Ezekiel 41


Chapter 41 is in some areas virtually unintelligible.  Strange and esoteric Hebrew appears throughout, words not used anywhere else in the bible, or in forms unused elsewhere.  My numerous remarks about the verses in this chapter may detract from the flow, such as it is, but I believe the uncertainties presented have to be noted.  Remember that a lot of the “knowledge” referenced by bible commentators about the three chapters that describe Ezekiel’s Temple vision comes from the Talmud.  Now earlier Talmudic sages (those contemporary with the second Temple) may have had first-hand information about the Temple, but if they did, they still disagreed about details.  So I have to accept that perhaps even they were to some extent guessing.

וַיְבִיאֵנִי אֶל־הַהֵיכָל וַיָּמָד אֶת־הָאֵילִים שֵׁשׁ־אַמֹּות רֹחַב־מִפֹּו וְשֵׁשׁ־אַמֹּות־רֹחַב מִפֹּו רֹחַב הָאֹהֶל׃   41:1

Ezek. 41:1   Then He brought me to the Temple as he measured the posts, six cubits broad one way and six cubits broad the other, the breadth of the tent.

Three thoughts I’d like to express about this verse. First, what is the meaning of the phrase to the Temple.  Wasn’t Ezekiel in the Temple during most of the last chapter?  Maybe not.  Maybe he considered himself outside the Temple, having not counted the inner and outer courts as part of the Temple itself.  Second, I presume there were two posts, one on each side, and they were 10 3/4 feet square in width.  They were as thick as the exterior wall (see Ezek. 40:5).  Third, what could the phrase the breadth of the tent mean?  Differing opinions abound.  Some Jewish commentators believe this refers to the doorway, six cubits wide.  The idea supporting this belief is that the posts were assumed to be shaped similar to an arch at the top, resembling a tent.  I ask how this is known?  Is it recorded somewhere?  I doubt it.  I’m thinking that it’s a figment of someone’s vivid imagination.  Others believe it refers to the Tabernacle.  I see this as improbable.  The tabernacle is most often referred to by the Hebrew word mishkan, not ohel as it is here.  Furthermore, in Exodus the word ohel is used to refer to the roof of the Tabernacle and the sanctuary and not to the Tabernacle itself except in the phrase the tent of meeting.

וְרֹחַב הַפֶּתַח עֶשֶׂר אַמֹּות וְכִתְפֹות הַפֶּתַח חָמֵשׁ אַמֹּות מִפֹּו וְחָמֵשׁ אַמֹּות מִפֹּו וַיָּמָד אָרְכֹּו   41:2              אַרְבָּעִים אַמָּה וְרֹחַב עֶשְׂרִים אַמָּה׃

Ezek. 41:2   And the breadth of the entrance was ten cubits and the sides of the entrance were five cubits one way and five cubits the other; and he measured its length, forty cubits, and a breadth of twenty cubits.

These measurements can’t be those of the Temple.  They’re too small.  But the pronoun its can refer only to the Temple mentioned in the preceding verse.  So we must surmise -- and this is corroborated below in v. 41:4 -- that Ezekiel is referring to the inner sanctuary, the Holiest of Holy Places, and not the entire Temple.  So the Holiest of Holy Places was 860 inches or 71 2/3 feet long and 430 inches or 35.8333 feet wide, a rather impressively large structure.

וּבָא לִפְנִימָה וַיָּמָד אֵיל־הַפֶּתַח שְׁתַּיִם אַמֹּות וְהַפֶּתַח שֵׁשׁ אַמֹּות וְרֹחַב הַפֶּתַח שֶׁבַע אַמֹּות׃   41:3

Ezek. 41:3   Then he went in to the inside and measured an entrance post, two cubits, and the entrance, six cubits, and the breadth of the entrance, seven cubits.

