The Word Made Fresh
1When you make allotments of land as an inheritance, set aside for the LORD a portion of it – twenty-five thousand cubits long and ten thousand cubits wide. It must be kept sacred throughout its extent. 2Within this portion a square five-hundred-cubits on each side is to be set apart for the sanctuary. Keep an open space around it fifty cubits wide. 3In this sacred area measure a space twenty-five cubits long and ten cubits wide for the sanctuary, the most sacred space. 4It will be the land’s sacred portion for the priests who will go about ministerial duties in the sanctuary and will serve the LORD. It will be both for their houses and for a sacred place for the sanctuary. 5Mark off another section, also twenty-five thousand by ten thousand cubits, for the Levites who serve at the temple. That will be their land for building houses to live in.
6Alongside the portion designated as sacred space, assign for the city an area five thousand by twenty-five thousand cubits. This is for all the people of Israel.
7The prince will have the space on both sides of the sacred area and city area on east and west sides, in length the same as a tribal portion from the western to the eastern boundary. 8That will be his property in Israel. My princes shall no longer oppress my people, but will allow the people of Israel to have the land designated for their tribes.
9The LORD God says “Enough, you princes of Israel. Do away with violence and oppression. Do only what is fair and right, and stop evicting my people.
10“Use honest scales to measure weights and volumes. 11The weights and balances shall both measure a tenth of a homer, and the homer will be the standard measure. 12The shekel will be twenty gerahs. Sixty shekels will equal one mina.
13“Your offerings shall be one-sixth of an ephah from each homer of wheat and one-sixth from each homer of barley. 14They shall be offered with one-tenth of a bath of oil (the homer contains ten baths). 15One sheep must be given from every flock of two hundred in Israel’s pasturelands. This is what must be used for grain offerings, burnt offerings, and thank offerings, to make atonement for the people. 16The prince will be joined by all the people in making this offering. 17And this is the prince’s obligation concerning the burnt offerings and drink offerings at the festivals, new moons and sabbaths – all the appointed celebrations of the people of Israel: he must provide the sin, grain and burnt offerings and the offerings of atonement for the people of Israel.”
18This is what the LORD God says: “On the first day of the first month of the year, take a young bull with no blemishes, and offer it to purify the sanctuary. 19The priest must then take some of the blood of the sin offering and smear it on the doorposts of the temple, on the four corners of the ledge of the altar, and on the posts for the gate to the inner court. 20Do the same thing on the seventh day of the month for all who have sinned through error or through ignorance. This is how you are to make atonement for the temple.
21“On the fourteenth day of the first month of the year you are to celebrate the feast of Passover. For seven days unleavened bread shall be eaten, 22and the prince will provide a young bull for a sin offering for himself and all the people of the land. 23During the seven days of the festival the prince must provide for a burnt offering to the LORD each day seven young bulls and seven rams without blemishes, and a male goat for a sin offering. 24He is also to provide as a grain offering an ephah for each bull, an ephah for each ram, and a hin of oil with each ephah. 25On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, for the seven days of the festival, he will give the same sacrifices for the sin offerings, burnt offerings, and grain offerings, as well as the oil.”
1-5: When the first allotment of the tribes was made (Joshua 13-19) there was no provision for a sacred area set aside for God. The new Israel will include such a provision. The holy realm is to be 25,000 cubits (about 8 miles) from east to west and from north to south. A strip in the middle of that is designated for the priests and the location of the temple compound. The outer strips on the north and south sides of this center strip, each 25,000 cubits east-to-west and 5,000 cubits north-to-south, are set apart for the Levites and their cities. So, rather than be scattered around the country as in the old Israel, in the new Israel the Levites will be grouped in that central area.
6: This verse is a confusing addition that seems to designate another strip for all the people, but the purpose of such an area is not given.
7-8: The prince’s portion is apparently 25,000 cubits north to south, and stretching east-to-west to the far boundaries of the nation — the Mediterranean Sea on the west and the Jordan River on the east. This is an enormous holding, 8 miles north and south and about 80 miles east to west!
9: This verse seems to indicate that the prince’s allotment is designed to satisfy his craving for land and wealth so that he will not oppress the people.
10-12: Honest weights and measures are inveighed. A homer was about 5 bushels. The ephah was a dry measure, the bath a liquid one. Honest weights and measures help to insure that the people are not cheated.
13-17: Mandatory offerings are described, the prince and the people both responsible.
18-20: Sin offerings for the atonement of the people are stipulated.
21-25: The observance of Passover is mandated.
Ezekiel is about the business of resurrecting the religious practices of Israel before the people were exiled to Babylon and elsewhere. His descriptions are complicated. In our time, daily life is complicated, and perhaps that is why our religious practices are more relaxed than what Ezekiel is describing. But we err considerably when we fail to take our faith seriously. Our lifestyle should always include time for worship and prayer. If we’re too busy to pray and worship, we’re too busy!