I. Ezekiel 40-42 as a Pre-exilic Blueprint
In Ezekiel 40-42 the various structures of the temple are generally measured in two-dimensional outline, as if on a blueprint. Indeed, complex three-dimensional descriptions in the vision report (such as 40:5; 41:5-15a; 42:1-12) are often regarded as secondary expansions.1 This has prompted many scholars to conclude that Ezekiel’s vision is in fact based on a plan or blueprint of the first temple which he had either preserved himself or found in the archives.2
It is unlikely, however, that Ezekiel was working from an actual pre-exilic blueprint. First, the prophet’s visionary experience is definitely three-dimensional. As he is guided through the eastern gate, he describes the palm trees carved on its pilasters and the windows set in the walls of the gate chambers; furthermore, Ezekiel observes that the width of the eastern gate was measured “from the roof of the chamber to its roof” (40:13), that is, across the ceiling of the gateway.3 We are dealing with a complex, three-dimensional structure, even if it is generally measured only in two dimensions.4 Second, the design found in Ezekiel 40-42 is highly impractical. The massive fortified gates of the complex, for example, are out of all proportion to its relatively scant walls.5 Finally, Ezekiel’s vision does not conform to the pattern of the first temple. While the tripartite structure of Ezekiel’s temple is reminiscent of the Solomonic temple, the temple complex Ezekiel describes is not Solomon’s: for instance, there is no bronze sea in the forecourt of Ezekiel’s temple.6 In fact, nothing like Ezekiel’s temple ever existed. Ezekiel’s temple plan is hybrid, combining different sorts of structures into a wholly unique form. As the prophet himself tells us (40:1), he is describing a vision, But granting that the vision of Ezekiel is a vision and not a blueprint, what is its purpose?
II Ezekiel 40-42 as a Post-exilic Building Proposal
Many commentators have understood Ezekiel 40-42 as an idealistic vision of the restored temple, to be built after the return from exile. If this is so, then the report of the vision is essentially a building proposal.7 The impracticality of the design does not in itself rule out this possibility. The temple complex depicted in the Temple Scroll from Qumran, for example, is architecturally realistic, despite its massive scale.8 However, information essential for the construction of Ezekiel’s temple (for instance, the height of the buildings) is lacking.9 Avigdor Hurowitz argues that not too much should be made of such gaps, which are also present in other biblical descriptions of a temple.10 “The degree to which the biblical author has achieved or missed his goal of concretization,” Horowitz urges, “should not influence our appreciation of what the goal actually was.”11 One must observe, nevertheless, that the temple vision, for all its detail, cannot serve as an adequate blueprint for an actual building. The detailed description serves to give us an overwhelming sense of the symmetry and order in the temple’s design. It also enables us to share in Ezekiel’s experience, to see in our mind’s eye what he sees. But we cannot even begin to construct Ezekiel’s temple on the basis of these measurements.
A. Stories of Building Projects in Israel and the Ancient Near East
The most decisive argument against reading Ezekiel 40-42 as a building program is that it nowhere claims to he a building program. Nowhere in this text do we find either a decision to build the temple or a divine permission given for its building. Horowitz, in his recent survey of Mesopotamian and Northwest Semitic stories of building projects, observes a typical pattern it in these accounts:
I. The circumstance of the project and the decision to build
2. Preparations, such as drafting workmen, gathering materials
3. Description of the building
4. The dedication rites and festivities
5. Blessing and (or) prayer of the king
6. Blessing and curses of future generations12
The form is flexible (in particular, parts 5 and 6 are often missing), but in every building story Horowitz considers, one finds a decision to build—either in response to divine decree, or as a result of the god responding favorably to the king’s desire to build. In the text of the Gudea cylinders the temple of Ningirsu at Lagash is built in accordance with a dream vision of Gudea interpreted by Nina, the main priestess of the gods.13 Similarly, in the Ugaritic Baal cycle Baal’s desire to build a temple cannot be carried out until a decree is issued by ‘El.14 This pattern also holds in the biblical temple building texts. Moses, like Judea, is shown the plan for a sanctuary and receives an explicit divine command to build it (Exod 25:8-9). Similarly, though Yhwh denies David permission to build a temple in Jerusalem (2 Sam 7:4-7; I Chr 22:7-8; 28:1-4), David’s son Solomon is appointed to this task (2 Sam 7:13; I Kgs 5:17-19; I Chr 22:5-6,9-19; 28:5-29:19,” 2 Chr 1:182:9).15 Even the Qumran Temple Scroll contains, implicitly, the decision to build the structure the scroll describes, in obedience to a divine decree.16 In Ezekiel 40-42 there is no such decision or decree. Though Horowitz describes Ezekiel 40 – 42 as “a detailed divine command concerning the rebuilding of the temple and the restoration of the cult,”(17) the text itself contains no such command, but simply presents the dimensions of the visionary temple.
