Thus said 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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Shall enter into my sanctuary.—To guard against the evils of the past, the command is now given that none of the strangers described shall even enter the sanctuary; but our version gives a wrong impression of this prohibition by rendering, “nor uncircumcised in flesh.” It should be, as in Ezekiel 44:7, and. The command is not that no uncircumcised person should be allowed to enter the sanctuary, for the residence of strangers among the Israelites is expressly provided for in Ezekiel 47:22-23; but the emphasis here, as before, is upon the “uncircumcised in heart.” No godless heathen should be allowed to enter in to profane the Divine worship.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.
For yourselves - According to your own pleasure, not My ordinances Numbers 16:40.
no stranger uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary; of these See Gill on Ezekiel 44:7 unregenerate men may not be admitted members of a Gospel church; for that is holy, and holiness becomes it; but they are unholy, and as unfit to be received as swine into a king's palace; saints and they cannot talk together, their language being different, they are barbarians to one another; nor can they walk together, being not agreed in sentiment and practice; besides, such persons disquiet the churches of Christ by their quarrelsome behaviour in it, and immoral conversation out of it; and are dangerous and infectious persons, whether heterodox in principle, or immoral in life: and much less should such be admitted to public service, to preach the word, and administer ordinances; since they should be holy that bear the vessels of the Lord, his name, and Gospel; they are blind and ignorant, and so not apt and fit to teach others; they are dumb, and cannot speak to cases they are strangers to, as those of wounded consciences, tempted and deserted, or backslidden ones; they will bring in strange doctrines, foreign to the Scriptures, and the experience of saints; and it is no wonder they are unsuccessful in their ministry, and churches do not thrive under them; to which, among other things, we must impute the great decline of religion, even among Protestant dissenters, who, it is to be feared, have too many of this character among them: but there should not be here
of any stranger that is among the children of Israel; though they are among them, nay, though they are the children of them, and have had a religious education; yet being strangers to the grace of God, should not be admitted members, and much less ministers, of the churches of Christ.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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)9–14. Such services shall not be performed by foreigners any more, but by the Levites who formerly ministered at the high-places. Because of their sin in leading the house of Israel astray they shall bear their iniquity and be excluded from the priesthood.Verses 9-16. - Accordingly, that no such abuses might creep in to desecrate the temple of the future, a new Torah was promulgated concerning the persons who should have a right to participate in its services. If the "prince" is omitted, the reason probably was that a special section is subsequently devoted to him (Ezekiel 46:1-8). Verse 9. - The ordinance for the people. No stranger (or, alien), uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary. The publication of this edict marked a clear advance upon preceding legislation. The old Torah conceded right of access to a foreigner, though uncircumcised, on certain conditions (ver. 7); this new Torah would accord such right of access to a foreigner on no conditions. Even should he be circumcised in the flesh, unless he possessed also that which the bodily mark symbolized, viz. circumcision of heart, he must remain without. Does not this look as if Ezekiel were posterior to the priest-code, rather than vice versa, as Wellhausen contends?
The description of these two gate-buildings is very brief, only the principal portions being mentioned, coupled with the remark that they resembled those of the east gate. The following is the description of the north gate. - Ezekiel 40:20. And the gate, whose direction was toward the north, touching the outer court, he measured its length and its breadth, Ezekiel 40:21. And its guard-rooms, three on this side and three on that, and its pillars and its wall-projections. It was according to the measure of the first gate, fifty cubits its length, and the breadth five and twenty cubits. Ezekiel 40:22. And its windows and its wall-projections and its palms were according to the measure of the gate, whose direction was toward the east; and by seven steps they went up, and its wall-projections were in front of it. Ezekiel 40:23. And a gate to the inner court was opposite the gate to the north and to the east; and he measured from gate to gate a hundred cubits. - With the measuring of the breadth of the court the measuring man had reached the north gate, which he also proceeded to measure now. In Ezekiel 40:20 the words והשּׁער to החיצונה are written absolutely; and in Ezekiel 40:21 the verb היה does not belong to the objects previously enumerated, viz., guard-rooms, pillars, etc., but these objects are governed by ויּמד yb denrevog e, and היה points back to the principal subject of the two verses, השּׁער: it (the gate) was according to the measure... (cf. Ezekiel 40:15 and Ezekiel 40:13). For the use of ב in definitions of measurement, "25 בּאמּה" (by the cubit, sc. measured), as in Exodus 27:18, etc., see Gesenius, 120. 4, Anm. 2. The "first gate" is the east gate, the one first measured and described. In Ezekiel 40:23 the number of steps is given which the flight leading into the gateway had; and this of course applies to the flight of steps of the east gate also (Ezekiel 40:6). In Ezekiel 40:22, כּמדּת is not to be regarded as doubtful, as Hitzig supposes, or changed into כּ; for even if the windows of the east gate were not measured, they had at all events a definite measurement, so that it might be affirmed with regard to the windows of the north gate that their dimensions were the same. This also applies to the palm-decorations. With regard to the אלמּים (Ezekiel 40:21), however, it is simply stated that they were measured; but the measurement is not given. לפּניהם (Ezekiel 40:22, end) is not to be altered in an arbitrary and ungrammatical way into לפנימה, as Bttcher proposes. The suffix הם refers to the steps. Before the steps there were the אילמּים of the gate-building. This "before," however, is not equivalent to "outside the flight of steps," as Bttcher imagines; for the measuring man did not go out of the inside of the gate, or go down the steps into the court, but came from the court and ascended the steps, and as he was going up he saw in front (vis--vis) of the steps the אילמּים of the gate, i.e., the wall-projections on both sides of the threshold of the gate. In Ezekiel 40:23 it is observed for the first time that there was a gate to the inner court opposite to the northern and the eastern gate of the outer court already described, so that the gates of the outer and inner court stood vis--vis. The distance between these outer and inner gates is then measured, viz., 100 cubits, in harmony with Ezekiel 40:19.