These measurements must be of the entrance to the Holiest of Holy Places.  I presume we have two entrance posts, one on each side of the entrance.  The posts are two cubits square?  Are they attached to the inside of the structure walls?  What’s the meaning of the entrance being six cubits?  The entrance couldn’t be six cubits deep if the posts were only two cubits.  So it must have been the measurement of its height.  And it was seven cubits wide.  Since the structure itself is 20 cubits wide, and the posts and the entrance take up 11 cubits, the side walls must have been 4 1/2 cubits each.  There has been much discussion about this, but as far as I can tell, they are based on guesses.  There is no clear logic revealed in these verses.

וַיָּמָד אֶת־אָרְכֹּו עֶשְׂרִים אַמָּה וְרֹחַב עֶשְׂרִים אַמָּה אֶל־פְּנֵי הַהֵיכָל וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלַי זֶה קֹדֶשׁ הַקֳּדָשִׁים׃   41:4

Ezek. 41:4   And he measured its length, twenty cubits, and breadth, twenty cubits, toward the front of the Temple, and he said to me, “This is the Holiest of Holy Places.”

Now I’m lost.  I don’t understand the measurements stated in this verse.  I thought the structure was 40 cubits by 20 cubits as stated in v. 41:2.  Was there a structure within a structure?  Then how could they both be 20 cubits wide?

וַיָּמָד קִיר־הַבַּיִת שֵׁשׁ אַמֹּות וְרֹחַב הַצֵּלָע אַרְבַּע אַמֹּות סָבִיב סָבִיב לַבַּיִת סָבִיב׃   41:5

Ezek. 41:5   Then he measured the wall of the house, six cubits, the breadth of the side chamber, four cubits, completely surrounding, belonging to the house all around.

“The house” must refer to the Temple housing itself.  So we are told that its wall was six cubits thick and a side chamber was four cubits thick.

וְהַצְּלָעֹות צֵלָע אֶל־צֵלָע שָׁלֹושׁ וּשְׁלֹשִׁים פְּעָמִים וּבָאֹות בַּקִּיר אֲשֶׁר־לַבַּיִת לַצְּלָעֹות סָבִיב סָבִיב   41:6     לִהְיֹות אֲחוּזִים וְלֹא־יִהְיוּ אֲחוּזִים בְּקִיר הַבָּיִת׃

Ezek. 41:6   And the side chambers were side to side thirty and three times, and things were coming in to the wall that was for the house for the chambers surrounding all around for being attached, so they would not be attached to the wall of the house.

Two problems with this verse:  First the number of side chambers is uncertain and debatable.  Is it thirty chambers on three levels, or is it thirty-three chambers?  Different translations have one or the other.  Second, the “things” that were coming in to the wall presents a dilemma.  The word things is not present in the Hebrew, but something had to be on the wall so that the chambers would not be attached to the wall.  Other translators have inserted the word cornices, supports, or they (the side chambers), the last requiring no additional words in the Hebrew, but generating the most difficulty and doubt.  If the side chambers were not attached to the wall, how could they be coming in to the wall?  Most likely there were beams laid across from one side wall to the other, and the wall was progressively thinner at each of the two levels above the ground to accommodate them.  See the next verse for more on this.

וְרָחֲבָה וְנָסְבָה לְמַעְלָה לְמַעְלָה לַצְּלָעֹות כִּי מוּסַב־הַבַּיִת לְמַעְלָה לְמַעְלָה סָבִיב סָבִיב לַבַּיִת עַל־כֵּן   41:7 רֹחַב־לַבַּיִת לְמָעְלָה וְכֵן הַתַּחְתֹּונָה יַעֲלֶה עַל־הָעֶלְיֹונָה לַתִּיכֹונָה׃

Ezek. 41:7   And it would become wider and turn about, going continually higher, for each of the chambers that was winding about the house going continually higher surrounding all around to the house (therefore there was the same breadth to the house going higher) and thus the lowest level would go up to the highest level within the middle level.

