Ezekiel 44

The Closed Gate

1Then he brought me back by way of the outer gate of the sanctuary which faces east, but it was shut. 2The Lord said to me: “This gate will be shut; it will not be opened, and no one will enter by it. For the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered by it; therefore it will remain shut. 3Only the prince may sit in it to eat a sacrificial meal
Heb “to eat bread.”
before the Lord; he will enter by way of the porch of the gate and will go out by the same way.”

4 Then he brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the temple. As I watched, I noticed
The word הִנֵּה (hinneh, traditionally “behold”) indicates becoming aware of something and has been translated here as a verb.
the glory of the Lord filling the Lord’s temple, and I threw myself face down.
5The Lord said to me: “Son of man, pay attention,
Heb “set your heart” (so also in the latter part of the verse).
watch closely and listen carefully to
Heb “Set your mind, look with your eyes, and with your ears hear.”
everything I tell you concerning all the statutes of the Lord’s house and all its laws. Pay attention to the entrances
The Syriac, Vulgate, and Targum read the plural. See D. I. Block, Ezekiel (NICOT), 2:618.
to the temple with all the exits of the sanctuary.
6Say to the rebellious,
The LXX reads “house of rebellion.”
to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says: Enough of all your abominable practices, O house of Israel!
7When you bring foreigners, those uncircumcised in heart and in flesh, into my sanctuary, you desecrate
Heb “to desecrate.”
it – even my house – when you offer my food, the fat and the blood. You
The Greek, Syriac, and Latin versions read “you.” The Masoretic text reads “they.”
have broken my covenant by all your abominable practices.
8You have not kept charge of my holy things, but you have assigned foreigners
Instead of an energic nun (ן), the text may have read a third masculine plural suffix ם (mem), “them,” which was confused with ן (nun) in the old script. See D. I. Block, Ezekiel (NICOT), 2:621.
This word is not in the Hebrew text but is supplied from the context.
to keep charge of my sanctuary for you.
9This is what the sovereign Lord says: No foreigner, who is uncircumcised in heart and flesh among all the foreigners who are among the people of Israel, will enter into my sanctuary.
Tobiah, an Ammonite (Neh 13:8), was dismissed from the temple.

10 “‘But the Levites who went far from me, straying off from me after their idols when Israel went astray, will be responsible for
Heb “will bear.”
their sin.
11Yet they will be ministers in my sanctuary, having oversight at the gates of the temple, and serving the temple. They will slaughter the burnt offerings and the sacrifices for the people, and they will stand before them to minister to them. 12Because they used to minister to them before their idols, and became a sinful obstacle
Heb “a stumbling block of iniquity.” This is a unique phrase of the prophet Ezekiel (cf. also Ezek 7:19; 14:3, 4, 7; 18:30).
to the house of Israel, consequently I have made a vow
Heb “I lifted up my hand.”
concerning them, declares the sovereign Lord, that they will be responsible
Heb “will bear.”
for their sin.
13They will not come near me to serve me as priest, nor will they come near any of my holy things, the things which are most sacred. They will bear the shame of the abominable deeds they have committed. 14Yet I will appoint them to keep charge of the temple, all of its service and all that will be done in it.

The Levitical Priests

15 “‘But the Levitical priests, the descendants of Zadok
Zadok was a descendant of Aaron through Eleazar (1 Chr 6:50–53), who served as a priest during David’s reign (2 Sam 8:17).
who kept the charge of my sanctuary when the people of Israel went astray from me, will approach me to minister to me; they will stand before me to offer me the fat and the blood, declares the sovereign Lord.
16They will enter my sanctuary, and approach my table to minister to me; they will keep my charge.

17 “‘When they enter the gates of the inner court, they must wear linen garments; they must not have any wool on them when they minister in the inner gates of the court and in the temple. 18Linen turbans will be on their heads and linen undergarments will be around their waists; they must not bind themselves with anything that causes sweat. 19When they go out to the outer court to the people, they must remove the garments they were ministering in, and place them in the holy chambers; they must put on other garments so that they will not transmit holiness to the people with their garments.
For a similar concept of the transmitting of holiness, see Exod 19:12–14; Lev 10:1–2; 2 Sam 6:7. Similar laws concerning the priest are found in Lev 10 and 21.

20 “‘They must not shave their heads
The shaving of the head was associated with mourning (Ezek 7:18).
nor let their hair grow long;
Letting the hair grow was associated with the taking of a vow (Num 6:5; Acts 21:23–26).
they must only trim their heads.
21No priest may drink wine when he enters the inner court. 22They must not marry a widow or a divorcee, but they may marry a virgin from the house of Israel
Heb “from the offspring of the house of Israel.”
or a widow who is a priest’s widow.
23Moreover, they will teach my people the difference between the holy and the common, and show them how to distinguish between the ceremonially unclean and the clean.
This task was a fundamental role of the priest (Lev 10:10).

24 “‘In a controversy they will act as judges;
For a historical illustration of the priest carrying out this function, see 2 Chr 19:9–11.
they will judge according to my ordinances. They will keep my laws and my statutes regarding all my appointed festivals and will observe
Heb “sanctify, set apart.”
my Sabbaths.

25 “‘They must not come near a dead person or they will be defiled;
This law was part of the legal code for priests (Lev 21:1–3).
however, for father, mother, son, daughter, brother or sister, they may defile themselves.
26After a priest
Heb “he”; the referent (the priest) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
has become ceremonially clean, they
One medieval Hebrew ms, the LXX, and the Syriac along with Lev 15:13, 28 read the verb as singular.
must count off a period of seven days for him.
27On the day he enters the sanctuary, into the inner court to serve in the sanctuary, he must offer his sin offering, declares the sovereign Lord.

28 “‘This will be their inheritance: I am their inheritance, and you must give them no property in Israel; I am their property. 29They may eat the grain offering, the sin offering, and the guilt offering, and every devoted thing in Israel will be theirs. 30The first of all the first fruits and all contributions of any kind
Heb has in addition “from your contributions,” a repetition unnecessary in English.
will be for the priests; you will also give to the priest the first portion of your dough, so that a blessing may rest on your house.
31The priests will not eat any bird or animal that has died a natural death or was torn to pieces by a wild animal.
The words “by a wild animal” are not in the Hebrew text, but have been supplied in the translation as a clarification of the circumstances.
For this law, see Lev 7:24; 17:15.

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