INTRODUCTION TO EZEKIEL 48
In this chapter an account is given of the portions of the twelve tribes in the land of Israel; seven to the north of the sanctuary, Dan, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben, and Judah, Ezekiel 48:1, between which and Benjamin lay the holy portion of the land, for the sanctuary and the priests of it, and for the Levites, and for the city and its suburbs, and for the prince, Ezekiel 48:8 then the portions of the other five tribes to the south of the sanctuary, Benjamin, Simeon, Issachar, Zebulun, and Gad, Ezekiel 48:23, after which the city is described by its outlets, north, east, south, and west; by its twelve gates, three at each point; by its circumference and by its name, Ezekiel 48:30.
Now these are the names of the tribes,.... That shall inherit the land; and an account is given of each of the portions of it they shall have for an inheritance; by which are meant, not the twelve tribes of Israel literally, among whom the land was never so divided as here, either in Joshua's time, or after the captivity of Babylon, but the Christian church, or the people of Christ under the Gospel dispensation, as in Revelation 7:4, built upon the doctrine of the twelve apostles of Christ: the stranger sojourners are not here mentioned, who, according to the preceding chapter, were equally to inherit with the children of Israel, but are included; they being Israelites indeed, and fellowheirs, and all one in Christ, be they of whatsoever nation.
From the north end to the coast of the way of Hethlon, as one goeth to Hamath: the division of the land, and the distribution of the portions, begin at the north, and so go on to the south, by the way of Hethlon and Hamath; of which see Ezekiel 47:15 and along
by Hazarenan, the border of Damascus, northward to the coast of Hamath; see Ezekiel 47:17,
for these are his sides east and west; the sides of the tribe of Dan next mentioned, and so of every other tribe; which was measured from east to west, and consisted of 25,000 reeds foursquare, as appears from Ezekiel 48:8,
a portion for Dan; or, "Dan one"
And by the border of Dan,.... Next to it, just by it, closely adjoining to it; for it should be observed, that these tribes, and their inheritances, are contiguous to each other; which denotes the union of true Christians, or believers in Christ, with each other; they are members one of another, one body, one bread, and all one in Christ; and their harmony, unity, and concord, their comfortable communion and fellowship with each other; especially as it will be in the latter day, when they shall no more grieve and vex each other, nor separate from one another; but the two sticks shall be one in the hand of the Lord, Isaiah 11:13,
from the east side unto the west side; being just in the same position as the former tribe, and of the same measure and extent:
a portion for Asher; an inheritance for the tribe of Asher, the "blessed" of the Lord with all blessings, spiritual and eternal: and it should be known, once for all, that the portions of the several tribes are exactly alike: true believers have the same covenant God and Father for their portion; the same Lord, Redeemer, and Saviour, Head and Husband, Jesus Christ; they are members of the same body; partake of the same Spirit, and his graces; obtain like precious faith; are called in one hope of their calling; have a right to the same privileges and ordinances, and will share in the same heavenly inheritance, Ephesians 4:4.
And by the border of Asher, from the east side even unto the west side, a portion for Naphtali. Close to the tribe of Asher and his inheritance, in the same direction from east to west, lay the part assigned to the tribe of Naphtali: such Christians who are wrestlers with God in prayer, and against their spiritual enemies, and strive and contend for the doctrines of the Gospel, may be designed.
And by the border of Naphtali, from the east side unto the west side, a portion for Manasseh. Just in like manner, next to Naphtali lay the tribe of Manasseh, and the portion of land appointed for that tribe; even such Christians who "forget" the things that are behind, and reach to those that are before; forget their former companions, their own people, and father's house, their carnal lusts and pleasures, and their own works of righteousness, and follow after Christ and his righteousness.
And by the border of Manasseh, from the east side unto the west side, a portion for Ephraim. Close to the tribe of Manasseh, and the inheritance of it, which is no more reckoned a half, but a whole tribe, and has an inheritance equal to the rest, lay the tribe of Ephraim, and the inheritance assigned to that; even to such believers as are fruitful in grace and good works. Joseph is not mentioned, as in Ezekiel 47:13, the two portions there given him being here allotted to his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.
