The Word Made Fresh
1Then he brought me to the long central hall and measured the sections; they were six cubits wide on each side. 2The entrance was ten cubits wide and the walls beside the entrance were five cubits on either side. He measured the outer sanctuary; it was forty cubits long and twenty cubits wide. 3He entered the inner room and measured the columns in the entrance to be two cubits and the entrance itself was six cubits long and seven cubits wide. 4He measured the room to be twenty cubits deep and twenty cubits wide past the entrance, and he said to me, “This is the most sacred place.”
5He measured the wall of the temple to be six cubits thick, and the side rooms all around the temple were four cubits wide. 5The side rooms were three stories high and there were thirty rooms in each story. Supports for the side rooms were all around the temple – they were not supported by the temple wall itself. 7The side rooms were wider from story to story and a stairway was built to access the levels from the bottom story through the middle to the upper level. Each level was wider than the one below. 8The temple had a raised level all around and the foundation of the side rooms was six cubits.9The outer wall of the side rooms was five cubits. The open area between the side rooms 10and the rooms of the court were twenty cubits wide all the way around the temple. 11The side rooms opened to the free areas, a door toward the north and another toward the south. The area left free was five cubits all around. 12The building facing the temple’s open area on the west was seventy cubits wide. The building walls were five cubits thick and ninety cubits long.
13He then measured the temple. It was one hundred cubits long, and the courtyard and building within its walls was one hundred cubits long. 14The eastern front of the temple and open spaces was a hundred cubits.
15He measured the depth of the building which faced the western yard, together with its additions on both sides. It was one hundred cubits.
The entrance to the temple and the inner and outer rooms 16were paneled, and all three had windows that were inserted. The area inside the entrance was paneled inside and outside with wood all around from the floor to the windows (which were covered), 17up to the area above the door and continuing to the inner rooms. On all the walls of the entrance and the inner room there was a pattern 18of cherubim and palm trees, with a palm tree between each cherub. Each cherub had two faces: 19one was a human face turned toward the palm tree on one side and a young lion’s face turned toward the palm tree on the other side. They were carved on the wall of the temple all the way around. 20Cherubim and palms were carved on the wall from the floor to the area above the door.
21The entryway doorposts were square. In front of the sacred place was a table that resembled 22a wooden altar. It was three cubits tall, two cubits long and two cubits wide. It was made completely of wood. The man then said to me, “This is the table that stands before the LORD.” 23The entrance and the sacred place each had double doors, 24each with two swinging leaves. 25Cherubim and palm trees were carved on the doors as on the walls, and a wooden canopy stood in front of the entrance. 25Recessed windows and palm trees were on each side of the entryway.
If you Google “Ezekiel’s Temple” you will likely find a number of attempts to depict what is described in these chapters; interesting but probably beside the point. The descriptions given here are nowhere nearly adequate to actually erect the buildings. All we have is a tally of the dimensions and the barest glimpse of the various buildings and rooms involved, which begs the question, “What’s the point?” Many have attempted an explanation, but none are completely satisfactory. Perhaps the best suggestion is simply that God is fixing firmly in Ezekiel’s mind the general idea that the temple will be rebuilt, and the worship of God in Jerusalem re-established, an idea he can pass on to the exiles.
1-4: The measurements continue into the vestibule and the holy of holies, the inner sanctuary where the Ark of the Covenant was kept.
5-11: The temple building is measured next, with the passageways and the anterooms around the perimeter.
12-15: Another building is measured, some 15-20 feet to the west of the temple. The purpose of this building is not mentioned.
16-20: Finally, some details of the design of the temple are given. There are windows, and wood paneling, and a (as relief or engraved?) pattern of cherubim and palm trees around the walls.
21-26: Right in the middle of this very precise-sounding “tour” of the new temple, Ezekiel throws in a word that reminds us this is a vision, a sort of trance or waking dream. What he sees is not an altar of wood, but rather something “resembling” an altar of wood. The angel has to tell him that it is “the table that stands before the LORD.”
Ezekiel is an exile along with many of his fellow Israelites in Babylon. He is convinced that God is telling him that they will be restored to their own land. It is the hope of every exile, of course, but to Ezekiel the most important aspect of their restoration is the temple where God will be worshiped. Ezekiel understood that Israel’s future rested on their faith in God. So does ours.