Two-Faced CherubimBy Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
Continuing the measurements of the third Temple from the previous chapter, the angel measured the pillars and the width of the entrance. He came to the inside and measured there. He measured a room that was 20 x 20 cubits, then informed Ezekiel that it was the Holy of Holies (the room where the Ark would be kept). He measured the wall and the rooms behind it, of which there were 33. There is then a detailed discussion of how the rooms were arranged. The upper rooms were wider than the lower rooms and there was a spiral staircase to ascend to them.
There were rooms to the courtyard in the northern and southern ends, with a 20-cubit area all around the Temple. The width of the building on the western side was 70 cubits, and the wall was 90 cubits (including the clear area). The length of the third Temple was 100 cubits, inclusive. The eastern side, which was the front, was also 100 cubits. (It was 30 cubits wider in the front than in the back because there were two rooms there, where the knives for the sacrifices were stored.)
The angel measured the south side, which was 100 cubits; he measured the Heichal (the “inner room”) and the halls. The windows narrowed and there were cedar planks from the floor to the windows, which were closed. There were also planks over the entrance until the Holy of Holies and the walls. (There was gold plating overlaying the wood, although that is not mentioned here.) The cedar planks were decorated with carvings of cherubim and palm trees. (Again, see chapter 10 for a description of cherubim.) These cherubim had two faces, a lion facing one way and a human facing the other.
The doorway of the third Temple was rectangular and the Holy of Holies shone with a bright light like Ezekiel saw in the vision of G-d’s “chariot” (in chapter 1). A wooden table stood in place of the altar (or perhaps it was the altar for incense, rather than for sacrifices). The angel told Ezekiel that it was the table before G-d. (The verse starts by calling it an altar and ends with calling it a table; nowadays, the tables where we eat ARE our “altars!”) The Heichal and the Holy of Holies each had two pairs of doors, inner and outer. Like the panels on the walls, the doors were carved with cherubim and palm trees. The chapter ends describing the supporting beams of the third Temple.
Please note that we have phrased things in the past tense, as these are the things Ezekiel saw. Remember, though, that Ezekiel was shown a vision of the future, so it really hasn’t happened yet.