Paintbrush Picture

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?

Psalm 42:1-2, NIV & AV

How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.

Psalm 84:1-2, NIV


"The Hebrew text of the Book of Ezekiel is notoriously difficult, filled with textual problems and hapax legommena [a word occurring once in a given corpus]. Many of the difficulties involves the architectural language" (Kalinda Rose Stevenson, The Vision of Transformation - The Territorial Rhetoric of Ezekiel 40-48, SBL Dissertation Series 154, (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1996 p.8).

This is the 'draft' introduction to Ezekiel's Temple and the Land of Israel in the Millennium.

Note on quotes:

Various Biblical commentators are quoted in this "research-article". Some of these quotes are selective. That is, their material is used, only as it agrees with the premises of this booklet.

Ezekiel's Temple and the Land of Israel in the Millennium

Son of man, describe the temple to the people of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their sins. Let them consider the plan, and if they are ashamed of all they have done, make known to them the design of the temple - its arrangement, its exits and entrances - its whole design and all its regulations and laws. Write these down before them so that they may be faithful to its design and follow all its regulations (Ezekiel 43:10-11, NIV).

"It would have been inconceivable for Ezekiel to envision a full restoration of his people without a literal fulfilment of each of these elements. Nevertheless ... it seems best to interpret chs. 40-48 ideationally. The issue for the prophet is not physical geography but spiritual realities..." (Daniel I. Block, The Book of Ezekiel Chapters 25-48, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT), Robert L. Hubbard, Jr., General Editor, (Grand Rapids, William. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998), p.505).

Daniel Block makes a footnote to his preference for interpreting the vision of Ezekiel 40-48 "ideationally":

"The expression is more readily understood and more accurate than [Kalinda Rose] Stevenson's "territoriality" (ibid., p.505).

The position taken in this article is that "territorality" is more readily understood and more accurate than Daniel Block's "ideationally" for interpreting the vision of Ezekiel 40-48.

The concept of "territorality" will be developed below. But part of Kalinda Stevenson's argument needs to be considered here.

In visions of God he took me to the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain, on whose south side were some buildings that looked like a city (Ezekiel 40:2, NIV).

Ezekiel 43:10, NIV
Ezekiel 43:10, AV
describe the temple to the people of Israel...
show the house to the house of Israel...
  Let them consider the plan
  let them measure the pattern

"With very few exceptions, measurements are of length and breadth only; in other words, the visionary has effectively conveyed only a ground plan, bounding and describing areas in accord with his basic concerns over separation and gradation..." (Moshe Greenberg, "The Design and Themes of Ezekiel's Program of Restoration," Interpreting the Prophets, James Luther Mays & Paul J. Achtemeier, Editors, (Philadelphia, Fortress Press, 1987), p.225).

"Most of the scholars ... have operated with an explicit genre assumption that these measurements constitute a temple blueprint... Demonstrating the truism that assumptions about genre determine interpretation, this "blueprint" has shaped much interpretation of these chapters by the assumption that the prophet is receiving from God a tabnit or plan. Scholars have focused on questions related to this assumption. Exactly what did this temple look like? How is this temple different from the First Temple? How is it different from the Second Temple? Is the purpose of the blueprint to ensure correct building of the new temple? Is this an eschatological temple or are these the plans that the post-exilic community is supposed to use? All these questions are a function of the assumption that the purpose of the measurements is to provide the blueprint of a building and its surrounding structures.

"However, if this is supposed to be a blueprint, it is not a very good one. An architectural blueprint is a two-dimensional drawing but it always includes vertical dimensions. This "blueprint" omits this necessary detail. Most scholars have noted, with puzzlement, that most of the dimensions are given in terms of length and width. There are no vertical dimensions for the building itself. The only vertical dimensions are of the wall around the complex 40:5... the tables in 40:42... and the wooden altar in 41:22... Despite the lack of vertical dimensions, various scholars have produced models and sketches of the temple complex. The variety represented by these efforts demonstrates quite clearly the difficulty of imagining, much less building, a three-dimensional structure with two-dimensional instructions. Other scholars avoid the terminology of "blueprint" by referring to "ground plan" or "temple tour" or such genre designations. However, these genre designations tend to avoid the issue ... [of] Why does the description of the temple omit vertical dimensions?..." (Kalinda Rose Stevenson, The Vision of Transformation, pp.4-5).

Some expositors, giving the benefit of the doubt in interpretation of the text, include a couple of other vertical dimensions for the Temple complex.

"[40:5, 41:5-15a and 42:1-12] are complex, three-dimensional descriptions. Ezekiel's visionary experience was three-dimensional. In the eastern gate he describes palm trees carved on pilasters and the windows set in the walls of the gate chambers, and observes (40:13) that the width of the eastern gate was measured ... ("from the roof of the chamber to its roof," that is, across the ceiling of the gateway). We are dealing here with a complex, three-dimensional structure, even if it is generally measured only in two dimensions" (Steven Shawn Tuell, The Law of the Temple in Ezekiel 40-48, HSM 49, (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1992), p.26).

"It has been remarked as a curious fact that of the three temples mentioned in the Old Testament the only one of whose construction we can form a clear conception is the one that was never built (Gautier, La Mission du Prophete Esekiel, p.118); and certainly the knowledge we have of Solomon's Temple from the first book of Kings is very incomplete compared with what we know of the Temple which Ezekiel saw only in vision" (John Skinner, The Book of Ezekiel, The Expositor's Bible, W. Robertson Nicoll, Editor, (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1895), pp.405-06).

Also missing:

"Many furnishings of the Solomonic temple and the desert tabernacle are missing: the ark and its cherubs and the lamp; the only interior furniture mentioned is an ambiguous "altar of wood." Very strange is the absence of a wall around the inner court, to which its three massive gates might stand in relation. No equivalent to the lavers or to the bronze sea appears in the outer court" (Moshe Greenberg, "The Design and Themes of Ezekiel's Program of Restoration," p.225).

Kalinda Stevenson's observation of the lack of dimension leads her to develop her genre interpretation of "territorality", which is foundational to this article.

But having said that, a literal temple will be built in the future, based on the information provided by Ezekiel in his in vision tour of the Millennial temple, so that the covenant between God and Israel can be renewed.

They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children's children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people (Ezekiel 37:25-27, NIV).

"In Deuteronomy 12:10, the Lord promised to give rest (Hiphil of nwh) to the people from their enemies all around them in the land, after which it would be time to build the central sanctuary. In accordance with that command, "after the LORD had given [David] rest" (Hiphil of nwh), (2 Sam. 7:1), he started to think about building a temple for the Lord in Jerusalem. Similarly, once the new, united Israel has been settled (Hiphil of nwh) in the land (37:14) and is at peace, then the nation's thoughts will naturally turn to temple building. Thus the promise of the Lord's sanctuary in the midst of his settled people is a fitting capstone to the prophecies of restoration. Though her enemies will once more descend on her (chs. 38-39), it is so that they may be defeated by the Lord, who will then establish his final temple (chs. 40-48)..." (Iain M. Duguid, Ezekiel, The NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Terry Muck, General Editor, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1999), p.437).

"The time is coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah... I will be their God,  and they will be my people ... (Jeremiah 31:31 & 33b, NIV).

"... I will be their God, and they will be my people". This is the covenant formula. It expresses the covenant relationship in a nutshell" (Tremper Longman III, Jeremiah, Lamentations, New International Biblical Commentary (NIBC), Robert L. Hubbard Jr. & Robert K. Johnston, OT Editors, (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 2008), p.212).

"The old theological triangle of Yahweh, people and land which summed up the covenant would be reestablished" (Leslie C. Allen, Ezekiel 20-48, WBC, p.214).

Covenant Dwelling

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying ... let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them (Exodus 25:1, 7- 8, AV).

... at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD ... there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory [kabod]... And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the LORD their God (Exodus 29:42-46, AV).

"God promised to dwell among his people (v.11) in the tabernacle spiritually, not materially. From the word for "dwelling" (miskan) and its root, the later Israelites developed a name for the presence of God in the Most Holy Place - the Shekinah" (R. Laird Harris, Leviticus, Frank E. Gaebelein, General Editor, The Expositor's Bible Commentary (EBC), (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1990), Vol.2, pp.643-45).

God was with His people, but as God is holy and in heaven, he was not literally with them. God's glory, the "kabod" was the visible symbol of God's presence with His people, in first, the Mosaic Tabernacle and then Solomon's Temple.

God with his people under the Old Covenant is also seen in the Covenant with the Church - the "Israel of God" (Galatians 6:16).

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20, NIV).

"Jesus, though not physically present among them, will not have abandoned them. He will be in their midst, though unseen, and will empower them to fulfill the commission he has given them..." (Donald A. Hagner, Matthew 14-28, Word Biblical Commentary (WBC), Bruce M. Metzger, General Editor, (Nelson Reference and Electronic, 1995), pp.888-89).

If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them (AV)... I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people (NIV) (Leviticus 26:3, 11-12).

"The expression "I will walk among them" (v.12) is not to be literalized... It refers to life, fellowship, and behaviour. Enoch, Abraham, and many others were said to "walk with God"... God would continually fellowship with his people if they obeyed his word; he would live among them..." (R. Laird Harris, Leviticus, EBC, Vol.2, p.643-45).

God would bless and protect Israel if they would obey and fellowship with Him - that is, if they would walk with God - obeying his statutes and commandments.

End of the Old Covenant

Then the glory of the LORD departed from over the threshold of the temple... (Ezekiel 10:18, NIV).

"The implication of the divine desertion of the sanctuary in Jerusalem was that God was no longer dwelling with his people. For that was the prime purpose of the temple, as it had been also of the portable tent in the wilderness that preceded it. The temple was not primarily a place of human worship (though of course it was that), but the place of divine presence, where God 'caused his name to dwell'. And, as Moses had sharply pointed out to God himself, it was the presence of Yahweh their God in the midst of Israel that made them distinctive from the other nations. Take that away and there was nothing left worth having. After the great apostasy of the golden calf, God had at first said that he would permit the Israelites to go up with them. Not good enough, said Moses. 'If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.' Without the presence of Yahweh dwelling in their midst, Israel might as well stay in the wilderness. Now, centuries later, that awful prospect was a reality: Israel was in the wilderness of exile, and Yahweh had abandoned his dwelling-place" (Christopher J. H. Wright, The Message of Ezekiel, BST, p.327).

