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EZEKIEL CHAPTER 44
The east gate assigned only to the prince, Ezekiel 44:1-3. The people reproved for steering strangers to pollute the sanctuary, Ezekiel 44:4-8. Idolaters declared incapable of the priest’s office, Ezekiel 44:9-14. The sons of Zadok are accepted thereto, Ezekiel 44:15,Ezekiel 44:16. Ordinances for the priests, Ezekiel 44:17-31.
Then; when the altar was measured, and directions given for consecrating it at first, and for the perpetual use of it for future.
Back; from the inner court, where be had been viewing the altar, to the outer part of the same court, and to the east gate thereof: others say it was to the templegate eastward and that the temple is called
outward sanctuary, in respect of the holy of holies.
It was shut; when, or by whom, the prophet says not, but he found it shut.
Likely the prophet was somewhat surprised, and wondered that the door should be shut; and while he museth on it the Lord speaks to him out of the temple, and informs him, and satisfieth him.
Shall not be opened, i.e. shall not ordinarily stand open, but be shut till occasion requires it should sometimes be opened.
No man; none of the common ordinary sort of people, or none but the prince, God’s vicegerent, and the ministering priests.
The God of Israel hath entered in: what was the glory of the God of Israel, Ezekiel 43:2, is here
the Lord, the God of Israel, that glory was the visible sign of his presence. His glory is himself, and where that entered he entered, i.e. gave evidence of a more than ordinary presence there.
It shall be shut; either kept shut with bars, or, by a prohibition, be as if it were shut, that none should enter thereby.
For the prince; for the king, say some; if so, then the door shut was the door, not of the temple, but of the east gate of the priests’ court. The high priest, and the second priest, say others, and indeed this is most likely.
He shall sit: the king might sit before the Lord, others might not, and the priests stood ministering, as Hebrews 10:11. Perhaps the high priest might have some privilege to sit, when others might not.
To eat bread: if understood of the king, it was his eating of the sacrifice, that part of it which was allowed to the offerer. If this prince be the high priest, this bread was the show-bread, which it seems he might sit and eat in or near the porch of the gate, whereas other priests were bound to eat in the common refectory, as appears, Ezekiel 42:13.
He shall enter; he may, it is his privilege; or he shall, that is, it is his duty to enter at this, and to come out at it, that the people may know which way to look, when they would see their high priest enter to make atonement: which may be mystical, and include our looking to the great High Priest.
Then, when he had been informed of the reason why the east gate was shut, and when he perceived he must not go out thereby.
He; the angel, or Christ in the appearance of man.
The way of the north gate; to the north gate of the inner court, whence he had a prospect of the temple, though no door to it on that side.
Behold; through the windows of the temple he did discern that brightness and lustre which filled the temple.
The glory of the Lord, & c.: see Ezekiel 1:28; Ezekiel 43:2.
The whole of the first part of this verse is found at Ezekiel 40:4, where it is explained.
The ordinances; the prescribed rules for persons and things in and about the temple; these ordinances are called laws in this verse.
Mark well; set thy mind, that thou mayst comprehend them all.
The entering in; not so much the gates and porches, through which the entrance is to the house, as the persons who may, and who may not, enter.
The sanctuary, taken here largely for the holy courts, rather than for the house itself.
The rebellious: see Ezekiel 2:3,Ezekiel 2:6-8.
Let it suffice you; let the time you have spent on your sins, your many great sins and abominations, let it be thought enough, nay, too much, as 1 Peter 4:3; do so no more.
Ye have brought; either by abusing your power you have licensed, or by conniving you have permitted, to come into my holy courts.
Strangers; foreigners and heathen, who had their idols in the very courts of the temple, and there worshipped their idols, as Ezekiel 8:5,Ezekiel 8:10,Ezekiel 8:14,Ezekiel 8:16.
Uncircumcised in heart; the worst of them, profane and impious.
