When you have to quantify a space, you need a definite unit of measurement. Biblical and Talmudic units of measurement used by ancient Israelites appear frequently within the Scriptures. The original measures of length were clearly derived from the human body: the finger, hand, arm, span, foot, and pace, but, as these measures differ between individuals, they were reduced to a certain accepted standard for general use.
SOLOMON’S REGULAR CUBIT AND EZEKIEL’S LONGER CUBIT SET IN HARMONY
When you consider Ezekiel’s temple, you feel immediately aware that a clear and definite choice of the right measurement unit system applied to the whole ensemble seems uncertain: you are eventually led to wonder whether, when indications are given in cubits but not in rods, the reference is to Moses or Solomon’s cubit (44,4cm) or to the longer cubit and a hand breadth (51,8cm) of the rod in the hand of the angel seen by the prophet . Which is the basic measurement system by which the different parts of the temple should be measured? Let’s make a few hypothesis starting from the architectural instructions given for the building of the worship place.
Moses, Solomon, Zerubbabel, and Herod, when building respectively the tabernacle and the three historical temples in Jerusalem, had to follow specific rules: they had to measure the sanctuary on the basis of the cubit of 17,5 inches (44,4 centimeters, an inch being about 2,54cm). However, when considering 2 Chronicles 3:3 which mentions a “length in cubits by the former measurement” it would be possible to believe that sometimes they also used the longer cubit of about 20,4 inches (51,8 centimeters) that was so common in Chaldea by the time of the exile.
The fact that many of the symbolic numbers of the temple of Solomon were repeated in the vision of Ezekiel could be taken as a hint of the fact that the two temple measurement units coordinate. The logical question is: Solomon’s and Ezekiel’s measures are interchangeable? Are they compatible? Which relations can you establish among them?
THE MEASURES OF THE PORCH IN THE TEMPLE
In order to understand this point, let’s give examples starting from the porch, the front part of Solomon’s temple and the corresponding entranceways, Ezekiel was shown in vision. Quite a number of porches are mentioned in the vision the prophet had of the sanctuary. The temple building had a porch in front toward the east as did Solomon’s temple. Solomon’s temple had a massive porch in front of the Holy that served as an entrance vestibule to the temple. The porch was 20 cubits (888 centimeters or about 9 meters based on the regular cubit of 44,4cm) long and 10 cubits (444 centimeters or about 4.5 meters) deep. However, Ezekiel’s porch was 20 cubits (10.36 meters based on the long cubit) in length and 11 cubits (5698 centimeters or about 5.70 meters based on the long cubit too) in width. While Solomon’s porch was 120 cubits (5328 centimeters or about 53 meters) high, the height of Ezekiel’s porch is not stated.
So, when Ezekiel, for instance, refers to a length of twenty cubits, is he indicating the same measure given in Exodus? Or maybe twenty cubits in Exodus do not correspond to the same length in Ezekiel? Here I would like to suggest an answer. There are numbers which belong to different categories and have different characteristics, a different symbolism or maybe attain to different levels, the human and earthly, the spiritual and angelic or both. Here I would like to try an experiment following this idea: let’s divide some of the numbers belonging to the earth-and-sun system by the regular cubit and the long cubit of Ezekiel’s vision and let’s see….
142857, A REALLY INTRIGUING AND SPECIAL NUMBER
1110:44,4=25 1110:51,8=21,428571428 21,428571428x7=150 2220:44,4=50 2220:51,8=42,857142857 42,857142857x7=300 3330:44,4=75 3330:51,8=64,285714285 64,285714285x7=450 4440:44,4=100 4440:51,8=85,714285714 85,714285714x7=600 5550:44,4=125 5550:51,8=107,14285714 107,14285714x7=750 6660:44,4=150 6660:51,8=128,57142857 128,57142857x7=900 7770:44,4=175 7770:51,8=150 150x7=1050 8880:44,4=200 8880:51,8=171,428571428 171,428571428x7=1200 19980:44,4=450 19980:51,8=385,714285714 385,714285714x7=2700 39960:44,4=900 39960:51,8=771,428571428 771,428571428x7=5400 13320:44,4=300 13320:51,8=257,142857142 257,142657142x7=1800 26640:44,4=600 26640:51,8=514,285714285 514,285714285x7=3600
In the tables above I have divided the same quantities for the regular cubit and the long one; the results seem to belong to different categories, a series of integer and a series of periodic numbers repeating the special 142857 that is a very curious digit. When I have multiplied by 7 the resulting periodic numbers I have obtained integers that always are six times the digits obtained in the first column.
142857, the six repeating digits of 1/7 is the best known cyclic number in base 10. If it is multiplied by 2,3,4,5,6, the answer will be a cyclic permutation of itself and will correspond to the repeating digits of 2/7, 3/7, 4/7, 5/7, 6/7 respectively. 142857 is a Kaprekar number and a Harshad number (in base 10). These are numerical series always recurring among the numbers of our system.
Here you should have noticed that:
Thus you could have concluded that 44,4 equals 6 and 51,8 equals 7
and you could, maybe, have thought that:
44,4 is a man’s number but 51,8 an angel’s.
6 in the book of Revelation is a man’s number, can you remember?
7 in the book of Revelation is in connection with the things of God. Multiples of seven are used in a similar sense of completeness. Seventy-seven, a repetition of seven in a number, was equivalent to saying “indefinitely” or without limit.