New Covenant

 It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the LORD (Jeremiah 31:31-32, NIV).

"The truth of the matter was that Jeremiah found no fault with the Sinaitic covenant. Both Jeremiah and the later writer of Hebrews were emphatic in their assessment of the trouble with the covenant made in Moses' day. The problem was with the people, not with the covenant-making God nor with the moral law or promises reaffirmed from the patriarchs and included in that old covenant. The text of Jeremiah 31:32 explicitly pointed the finger when it said, "Which covenant of Mine they broke"..." (Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Towards an Old Testament Theology, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1991), p.232).

When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come upon you and you take them to heart wherever the LORD your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the LORD your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you... He will bring you to the land that belonged to your fathers, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live (Deuteronomy 30: 1-3, 56, NIV).

"Another objection also came to the author's attention and must have cut deeply into the message of hope. Its essential thought line ran: Even granting that all that is said about the covenant, its law, and its promise for the future, does not the covenant itself, backed up by the entire past history of Israel, show that the same disasters would overtake the nation again? If disobedience to the law carried such terrible consequences, and if the nature of Israel in the future remained what it had been in the past, would not the same consequences befall Israel yet again? One way or another the nation was doomed!

"This serious objective is counted by the words of 30:6: "God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live." God would transform the inner mind and spirit of Israel by "circumcising" the hearts of the people in order to implant the will to obey the commandments. The theology is virtually identical to that expressed in Jer 31:33-34 and Ezek 36:25-27. By a spiritual transformation the power of God would create a new spirit of obedience within every Israelite. God would give the power and the willingness to obey" (Ronald E. Clements, The Book of Deuteronomy, The New Interpreter's Bible (NIB) Vol.2, Leander E. Kech, Editorial Convener, (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1998), p.513).

(Note: Clements dates Deuteronomy to the later time of the Kingdom of Judah - centred around Josiah's reforms. The "entire" history of the 40 year wilderness period, with one broken and renewed covenant would not have been encouraging for Moses if not for this promise of God).

The promise of a new/renewed covenant was contained in the Old - it is 'one' Covenant.

"[The new] covenant was the old Abrahamic-Davidic promise renewed and enlarged" (Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Towards an Old Testament Theology, p.234).

Out with the Old, In with the New

Ezekiel 8:3 (NIV)
Ezekiel 40:2 (NIV)
The Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and in visions of God he took me to Jerusalem, to the entrance to the north gate of the inner court [of the Temple] ...
In visions of God he took me to the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain, on whose south side were some buildings that looked like a city [but was a Temple complex].

"This enormous final vision [of Ezekiel 40-48] presents ... a counterpart to chapters 8-11. In both the prophet is transported from his place of exile to Jerusalem and is there led from the outside into the inside of the Temple and is confronted, at various points along the way, here [in 40-48] with the ordinances of the new sanctuary, there [8-11] with the disorder of the old. In both, the whole section circles round the question, more or less clearly explicit, of the presence of the glory of Yahweh in the Jerusalem Temple" (Walther Zimmerli, Ezekiel 2, Translated by James D. Martin, (Philadelphia, Fortress Press, 1983,) p.327).

And he said to me, "Son of man, do you see what they are doing - the utterly detestable things the house of Israel is doing here, things that will drive me far from my sanctuary?..." (Ezekiel 8:6, NIV).

"... [the] thrust [of the vision] is not, as is commonly supposed, critical of the priesthood. These chapters are indeed of central importance to Ezekiel's critique of the past, forming as they do a counterpoint in many respects to the final vision of chapters 40-48...

"Chapter 8 is an account of a guided tour in which the prophet is shown four scenes of increasing abomination, with the offence to God being greater as the scenes in which they take place move nearer to the centre of the Temple... The point is that the entire Temple has been defiled from the outer parts to the inner court by the sins of the people as a whole" (Iain M. Duguid, Ezekiel & the Leaders of Israel,  Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1994), pp.111-13).

A. 8:1a the context of the vision (date, location, audience)
B. 8:1b the beginning of the vision (divine hand on him, he saw)
C. 8:3 the transportation to Jerusalem in divine vision
D. 8:4
the appearance of the divine glory
D'. 11:22:23
the appearance of the divine glory
C'. 11:24a the transportation from Jerusalem of the divine glory
B'. the end of the vision
A'. the response to the vision (delivery to exiles)

"The editor of Ezekiel's prophecies evidently intended 8:1-11:25 to be treated as a single composition... The major themes seems to have been deliberately arranged in an artistic chiastic order..." (Daniel I. Block, The Book of Ezekiel Chapters 1-24, The New International Commentary of the Old Testament (NICOT), R. K. Harrison & Robert L. Hubbard Jr., General Editors, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997), p.272).

He said to me, "Son of man, have you seen what the elders (zeqenim) of the house of Israel are doing in the darkness, each at the shrine of his own idol?... (Ezekiel 8:12, NIV).

... There at the entrance to the gate were twenty-five men, and I saw among them Jaazaniah son of Azzur and Pelatiah son of Benaiah, leaders (sarim) of the people... these are the men who are plotting evil and giving wicked advice in this city (Ezekiel 11:1-2, NIV).

"... although in Ezekiel's mind the abuses described in these chapters are certainly the responsibility of the whole of Judah (Ezekiel 8:17), nonetheless within that totality the lay leadership is singled out for particular blame. These lay leaders are designated in chapter 8 by the term ziqne yehudda/bet yisra'el, while in chapter 11 the presence is specifically noted of two of the sare ha'am.

"... the focus of chapter 8 is a variety of cultic abuses, both private (the incense offerings), and apparently, public (worship of the sun). The zeqenim are here charged with idolatry, associated with foreign cults. They have decided in their hearts that Yahweh does not see what is going on because he has abandoned the land (Ezek. 8:12). Yahweh's response is then to depict his glory actually departing from the land and to show the catastrophes which will follow, falling first on the zeqenim (chapters 9 and 10).

"The critique in chapter 11 is a little different. There the group of lay leaders are charged with bloodshed as well as wicked counsel (Ezek. 11:2, 6)...

"Thus the charges against the lay leaders of the people in chapter 8-11 fall into two principle categories: idolatrous cultic acts, which are particularly associated with the zeqenim, and the use of violence means to further their power and wealth, which is associated with the sarim" (Iain M. Duguid, Ezekiel & the Leaders of Israel, pp.115-16).

Departing kabod and destruction

Therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because you have defiled my sanctuary with all your vile images and detestable practices, I myself will withdraw my favor; I will not look on you with pity or spare you (Ezekiel 5:11, NIV).

"In chaps. 10-11 four stages of Yahweh's departure are depicted, from the holy of holies, where he was enthroned above the ark, to the threshold of the temple (10:4; cf. 9:3), to the mobile conveyance of the cherubim (10:18), then over the east gateway of the temple court (10:19), and finally beyond the city to the Mount Olives (11:23). Within this framework it is made clear that Yahweh's departure is accompanied by destruction, presented in the two scenes in chaps. 9-10. The prophets's comings in chap. 8 receive a preliminary antithesis in the departure of the angelic execution squad, whose killings begin with the sun-worshipers of 8:16 and continues back through the courts and out into the city, in a reversal of Ezekiel's incoming journey through scenes of cultic sin (9:6-7)" (Leslie C. Allen, Ezekiel 1-19, Word Biblical Commentary (WBC), David A. Hubbard & Glenn W. Barker, General Editors, (Dallas: Word Books, 1994, p.167).

"We have seen then from our discussion of the position of the laity and their leaders in Ezekiel that, in his mind, it was they who were responsible for the departure of the Glory of the Yahweh from his temple (Ezekiel 10), as a result of the idolatrous practices of the people and their zeqenim which was depicted in visionary form in chapter 8. These events were no temporary aberration but are entirely consisted with the general depiction of the zeqenim wherever they occur in the book of Ezekiel. In consequence of this idolatry - and to prevent it occurring again - the laity are "downgraded" to the most circumscribed position in the new order...

"In addition to his concern to prevent a recurrence of idolatry, Ezekiel was also concerned to prevent the lay leadership oppressing the weak. In the descriptions of the past, this sin is particularly associated with the sarim and the 'am ha'res (in the narrower sense). Both groups are absent from his plan for the future, along with others who might fall under the categories of "fat sheep" and "rams and goats" in chapter 34. They too will face the judgment of Yahweh. The restored community in its makeup and privileges reflects both reward for past faithfulness and punishment for past sin" (Iain M. Duguid, Ezekiel & the Leaders of Israel, pp.131-32).

Mosaic and Ezekielian Torah

I will bring you from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered - with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath. I will bring you into the desert of the nations and there, face to face, I will execute judgment upon you. As I judged your fathers in the desert of the land of Egypt, so I will judge you, declares the Sovereign LORD. I will take note of you as you pass under my rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant... you will surely listen to me and no longer profane my holy name with your gifts and idols. For on my holy mountain, the high mountain of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD, there in the land the entire house of Israel will serve me, and there I will accept them. There I will require your offerings and your choice gifts, along with all your holy sacrifices (Ezekiel 20:34-37, 39-40, NIV).

"Ezekiel is the ... new Moses who brings new legislation for the creation of a new world order" (Kalinda Rose Stevenson, The Vision of Transformation, p.xxiii).

"... in Ezekiel's final vision, at the macroscopic level at least, following the opening preamble (40:1-4) the text divides into three major units: 40:3-43:27, 44:1-46:24, and 47:1-48:35, which deal respectively, with Yahweh's establishment of his residence in the temple, Israel's response to his presence in their midst, and the apportionment of the healed land to the twelve tribes. The significance of this arrangement goes beyond its sheer logic; its parallels to the Mosaic Torah are obvious. The latter also begins with the provision for Yahweh's residence in the midst of Israel (Exod. 25:1-40), then prescribes Israel's response to his presence (all of Leviticus and much of Numbers), and concludes with the arrangement for the apportionment of the land to the twelve tribes (Num 34-35). These parallels provide an early clue that Ezekiel is functioning as a second Moses...

