Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 2. Majesty. The world is enlightened by the preaching of the gospel; and the Church triumphant shall shine in perfection, when that which is sown in corruption shall put on incorruption, 1 Corinthians xv. (St. Jerome) — The blessed Virgin [Mary] conceiving Jesus Christ may be insinuated. (St. Thomas Aquinas, [Summa Theologiae] p. 3. q. 27. a. 3.) (Worthington)
Ver. 3. He came. Hebrew, “I came to destroy (Septuagint, to anoint) the city,” marking such as should be spared, chap. ix. The glorious chariot entered by the eastern gate, and the prophet followed to the court of the priests, ver. 5, 13. (Calmet) — The Jews say the second temple was deprived of the Shekinah, or glory of the Lord. Yet it seems here to enter; and Christ himself adorned this second house, more than the first, by his adorable presence, Aggeus ii. 8. (Haydock)
Ver. 7. Said. The Lord spoke, (Chaldean; Theodoret) or the angel, (St. Jerome) in human shape. (Haydock) — He addresses the prophet, ver. 12 to chap. xliv. 5., though what follows immediately seems to belong to the Lord, (Calmet) in whose name he speaks. — Name. God hath abandoned the synagogue, but will remain with his Church unto the end, Matthew xxiii. 38., and xxviii. 20. Yet the perfect Church, without spot, is the [Church] triumphant [in heaven]; (Ephesians v. 27.; Worthington) though the Catholic Church, on earth, is ever holy and “the communion of saints.” (Haydock) — Carcasses. Idols, according to some; or rather by the kings being buried on Sion. This is nowhere else reprehended; neither is their building too near the temple, which the prophet here condemns, ver. 8. (Calmet) — It seems, however, that if these things had been blameable, such a number of pious and wise kings would not have acted thus, nor the prophets have neglected to admonish them of their duty. The carcasses and houses here specified may have been vestiges of idolatry; or, in future, the tombs and palaces were to be at a more respectful distance. (Haydock)
Ver. 8. Wall. The kings of Juda had a door communicating with the temple, by which they entered on the west. It was guarded by Levites, 1 Paralipomenon xxvi. 16. Ezechiel places no door on that side. Yet in Herod’s temple we find one leading to the adjacent palace, and three others into the town. (Josephus, Antiquities xv. 14.)
Ver. 9. Carcasses. Literally, “ruins.” (Haydock) — The remains of the dead were probably not disturbed; but no more, that we know of, were placed on Sion. (Calmet) — Kings may signify idols, Moloc, &c., which they had worshipped, and which some had even placed in the holy place, to the nation’s ruin. (Haydock)
Ver. 10. Measure, that they may be convinced of their ingratitude, (Menochius) which has deprived them of so noble a structure, and put them under the necessity of beginning so great a work again. It required all the exertions of the prophets to make them go forward with it, Aggeus 1. (Haydock)
Ver. 11. In the whole fabric, (Menochius) as thou hast described it, (Haydock) or received from the angel, with all the ceremonies to be observed.
Ver. 12. Border. Nothing but the temple shall be on this mountain. It shall be wholly consecrated to the Lord. This was ill observed. The Asmonean princes erected the famous tower Antonia, at the north side. (Josephus) See ver. 8. The Jews assert that it was unlawful to spit on this ground, &c., but no such thing is specified in Josephus or in Scripture, only we find that none were to go out by the same door at which they had entered, (chap. xlvi. 9.; Calmet) except the king.
Ver. 13. By. Hebrew, “by cubits.” This cubit is a common cubit, &c. The Babylonian, (Haydock) or sacred one, was a palm longer. (Worthington) (Chap. xl. 5.) — Breadth. It was the same as the depth, being designed to convey the blood by a conduit to the torrent Cedron. — Trench, or bottom aforesaid. Septuagint, “the height.” (Haydock) — Chaldean, “disposition of the altar,” which seems best.
Ver. 14. Cubit. They were each a cubit broad, but this greater means higher up. Some assert that the priests stood on this base to avoid treading on the altar, when they placed the wood or victims. But it would be too low; and steps were made for that purpose. The altar was ten, or rather twelve cubits high, and as many broad. Solomon’s was ten high and twenty broad. Herod’s was a square of forty cubits, raised fifteen from the ground. (Calmet)
Ver. 15. The ariel. That is, the altar itself, or rather the highest part of it, upon which the burnt-offerings were laid. In the Hebrew it is harel, that is, the mountain of God; but in the following verse haariel, that is, the lion of God; a figure, from its consuming, and as it were devouring the sacrifices as a lion devours its prey. (Challoner) — Fire descending sometimes from heaven. (St. Jerome) (Worthington) — It also appeared like a little mountain in the court. See Isaias xxix. 1. The altar was probably made of brass, like Solomon’s. Josephus and Philo say that rough stones were used after the captivity: but it seems little attention was paid to the dimensions of the temple, &c., given by Ezechiel. (Calmet) — Yet the prophets were present to see the laws of God executed, and never complain of their infringement in these particulars, which were attended with no great difficulty, chap. xl. 1. (Haydock) — It is certain the Jews never thought themselves bound to make their altars of a determinate size.