THE MEASURES OF A MAN AND AN ANGEL
To understand this particular point and way of reasoning, you should consider the book of Revelation chapter 21 when John, in connection with the New Jerusalem, had a vision similar to Ezekiel’s one. In the Greek text John, the writer, refers to the measures of the city as to be given according to a man’s measure and an angel’s. Let’s consider the text, where John writes:
“So he carried me away in the power of the spirit to a great and lofty mountain and he showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God….It had a great and lofty wall and had twelve gates….Now the one who was speaking with me was holding as a measure a golden reed that he might measure the city and its gates and its wall. And the city lies foursquare, and its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs; its length and breadth and height are equal. Also, he measured its wall, one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to a man’s measure, at the same time an angel’s.” Revelation 21:10-17
(Here below you can find part of the original Greek text of Revelation as presented by Westcott and Hort in 1881 and the rendering of verse 17 according to several different Bible translations)
15Καὶ ὁ λαλῶν μετ’ ἐμοῦ εἶχεν μέτρον κάλαμον χρυσοῦν, ἵνα μετρήσῃ τὴν πόλιν καὶ τοὺς πυλῶνας αὐτῆς καὶ τὸ τεῖχος αὐτῆς. 16 καὶ ἡ πόλις τετράγωνος κεῖται, καὶ τὸ μῆκος αὐτῆς ὅσον τὸ πλάτος. καὶ ἐμέτρησεν τὴν πόλιν τῷ καλάμῳ ἐπὶ σταδίων δώδεκα χιλιάδων· τὸ μῆκος καὶ τὸ πλάτος καὶ τὸ ὕψος αὐτῆς ἴσα ἐστίν. 17καὶ ἐμέτρησεν τὸ τεῖχος αὐτῆς ἑκατὸν τεσσεράκοντα τεσσάρων πηχῶν, μέτρον ἀνθρώπου, ὅ ἐστιν ἀγγέλου.
The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits thick. (New International Version)
Then he measured the walls and found them to be 216 feet thick (according to the human standard used by the angel).(New Living Translation)
He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement.(English Standard Version)
And he measured its wall to be one hundred forty-four cubits, by the human measure the angel was using.(Berean Study Bible)
And he measured its wall, one hundred forty-four cubits, the measure of man, that is of the angel.(Berean Literal Bible)
And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements.(New American Standard Bible)
And he measured the wall thereof, a hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. (King James Bible)
Picture of the plan of the vision of Ezekiel’s temple with the cube in its center.
Solomon’s temple had inside a special place where only the chief priest could enter once a year on the day of atonement: it was the Most Holy. We are told about its dimensions in the first book of Kings, chapter 6:20, where you can read: “And the innermost room was twenty cubits in length, and twenty cubits in width, and twenty cubits in its height”. Thus the New Jerusalem, like the room of the Most Holy in Solomon’s temple, was a cube and sides of the two buildings are in proportion. The dimensions of the most holy presented in centimeters are the following: 20×44,4=888cm (a cube having each side about 9 meters)
A CUBIC CITY WITH GIGANTIC DIMENSIONS
In a similar way, in chapter 21st of the book of Revelation, we are presented the New Jerusalem as a city that is not erected by man , heavenly, not earthly, a place whose dimensions are expressed by measures that are both human and angelic, or possibly, as I have tried to prove through a series of divisions starting from the same digits, an integration of them. Only a symbolic city could have such dimensions: its base was foursquare, about 2220 kilometers with a perimeter of 8880 kilometers, on the exact scale of the Most Holy in the temple. Being a cube the city was also as high as it was long and wide. No real city could ever reach that far into outer space. (Notice that on earth only Mount Everest reaches exactly a height of 8880 meters and this fact, in my opinion, could be regarded as interesting, being a number on a perfect scale). Round about was a wall 144 cubits and entrance into the New Jerusalem through its magnificent walls was by means of twelve gates, three on a side, each made of a huge pearl.
But which is the relation between Ezekiel’s temple and the New Jerusalem? Ezekiel, as John, was brought to the land of Israel, upon a very high mountain “on which there was something like the structure of a city to the south.” Thus, in the center of Ezekiel’s temple, as an imaginary geographical, absolute south, you could watch the portrait of a city, tetragon and of some extraordinary dimensions. The book of Ezekiel contains one of the first recorded maps of the New Jerusalem with a list of twelve temple gates named for Israel’s tribes. About dimensions John writes: σταδίων δώδεκα χιλιάδων, that is to say, twelve thousand furlongs. A σταδίων or furlong equaled one-eighth of a Roman mile, 185 meters. Calculations in kilometers give the following results: 12000×185= 2220km. You could be astonished to notice that measures taken according to ancient and originally dissimilar units of measurement give, as a result, measures that are today reciprocally compatible and harmonious. As a matter of facts, I have already highlighted the point that one of the measures of the ark of the covenant being in centimeters 111 is corresponding on the scale to a measure of 111km or 1° of latitude according to contemporary units. The dimensions of the Most Holy and of the New Jerusalem are reproducible on the scale in the same way.
Obviously, the measures of the city, of the temple of Solomon and the temple of Ezekiel’s vision are multiples of single units, which basis has to be considered, according to the cubits and as a consequence of those values, a very special number, that is 111. Thus, in the ideal temple as in the real, we find a constant reiteration of the fundamental numbers and measures.