Shechinah ReduxBy Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
The angel led Ezekiel to the eastern gate of the Temple, where the Shechinah, the glory of G-d’s presence, was returning from the east. (It was what Ezekiel had seen before, in previous visions.) The Shechinah entered the Temple through the eastern gate and it filled the Temple. (You may recall that the Shechinah withdrew from the Temple prior to its destruction, way back in chapter 11. Here, Ezekiel sees its eventual return.)
Ezekiel heard G-d speaking. He said, “My throne is in Heaven and the Temple corresponds to it on Earth.” (Even though it’s in quotes, I have paraphrased the meaning of the verse, rather than the exact wording. Basically, G-d calls the Temple His footrest.) G-d continued that He would dwell among the Jewish people forever and never again would His Name be defiled by their acts of idolatry and violence. Here, G-d mentions that the kings of Judah were buried not far from the Temple and altars to their idols were erected near their graves. This is a sin about which we had not previously been informed. Now, such sins would no longer be done and G-d would reside among them forever.
G-d told Ezekiel to describe the third Temple to the Jews; they would be ashamed of their sins when they see that G-d does not reject them, despite their deeds. When they feel this way, Ezekiel will let them know the grandeur that lies ahead. He was to write down all the measurements so that the people would be able to build the third Temple properly when the time comes. (The second Temple, which we will see built IY”H when we come to the Book of Ezra, included some aspects of the first and some of the third.)
G-d says that all of Jerusalem is holy, but the Temple mount is “most holy.” He then gives the dimensions of the altar and instructs Ezekiel about the sacrifices to be offered when it is constructed. The kohanim (priests) will offer a bull to G-d as a sin-offering. G-d says that Ezekiel (who is a Kohein – priest) will give it to them, suggesting that he will be Kohein Gadol (High Priest), or possibly Segan Kohein Gadol (Deputy High Priest), serving under Aaron, following the resurrection of the dead. On the second day, they are to offer a goat as a sin-offering. When they’re done inaugurating the altar in this fashion, they are to offer a bull and a ram. For seven days, they are to offer a goat, a bull and a ram. When these days are done, on the eighth day, the altar will be ready to offer the people’s sacrifices, which G-d says He will readily accept.