Table 15. Ezekiel 40-48 and the Exodus Narratives
Exodus Narrative
Ezekiel's Restoration
Yahweh commissions a human agent.
Exod. 3-4
Ezek. 33
Yahweh separates Israel from the nations
and delivers her from bondage.
Exod. 5-13
Ezek. 35-37
Enemy forces challenge Yahweh's salvic
work on his people's behalf.
Exod. 14-15
Ezek. 38-39
Yahweh appears on a high mountain.
Exod. 19
Ezek. 40:1-4
Yahweh provides for his residence among his people.
Exod. 25-40
Ezek. 40:5 - 43:27
Yahweh prescribes the appropriate response to his grace.
Lev. 1:1ff...
Ezek. 44:1 - 46:24
Yahweh provides for the apportionment
of his land to his people.
Num. 34-35
Ezek. 47-48

"The parallels between Eze. 40-48 and the Mosaic Torah can hardly be coincidental in view of the remarkable correspondence between the broad structure of Ezekiel's restoration oracles in chs 40-48 and the Exodus narratives as a whole as table 15 ... illustrates. These correspondences strengthen the impression that Ezekiel is perceived as a second Moses...

"Perhaps the most significant issue in the interpretation of Ezek. 40-48 is the relationship of this vision to the Mosaic Torah. Since this is the only corpus of legislation in the OT that does not come from the mouth of Moses, a comparison with the Mosaic Torah is in order. Numerous parallels may be cited.

The Torahs have virtually identical linguistic textures. Both are preoccupied with Priestly concerns: the sanctuary and its furnishings, the offices of the cult personnel, the sacrificial system with its sin and guilt offerings, the relationship of the tribes of Israel to the cult and its center.
Both recognize the Levites as religious functionaries, but restrict the office of priesthood to a specific line within the tribe.
Both Torah's were directly revealed by Yahweh to his intermediary to be passed on the people (cf. Exod. 19:3; 24:12; et passim; and Ezek 40:4; 44:6
Both Torah's were revealed on a high mountain, the first on Mount Sinai, referred to as the "mountain of God" (Exod. 24:12-18; the second on an ... unnamed mountain (Ezek. 40:2)...
In both, the revelation of the plans of the sanctuary follow the establishment of the covenant people between Yahweh and his people.
In both the presence of Yahweh is visibly demonstrated by the entrance of his kabod into the sanctuary (Exod. 40:34-48; cf. Eze. 43:1-9).
Neither human mediator is permitted to enter the land he envisions. Moses is permitted to view it from Mount Abarim (Num. 27:12-13; Deut. 32:48-52); Ezekiel observes the land from the mountain of revelation, but when his vision is over he returns to Babylon to share it with his fellow exiles.

"[Jon D.] Levenson [Theology of the Program of Restoration of Ezekiel 40-48, HSM 10 (Missoula: Scholars Press, 1976, pp.42-44)] is certainly correct in viewing Ezekiel's mountaintop prophetic experience as a programmatic revelation, and the prophet himself as a second Moses. But these links should not blind the reader to the substantial discrepancies in detail that exit between Ezekiel's and Moses' Torahs... some of the more obvious examples may be highlighted, as in table 16...

Table 16. Mosaic Torah and Ezekielian Torah
Mosaic Torah
Ezekielian Torah
Priestly line
Exod 28
40:46; 43:19
Vestment materials
Dyed wool
Luxury linen
(ses masmar)
Exod 28
Plain linen (pistim)
Anointing oil
Table of bread of the Presence
Exod 25
New moon offerings
Two bulls
One ram
Seven male lambs
Num. 28:11
One bull
Six sheep
One ram

"The heavy influence of the Mosaic Torah on Ezekiel is evident in the judgment oracles. Indeed, this prophet attributes Israel's demise to their infidelity to the covenant, and understood the judgment of 586 B.C. as the precise fulfilment of the covenant curses..." (Daniel I. Block, The Book of Ezekiel Chapters 25-48, NICOT, pp.498-501).

"All true and lasting reformations are conservative at heart; their object never is to make a clean sweep of the past, but so to modify what is traditional as to adapt it to the needs of a new era... Accordingly we find that the new theocracy is modelled from beginning to end after the pattern of the ancient institutions which had been destroyed by the Exile. If we ask, for example, what is the meaning of some detail of the Temple building, such as the cells surrounding the main sanctuary, the obvious and sufficient answer is that these things existed in Solomon's Temple, and there was no reason for altering them. On the other hand, when ever we find the vision departing from what had been traditionally established, we may be sure that there is a reason for it, and in most cases we can see what that reason was..." (John Skinner, The Book of Ezekiel, pp.387-88).

"Biblical tradition regards Moses as the mediator of Israel's divine constitution, the Torah; it recognizes no other legislator - except Ezekiel. How are we to account for this exception? The position of the Babylonian exiles was analogous to that of the "exiled" (alien and homeless) Israelites in Egypt and the wilderness. Impotent, Israel's only hope was its God whose will (so the prophet declared) was to demonstrate his power in the sight of all mankind by redeeming Israel and settling it in its land. On its part Israel was called to devotion to its God. Thus the first redemption, the Exodus, was accompanied by the stipulations of the covenant that described the righteousness behavior required from Israel in order to be a holy nation, worthy to have God as its covenant partner. Centuries later these requirements stood unchanged. Israel's flouting of them had led to catastrophe, but it could be remedied if Israel obeyed them in the future. God's resolve to replace Israel's "heart of stone" with a "heart of flesh" (36:26) assured that that condition would be met. But the vehicles and guardians of God's dwelling presence - the temple, its rites, and its personnel - had proved inadequate. The terrible vision of Ezekiel 8-11 showed the temple precincts and gatehouses invaded by idolatry; and the most sacred part of the court, the space between the altar and the porch of the temple, occupied by laymen worshiping the sun. The priests had failed utterly to keep guard over the sacred ordinances (22:26). Therefore, God had good grounds for deliberately polluting the already desecrated temple (9:7) and abandoning it (10:18-19; 11:22-23). The lesson of the failed experiment must be put into effect by revision of these sacred institutions. As Moses spelled out the meaning of "a holy nation" to an unformed people liberated from Egypt, so Ezekiel specified the needful changes in the vessels and symbols of God's presence in the future commonwealth of those near redemption from the Babylonian exile. Analogy of situation produced similar prophetic roles" (Moshe Greenberg, "The Design and Themes of Ezekiel's Program of Restoration," pp.216-17).

"When we pursue the analogy of Ezekiel to Moses (pp.215-17) and compare the program of the former to the legislation described to the latter great differences emerge. The nonpriestly Mosaic legislation in Exodus and Deuteronomy regulates private, civil, criminal, and public administrative realms that lie outside Ezekiel's scope. His concerns, concepts, and terminology resemble those of the priestly legislation that comprises the central parts of the Pentateuch (end of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers). The arrangement of his program also is like that of the priestly corpus: first a description of the sanctuary, then regulations of its personnel and ritual, and finally disposition of the tribes around the sanctuary and the land allotment. The major omissions in Ezekiel, when compared with the priestly legislation, are the whole system of purity and impurity, ethics and morality (e.g., sexual conduct), idolatry and private life (e.g., vows) - in sum, all the prescriptions of lay conduct making Israel a holy nation! Since such omissions cannot imply annulment, we must suppose Ezekiel to be highly selective, treating only of those topics in which he sought revisions. The system of impurity is presupposed: the purgations, the heightened requirements of priestly purification after corpse-contact (44:26); religio-moral demands of the Torah are surely included in those "rules and laws" the prophet predicted would become natural for the people to observe (11:19f; 36:26f; 37:24); and the omission of the harlot (Lev. 2:17, 14) from Ezekiel's list of women a priest is not to marry [44:22] is perhaps connected with this. After these major subtractions, only regulations concerning the public realm of worship, "keeping guard over the sanctuary and God's sacred things" so as to ensure his continuing presence in Israel, are left.

"Ezekiel introduces rigor into the separation and gradations of areas in the sanctuary precincts; moreover, his requirements are more stringent than those of the Pentateuch... All the sacrifices mentioned in Ezekiel's program are connected with public worship. The private sacrifice of the chief is the lone [sic] exception [see also the private sacrifice for a priest for corpse contamination (Eze 44:25-27)]... The land legislation also expresses the idea of separation and gradation...

"Ezekiel's program is a revision - and up-dating and a rectification - of selected topics of existent priestly legislation and practice very similar to, if not identical with, that of the Pentateuch..." (Moshe Greenberg, "The Design and Themes of Ezekiel's Program of Restoration," pp.233-35).

Putting people in their place

To complement the internal transformation of the people - through God's spirit - there will be a social transformation, as noted above, through the reordering of society.

"... there is a coherent and connected attitude taken towards those leadership groups [the monarchy, the priests and Levites, the prophets and the lay leadership (including the elders, princes and other ruling classes)] through out the book: those singled out for the most reproach in Ezekiel's critique of the past are marginalized in his plan for the future, while those who escape blame are assigned position of honour. Both upward mobility and downward mobility are evident, as he envisages a radically restructured society, designed to avoid repetition of the sins of the past" (Iain M. Duguid, Ezekiel & the Leaders of Israel, p.1).

"What is most significant is that Duguid has used vertical language to describe the social change while the book uses horizontal language. It is not a matter of being up or down a social ladder as it is a matter of being near or far from sacred space. It is a subtle point, but it is significant to grasping the worldview of the book. In our time, we tend to use vertical metaphors to expose social status. In the worldview of Ezekiel, the metaphorical language is horizontal, based on the degree of access to sacred space" (Kalinda Rose Stevenson, The Vision of Transformation, pp. xxiii-iv).

"The society of the vision of restoration in Ezek. 40-48 is one whose norms seek to remedy past abuses, such as the interference of the palace in the Temple, the royal confiscations of tribal lands, inequalities among the tribes, and oppression of the resident alien. The cental motivation for these reforms lies not in a doctrine of equality, but in a concern for the realization in social, even visible form of the relationships defined by Heilsgeschichte [German: "salvation history"]. The reform program is an attempt to be fair without abolishing or blurring what was felt to be essential distinctions among men. Thus, the king is limited in powers, but still a king, with a huge estate, still the holder of David's nir ("fief," here termed an 'ahuzzah, Ezek. 48:21). The promise has not been voided. Similarly, the tribes are granted equal patrimonies, but their relative positions are an objective correlative to their status in the narrative of their origins. History is reformed not abolished. Equity is established in so far as this does not entail a regression to primeval times, to what philosophers have called "the state of nature," when God had not yet started the very uneven pattern we call history. For if the same thing happened to everybody at the same time, there is no history. History is the product of differences and conflicts, and, as the Bible presents it, the account of God's singling out certain individuals, families, and other categories for special roles. It is this act of singling-out which is revered as mysterious by the man of faith but attacked as arbitrary by the secularist and oppressive as well if he is an egalitarian. For these differentiations among persons are not just responses to merit, but the fruit of passionate action taken in spite of all merit and human concepts of justice (Dt. 7:7-8). The program of restoration in these nine chapters seeks to remedy those inequalities which are associated with inequities, always guarding those inequalities in human society in which are owing to God's mysterious intervention into the human arena. Therefore, certain of its stipulations makes sense even by standards of those who speak only of the rights of the person, but others must be understood as the visualization of the ideal society not as (egalitarian) man conceives it, but as the God of history conceives it. In Ezek. 40-48, the land has become an image of truth, a diagram of providence" (Jon D. Levenson, Theology of the Program of Restoration of Ezekiel 40-48, (Missoula: Scholars Press, 1976, pp.124-25).