B. An Alternate Genre: The Building Description
The closest parallels to Ezekiel’s description of the temple are not the mythological or biblical texts considered above but another set of descriptive texts, discussed by Horowitz, which are typified by the detailed measurement of structures.18 The first text of this type considered by Horowitz is from the Esagila Tablet. It is a detailed description of two temple chambers, and it appears to be a school text, perhaps an exercise in geometry or surveying.19 Two other examples are the description of the Temple of Resh in Uruk and a description of Babylon found on the obverse of a drawing of the city, both of which may be official surveyors’ reports20 The fourth building description of this type discussed by Horowitz, the description of Esagila and Ezida from Assur, may represent written instructions given to builders; however, it describes an existing structure, which is to be either repaired or duplicated21 The last building descriptions considered by Horowitz, three temple descriptions from Hall 115 at Mari, give the floor plans in two dimensions, for three temples.22 These texts too, according to Horowitz, are not building plans but appear to represent a descriptive inventory.
Note that all of these texts are descriptions of existing structures. While Horowitz cites them as background for understanding the concrete detail presented in all the biblical descriptions of a temple, the texts from Exodus, Kings, and Chronicles are explicitly presented as commands, to build. This command is lacking in Ezekiel, which, like the Mesopotamian descriptions mentioned above, simply presents the dimensions of a structure.23 I will argue that this similarity has great significance for the meaning and function of Ezekiel 40-42. For now, it is sufficient to observe that, judging from the comparison of Ezekiel 40-42 with stories of building projects in the Hebrew Bible and across the ancient Near East, Ezekiel’s vision does not fit into this genre.
III. Ezekiel 40-42 as an Eschatological Building Program
One way to salvage the idea of Ezekiel 40.42 as a building program is to project the vision upon the end time. 24 In this reading no command to build is required, for the temple Ezekiel describes is the eschatological temple which Yhwh will build in the last days. Certainly, there is much in the text to commend such a reading. Its very setting, atop a very high mountain, evokes the final transformation of the world, when Zion will at last be revealed as the cosmic mountain, the center of the earth (Ezek 40:1; cp. Isa 2:2-5; Mic 4:1-4; Zech 14:10).25 The absence of any command or decision to build also makes sense in this view, since the eschatological temple is to be built by Yhwh, not by human hands.26 Finally, the appropriation of Ezekiel’s visions in historical apocalypses such as those of Daniel (especially Daniel 7 and Daniel 10) and of Revelation (Rev I I :I; 21:10-21; 22:1-6) gives evidence that Ezekiel 40-48 was read eschatologically.
Against this reading must be posed the literary setting of the temple vision in Ezekiel’s prophecy. This may seem a strange claim: one could argue that the literary setting of the vision report requires a futuristic interpretation. The vision comes, after all, as the climax of the messages of hope in Ezekiel 33-39, and it immediately follows the description of Yhwh’s final victory over Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38-39). Indeed, Joseph Blenkinsopp argues that this vision is the fulfillment of the eschatological promise in Ezek 37:26b-27 (NRSV): “I will bless and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary among them forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they stall be my people.” 27
We have a still more compelling literary connection, and Ezekiel 40-42 must be understood in terms of it. Ezek 40:1 opens with an introductory formula common in Ezekiel’s prophecy, a date formula specific to the day,28 but in this case the date is followed by the formula for expressing prophetic ecstasy (“the hand of Yhwh was upon me”) and the specification “in visions of God.” 29 These three formulas appear together only two other times in Ezekiel: in 1:1-3 (the call vision) and 8:1-3 (the vision of the abominations). Chapters 1-3, 8-11, and 40-48 are also linked both by mutual reference (8:2 recalls the vision by the river Chebar; 43:3 refers to the river and to the vision of Jerusalem’s destruction) and by the image of the glory (kavod). Chaps. 40-48 and 8-11 are further linked in a pattern of exit and entrance: the kavod exits the Jerusalem temple by the eastern gate in 11:22, and it enters the visionary temple by the eastern gate in 43:4-5. We have, then, an interconnected network of three visions which stand as the milestones of Ezekiel’s ministry and as key points in the structure of his hook. The vision in Ezekiel 40-48 is closely related to the earlier visions, and it demands interpretation on the same terms.
The central issue in all three visions appears to be the divine presence, expressed in priestly terms as the 11=. In his inaugural vision Ezekiel experiences the kavod as a commissioning agent calling him to he a prophet (2:3 3:1 I). In his second vision, the TM] is removed from the temple in Jerusalem (9:3; 10:4,18-19; 11:22-23), an act which leaves the city open to judgment at the hands of the destroyers (9:1-1 IT Now, in his final vision, the prophet sees the mix once more, entering the visionary temple and issuing a promise: “0 human, this is the place of my throne and my footstool, where it will dwell in the midst of the people Israel forever” (43:7a). The explicit reference to the throne of God calls up the imagery of the throne-chariot in 1:15-25 and 10:9-19. The footstool of Yhwh is ordinarily the ark; thus, 43:7a recalls the departure of Yhwh from the cherub throne over the ark in the most holy place (9:3). Significantly, there is neither cherub throne nor ark in the inner room of Ezekiel’s visionary temple (41:3-, 4,15b-20): they are not needed, for Yhwh arrives already on the throne in his chariot. The promise in 43:7a marks the climax of Ezekiel’s book. Now at last the divine presence is manifested among Yhwh’s people, never to be withdrawn.
