- Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, facing the east; but it was closed.
- He said to me: This gate is to remain closed; it is not to be opened for anyone to enter by it; since the LORD, the God of Israel, has entered by it, it shall remain closed.
- 1Only the prince may sit down in it to eat his meal in the presence of the LORD. He must enter by way of the vestibule of the gate, and leave by the same way.
- Then he brought me by way of the north gate to the facade of the temple, and when I looked I saw the glory of the LORD filling the LORD'S temple, and I fell prone.
- Then he said to me: Son of man, pay strict attention, look carefully, and listen intently to all that I will tell you about the statutes and laws of the LORD'S temple; be attentive in regard to those who are to be admitted to the temple and all those who are to be excluded from the sanctuary.
- Say to that rebellious house, the house of Israel: Thus says the Lord GOD: Enough of all these abominations of yours, O house of Israel!
- 2 You have admitted foreigners, uncircumcised both in heart and flesh, to my sanctuary to profane it when you offered me food, fat, and blood; thus you have broken my covenant by all your abominations.
- Instead of caring for the service of my temple, you have appointed such as these to serve me in my sanctuary in your stead.
- Thus says the Lord GOD: No foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and in flesh, shall ever enter my sanctuary; none of the foreigners who live among the Israelites.
- 3 But as for the Levites who departed from me when Israel strayed from me to pursue their idols, they shall bear the consequences of their sin.
- They shall serve in my sanctuary as gatekeepers and temple servants; they shall slaughter the holocausts and the sacrifices for the people, and they shall stand before the people to minister for them.
- Because they used to minister for them before their idols, and became an occasion of sin to the house of Israel, therefore I have sworn an oath against them, says the Lord GOD: they shall bear the consequences of their sin.
- They shall no longer draw near me to serve as my priests, nor shall they touch any of my sacred things, or the most sacred things. Thus they shall bear their disgrace because of all their abominable deeds.
- But I will set them to the service of the temple, for all its work and for everything that is to be done in it.
- As for the levitical priests, however, the Zadokites who cared for my sanctuary when the Israelites strayed from me, they shall draw near me to minister to me, and they shall stand before me to offer me fat and blood, says the Lord GOD.
- It is they who shall enter my sanctuary, they who shall approach my table to minister to me, and they who shall carry out my service.
- Whenever they enter the gates of the inner court, they shall wear linen garments; they shall not put on anything woolen when they minister at the gates of the inner court or within the temple.
- They shall have linen turbans on their heads and linen drawers on their loins; they shall not gird themselves with anything that causes sweat.
- 4 When they are to go out to the people in the outer court, they shall take off the garments in which they ministered and leave them in the chambers of the sanctuary, putting on other garments; thus they will not transmit holiness to the people with their garments.
- They shall not shave their heads nor let their hair hang loose, but they shall keep their hair carefully trimmed.
- No priest shall drink wine when he is to enter the inner court.
- They shall not take for their wives either widows or divorced women, but only virgins of the race of Israel; however, they may marry women who are the widows of priests.
- They shall teach my people to distinguish between the sacred and the profane, and make known to them the difference between the clean and the unclean.
- In capital cases they shall stand as judges, judging them according to my decrees. They shall observe my laws and statutes on all my festivals, and keep my sabbaths holy.
- They shall not make themselves unclean by coming near any dead person, unless it be their father, mother, son, daughter, brother, or maiden sister; for these they may make themselves unclean.
- After a priest has been cleansed, he must wait an additional seven days,
- and on the day he enters the inner court to minister in the sanctuary, he shall present his sin offering, says the Lord GOD.
- They shall have no inheritance, for I am their inheritance; you shall give them no property in Israel, for I am their property.
- 5 They shall eat the cereal offering, the sin offering, and the guilt offering; whatever is under the ban in Israel shall be theirs.
- All the choicest first fruits of every kind, and all the best of your offerings of every kind, shall belong to the priests; likewise the best of your dough you shall give to the priests to bring a blessing down upon your house.
- The priests shall not eat anything, whether flesh or fowl, that has died of itself or has been killed by wild beasts.
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Footnotes1 The prince stands at the eastern gate of the inner court while his sacrifice is offered up (Ezekial 46:2); he then goes to the vestibule of the outer court, there to partake of his sacrificial meal. The closed outer gate on the eastern side signifies that the Lord has entered the temple permanently, not to depart again.
2 [7-9] In the preexilic temple various menial services had been performed by foreigners; cf Joshua 9:22-27. In the new temple the Levites will perform these services (Ezekial 44:10-14).
3 [10-14] Levites other than the Zadokite priesthood of Jerusalem had performed priestly functions at the various sanctuaries and high places in Israel and Judah, where the worship of the Lord had often been corrupted with pagan elements. The demotion of the Levites to menial service in the temple was enforced in the actual restoration after the exile, and explains why relatively few Levites were willing to return; cf Ezra 8:15-17.
4 Thus they will not transmit holiness to the people: holiness was thought of as something physical, as though it were communicable, and therefore not to be brought in contact with unconsecrated persons.
5 Under the ban: dedicated to the Lord, withdrawn from profane use.
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