Then he brought me back the way of the gate of the outward sanctuary which looketh toward the east; and it was shut.Ezekiel 44:1-2. Then he brought me back, &c. — From the altar to the gate belonging to the court of the priests, and leading to the outward court of the temple. All the courts were reckoned holy ground, and called sometimes by the name of the temple. And it was shut — After that the glory of the Lord had entered that way. Then saith the Lord, This gate shall be shut — Shall be generally kept shut; no man shall enter in by it — None of the common people: see chap. Ezekiel 46:1. Because the Lord hath entered in by it — Namely, that glory which was the visible sign of God’s presence. This order was given, both to perpetuate the remembrance of the solemn entrance of the glory of the Lord into the house, and also to possess the minds of the people with a deep reverence for the Divine Majesty, and with very awful thoughts of his transcendent glory; which was also designed in God’s charge to Moses at the bush, Put off thy shoe from off thy foot.
Then said the LORD unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the LORD, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut.
It is for the prince; the prince, he shall sit in it to eat bread before the LORD; he shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate, and shall go out by the way of the same.Ezekiel 44:3. It is for the prince — The words, It is, are not in the Hebrew, which is only, For the prince; and therefore the meaning seems to be, that this gate should, in general, be shut for, or to the prince, as well as to private persons; even he should not have the liberty of entering in at it, except at certain seasons. Dr. Waterland translates the clause thus: As to the prince, since he is prince, he shall sit, &c. The kings of Judah had a distinguished place in the temple; a kind of tribunal placed opposite the eastern gate: see Ezekiel 46:12; 2 Chronicles 6:12-13. By the prince here is probably meant the chief governor of the Jews after the captivity, such as were Zerubbabel and Nehemiah, for Sheshbazzar, or Zerubbabel, is called the prince of Judah, Ezra 1:8. The prince, he shall sit in it to eat bread before the Lord — To eat part of the peace-offerings which were provided at his charge: see chap, Ezekiel 46:2. Bread stands for all sorts of entertainments, and particularly for a religious feast made of the remainder of a sacrifice: see the margin.
Then brought he me the way of the north gate before the house: and I looked, and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD: and I fell upon my face.Ezekiel 44:4-8. Then he brought me by the way of the north gate of the house — The east gate being shut. And, behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord — As appeared by the light which shone through the windows, for there was no door into the sanctuary on that side. And the Lord said, Son of man, mark well, &c. — See notes on Ezekiel 40:4; and Ezekiel 43:2. Mark well the entering, &c., with every going forth of the sanctuary — The word laws is to be understood in this last sentence, the sense being, that the prophet should admonish the people of the laws relating to the admitting certain persons into the temple, or the courts of it, and to suffer none that were unqualified to attend upon God’s service there. This appears to be the sense from the following verses. And thou shalt say, Let it suffice you of all your abominations — Let the time past be sufficient for you to have provoked me with your abominations. In that ye have brought into my sanctuary strangers, &c. — In that ye have set up idols within the precincts of my temple, and have appointed idolatrous priests to officiate there. When ye offer my bread, the fat, and the blood — At the very time when ye were offering my sacrifices upon the altar. Or the words may imply, that they suffered heathen to offer at God’s altar, expressly contrary to the law, Leviticus 22:27. By bread may be understood the meat-offerings made of flour, which accompanied the other sacrifices, although every thing offered upon the altar is properly called the bread of God. The fat and blood of every sacrifice were peculiarly appropriated to God. And they have broken my covenant — Idolatry was a direct breach of that covenant into which God had entered with the Jews: upon which account it is so often represented under the metaphor of adultery. And ye have not kept the charge of my holy things — You have not observed the laws I gave you for taking care of the things relating to my house and worship, but have appointed such persons to officiate there as best suited with your own inclinations.
And the LORD said unto me, Son of man, mark well, and behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears all that I say unto thee concerning all the ordinances of the house of the LORD, and all the laws thereof; and mark well the entering in of the house, with every going forth of the sanctuary.
And thou shalt say to the rebellious, even to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; O ye house of Israel, let it suffice you of all your abominations,
In that ye have brought into my sanctuary strangers, uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my sanctuary, to pollute it, even my house, when ye offer my bread, the fat and the blood, and they have broken my covenant because of all your abominations.