Given the close association of the three visions, one is prompted to look among them for a parallel to this promise. We find a likely point of contact in11:14-16.30 Here, the prophet addresses the arrogant claims of those who remain in Jerusalem. The inhabitants of the city say that the exiles are now far from ‘The heritage of these outcasts has been abandoned for those left behind to claim. To this Yhwh says,”l will be for them a sanctuary in small measure in the lands where they gone.”31 Far from abandoning the exiles, Yhwh has abandoned Jerusalem. Yhwh will be found instead in the midst of the true house of Israel, which now consists of the community in exile (I 1:15). The vision in Ezekiel 40-42 represents the fulfillment of these words. Despite the collapse of state and cult, Yhwh resolves to be with the exiles, just as he had promised.
IV. Ezekiel 40-42 as a Heavenly Ascent
As has already been observed, Ezekiel in his vision walked through an existing structure. Among the numerous texts cited by Hurowitz, the closest formal parallels to the building description itself appear likewise to be descriptions of existing structures. While one could of course argue that the prophets frequently speak of future events as already accomplished (the famous “prophetic perfect”), one must at any rate acknowledge that Ezekiel’s vision is not explicitly given a future setting. Those elements in the vision that have been so interpreted, particularly the very high mountain and the river of life, are capable of another interpretation that has been little explored. Ezekiel in his vision is guided through a “real” structure, though not an earthly one. The temple of the vision is, I propose, the heavenly archetype, the real temple, of which the temple of Jerusalem was but a shadow. 32
A. The Idea of the Heavenly Plinth’ in Israel and the A anent Near East
The concept of the heavenly temple has deep roots in the temple ideologies of the ancient Near East. The earthly temple was understood to be the material counterpart of the divine dwelling place and, hence, to correspond symbolically to the cosmic mountain where the god lived, the mythic center of the world. This correspondence was guaranteed by precise adherence of the earthly temple to the pattern of the heavenly temple. Hence, in Babylon, the foundation lines of a temple could not be disturbed. When a temple was repaired or rebuilt, the dimensions of the former structure had to he duplicated; otherwise, the temple failed to correspond to its ideal counterpart and could not function as a connecting point with divine reality. 33
That the idea of a heavenly original for the earthly shrine was present in ancient Israel as well is demonstrated in the revelation of the shrine’s pattern (man) to Moses (Exod 25:8-9). Cross and others have propose MB the him was a depiction of the heavenly shrine itself, the very dwelling of Yhwh.34 On the basis of I Chr 28:11-12 (where man refers to a written text) and extrabiblical parallels, Hurowitz argues that the tavnit cannot be an actual structure but must refer rather to a model or plan35 Even if this is the case, the model was presumably not chosen at random.
Numerous illustrations can be cited from the Hebrew Scriptures for the idea that the earthly temple corresponds to the heavenly temple. The ancient poem in 1 Kgs 8:12-13 explicitly describes the temple of Jerusalem as an earthly dwelling place for Yhwh corresponding to the Sell’, the incomprehensible, inaccessible cloud of God’s heavenly dwelling (cf. Exod 20:18; Ps 97:2; Job 22:12-14). In Ps 46:5, Zion is described as a source of waters, calling to mind the dwelling place of ‘El as it is described in CTA 4,4.2I-22: mbk nhrm/ qrb apq thmtm, “at the source of the twin rivers; in the midst of the pools of the double deep.” Ps 48:2 explicitly identifies Zion with Zaphon, the mythic home of Bag. Presumably, then, the man was understood as corresponding to the ideal shrine, whether Moses was given a vision of that structure or not.
B. Heavenly Ascents in Biblical and Extrabiblical Literature
The idea of a journey to the heavenly temple is not without parallel. In Isa 6:1, Isaiah ben Amoz is evidently transported from the temple of Jerusalem into the divine original temple, which vastly surpasses its earthly counterpart; the prophet says that the mere edge of Yhwh’s royal robes filled the earthly temple. Most explicitly, the Enochic literature of the second century B.C.E. describes journeys into the heavenly regions, including the heavenly temple where God dwells (I Enoch 14:8-25). As Martha Himmelfarb observes, “there are numerous close parallels between the ascent of Enoch and the visions of Ezekiel: the imagery of cloud, wind, water, and fire; the presence of the cherubim; the lofty chariot-throne with its wondrous wheels.” 36 It is particularly intriguing that the first temple entered by Enoch (which somehow opens into the second, greater, temple) is empty, as is the temple of Ezekiel’s vision.
