Ezekiel 44

 

וַיָּשֶׁב אֹתִי דֶּרֶךְ שַׁעַר הַמִּקְדָּשׁ הַחִיצֹון הַפֹּנֶה קָדִים וְהוּא סָגוּר׃   44:1

Ezek. 44:1   Then He turned me back toward the outer sanctuary gate, looking east, and it was closed.

In his vision, Ezekiel was now standing outside the Temple facing the east gate of the outer courtyard.

וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלַי יְהוָה הַשַּׁעַר הַזֶּה סָגוּר יִהְיֶה לֹא יִפָּתֵחַ וְאִישׁ לֹא־יָבֹא בֹו כִּי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל בָּא בֹו   44:2 וְהָיָה סָגוּר׃

Ezek. 44:2   And the Lord said to me, “This gate shall be closed; it shall not be opened and one no shall enter by it, for the Lord, God of Israel, entered by it; so it shall be closed.”

                                                                                                                                          [Return to Ezek. 46:1]

Was it God’s intention that as long as the gate remained closed, the people would believe that the glory of the Lord would dwell within?  Or was it that the gate was made especially holy by the entry of the Lord’s glory through it and its unique holiness should never be profaned by a human entering or leaving by it?  Any other suggestions?  I don’t have any.

אֶת־הַנָּשִׂיא נָשִׂיא הוּא יֵשֶׁב־בֹּו (לֶאֱכֹול) [לֶאֱכָל]־לֶחֶם לִפְנֵי יְהוָה מִדֶּרֶךְ אֻלָם הַשַּׁעַר יָבֹוא   44:3         וּמִדַּרְכֹּו יֵצֵא׃

Ezek. 44:3   “The prince?  He is a prince; he may sit in it to eat bread before the Lord.  He shall come in by way of the porch gate and shall go out by the same way.”

This mention of a prince of Israel has been assumed to refer to David as indicated in other translations of Ezek. 34:24.  Whoever he is, he is apparently to be a prince, not a king.  Perhaps the only king Israel would have then is the Lord.

Also, the word in the parentheses is spelled with an extraneous vav.  The correction is in the brackets.

וַיְבִיאֵנִי דֶּרֶךְ־שַׁעַר הַצָּפֹון אֶל־פְּנֵי הַבַּיִת וָאֵרֶא וְהִנֵּה מָלֵא כְבֹוד־יְהוָה אֶת־בֵּית יְהוָה וָאֶפֹּל אֶל־פָּנָי׃   44:4

Ezek. 44:4   Then He brought me toward the north gate to the front of the house, and I looked, and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord, and I fell to my face.

Now Ezekiel must have been moved by way of the northern side of the house to somewhere near the house, but still outside, at the front of the house.  I wonder, was the front of the house facing west, as implied by this verse?

וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלַי יְהֹוָה בֶּן־אָדָם שִׂים לִבְּךָ וּרְאֵה בְעֵינֶיךָ וּבְאָזְנֶיךָ שְּׁמָע אֵת כָּל־אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי מְדַבֵּר אֹתָךְ   44:5        לְכָל־חֻקֹּות בֵּית־יְהוָה וּלְכָל־(תֹּורֹתֹו) [תֹּורֹתָיו] וְשַׂמְתָּ לִבְּךָ לִמְבֹוא הַבַּיִת בְּכֹל מֹוצָאֵי הַמִּקְדָּשׁ׃

Ezek. 44:5   And the Lord said to me, “Human, direct your mind, and look with your eyes, and hear with your ears, all that I will be telling you regarding all the ordinances of the house of the Lord and regarding all its laws, and you shall set your heart to the entry of the house with all the exits of the sanctuary.”

The word in the parentheses is spelled as singular, and it should be plural.  The correction, the addition of a yad, is in the brackets.

