Of the Outer Court with the Holy City trodden under foot by the Gentiles, and on that account to be omitted and rejected from measurement.
The outer court trodden under foot by the nations, and rejected from the divine measurement, designates the holy city of God, or the Christian Church, soon after the end of the times of the regular court, (to which it immediately succeeds) to be given up to new idolatries, and its affairs having been confirmed by the entire demolition of the Gentile worship under the first court, it was now to be profaned by the contagion of renewed idolatry, as of revived ethnicism; in one word, the anti-christian apostasy which was to flourish in the Church for forty-two months of years . Concerning which, in the history of the Beast, in a vision of a like nature contemporizing with this court, we shall fully and particularly treat.
But let us consider the words of the text in the interpretation of which we are now engaged. |And there was given me, says he, a reed like a rod; and the angel stood, saying, Arise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and those that worship therein. But the court, which is without the temple, leave out, and do not measure it, for it is given up to the Gentiles, and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty-two months.|
In order that we may rightly understand the meaning of these words, it is to be understood that TO HiERON (by which name I embrace the whole edifice of the temple,) was distinguished by a double court, the one interior, in which the Nah, or temple itself, together with the altar of burnt-offering before its doors was situated, and was open to the Priests and Levites only; the other exterior, which is called (2 Chron. c. iv. v.9.) the great court, and by Ezekiel, more than twelve times, the court without, or the outer court. This was the court of the Israelites, or of the Israelitish people, and therefore not improperly called the court of Israel, though that part belonging to the men, was more especially called so by the Jews. The first court was known by the names of the temple and the altar of sacrifice. |Rise, said he, and measure the temple of God (Naon) and the altar of sacrifice.| Where the thusiasterion does not mean the altar of burnt-offerings only which was there situated, but the space which surrounded it, that is, the whole space of the altar and sacrifice; as is to be collected from the words immediately connected with it, |and those who worship therein;| that is, in the place of sacrifice. How, likewise, Thusiasterion is taken c. xiv. v.18, and c. xvi. v.7, vide Beza. Whence the old lexicon in Greek and Latin interprets Thusiasterion altarium, sacrarium, altar, sacred place, and vice versâ, the glossary of Philoxenus, sacrarium Heroon Thusiasterion. Temple of a hero, place of the altar. But this Thusiasterion, together with the area of the temple (i. e. tou Naou) I learn to be rightly comprehended within the name of the interior court, from the description of the tabernacle, where, in like manner, the whole enclosure which surrounded the dwelling-place, and altar of burnt-offering is reckoned under the denomination of one court, as appears Ex. c. xl. v.33. So much of the first court which John is ordered to measure; but the latter court is designated clearly enough by its name -- |The court which is without the temple, that is, by an ellipsis of the former substantive, -- the court which is exterior to the enclosure of the temple and altar, and since the Gentiles admitted without right and justice were stabled in this, it is ordered by no means to be measured, but to be cast forth, and considered as profane. But you will say, it is not the outer court, but the holy city which is to be trodden down by the Gentiles. I answer, that the outer court and the holy city mutually explain each other, since the outer court was the place for the holy city or people of Israel to meet in for divine purposes: Nay, in the wilderness, the tabernacle having only one court, (which it was not lawful to enter ordinarily, unless for the Priests and Levites), there was no outer court, beside the camp of Israel, or the holy city. Therefore the sense is the same as if it were said, |The court which is without the temple cast out, and do not measure it, for it is given up to the Gentiles, and they shall tread it under forty-two months. For the relative it, a substantive is substituted, and that of the same kind, so as to point out the subject intended by the antecedent. |The holy city, says he, shall they tread under forty-two months.| The change of the substantive for the relative often occurs both in this book and elsewhere, namely, when either the substantive which precedes, is repeated in the place of the relative, or its synonyme is substituted instead of the relative. An example of the latter kind you have here, and Acts c. xxv. v.21. And indeed what else shall we say could be given to the Gentiles to have the power of occupying, so as to trample under foot? And what could the Gentiles trample on, but that which was given them? so that these words, not less than the court and holy city, seem mutually to explain one another.