And behold a wall on the outside of the house round about, and in the man’s hand a measuring reed of six cubits long by the cubit and an hand breadth: so he measured the breadth of the building, one reed; and the height, one reed. Ezekiel 40:5.
A survey based on the vision of the prophet Ezekiel
- Among the many subjects I have been writing about in this blog, the idea of the temple as a cosmic model has been many times developed. (You could read about this subject in the article:“Temple and time” edited in November 2016). Some of my readers will remember that temples were in every time considered as models of this cosmos. In the letter Paul wrote to the Hebrews, the Greek word υποϭειϒμα is used twice in the meaning of “typical representation”, model, example of the heavenly things . (Hebrews 8:5 ; 9:23) Retaining this basilar concept we are ready to consider the topic again, but this time starting from the book of Ezekiel.
Let’s consider the fact that, while the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:16 is a cube, the temple of Ezekiel’s vision is a square and it has a solid wall “a reed of six cubits long by the cubit and an hand breadth” wide all around, as a protection .
The Jews were in exile in Babilon since forty years when Ezekiel was transported on the top of a high mountain and given a vision of a huge temple. Noteworthy is that, in the description of this vision, special attention was given to the details of measurement. The prophet saw a man holding in his hands “a measuring reed of six cubits long by the cubit and an hand breadth”.
Now, wishing to understand the real length of the reed, I have been looking through different Bible commentaries and I have found quite interesting pieces of information. A nineteen century Presbyterian minister named Albert Barnes (1798-1870), the author of the well-known Notes on the New Testament , when commenting Ezekiel 40:5, remarked that : “The Jews first used a cubit of fifteen inches, applying it principally to the vessels and furniture of the temple; next a cubit of eighteen inches (“a hand-breadth” longer than the former cubit) ; and lastly, after the captivity, the Babylonian cubit of twenty-one inches (a “hand-breadth” more). In the temple measurement, they used only the cubit of eighteen inches; hence, the “cubit and hand-breadth” is the cubit of eighteen inches”. Even Joseph Benson (1749–1821) , who was an early English Methodist minister, in his commentary agrees about beeing 18 inches the value to give to “a cubit and an hand breadth”:
And in the man’s hand a measuring-reed of six cubits long, &c. — Here is explained what sort of a cubit is meant in the following delineation of the temple, namely, one that consisted of six hand-breadths, or one hand-breadth over the cubit used in Chaldea, where he now lived. This is the measure of a Scripture cubit, generally agreed to be equivalent to eighteen inches, or a foot and a half of our measure. See Bishop Cumberland, Of Scripture Weights and Measures, p. 36, &c. According to Michaelis, the Hebrew measures are, 1. The finger’s-breadth: 2. Four fingers, or a hand-breadth: 3. The ell; the smaller of five hand-breadths, the larger of six: 4. The rod, of six ells. He also allows the rabbinical account, that a finger is equal to the length of six barley grains. So he measured the breadth of the building — That is, of the outward wall, which was three yards high, and three yards broad. This wall surrounded a part which corresponded to the court of the Gentiles, and served as a security against the precipices of the mount on which the temple stood.
Richard Cumberland (15 July 1631 (or 1632) – 9 October 1718) was an English philosopher and bishop. In 1672, he published his major work, De legibus naturae (On natural laws), and in 1686 was published in London another important work An Essay towards the Recovery of the Jewish Measures and Weights, comprehending their Monies; by help of ancient standards, compared with ours of England: useful also to state many of those of the Greeks and Romans, and the Eastern Nations.
So, now we are ready to find an answer to the question: What does the expression found in the book of Ezekiel ” By the cubit and an hand breadth”, really mean?
Generally scholars agree with the idea that a cubit and an hand breadth should be considered a longer cubit of 51.8cm Up to now and many times we have given a special stress to the point that the earth measures, on the model of the ark of the covenant, are multiples of numbers such as 111, 333, 666, 999, etc.. and that the evident result should be that generally temples in the Bible (and in this case the temple of Ezekiel’s vision) could be considered to be models on a scale of the earth…
In conclusion, as far as measures are concerned, Ezekiel’s cubit should have a length of 51.8 centimeters and his reed, six times a cubit and an handbreadth, 3.11 meters:
Ezekiel’s reed= 3.11 m
Ezekiel’s cubit=51.8 cm
So , trying to recapitulate, Ezekiel writes:”And he began to measure the breadth of the thing built” . LXX translates here the expression “the thing built” as “outer wall”, “And he began to measure the breadth…one reed; and the height, one reed”: and, on the basis of this passage, Ezekiel’s reed should be considered, on scale, a model of wider measures…
Surely when we focus on this crucial passage we perceive that, beyond the borders given in the picture of the platform of the earth with the lozenge, we have to imagine an additional wall 3110 kilometers (Ezekiel’s reed should be considered a model on a scale) high and wide , a wall protecting the whole earth all around so that…, joking a bit, there should be no possibility for boats or waters to fall down. The only, apparent problem, could be that 3110 is a number that, at a first view, wouldn’t look compatible with all the other measures our earth seems to be interwoven with….but, let’s examine:
So, beyond the simple borders, the platform has a wall all around it, extending the sides to:
113220+6660+6660+3110+3110=132760km minor side of the platform (132760:111=1196,03603603 periodic number)
179820+6660+6660+3110+3110=199360km major side of the platform (199360:111=1796,03603603 periodic number)
that are really, and for many good reasons, surprising numbers, especially for the reiteration of that very peculiar digit, 360… But now , since Ezekiel’s temple is a square , we have to consider the major side of the platform as the basic side of the earth, so let’s consider our dwelling place has having a cubic dimension of 199360x199360x199360 kilometers, a big cubic 7 ponds “Behemoth”. (Job.40:15).