Ver. 17. Crown, which was usually placed round altars and tables, that nothing might fall down. — Bottom of the altar, or base, mentioned [in] ver. 13. — Steps, boarded on each side, Exodus xx. 26.
Ver. 19. Levites. Hebrew, “of the race of Levi, of the family of Sadoc.” He had obtained the dignity under Saul, (Calmet) and after the deposition of Abiathar, under Solomon, (3 Kings ii. 26.; Haydock) his posterity always preserved it. (Calmet, Diss.) — Calf. Thou shalt give it, or make known these rites to the priests. (Haydock) — People are often said to do what they only command, as [in] ver. 20, &c.
Ver. 21. Sanctuary, out of the precincts of the temple, but on the mountain, Leviticus iv. 3., and vi. 11.
Ver. 22. He-goat. Septuagint add, “of the goats,” (hircum caprarum. Haydock) denoting a young kid, (Menochius) or one selected (Haydock) rather from the flock. (Calmet)
Ver. 26. Consecrate it. Literally, “fill his hand;” that is, dedicate and apply it to holy service, (Challoner) as the Hebrew, &c., speak of the altar. Septuagint, “they shall fill their hands,” seems more natural, (Exodus xxviii. 41.) and is adopted by Pagnin, Vatable, &c. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The glory of God returns to the new temple. The Israelites shall no more profane God’s name by idolatry: the prophet is commanded to shew them the dimensions, and form of the temple, and of the altar, with the sacrifices to be offered thereon.
1 And he brought me to the gate that looked towards the east.
2 And behold the glory of the God of Israel came in by the way of the east: and his voice was like the noise of many waters, and the earth shone with his majesty.
3 *And I saw the vision according to the appearance which I had seen when he came to destroy the city: and the appearance was according to the vision **which I had seen by the river Chobar: and I fell upon my face.
4 And the majesty of the Lord went into the temple by the way of the gate that looked to the east.
5 And the spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court: and behold the house was filled with the glory of the Lord.
6 And I heard one speaking to me out of the house, and the man that stood by me,
7 Said to me: Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever: and the house of Israel shall no more profane my holy name, they and their kings by their fornications, and by the carcasses of their kings, and by the high places.
8 They who have set their threshold by my threshold, and their posts by my posts: and there was but a wall between me and them: and they profaned my holy name by the abominations which they committed: for which reason I consumed them in my wrath.
9 Now, therefore, let them put away their fornications, and the carcasses of their kings far from me: and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever.
10 But thou, son of man, shew to the house of Israel the temple, and let them be ashamed of their iniquities, and let them measure the building:
11 And be ashamed of all that they have done. Shew them the form of the house, and of the fashion thereof, the goings out, and the comings in, and the whole plan thereof, and all its ordinances, and all its order, and all its laws, and thou shalt write it in their sight: that they may keep the whole form thereof, and its ordinances, and do them.
12 This is the law of the house upon the top of the mountain: All its border round about is most holy; this then is the law of the house.
13 And these are the measures of the altar by the truest cubit, which is a cubit and a hand breadth: the bottom thereof was a cubit, and the breadth a cubit: and the border thereof unto its edge, and round about, one hand breadth: and this was the trench of the altar.
14 And from the bottom of the ground to the lowest brim two cubits, and the breadth of one cubit: and from the lesser brim to the greater brim four cubits, and the breadth of one cubit.
15 And the ariel itself was four cubits: and from the ariel upward were four horns.
16 And the ariel was twelve cubits long, and twelve cubits broad, four-square, with equal sides.
17 And the brim was fourteen cubits long, and fourteen cubits broad in the four corners thereof: and the crown round about it was half a cubit, and the bottom of it one cubit round about: and its steps turned toward the east.
18 And he said to me: Son of man, thus saith the Lord God: These are the ceremonies of the altar, in what day soever it shall be made: that holocausts may be offered upon it, and blood poured out.
19 And thou shalt give to the priests, and the Levites, that are of the race of Sadoc, who approach to me, saith the Lord God, to offer to me a calf of the herd for sin.
20 And thou shalt take of his blood, and shalt put it upon the four horns thereof, and upon the four corners of the brim, and upon the crown round about: and thou shalt cleanse, and expiate it.
21 And thou shalt take the calf, that is offered for sin: and thou shalt burn him in a separate place of the house without the sanctuary.
22 And in the second day thou shalt offer a he-goat without blemish for sin: and they shall expiate the altar, as they expiated it with the calf.
23 And when thou shalt have made an end of the expiation thereof, thou shalt offer a calf of the herd without blemish, and a ram of the flock without blemish.
24 And thou shalt offer them in the sight of the Lord: and the priests shall put salt upon them, and shall offer them a holocaust to the Lord.
25 Seven days shalt thou offer a he-goat for sin daily: they shall offer also a calf of the herd, and a ram of the flock without blemish.
26 Seven days shall they expiate the altar, and shall cleanse it: and they shall consecrate it.
27 And the days being expired, on the eighth day and thence forward, the priests shall offer your holocausts upon the altar, and the peace-offerings: and I will be pacified towards you, saith the Lord God.
3: Ezechiel ix. 1. — ** Ezechiel i. 2.