Restoration of the Pillars of the Kingdom

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. The army of the king of Babylon was then besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was confined in the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace of Judah... (Jeremiah 32:1-2, NIV).

"30:1-33:26 Often called Jeremiah's "book of consolation," the section depicts the ultimate restoration of both Israel (the northern kingdom) and Judah (the southern kingdom) and is the longest sustained passage in Jeremiah concerned with the future hope of the people of God (for other and briefer passages on restoration see 3:14-18; 16:14-15; 23:3-8; 24:4-7). The information in 32:1 may be used to date the entire section to 587 B.C., the year before Jerusalem was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and its people exiled to Babylon" (Ronald Youngblood, "Jeremiah," The NIV Study Bible, Kenneth Barker, General Editor, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1987), p.1172).

"The time is coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah (Jeremiah 31:31, NIV).

In the second chapter, after the LORD's announcement of the New Covenant, there is this prophecy:

" 'In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David's line; he will do what is just and right in the land. For this is what the LORD says: 'David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel, nor will the priests, who are Levites, ever fail to have a man to stand before me continually to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to present sacrifices.' " I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars of the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore' " (Jeremiah 33:15:, 17-18, 22, NIV).

"The Davidic kingdom and the Levitical priesthood were the two pillars and bases of the Old Testament theocracy, on which its existence and continuance depended. The priesthood formed the medium of approach for the people into divine favour. The kingdom assured them of the divine guidance. Both of these pillars were broken with the destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple; the theocracy appeared to have ceased to exist. At this time, when the kingdom ... was being dissolved, the Lord, in order to keep His people from despair, declares that these two institutions, in accordance with His people shall not fall to the ground, but shall stand for ever. By this, God own people received a pledge for the re-establishment and renovation of the kingdom of God" (C.F. Keil, Jeremiah, The Pentateuch, Commentary on the Old Testament, KD, (Peabody: Hendrikson Publishers, 1996), p.303).

"In those days" refers to the time, yet future, when the Messiah will "execute judgment and righteousness in the land". This is the time when the 'renovated' Davidic monarchy and the Levitical priesthood will have been restored.

"This is what the LORD says: 'If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night no longer come at their appointed time, then my covenant with David my servant - and my covenant with the Levites who are priests ministering before me - can be broken and David will no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne (Jeremiah 33:20-21, NIV).

"The enduring nature of Davidic rule and the levitical priesthood is expressed here by likening their permanence to the constant alternation of day and night, which are also secured by divine promise (Gen 8:22)" (Gerald L. Keown, Pamela J. Scalise, & Thomas G. Smothers, Jeremiah 26-52, Word Biblical Commentary, David A. Hubbard, & Glenn W. Barker, General Editors, (Waco: Word Books, Publisher, 1995), p.174).

New Testament Contradictions?

He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end (Luke 1:32-33, NIV).

The "premillennialist" interpretation of these verses:

"The throne of David will be set up in Jerusalem with Jesus Christ, the messiah of Israel, the Son of David, literally ruling upon it in His millennial kingdom (2 Sam 7:12-16; Luke 1:32-33)" (Ed Hindson & David Hocking, "Premillennialism," The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy, Tim LaHaye and Edward E. Hindson, General Editors, (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2004), p.280).

But this 'literal' interpretation contradicts Ezekiel 40-48 where the "glory of the Lord," the visible symbol of Jesus Christ's presence, returns to dwell in the Temple and is in conflict with the nasi in Israel (Ezekiel 45:16). Let alone the prophecies of Paul and John for Israel the Church.

If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come - one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law (Hebrews 7:11-12, NIV).

There has been no change in the priesthood. The sons of Zadok served in Solomon's Temple and they will serve, according to God, through Ezekiel, in the Millennial Temple. The author of Hebrews would also agree:

If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law (Hebrews 8:4, NIV).

The author of Hebrews does not contradict himself only those who misunderstand his argument. This leads into the next contradiction.

"This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds." Then he adds: "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 10:16-17, NIV).

"There is no longer any sacrifice for sin" does not mean that the blood of animal sacrifices are no longer required to atone for sin, at least not from what God revealed to Ezekiel:

" 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: In the first month on the first day you are to take a young bull without defect and purify the sanctuary. The priest is to take some of the blood of the sin offering and put it on the doorposts of the temple, on the four corners of the upper ledge of the altar and on the gateposts of the inner court. You are to do the same on the seventh day of the month for anyone who sins unintentionally or through ignorance; so you are to make atonement for the temple (Ezekiel 45:18-20, NIV).

"The majority of dispensationalists have argued that the sacrifices are memorials to the sacrifice of Christ, with no atoning character. However, the idea that these are memorial sacrifices is no where apparent in Ezekiel, and it is specifically claimed by Ezekiel that these offerings will make atonement (45:15, 17, 20)" (Ian M. Duguid, Ezekiel, NIVAC, p.521).

"Sacrifices throughout the year and the special rituals of the Day of Atonement ... enact a two-phased process of reconciliation between the Israelites and their divine King... On the Day of Atonement ... YHWH sheds judicial responsibility that he has incurred by forgiving guilty people..." (Roy E. Gane, Cult and Character, (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2005, p.322).

Without the 'purification' (a.k.a 'sin') offerings throughout the year for sinners and for those who became ritually impure and the purification offerings on the Day of Atonement for the accumulated past sins and pollution that Christ has taken "judicial responsibility" for, Christ would not have been able to dwell, for very long, in a polluted Mosaic Tabernacle or Solomonic Temple - no Christ, no covenant.

Ezekiel's torah has two days of purgation of the Temple at the beginning of the sacred year, that precede the Passover purification offering, so that Christ can continue to dwell in the Millennial Temple.

God back in His rightful place

"Therefore, this is what the LORD says: 'I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt... (Zechariah 1:16, NIV).

"It was early in those years [of exile] that the lowest point of Ezekiel's ministry occurred (lowest in theological terms... That was when he saw the glory of God departing from the temple, and the temple itself being consigned to destruction along with Jerusalem in the fire of God's judgment (10:18; 11:22-23)...

"What sense of awe and anticipation must have gripped Ezekiel, then, as he himself was once again gripped in the mighty hand of God and whisked off in vision of Jerusalem (40:1)" (Christopher J. H. Wright, The Message of Ezekiel, BST, pp.327-28).

Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live'... Therefore prophesy and say to them: ;This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel (Ezekiel 37:9 & 12, NIV).

"... the last time God's hand had lifted and led him in vision, it was to see a valley full of skeletons become a might risen army (37:1-14). If the resurrection power of the Spirit of Yahweh could bring the people of God back from the grave and cause them to live again, what could it do for the city of God and the temple of God? Could they live again? And most crucially of all, where and when would he see the glory of God again? Would Yahweh come home to stay? The answer comes in 43:1-5, which is the high point corresponding to the low point of 11:22-23..." (Wright, ibid., p.328).

The glory of the LORD entered the temple through the gate facing east (Ezekiel 43:4, NIV).

"The temple area stands empty and unused until in 43:1-5 it is energized by Yahweh's glory, returning to take up permanent royal residence. The divine coming enables the temple to come to life..." (Leslie C. Allen, Ezekiel 20-48, WBC, p.212).

"Chapters 40 - 48 are further linked to chapters 8-11 in a pattern of departure and return: the ... glory leaves the corrupted Temple in 11:22, and returns to the pure Temple in 43:4-5" (Steven Shawn Tuell, The Law of the Temple in Ezekiel 40-48, p.19).


I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy (Leviticus 11:45, NIV).

"A ... note of contrast is struck by the deliberately mention of changes in temple layout and organization. There is a new emphasis on divine transcendence that results in a conscious endeavor to reflect it in the areas of topography and personnel. What was good enough for the old temple would no longer do (cf. 43:10, 11). Its role as a royal chapel, overshadowed by a complex of palace buildings must end (43:7-8). The policing of the temple area by the "Swiss guards" who polluted the palace grounds was no longer permissible (44:7, 9). Instead, a double system of temple staff, priests and Levites, must be inaugurated on lines already laid down in priestly literature (Num 18). The holiness of God was to be a paramount principle, and its outworking was to permeate both the structure and the procedure of the temple" (Leslie C. Allen, Ezekiel 20-48, WBC, p.213).

"The fact no doubt that surprises us most is that our attention is almost exclusively directed to the ground-plan of the buildings. It is evident that the prophet is indifferent to what seems to us the noblest element of ecclesiastical architecture, the effect of lofty spaces on the imagination of the worshipper. It is no part of his purpose to inspire devotional feeling by the aid of purely aesthetic impressions... The impressions he wishes to convey, although religious, are intellectual rather than aesthetic, and are such as could be expressed by the sharp outlines and mathematical precision of a ground-plan. Now of course the sanctuary was, to begin with, a place of sacrifice, and to a large extent its arrangements were necessarily dictated by a regard for practical convenience and utility. But leaving this on one side, it is obvious enough that the design is influenced by certain ruling principles, of which the most conspicuous are these three: separation, gradation, and symmetry. And these again symbolise three aspects of the one great idea of holiness, which the prophet desired to see embodied in the whole constitution of the Hebrew state as the guarantee of lasting fellowship between Jehovah and Israel" (John Skinner, The Book of Ezekiel, p.413).

"Skinner confines his remarks on symmetry to a footnote on p.419. I confess I have not managed to elicit much meaning from this feature, which is surely present to a marked degree" (Moshe Greenberg, "The Design and Themes of Ezekiel's Program of Restoration," p.225).

To this may be added 'elevation', a related concept to separation and gradation.

Paintbrush Picture

(Concept from Iain M. Duguid, Ezekiel, NIVAC, p.473).

"In Ezekiel's teaching on the subject of holiness there is nothing that is absolutely new or peculiar to himself. That Jehovah is the one truly holy Being is the common doctrine of the prophets... The Hebrew language does not admit of the formation of an adjective from the name for God like our word "divine," or an abstract noun corresponding to "divinity." What we denote by these terms the Hebrews expressed by the words qadosh, "holy," and qodesh,"holiness." All that constitutes true divinity is therefore summed up in the Old Testament idea of the holiness of God. The fundamental thought expressed by the word when applied to God appears to be the separation or contrast between the divine and the human that in God which inspires awe and reverence on the part of man, and forbids approach to Him save under restrictions which flow from the nature of the Deity...  access to God was hindered not only by sin, but also by natural disabilities to which no moral guilt attaches. The idea of holiness is therefore partly ethical and partly ceremonial, physical uncleanness being as really a violation of the divine holiness, as offences against the moral law. The consequences of this view appear nowhere more clearly than in the legislation of Ezekiel. His mind was penetrated with the prophetic idea of the unique divinity or holiness of Jehovah, and no one can doubt that the moral attributes of God occupied the supreme place in his conception of what true Godhead is. But along with this he has a profound sense of what the nature of Jehovah demands in the way of ceremonial purity. The divine holiness, in fact, contains a physical as well as an ethical element; and to guard against the intrusion of anything unclean into the sphere of Jehovah's worship is the chief design of the elaborate system of ritual laws laid down in the closing chapters of Ezekiel. Ultimately no doubt the whole system served a moral purpose by furnishing a safeguard against the introduction of heathen practices into the worship of Israel. But its immediate effect was to give prominence to that aspect of the idea of holiness...

"Now in reducing this idea to practice it is obvious that everything depends on the strict enforcement of the principle of separation that lies at the root of the Hebrew conception of holiness. The thought that underlies Ezekiel's legislation is that the holiness of Jehovah is communicated in different degrees to everything connected with His worship, and in the first instance to the Temple, which is sanctified by His presence. The sanctity of the place is of course not fully intelligible apart from the ceremonial rules which regulate the conduct of those who are permitted to enter it. Throughout the ancient world we find evidence of the existence of sacred enclosures which could only be entered by those who fulfilled certain conditions of physical purity. The conditions might be extremely simple, as when Moses was commanded to take his shoes off his feet as he stood within the holy ground on Mount Sinai. But obviously the first essential of a permanently sacred place was that it should be definitely marked off from common ground, as the sphere within which superior requirements of holiness became binding. A holy place is necessarily a place "cut off" separated from ordinary use and guarded from intrusion by supernatural sanctions. The idea of the sanctuary as a separate place was therefore perfectly familiar to the Israelites long before the time of Ezekiel, and had been exhibited in a lax and imperfect way in the construction of the first Temple. But what Ezekiel did was to carry out the idea with a thoroughness never before attempted, and in such a way as to make the whole arrangements of the sanctuary an impressive object lesson on the holiness of Jehovah.

"How important this notion of separateness was to Ezekiel's conception of the sanctuary is best seen from the emphatic condemnation of the arrangement of the old Temple pronounced by Jehovah Himself on His entrance into the house: "Son of man, [hast thou seen] the place of My throne, and the place of the soles of My feet, where I shall dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever? No longer shall the house of Israel defile My holy name, they and their kings, by their whoredom [idolatry], and by the corpses of their kings in their death; by placing their threshold alongside of My threshold, and their post beside My post, with only the wall between Me and them, and defiling My holy name by their abominations which they committed; so that I consumed them in My anger. But now they must remove their whoredom and the corpses of their kings from Me, and I will dwell amongst them for ever" (ch. xliii. 7-9). There is here a clear allusion to defects in the structure of the Temple which were inconsistent with a due recognition of the necessary separation between the holy and the profane (ch. xlii. 20)... In order to guard against the recurrence of these abuses in the future it was necessary that all secular buildings should be removed to a safe distance from the Temple precincts. The "law of the house" is that "upon the top of the mountain it shall stand, and all its precincts round about shall be most holy" (ch. xliii. 12). And it is characteristic of Ezekiel that the separation is effected, not by changing the situation of the Temple, but by transporting the city bodily to the southward ... isolated from the contact of that in human life which was common and unclean.

"The effect of this teaching, however, is immensely enhanced by the principle of gradation, which is the second feature exhibited in Ezekiel's description of the sanctuary. Holiness, as a predicate of persons or things, is after all a relative idea. That which is "most holy" in relation to the profane every-day life of men may be less holy in comparison with something still more closely associated with the presence of God. Thus the whole land of Israel was holy in contrast with the world lying outside. But it was impossible to maintain the whole land in a state of ceremonial purity corresponding to the sanctity of Jehovah. The full compass of the idea could only be illustrated by a carefully graded series of sacred spaces, each of which entailed provisions of sanctity peculiar to itself. First of all an "oblation" is set apart in the middle of the tribes; and of this the central portion is assigned for the residence of the priestly families. In the midst of this, again, stands the sanctuary with its wall and precinct, dividing the holy from the profane (ch. xlii. 20). Within the wall are the two courts, of which the outer could only be trodden by circumcised Israelites and the inner only by the priests. Behind the inner court stands the Temple house, cut off from the adjoining buildings by a "separate place," and elevated on a platform, which still further guards its sanctity from profane contact. And finally the interior of the house is divided into three compartments, increasing in holiness in the order of entrance first the porch, then the main hall, and then the Most Holy Place, where Jehovah Himself dwells. It is impossible to mistake the meaning of all this. The practical object is to secure the presence of Jehovah against the possibility of contact with those sources of impurity which are inseparably bound up with the incidents of man's natural existence on earth.

"Before we pass on let us return for a moment to the primary notion of separation in space as an emblem of the Old Testament conception of holiness. What is the permanent religious truth underlying this representation? We may find it in the idea conveyed by the familiar phrase "draw near to God."  What we have just seen reminds us that there was a stage in the history of religion when these words could be used in the most literal sense of every act of complete worship. The worshiper actually came to the place where God was; it was impossible to realise His presence in any other way...

"Now when the idea of access to God is ... spiritualised the conception of holiness is necessarily transformed, but it is not superseded. At every stage of revelation holiness is that "without which no man shall see the Lord." In other words, it expresses the conditions that regulate all true fellowship with God... [In] an earthly sanctuary these conditions were so to speak materialised. They resolved themselves into a series of "carnal ordinances" - gifts and sacrifices, meats, drinks, and divers washings - that could never make the worshipper perfect as touching the conscience...

"And yet when we consider what it was that gave such vitality to that persistent sense of distance from God, of His unapproachableness, of danger in contact with Him, what it was that inspired such constant attention to ceremonial purity in all ancient religions, we cannot but see that it was the obscure workings of the conscience, the haunting sense of moral defect cleaving to a man's common life and all his common actions... And when at last Christ came to reveal God as He is... He taught them at the same time that true holiness can only be attained through His atoning sacrifice, and by the indwelling of that Spirit which is the source of moral purity and perfection in all His people" (John Skinner, The Book of Ezekiel, pp.414-21).

Who was the vision really for?

"When we look more closely at the composition of this vision, we see that it contains features which neither then nor at any subsequent time have been historically fulfilled. The most remarkable thing about it is that it unites in one picture two characteristics which seem at first sight difficult to combine. On the one hand it bears the aspect of a rigid legislative system intended to regulate human conduct in all matters of vital moment to the religious standing of the community; on the other hand it assumes a miraculous transformation of the physical aspect of the country, a restoration of all the twelve tribes of Israel under a native king, and a return of Jehovah in visible glory to dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever. Now these supernatural conditions of the perfect theocracy could not be realised by any effort on the part of the people, and as a matter of fact were never literally fulfilled at all. It must have been plain to the leaders of the Return that for this reason alone the details of Ezekiel's legislation were not binding for them in the actual circumstances in which they were placed. Even in matters clearly within the province of human administration we know that they considered themselves free to modify his regulations in accordance with the requirements of the situation in which they found themselves. It does not follow from this, however, that they were ignorant of the book of Ezekiel, or that it gave them no help in the difficult task to which they addressed themselves. It furnished them with an ideal of national holiness, and the general outline of a constitution in which that ideal should be embodied; and this outline they seem to have striven to fill up in the way best adapted to the straitened and discouraging circumstances of the time.

"But this throws us back on some questions of fundamental importance for the right understanding of Ezekiel's vision. Taking the vision as a whole, we have to ask whether a fulfilment of the kind just indicated was the fulfilment that the prophet himself anticipated. Did he lay stress on the legislative or the supernatural aspect of the vision on man's agency or on God's? In other words, does he issue it as a programme to be carried out by the people as soon as the opportunity is presented by their return to the land of Canaan? or does he mean that Jehovah Himself must take the initiative by miraculously preparing the land for their reception, and taking up His abode in the finished Temple, the "place of His throne, and the place of the soles of His feet"?" (John Skinner, The Book of Ezekiel, pp.390-91).

The Antitypical Captivity

In the thirtieth year ... I was among the exiles by the Kebar River... in the land of the Babylonians...  it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin...  (Ezek 1:1-3, NIV).

"The Book of Ezekiel is the answer to profound questions. Why has this happened to us? Who are we? Do we have a future? Will we go home again? Born out of devastation, horror, and loss, these questions demand answers. They thunder with outrage, they moan with despair, they cry out with grief from a world turned upside down, from a people torn apart, and taken away. No fact is more important for reading the Book of Ezekiel than this: this book is an effort to respond to the devastating experience of exile, to answer these questions and a thousand more. The basic question, the question which must be answered, the question which tears at hearts and minds and souls, is the most difficult question of all. Where is God in all this? Each question is a question about us and about God. Why did God let this happen to us? Who are we without God? Do we have a future without God? Will God allows us to go home again?

"The [typical] "us" is the defeated, displaced, and dispirited leadership of Judah in the sixth century b.c.e. The "God" is yhwh, the patron deity of Israel and Judah. The "exile" is the result of King Nebuchadrezzar's imperial policy which forced resettlement of the leadership of conquered peoples to Babylon. The triad of "exile," "God" and "us" combines social identity, theological ideology, and historical, geographical and political reality, with mythic conceptions of reality. The Book of Ezekiel cannot be limited to theology or social ideology or rhetoric or politics or history or geography or mythology. It is all of these, and more. It is the particular interrelationship of these diverse ways of thinking about reality that creates the Book of Ezekiel as a unique response to the questions of exile, God and us. However, the Book of Ezekiel is not only a response, it also attempts to bring about response. It is more than reaction; it is also persuasion. It answers attempt to create changes by adding another set of questions. What must we do? What do we have to change so that this never happens again?

"Contemporary readers of the Book of Ezekiel do not - we cannot - have the same questions which demand answers because we are not people of the sixth b.c.e exiled to Babylon by Nebuchadrezzar..." (Kalinda Rose Stevenson, The Vision of Transformation, pp.1-2).

Contemporary readers, at the present, do not have these questions - Why has this happened to us? Where is God in all this? Who are we? Do we have a future? Will we go home again?

But will they have them in the future, born out of devastation, horror, and loss as a result of invasion and exile, far worse than Judah under Nebuchadrezzar?

In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious. In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea. He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth... Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah, nor Judah hostile toward Ephraim (Isaiah 11:10-13, NIV).

"The places cited in 11:11 emphasize the worldwide nature of this return. They will come from the far south ("Cush"), the far east ("Elam"), the far north ("Assyria"), and from the far west ("the islands of the seas"). The phrase "the four quarters of the earth" in 11:12 express the same idea. There is no part of the earth too far away for God's 'hand' to reach.

"... the worldwide extent of the Dispersion was greater than anything that happened between 722 and 586 B.C., and the return in 538 B.C. was only from Babylon and not from other lands..." (John N. Oswalt, Isaiah, The NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Terry Muck, General Editor, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), p.189).

"The eschatological phrase "in that day" ... relates this messianic teaching to the end times. Like most of the OT writers, Isaiah had a lively sense of the special importance of the Exodus from Egypt when God had stretched out his hand to deliver his people. Isaiah looked forward to a time that will see an event comparable with its redemptive significance (v.11). This will contrast with the Exodus, for those who return will be a remnant of a larger people, while it was a greatly enlarged family of Jacob that left Egypt under Moses. The events will also differ because this time the people will not move together as a body from one point of departure but will come together from many lands and various points of the compass. Instead of going forth under a great leader, they will come together seeking a greater leader still" (Geoffrey W. Grogan, Isaiah, The Expositor's Bible Commentary (EBC), Vol. 6, Frank E. Gaebelein, General Editor, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986), p.90).

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'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph - which is in Ephraim's hand - and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah's [and the Israelites associated with him] stick, making them a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand' ... and say to them,''This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel ... and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms (Ezekiel 37:19 & 21, NIV).

'Ephraim,' by synecdoche, is another name for the Kingdom of Israel - a kingdom made of ten tribes. (Joseph was the father of Ephraim and Mannasseh).

... In the place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' they will be called 'sons of the living God' (Hosea 1:10, NIV).

The northern ten-tribes of Israel have been lost to secular history but not to God. Where are they today?

"British Israelism (also called Anglo-Israelism) is the belief that people of Western European descent, particularly those in Great Britain, are the direct lineal descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel" (Wikipedia, British Israelism).

It is the contention here that the peoples of Britain, America, north-west Europe and related peoples in the southern hemisphere are the end-time descendants of the Kingdom of Israel - see Britain and America in History and the Future - The Typological-Prophetic Connection for the argument for this understanding.

The reunion of the twelve tribes of Jacob/Israel will occur after WW3, which is the time of Jacob's trouble.

Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it (Jeremiah 30:3, AV).

The above prophecy is also a part of the so-called Jeremiah's 'Book of Consolation' which includes the promise of the New Covenant and the restoration of the Davidic monarchy and Levitcal priests.

The people who were the recipients of Ezekiel's 'program of restoration' were those of the former kingdom of Judah in the Babylonian kingdom. But that message of hope was only a type of the great hope that the descendant of the end-time southern and northern kingdoms of Israel in the worldwide captivity of the Jews - Judah and "the Israelite tribes associated with him" and Joseph - the American and English peoples and "the Israelite associated with him."

Through the preaching of the end-time Elijah and the two witness, with Elijah likely being one of the two, with their focus on Ezekiel 40-48, the modern-day descendants of Jacob, those who are not considered God's people, will learn, before and during the tribulation of those days, that they are the people of God and Ezekiel's vision of transformation will give hope to the end-time descendants of the former kingdoms of Israel and Judah languishing in captivity, that all is not lost and a great future is a head for them.

New Society

Then the nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever (Ezekiel 37:28, NIV).

"The foundational premise of this study is that assumptions about genre determine interpretation. My genre hypothesis is that Ezekiel 40-48 is territorial rhetoric. Territoriality is a technical term from the discipline of human geography. Robert Sack defines territoriality as: the attempt by an individual or group to affect, influence, or control people, phenomena, and relationships, by delimiting and asserting control over a geographical area.

"The three essential facets of territoriality are classification of area, communications of boundaries, and enforcement of access" (Kalinda Rose Stevenson, The Vision of Transformation, p.11).

"The fundamental issue in territoriality is access. Areas are defined and boundaries communicated in order to control access. In such a [social] system, the most important issue concerns authority to cross the boundaries of the territory in order to enter an area" (Stevenson, pp.54-55).

"Area refers to physical space. Boundaries delineate the area. Control of access can refer to physical structures which control access to space, as well as the social process involved in maintaining the areas as territory...

"Territoriality is place-specific and always involves issues of power..." (Stevenson, pp.11-12).

"The essence of the definition of territoriality is that it involves the control of space for social purposes. Access to space is a power issue. Those who control access to space are the power holders...  power holders are the ones who make the rules which define areas, establish boundaries and control access; those whose access is controlled are the power subjects... power subjects are the ones who follow the rules of the power holders" (Stevenson, pp.79 & 49).

And he said to me, "Son of man, do you see what they are doing - the utterly detestable things the house of Israel is doing here, things that will drive me far from my sanctuary?..." (Ezekiel 8:6, NIV).

"The temple vision of Chapter 8 - 11 is a human geography of the violation of YHWH's territory by both cultic and social trespass. Each of the "abominations" cited is a violation of YHWH's space. The "seat of the imagery of jealousy which provokes to jealousy" (8:3); the images on the wall and the elders who are violating priestly prerogative with the censer of incense (8:10-11); the women weeping for Tammuz (8:14); the men between the altar and the temple, with their backs to the temple, worshiping the sun (8:16); are all violations of YHWH's space.

"These violations of YHWH's territory resulted in the unthinkable: YHWH abandoned the temple and Jerusalem to destruction.

"The human geography which violated YHWH's territory resulted in exile, not just the exile of the people, but the exile of YHWH. In the world view of the Ancient Near East, the presence of a god in the land ensured blessing; absence brought chaos. The scene in Ezekiel 11:22-23 of the Kabod YHWH, going up "from the midst of the city," is the scene of YHWH's flight into exile, the abandonment of Jerusalem to its destruction..." (Stevenson, p.156).

In the thirtieth year ... I was among the exiles by the Kebar River... in the land of the Babylonians...  it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin...  (Ezek 1:1-3, NIV).

"Rhetoric is the art of the discipline that deals with the use of discourse, either spoken or written, to inform or persuade or motivate an audience, whether that audience is made up one person or a group of persons" (Edward P. J. Corbett, Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student, 3d ed/ (New York: Oxford University Press, 1965<1990>,p.3), (Stevenson, p.145)).

"The essential characteristic of rhetoric is that it is a response to an existing situation which the rhetor thinks can somehow be changed by addressing words to a particular audience... the goal of the rhetoric is to create a community..." (Stevenson, pp.145 & 159).

"Rhetoric is intentional speech and territoriality is an intentional effort to control access to space. Both involve some form of communication. For rhetoric, the means of communication is always spoken or written language. However, language is not necessary for the communication of territoriality. The effort to assert control of access can be accomplished by means other than language, by building a wall or making a gesture. Territoriality can also be asserted by language, by posting a no trespassing sign or by speech. One way to assert territoriality is to write a text which describes areas, boundaries, and rules of access. Ezekiel 40-48 is such a text. The concept of territoriality allows us to see that the measurements of the temple and the land are fundamentally territorial claims about social space. These chapters focus upon defining area, boundaries, and the power relationships and place-specific practices which control access to holy space" (Stevenson, p.13).

"...the fundamental intention of these chapters is to create a new human geography by changing access to space... because societies are defined by their spatial organization, any change in spatial organization created by this changed access is necessarily a change in the human geography of the society. Changing the spatial organization of the society changes the society. Ezekiel 40-48 is a vision of a new society organized according to a new set of spatial rules. It is a temple society with controlled access to sacred space, based on a spatial theology of holiness..." (Stevenson, pp.xviii, 152).

As I live, says the Lord GOD ... I will be king over you.  For on my holy mountain, the mountain height of Israel, say the Lord GOD, there all the house of Israel, all of them, shall serve me in the land; there I will accept them, and there I will require your contributions and the choicest of your gifts, and with all your sacred things (Ezekiel 20:33 & 40, NRSV).

"Ezekiel 40-48 is territorial rhetoric, produced in the context of the Babylonian exile to restructure the society of Israel by asserting YHWH's territorial claim as the only king of Israel" (Stevenson, p.163).

Stevenson does not see a human king in the new society, based solely on the vision of Ezekiel 40-48, though she doesn't adequately define the nasi, she recognizes that he is the head of state.

So when a quote refers to YHWH as the "only King of Israel" this article uses it in the sense that Paul referred to God the Father as the "only God" (NIV). Paul does not mean by this that Jesus Christ is not God.

In the new society there are actually three kings - two divine and one human.

In visions of God he took me to the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain, on whose south side were some buildings that looked like a city. He took me there, and I saw a man whose appearance was like bronze; he was standing in the gateway with a linen cord and a measuring rod in his hand. The man said to me, "Son of man, look with your eyes and hear with your ears and pay attention to everything I am going to show you, for that is why you have been brought here. Tell the house of Israel everything you see" (Ezekiel 40:2-3, NIV).

"The beginning [of the temple tour] makes clear that YHWH is claiming a territory" (Stevenson, p.50).

He said: "Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place for the soles of my feet. This is where I will live among the Israelites forever (Ezekiel 43:7a, NIV).

"The very first statement of the speech is the territorial claim of a king...

"The speech is the assertion of a territorial claim to be the power holder of a place. The importance of place is evident. After the address, "Mortal," the speech begins with defining the location. Each clause has a signifier of location: the place, there, in the midst. The royal language is explicit here. This [is] the place of YHWH's throne, the place where YHWH will be King forever" (Stevenson, pp.50-51).

"The vision of the Kabod YHWH coming to take possession of the House of YHWH (Ezekiel 43:1-5) is YHWH's claim as power holder of the territory and the renewal of YHWH's claim to kingship. All others are power subjects, with varying degrees of access. The priest have maximum access to the territory of YHWH's House. The Levites have lesser access, and the laity have the least access to the House" (Stevenson, p.164).

This is what the Sovereign LORD says: "These are the boundaries by which you are to divide the land for an inheritance among the twelve tribes of Israel... Because I swore with uplifted hand to give it to your forefathers, this land will become your inheritance (Ezekiel 47:13-14, NIV).

"Just as the speech in 43:7 was the territorial claim of a king to take possession of the House, this speech is the territorial claim to ownership of the Land. YHWH owns the Land and divides it among the tribes as a inheritance... This means that there is one power holder in the Land. All human beings are power subjects, whose access to the Land is determined by YHWH. However, just as the power subjects of the House had more or less access depending on social role, access to the Land is also a function of social role. Social role is a matter of tribal identity" (Stevenson, pp.80-81).

"Access to the House involves the crossing of boundaries in order to enter various areas within the House complex. Access to the Land refers to land ownership... Inheritance defines inalienable rights to power by defining inalienable rights to space...

"In the Vision of Transformation's territorial system, whether one is a power holder or a power subject is predetermined and cannot be changed" (Kalinda Rose Stevenson, The Vision of Transformation, p.79).

The power subjects in the Vision are the Nasi - the cult patron and representative of the People; the Priests - "who have maximum access to the territory of YHWH's House"; the Levites; the People of Israel and the Resident aliens - "You are to consider them as native-born Israelites" (Ezekiel 47:22, NIV).

Territoriality, Holiness and Shapes

So he measured the area on all four sides. It had a wall around it, five hundred cubits long and five hundred cubits wide, to separate the holy from the common (Ezekiel 42:20, NIV).

"This statement is a succinct expression of the religious ideology which motivates this particular layout of places. It shares a set of pervasive assumptions with other Ancient Near East religious ideologies which categorize people, places and things as holy or common, pure or impure"...

"Whatever the subdivisions of space within the House area, the whole is holy in relation to what is outside the wall" (Kalinda Rose Stevenson, The Vision of Transformation, pp.37 & 39).

The Temple Complex is classified as "holy." The Temple Complex is also a square of 500 cubits by 500 cubits.

"In the landscape of Temple and land in Ezekiel, the square is not simply an accident of design. It is rhetorically meaningful and is intended to be the material representation of a theology of holiness... In Ezekiel 40-48, holiness has a shape... the square can be read as a sign of the holy...

"The shape of the holy is the square while the shape of the common is the rectangle" (Stevenson, pp.42 & 47).

In the tabernacle and temple the shape of the "Most Holy Place" was a square and the "Holy Place" was a rectangle. In the realm of the holy the area defined by the square is of a higher grade of holiness in relation to the area defined by the rectangle, which is a lower grade of holiness.

Zones of Relative Holiness and Measurements

"Jonathan Smith has divided Ezekiel's temple complex into "three zones of relative sacrality." The center zone from east to west contains the two East Gates, the Inner Court, the temple, and the Binyan. This is YHWH's zone. On either side of this central zone, there are spheres of priestly domestic activities... On the other side of the priestly zone, there is the zone for the people" (Kalinda Rose Stevenson, The Vision of Transformation, pp.39-40).

"The dimensions given in the text clearly define the spaces of the central zone which includes the square spaces of the Inner Court, the House, and the Binyan. In contrast, neither the zone for the priests, nor the zone for the people has a square area. [The exception to this rule is that the guard chambers, of the outer and inner gates, are also squares]. (The only square area to which the people have access is the Outer Court, however, part of the Outer Court lies within the holy inner zone belonging to YHWH). The dimensions which are included are sufficient to define YHWH's zone and YHWH's areas. On the other side of this central zone, there are spheres of priestly domestic activities, which contain the priestly chambers (40:44-46; 42:13). The measurements of one set of priestly chambers are given but not the other. On the other side of the priestly zone, there is the zone for the people. This zone contains the pavement (40:18), the chambers (40:17); 42:8), the kitchens (46:22). However, except for the dimensions of the cooking areas in the four cornets of the Outer Court, there are no dimensions given for the places for the people. The shape of the cooking areas is the rectangle, the shape of the common, rather than the holy. This is one more indication that the purpose of the measurements is not to provide the measurements of a building plan, but to separate the holy from the common" (Stevenson, p.137).

"The areas which are completely defined are in the central zone, which is the most holy zone... These square areas are completely defined. Conversely, the areas which are not so clearly defined are not square, and they are not located in the central portion of the House complex. In relationship to this most holy zone central zone, the outer zones on the north and south are less holy. They are also less completely defined. The areas which are completely defined by length and width are in the most holy zone in the center. The areas which are incompletely defined are in the zones for the people, on the outer edges of the complex - the further away from the center, the less precise the dimensions" (Stevenson, pp.30 & 40).

Paintbrush Picture

(Concept from Daniel I. Block, The Book of Ezekiel Chapters 25-48, NICOT, p.573).


In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth of the month, in the fourteenth year after the fall of the city - on that very day the hand of the LORD was upon me and he took me there. In visions of God he took me to the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain, on whose south side were some buildings that looked like a city (Ezekiel 40:1-2, NIV).

Paintbrush Picture

"... in the construction [of the temple] there appears the figure twenty-five and its multiples: the gate (inside measurement) is twenty-five cubits wide; its length (outside measurement) is fifty cubits; a hundred cubits is the distance from gate to gate; the inner court is a hundred cubits square; so that the total measurement of the temple area, as the measurement in 42:15-20 makes quite explicit, is five hundred square cubits. This system of measurement is still effective in the undoubtedly later description of the allocation of land in chapter 48 in the measurement of the terumah [consecrated area] in the narrower sense (48:20) at twenty-five thousand cubits by twenty-five thousand... From this point of view one cannot suppress the question whether the figure in the date in 40:1, the twenty-fifth year, is not also to be evaluated in this context of numerical stylization" (Walther Zimmerli, Ezekiel 2, Translated by James D. Martin, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983, English Translation), p.344).

The Three Areas

"Ezekiel 40-48 concerns the separation of spaces into three areas: the House of YHWH or Holy Place; the Portion; and the Land of Israel. The relationship between these area is best expressed by visualizing three concentric maps. The first is the map of the whole land. The second is a detailed map of a particular section of the land which is called the Portion. The third map is a more detailed section which is called the House of YHWH or Holy Place. The order of the text begins with the most detailed map, expands it to a larger map, and then considers the whole. (The pattern is broken somewhat by 48:30-35 which returns to the City)..." (Kalinda Rose Stevenson, The Vision of Transformation, p.19).

"The three concentric spaces are the House of YHWH, or Holy Place, the Portion and the Land of Israel...

"The emphasis on the square shape continues in the description of the Portion ... and the City" (Kalinda Rose Stevenson, The Vision of Transformation, p.34).

Paintbrush Picture
"In order to locate the Holy Place [that is the Temple complex] at the exact center of the Portion, it must be slightly to the north of the midpoint of Yahweh Portion [that is, the Priests' Portion]. Admittedly, the text itself does not locate YHWH's Portion at the exact center of the Portion any more than the text located the Altar at the exact center of the inner court. However, the assumption leads to a wonderfully concentric arrangement which overlays the square matrix of the Portion over the square matrix of the House of YHWH or Holy Place. The concentric center of the Land as a whole is also the concentric center of these two square matrices of House and Portion. To be concentric is to share a common center, even if the center is not the geometric midpoint. According to this, the concentric point of the Land of Israel, the Portion, and the House of YHWH is the square Altar in the Inner Court" (Kalinda Rose Stevenson, The Vision of Transformation, p.34).

"The square Altar at the concentric center of the House, Portion, and Land is rhetorically significant in the landscape and is meant to be read as part of the theology of holiness which ensures the well-being of the reshaped society by cleansing the society and cosmos of impurity" (Stevenson, p.47).

Cosmology and Separation

"[The Priestly world view] has as its framework three distinct orders of creation - the cosmological, the social and the cultic. All three orders were given shape, brought into being, and established by the speech of God. What must be seen, however, is that these various orders are not independent of one another but are intricately connected...

"The conceptual element that holds these three orders together is that of order through separation... The separation of conceptual categories focuses on three areas in Priestly ritual material - space, time and status - and Priestly ritual functions within the context of clearly defined and demarcated categories of space, time and status. Each of these conceptual categories is given concrete expression through a foundational image of separation: space is the separation of the holy of holies from all other areas; time is the separation of the Sabbath from all other days; status in the separation of the priests from all other persons. Each of these is said to be 'set apart' and categorically distinct by the Priestly traditionists. Thus, the central conceptual element of the Priestly world view that is present in the cosmological, existential, and praxeological elements of that world view, and is operative within the framework of the cosmological, societal, and cultic orders, is the idea that order is established through the careful observations of categorical divisions, through the recognition and maintenance of boundaries" (Frank H. Gorman. Jr., Ideology of Ritual Space, Time and Status in the Priestly Theology, JSOT Sup 91, (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1990), pp.44-45).

And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean (Ezekiel 44:23, AV).

"That which is clean ... may be thought of as that which is in its proper place within the boundaries established by God in creation, and whose own external boundaries are whole and intact. That which is unclean ... is something out of place, out of what seems to be its proper category or niche, "out of bounds." The unclean is an anomaly, something that does not fit into a classification, or whose own external boundaries have been breached or are ambiguous in some way" (Richard D. Nelson, Raising Up a Faithful Priest, pp.21-22).

"Only if the categories of clean and holy could be maintained in the realm of worship and in a society as a whole could an ongoing relationship with Yahweh the holy God be possible" (Richard D. Nelson, Raising Up a Faithful Priest, p.21).