Uncircumcised in flesh: no uncircumcised one should come into the court of the people, but you have brought them into the very sanctuary at the times of public worship, and when you have been offering my bread, &c. Some think that the profane carelessness of the Jewish rulers was such, that they suffered uncircumcised ones to be priests among them, and to approach to God’s altar. This was done in Solomon’s degenerate days, and in the days of Ahaz, Manasseh, Amon.
My bread; either the meat-offering, or first-fruits of corn and dough, and the show-bread.
The fat, which was taken off the sacrifices and burnt.
The blood, how let out, received into vessels, sprinkled and poured out, the priests and rulers of my house, through a sinful familiarity with heathens, have given them courage to ask, and you have not zeal and courage enough to refuse them, but you have satisfied their forbidden curiosity, and showed them all these things; or, as was said, have advanced some to be priests in my house, and suffered others to be priests of idols, standing and worshipped in my courts.
They, the whole nation of the Jews, the people of the land,
have broken my covenant; turned idolaters, mixed with heathens, forsaken me and my law, taking example from your practices, or complying with your superstitious and idolatrous inventions.
You have not observed the laws I gave you for the careful and exact keeping of my holy things; house, sacrifices, and worship. You have substituted others in your rooms, made officials, and surrogates, and curates to look to the gates, and these have let in the profane and unclean; your pride, or covetousness, or laziness, hath taken you off from your duty and your charge; or you have, as you saw good, consecrated persons, whether fit or unfit, whether approved or not approved by me. So you have profaned my name, and violated my law, Numbers 18:4.
Now God renews his former law against the permitting of the wicked and heathens to enter his sanctuary. None, of what quality soever, what interest soever they make, though princes, nobles, learned, travellers, that come to view nations and the rarities of them; none of these, or such like, shall on any colour of pretence be brought into my sanctuary. Perhaps Solomon showed Sheba’s queen too much, we are sure Hezekiah showed the ambassadors too much, yet we read not that either of them showed the sanctuary.
The Levites; priests intended here, and indeed the sons or posterity of them are here intended; for this apostacy among them was elder than the eldest of them all.
Far from me: idolaters go far from God, for they depart as an adulterous wife from her husband; their hearts and affections are far from God, they fall to heathenish idolatry.
When Israel went astray: it may be worth our while to inquire what time, or near what time, this was. I doubt Baal-peor, Numbers 25:0, or from Solomon’s time, when there was somewhat of this sin among the priests. But of Rehoboam’s time it is said, 2 Chronicles 12:1, all Israel forsook the law of the Lord. And in Ahaz’s time, when the altar at Damascus so pleased him and the high priest Uriah, that presently an altar like that is made and set up between God’s house and altar; and orders, or, in our language, injunctions, from the king to the high priest, and from him to the inferior priests and Levites, who obey, 2 Kings 16:16; and Manasseh carried the apostacy higher. Now account from any of these; from the last of them to the first return out of captivity is one hundred and fourteen years, to which we must add the twenty-five years which each priest must be ere they enter the priest’s office, it will amount to one hundred and thirty-nine years, and to these add forty-four ere this temple was repaired, it will be one hundred and eighty-three years too great an age for any of the priests to be of; therefore, as I said, the priests that are now degraded are the children of those apostate priests who were (as Zechariah 1:5,Zechariah 1:6, said of the fathers) dead.
They shall bear their iniquity; shall bear the punishment of this their apostacy, be debased to meanest services, subjected to others, and be deprived for ever ministering at the altar. So 2 Kings 23:8,2 Kings 23:9; and so God executed his threat against Eli’s house, 1 Samuel 2:13.
Ministers; servants, employed in the lowest and least honourable work.
In my sanctuary; not the temple itself, but about the courts of it.
Having charge at the gates; shall be porters to open and shut and sweep, and ready to go on errands.
Ministering; probably made to learn the arts of mason or smith, to mend and repair, to fetch wood and water with Jebusites.
They shall slay; do that servile work for the sacrificing priest.
The sacrifice for the people; all the sacrifices the people bring.
