interior of the “house” was Jehovah himself, whose “glory” had just entered in to take possession of the house, and this view is adopted by most interpreters, though Hengstenberg and Schroder regard the man who stood beside the prophet as the one who addressed him. As to the man, it cannot, as Kliefoth maintains, be decided solely by the absence of the article before “man” that this was a different person from the guide who had hitherto conducted the prophet and measured the Building. The article may have Been emitted because the important point to be recorded was not the circumstance that the “one” who stood beside him was his quondam guide, but the fact that this “one” was a man. That he was also Ezekiel’s old conductor is at least a natural suggestion when one finds him afterwards appearing as a measurer with a line in his hand (Eze_47:3).
The LXX. and the Vulgate divide the present verse into two parts, and take the first as equivalent to a solemn word of consecration, the former supplying ἑώρακας the latter vidisti, “thou hast seen.” The Chaldee Targum inserts, hic est locus, “this is the place,” and in so doing is followed by Luther and the Revised Version. Some word, it is obvious, either a “see!” or a “behold!” must be interpolated, in thought at least, unless one adopts the construction of the Authorized Version, with which Smend agrees, and makes “the place of my throne,” etc; to be governed By the verb “defile,” or, with Ewald, places it under the regimen of “show” in Eze_43:10, throwing the whole intervening clause into a long parenthesis—a device which does not contribute to lucidity. Of the two expressions here employed to designate the sanctuary—not the temple proper, but the whole house with its surroundings—the former, the place of my throne, though peculiar to Ezekiel, receives explanation from the conception, familiar to earlier writers, of Jehovah as dwelling between the cherubim (Exo_25:22; 1Sa_4:4; 2Ki_19:15; Psa_80:1; Isa_37:16); the latter, the place of the soles of my feet, was of frequent occurrence to denote the ark of the covenant (1Ch_28:2; Psa_99:5; Psa_132:7) and the temple (Isa_60:13; Lam_2:1). The word of consecration was expressed in the promise, I will dwell (in the temple) in the midst of the children of Israel forever, etc; which went beyond anything that had been spoken concerning either the tabernacle of Moses or the temple of Solomon (comp. Exo_25:8; Exo_29:45; 1Ki_6:13). The second part of the verse announces what would be the result of Jehovah’s perpetual inhabitation of the temple—the house of Israel would no more defile his holy Name either by their whoredom or by the carcasses of their kings in their high places, or, according to another reading, in their death. That the whoredom signified idolatry (comp. Eze_16:1-63.) commentators are agreed. What divides them is whether this also is alluded to in the alternative clause. Rosenmüller, Havernick, Keil, Fairbairn, and Plumptre believe it is, contending that the “carcasses of their kings” (comp. Lev_26:30; and Jer_16:18) was a contemptuous and satirical designation of the idols they had formerly served, that the word “kings ‘ is frequently employed in this sense in Scripture (see Isa_8:21; Amo_5:26; Zep_1:5), and that the special sin complained of, that of building altars for dead idols in the very temple court, had been practiced by more kings than one in Judah; and in support of this view may be urged first that it is favored by the use of the term bamoth, or “high places,” in verse 7, and secondly by the exposition offered in verse 8 of the nature of the sin. Ewald, Hitzig, Kliefoth, and Smend, on the other hand, regard the sin spoken of in the second clause as different from that indicated in the first, maintaining that while this was the practice of defiling Jehovah’s sanctuary by idolatry that was the desecration of the same by the interment in its courts of their dead kings. Against this, however, stands the fact that no authentic instance can be produced of a Judaean sovereign’s corpse having been interred in the temple area. David, Solomon, Jehoshaphat, and others were buried in the city of David (1Ki_2:10; 1Ki_11:43; 1Ki_22:50), and a place of sepulchers existed on the south-west comer of Zion in the days of Nehemiah (Neh_3:16); but these prove nothing unless the temple hill be taken, as no doubt it sometimes was, in an extended sense as inclusive of Mount Zion. Similarly, the statement that Manasseh had a burial-place in the garden of Uzzah (2Ki_21:18, 2Ki_21:26) cannot be adduced in support of this view, unless it can be shown that the garden of Uzzah was situated on the temple hill. On the whole, therefore, the balance of argument inclines in favor of the first view, though it does involve the introduction of a figurative sense into the words.
In their setting of their threshold by my thresholds etc. The first “their” can only refer to “the house of Israel and their kings;” the second “their” may also allude to these, but is best taken as pointing to the “idols,” whose thresholds or temples, according to the view adopted of the preceding verse, were set up in the court of Jehovah’s temple, and so close to the latter that nothing stood between them except the temple wall Smend, who favors the second view of the preceding verse, considers this verse as a complaint against the kings for having erected their royal residence on Mount Zion, in the immediate vicinity of the temple; but as David’s palace was older than the temple, it is not likely Ezekiel was guilty of perverting history in the manner this hypothesis would imply.
