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.

 

The priests and the sanctuary land (Ezek 45:3-45:4)

“In the holy district,

You shall measure off

A section

Twenty-five thousand cubits long,

Ten thousand cubits wide.

This shall be

The sanctuary,

The most holy place.

It shall be

A holy portion

Of the land.

It shall be

For the priests,

Who minister

In the sanctuary.

They approach Yahweh

To minister

To him.

It shall be

A place

For their houses,

A holy place

For the sanctuary.”

This 25,000 by 20,000-cubit area was divided into 2 parts. This first part included the space for the Zadok priests and the sanctuary itself so that it was 25,000 by 10,000 cubits. The sanctuary, the most holy place, the 500-square cubit building would be in this half of the holy land of Jerusalem. Besides the sanctuary, this area included the houses for the Zadok priests who ministered to Yahweh in this sanctuary. Thus, the holy priests would live next to the holy place, where they would be cultic ministers.

The punishment for the idol loving Levite ministers (Ezek 44:10-44:12)

“‘But the Levites,

Who went far from me,

Going astray

From me

After their idols,

When Israel went astray,

Shall bear

Their punishment.

They shall be ministers

In my sanctuary,

Having oversight

At the gates

Of the temple.

They shall serve

In the temple.

They shall slaughter

The burnt offerings.

They shall slaughter

The sacrifices

For the people.

They shall attend

On them.

They shall serve them.

Because they ministered

To them

Before their idols,

They made

The house of Israel

Stumble into iniquity.

Therefore,

I have sworn concerning them.

They shall bear their punishment.’

Says Yahweh God!”

In a diatribe against the Levitical priests who had served idols in the high places, Yahweh was upset. However, his punishment was merely lowly menial tasks in the Temple, not a drastic death sentence. These Levites had sinned because they had led Israel astray with their idol worshipping. They made Israel stumble into iniquity. Thus, they were to be punished. They would only have oversight at the gates to the Temple, not in the sanctuary. They also would slaughter the burnt offerings and other sacrifices. They would continue to minister to Yahweh and his people, but only in the more pedestrian roles. This seems like a mild form of punishment for idol worship and leading the Israelites astray.

The ordinances of the Temple (Ezek 44:5-44:5)

“Yahweh said to me.

‘Son of man!

Mark well!

Look closely!

Hear attentively

To all that I shall tell you

Concerning all the ordinances

Of the temple

Of Yahweh

With all its laws!

Mark well

Those who may be admitted

To the temple!

Mark well

Those who are to be excluded

From the sanctuary!’”

Yahweh then proceeded to outline all the ordinances about the Temple to Ezekiel, the son of man. Ezekiel was to be observant, pay attention, and listen to what Yahweh had to say. Yahweh was going to enumerate all the laws about the Temple of Yahweh. Ezekiel was to take special notice about who would be admitted into the Temple. Certain people were to be excluded from the sanctuary.

Measuring the holy of holies (Ezek 41:3-41:4)

“Then he went into

The inner room.

He measured the pilasters

Of the entrance,

Two cubits.

The width

Of the entrance was

Six cubits.

The sidewalls

Of the entrance were

Seven cubits.

He measured

The depth

Of the room,

Twenty cubits.

It width was

Twenty cubits,

Beyond the nave.

He said to me.

‘This is the most holy place.’”

The bronze man brought Ezekiel into the sanctuary, the holy of holies in the Temple, called the Debir. As usual, the bronze man began to measure everything. The pilasters were only 2 cubits or 3 feet on each side. The entrance was also relatively small, about 6 cubits or 9 feet wide. However, the sidewalls were large, bout 7 cubits or 10 feet on each side. This holy of holies was square, 20 cubits by 20 cubits, about 35 feet by 35 feet, a small square room. However, this room was completely different, since the bronze man said that this room was the most holy place.

The captivity of the Ammonites (Ezek 25:3-25:4)

“Say to the Ammonites!

Hear

The word of Yahweh God!

Thus says Yahweh God!

‘You said.

‘Aha!’

Over my sanctuary

When it was profaned.

You said.

‘Aha!’

Over the land of Israel

When it was made desolate.

You said.

‘Aha!’

Over the house of Judah

When it went into exile.

Therefore

I am handing you over

To the people of the East

For a possession.

They shall set

Their encampments

Among you.

They shall pitch

Their tents

In your midst.

They shall eat

Your fruit.

They shall drink

Your milk.’”

Yahweh wanted Ezekiel to tell the Ammonites to listen to the word of Yahweh, their God. However, they had their own gods. Apparently the Ammonites had profaned the sanctuary in Jerusalem. They had laughed when the northern kingdom of Israel was destroyed. They had even laughed at the exile of the people from Judah. Their punishment would be that they would be handed over to the people of the East, who would set up encampments and tents in their territory. These invaders would even eat their fruit and drink their milk. This probably was an allusion to the Assyrians, whom the Ammonites were dependent upon.

The adultery of the two sisters with their idols (Ezek 23:37-23:39)

“They have committed

Adultery.

Blood is

On their hands.

With their idols,

They have committed

Adultery.

They have even offered up

To them

For food

The children

Whom they had borne

To me.

Moreover

This they have done

To me.

They have defiled

My sanctuary

On the same day.

They have profaned

My Sabbath.

When they had slaughtered

Their children

For their idols,

On the same day,

They came

Into my sanctuary

To profane it.

This is what they did

In my house.”

Yahweh explains to Ezekiel about the adulterous behavior of these two sisters, particularly Jerusalem. They had turned to idol images instead of Yahweh. Thus they have committed adultery. Blood was on their hands because of their idol worship. They had even offered up Israelite children for food for these idols. Not only did they sacrifice their own children, but on the same day they defiled the sanctuary of the Temple and profaned the Sabbath. They had slaughtered their own children for their idols. What kind of adulterous behavior was this?