Morning Light – Ezekiel 48

Today: [Ezekiel 48] Territories in God. In this final chapter of Ezekiel, territories are described as divided among the 12 tribes in the restoration of the nation, the city of Jerusalem and the temple all to occur at a future time. It has been said that God is the ultimate territorial Spirit and He is concerned with dividing substance and jurisdiction among His people, which this chapter reflects.
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[Eze 48:1-35 KJV] 1 Now these [are] the names of the tribes. From the north end to the coast of the way of Hethlon, as one goeth to Hamath, Hazarenan, the border of Damascus northward, to the coast of Hamath; for these are his sides east [and] west; a [portion for] Dan. 2 And by the border of Dan, from the east side unto the west side, a [portion for] Asher. 3 And by the border of Asher, from the east side even unto the west side, a [portion for] Naphtali. 4 And by the border of Naphtali, from the east side unto the west side, a [portion for] Manasseh. 5 And by the border of Manasseh, from the east side unto the west side, a [portion for] Ephraim. 6 And by the border of Ephraim, from the east side even unto the west side, a [portion for] Reuben. 7 And by the border of Reuben, from the east side unto the west side, a [portion for] Judah. 8 And by the border of Judah, from the east side unto the west side, shall be the offering which ye shall offer of five and twenty thousand [reeds in] breadth, and [in] length as one of the [other] parts, from the east side unto the west side: and the sanctuary shall be in the midst of it. 9 The oblation that ye shall offer unto the LORD [shall be] of five and twenty thousand in length, and of ten thousand in breadth. 10 And for them, [even] for the priests, shall be [this] holy oblation; toward the north five and twenty thousand [in length], and toward the west ten thousand in breadth, and toward the east ten thousand in breadth, and toward the south five and twenty thousand in length: and the sanctuary of the LORD shall be in the midst thereof. 11 [It shall be] for the priests that are sanctified of the sons of Zadok; which have kept my charge, which went not astray when the children of Israel went astray, as the Levites went astray. 12 And [this] oblation of the land that is offered shall be unto them a thing most holy by the border of the Levites. 13 And over against the border of the priests the Levites [shall have] five and twenty thousand in length, and ten thousand in breadth: all the length [shall be] five and twenty thousand, and the breadth ten thousand. 14 And they shall not sell of it, neither exchange, nor alienate the firstfruits of the land: for [it is] holy unto the LORD. 15 And the five thousand, that are left in the breadth over against the five and twenty thousand, shall be a profane [place] for the city, for dwelling, and for suburbs: and the city shall be in the midst thereof. 16 And these [shall be] the measures thereof; the north side four thousand and five hundred, and the south side four thousand and five hundred, and on the east side four thousand and five hundred, and the west side four thousand and five hundred. 17 And the suburbs of the city shall be toward the north two hundred and fifty, and toward the south two hundred and fifty, and toward the east two hundred and fifty, and toward the west two hundred and fifty. 18 And the residue in length over against the oblation of the holy [portion shall be] ten thousand eastward, and ten thousand westward: and it shall be over against the oblation of the holy [portion]; and the increase thereof shall be for food unto them that serve the city. 19 And they that serve the city shall serve it out of all the tribes of Israel.
In this the final chapter of Ezekiel the Father gives instructions to the prophet regarding the apportionment of land among the tribes for a time to come. It is interesting the order in which the tribes are mentioned. Dan is mentioned first and Judah is mentioned seventh. Dan is the tribe connected with judgment and in the Old Testament prophetic mentioned, this tribe is almost always mentioned first because in the Old Covenant man is presented with the law of sin and death presided over in judgment. In the jewels on the breastplate of the high priest in Exodus 28 the jewel representing Dan is the Sardius or “flesh stone” speaking of the law that could not justify men in that it was weak through the flesh (Rom. 8:3). In the New Testament mention of these stones Jasper is mentioned first which is connected with Judah and with Jesus, who is the lion of the tribe of Judah. In fact in the New Testament and specifically in Revelation the tribe of Dan is excluded because as James 2:13 tells us mercy triumphs over judgment.
In looking at a map of these distributions, in verse 1 we would see that Dan occupies the northernmost territory. Dan was born to Rachel’s maidservant Bihah (Ge. 35:25). Asher in verse 2 was bordered with Dan. Asher was born to Leah’s maidservant Zilpah (Ge. 35:26). It is of note that the tribes descended from Rachel and Leah’s maidservants were placed as far away from the sanctuary in Jerusalem as they could be.