וְאָמַרְתָּ אֶל־מֶרִי אֶל־בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל כֹּה אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה רַב־לָכֶם מִכָּל־תֹּועֲבֹותֵיכֶם בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל׃   44:6

Ezek. 44:6   “And you shall say to the rebellious, to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Master, the Lord:  Enough from you of all of your abominations, house of Israel,             [Return to Ezek. 45:1]

בַּהֲבִיאֲכֶם בְּנֵי־נֵכָר עַרְלֵי־לֵב וְעַרְלֵי בָשָׂר לִהְיֹות בְּמִקְדָּשִׁי לְחַלְּלֹו אֶת־בֵּיתִי בְּהַקְרִיבְכֶם אֶת־לַחְמִי   44:7   חֵלֶב וָדָם וַיָּפֵרוּ אֶת־בְּרִיתִי אֶל כָּל־תֹּועֲבֹותֵיכֶם׃

Ezek. 44:7   with your bringing in aliens, uncircumcised of heart and uncircumcised of flesh, to be in My sanctuary, to profane it -- My house! -- with your presenting My bread, the fat and the blood, as they break My covenant, in between all your abominations!’

וְלֹא שְׁמַרְתֶּם מִשְׁמֶרֶת קָדָשָׁי וַתְּשִׂימוּן לְשֹׁמְרֵי מִשְׁמַרְתִּי בְּמִקְדָּשִׁי לָכֶם׃   44:8

Ezek. 44:8   ‘Thus you have not kept charge of My holiness while you have set yourselves as keepers of My service.’

According to these last three verses, 44:6, 7, and 8, it appears that common people and foreigners -- pagans, not just priests and Levites, wandered throughout the first Temple, making it unclean, profaning the holy places and presumably, the Holiest of Holy Places as well.

כֹּה־אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה כָּל־בֶּן־נֵכָר עֶרֶל לֵב וְעֶרֶל בָּשָׂר לֹא יָבֹוא אֶל־מִקְדָּשִׁי לְכָל־בֶּן־נֵכָר אֲשֶׁר   44:9            בְּתֹוךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל׃

Ezek. 44:9   ‘Thus says the Master, the Lord:  Any alien, uncircumcised of heart and uncircumcised of flesh, shall not come in to My sanctuary.  This is for every alien who may be among the children of Israel.’

כִּי אִם־הַלְוִיִּם אֲשֶׁר רָחֲקוּ מֵעָלַי בִּתְעֹות יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר תָּעוּ מֵעָלַי אַחֲרֵי גִּלּוּלֵיהֶם וְנָשְׂאוּ עֲוֹנָם׃   44:10

Ezek. 44:10   ‘But the Levites, who went far away from me with the straying of Israel, who strayed from Me after their idols!  They shall now bear their iniquity

וְהָיוּ בְמִקְדָּשִׁי מְשָׁרְתִים פְּקֻדֹּות אֶל־שַׁעֲרֵי הַבַּיִת וּמְשָׁרְתִים אֶת־הַבָּיִת הֵמָּה יִשְׁחֲטוּ אֶת־הָעֹלָה   44:11 וְאֶת־הַזֶּבַח לָעָם וְהֵמָּה יַעַמְדוּ לִפְנֵיהֶם לְשָׁרְתָם׃

Ezek. 44:11   that they will become ministers in My sanctuary having charge only at the gates of the house; while serving the house they may slaughter the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they may stand before them to serve them,

יַעַן אֲשֶׁר יְשָׁרְתוּ אֹותָם לִפְנֵי גִלּוּלֵיהֶם וְהָיוּ לְבֵית־יִשְׂרָאֵל לְמִכְשֹׁול עָוֹן עַל־כֵּן נָשָׂאתִי יָדִי עֲלֵיהֶם   44:12

 נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה וְנָשְׂאוּ עֲוֹנָם׃

Ezek. 44:12   for the reason that they would serve them before their idols and had to be a stumbling block of iniquity to the house of Israel.  Therefore I lift My hand against them, declares the Master, the Lord, that they would bear their iniquity.’