The two verses 41:6 and 7 make minimal sense to me.  I have some difficulty picturing what is being described here.  I can see the possibility that the chambers rose and that they might be getting wider with their rising, because the wall must have been getting narrower at each of the middle and upper levels identified by the last four Hebrew words of the verse.  The narrowing must have been due to ledges in the side walls to accept and support the beams.  So the chambers built onto the beams would present an inside vertical face perpendicular to the ground.  Then there might have been a staircase that went up from the ground level through the middle level to the upper level.  But I can’t figure out how the chambers were situated.  They were winding about the house, surrounding all around to the house.  What exactly does that mean?  It sounds like the chambers were spaced more or less equally around the interior.  But that would be difficult to build.  If there were eleven chambers on each level, where would the odd one go?  Maybe the correct number of chambers is thirty, ten to a level.  Then they could be distributed five to a side.  Who knows!  It appears to be primarily all guess work.

וְרָאִיתִי לַבַּיִת גֹּבַהּ סָבִיב סָבִיב (מִיסָדֹות) [מוּסְדֹות] הַצְּלָעֹות מְלֹו הַקָּנֶה שֵׁשׁ אַמֹּות אַצִּילָה׃   41:8

Ezek. 41:8   And I could see a height for the house surrounding all around of foundations of the side chambers the length of the reed, six cubits joining.

What does this verse mean?  I have no idea.  Discussion about it abounds.  Meanwhile, the error in the parentheses is the substitution of a yad for a vav.  The correction is in the brackets.

 רֹחַב הַקִּיר אֲשֶׁר־לַצֵּלָע אֶל־הַחוּץ חָמֵשׁ אַמֹּות וַאֲשֶׁר מֻנָּח בֵּית צְלָעֹות אֲשֶׁר לַבָּיִת׃   41:9

Ezek. 41:9   The breadth of the wall that was for a side chamber was five cubits to the outside, and what was left of the structure of the side chambers, that belonged to the house.

Translations of this verse vary considerably, and some translations aren’t even good English.  As for what it means, that also varies considerably.

וּבֵין הַלְּשָׁכֹות רֹחַב עֶשְׂרִים אַמָּה סָבִיב לַבַּיִת סָבִיב סָבִיב׃   41:10

Ezek. 41:10   And between the chambers was a breadth of twenty cubits all around for the house, surrounding all around.

If I interpret this verse correctly (doubtful at best), the chambers were situated along the side walls of the house with 20 cubits spacing between them.  If there were ten chambers on each level, five on a side, the spaces alone would total 80 cubits (or a little more than 143 feet).  Adding the width of the chambers, assuming five cubits for each, brings the total to 130 cubits (or almost 233 feet).  That gives us 65 cubits per side.  From v. 41:11 below we learn that there was a space between the outside of the chambers and the inside of the house’s walls of five cubits.  And from v. 41:13 below we learn that the outside dimensions of the house were given as 100 cubits wide by 100 cubits long.  The inside length of each of the side walls can be derived by reducing the inside dimension by the width of the outside walls of the house, which was six cubits.  This leaves an interior length of 88 cubits.  Now the ten chambers could be equally spaced given these dimensions.  If there were eleven chambers to a level, one side of chambers would be longer than the other by 25 cubits.  That would total 85 cubits, just barely able to fit in the 88-cubit space.  But would the Temple have been built with this kind of asymmetry?  Possible, but unlikely.

וּפֶתַח הַצֵּלָע לַמֻּנָּח פֶּתַח אֶחָד דֶּרֶךְ הַצָּפֹון וּפֶתַח אֶחָד לַדָּרֹום וְרֹחַב מְקֹום הַמֻּנָּח חָמֵשׁ אַמֹּות   41:11 סָבִיב סָבִיב׃

Ezek. 41:11   And each doorway of the side chamber to the open space, one doorway directed northward and one doorway to the south, and the breadth of the open place was five cubits completely all around.

Well, now if the doorways to the side chambers faced north and south, then all the chambers had to be on only two walls, either the west and east walls, or the north and south walls.  It seems from the wording of this verse that the doors faced into the open space -- which I assume is the space between the walls of the house and the chambers.  If I’m right, the chambers had to be situated along the north and south walls, which were its side walls.  This at least seems reasonable.

