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Deeper Commentary

Ezekiel 46:1 Thus says the Lord Yahweh: The gate of the inner court that looks toward the east shall be shut the six working days; but on the Sabbath day it shall be opened, and on the day of the new moon it shall be opened- Whatever the Messianic implications of this, Malachi lamented that the returned exiles wouldn't even open the gates unless they were paid; or some translations suggest that nobody at all would open or shut the gates (Mal. 1:10). By not opening or closing the gates, the entrance of the Messianic prince was precluded.

Ezekiel 46:2 The prince shall enter by the way of the porch of the gate outside, and shall stand by the post of the gate; and the priests shall prepare his burnt offering and his peace offerings, and he shall worship at the threshold of the gate: then he shall go forth; but the gate shall not be shut until the evening- Had Judah repented at the time of the restoration, a Davidic ruler would have been raised up, Zerubbabel is the most obvious candidate (see on Zech. 6). He would have reigned "for ever", for an age. But he dropped the baton, or at least Judah were unwilling for this scenario. And so the prophecies were reinterpreted and rescheduled for total and eternal fulfilment in the Lord Jesus. "The prince" of the envisaged restored temple in Ez. 40-48 refers to this same individual. See on Ez. 37:25. His standing by the post of the gate records David's royal descendants doing so (2 Kings 11:14; 23:3). The impression is given that the prince is a restored Davidic ruler at the time of the restoration of the temple. But we note that he must remain at the gate whilst the priest prepares the offerings. This again reads strangely if we are to interpret the prince as the Lord Jesus, for He is both a prince and priest, after the order of Melchizedek.

Ezekiel 46:3 The people of the land shall worship at the door of that gate before Yahweh on the Sabbaths and on the new moons- Instead, “the people of the land” hung around the gates of the city on the Sabbath in order to do some trading of goods (Neh. 13:19,20). Judah intermarried with them rather than leading them to worship Yahweh at the temple on the Sabbaths. Those who insist that these prophecies speak of the future Kingdom of God on earth would have to therefore admit that the Sabbath will be reinstituted. But the New Testament is clear that the Sabbath has been fulfilled in the Lord Jesus.

Ezekiel 46:4 The burnt offering that the prince shall offer to Yahweh- According to Zech. 3 and Zech. 6, we can understand “the prince” as primarily referring to Zerubbabel or Joshua the High Priest (see on Ez. 37:25; 44:3). Under Joshua, the iniquity of the land could have been removed, and “ye shall call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree” (Zech. 3:8-10). The Messianic Kingdom could have been brought in, the new covenant accepted by Israel. It could have been Eliashib- but despite his apparent enthusiasm, he didn’t even build the wall outside his own house (Neh. 3:20-22), and arranged for his grandson to marry Sanballat’s daughter (Neh. 12:10,11). It is evident from Ez. 46:3 and Ez. 44:3 that the promised Messiah figure was to be both a king and a priest- which would fit Joshua. He is described as a crowned High Priest, called “the branch”, who would build the temple and reign as “a priest upon his throne”. But this didn’t happen. Because Zechariah concluded this prophecy with the comment: “And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the Lord” (Zech. 6:10-15). Joshua-Jesus didn’t live up to it. And Zerubbabel never ruled in Jerusalem- he returned to the soft life in Babylon after the temple was rebuilt. But the prophecies suffered a deferral. They will be fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the branch.  


Shall be on the Sabbath day six lambs without blemish and a ram without blemish- Two lambs were required under Mosaic law. This temple whilst based upon Solomon's was not an exact replica, just as the regulations for sacrifice are similar but differ from those of the Mosaic law. See on Ez. 41:4; 45:23. Perhaps the greater number of lambs was to teach the exiles the weight of their sins. Seven lambs weren't required, but six- perhaps hinting that the complete and perfect lamb [seven] was yet to come. But see on :6.

Ezekiel 46:5 And the meal offering shall be an ephah for the ram, and the meal offering for the lambs as he is able to give, and a hin of oil to an ephah- The Mosaic law required less; whereas it required more than Ezekiel's system for the new moons in :6.

Ezekiel 46:6 On the day of the new moon it shall be a young bull without blemish, and six lambs, and a ram; they shall be without blemish- This contrasts with the Mosaic law which required 2 bulls, 1 ram and 7 lambs. See on :4. It almost seems that the regulations are purposefully intended to signal a difference with the Mosaic law.