Verse 44:11 raises questions that are not easy to answer:  Were the desecrated Levites unclean?  If so, how could they handle the sacrifices?  They would make them unclean by touching them.  Perhaps there is an answer, a clue to something previously uncertain.  Possibly the sacrifices did not become holy until they were cooked or burned.  In many verses throughout Leviticus and Numbers we are told that there are holy parts of sacrifices or burnt offerings meant only for the priests or the High Priest, or holy parts of sacrifices meant for the Levites.  But when identified as such, they have already been cooked or burned.  So maybe they don’t become clean (other than their being without blemish) until they are sacrificed.

וְלֹא־יִגְּשׁוּ אֵלַי לְכַהֵן לִי וְלָגֶשֶׁת עַל־כָּל־קָדָשַׁי אֶל־קָדְשֵׁי הַקְּדָשִׁים וְנָשְׂאוּ כְּלִמָּתָם וְתֹועֲבֹותָם אֲשֶׁר   44:13 עָשׂוּ׃

Ezek. 44:13   ‘So they shall not draw near to Me to be My priestly minister, or to come near to any of My holiness, to the holiest of holy things, so they will bear their shame and their abominable acts that they did.’

וְנָתַתִּי אֹותָם שֹׁמְרֵי מִשְׁמֶרֶת הַבָּיִת לְכֹל עֲבֹדָתֹו וּלְכֹל אֲשֶׁר יֵעָשֶׂה בֹּו׃   44:14

Ezek. 44:14   ‘Thus I will make them the keepers of the charge of the house, for all of its service, and for everything that shall be done in it.’                                               [Return to Ezek. 46:24]

וְהַכֹּהֲנִים הַלְוִיִּם בְּנֵי צָדֹוק אֲשֶׁר שָׁמְרוּ אֶת־מִשְׁמֶרֶת מִקְדָּשִׁי בִּתְעֹות בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵעָלַי הֵמָּה   44:15      יִקְרְבוּ אֵלַי לְשָׁרְתֵנִי וְעָמְדוּ לְפָנַי לְהַקְרִיב לִי חֵלֶב וָדָם נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה׃

Ezek. 44:15   ‘But the priests of the Levites, the sons of Zadok, who kept the charge of My sanctuary in the wandering of the children of Israel from Me; they shall come near to me to serve Me, and they shall stand before Me to offer to Me the fat and the blood, declares the Master, the Lord.’

הֵמָּה יָבֹאוּ אֶל־מִקְדָּשִׁי וְהֵמָּה יִקְרְבוּ אֶל־שֻׁלְחָנִי לְשָׁרְתֵנִי וְשָׁמְרוּ אֶת־מִשְׁמַרְתִּי׃   44:16

Ezek. 44:16   ‘Only they shall come in to My sanctuary, and only they shall come near to My table to serve Me and keep My charge.’

There is disagreement as to whether the phrase My table refers figuratively to the altar of the inner courtyard or literally to the table of show bread inside the Temple.  It’s not clear from the foregoing.  On another point, from vss. 44:10 to 44:13 we know that the desecrated Levites were permitted to slaughter the burnt offerings and the sacrifices of the people, but not to enter the sanctuary.  Were these Levites then to leave the cleaned offerings at the slaughtering tables for the Zadokite priests themselves to retrieve and take to the altar?

 וְהָיָה בְּבֹואָם אֶל־שַׁעֲרֵי הֶחָצֵר הַפְּנִימִית בִּגְדֵי פִשְׁתִּים יִלְבָּשׁוּ וְלֹא־יַעֲלֶה עֲלֵיהֶם צֶמֶר בְּשָׁרְתָם   44:17     בְּשַׁעֲרֵי הֶחָצֵר הַפְּנִימִית וָבָיְתָה׃

Ezek. 44:17   ‘And it shall be, on their coming in to the gates of the inner courtyard they shall wear garments of linen, and no wool shall go up on them, in their ministering within the gates of the inner courtyard and inside.’

פַּאֲרֵי פִשְׁתִּים יִהְיוּ עַל־רֹאשָׁם וּמִכְנְסֵי פִשְׁתִּים יִהְיוּ עַל־מָתְנֵיהֶם לֹא יַחְגְּרוּ בַּיָּזַע׃   44:18

Ezek. 44:18   ‘Turbans of linen shall be on their heads and breeches of linen shall be on their loins; they shall not gird themselves to sweat.’

