The City the Holy
30th July 2008, hej
This Article: (7 Pages)
4) Ezekiel's Vision
Firstly, one is struck by the fact that John saw something that could be described in a few paragraphs. Concepts are often very simple. Ezekiel, who does not waste words, needed some 8,250 words and nine chapters to describe the building he was shown. This can be compared to the 11,400 words used in the whole of the Revelation to John.
Then we notice that whereas John saw a vision at a distance from a mountain, where the angel using reeds somehow managed to measure stadia, Ezekiel walks in his vision with the angel through the various spaces and around the building. Ezekiel 40 starts with the record of the measurements of the gates of the 'house'. Like an architect does when they measure a building, he starts with a significant small part. Little chambers of 6 cubits (this is a reasonably human scale as Goliath was six cubits high). Widths of 25 cubits and distance across of 50 cubits are measured. The chambers are about the size of Solomon's temple
The house which king Solomon built for Yahweh, the length thereof was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof twenty cubits, and the height thereof thirty cubits. And the porch before the temple of the house, twenty cubits was the length thereof, according to the breadth of the house; and ten cubits was the breadth thereof before the house. (1Kings 6:2-3)
Ezekiel sees many of these chambers and gates, to the North, South, East and West and each side had a forecourt of 100 cubits by 100 cubits. Then in front of that is another building 100 cubits long with walls 5 cubits thick. He keeps walking and seeing the measuring of the building. He sees it is three stories. When he is taken outside, the whole is measured as 500 reeds by 500 reeds. Sully concludes the reed is somewhere between 10ft6 inches and 12ft (Sully, 1929). This would make the building between 1.54 and 1.76 kilometres square. The height of one section of the foundation is a “full reed of six great cubits”. The altar is 12 cubits by 12 cubits (6m x 6m).
The record of these measurements and the functions take up three chapters. The following are some excerpts
Then he measured the wall of the house, six cubits;.. The side chambers were in three stories, one over another, and thirty in order; and they entered into the wall which belonged to the house for the side chambers all around, that they might..not have hold in the wall of the house. ..
I saw also that the house had a raised base all around: the foundations of the side chambers were a full reed of six great cubits. The thickness of the wall, which was for the side chambers, on the outside, was five cubits: ... The building that was before the separate place at the side toward the west was seventy cubits broad; and the wall of the building was five cubits thick all around, and its length ninety cubits.
So he measured the house, one hundred cubits long; and the separate place, and the building, with its walls, one hundred cubits long; also the breadth of the face of the house, and of the separate place toward the east, one hundred cubits. He measured the length of the building before the separate place which was at its back, and its galleries on the one side and on the other side, one hundred cubits;
It is made of sensible and durable materials
and the inner temple, and the porches of the court; the thresholds, and the closed windows, and the galleries around on their three stories, over against the threshold, with wood ceilings all around, and from the ground up to the windows, (now the windows were covered), to the space above the door, even to the inner house, and outside, and by all the wall all around inside and outside, by measure. ..
The altar was of wood, three cubits high, and its length two cubits;..This is the table that is before Yahweh. The temple and the sanctuary had two doors. The doors had two leaves apiece, two turning leaves: two leaves for the one door, and two leaves for the other. .. and there was a threshold of wood on the face of the porch outside. (Ezekiel 41:1-26 WEB)
This is a building that could be built. The materials mentioned are wood and stone. There is a good structural system with pillars, walls and buttresses to take the load from beams. Not only that it is a building that responds well to the temperate Mediterranean climate as the windows, though a significant proportion of the facade, are covered with lattice. The doors are large and have two leaves that when open sit against the wall, which is ideal where there is high pedestrian traffic. This is an excellent design.
The remainder of the nine chapters record the details of the form of worship including its ordinances, the clothing and even the design of utensils to be used. Many architects like to design fittings and furniture, and quite a few have designed clothes that match their architecture (Van De Veld in the 1930's and Libeskind in the 1990's), and even more have designed the furniture (Frank Lloyd Wright, Mackintosh, Arne Jacobsen, Mies Van der Rohe, and Utzon who in one church designed everything except the roof window, including the vestments). If one designer designs all parts there is co-ordination in style. In the case of Yahweh's design, the role of the Priests is prescribed and co-ordinated also. This has a lesson in that all aspects of worship are to be as Yahweh has appointed.
Ezekiel shows us a timber and stone building that is buildable, with columns and windows with lattice. The dimensions are architectural numbers: they vary in size between a door and an opening, they make sense and they add up. The building is to be a square of 500 reeds, approximately 1.5km. This is a reasonable dimension. And it is not a cube. This building often uses multiples of 10. As architects or builders know who have converted from the imperial to the metric system, it is so much easier to work with 10. Modern Israel uses the metric system. Ezekiel's vision is of a building of a reasonable size that fits on a real site. It easily fits the plain made by Zechariah's earthquake. It is huge but possible.
By contrast the building John saw in Revelation uses dimensions based on the symbolic number 12. It is 144 cubits thick and has 12 gates. It has a height, width and breadth of 12,000 stadia. It has little constructional detail, is made of rare and unsuitable materials and is so huge as to be unbuildable. It is not and could never be a real building anywhere even in space. It is a conceptual city or in other words, an analogy.
And actully a very powerful analogy.