And by the border of Ephraim, from the east side unto the west side, a portion for Reuben. Who, through his sin, lost his birthright; but now, his sin being forgiven and forgotten, has a portion assigned him upon the border of Ephraim, and next to the tribe of Judah; when in Moses and Joshua's time it lay on the other side Jordan: this points to such persons that shall have their lot and portion in spiritual things; that "see the Son", that look to Christ alone for righteousness, peace, pardon, and eternal life.
And by the border of Reuben, from the east side unto the west side, a portion for Judah. Such who "confess" the Lord before men, and "praise" his name for all blessings, temporal and spiritual, they receive from him: these seven tribes already mentioned, as they lay contiguous to each other, and had portions and inheritances alike assigned to them; so they were all of them to the north of the sanctuary and city after mentioned.
And by the border of Judah, from the east side unto the west side, shall be the offering,.... Or the oblation of a holy portion of the land unto the Lord before made mention of, Ezekiel 45:1 this was close by the tribe of Judah, and in the same direction with that and the rest of the tribes, proceeding in length from east to west: this takes in the whole allotted to the sanctuary, the priests, the Levites, the city, and the prince; each of which are taken notice of in the following verses:
which they shall offer of five and twenty thousand reeds in breadth; from north to south; which makes, as the Jews
and in length as one of the other parts, from the east side unto the west side; that is, equal to one of the portions allotted to anyone of the tribes, which were alike: what this measure was is not said, but was the same with the breadth; since the whole oblation was five and twenty thousand by five and twenty thousand, Ezekiel 48:20,
and the sanctuary shall be in the midst thereof; of the holy portion of land; see Ezekiel 45:3, not in the tribe of Judah or Benjamin; nor in the city of Jerusalem, as before; but many miles from thence.
The oblation that ye shall offer to the Lord,.... That which belonged to the sanctuary, and to the priests, which was taken and separated for that use; which here, and in the following verses, is particularly and separately considered:
shall be of five and twenty thousand in length; that is, five and twenty thousand reeds from east to west:
and of ten thousand in breadth; from north to south; see Ezekiel 45:3.
And for them, even the priests, shall be this holy oblation,.... This holy portion of land, excepting that which is for the sanctuary, is to be for the use of the priests to build houses on to dwell in; signifying, that the ministers of the Gospel are to be taken care of, and sufficient provision made for their maintenance; see Ezekiel 45:4,
toward the north five and twenty thousand in length, and toward the west ten thousand in breadth, and toward the east ten thousand in breadth, and toward the south five and twenty thousand in length; to the north and south five and twenty thousand reeds each; and to the east and west ten thousand each; all this belongs to the priests, excepting the place for the sanctuary, that stood in the middle of it, as repeated in the following clause: and the sanctuary of the Lord shall be in the midst thereof; as in Ezekiel 48:8.
It shall be for the priests that are sanctified,.... That are set apart by the Lord; called by him to this office, and sanctified with the gifts and graces of his Spirit; and so fitted and qualified for the work:
of the sons of Zadok, which have kept my charge, which went not astray when the children of Israel went astray, as the Levites went astray; ministers faithful to the Lord in the worst of times; and who are and wil be taken notice of by him, both now and hereafter, Matthew 25:21; see Gill on Ezekiel 44:15, Ezekiel 44:16.
And this oblation of the land that is offered shall be unto them a thing most holy,.... Be peculiarly theirs, and not converted to any other use; but be accounted most sacred, and not alienable, or made use of by other persons, or to other purposes by the border of the Levites; it should be continued, and reach unto their border; or where that should begin, and their part assigned them, which is next considered.
And over against the border of the priests,.... Next to their border, close to it, running parallel with it:
the Levites shall have five and twenty thousand in length, and ten thousand in breadth; for accommodations for them; for chambers to lodge in, and other uses; all concerned in the house and worship of God shall be provided for with everything necessary and convenient for them; See Gill on Ezekiel 45:5,
all the length shall be five and twenty thousand, and the breadth ten thousand; all the length of the land, both for the priests and Levites, should be five and twenty thousand reeds, and the breadth of the land for both ten thousand reeds: this is repeated for the certainty of it, and to prevent any mistake about it.
