The boundaries and division of the land (Ezek 47:13-47:14)

“Thus says Yahweh God!

‘These are the boundaries

By which

You shall divide

The land

For inheritance

Among the twelve tribes

Of Israel.

Joseph shall have two portions.

You shall divide it

Equally.

I swore to give it

To your ancestors.

This land shall fall

To you

As your inheritance.’”

Next Yahweh, via Ezekiel, took up the question of the boundaries of Israel and the division of the land among the tribes. Joshua, in chapters 13-22, first faced this problem. Here, it appears in a more summary fashion. Nevertheless, the problem of what to do with the people already there in this land was not even mentioned. Ezekiel was going to set up these ideal borders or boundaries of Israel. He also was going to lay out the inheritance distribution of the land between the 12 tribes. The tribe of Joseph was to be given 2 portions, one for Manasseh and one for Ephraim. Yahweh had already promised to give this land to their ancestors as their inheritance.

The good river (Ezek 47:10-47:12)

“People will stand fishing

Beside the sea,

From En-gedi

To En-eglaim.

It will be a place

For the spreading

Of nets.

Its fish will be

Of a great many kinds,

Like the fish

Of the Great Sea.

But its swamps,

With its marshes,

Will not become fresh.

They are to be left

For salt.

On the banks,

On both sides

Of the river,

There will grow

All kinds of trees

For food.

Their leaves

Will not wither.

Their fruit

Will not fail.

But they will bear

Fresh fruit

Every month,

Because the water

For them

Flows from the sanctuary.

Their fruit will be

For food.

Their leaves will be

For healing.”

This mysterious water from the Temple would mean that people could fish out on the northwestern side of the Dead Sea from En-gedi to En-eglaim. All one had to do was spread fishing nets, then all kinds of wonderful fish would be caught, just like in the great Mediterranean Sea. However, the swamps and marshes would not become fresh, but they would remain salty. On both sides of this river, all kinds of trees would grow with monthly fresh fruit and perennial leaves for healing. This river coming from the sanctuary of the Temple had all these wonderful powers because of the power of Yahweh, much like other Canaanite and Mesopotamian mythical rivers.

 

Fresh water (Ezek 47:8-47:9)

“He said to me.

‘This water flows

Toward the eastern region.

It goes down

Into the Arabah.

When it enters

The sea,

The sea of stagnant waters,

The water will

Become fresh.

Wherever the river goes

Every living creature

That swarms

Will live.

There will be

Very many fish,

Once these waters

Reach there.

It will become fresh.

Everything will live

Where the river goes.’”

This mysterious water from the Temple flowed east to the Arabah, the southern area between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba. When this fresh water from the Temple flowed into the Dead Sea, or the stagnant waters, the waters there would become fresh. Many fish and other swarming creatures would live there. Wherever this river flowed, everything would come alive. These were the living waters for all the sea creatures.

The trees on the bank of the river (Ezek 47:6-47:7)

“He said to me.

‘Son of man!

Have you seen this?’

Then he led me back

Along the bank

Of the river.

As I went back,

I saw

On the bank

Of the river

A great many trees

On the one side

As well as on the other side.”

The bronze man spoke like Yahweh in calling Ezekiel the son of man. He asked if Ezekiel had seen all this mile-long flowing water from the Temple. Then he brought Ezekiel to the bank of the river, where Ezekiel saw a lot of trees on both sides of the river.

The flowing water leads to a river (Ezek 47:3-47:5)

“Going on eastward,

With a cord in his hand,

The man measured

One thousand cubits.

Then he led me

Through the water.

It was ankle-deep.

Again,

He measured

One thousand cubits.

He led me

Through the water.

It was knee-deep.

Again,

He measured

One thousand cubits.

He led me

Through the water.

It was up to the waist.

Again,

He measured

One thousand cubits.

It was a river

That I could not cross.

The water had risen.

It was deep enough

To swim in,

A river

That could not be crossed.”

The bronze man took a cord and started to measure the flowing water from the Temple. For the first 1,000 cubits or 1,500 feet, or a little over a quarter mile, the water was only ankle-deep. He then led Ezekiel across this small stream. However, the next measured 1,000 cubits or quarter mile, the water was knee high. Once again, he led Ezekiel across this knee-high water. After the 3rd measurement of 1,000 cubits or over a quarter mile, the water was waist high. Ezekiel then waded through this waist-high water. Finally, after another 1,000 cubits or another quarter mile, it was a mighty river that Ezekiel could not cross, except by swimming, because it was so deep. Thus, there was a river, a little over a mile from the eastern gate of the Temple.

The flowing water (Ezek 47:1-47:2)

“Then he brought me back

To the entrance

Of the temple.

There,

Water was flowing

From below the threshold

Of the temple

Toward the east.

The temple faced east.

The water was flowing down

From below

The south end

Of the threshold

Of the temple,

South of the altar.

Then he brought me out

By way of the north gate.

He led me around

On the outside

To the outer gate

That faces toward the east.

The water was coming out

On the south side.”

The bronze man brought Ezekiel to the entrance of the Temple. This time, there was water flowing from below the threshold of the Temple toward the east, since the Temple faced east. This mysterious water movement was coming from the south end, south of the altar. Then the bronze man brought Ezekiel out the north gate and around to the east outer gate. There the mysterious water was coming out once again from the south side of the Temple.

The cooking chambers in the court (Ezek 46:21-46:24)

“Then he brought me out

To the outer court.

He led me past

The four corners

Of the court.

In each corner

Of the court,

There was another court.

In the four corners

Of the court

Were small courts,

Forty cubits long,

Thirty cubits wide.

The four were

Of the same size.

On the inside,

Around each

Of the four courts,

Was a row of masonry?

They had hearths

Made at the bottom

Of the rows,

All around.

Then he said to me.

‘These are the kitchens

Where those who serve

At the temple

Shall boil

The sacrifices

Of the people.’”

The bronze man brought Ezekiel to the Temple outer court. There were four corners in this court. In each corner of the court, there was another court. There were 4 small courts about 40 by 30 cubits, about 70 feet by 50 feet, all the same size. Around the inside of each of these 4 courts was a mason hearth with rows all around it. Then the bronze man told Ezekiel that these were the kitchens where those who served at the Temple boiled the sacrifices for the people. Ezekiel, thus, had a first-hand look at the workings inside the Temple.