Ezekiel 46:7 And he shall prepare a meal offering, an ephah for the bull, and an ephah for the ram, and for the lambs according as he is able, and a hin of oil to an ephah- "As he is able" suggests serving God within the limitations of what is available to us. This cuts across all legalism, reflecting God's earnest desire for fellowship with man in all his limitations. It is also a rather strange thing to read if indeed these words speak of fulfilment of in God's future Kingdom on earth.

Ezekiel 46:8 When the prince shall enter, he shall go in by the way of the porch of the gate, and he shall go out by its way- It seems the east gate is in view (:1,2). This is in contrast to how the people were to enter by one gate and leave by another (:9). See on :10.

Ezekiel 46:9 But when the people of the land shall come before Yahweh in the appointed feasts- “The people of the land” were to have a part in the new system of things (Ez. 45:16,22; 46:3,9), and yet this very phrase is repeatedly used concerning the Samaritan people who lived in the land at the time of the restoration (Ezra 4:4; 10:2,11; Neh. 9:24; 10:30,31). God’s intention was that they should eventually be converted unto Him; it was His intention that Ezekiel’s temple be built at the time of the restoration under Ezra. The scenario of Zech. 14, with Gentiles coming to Zion to keep Tabernacles, was also potentially possible at the restoration.

He who enters by the way of the north gate to worship shall go out by the way of the south gate; and he who enters by the way of the south gate shall go out by the way of the north gate: he shall not return by the way of the gate by which he came in, but shall go out straight before him- We noted earlier the design of the gatehouses and barriers to facilitate crowd control (Ez. 40:12), and this one way system appears to be reflective of a perceived need to control the crowds. This all seems rather human if we think that this scenario is intended for fulfilment in the Kingdom of God. The language of going "straight before him" is another example of how there are continual allusions back to the cherubim visions. The straight feet and path of the cherubim was to be replicated in the path of God's people on earth (see on Ez. 1:7).

Ezekiel 46:10 The prince, when they go in, shall go in with them; and when they go out, he shall go out- He enters and leaves by the east gate (:1,2,8). The idea may be that when the people enter by the north or south gates (:9), he enters; and he leaves as they leave. The idea is that the worship of the prince is not separate from that of the ordinary people. There was to be a unity between prince and people, despite his evident superiority to them; and this looks forward to the Lord Jesus.

Ezekiel 46:11 In the feasts and in the solemnities the meal offering shall be an ephah for a bull and an ephah for a ram, and for the lambs as he is able to give, and a hin of oil to an ephah- The lack of specific definition of the amount of meal offering required with the lambs is typical of God's open ended relationship with us. We are to respond as we can. And perhaps it is the lack of legalistic legislation which inspires us to greater generosity and devotion than within a more circumscribed system.

Ezekiel 46:12 When the prince shall prepare a freewill offering, a burnt offering or peace offerings as a freewill offering to Yahweh, one shall open for him the gate that looks toward the east; and he shall prepare his burnt offering and his peace offerings, as he does on the Sabbath day: then he shall go out; and after his going forth one shall shut the gate- Malachi and Haggai so bitterly complain at the way the priests didn’t serve God properly in the restored temple. The priests were to shut the gates (Ez. 44:2; 46:2,12); but they refused to do this unless they were paid for it (Mal. 1:10). Again we note here how the prince was also able to act as a priest in some feasts. Zech. 6 taught that just such a figure could have arisen at the restoration.

Ezekiel 46:13 You shall prepare a lamb a year old without blemish for a burnt offering to Yahweh daily: morning by morning you shall prepare it- The "you" was addressed to Ezekiel and suggests this system could have been built within Ezekiel’s lifetime, for he was to give the animals to the sons of Zadok to offer in the temple (Ez. 43:19); Ezekiel was to prepare the daily sacrifice.

Ezekiel 46:14 You shall prepare a meal offering with it morning by morning, the sixth part of an ephah, and the third part of a hin of oil, to moisten the fine flour; a meal offering to Yahweh continually by a perpetual ordinance- The continual burnt offering under Moses' law was to be made morning and evening (Num. 28:3); now the evening sacrifice is abolished. We note the change of pronouns. "The prince" has been in view in :13; now "you", perhaps Ezekiel personally; and then "they" in :15. It is as if Ezekiel is being addressed as representative of the priests; another indication that the prophecy was intended for fulfilment in Ezekiel's time by people then known to Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 46:15 Thus shall they prepare the lamb, and the meal offering, and the oil, morning by morning, for a continual burnt offering- "Morning by morning" appears to stress that the evening offering was now no more.