Himmelfarb insists that while “Ezekiel is the only one of all the classical prophets to record the experience of being physically transported by the spirit of God … even Ezekiel does not ascend to heaven. The throne of God comes to him while he is standing by the river Chebar (Ezek I-3). Enoch’s is the first ascent in Jewish literature.” 37 Ezekiel 1-3 certainly does .UN describe an ascent, but that is exactly the experience described in VAS*”Ezekiel is taken by the hand of Yhwh to a very high mountain. 38 There, he is guided by an angel through a standing structure. Clearly, this structure does not stand on the earthly Zion. Where, then, is it? I suggest that it stands atop the heavenly Zion, that Ezekiel has been taken by the spirit into the heavenly reality.
We may find early evidence for this understanding of Ezekiel 40-48 in the Songs of Sabbath Sacrifice from Qumran (4Q400-407). Ezekielian words and images recur- these songs.39 Most striking, however, is the way in which the poets have used Ezekiel 40-48 to structure their portrayal of the heavenly temple and its liturgy, particularly in the second half of the song cycle.” 40 As Carol Newsom observes, “it is clear that these chapters … play a central role in informing the conception of the heavenly temple and the Sabbath worship conducted there.” 41
C. Earthly Liturgy and Cosmic Reality
Julie Galambush finds evidence within the text of Ezekiel itself that chaps. 40-48 should be understood as a vision of heavenly reality. She identifies in Ezekiel 8-47 the pattern of the old entrhonement festival. Because of the circumstances of the exile, this ritual could not be enacted cultically. Thus, Galambush proposes, “rather than the ritual being a symbolic reenactment of a cosmic reality, in Ezekiel the prophet witnesses the actual cosmic event.” 42 The numerous correspondences cited by Galambush between the festival and the Book of Ezekiel are compelling: the departure of the ark or throne in Ezekiel 8- I I, the [negative] rehearsal of salvation history in Ezekiel 20, the “visit to the graveyard” in Ezekiel 37, and the final enthronement in Ezekiel 40 48.43 Indeed, Marvin Sweeney has suggesed, that one might expand this thesis to find in Ezekiel I.- ,3 an aspect of another autumn festival: the priest’s entrance into the divine presence on Yom Kippur. 44
The theme throughout this rehearsal of Israel’s sacred calendar is the problem of the divine presence. How can Yhwh be said to be present among the exiles, who are removed from land and temple and liturgy? The answer given in Ezekiel, it seems, is that Yhwh can be wherever Yhwh wants to be. The presence has forsaken Jerusalem: the earthly Zion and the heavenly Zion have become disassociated. Ezekiel, however, has been given access to the cosmic reality, where Yhwh’s true enthronement lakes place.
V. The Function of Ezekiel 40-42
A. The Jerusalem Temple as icon
What purpose is served by the description of this ideal heavenly shrine? We can get at this question by asking another: What purpose was served by the earthly shrine? As is observed above, the temple was deemed a connecting point between heaven and earth. By extension, the iconography of the temple could itself become a medium of divine presence. The clearest expression of this idea is Ps 48:13-14 (NRSV): “Walk about Zion, go all around it, count its towers, consider well its ramparts; go through its citadels, that you may tell the next generation that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will be our guide forever.” Here, Zion functions in a manner Vet)) much like the icon in Eastern Orthodoxy. The Orthodox icon is understood to be a window into heaven. Reverence paid to the icon passes through to the heavenly realm, while the icon communicates to the worshiper an experience of heavenly reality. Similarly, in ancient Israel the temple itself appears to have been understood as a means of experiencing God. Pilgrim songs and songs of Zion describe the longing for the sight of the temple—which is also, in areal sense, a vision of God (so Psalm 84, especially v 8; also Ps 42:2-6). Mark Smith has proposed that the frequent biblical motif of “seeing” God reflects a connection between Yhwh and solar imagery. 45 While this may well be so, I would propose that this idea could be connected more concretely with the vision of Yhwh in the liturgy of the temple, or even with the sight of the temple itself.
For Ezekiel and the other exiles, the devotional function served by, the iconography of the temple was lost forever. Even prior to the temple’s literal destruction, the corruption of Jerusalem’s liturgy had severed the shrine’s connection with the divine world. Yet Yltwh had promised to he present, in however small a measure, among the exiles. Ezekiel’s detailed report of his vision would appear to be, at least in part, the means of this presence. 46
B. Ezekiel 40-42 as Verbal Icon
At least since Smend, scholars have remarked on the explicitly literary character of the Book of Ezekiel: 47 The unique function of Ezekiel as a written text has been a particular concern of Ellen Davis, who sees Ezekiel as a liminal figure between prophet and scribe. 48 The point may be overstated, of course; certainly written prophecy did not originate with Ezekiel. Still, one can legitimately ask how the function of the report of Ezekiel’s temple vision as a written text may differ from its function as an oral performance.