And they shall not sell of it,.... Any part of it that is allotted to them, neither the priests nor the Levites; simony is not to be practised:
neither exchange; for any other land in lieu of it:
nor alienate the first fruits of the land; or appropriate them to any other use than that of the priests and Levites: whatever is appointed for ecclesiastic uses ought not to be converted to any other; nor should church privileges be parted with on any account: ministers and other officers, nay, even private Christians, should not part with their Christian liberty, nor with any of the doctrines and ordinances of the Gospel:
for it is holy unto the Lord; what is separated and devoted to religious uses is sacred to the Lord.
And the five thousand that are left in the breadth over against the five and twenty thousand,.... Which belonged to the Levites, which was a square of twenty five thousand reeds by twenty five thousand; by the side of, or parallel to, the twenty five thousand in length, ran twenty five thousand in breadth, two ten thousands, as in the portion of the priests, Ezekiel 48:10 so in theirs, Ezekiel 48:13, the residue whereof, five thousand,
shall be a profane place for the city, for dwelling, and for suburbs; to build a city upon for the Israelites to dwell in, and suburbs to be inhabited by those that were not of the city; or for fields and gardens, to supply the city with things necessary and convenient; though the Jewish commentators, Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, say the suburbs were an open place, where were neither houses, nor fields, nor gardens: when this spot for the city and suburbs is said to be a "profane place", it is to be understood comparatively, with respect to the portion for the priests and Levites; otherwise it was a part of the holy oblation; or rather, that it was common to all the people of Israel, who might all dwell in it; and therefore Symmachus and Theodotion render it λαικον. This "city" signifies the Gospel church, often compared to a city in Scripture, being compact together; consisting of Christians knit together in love, of the same sentiment, and joining in religious worship: a city seated on an eminence; well founded; built on the rock Christ Jesus; its buildings large and beautiful, and of lively stones; its inhabitants many, the fellow citizens of the saints; these inhabitants, of all nations, of every rank, age, and sex; and very healthful, none of them sick and diseased; healed of all maladies; living in a wholesome air, by a river, the streams whereof make glad this city, and the inhabitants of it; who have many privileges, being Christ's freemen; governed by good laws, under proper officers appointed to explain them, and see them executed: a city well fortified with the bulwarks of salvation; the city of solemnities, and of the great King. The suburbs of it are for such who are not yet of it, but are waiting at Wisdom's gates, and at the posts of her door, hoping for admittance ere long:
and the city shall be in the midst thereof; of the area of five thousand reeds.
And this shall be the measures thereof,.... Of the city:
the north side four thousand and five hundred; that is, measures or reeds:
the south side four thousand and five hundred, and on the east side four thousand and five hundred, and the west side four thousand and five hundred; in all eighteen hundred measures or reeds, as in Ezekiel 48:35 which denotes the largeness of the Gospel church, especially in the latter day; when Jews and Gentiles will be converted, and multitudes, east, west, north and south, will be gathered to it; and as it is an equilateral square, this shows the perfection, firmness, stability, and duration of the church of Christ; so the holy city, the New Jerusalem, is for the same reasons said to be foursquare, Revelation 21:16.
And the suburbs of the city shall be toward the north two hundred and fifty,.... That is, so many reeds: and
toward the south two hundred and fifty; which make five hundred; and these being added to four thousand five hundred, north and south, make five thousand:
and toward the east two hundred and fifty, and toward the west two hundred and fifty; which being added to four thousand five hundred, east and west, make five thousand; and so an equilateral square on each side, length and breadth.