Stand before; Hebrew expression of servants’ attendance.
To minister unto them; to wait on and obey the priests.
Ministered; acted as priests to idols, and in the name of idolatrous worshippers sacrificed to the idols.
Caused the house of Israel; were first occasion of fall to some, when their example was followed; and in after-times they seduced, persuaded, and urged them to serve their idols, and sacrifice to them, for this was the gain of the idol priests.
Lifted up mine hand; sworn against them, that they shall suffer for this their iniquity. This lifting up the hand is the form of an oath, Exodus 6:8; Deuteronomy 32:40; Ezekiel 20:5.
Their iniquity; the punishment of this sin; so it is Ezekiel 14:10; Ezekiel 18:19,Ezekiel 18:20; Ezekiel 23:35,Ezekiel 23:49.
They shall never be admitted to the office, nor employed in the proper work of a priest that ministers to me. They shall not come into the temple, much less into the oracle, nor have any part in the offering up of sacrifices on the altar, though they have meat, drink, and lodging about the temple; yet, as discarded servants, that are retained lest they starve.
They shall bear their shame; they shall be little regarded, but disesteemed, and put to shame, and this shall be part of their punishment. They shall be dealt with according to their abominations, i.e. their apostacy and idolatry, and bear the punishment thereof.
See Ezekiel 44:11.
The priests; so called from their office. The Levites; by descent from Levi, Jacob’s son.
Sons of Zadok; who was of Eleazar’s family, to whose father Phinehas a covenant of salt insured the high priesthood, and all the honour, privileges, and advantages thereof, Numbers 25:12,Numbers 25:13.
Kept the charge; were constant, zealous, and faithful in their priestly office, and their duties in it.
Went astray: this may possibly refer to that transgression in the matter of Baal-peor, of which Numbers 25:3; Psalms 106:28-30. See Ezekiel 44:10. They shall come near to me: see Ezekiel 40:46.
To offer unto me the fat and the blood; to offer expiatory sacrifices, to make atonement and intercede for the people. This honour God put upon them for their integrity and constancy in the things of God.
They shall enter, the high priest and the other priests shall have right and liberty of entering, into my sanctuary; both to the altar, to the temple, and the high priest into the holy of holies.
To my table; to set the shew-bread on, and to take it off.
To minister unto me; to offer sacrifice at the altar, and incense in the house; this the priests did in their course; and of this line the high priest alone, once a year, in the day of expiation, went in to minister to the Lord in the holy of holies.
They shall keep my charge: see Ezekiel 44:8.
When they enter: they must put on their priestly garments in the chambers that are appointed for vestries to them, where they put off the garments when the service was done, and where they put them on when they approached to the altar, Ezekiel 42:14.
At the gates of the inner court; where the altar of burnt-offering stood, and where the temple, which is included, stood.
@With linen garments; according to the law, Exodus 28:42,Exodus 28:43.
No wool; the reason hereof is given in the next verse.
In the gates of the inner court; about the altar of burnt-offering.
And within; in the temple itself, in every service of both.
This verse recounts but two garments of linen, the bonnet and the breeches, but Exodus 28:39; 1 Samuel 2:18,1 Samuel 2:28; 1 Samuel 14:3, mention a linen coat, or ephod; so they had three linen garments, and a girdle of fine twined linen about to gird the coat fast, yet so as not to make them sweat, or smell offensively.
See Ezekiel 42:14, where this verse is explained, yet here are two things that verse hath not, of which a word. The utter court: this tells us in which court stood the chambers, wherein the priests did attire themselves, into which also they retired to unclothe themselves of the priestly garments. The chambers were in the court next to the court of the people, as Ezekiel 42:14. They shall not sanctify: by the law, common things touching holy things became consecrate, and to be no more for common use. If the priests’ consecrated clothes touched the people’s, they must part with them, this would be inconvenient; so some. Or lost the people should think themselves the holier for such contact, and grow proud of it; so others. The Chaldee paraphrast frames it to the last clause of the 14th verse of the 42nd chapter, they in holy vests shall not intermix with the people; this would be a profaning the holy vests. Or else thus, they shall not come out to bless the people in their priestly garments, but, having finished the sacrifice and all belonging thereto, they should change garments, and in their ordinary garments come out to the people, and bless them in that form, Numbers 6:23,Numbers 6:24.