Verses 44:17 and 18 refer to the priests and not to the High Priest.  The prevalent thinking has been that the first-Temple priests wore garments of linen and wool.  However, the primary descriptions of the priests’ garments appear in two places, Exod. 28:40 and Exod. 39:27, 28, and 29.  In the first of these, nothing about the material of the garments appears there.  In the second reference, only linen and blue and purple and scarlet cloth is mentioned.  I wonder where the notion of woolen materials came from.  I suppose the Talmud says something about it.  Did those sages know that wool garments were among the linen ones?

וּבְצֵאתָם אֶל־הֶחָצֵר הַחִיצֹונָה אֶל־הֶחָצֵר הַחִיצֹונָה אֶל־הָעָם יִפְשְׁטוּ אֶת־בִּגְדֵיהֶם אֲשֶׁר־הֵמָּה   44:19    מְשָׁרְתִם בָּם וְהִנִּיחוּ אֹותָם בְּלִשְׁכֹת הַקֹּדֶשׁ וְלָבְשׁוּ בְּגָדִים אֲחֵרִים וְלֹא־יְקַדְּשׁוּ אֶת־הָעָם בְּבִגְדֵיהֶם׃

Ezek. 44:19   ‘And in their going out to the outer courtyard, to the outer courtyard to the people, they shall strip off their garments in which they are doing their ministering, and lay them down in the chambers of holiness, and put on other clothing, so they will not sanctify the people in their garments.’

וְרֹאשָׁם לֹא יְגַלֵּחוּ וּפֶרַע לֹא יְשַׁלֵּחוּ כָּסֹום יִכְסְמוּ אֶת־רָאשֵׁיהֶם׃   44:20

Ezek. 44:20   ‘And they shall not shave their head, and shall not let their long hair loose; clipping, they shall be sure to trim their heads.’

 וְיַיִן לֹא־יִשְׁתּוּ כָּל־כֹּהֵן בְּבֹואָם אֶל־הֶחָצֵר הַפְּנִימִית׃   44:21

Ezek. 44:21   ‘And they shall not drink wine -- any priest -- on their going in to the inner courtyard.’

וְאַלְמָנָה וּגְרוּשָׁה לֹא־יִקְחוּ לָהֶם לְנָשִׁים כִּי אִם־בְּתוּלֹת מִזֶּרַע בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל וְהָאַלְמָנָה אֲשֶׁר תִּהְיֶה   44:22 אַלְמָנָה מִכֹּהֵן יִקָּחוּ׃

Ezek. 44:22   ‘And they shall not take a widow or a divorcee to themselves for wives, but they may take only virgins from the seed of the house of Israel, or the widow that may be a widow from another priest.’

וְאֶת־עַמִּי יֹורוּ בֵּין קֹדֶשׁ לְחֹל וּבֵין־טָמֵא לְטָהֹור יֹודִעֻם׃   44:23

Ezek. 44:23   ‘And they shall guide My people between holiness and commonness, and show them between uncleanness and cleanness.’

וְעַל־רִיב הֵמָּה יַעַמְדוּ (לִ שְׁפֹּט) [לְמִשְׁפָּט] בְּמִשְׁפָּטַי (וּשָׁפְטֻהוּ) [יִשְׁפְּטוּהוּ] וְאֶת־תֹּורֹתַי   44:24             וְאֶת־חֻקֹּתַי בְּכָל־מֹועֲדַי יִשְׁמֹרוּ וְאֶת־שַׁבְּתֹותַי יְקַדֵּשׁוּ׃

Ezek. 44:24   ‘And only they shall stand to judge concerning a controversy; they shall judge it by My ordinances; and they shall observe My instructions and My statutes in all My appointed seasons, and hallow My Sabbaths.’

The word in the first set of parentheses is missing its second letter, which shows up as an empty space in the text.  The missing letter is a mem, and it appears in the corrected spelling in the first set of brackets.  The word in the second set of parentheses has a vav in place of a yad, and its correction is in the second set of brackets.