Now let them put away their whoredom, etc. What has just been declared to be the necessary consequence of Jehovah’s abiding in the midst of Israel is now enjoined upon Israel as an indispensable prerequisite of Jehovah’s taking up his residence amongst them. Ezekiel’s theology in this respect harmonizes with that of Old and New Testament writers generally, who invariably postulate purity of heart and life as a necessary condition of God’s abiding in the heart, while asserting that such Divine indwelling in the heart is the only certain creator of such purity (comp. Eze_18:31; Eze_36:26; Isa_1:16, Isa_1:25; Isa_26:12; Joh_14:23; 2Co_6:17; Jas_4:8).
10-12.These verses prove that there was a deep symbolic meaning, which would be understood by those for whom Ezekiel wrote, in all these minute particulars. This picture of a perfectly holy worship was intended to bring the exiles to repentance. (Compare the method used in the book of Hebrews.) Principal Douglas (Expository Times, May-July, 1898; compare also Godet, Studies in the Old Testament) points out that much of the deviation from the Levitical law by Ezekiel is due to the principle enunciated in Eze_43:12, that the whole limit should be most holy. For this reason the veil or door which in the tabernacle and in Solomon’s temple had separated the holy from the most holy place was removed, making the entire sanctuary most holy (compare Heb_9:7-11; Heb_10:19-23), and removing every barrier between God and his believing worshipers. So the altar, the chief thing in all the worship, becomes conspicuous for its height (Eze_43:13-17), and the laver and the brazen sea are omitted, for these are no longer needed when the holy purifying stream springs from the temple; so the censer and the incense become unimportant in the presence of the living cherubim, and the golden candlesticks and all the ancient golden ornaments cease to be necessary since the presence of Jehovah fills the house with splendor. The greater holiness of the temple and the presence of the divine glory explain, therefore, the main differences in ritual between Ezekiel and Leviticus; even the king becoming merely a “prince” before this supreme majesty.
And if they be ashamed of all that they have done. This cannot signify that Ezekiel was not to show the house until they had evinced a sincere penitence for past wickedness, since the converse has just been stated, that their repentance should flow from a disclosure to them of the house: but that in the event of the presentation to them of the “well-measured” building awaking in them any disposition of regret and sorrow, then the prophet should proceed to unfold to them its details. He should show them first the form of the house, i.e. the external shape of the building, and the fashion thereof, or its well-proportioned and harmonious arrangements; the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, i.e. its exits and entrances (Eze_44:5), and all the forms thereof; which can only mean the shapes of its several parts; and all the ordinances thereof, or regulations concerning its use in worship, and all the forms thereof—the same words as above, and therefore omitted by the LXX. as well as some Hebrew manuscripts, and, after their example, by Dathe, Hitzig, Ewald, Smend, and others, though Keil, Kliefoth, Schroder, and others retain the clause as genuine, and regard it as an illustration of Ezekiel’s habit of crowding words together for the sake of emphasis—and all the laws thereof, by which were probably signified “the instructions contained in these statutes for sanctification of life” (Keil). In addition to rehearsing the above in the hearing of the people, the prophet was directed to write them in their sight, if it be not open to understand the “writing” as explanatory of the way in which the” showing” was to be made.
This is the law of the house. In this instance “the house” must not be restricted to the temple proper, consisting of the holy place and the holy of holies, but extended to the whole free space encompassing the outer court, the quadrangular area of three thousand cubits square (Eze_42:16-20); and concerning this house as so defined, the fundamental torah, law, or regulation, is declared to be that of its complete sanctity. Ewald and Smend, as usual, unite with the LXX. in connecting “upon the top of the mountain” with “house;” but expositors generally agree that the clause belong to the words that follow, Upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about; and that the prophet’s thought is that the entire territory upon the mountain summit included within the above specified border, and not merely the inner sanctuary, or even that with its chambers and courts, was to be regarded as most holy, or as a holy of holies, i.e. was to be consecrated as the innermost adytum of the tabernacle and temple had been. by the indwelling of Jehovah. Smend notes that “This is the law” is the customary underwriting and superscription of the laws of the priest-code (see Le Eze_6:9, Eze_6:14; Eze_7:1, 37; 11:46; Eze_12:7; Eze_13:1-23 :59; 14:54; 15:32); but it need not result from this that the priest. code borrowed this expression from Ezekiel, who employs it only in this verse. The more rational hypothesis is that Ezekiel, himself a priest, made use of this formula, because acquainted with it as already existing in the so-called priest-code.