Margaret Rader observes that writing, as opposed to speech, “tends toward syntactic complexity and lexical elaboration,” elements which enable the composer “to control and make possible the development of a complex image in the mind of the reader.”49 This is precisely what we see in Ezekiel 40-42. The reader of the text is able to experience what the prophet experienced, independent pf the original visionary; however, this (admittedly indirect) experience is disciplined and controlled by the fixedness of the written text. “Only in writing,” Rader asserts, “can the inference-suggesting information be so carefully controlled and restricted even as inferring and imagining are given full rein.” 50 The text of Ezekiel’s vision, thus, could become an aid to devotional piety, like the icon in Orthodoxy.
A similar function could be argued for the heavenly ascents in Jewish and Christian apocalypses. Scholars such as Jershom Scholem, Morton Smith, and James Tabor have understood the ascents as literary devices providing directions for would-be mystics who wish to repeat the ecstatic experience of the visionary. 51 Himmelfarb, however, observes that the evidence for rites or mystical practices designed to induce a heavenly ascent is scant in Jewish and Christian circles.52 She cites studies by Schafer and Halpern to the effect that by reciting given texts from the hekhalot literature the student was able to achieve the same results as those who actually experienced the ascent.53 Himmelfarb concludes, then, that “the heavenly ascents of the hekhalot literature functioned not as rites to be enacted but as stories to he repeated:54 If, however, we view the texts as having a devotional function analogous to that of the icon, the distinction between ecstatic religious experience and literary imagination becomes less significant. The text itself may be understood to give the reader access to the transcendent realm. Consider, for instance, that the Qumran covenanters, who preserved and revered the Enochic literature with its heavenly ascents, evidently believed that in their worship they participated in the angelic liturgy of the heavenly realm, a realm envisioned in images drawn from Ezekiel. 55
Susan Niditch has also pointed toward the possibility that the temple vision of Ezekiel served a devotional function for the exilic community, doing so by comparing Ezekiel’s vision to the mandalas of Tantric Buddhism.56 Like the temple, the mandala is a microcosm: an expression of the central structure of reality in symbolic form.57 Meditation upon the mandala therefore centers the devotee, putting her or him in connection with the true reality. Niditch notes that mandalas need not he two-dimensional representations; they may he actual structures, “palaces of the deities, built with real materials.”58 Tantric literature contains numerous detailed descriptions of such mandalas, with directions for their construction. Niditch finds in these texts parallels to Ezekiel’s temple vision.
While the parallels Niditch draws between Ezekiel 40 48 and the mandala are evocative, I would suggest that the icon is an analogy more in keeping with Ezekiel’s report of his vision. The mandala, after all, is always a visual symbol.59 The descriptive texts from Tantric literature cited by Niditch are not themselves mandalas. However, a written text can serve as an icon. In Eastern Orthodox tradition, the Gospels are a “verbal icon” of Christ. The stories of Jesus make the Christ present to the faithful hearer of the word, in a way rather like the presence mediated by a painted icon. Similarly, Ezekiel’s temple vision can be understood as a verbal icon by which a people who had thought themselves separated from God could experience and celebrate the divine presence.
In Ezekiel 40 42, the prophet describes his ascent to the real temple, situated atop the real Zion. By means of Ezekiel’s report of his vision the exiles could share in this extraordinary experience, seeing in their mind’s eye the heavenly temple that Ezekiel saw. Though the earthly temple was no more, the heavenly temple would stand forever. Through Ezekiel’s words the community of exiles was given access to this eternal, cosmic reality. Indeed, the reader in any time or place can marvel at this temple, and experience thereby the connection with the sacred that Ezekiel experienced.
1 Ezekiel 40:5 is held suspect by John Wevers (Ezekiel [NCB; Greenwood, SC: Attic, 19691 209). While W. Eichrodt (Ezekiel [071); Philadelphia: Westminster, 1970] 547) holds 41:13-14 to be original, with the element of guidance lost in the text’s redaction, he otherwise considers all of 41:5-42:14 secondary (pp. 546-48), as they run counter to the “purely two-dimensional geometric arrangement which, without a word about the elevation of the buildings, produces its effect solely through the symmetry of the plan” (p. 549). While Ronald Hals (Ezekiel [FOTL 19; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 19891298) considers it generally impossible “to get behind the present text to some reconstructed, trouble-free original,” he notes that in 41:5-12,15W26 and in 42:1-14 “a decided difference in style appears.”
2 For instance, G. A. Cooke, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Ezekiel (ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1936) 425; Walther Zimmerli, Ezekiel (IHermeneia; The Structuring of Biblical Books: Studies in the Book of Ezekiel,” ASTI 10 (1975-76) 139.
3 No emendation such as “from back to back,” suggested by the MS on the basis of the Septuagint’s “from the wall of the chamber [Greek On here is a transliteration of the Hebrew an] to the wall of the chamber;” and followed by the RSV is necessary. Given the barriers across the front of the ski, chambers (40:12), the easiest way for the guide to measure the breadth of the gateway was to measure along the ceiling.