Rueben is mentioned in 6th order in this chapter, yet Rueben is the first born. His birthright was taken from him for having sexual relations with Jacob’s concubine. Simeon and Levi would have come next but they brought shame on the house of Jacob by disobeying their father in a tribal dispute, therefore their birthright was rescinded and the right of the firstborn fell to Judah who is mentioned 7th. Seven is a number of God’s perfection. The Hebrew word for seven also means to “cut” or to “cut covenant”. Jesus, as the Lion of the tribe of Judah went to the cross and cut covenant between God and man, making salvation and the New Birth available to whosoever will. Judah’s territory was the most prestigious plot of land, bordering the central holy portion because this tribe was given the Messianic promise.
In verse 9 instructions regarding oblations given in the midst of measurements reiterated from previous chapters regarding the sanctuary and the sanctuary ground. This is mentioned here because the Levites were not given tribal lands but the Lord was their portion. The Levites would live on grounds attached to the temple and also would live among the tribes as teaching priests, ministering to the needs of each tribe in its specific territory. The family of Zadok of all the Levitical families is singled out preferential placement in these arrangements because in the decadadent and sinful times during the reign of king Zedekiah, they never stooped to offer up sacrifice to Baal or the other pagan gods whose idols had been installed in the inner court of Solomon’s temple, which has now been destroyed. Verse 19 mentioned the status of the city of Jerusalem as not belonging to any tribe but being sacred and seen as a national property belonging to all the tribes.
20 All the oblation [shall be] five and twenty thousand by five and twenty thousand: ye shall offer the holy oblation foursquare, with the possession of the city. 21 And the residue [shall be] for the prince, on the one side and on the other of the holy oblation, and of the possession of the city, over against the five and twenty thousand of the oblation toward the east border, and westward over against the five and twenty thousand toward the west border, over against the portions for the prince: and it shall be the holy oblation; and the sanctuary of the house [shall be] in the midst thereof. 22 Moreover from the possession of the Levites, and from the possession of the city, [being] in the midst [of that] which is the prince’s, between the border of Judah and the border of Benjamin, shall be for the prince. 23 As for the rest of the tribes, from the east side unto the west side, Benjamin [shall have] a [portion]. 24 And by the border of Benjamin, from the east side unto the west side, Simeon [shall have] a [portion]. 25 And by the border of Simeon, from the east side unto the west side, Issachar a [portion]. 26 And by the border of Issachar, from the east side unto the west side, Zebulun a [portion]. 27 And by the border of Zebulun, from the east side unto the west side, Gad a [portion]. 28 And by the border of Gad, at the south side southward, the border shall be even from Tamar [unto] the waters of strife [in] Kadesh, [and] to the river toward the great sea. 29 This [is] the land which ye shall divide by lot unto the tribes of Israel for inheritance, and these [are] their portions, saith the Lord GOD. 30 And these [are] the goings out of the city on the north side, four thousand and five hundred measures. 31 And the gates of the city [shall be] after the names of the tribes of Israel: three gates northward; one gate of Reuben, one gate of Judah, one gate of Levi. 32 And at the east side four thousand and five hundred: and three gates; and one gate of Joseph, one gate of Benjamin, one gate of Dan. 33 And at the south side four thousand and five hundred measures: and three gates; one gate of Simeon, one gate of Issachar, one gate of Zebulun. 34 At the west side four thousand and five hundred, [with] their three gates; one gate of Gad, one gate of Asher, one gate of Naphtali. 35 [It was] round about eighteen thousand [measures]: and the name of the city from [that] day [shall be], The LORD [is] there.
In verses 30-35 the 12 gates of the city are described and their relation to the 12 tribes of the people of Israel. The northern gates were assigned to Reuben, Judah and Levi. The eastern gates were assigned to Joseph, Benjamin and Dan. The southern gates were assigned to Simeon, Issachar and Zebulun and the western gates were assigned to Gad, Asher and Naphtali. These are the final specifications given to Ezekiel regarding the restored city of Jerusalem and the Restoration Temple from chapters 40-48 of the final chapters of the book of Ezekiel ending with the pronouncement that “the Lord is there” as a great decisive word concerning the holy city. The compound name of God here is Jehovah-Shammah, meaning emphatically, the Lord is present.

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