And ye have not kept the charge of mine holy things: but ye have set keepers of my charge in my sanctuary for yourselves.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel.Ezekiel 44:9-14. No stranger shall enter into my sanctuary — To offer any sacrifice or oblation there, (see Ezekiel 44:7,) nor be suffered to go beyond the precincts appointed for proselytes. The Levites that are gone far from me, &c. — Many of the Levites departed from God’s service, and fell into idolatry; first in the general apostacy of the ten tribes, and afterward under Ahaz, and other wicked kings of Judah: see 2 Kings 23:9. These, God here says, should bear the punishment due to their iniquity, and be degraded from attending upon the higher offices belonging to the priesthood, and thrust down to lower services: see Ezekiel 44:13. Many of the priests and Levites, who had been employed in the service of the first temple, lived to see the second, as appears from Ezra 3:12. But the descendants of former idolatrous priests and Levites may be here meant; or, the ordinances here prescribed were intended to be standing rules, which were to be always observed whenever such a case as that here specified should happen. Yet they shall be ministers, &c., having charge at the gates — Performing the office of porters, or other inferior offices belonging to the Levites. They shall slay the burnt-offering, &c. — Shall kill and flay the beasts appointed for the sacrifices. And they shall stand before them, &c. — They shall be servants to the people, in performing the most servile offices belonging to the temple. Because they ministered unto them before their idols, &c. — They led the people into idolatry, by giving them a bad example. Therefore have I lifted up my hand against them — I have solemnly sworn that I will punish them for this their sin. They shall not come near me, &c. — They shall not offer any sacrifice at my altar, or come into the temple to perform any part of the priestly office there. So Josiah discharged the priests that had been guilty of idolatry from attending upon the service of the altar, 2 Kings 23:9.
And the Levites that are gone away far from me, when Israel went astray, which went astray away from me after their idols; they shall even bear their iniquity.
Yet they shall be ministers in my sanctuary, having charge at the gates of the house, and ministering to the house: they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister unto them.
Because they ministered unto them before their idols, and caused the house of Israel to fall into iniquity; therefore have I lifted up mine hand against them, saith the Lord GOD, and they shall bear their iniquity.
And they shall not come near unto me, to do the office of a priest unto me, nor to come near to any of my holy things, in the most holy place: but they shall bear their shame, and their abominations which they have committed.
But I will make them keepers of the charge of the house, for all the service thereof, and for all that shall be done therein.
But the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall come near to me to minister unto me, and they shall stand before me to offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord GOD:Ezekiel 44:15-16. The priests the Levites — The Levites who are priests; the sons of Zadok — Who continued faithful; they shall stand before me to offer the fat, &c. — They shall serve at the altar of burnt-offering, and offer sacrifices thereon. They shall enter into my sanctuary — Into the holy place; to minister unto me — To burn incense there upon the golden altar, to sprinkle the blood of the victims before the veil, to trim the lamps, and to change the loaves on the sacred table every sabbath. They shall keep my charge — They shall have this honour in reward of their fidelity. Observe, reader, God will put marks of honour upon those who are faithful to him in trying times, and will employ those in his service who have kept close to it when others drew back.
They shall enter into my sanctuary, and they shall come near to my table, to minister unto me, and they shall keep my charge.
And it shall come to pass, that when they enter in at the gates of the inner court, they shall be clothed with linen garments; and no wool shall come upon them, whiles they minister in the gates of the inner court, and within.Ezekiel 44:17-20. When they shall enter in at the gates of the inner court — The court just before the temple, where the altar of the burnt-offering stood; they shall be clothed with linen garments — The ephod, breeches, mitre, and girdle, (the habit of the ordinary priests,) were all of fine linen, contrived for glory and beauty, (Exodus 28:40,) fine linen being the habit of persons of the greatest quality; while they minister in the gates of the inner court — That is, in the court of the priests; and within — In the sanctuary itself. They shall not gird themselves with any thing that causeth sweat — Not with a woollen girdle, which may make them sweat during their laborious service about the altar, and make their garments smell offensively. When they go forth into the outer court, they shall put off their garments — See note on Ezekiel 42:14. They shall not sanctify the people with their garments — According to the law, common things, touching holy things, became consecrated, and no more fit for common use. Neither shall they shave their heads — This prescription is implied in the words of the law, Leviticus 21:5; especially according to the translation of the LXX., who render the sentence, Thou shalt not shave thyself with baldness [to make thyself bald] upon the head for the dead. They indeed understand it as an expression of mourning for the dead, which agrees with the sense of the parallel texts, Leviticus 19:27-28; Deuteronomy 14:1. But the words in the original contain a general prohibition, and consequently include other seasons, as well as times of mourning. St. Jerome upon this place supposes, with great probability, that the Jewish priests were forbidden to shave their heads, that they might distinguish themselves from the heathen priests, particularly the Egyptian priests of Isis and Serapis, who had their heads shaved and uncovered. Learned men have observed, that many other Jewish laws were made in opposition to the rites observed in the heathen worship. Nor suffer their locks to grow long — Letting their hair grow long and neglected was a sign of mourning, as well as shaving it close to the head, and therefore was forbidden to be practised by the priests of God.
They shall have linen bonnets upon their heads, and shall have linen breeches upon their loins; they shall not gird themselves with any thing that causeth sweat.
And when they go forth into the utter court, even into the utter court to the people, they shall put off their garments wherein they ministered, and lay them in the holy chambers, and they shall put on other garments; and they shall not sanctify the people with their garments.
Neither shall they shave their heads, nor suffer their locks to grow long; they shall only poll their heads.