וְאֶל־מֵת אָדָם לֹא יָבֹוא לְטָמְאָה כִּי אִם־לְאָב וּלְאֵם וּלְבֵן וּלְבַת לְאָח וּלְאָחֹות אֲשֶׁר־לֹא־הָיְתָה   44:25       לְאִישׁ יִטַּמָּאוּ׃

Ezek. 44:25   ‘And they shall not come to any dead person to become unclean, but only for a father or a mother or a son or a daughter, for a brother, or for a sister who had not belonged to a man, they may become unclean.’

וְאַחֲרֵי טָהֳרָתֹו שִׁבְעַת יָמִים יִסְפְּרוּ־לֹו׃   44:26

Ezek. 44:26   ‘Then after his cleansing, seven days shall be counted for him.’

It’s interesting to me that the sages assumed the priest of the deceased relative was unclean for seven days and then was cleansed, after which he remained unclean for another seven days.  I suspect this may have been an error in judgment due to the fervor of the sages’ intent to not violate any Torah commandment.  I believe they occasionally went beyond the letter of the Torah to be sure they observed a law whose wording was too vague.  I believe that happened in this case.  As I see it, the only words that pertain to this situation appear in Numb. 19:11 and 12.  But there it says that anyone coming in contact with a dead person must be cleansed on the third day and then he is clean after the seventh day.  So I have to assume that the priest should be cleansed on the third day and then be unclean for another seven days.  Ten days in all, not fourteen!  Now at times like this I wonder if I’m being terribly naive to imagine that the knowledgeable sages of the Talmud missed this point and I picked up on it.  It leaves me with a cold feeling when I stop to think about this.  Fortunately (or unfortunately), I haven’t let it stop me.

וּבְיֹום בֹּאֹו אֶל־הַקֹּדֶשׁ אֶל־הֶחָצֵר הַפְּנִימִית לְשָׁרֵת בַּקֹּדֶשׁ יַקְרִיב חַטָּאתֹו נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה׃   44:27

Ezek. 44:27   ‘Then on the day of his going in to the holy place, to the inner courtyard, to minister in the holy place, he shall present his sin offering, declares the Master, the Lord.’

וְהָיְתָה לָהֶם לְנַחֲלָה אֲנִי נַחֲלָתָם וַאֲחֻזָּה לֹא־תִתְּנוּ לָהֶם בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל אֲנִי אֲחֻזָּתָם׃   44:28

Ezek. 44:28   ‘And there shall be for an inheritance for them -- I shall be their Inheritance; and you shall give no possession to them in Israel -- I shall be their Possession.’

הַמִּנְחָה וְהַחַטָּאת וְהָאָשָׁם הֵמָּה יֹאכְלוּם וְכָל־חֵרֶם בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל לָהֶם יִהְיֶה׃   44:29

Ezek. 44:29   ‘The meal offering and the sin offering and the guilt offering, only they shall eat them, and every devoted thing in Israel shall be for them.’

וְרֵאשִׁית כָּל־בִּכּוּרֵי כֹל וְכָל־תְּרוּמַת כֹּל מִכֹּל תְּרוּמֹותֵיכֶם לַכֹּהֲנִים יִהְיֶה וְרֵאשִׁית עֲרִסֹותֵיכֶם   44:30        תִּתְּנוּ לַכֹּהֵן לְהָנִיחַ בְּרָכָה אֶל־בֵּיתֶךָ׃

Ezek. 44:30   And the first of all the first fruits of everything, and every heave offering of everything from all your offerings shall be for the priests, and you shall each give the first of your kneading troughs to the priesthood, to bring a blessing to rest to your house.’

כָּל־נְבֵלָה וּטְרֵפָה מִן־הָעֹוף וּמִן־הַבְּהֵמָה לֹא יֹאכְלוּ הַכֹּהֲנִים׃   44:31

Ezek. 44:31   ‘Of any carcass or torn animal, whether fowl or beast, the priests shall not eat.’”

This last verse is a narrower repeat of the sentiment contained in Exod. 22:30.

 

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