4 As Hats (Ezekiel. 299) also observes.
5 The wall is six cubits deep and tall (40:5), while the gate complexes are each fifty cubits deep and twenty-five cubits broad (40:13-15; the height of the gate complexes is not given). The study of Carl Gordon Howie (“The East Gate of Ezekiel’s Temple Enclosure and the Solomonic Gateway of Megiddo” BASOR 117  13-18) was seminal in this regard. Ile himself was inclined to view the structure as a memory of the first temple’s eastern gate. Zimmerli (Ezekiel. 2. 352 with 2.353 [the illustration]) has a neat, brief summary of the more recent work on similar gateways uncovered at Hazor and Gezer and the conclusions drawn from them, which lead him to conclude that the gateways described in Ezekiel 40-42 are Solomonic city gates, not temple structures. Frank Moore Cross, however, finds this a false distinction: in a private communication he writes, The temple area of Solomon was an ‘independent citadel, a fortified bastion, and probably even on the south where it joined the City of David was independently fortified the entrances to the temple are in fact city gates, gates to [the] citadel.” Still, as Cross observes, the temple vision applies this plan of a fortified gate to inner as well as outer structures of the gate, which seems unlikely as does the pairing of a fortified gate with what, for purposes of defense, seems only a token wall.
6 This point has been examined by Steven Tuell, “‘And the Sea Was No More :Lhe, Absence of the ‘sea’ in Ezekiel 40)47-49 and Revelation 211,” a paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, 1990.
7 So Herbert May, 18. 6. 53; R. E. Clements, God and Temple (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1965) 106, Victor Gold, The Oxford Annotated Revised Standard Version (ed. Herber) May and Bruce Metzger; New York: Oxford University Press, 1973) 1052; Wevers, Ezekiel. 208; Moshe Greenberg, “The Design and Themes of Ezekiel’s Program of Restoration,” Int 38 (1984) 182; idem, Ezekiel 1-20 (AB 22; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1983) 15. Cooke (Ezekiel. 425) describes Ezekiel as “the most practical of reformers”; however, Ezekiel was also sensitive to an eschatological element here which will be considered below: the time of the return from exile is also a new age.??
8 Johann Maier, “The Temple Scroll and Tendencies in the Cultic Architecture of the Second Commonwealth,” Archaeology and History in the Dead Sea Scrolls (ISOT/ASOR Monograph Series 2; JSPSup 8; ed. Lawrence H. Schiffman; Sheffield: JSOT, 1990) 67, 75.
9So Eichrodt, Ezekiel. 542; Hats, Ezekiel, 299. Indeed, Hats (pp. 301-3) deems it impossible to recover any kind of positive program from these verses; the report of the vision, in his view, is intended to negate past practices and abuses.
10 Avigdor Hurowitz, I Have Built You an Exalted House: Temple Building in the Bible in Light of Mesopotamian and Northwest Semitic Writings, JSOTSup 115, Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1992) 244-47. According to Horowitz. a comparison of the biblical texts with Mesopotamian building descriptions, particularly those found in royal inscriptions, reveals that the Mesopotamian inscriptions are high-flown and poetical, while the biblical texts tend to be concrete and practical. By reading a biblical building description one can actually visualize the structure described something not always possible with the Mesopotamian inscriptions.
11 Horowitz, I have Built. 247 n. 2, To demonstrate the concreteness of biblical temple descriptions, Horowitz (p. 247) cites the numerous sketches and models of the temple of Jerusalem that have been based on these descriptions. No such model, however can be made of Ezekiel’s temple complex or its contents- The best one can do is present a bare outline. The sole exception is the altar of burnt offering (43:13-17), which is described in such detail that it can be modeled with ease, but the description of the altar was not a part of the prophet’s original vision xenon. and it appears to derive from an older description of the Solomonic altar (see the discussion in Steven S. limit, The 2aw of the Temple M Ezekiel 40 48 [HSM 49; Atlanta: Scholars, 19921 46-51).12
12 Horowitz, I Have Built. 64.
13 Gudea Cylinder A, col. 4 line 8 to col. 7 line 10.
14 CTA 4.4.62-63.
15 Note in I Chr 28:11-12 the explicit mention of the tabnit, which in this case evidently refers to a written document. Yigael Yadin (The Temple Scroll [2 vols.; Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1983] I. q7, 182) has suggested that the Temple Scroll presents itself as just such a document, originally revealed to Moses, then handed on to Solomon by David.