Neither shall any priest drink wine, when they enter into the inner court.Ezekiel 44:21-23. Neither shall any priest drink wine when they enter into the inner court — That is, during the time of their ministration: see the note on Leviticus 10:9-10, from whence this law is taken, and where the reason of it is given. Neither shall they take for their wives a widow — This law we find Leviticus 21:13-14; but it there concerns only the high-priest, here it is applied to all the priests in general. And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, &c. — Between good and evil, between what is lawful and what is unlawful; that they may neither scruple what is lawful, nor venture upon what is unlawful; that they may not pollute what is holy, nor pollute themselves with what is profane. Ministers should take pains to cause people to discern between the clean and the unclean, that they may not confound the distinctions between right and wrong, nor mistake concerning them, so as to put darkness for light, or light for darkness; but may have a well-informed judgment, especially in all matters of duty.
Neither shall they take for their wives a widow, nor her that is put away: but they shall take maidens of the seed of the house of Israel, or a widow that had a priest before.
And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.
And in controversy they shall stand in judgment; and they shall judge it according to my judgments: and they shall keep my laws and my statutes in all mine assemblies; and they shall hallow my sabbaths.Ezekiel 44:24. And in controversy they shall stand in judgment — The priests were to determine all controversies relating to the law, as well the judicial as the ceremonial part of it, which were brought before them, Deuteronomy 17:8-9; and the people were to seek the law at their mouths, (Malachi 2:7,) that is, to inquire of them what was the purport and meaning of it, and to abide by their determination. And they shall judge according to my judgments — Which I have declared, and not according to their own fancies, inclinations, or secular interests. Thus ministers must decide controversies among the people of God according to his word; and must take care that they give no countenance to any false or perfidious, fraudulent or dishonest practices, but must set their faces against them. And they shall keep my laws and my statutes in all mine assemblies, &c. — As well upon the solemn festivals, and the assemblies proper to them, as at other times, and on ordinary occasions. And they shall hallow my sabbaths — Whereas the priests before the captivity profaned them: see Ezekiel 22:26.
And they shall come at no dead person to defile themselves: but for father, or for mother, or for son, or for daughter, for brother, or for sister that hath had no husband, they may defile themselves.Ezekiel 44:25-26. They shall come at no dead person to defile themselves —
Whosoever touched a dead body became legally unclean, (Numbers 19:11,) and thereby was disqualified for attending upon God’s worship in the temple, Leviticus 22:3. Upon which account the priests were forbidden to contract such defilement, unless for their nearest relations, which prohibition is here renewed: see the margin. After he is cleansed they shall reckon unto him seven days — His uncleanness continued seven days, according to the forecited law, Numbers 19:11; and the priests were to reckon to him seven days more, before he could be admitted into the sanctuary.
And after he is cleansed, they shall reckon unto him seven days.
And in the day that he goeth into the sanctuary, unto the inner court, to minister in the sanctuary, he shall offer his sin offering, saith the Lord GOD.
And it shall be unto them for an inheritance: I am their inheritance: and ye shall give them no possession in Israel: I am their possession.Ezekiel 44:28-30. It shall be unto them for an inheritance, &c. — Their ministry in my sanctuary, and the perquisites thereto belonging, shall be to them instead of lands and inheritances, of which they shall not have any share, as the other tribes have, (see the margins) excepting the portion allotted to them in the beginning of the following chapter. They shall eat the meat-offering, &c. — They shall have their share of them, after the part dedicated to God has been consumed upon the altar. And every dedicated thing shall be theirs — Whatsoever men dedicate to God, the use of it shall accrue to the priests; if it be a living creature, it shall be killed, and the priests shall have the benefit of it; if a piece of land, it shall belong to the priests: see the margin. And the first of all the first-fruits, &c. — The word בכורים, translated first-fruits, signifies the first ripe, or best of the fruits, while they were growing in the field: see the margin. The latter word, תרומה, rendered oblation, denotes an offering out of the product of the ground after it was made fit for use; as out of the corn, after it was threshed and laid in heaps in the floor or granary; and so of oil and wine, after they were pressed and fitted to be used. Ye shall also give unto the priests the first of your dough — The first dough that you bake of the new corn every year, in the same proportion as in other first-fruits. That he may cause a blessing to rest on thy house — That the priest, whose office it is to bless the people in God’s name, may pray for and bless thee and thy family. Observe, reader, it is all in all to the comfort of any house to have the blessing of God upon it, and that blessing to rest in it; to dwell where we dwell, and to extend to those that shall come after us. And the way to have the blessing of God upon our estates is, to honour God with them, and to give him and his ministers, him and his poor, their share out of them. God blesses, he surely blesses, the habitation of those who are thus just, or righteous, Proverbs 3:33; and ministers, by instructing and praying for the families that are kind to them, should do their part toward causing God’s blessing to rest there.
They shall eat the meat offering, and the sin offering, and the trespass offering; and every dedicated thing in Israel shall be theirs.
And the first of all the firstfruits of all things, and every oblation of all, of every sort of your oblations, shall be the priest's: ye shall also give unto the priest the first of your dough, that he may cause the blessing to rest in thine house.
The priests shall not eat of any thing that is dead of itself, or torn, whether it be fowl or beast.