And the residue in length over against the oblation of the holy portion shall be ten thousand eastward, and ten thousand westward,.... What remained in length, which ran parallel with the holy portion of the land, after five thousand reeds were taken out for the city and suburbs, were twenty thousand; ten thousand to the east, and ten thousand to the west:
and it shall be over against the oblation of the holy portion; that is, that space as yet undisposed of, the twenty thousand reeds, ten on the east, and ten on the west of the city, were close to, and ran even with, the oblation of the holy portion assigned to the priests and Levites:
and the increase thereof; or what these twenty thousand reeds of land should produce, or could be made of them:
shall be for food for them that serve the city; not the Gibeonites given to be hewers of wood and drawers of water, as Jarchi interprets it; which sense is justly rejected by Kimchi; since, as he observes, the Gibeonites shall not dwell in Jerusalem the holy city, nor minister in time to come: but either civil magistrates, who serve the church of Christ, when they secure the peace of it, protect and defend it; as they will, especially in the latter day, when these officers will be peace, and these exactors righteousness do all things justly and equitably; and when kings shall be nursing fathers and queens nursing mothers to the church; and it is but right they shall be provided for suitably to their rank, dignity, and office, and tribute be given to whom tribute is due: or ministers of the word, who are the church's servants, and serve it in preaching the Gospel, and administering the ordinances of it; and go by various names, as husbandmen concerned in ploughing, sowing, reaping, and gathering in the harvest; as labourers in the vineyard, and employed in planting, watering, pruning, and propping the vines; and as stewards of the mysteries and manifold grace of God, to give to everyone in the city and family his portion of meat in due season; and as guides and governors, engaged in taking care of the good order and discipline of it; as watchmen, that go about it, or are set on the walls of it: and it is the will of God they should be comfortably provided for, and eat of the fruit of the field and vineyard they labour in; and of the milk of the flock they take care of; and reap carnal things where they have sowed spiritual, things: or else private believers, who serve the interest of Christ and one another by love; praying with and for one another; bearing one another's burdens, and building up each other on their most holy faith: and for whom "food", or "bread"
And they that serve the city shall serve it out of all the tribes of Israel. Whether they be civil magistrates, or ministers of the word, they shall be of Israel, and be Israelites indeed; and shall be taken out of the several tribes; some out of one tribe, and some out of another; all shall have the honour, as well as the labour, of serving the church and interest of Christ; yea, all true Israelites shall contribute as much as in them lies to the service of it.
All the oblation shall be five and twenty thousand by five and twenty thousand,.... Or, "every oblation"
ye shall offer the holy oblation foursquare, with the possession of the city; taking in the possession of the city, or what that possessed, the oblation of land for that, and its suburbs, and for produce to support those that served it, should be a foursquare of the above dimensions.
And the residue shall be for the prince,.... Not the civil magistrate, but the Prince Messiah; the King, Governor, and Protector of his church and people:
on the one side and on the other of the holy oblation, and of the possession of the city: his portion shall lie on each side of the portion for the sanctuary, the priests and Levites, and for the city and its appurtenances; so that he will be the guardian and preserver of them all; See Gill on Ezekiel 45:7,
over against the five and twenty thousand of the oblation toward the east border, and westward over against the five and twenty thousand toward the west border; or, "before the face"
over against the portions for the prince; or, "over against" these shall be that
for the prince
and it shall be the holy oblation; and the sanctuary of the house shall be in the midst thereof; that is, the holy oblation of the land for the priests and Levites, and the sanctuary should be between that part of the prince's portion which lay next to Judah, and that which lay next to Benjamin; of which in the next verse.
Moreover, from the possession of the Levites, and from the possession of the city,.... Or, "beyond" these, as it may be rendered, on the other side of them; or, "except"
being in the midst of that which is the prince's; between his two portions; or, as it is next explained,
between the border of Judah, and the border of Benjamin, shall be for the prince; that is, all beyond and excepting that which belonged to the priests and Levites, the sanctuary and the city, were the prince's, which lay between Judah and Benjamin: or thus it was; before the holy oblation one part of the prince's portion ran, parallel with the tribe of Judah, east and west; after the holy oblation on the other side, another part of his portion touched the tribe of Benjamin, and ran parallel with the east and west: and so were between them both, as well as on each side of the holy oblation: all this denotes the nearness of Christ to his church and people; his protection of them on all sides; and the largeness of his interest and kingdom; see Ezekiel 45:7.