"Priestly theology valued mediation between God and humanity. The Hebrew Bible took the alien nature of Yahweh seriously. To see God was, of course, to die. Yet this same Yahweh was perilously present in Israel's midst in the ark and temple. The priests mediated this menacing divine immanence by insulating Israel from holy space. Priests also defused the danger by making atonement for the altar and the sanctuary. At the same time, of course, Yahweh was perceived of as a transcendent God enthroned in the far-off sky. To make life and fellowship with such a heavenly God possible, mediation was again required. Priests opened up and kept open the channel of sacrificial transfer between earth and heaven centered on the altar. Priests also conveyed divine communication (oracle, declaration, torah instruction) and divine favor (blessing). The mediation of priests therefore made Israel's life with Yahweh possible despite the paradoxical obstacles of dangerous immanence and impersonal transcendence. Although one may might judge priestly mediation as a self-serving clerical monopoly, the Hebrew Bible itself interprets it as a divinely instituted ministry of reconciliation, not so far from what Paul describes in 2 Cor. 5:18-21" (Richard D. Nelson, Raising Up a Faithful Priest, p.107).

"The most significant devastation was the ruin of the temple - the nexus of the cosmos and the society, and the dwelling place of YHWH - whose presence provided the well-being of the community" (Kalinda Rose Stevenson, The Vision of Transformation, p.163).

"The function of the temple as the mediator between the social and the cosmic, between the earthly and the heavenly, between the actual and the symbolic, makes the House of YHWH the focal point of the new society. In the language of physics, it is a place that concentrates the energy of both heaven and earth into one spot. It is a liminal place, a place where the energy of one world encounters and transforms the energy of the other. At the core of this radical vision of a new human geography which creates a new society, is a view of a world shaped by the temple as the place of mediation between these two realities..." (Kalinda Rose Stevenson, The Vision of Transformation, p.153).

Eze 48:35b and the name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there.

"What is truly remarkable about the priestly vision of the reorganized society of Israel is the balance of power inherent in it, and its concern for the well-being of everyone in it...

"It is a healed world, a cleansed world, a holy world. The theology of separation is a sociology of unification. It is a community in its own Land, with its own temple, and YHWH, the only King of Israel, in the midst. It expresses the conviction that Israel will have a future as a people. But in order to have a future, it must be an Israel shaped by a new human geography. The center of this new geography is a new temple, which fulfills the purpose of a temple as the focal point for social and cosmic well-being, a holy place where YHWH dwells in the midst of Israel. And so finally what is the Vision of Transformation? It is an expression of hope: hope in the transcendent reality of God; hope in the continued existence of a people; hope that there is a future; hope that exile is not the last word. The last word is that YHWH is in the midst. YHWH is there...

"There is also another response in this book. It is a strong antidote to nostalgia, to wishful thinking, to denial, to comforting memories of the good old days back home. If the Rhetor [Ezekiel] is harsh against Zedekiah and company, he is relentless against those who would take comfort in nostalgia. It has been common to use the language of "restoration" in writing about Ezekiel 40-48. Restoration refers to re-vival, re-turn, re-building, re-making, re-newing, re-paring, reformation - to making something the way it was. However, what the Rhetor sees is not re-storation or re-formation but trans-formation. There is no trace of the nostalgia in this Rhetor's view of the world. The goal of the ideology of the Book of Ezekiel is not restoration to what was, but transformation to a new thing. The power of the book is that it can create a new world" (Kalinda Rose Stevenson, The Vision of Transformation, pp.158, 159-60 & 149).

Various Divisions of Ezekiel 40-48

"Ezekiel 40 - 48 has three main divisions:

"(1) 40:1 - 43:12, the vision of the future temple;

"(2) 44:1 - 46:24, "enterings and exitings" the rules governing access to the temple and activity in it;

"(3) 47:13 - 48:35, the apportionment of the land among the people.

"Two passages serve as transitions: 43:13-27, on the altar; formerly attached to what precedes, it links the static vision of (1) with the activity prescribed in (2); 47:1-11,the vivifying water issuing from the temple; formally attached to what follows, it links the temple (1) and (2) to the land (3)" (Moshe Greenberg, "The Design and Themes of Ezekiel's Program of Restoration," p.222).

"... the stream comes from the House to heal the Land. It serves a similar function in the text to the role of the Altar... The Altar cleanses the House of the effects of chaos, while the stream heals the Land ... from the effects of chaos" (Kalinda Rose Stevenson, The Vision of Transformation, p.142).

Moshe Greenberg
The Vision of the Future Temple
40:1 - 43:12
The Altar of Burnt Offering
Rules Governing Access to Temple and Activity in It
44:1 - 46:24
The Vivifying Water Issuing from the Temple
The Apportionment of the Land among the People
47:13 - 48:35

Daniel I. Block
Leslie C. Allen
(1) The New Temple
40:1 - 43:11
The New Temple
40:1 - 42:20
(2) The New Torah
43:12 - 46:24
The New Temple in Action
43:1 - 46:24
(3) The New Land
47:1 - 48:29
Temple and Land
47:1 - 48:35
(4) The New City
48:30 - 48:35

(Daniel I. Block, The Book of Ezekiel Chapters 25-48, NICOT; Leslie C. Allen, Ezekiel 20-48, WBC).

"The major literary segments that comprise 40-48, for all their ostensibly disparate character, exhibit broad coherence in contest and arrangement. The structure of the whole may be construed as a chiasm:

A. 40:1-4 Introduction
B. 40:5-42:20 Survey of the temple complex
C. 43:1-9 Return of the Glory
D. 43:10-46:24 The Law of the Temple
C'. 47:1-12 The course of the river of life
B'. 47:13-48:29 Survey of territorial allotments and borders
A'. 48:30-35 Conclusion

"The text begins with the vision of a "construction like a city" (40:1-4), and ends with the description of the walled city of the new Jerusalem, renamed ... "Yahweh is there" (48:30-35). [The "construction like a city" is the temple, not the new city]. The detailed description and measurement of the Temple complex in 40-42 is mirrored by the boundary-marking, measurement and division of the land in 47:15-48:29. Likewise, the ... ['glory/kabod'] in 43:1-9 and the life-giving river in 47:1-12 are parallel symbols of YHWH's presence with YHWH's people, the latter demonstrating the life-giving power of the Presence.

"In the center, then, is 43:10 - 46:24, the legislative material... if we are correct in our evaluation, the overall structure of the text brackets this material, commending it to us as of special import. The text ... is meant to serve as a vehicle for legislation. Far from being peripheral to the text, the laws contained herein relating to the land, the priesthood, the ... nasi, and the cult are its very heart" (Steven Shawn Tuell, The Law of the Temple in Ezekiel 40-48, pp.19-20).

The chiasm used in the quote above is from Steven Tuell's very similar chiasm in his exposition of Ezekiel in the New International Commentary (NIBC) series. Below is another chiasm from the NIBC (similar to The Law and the Temple). Steven Tuell believes this was the structure of an origin vision that was subsequently expanded; this is not accepted by this article, but it is of interest.

A. 40:1-4 Construction like a city
B. 40:5-42:20 Temple measured
C. 43:1-4 Glory enters the eastern gate
D. 43:5-7a The Lord speaks
C'. 44:1-2 Eastern gate closed forever
B'. 47:1-12 River measured
A'. 48:30-35 Conclusion

(Steven Tuell, Ezekiel, (New International Bible Commentary (NIBC), Robert Hubbard, Jr. & Robert K. Johnston, OT Editors, (Peabody, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 2009), p.278).

The Three themes

The three themes, then, are: God is back home in the land of Israel; it is a transformed land based on a spatial theology of holiness; with a new 'torah' - 'new' used in the same sense of the 'new' in New Covenant - "for the creation of a new world order".

Organization of Ezekiel 40-48

"What then is the organizational structure of Ezekiel 40-48? There are four principles of organization. The first is ... territoriality provides a model for the order of the text: definition of area, communication of boundaries, control of access. An area is first defined and its boundaries delineated. Then, there is a discussion of access which requires discussion of social roles. This general principle makes sense of much of the structure...The second principle is that the concentric arrangement of the three areas determines order in which areas are discussed, from detail map of the House of YHWH, to area map of the Portion and Possession of the Nasi, to area map of the Land. The third principle demonstrates the arrangement by subject matter.... The Rhetor [Ezekiel] gathers material according to social role in relation to place. The fourth principle is that the whole vision is the return and enthronement of YHWH as the King of Israel...

"The structure of these chapters can be defined as:

I. Holy Place:
A. Renewal of Kingship
1. 40-42: Definition of the area of the House of YHWH and its boundaries
2. 43: Return of Kabod YHWH, claim as king, and cleansing of the House.
B. 44:1-16: Access to the House of YHWH
C. Priests
1. 44:16-28 Territorial ordinances
2. 44:28-31 Provisions of inheritance
II. Portion: Inheritance returned to YHWH
A. 45:1-68: Definition of area, access by social role
B. Nasi
1. 45:9-25: Obligations of the Nasi
2. 46:1-10: Lay access to the House of YHWH
3. 46:11-24: Offerings, land gifts
III. The Land: Inheritance given to Israel
A. 47:1-12: Healing of the Land
B. 47:13-23: Definition of area and boundaries of the Land
C. 48:1-29: Tribal access to the Land and Portion
D. 48:30-34: Tribal access to the City

(Kalinda Rose Stevenson, The Vision of Transformation, pp.133-34).


(1) "... 'house' ... has both, "broad and narrow use" in Ezekiel 40-48 either as the 'Temple Area' or the 'Temple building' " (Kalinda Rose Stevenson, The Vision of Transformation, p.60).

(2)  "The reservation [teruma] is defined in fluctuating terms". It may refer to "the entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordon River/Dead Sea and between the tribal areas of Judah and Benjamin"; to "the square formed by the Levites', Priests' and City/land areas combined"; "But, most often ... "it consists of the oblong made up by the priests and Levites' territories (vv.9, 10)" " (Leslie C. Allen, Ezekiel 20-48, WBC, p.283).

(3) "to come to a book such as Ezekiel, and especially to the material of chapters 40-48, is to enter a strange and foreign world. It is full of minutiae, about topics and times which seem irrelevant to our lives..." (Kalinda Rose Stevenson, The Vision of Transformation, p.162). It shouldn't be, as it is a window into the 'mind' of God.

Millennial Temple Tour

Paintbrush Picture

(Modified Temple from template of Christopher J. H. Wright, The Message of Ezekiel, BST, p.332).

Copyright: "Fair use":

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