וְהַבִּנְיָן אֲשֶׁר אֶל־פְּנֵי הַגִּזְרָה פְּאַת דֶּרֶךְ־הַיָּם רֹחַב שִׁבְעִים אַמָּה וְקִיר הַבִּנְיָן חָמֵשׁ־אַמֹּות רֹחַב   41:12     סָבִיב סָבִיב וְאָרְכֹּו תִּשְׁעִים אַמָּה׃

Ezek. 41:12   And the structure that was to the front of the separate place, the side of it directed to the west was a breadth of seventy cubits, and the wall of the structure was five cubits thick completely all around, and its length was ninety cubits.

The meaning of the word translated as the separate place is uncertain.  It’s only my guess, but it could refer to the Holiest of Holy Places,  That would mean that the structure mentioned here stretched for 90 cubits in front of it and was 70 cubits wide.  Does this mean that the Holiest of Holy Places was enclosed within a structure within the house?

וּמָדַד אֶת־הַבַּיִת אֹרֶךְ מֵאָה אַמָּה וְהַגִּזְרָה וְהַבִּנְיָה וְקִירֹותֶיהָ אֹרֶךְ מֵאָה אַמָּה׃   41:13

Ezek. 41:13   And he measured the house, length one hundred cubits, and the separate place, and the structure and its walls, length one hundred cubits.

What does this mean?  What is meant by the phrase and the separate place?  Was the house 100 cubits long by 100 cubits wide?  190 cubits by 100 cubits?  What’s your guess?  Is it possible that the separate place was another structure next to the Temple?

וְרֹחַב פְּנֵי הַבַּיִת וְהַגִּזְרָה לַקָּדִים מֵאָה אַמָּה׃   41:14

Ezek. 41:14   And the breadth of the front of the house and the separate place to the east was one hundred cubits.

What was the direction of the front of the house?  Was it facing west, the front being the wall in which the entry gates were?  Or was it facing east, being the back of the house?  Here it seems to say the front of the house faced east.  We know that the house was situated in the east-west direction.  Remember that the Holiest of Holy Places in the Tabernacle had its entry into the veil on the west side, and its rear faced east. See Exod. 40:22 and Exod. 40:24 for how Moses arranged the Tabernacle furniture around the Holiest of Holy Places.

וּמָדַד אֹרֶךְ־הַבִּנְיָן אֶל־פְּנֵי הַגִּזְרָה אֲשֶׁר עַל־אַחֲרֶיהָ (וְאַתּוּקֵיהָא) [וְאַתִּיקֶיהָא] מִפֹּו וּמִפֹּו   41:15                מֵאָה אַמָּה וְהַהֵיכָל הַפְּנִימִי וְאֻלַמֵּי הֶחָצֵר׃

Ezek. 41:15   And the measure of the length of the structure to the front of the separate place that was on the back of it, and its galleries here and there, was one hundred cubits.  And the Temple, the inner place, and the porches of the courtyard,

I gather from this that there was a separate place on the east wall as well.

The vav in the word in the parentheses should be a yad.  The correction is in the brackets.

הַסִּפִּים וְהַחַלֹּונִים הָאֲטֻמֹות וְהָאַתִּיקִים סָבִיב לִשְׁלָשְׁתָּם נֶגֶד הַסַּף שְׂחִיף עֵץ סָבִיב סָבִיב וְהָאָרֶץ   41:16    עַד־הַחַלֹּנֹות וְהַחַלֹּנֹות מְכֻסֹּות׃

Ezek. 41:16   the jambs and the closed windows and the galleries all around for the three of them; away from each jamb there was a continual carved lattice wood all around, and the ground was up to the windows, so the windows were hidden.

I take it the three of them must refer to the Temple, inner place, and porches mentioned in the previous verse.

עַל־מֵעַל הַפֶּתַח וְעַד־הַבַּיִת הַפְּנִימִי וְלַחוּץ וְאֶל־כָּל־הַקִּיר סָבִיב סָבִיב בַּפְּנִימִי וּבַחִיצֹון מִדֹּות׃   41:17

Ezek. 41:17   It was over above each door and to the house, inside and outside, and against all the wall, continually all around; the measures were on the inside and on the outside.