16 As Yadin has argued, on the basis of 1 IQT 29.8-9: /9 ‘TIM nu Yadin (temple Scroll, 2. 128-29) translates this passage, And I will consecrate my (t)emple by my glory, (the temple) on which will settle my glory, until the day of on which I will create my temple” Yadin (Temple Scroll I. 183)
compares this st between a present temple (evident y t ’emu described in the scroll) and
a future, eschatological to be Yhwh’s creation) with the “old house” and “new
house” of 1 Enoch 90:29.17
17 Horowitz, I Have Built 25; cf. 138, 159, 255.
18 Ibid., 251.
19 Ibid., 251-52. Horowitz bases his assessment of the text as an exercise on the use of the expressions assum/ki. . . la tidi, “since you do not know,” and ana amari, “in order to calculate.”
20 Ibid., 252-53.
21 Ibid., 253-55.
22 Ibid., 255.
23 As Eichrodt (Ezekiel, 184) observes, Ezekiel 40-42 is neither instruction for nor narrative of building, but a vision of an already built complex.
24 Eichrodt, Ezekiel, 542; Yadin, Temple Scroll.1.198; Maier, “Temple Scroll and Tendencies in the Cultic Architecture,” 69; Jon Levenson, Theology of the Program of Restoration of Ezekiel 40-48 (HSM 10; Missoula, MT: Scholars, 1976) 33: J. J. M. Roberts. “A Christian Perspective on Prophetic Prediction,” Int 33 (1979) 247; Joseph Blenkinsopp, Ezekiel (IBC; Louisville: John Knox, 1990) 193-99.
25 For the mythic significance of the cosmic mountain, see Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return; or, Cosmos and History (Bollingen Series 46; Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1911) 12-21; Richard J. Clifford, The Cosmic Mountain in Canaan and the Old Testament (HSM 4; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1972) 3. Levenson (Theology. 14) identifies the mountain of Ezekiel 40:1 with the mythic Zaphon, but he also identifies it with Sinai (Theology 41).
26 Yadin ( Temple Scroll, I. 185) suggests that the idea of a future temple built by Yhwh, which he finds also in the Temple Scroll, derives from [nod 15:17. The future temple is also mentioned in 4QFIorilegium. which describes the house which [he will create) for [himself at the end of days” One might also note Jub. 1:15-17,26-29. Eichrodt (Ezekiel, 542) similarly observed that in Ezekiel’s vision “the temple makes its appearance as a heavenly reality created by Yahweh himself and transplanted to stand on the earth,” and that “there is nothing to suggest that it should have a human builder.” Cf. also Zimmerli, Ezekiel, 2. 327-28.
27 Blenkinsopp (Ezekiel, 177-78; 179-80; 194) further argues that the temple vision originally followed Ezekiel 37.
28 of an oracle. Of these, eleven are precise to the year, month and day (I:I; 8:1; 20:1; 24:1; 29:1; 29:17; 30:20; 11:1;32:1; 33:21; 40:1). Three others are precise to the year and day (I:2; 26:1: 32:17), while two date by reference M some fixed event (3:16 refers back to the date of the call vision and sets its vision seven days later, while a second date in 40:1 specifies the year as the fourteenth after the fall of Jerusalem). Interestingly, both 1:1,2 and 40:1 are double dates, though in light of the troublesome “thirtieth year” of 1:1 not much can be made of this parallel.
29 This formula occurs seven times in Ezekiel, always in a visionary context (1:3; 3:14,22: 8:1; 33:22: 37:1; 40:1), Zimmerli (Ezekiel, I. 42) rightly regards the phenomenon of prophetic ecstasy as a point of continuity between Ezekiel and the preclassical prophets. The word mar’ah is relatively rare, occurring only eleven times (Gen 46:2; Num 12:6 [both El; 1 Sam 3:15; Dan 10:7 [twice],8,16; Ezek 1:1; 8:3; 40:2; 439).
30 Most scholars (for instance, Cooke, Ezekiel, 121; May. IB, 6. 118; Eichrodt, Ezekiel, 142-43; Zimmerli, Ezekiel. 1.256; Donald E. Gowan, Ezekiel [Knox Preaching Guides; Atlanta: John Knox, 19851 50; Hats, Ezekiel, 68-69; Blenkinsopp, Ezekiel. 52, 62-64) have argued that this text is not original to the vision, and that it may indeed represent a later editorial expansion of Ezekiel’s prophecy. However, despite the presence of an additional oracular heading at 11.14, the content of this oracle fits quite well into its context: Yhwh’s condemnation of Jerusalem’s inhabitants and abandonment of Jerusalem itself. Further, as Wevers observes (Ezekiel. 79). this text presupposes that Jerusalem is still standing, which makes it unlikely that 11:14-16 has been added by a later editor, or even by Ezekiel himself, at a time following the city’s destruction. If it was not originally connected to the vision of the temple’s destruction, the connection was made very early in the composition of the book, doubtless by Ezekiel himself.