Ezekiel 46:16 Thus says the Lord Yahweh: If the prince give a gift to any of his sons, it is his inheritance, it shall belong to his sons; it is their possession by inheritance- The idea is that it could never again revert to the prince. This seems to safeguard against the prince making gifts to his sons and then demanding them returned to him; any attempt to interpret the prince as the returned Lord Jesus runs into major difficulty here, as the legislation is designed to keep the prince from being fickle and manipulative with his wealth.

Ezekiel 46:17 But if he gives of his inheritance as a gift to one of his servants, it shall be his to the year of liberty; then it shall return to the prince; but as for his inheritance, it shall be for his sons- He is subject to death (Ez. 46:17,18); and  has a wife and sons (Ez. 46:16) who will succeed him (Ez. 45:8). Clearly the prince is mortal, and not the immortal Lord Jesus. "The year of liberty" could refer to the year of Jubilee, or possibly the seventh year release of slaves from their bondage to a particular master. Although here it is the return of property which is in view, so the reference is more likely to the year of Jubilee.

Ezekiel 46:18 Moreover the prince shall not take of the people’s inheritance by thrusting them out of their possession; he shall give an inheritance to his sons out of his own possession, that My people not be scattered every man from his possession- This and the surrounding verses are admittedly hard to understand if they really are to be literally fulfilled in relation to Jesus at His second coming. For this legislation seems to guard against the prince abusing the people, as if he is prone to such sin. But it is so understandable within the framework of interpretation here advocated. They had gone into captivity for these kind of abuses, they had indeed been scattered from their possessions; now they were to return and rebuild the temple after the pattern of Solomon’s, repent of their sins, and live righteously, and they would have the possibility of bringing in the Messianic Kingdom. But they chose to be satisfied with a semi-revival, a quasi repentance- just as we can be so easily. And Nehemiah records how the princes did oppress the people, taking their land / possessions away from them. They had 'thrust out' their brethren before the captivity (Jer. 22:3; Ez. 18:7,12; 22:7,29 s.w.), and so had been themselves 'thrust out' (Jer. 25:38 s.w.).

Ezekiel 46:19 Then he brought me through the entry, which was at the side of the gate, into the holy rooms for the priests, which looked toward the north: and behold, there was a place on the hinder part westward- There were to be “holy chambers” in the temple for the Levites (here and very often in Ezekiel 40-48). The uncircumcised Gentiles were not to be brought into the sanctuary (Ez. 44:7). It was God’s intention that when Judah returned from Babylon, the uncircumcised would not come into Zion (the temple), and the Kingdom would be established (Isaiah 52:1,11). There was to be no Canaanite in the house of Yahweh (Zech. 14:21). But Tobiah the Ammonite was given a chamber in the temple for him to use as an office for undermining God’s people (Neh. 13:7-9).

Ezekiel 46:20 He said to me, This is the place where the priests shall boil the trespass offering and the sin offering, and where they shall bake the meal offering; so that they do not bring them into the outer court, to sanctify the people- The clear distinction between the inner and outer court (Ez. 44:19) seems inappropriate now, when the veil of the holiest has been torn down and as Hebrews emphasizes, all can freely enter the presence of God Himself.

Ezekiel 46:21 Then he brought me into the outer court, and caused me to pass by the four corners of the court; and behold, in every corner of the court there was another court- The "Behold" suggests surprise on Ezekiel's part; because this temple whilst based upon Solomon's was not an exact replica, just as the regulations for sacrifice are similar but differ from those of the Mosaic law.

Ezekiel 46:22 In the four corners of the court there were enclosed courts, forty cubits long and thirty broad: these four in the corners were of one measure- Great detail is given about these kitchens, whereas there is nothing at all about what was within the most holy place. The difference in detail is striking and highlights the emphasis of the vision upon the work which God's restored people were intended to do.

Ezekiel 46:23 There was a wall around in them, around the four, and boiling places were made under the walls all around- This "wall" could be no more than a low wall with shelves on appropriate for the kitchen utensils or storage.

Ezekiel 46:24 Then he said to me, These are the boiling houses, where the ministers of the house shall boil the sacrifices of the people- The portions of the people’s offerings which were to be eaten by the priests were to be boiled in these kitchens.