In Ezekiel 40:24-27 the south gate is described with the same brevity. Ezekiel 40:24. And he led me toward the south, and behold there was a gate toward the south, and he measured its pillars and its wall-projections according to the same measures. Ezekiel 40:25. And there were windows in it and its wall-projections round about like those windows; fifty cubits was the length, and the breadth five and twenty cubits. Ezekiel 40:26. And seven steps were its ascent and its wall-projections in the front of them, and it had palm-work, one upon this side and one upon that on its pillars. Ezekiel 40:27. And there was a gate to the inner court toward the south, and he measured from gate to gate toward the south a hundred cubits. - This gate also was built exactly like the two others. The description simply differs in form, and not in substance, from the description of the gate immediately preceding. כּמּדּות האלּ, "like those measures," is a concise expression for "like the measures of the pillars already described at the north and east gates." For Ezekiel 40:25, compare Ezekiel 40:16 and Ezekiel 40:21; and for Ezekiel 40:26, vid., Ezekiel 40:22. Ezekiel 40:26 is clearly explained from Ezekiel 40:16, as compared with Ezekiel 40:9. And lastly, Ezekiel 40:27 answers to the 23rd verse, and completes the measuring of the breadth of the court, which was also a hundred cubits upon the south side, from the outer gate to the inner gate standing opposite, as was the case according to Ezekiel 40:19 upon the eastern side. Hvernick has given a different explanation of Ezekiel 40:27, and would take the measurement of a hundred cubits as referring to the distance between the gates of the inner court which stood opposite to each other, because in Ezekiel 40:27 we have משּׁער in the text, and not מן השּׁער; so that we should have to render the passage thus, "he measured from a gate to the gate toward the south a hundred cubits," and not "from the gate (already described) of the outer court," but from another gate, which according to the context of the verse must also be a gate of the inner court. But it is precisely the context which speaks decidedly against this explanation. For since, according to Ezekiel 40:18, the measuring man did not take the prophet into the inner court, for the purpose of measuring it before his eyes, till after he had measured from (a) gate to the south gate of the inner court, the distance which he had previously measured and found to be a hundred cubits is not to be sought for within the inner court, and therefore cannot give the distance between the gates of the inner court, which stood opposite to one another, but must be that from the south gate of the outer court to the south gate of the inner. This is the case not only here, but also in Ezekiel 40:23, where the north gate is mentioned. We may see how little importance is to be attached to the omission of the article in משּׁער from the expression משּׁער אל שׁער in Ezekiel 40:23, where neither the one gate nor the other is defined, because the context showed which gates were meant. Hvernick's explanation is therefore untenable, notwithstanding the fact that, according to Ezekiel 40:47, the size of the inner court was a hundred cubits both in breadth and length. - From the distance between the gates of the outer court and the corresponding gates of the inner, as given in Ezekiel 40:27, Ezekiel 40:23, and Ezekiel 40:19, we find that the outer court covered a space of two hundred cubits on every side, - namely, fifty cubits the distance which the outer court building projected into the court, and fifty cubits for the projection of the gate-building of the inner court into the outer court, and a hundred cubits from one gate-porch to the opposite one (50 + 50 + 100 equals 200).
Consequently the full size of the building enclosed by the wall (Ezekiel 40:5), i.e., of the temple with its two courts, may also be calculated, as it has been by many of the expositors. If we proceed, for example, from the outer north gate to the outer south gate upon the ground plan (Plate I), we have, to quote the words of Kliefoth, "first the northern breadth of the outer court (D) with its two hundred cubits; then the inner court, which measured a hundred cubits square according to Ezekiel 40:47 (E), with its hundred cubits; and lastly, the south side of the outer court with two hundred cubits more (D); so that the sanctuary was five hundred cubits broad from north to south. And if we start from the entrance of the east gate of the court (A), we have first of all the eastern breadth of the outer court, viz., two hundred cubits; then the inner court (e) with its hundred cubits; after that the temple-buildings, which also covered a space of a hundred cubits square according to Ezekiel 41:13-14, including the open space around them (G), with another hundred cubits; and lastly, the גּזרה (J), which was situated to the west of the temple-buildings, and also covered a space of a hundred cubits square according to Ezekiel 41:13-14, with another hundred cubits; so that the sanctuary was also five hundred cubits long from east to west, or, in other words, formed a square of five hundred cubits."
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