The final chapter of Ezekiel details the inheritance of each tribe’s land allotment and the placements of the gates of the city. Thirty-five verses sounds like a lot to go through, but they are fairly repetitive and can be summarized in a few words.
Unlike the original tribe allotments described in Joshua, the ones described here are horizontal stripes across the entire country. Additionally, the placements of the tribes differ from their historical regions. In equal measures from north to south, the land is given to the tribes of Dan, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben, and Judah. South of Judah is the holy portion given to the temple, the Levites, the priests, the city and its supporting farmland. This portion is a square in total, and different pieces of that square are devoted to the different purposes. To the east and west of this square is the portion of the land given to the prince, which extends to the east and west just like the tribal portions. South of the holy district and the prince’s portion are the tribes of Benjamin, Simeon, Issachar, Zebulun, and Gad.
The arrangement of the tribes appears to follow a preferential order based on who is closest to the holy district, and thus to the Lord. The notes in the Reformation Study Bible mention that the outermost tribes were born to the servants of Jacob’s wives, Zilpah and Bilhah, while the sons born to Rachel and Leah themselves are closer. While interesting, I think it breaks down when you see that the two groups are jumbled within themselves without regard to who was whose mother. Instead, I think it has more to do with the fact that Judah and Benjamin were the two tribes that remained in the kingdom of Judah after the ten tribes split off, and they were the only tribes to produce kings that God Himself chose (Saul of Benjamin, and David and Solomon of Judah). It’s still all speculation, though.
The gates of the city in the holy district are to number twelve, three on each of the four sides. I had thought the names given to them might reflect the marching order of the tribes as they traveled through the wilderness from Egypt, but they don’t match at all. This time, Levi is given a gate, and Manasseh and Ephraim are combined in their father Joseph.
Last of all, the name of the city is revealed not to be Jerusalem any more, but changed to “Yahweh Is There”. The Lord of Hosts, Creator of heaven and earth, the Almigthy, the Great I AM is in this city. Now and forever, God’s dwelling place is with His people, never again to be separated.
We long for that day, when we can live with You, forever at peace.