Agricultural land, especially that used for grazing animals, around each of the 48 Levite cities scattered in Israel. These lands were never to be sold, though houses in the cities could be sold and came under the Jubilee regulation.—Nu 35:2-5; Le 25:32-34; Jos 21:41, 42.
The area of the pasture grounds was to be “from the wall of the city and out for a thousand cubits [445 m; 1,458 ft] all around.” But the next verse adds: “You must measure outside the city on the east side two thousand cubits” and so on in all four directions. (Nu 35:4, 5) Numerous suggestions have been offered to harmonize the two figures. Some have pointed out that the Greek Septuagint reads “two thousand” in the first instance instead of “a thousand.” However, the Hebrew text as well as the Latin Vulgate and the Syriac Peshitta read “a thousand.” Jewish commentators have offered the possibility that the first thousand cubits (Nu 35:4) were open and used for olive groves and stalls for animals, while the second measurement (Nu 35:5) was for actual grazing or pasture grounds as well as for fields and vineyards, making a total of 3,000 cubits on each side.
However, since this reads into the text thoughts that are not there expressed, another explanation seems more likely. Thus, some commentators believe the measurements to mean that the pastureland was determined by measuring out 1,000 cubits from each of the four sides of the city, east, west, north, and south. As to the 2,000 cubits on each side, they believe the expression “outside the city” means that these 2,000 cubits were not measured from the city walls outward but were the measurements of each of the four sides of the pasture area as measured along its perimeter. If so, this would mean that the space occupied by “the city in the middle” was not counted in the 2,000 cubits measured. As shown in the diagram below, this would allow for harmonizing the two sets of measurements.
In Ezekiel’s temple vision the sanctuary was to have 50 cubits “as pasture ground on each side.” (Eze 45:2) The city “Jehovah Himself Is There” that the prophet saw in vision had pasture grounds of 250 cubits on each side. (Eze 48:16, 17, 35) Pasture grounds were mentioned in 1 Chronicles 5:16 in connection with “Sharon,” which some believe to have been a region or town E of the Jordan. The Hebrew word translated “pasture ground” in the above instances also appears at Ezekiel 27:28, where it is used in connection with Tyre, the city situated on the coast and on an island. In this instance the word has been rendered “coast(s)” (Mo, JB), “countryside” (RS), “open country” (NW), and “rural districts” (Le), the prophecy thus perhaps indicating that those along the coast near Tyre would lament at her overthrow.
Flocks held an important place in the lives of many Israelites, requiring pasture grounds where sheep and goats could graze. (2Sa 7:8; 1Ch 4:39-41) Lack of pasturage for herds brought hardship. (Ge 47:3, 4) Whereas, abundant grazing land contributed to a time of plenty and peace. (Isa 30:23; Ps 65:12, 13; 23:2) By extension, abandoned pasture ground would indicate complete desolation (Isa 27:10), but restoration to peace and favor would be suggested by pasture grounds being used again. (Isa 65:10; Jer 23:3; 33:12; 50:19; Mic 2:12) As sheep were led by a loving shepherd to pasture grounds where they were safe and had an abundance, so God’s people are guided and cared for by Jehovah.—Ps 79:13; 95:7; 100:3; Eze 34:31.
[Diagram on page 584]
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
2,800 cubits − 800 cubits [size of city] = 2,000 cubits