Ezekiel, the prophet of the Babylonian Exile, shares visions of rebuke and of redemption. His final, extended vision (chapters 40-48) describes a rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. Its first section (chapters 40-43:12) describes the restored Temple’s dimensions. The Haftarah opens with that inspirational section’s conclusion (43:10-12), a comforting rebuke to the Jews exiled in Babylon: by learning about God’s rebuilt Temple, they will become ashamed of their sins that had led to the Temple’s destruction, and learn to aspire to a renewed, exalted one. The Haftarah’s second section continues by detailing the dimensions of the new Temple’s sacrificial altar (43:13-17), and concludes with the sacrificial procedures for its inauguration (43:18-27).
Verses 10-12: God tells Ezekiel to recount the future Temple’s measurements as inspirational chastisement.
If they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the form of the house, and its design, and its exits, and its entrances, and all its forms, and its ordinances, and all its shapes, and all its laws. Write it before their eyes [so] that they may keep its whole form and all its ordinances, and do them.
וְאִֽם־נִכְלְמ֞וּ מִכֹּ֣ל אֲשֶׁר־עָשׂ֗וּ צוּרַ֣ת הַבַּ֡יִת וּתְכוּנָת֡וֹ וּמוֹצָאָ֡יו וּמוֹבָאָ֣יו וְֽכָל־צֽוּרֹתָ֡ו וְאֵ֣ת כָּל־חֻקֹּתָיו֩ וְכָל־צורתי [צ֨וּרֹתָ֤יו] וְכָל־תורתו [תּוֹרֹתָיו֙] הוֹדַ֣ע אוֹתָ֔ם וּכְתֹ֖ב לְעֵֽינֵיהֶ֑ם וְיִשְׁמְר֞וּ אֶת־כָּל־צוּרָת֛וֹ וְאֶת־כָּל־חֻקֹּתָ֖יו וְעָשׂ֥וּ אוֹתָֽם׃
Verse 13-17: Ezekiel enumerates the measurements of the new Temple’s altar.
These are the measures of the altar by cubits. a cubit is a cubit and a handbreadth. The bottom shall be a cubit, and the breadth a cubit. Its border by its edge round about shall be a span. This shall be the top of the altar.
וְאֵ֨לֶּה מִדּ֤וֹת הַמִּזְבֵּ֙חַ֙ בָּֽאַמּ֔וֹת אַמָּ֥ה אַמָּ֖ה וָטֹ֑פַח וְחֵ֨יק הָאַמָּ֜ה וְאַמָּה־רֹ֗חַב וּגְבוּלָ֨הּ אֶל־שְׂפָתָ֤הּ סָבִיב֙ זֶ֣רֶת הָאֶחָ֔ד וְזֶ֖ה גַּ֥ב הַמִּזְבֵּֽחַ׃
Verse 18: God commands Ezekiel regarding the Altar’s inauguration.
And he said to me, Son of man, thus says the Lord God; These are the ordinances of the altar on the day when they shall make it, to offer burnt offerings upon it, and to sprinkle the blood upon it.
וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֵלַ֗י בֶּן־אָדָם֙ כֹּ֤ה אָמַר֙ אֲדֹנָ֣י ה' אֵ֚לֶּה חֻקּ֣וֹת הַמִּזְבֵּ֔חַ בְּי֖וֹם הֵעָֽשׂוֹת֑וֹ לְהַעֲל֤וֹת עָלָיו֙ עוֹלָ֔ה וְלִזְרֹ֥ק עָלָ֖יו דָּֽם׃
Verses 19-27: The description of the rededication ceremony.
And when these days are expired --on the eighth day and onwards, the priests shall make upon the altar your burnt offerings and your peace offerings; and I will accept you, says the Lord God.
וִֽיכַלּ֖וּ אֶת־הַיָּמִ֑ים (ס) וְהָיָה֩ בַיּ֨וֹם הַשְּׁמִינִ֜י וָהָ֗לְאָה יַעֲשׂ֨וּ הַכֹּהֲנִ֤ים עַל־הַמִּזְבֵּ֙חַ֙ אֶת־עוֹלֽוֹתֵיכֶם֙ וְאֶת־שַׁלְמֵיכֶ֔ם וְרָצִ֣אתִי אֶתְכֶ֔ם נְאֻ֖ם אֲד-נָ֥י ה'׃ (ס)
The Midrash derives the importance of studying the structures of the Temple from the Haftarah
Pesikta Rabbati 16:1
Shmuel said, "If they are ashamed of all they have done [make known to them the layout of the Temple]..." (Ezekiel 43:11). Is there a layout of the Temple nowadays? Rather, the Holy One, blessed be He, said, "Since you engage in its study, it is as if you built it."
שמואל אמר "ואם נכלמו מכל אשר עשו וגו" (יחזקאל מ״ג:י״א) וכי יש צורת הבית עד עכשיו? אלא אמר הקב"ה הואיל ואתם מתעסקים בו כאילו אתם בונין אתו.
Ezekiel’s Temple, as shown in the Da’at Mikra volume of Ezekiel. (Every depiction includes speculative elements due to omissions in the Biblical text and other difficulties rending it precisely.)
(With permission from Mossad HaRav Kook-Jerusalem, publishers of the Da’at Mikra series)
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