Saturday

13 August 2011

"The circumference of the city shall be eighteen thousand cubits. And the name of the city from that time on shall be, The Lord is there." (v. 35)

Background

Following on from yesterday's reading, the remaining five tribes are allotted their portion of land to the south of the area set aside for the Lord. As before, the tribe who were descendents of a concubine of Jacob (Gad) are furthest from the sanctuary whilst Benjamin, the son of Rachel is closest. The southern boundary of the land starts at Tamar in the east which is thought to have been at the southern end of the Dead Sea. The boundary continues through Meribah Kadesh, which has been identified as an area south of Beersheba, and on to the Wadi of Egypt, an area identified as being south of Gaza. The extent of the land is similar to that held in the time of King Solomon, the high point of royal governance of Israel before the nation was split in two and the furthest reaches of the territory of Israel until the 20th century.

In the next section Ezekiel describes the gates of the city with the northern gates, which face the sanctuary being allotted to the tribes of Reuben, Judah and Levi. This is probably because they represent the firstborn, the Messianic line and the priestly class. Those familiar with the book of Revelation will see from where the writer of that book gained some of his inspiration (see Revelation 21:9-27). The vision of the city with 12 gates and the precise measurements all represent the perfection of the vision.

It is at this point that Ezekiel's vision reaches its climax because the city is named "The Lord is there". We are reminded of the power of naming, for to name something in Ezekiel's time is not just descriptive, it is also meant to assert something. For a prophet who had seen a vision of the glory of God leaving Jerusalem and the temple, this is a profound vision and statement of hope. It is appropriate that his writings come to their conclusion at this point.

To Ponder

If you were to rename the place where you live, what would you call it?

What signifies God's presence where you live and work?

Bible notes author: The Revd Jonathan Mead

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