Ezekiel 40 thru 42 – The Temple

So these next three chapters describe the temple. I wonder how closely the temple built by Zerubabel, Ezra, and the rest of that crew matched this outline. In a quick scan of Ezra and the surrounding commentary I do not see Ezekiel mentioned at all, though I easily could have missed it. It seems, though, that Ezekiel is describing an idealized temple that will be given by God in some utopian future, while the returned exiles simply restored Solomon’s original temple with little modification, or at least that’s what I see on first glance. I’d love to discuss this with someone who has more detail and information.

I’m not going to attempt any real discussion of the contents of Ezekiel’s temple vision here. To be honest, I have a hard time getting anything meaningful from these kinds of texts. I work much better with blueprints, charts, tables, and bullet lists when trying to understand specifics about a design and structure. I realize all of these textual constructs are later inventions, that Ezekiel didn’t have those tools available to work with. So I’ll leave the imagining of the construction to someone more versed in such matters.

One point I will touch on: JSB commentary on chapter 42 mentions that the description of the outer court, in the original Hebrew, describes the area as 500 rods long by 500 rods wide. Using the rod of six long cubits mentioned in chapter 40, this works out to an area 1,500 meters on each side, or approximately 556 acres. That’s an exceptionally large courtyard! The NJPS and NRSV translations both adjust the text to say the walls are each 500 cubits (rather than rods) long, without any comment on that adjustment at all. Even with that change, the courtyard still works out to be about 14 acres. Either way, the messenger presented quite a large space to Ezekiel.