The Third TempleBy Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
In the twenty-fifth year of the exile, which was fourteen years after the destruction of Jerusalem, G-d came to Ezekiel. (The Navi uses the term “Rosh Hashana,” but it was actually Yom Kippur of a Jubilee year, the day on which slaves are freed.) G-d picked up the prophet and brought Him to Jerusalem, where He showed him a vision of the third Temple. There was a “man” (an angel), whose appearance was like copper, standing in the gateway with a tape measure and a yardstick. The “man” told Ezekiel that he was to report all he was shown back to the nation.
There was a wall all around the Temple, which the man measured. He then measured the eastern gate and the adjacent rooms. He measured the hall and the pillars and the width of the gate. The “man” measured the windows and doorposts; Ezekiel notes that the tops of the pillars were designed to look like palm trees.
The angel brought Ezekiel to the outer courtyard of the Temple, where he saw a balcony with thirty rooms. The angel measured the courtyard areas and their various rooms and pillars. Ezekiel notes that there were seven steps. The angel measured from gate to gate and all around.
Near the northern gate, there was a room where the olah, the burnt offerings, would be rinsed. In the hall, there were two tables on the east and two on the west, where sacrifices of various types would be slaughtered. There were four on either side, for a total of eight. Four tables were made of stone and were used for burnt offerings. There were meat hooks affixed around the room.
The angel told Ezekiel that the southern room was for the Kohanim (priests) who served in the Temple. (Rashi suggests that this actually refers to the Levites who sang in the Temple.) The northern room was for the Kohanim who watched the altar, descendants of Tzadok, who was the Kohein Gadol (High Priest) when Solomon first built the original Temple (see I Chronicles 29). The angel continued with his work, measuring the hall.
The idea of the third Temple in Messianic times is well known, but relatively few people actually study the source material. All of the measurements taken by the angel in this chapter (and subsequent ones) are given in the text. One could actually make a very detailed blueprint of the third Temple from these chapters!