Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
The distribution of the holy land is seen in detail throughout Ezek. 48. The order of the original occupation by the tribes under Joshua is partly, but only partly, followed. It is a new order of things - and its ideal character is evinced as elsewhere, by exact and equal measurements. From north to south seven tribes succeed each other. Then comes a portion, separated as an offering to the Lord, subdivided into:
(1) a northern portion for the Levites,
(2) a central portion for the priests and the temple,
(3) a southern portion for the city and those who serve it.
These three form a square, which does not occupy the whole breadth of the land, but is flanked on either side, east and west, by portions assigned to the prince. Then follow, south of the city, five portions for the five remaining tribes - similar to those assigned to the seven. Thus the Levites, the temple, and city, are guarded by Judah and Benjamin, the two tribes who had throughout preserved their allegiance to the true sovereignty of Yahweh, and thus the plan expresses the presence of Yahweh among His people, summed up in the name of the city, with which Ezekiel's prophecy closes, the Lord is there.
The breadth of the portions is not given, but since the exact breadth of the oblation was about 30 geog. miles (Eze 45:1 note), and seven tribes were between the entrance of Hamath and the oblation, the "breadth of one portion" was about 17 geog. miles. The breadth of the Levites' portion and of the priests' portion was in each case about 15 geog. miles. Ain-el-Weibeh, if Kadesh, ( (?),see Num 13:26) would be very nearly the southern border.
The general lines of existing features are followed with considerable fidelity, but accommodation is made to give the required symbolic expression. "Dan" had originally an allotment west of Benjamin, but having colonized and given its name to Laish in the north, was regarded as the most northern occupant of Canaan Jdg 18:29. "Zebulun and Issachar" are removed to the south to make room for the second half of "Manasseh" brought over from the east of Jordan. "Reuben," brought over from the east, is placed between "Ephraim and Judah." "Benjamin" comes immediately south of the city, and "Gad" is brought over from the east to the extreme south.
See map, The Land of Israel
"Length" is throughout measured from west to east, as breadth is from north to south.
The offering Eze 48:9-22, or, "oblation," here includes all the land given to priests, Levites, city, and prince; the different parts being distinguished. All these together are to extend from west to east in the same way as the portions of the other tribes, the imaginary Jordan being the eastern boundary of all.
Toward the north ... toward the east ... - i. e., the measurements are "along the north and east sides," etc.
The five thousand ... - The remainder of the square of 25,000 reeds from north to south.
Profane - For common use, as distinguished from that which is holy unto the Lord.
The city being 4500 reeds square, 250 reeds are marked off north, south, east, west from the city land.
Then, that serve - i. e., the cultivators or farmers.
Of old the city belonged to Benjamin and Judah, and its inhabitants were mainly from these tribes. Now all the tribes are to have equal part in it, and avoid jealousies (compare Sa2 19:43).
The holy ... with ... - Or, "a fourth part as the holy oblation, for" etc.
Or, "And the residue shall be for the prince - on the one side and on the other side of the holy oblation and of the possession of the city over against the 25,000 of the oblation toward the east border, and westward over against the 25,000 toward the west border, over against the portions (of Judah and Benjamin, between which the oblation was included), shall be "for the prince; and it shall be that the holy oblation and the sanctuary of the house shall be in the midst thereof." This exactly describes the position of the prince's allotments on the borders of the "oblations."
The goings out of the city - The gates described in Eze 48:31. "Measures" (reeds) concern the sides. Divide the verses thus: Eze 48:30. "And these are the goings out of the city. Eze 48:31. On the north side 4500 measures: and the gates of the city after the names of the tribes of Israel: three gates northward etc."
The circuit of the city walls, a square of 4500 reeds, was 18,000 reeds, not quite 37 English miles. The circuit of Jerusalem in the time of Josephus was reckoned by him to be about four miles.
The name ... - The manner of expressing a spiritual meaning by giving a name to a city, a people, or the like, is familiar to the prophets (see Eze 43:15 note). Jerome explains it: "The name of the city shall be no longer Jerusalem ("the vision of peace"), but Adonai-shama ("the Lord is there") (rather, Jehovah-shammah, "Jehovah is there"), because Yahweh will never again withdraw from it, as He once withdrew, but will hold it as His everlasting possession." The visible presence of God's glory, once represented in the tabernacle and in the temple, had departed, and should not return in the same form. Yet Ezekiel in "visions of God" sees a temple reconstructed to receive the glory of the divine presence, a prophetic vision fulfilled in Emmanuel ("God with us"), who tabernacled among men Joh 1:14. Compare Rom 9:25; Rev 21:2-3.