As for the rest of the tribes,.... Not yet mentioned, which lay to the south of the sanctuary, and are as follow:
from the east side to the west side, Benjamin shall have a portion;
the sons of God's right hand, who are as near and dear to him as a man's right hand is to him. Judah and Benjamin are nearest to the holy oblation, sanctuary, city, and prince; the one to the north of them, the other to the south; these tribes being faithful to God, and with his saints, when others departed from him; the Lord takes great notice of his faithful ones, and honours them, Hosea 11:12.
And by the border of Benjamin, from the east side unto the west side, Simeon shall have a portion. Close by the border of Benjamin, running east and west, Simeon's part and inheritance in the land shall be; even such true Israelites as "hear", understand, and believe the Gospel, and practise what they hear. This tribe is not now to be divided and scattered in Israel, or to have its inheritance in Judah, as formerly, Genesis 49:5, but to be distinct, and have a portion by itself.
And by the border of Simeon, from the east side unto the west side, Issachar a portion. Next, closely adjoining to Simeon's inheritance, and in the same direction, shall be Issachar's; such Christians as shall have the "rewards" of grace for their services and sufferings in times of tribulation.
And by the border of Issachar, from the east side unto the west side, Zebulun a portion. In like manner, next to Issachar's inheritance, and bordering on it, shall be Zebulun's; who shall be no more a haven for ships, having a different situation and allotment; and may describe such Christians as dwell in Christ, and he in them.
And by the border of Zebulun, from the east side unto the west side, Gad a portion. The last of the tribes; a "troop" of overcomers, who are more than conquerors over all their enemies through Christ: all Christians shall have their part and portion in the church below, and in all the privileges and immunities of it; and in the church above, in all the glories and blessedness thereof.
And by the border of Gad, at the south side southward,.... Of the sanctuary of the Lord, of the portion of the priests and Levites, of the city, and what belonged to that, and of the prince's portion. The description begins at the northern part of the land, and ends in the southern:
the border shall be even from Tamar unto the waters of strife in Kadesh; and to the river toward the great sea; See Gill on Ezekiel 47:19.
This is the land which ye shall divide by lot unto the tribes of Israel for inheritance,.... This is the land, as thus described; and these the tribes of Israel, or the Israelites indeed, who shall have their respective shares in it, as thus allotted to them for their inheritance; which is not of a worldly, but spiritual nature; and a goodly heritage it is, a place and a name better than sons and daughters; namely, a place in the house and church of God; and a right to enjoy all the ordinances of it:
and these are their portions, saith the Lord God; which he has appointed to them, of his grace bestows on them, and of which they may be assured, since he has said it: no mention is made of any cities of refuge in this division of the land, as in Joshua's time, because now the antitype of them is come, the Messiah, to whom all sensible sinners are directed to flee; and there is no other asylum for them, nor salvation in any other but in him; and besides, in this period there will be no manslayers, nor any that will hurt and destroy in all the holy mountain; and so no need of cities of refuge, Isaiah 11:9.
And these are the goings out of the city,.... The gates of it, as Jarchi and Kimchi interpret it, by which they went out of it, and into it; and also the sides of it. The Lord here returns to the city again, to give an account of its circumference and name:
on the north side four thousand and five hundred measures; the north side of the city measured so many measures; that is, reeds, as Jarchi explains it.
And the gates of the city shall be after names of the tribes of Israel,.... According to number of them, twelve, and called by their names; the names of the several tribes being written on them; see Revelation 21:12, this shows that all true Israelites indeed, Israel not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, have a right of entrance into, and communion with, the church of God; even the whole Israel of God, whom he has chosen for himself; Christ has redeemed by his blood, and the Spirit calls by his grace, and sanctifies; these are all, be they Jews or Gentiles, fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God: these gates, though twelve, with respect to the twelve tribes that enter in at them, and the twelve apostles of the Lamb that direct unto them, and whose doctrine they embrace and profess that go in by them; yet are but one in the main, which is Christ, faith in him, and a profession of it, and a professed subjection to his Gospel and ordinances, John 10:1,
three gates northward; for those that lay on that side to enter in at:
one gate of Reuben, one gate of Judah, and one gate of Levi: these tribes, and so the rest, were not placed according to their encampment about the tabernacle in the wilderness, or as they were placed by Joshua in the land of Canaan; which shows that the tribes literally considered are not intended. Levi had a gate, though it had not a portion in the manner the other tribes had.