31 The JPSB reads 11:14-25 as a single connected oracle, so that 11:14-16 becomes an introduction to the promise of return in 11:17-21 (a reading also proposed by Cooke, Ezekiel, 124-25). Though the exiles have been removed far away and Yhwh has “become to them a diminished sanctity in the countries whither they have gone” the day of their return will one day come. Against this reading must be posed the separate oracular heading at 11:17 and the scribal tradition inserting a break seluma between vv 16 and 17, both of which suggest that 11:16 and 11:17-21 represent two separate divine responses to the words of the Jerusalemites in 11:14. Further, the general rendering “sanctity” for Inn is without precedent; everywhere, miqdas is used for a sanctuary. Note that in the Targum of Ezek 11:16, on non is understood as a reference to the synagogue. Ezek 11:16 does not represent a concession to the diminished sanctity of Yhwh in Babylon—quite the contrary: it is only among the exiles that Yhwh’s presence will be manifested at all, albeit in small measure.
32 This proposal was first advanced by the author of the present study in Steven S. Tuell, The Temple Vision of Ezekiel 40-48: A Program for Restoration?” Proceedings of the Eastern Great Lakes Biblical Society 2 (1982) 101-2. Something similar is proposed by Gowan (Ezekiel, 140), save that he understands the vision symbolically, as a “theology in visual terms.” While Ezekiel 40-42 is certainly filled with theological insight, it remains the report of a vision: Ezekiel describes what he and his contemporaries would have understood as an actual visionary journey to the heavenly temple.
33 A. Leo Oppenheim, The Mesopotamian Temple,” BAR, 1. 163. Indeed, one of the accusations raised later against Sennacherib was that with evil intentions against Babylon he let its sanctuaries fall into disrepair, disturbed the(ir) foundation Imes and let the cultic rites fall into oblivion” (from the stela of Nabonidus in Istanbul, t E A. Len Oppenhcim. A NET 309; emphasis mine).
34 Frank Moore Cross, “The Priestly Tabernacle,” BAR. 1 220.
35 Hurowitz, I Have Built. 168-70.
36 Martha Himmelfarb, “From Prophecy to Apocalypse: The Book of the Watcbers and Tours of Heaven,” Jewish Spirituality: From the Bible tbrough the Middle Ages (World Spirituality 13; ed. Arthur Green; New York: Crossroad, 1988) 149-50.37
37 Ibid., 150.38
38 The mention of Sing’ (Pa in Ezek 40:2 should not mislead the reader. Since the term “Zinn” is never used in the Book of Ezekiel (Yhwh having abandoned Zion’s earthly referent, the acropolis of Jerusalem), this phrase serves to indicate that the mountain in question is indeed Zion, the mountain of God. Elsewhere in Scripture, heavenly “geography” is indicated by reference to corresponding earthly geography. For example, Ps 48:2 identifies the divine dwelling place with Zaphon, and in Dan 10;20-21 Michael, the angelic prince of Israel, does battle with the angelic princes of Persia and Greece. One might also cite in this connection the place names in Judg 5:4, where Yhwh marches to war from the south (cf. also Hab 3:3).
39 For instance, the description of the throne-chariot of Yhwh in 4Q404 Iii 1-16; 4Q405 20-22 (Carol Newsom, Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice: A Critical Edition [HSS 27; Atlanta: Scholars, 1985] 226,303) obviously derives from Ezekiel I, as Newsom (pp. 52, 55-56) has noted.
40 Note particularly that the interest of Ezekiel 40 42 in the temple gates appears to find a parallel in the Songs. the words used to describe the entrances and exits of the heavenly temple in 4Q405 (x18′, 824,91A3 Prat appear together only in Ezekiel, as Newsom (Songs. 42) has noted: the first two are found in 40:11,38,40 and 46:3; all are found together in 46:2-3.
41 Ibid., 58.
42 Julie Galambush, “The Last Enthronement Festival: Ezekiel 43 as 4.5444144 2199 Year’s Celebration: presented at the Annual Meeting Of the Society of Biblical Literature. 1992.
43 Galambush also suggests a tenuous connection between the taus vim of 11:16 and the akitu house, the smaller shrine where the image of Marduk was placed upon removal from Esagila in the New Year’s Festival.
44 Statement made in response to Galambush’s presentation at the meeting referred to in n. 42. Galambush is inclined to reject Marvin Sweeney’s proposal that Ezekiel I 3 represents Yom Kippur, since the dates are wrong; further, she proposes that Yom Kippur is absent from the cultic calendar in Eyck 45:21-25, where it has been replaced by a ceremony of cleansing linked to Passover. Without doubt, the dates, both for the initial vision of call and for the temple cleansing in the calendar, do not lit the calendar of P. but that in itself need not rule out such an identification. Elsewhere Quell, Law of tbe Temple. 145-48) I have argued that. Ezekiel 45 represents an alternate calendar, from a time prior to the adoption of a single, fixed liturgy. The ritual described in 45:18-20 is explicitly performed to atone for the Temple and for the inadvertent sin of the people. ThiS festival despite its variant date, is functionally, Yom Kippur. If the initial vision of Yhwh’s Kavod is understood to represents the priest’s entrance into e