Does the it at the beginning of this verse refer to the carved lattice or to the ground?  I imagine it’s the lattice, but there’s no way to be sure.  It’s certainly possible that during the construction phase this vision seems to be revealing, the ground could be raised around and throughout the area.

וְעָשׂוּי כְּרוּבִים וְתִמֹרִים וְתִמֹרָה בֵּין־כְּרוּב לִכְרוּב וּשְׁנַיִם פָּנִים לַכְּרוּב׃   41:18

Ezek. 41:18   And there were the workings of cherubim and palm trees, with a palm tree between cherub to cherub, with two faces to a cherub,

וּפְנֵי אָדָם אֶל־הַתִּמֹרָה מִפֹּו וּפְנֵי־כְפִיר אֶל־הַתִּמֹרָה מִפֹּו עָשׂוּי אֶל־כָּל־הַבַּיִת סָבִיב סָבִיב׃   41:19

Ezek. 41:19   and a human face was toward the palm tree one way and the face of a young lion was toward the palm tree the other way; their workings were against the entire house continually all around.

מֵהָאָרֶץ עַד־מֵעַל הַפֶּתַח הַכְּרוּבִים וְהַתִּמֹרִים עֲשׂוּיִם וְקִיר הַהֵיכָל׃   41:20

Ezek. 41:20   From the ground up to above the doorway were the cherubim productions and the palm trees and the wall of the Temple.

הַהֵיכָל מְזוּזַת רְבֻעָה וּפְנֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ הַמַּרְאֶה כַּמַּרְאֶה׃   41:21

Ezek. 41:21   And the door post of the Temple was squared and the front of the holy place was of the appearance like a vision.

הַמִּזְבֵּחַ עֵץ שָׁלֹושׁ אַמֹּות גָּבֹהַּ וְאָרְכֹּו שְׁתַּיִם־אַמֹּות וּמִקְצֹעֹותָיו לֹו וְאָרְכֹּו וְקִירֹתָיו עֵץ וַיְדַבֵּר   41:22

 אֵלַי זֶה הַשֻּׁלְחָן אֲשֶׁר לִפְנֵי יְהוָה׃

Ezek. 41:22   The altar of wood was three cubits high and its length was two cubits, and its corners for it and its length and its sides were wood; and He said to me, “This is the table that is before the Lord.”

וּשְׁתַּיִם דְּלָתֹות לַהֵיכָל וְלַקֹּדֶשׁ׃   41:23

Ezek. 41:23   And there were two doors for the Temple and for the holy place.

וּשְׁתַּיִם דְּלָתֹות לַדְּלָתֹות שְׁתַּיִם מוּסַבֹּות דְּלָתֹות שְׁתַּיִם לְדֶלֶת אֶחָת וּשְׁתֵּי דְלָתֹות לָאַחֶרֶת׃   41:24

Ezek. 41:24   And there were two gates for the two doors to be turned, two gates to one door and two of the gates to the other.

וַעֲשׂוּיָה אֲלֵיהֶן אֶל־דַּלְתֹות הַהֵיכָל כְּרוּבִים וְתִמֹרִים כַּאֲשֶׁר עֲשׂוּיִם לַקִּירֹות וְעָב עֵץ אֶל־פְּנֵי   41:25

  הָאוּלָם מֵהַחוּץ׃

Ezek. 41:25   And there was the working against them, against the gates of the Temple, of cherubim and palm trees, as the workings for the walls, and there was a wood threshold against the front of the porch on the outside.

וְחַלֹּונִים אֲטֻמֹות וְתִמֹרִים מִפֹּו וּמִפֹּו אֶל־כִּתְפֹות הָאוּלָם וְצַלְעֹות הַבַּיִת וְהָעֻבִּים׃  41:26

Ezek. 41:26   And closed windows and palm trees one way and the other were at the sides of the porch, and the side chambers of the house and the thresholds.


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