And at the east side four thousand and five hundred,.... Measures or reeds: this side was equal to the north, as the rest were to this; the whole city in its circumference making an equilateral square:
and three gates; which were as follow:
one gate of Joseph, one gate of Benjamin, one gate of Dan; Joseph is here as having a gate, though he is not mentioned as having a portion; but his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who are here omitted; which made room for Levi's name to be inserted; and Dan, who had his portion first, is here placed in the middle, no order being observed; the whole being mystical and spiritual.
The south side of the city measured just the same as the north and east sides did:
and three gates; were on that side, as on the others:
one gate of Simeon, one gate of Issachar, one gate of Zebulun; at which these tribes entered, or those they represent.
At the west side four thousand and five hundred,.... Measures or reeds; so many were the length of this side; the same with north, south, and east, and made a foursquare; and such the city was, as the New Jerusalem is said to be, Revelation 21:16,
with their three gates: one gate of Gad, one gate of Asher, one gate of Naphtali; the situation of these gates on all sides, east, west, north, and south, show that in the latter day people will flock from all quarters to the church of Christ, and that there will be an open and free access of all persons into it; see Isaiah 2:2.
It was round about eighteen thousand measures,.... Putting the numbers together which each side made, the circumference of the city was eighteen thousand measures; which, according to Cornelius a Lapide, were thirty two thousand miles; which shows that no city literally taken can be here meant, but mystically and spiritually the church of Christ, which will be of great extent in the latter day; and a large one it had need to be, to hold all nations that will flow into it; it will be spread all over the world; the world will become the church; the kingdoms of it will become Christ's; the little stone will become a great mountain, and fill the whole earth; the kingdom and interest of Christ, which is his church, will be from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth; even from the rising of the sun to the setting of the same. Some Jewish writers
and the name of the city from that day shall be, the Lord is there; the Gospel church has other names, as Jerusalem, Mount Zion, the Lord our righteousness, Hephzibah and Beulah, a city not forsaken, Hebrews 12:22, but here it is called "Jehovah Shammah", the Lord is there, or dwells there; which is to be understood of his presence in it; not in a general way, as he is in all places, and with all his creatures, continually, constantly, and everywhere working in a providential manner; but of his gracious presence in a special way and manner: in this sense Jehovah, Father, Son, and Spirit, are in the Gospel church, and will be more manifestly in the latter day; Jehovah the Father, as the Father of Christ, blessing them with all spiritual blessings in him; granting them his presence in him, and communion with him, through him; as their Father providing all good things for them, and as the God of all grace unto them: Jehovah the Son, as the master of the family taking care of it, as a son in his own house, and the first born among his brethren; as the prophet in the midst of his church, teaching and instructing; as the high priest in the midst of the golden candlesticks, lighting and trimming them; as the King in Zion, to rule and govern, protect and defend it; showing himself in all the glories of his person, and the riches of his grace, according to his promise, Matthew 28:20. Jehovah the Spirit is here to qualify men with gifts for the ministry, to apply the word, and make it useful; as a Spirit of grace and supplication, and to help the Lord's people in the exercise of grace, and discharge of duty; and to be their comforter and remembrancer. Jehovah here does and will display his glorious perfections; his power in the preservation of his saints; his wisdom in the guidance and direction of them; his truth and faithfulness in the performance of promises to them; his purity and holiness in the sanctification of them; his love, grace, and mercy, in the large discoveries made unto them; in short, he will appear all glorious to them, and will be the glory in the midst of them, Psalm 46:5, Zechariah 2:5 the date from whence this will commence is "that day"; either from the beginning of the Gospel dispensation, that famous day made by the rising of the sun of righteousness; or from the day and date of Christ's promise of his presence, Matthew 28:20 or from the time the Gospel church state was set up; or from the day this city will be rebuilt and restored, the Lord will more visibly and manifestly grant his presence to the inhabitants of it, and never more depart from them; see Isaiah 42:12, The Targum is,
"the name of the city which is separated from the day, the Lord will cause his Shechaniah to dwell there.'
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Ezekiel 48". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://pro.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent