Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible
EZEKIEL CHAPTER 48
The portions of the twelve tribes, Ezekiel 48:1-7,23-29, of the sanctuary, Ezekiel 48:8-14, of the city and suburbs, Ezekiel 48:15-20, and of the prince, Ezekiel 48:21,22. The dimensions and gates of the city, Ezekiel 48:30-35.
From the north end; as the measurer began to bound the land first on the north side, so he will first place the tribe to whom the most northern lot fell, or rather was assigned by a Divine direction. To the coast; along through the coast that leads from the west or great sea to Hethlon. Hethlon: see Ezekiel 47:15. Hamath; a frontier city of that name; see Ezekiel 47:16; anciently the royal city of Toi, who congratulated David in his victory over Hadadezer king of Syria Zobah, 2 Samuel 8:9,10. Hazar-enan: see Ezekiel 47:17, for I meet with no more concerning it. The border of Damascus; and so on by the border of Damascus, which lay further eastward than Enan, as geographers describe it. To the coast of Hamath: this is Syria, and perhaps might have been best so translated; along bordering on this coast the rest of the northern boundary did run. His sides; the land, or Dan, mentioned immediately after. East; that is, from the east point, where Mount Libanus joineth to Gilead, to the west point, which is supposed in the midland sea, near the hot baths or Sidon: see Ezekiel 47:20. For Dan; the tribe of Dan, and the strangers that sojourn with him.
That is, all along on the south side of Dan, from east to west in length, shall the share of the tribe of Asher lie.
To the north-west point, where the dividing line ends, being drawn from the north-east point to the north-west in the midland sea.
Hitherto you have seven of the twelve tribes placed in the northern part of Canaan, and reckoned as they lay in order, where nothing occurs new from the 2nd verse to the 8th.
The offering; the holy portion, of which Ezekiel 45:1, set out for priests, Levites, and city, Ezekiel 45:4-6.
Reeds is here supplied by the translators, but I rather think cubits; for the greatness of the portion measured by reeds will eat out the tribes, or leave very little for them, as appears thus: The whole length from north to south was about one hundred and sixty miles, the breadth about sixty. Now twenty-five thousand reeds is at the least seventy-seven miles, at one thousand paces to a mile. These seventy-seven taken out of one hundred and sixty, there will remain but eighty-three for the twelve tribes, which will afford not quite seven miles in breadth for each tribe; whereas seventy-seven miles are allotted to the priests, Levites, and city; so that there will remain but eighty-three miles for the twelve tribes, that is, to each one almost seven miles. Now this to me would seem very much disproportioned; but twenty-five thousand cubits reckoned doth give the holy portion and city twelve miles and half square, and gives near as much in breadth to each tribe, and five times almost as much in length to each tribe; which appears thus: twelve times twelve make one hundred and forty-four, and twelve quarters make three wholes; give then each tribe twelve and a quarter, you divide one hundred and forty-seven by twelve and a quarter: now to this add the prince’s, the holy portion, and the city land, which is twelve miles and a half, and you have one hundred and fifty-nine miles and three quarters, which is the length of the whole land. Thus the breadth of each portion for each tribe; but the length of each exceeded the prince’s by twelve and a half, and the holy portion as much as sixty exceeds twelve and a half.
From the east side to the west side; that is, twenty-five thousand in length, which amounts to twelve miles and a half. Now the residue of the land from the sea eastward abutting on the whole breadth of the holy portion by equal proportion, will be twenty-three and a quarter, and as much from the other side, measuring from the eastern bounds of the holy portion to the utmost bounds eastward of the land, which is sixty miles from its utmost western bounds; as appears thus: take an oblong square, whose breadth is twelve and a half, its length sixty; suppose in the very middle twelve and a half square taken up, there will remain at each end the half of forty-seven and a half, which is twenty-three and three quarters. According to this we conceive the prince hath assigned him as much as two tribes very near, and almost four times as much as the holy oblation; so that there is good reason for that Ezekiel 45:9, against oppression, and the command that he be content.
The sanctuary; the whole contents of suburbs, courts, and house.
In the midst of it; of the land laid out for the holy portion, for God and his priests.
This verse is the same with Ezekiel 45:3, which see.
For the priests; who are more particularly described Ezekiel 48:11, which see.
Toward the north; the north side, in length from north-east to north-west.
Toward the west; from south-west to north-west point, between which points lay the west side.
Toward the east; between north-east and south-east points, which made the east border.
Toward the south; from south-east by line drawn to south-west, the same measure with the north.
See this verse explained Ezekiel 44:15,16.
This oblation; which, as it were the primitiae of the land, was ordered to be first set out for God.
Offered; set apart, and dedicated to God. Shall be unto them a thing most holy; in the account both of the priests and the whole people it shall be most holy, on no occasion to be servant unto any common uses.
By the border of the Levites; it shall lie next to the Levites; these lay southward between the priests’ and the city’s portion.
See this verse explained Ezekiel 45:5. The Levites’ portion ran parallel with the priest’s, whose northern limits were next to the southern limits of the Levites.
It is most holy, and therefore no price should be offered for it, nor any price set upon it, nor may they pass away any on pretence of getting greater and more particularly serviceable to them and their employment, and so for convenience part with God’s inheritance; this is forbidden: this is holy, as the first-fruits were under the law, Leviticus 25:23,24 1 Kings 21:4.
In the breadth over against; or running along by the side.
The five and twenty thousand; assigned to the Levites.
A profane place; a common, not consecrated place, in which the city should be built, a place for all services, as men shall need. Now as that is counted holy which is set apart only for the service of God, so that common or profane that is for common uses.
For dwelling; houses within the walls.
For suburbs; streets and dwellings, or gardens without the walls.
The city; Jerusalem.
In the midst thereof; of this common place, which is called here profane; so that ten thousand are left at each end.
The measures; the extent and proportions of the ground for the city; a square of four thousand five hundred shall be taken out of the middle of the twenty-five thousand for the area or ground-plot of the city. So it shall be an equilateral square, every side exactly the same, north, south, east, and west, four thousand five hundred apiece, by which measures the whole contents are visible, eighteen thousand cubits, not reeds.
Here are the dimensions of the suburbs, which added to those of the city thus, two hundred and fifty added to the four thousand five hundred on the north side, and two hundred and fifty added to the four thousand five hundred on the south side, make five thousand; so on the east add two hundred and fifty to four thousand five hundred, and then add two hundred and fifty to the four thousand five hundred on the west, it makes up an equilateral square five thousand on each side.
The residue in length, which remains on each side of the five thousand cubits square area, will be ten thousand on the east, and ten thousand on the west.
Shall be over against the oblation; lie parallel and even with the south side of the Levites’ portion both on east and west.
The increase thereof; the product, revenues of this land.
For food; the maintenance, both salary and allowances of bread and wine.
Unto them that serve the city; for the city officers, so that they may live by the city, whose life is spent for the city, that the labourer may, as he is worthy of it, receive his wages.
Either this service is a burden, and if so, it is fit all should bear their part in it; or it is a privilege and advantage, and then it is as fit the advantage should be equally given to all the tribes; all tribes shall be capable of the advantage, and liable to the burden.
Having particularly measured out ten thousand for the priests, and ten thousand for the Levites, and five thousand for the city broadways, these make in all twenty-five thousand; and the length of each the same, twenty-five thousand; here is evidently a perfect equilateral square, whose sides are twenty-five thousand each. With the possession of the city; the land assigned for the city, being added to that of the priests and Levites, makes their twice ten thousand to amount to twenty-five thousand broad.
The residue of the land, which is a great portion, for it is the remainder of twelve and a half taken out of sixty; so that the remainder will be forty-seven and a half.
On the one side; suppose it be the cast side, there will be twenty-three and three quarters.
On the other side; on the west just as much, twenty-three and three quarters.
Of the possession of the city; the residue of that which is on each side, east and west of the five thousand square area.
Over against the five and twenty thousand; which amounts out of the priests’, Levites’, and city portion.
Toward the east border of the land of Canaan; all from the east side of the twenty-five thousand to the utmost bounds eastward, shall be the prince’s portion, and so likewise on the west side westward to the great sea.
Over against the portions for the prince; these twenty-five thousand on both sides lay over against, or run parallel with, the breadth of the prince’s portion, but the length of the prince’s portion on each side did exceed the length of the holy portion and the city land, as twenty-three and three quarters exceeds twelve and a half.
The sanctuary; the holy mount.
Of the house; of the temple of God.
In the midst thereof; of the land assigned to the priests, which lay as described, bounded and guarded with the prince’s portion at east and west ends.
That we may clearly understand this, we must remember that the portion of Judah was laid from west to east next to the holy portion, and the portion of Benjamin is in Ezekiel 48:23 laid likewise from west to east next to the possession of the city. So that on each side the extent of Judah and Benjamin run out to twenty-three miles and three quarters farther than the holy portion and possession of the city did; and all the land contained between the borders of Judah and Benjamin were the prince’s right, both the twelve miles and half broad, twenty-three and three quarters long on the west, and the same proportion on the east; and this is the sum of the 22nd verse.
In Ezekiel 48:7 we left with the prophet the last assigned portion to Judah, on the north side of the holy portions; now the first on the south side of the possession of the city is Benjamin, whose portion, as all the rest, runs in length from east to west, and its breadth from north to south.
Thus all the tribes have their inheritances assigned them, but their lot is not here as in Joshua’s division. It was a new church and state that was here intended, and accordingly many changes are made in it, which differenced it from the old; which changes no doubt are instructive, but the particular instructions fall not within the design of a paraphrase or comment, which is to make the letter of the text plain to ordinary capacities.
The border of Gad; the south border of Gad. The border of the whole land southward.
From Tamar: see Ezekiel 47:19.
To the river; Sihor, say some; but if Sihor be the Nile, as Ortelius makes it, it cannot be the boundary: it is indeed a river that ariseth, as some place it, out of the north part of the mountains of Paran, and running a course west from its rise, passeth between Gerar and Rhino-curuva, and after some twenty-eight or thirty miles’ travel falls into the great sea, better known in Scripture by the name of the river of Egypt. But possibly the true rise may be from Mount Carmel and Gozen, whence it may be some forty miles English to the great sea.
This is the land, whose south bounds are here repeated, the north bounds Ezekiel 48:1.
Ye shall divide by lot; not casting lots, but assigning the shares.
These are their portions; these above described are the particular shares of each tribe.
Now the prophet hath a general topography of the city, which lay four-square. The first side mentioned is the north, for there he began to describe the land, or because it was nearest the temple. It was, as Ezekiel 48:16, which see, four thousand five hundred cubits, i.e. about a mile and one third of a mile.
So then it is probable these gates were built at equal distance from the corners and from each other.
Round measuring all four squares.
Eighteen thousand measures, or cubits, at which proportioned measures it was about five miles in compass; if the measures were reeds, it would be thirty miles and three hundred and twenty-five yards in compass of the walls, which cannot be conceived credible; whereas the other is the proportion the city might have been built to, if the sins of the Jews had not prevented.
The name, by which it shall be called, known, and which shall be the honour of it and its glory. From that day; from the day of the Lord’s restoring this people, and rebuilding their city, and re-establishing his worship, and their thankful, holy, and pure worshipping of God there, from the day that such unmatched mercy produceth a suitable return unto God, from that day it shall be said of Jerusalem,
The Lord is there; the Lord, who, as his name alone is Jehovah, so is the only true God, faithful to promise, rich in mercy, glorious in majesty, righteous in his judgments, wise and holy in his government, whose presence makes us happy, whose withdrawing from us leaves us to misery. This God will, by his favour and presence, repel enemies and protect his people, bring with him the confluence of all good to persons, families, and cities; this God will be there to dwell, govern, defend, prosper, and crown. The people is blessed that is in such case, for their God is the Lord, Psalms 144:15. Such was the case of typical, earthly Jerusalem, though not long; such is and shall be for ever the case of the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of God, the true church and temple of God. Such is the case of every true sincere believer, who may, wherever he is in his way of duty, still write, Jehovah-shammah, My God is here; and it is best to be where he is, till he bring me within the gates of the glorious city, where inconceivable light and love from the immediate presence of God give every one an eternal demonstration that hmv hnh To him be glory for ever.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Ezekiel 48". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://beta.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25