40:1–48:35 Ezekiel’s vision of the restored city combines many strands of biblical tradition. Ezekiel weaves together the familiar understanding of Jerusalem as the city where God had chosen to dwell with references to Mount Sinai and the Garden of Eden.
An angel leads the prophet on a tour of the city, beginning at the gates to the outer court of the temple (40:6–27) and ending after several chapters with a division of land among the twelve tribes (47:13–48:35). Interpretations of these chapters vary widely. Many have seen in these passages a blueprint and building specifications for a normal city that was to be built (43:10, 11). However, elements of the prophetic vision seem to go beyond a literal understanding (e.g., 47:1–12). Other interpreters understand Ezekiel’s temple vision as a largely symbolic description of the way God would bless His people, with the temple preeminently standing for the presence of God in the midst of His people. Through the use of vision and symbol (40:2; Num. 12:6), the prophet describes a point in the future when the presence of God among His people would transcend anything Israel had experienced in history.