The fiery flames (Dan 3:23-3:25)

“Now the king’s servants,

Who threw them in,

Kept stoking

The furnace

With naphtha,

Pitch,

Tow,

Brushwood.

The flames

Poured out

Above the furnace,

Forty-nine cubits.

The flames

Spread out.

They burned

Those Chaldeans

Who were caught

Near the furnace.”

Originally, the king’s servants who threw the 3 men into the furnace had died because of the flames. Either they were still alive or there were other servants to keep the fire in the furnace going. Here those same servants or other servants were also burned because the flames were 49 cubits or over 75 feet high. They were adding naphtha, pitch, tow, and brushwood to the fire. Naphtha and pitch were like peat coal or a flammable tar base. Tow and brushwood were woods that easily burned.

The gold statue (Dan 3:1-3:1)

“King Nebuchadnezzar

Made a golden statue.

Its height was sixty cubits.

Its width was six cubits.

He set it up

On the plain of Dura,

In the province of Babylon.”

King Nebuchadnezzar decided to make a large golden statue of himself. This golden statue was very tall, 60 cubits or about 90 feet tall, 30 yards high, disproportionally high, since the width was a mere 6 cubits or 9 feet wide or 3 yards wide. Perhaps, this height included the pedestal. He put this statue on the plain of Dura, some unknown place close to the city of Babylon. It is not clear how soon after the events in chapter 2, that this took place. In the king’s dream, Daniel had described him as the golden head. However, the Septuagint mentions the 18th year of his rule, or about 587 BCE, around the time of the siege of Jerusalem.

The altar table or hearth (Ezek 43:15-43:17)

“The altar hearth was

Four cubits.

From the altar hearth

Projecting upward were

Four horns,

One cubit high.

The altar hearth

Shall be square.

Twelve cubits long

By twelve cubits wide.

The ledge also

Shall be square,

Fourteen cubits long

By fourteen cubits wide,

With a rim around it,

Half a cubit wide.

Its surrounding base was

One cubit wide.

Its steps

Shall face east.”

Ezekiel continued with his description of the altar hearth or the altar table where the sacrifices would be laid. This was much bigger and higher. This altar hearth or table was 4 cubits or nearly 8 feet high. It had 4 horns that were on it, each one cubit or nearly 2 feet high. This was a huge square altar table or hearth of 12 cubits. Thus, it was nearly 24 feet long by 24 feet wide. There was a square ledge with a rim around it that was even larger, 14 cubits square or nearly 28 feet square. Thus, there were 3 square layers on top of each other. This altar also had a surrounding base with steps that faced east.

The altar base (Ezek 43:13-43:14)

“These are the dimensions

Of the altar

By cubits.

The cubit is a cubit

With a handbreadth.

Its base shall be

One cubit high,

One cubit broad,

With a rim

Of one span

Around its edge.

This shall be

The height of the altar.

From the base

On the ground

To the lower ledge,

Two cubits,

With a width

Of one cubit.

From the smaller ledge

To the larger ledge,

Four cubits,

With a width

Of one cubit.”

Ezekiel continued with his detailed explanation about the size of the altar. First, he started with the altar base that was relatively small. His measurement was the larger cubit that also included a hand size or another 5 inches to the already normal 18-inch cubit. Thus, the altar base was one cubit, only 23 inches high, or just less than 2 feet high and wide. However, it had a rim around its edge. Apparently, there were 2 ledges, a small ledge and a larger ledge. The smaller lower ledge was only 2 cubits high and 1 cubit wide. The larger ledge was 4 cubits high and 1 cubit wide.

The wooden altar (Ezek 41:21-41:22)

“The doorposts

Of the nave

Were square.

In front of the holy place

Was something resembling

An altar of wood.

It was

Three cubits high,

Two cubits long,

Two cubits wide.

Its corners,

Its base,

Its walls were

Of wood.

He said to me.

‘This is the table

That stands

Before Yahweh.’”

Next Ezekiel explained the wooden altar. There were square doorposts in the nave in front of the holy place. Ezekiel seemed vague as he said that he saw something resembling an altar of wood that was 3 cubits high or 5 feet high. However, the top was a small square, 2 cubits long and wide, about 3 feet square. All its corners, base, and walls were made of wood. Then the bronze man explicitly told Ezekiel that this was the table that stood before Yahweh.

The preparation tables for the burnt offerings (Ezek 40:42-40:43)

“There were also

Four tables

Of hewn stone

For the burnt offerings,

One cubit and a half long,

One cubit and a half wide,

One cubit high.

The instruments

Were to be laid there.

These instruments

Were to slaughter

The burnt offerings

As well as the sacrifices.

These were pegs,

One handbreadth long.

They were fastened

All around the inside.

The flesh

Of the offerings

Was to be laid

On the tables.”

There were 4 hewn stone tables for the burnt offerings, that were 1½ cubits long and wide. These tables were a little less than 3 feet square tables. However, these stone tables were only 1 cubit high, about 18 inches high, not very high. The instruments of slaughter for the burnt offerings and sacrifices were these 4-inch-long pegs that were all fastened together. The flesh of the animals was to lay on these stone tables.

The disfigured suffering servant (Isa 52:13-52:15)

“See!

My servant shall prosper.

He shall be exalted.

He shall be lifted up.

He shall be very high.

There were many

Who were astonished at him.

His appearance was so marred,

Beyond human semblance.

His form was beyond

That of mortals.

Thus he shall startle many nations.

Kings shall shut their mouths

Because of him.

What had not been told them,

They shall see.

What they have not heard,

They shall contemplate.”

Now Second Isaiah has the 4th chant of the suffering servant. Here there is a painful description of this servant of Yahweh, who is going to prosper, be exalted, and be lifted up very high. Many people were astonished at his marred figure that was beyond human semblance. He hardly looked human, so that he startled many nations. Kings shut their mouths. They suddenly saw things that they did not know about. They contemplated things that they had not heard. Was this an individual or the country of Israel? Obviously the text is not clear, except to say that he or Israel was badly disfigured, but that he or they would prosper anyway.