To shave their heads was forbidden, Leviticus 19:27; Leviticus 21:5. Hair is given for an ornament, and the priests should not disfigure themselves, nor imitate idolatrous heathens.
Nor suffer their locks to grow long; priding themselves in it, as Absalom, giving ill example by such excess. Shall only poll their heads; when the hair is grown somewhat, they shall trim, cut the ends of their hair, and keep it in moderate size; beside, long hair was a token of a Nazarite’s vow, and God would have all holy things and persons kept unmixed and distinguished from other common things.
Any priest; any one, on any pretence.
Wine, or any other strong intoxicating liquor.
When they enter into the inner court; when they go, either to trim the lamps, or set the shew-bread in order, or to offer incense in the temple; or when they go to the altar to offer a sacrifice, which stood in the inner court: this prohibition you have Leviticus 10:9, which see, and it was to prevent all indecencies in the service.
God allowed them to marry, only directs that it be not to one of ill fame or divorced, Leviticus 21:13,Leviticus 21:14, nor the widow of any deceased common person; yet a priest might realty a priest’s widow, but a virgin is rather commended to their choice; and whether widow or virgin, it must not be as Moses married a daughter of a strange people, or as they did in Babylon, Ezra 10:18, &c.; and possibly this of Ezekiel was designed as a rule to direct Ezra in reforming this disorder when they came from Babylon. Nor were they at liberty to marry any of any tribe, but it must be one of their own tribe too.
They shall teach; by their place they were bound to instruct the people, Leviticus 10:10,Leviticus 10:11; this was part of their work, to read the law, expound it, and resolve questions arising about it. They were to be, as ministers ought now to be, apt to teach, 1 Timothy 3:2.
Between the holy and profane; whether legally and ceremonially so, or morally and really so, that they might keep the people from pollutions.
Between the unclean and the clean; the same thing in other words, only this seems to require priests’ patient instructing, till the people have learned to difference unclean and clean.
In controversy; in doubts about lawful and unlawful, in pretences of right and wrong in all contests.
They shall stand in judgment; if the controversy be brought to them, they shall hear and consider.
Shall judge it; shall determine, end the controversy, and reconcile parties.
According to my judgments; not as they favour and affect, or disaffect and hate, but according to what God hath by his laws in that behalf directed.
They shall keep; priests first, and people with them.
Mine assemblies; public congregations for worshipping of God.
Shall hallow my sabbaths; with holy care observe the sabbaths, as days of holy work, to be spent in secret, family, and public worship of God, as he requires.
They, the priests, who come near to minister before the Lord,
shall come at no dead person; neither touch, nor come into the room, nor attend the funeral of the dead; for this would be a legal and ceremonial defilement, and it is prohibited Leviticus 21:1. The Jews tell us that he who comes within four cubits of the dead is defiled; and the law, though it determine not at what distance such are defiled, it doth determine that they are unclean till evening by touch or coming near the carcass of any but man, and the defilement by coming near a dead man lasted seven days.
But for father, & c: the priest was indulged in the death of so near relations, as Leviticus 21:2,Leviticus 21:3, where they are reckoned up as ill this verse.
They may defile themselves mourn for them, touch them, be at their funerals, and show their natural affections to them.
After he is cleansed; after that for seven days he hath kept from the dead, by which the Jews accounted a man was cleansed, for as nearness did defile, so absence did cleanse in this case.
They, the priests, who are about the house of God,
shall reckon unto him seven days; shall appoint seven days more to this defiled person for his cleansing, before he is admitted into the sanctuary.
During the days of his uncleanness he kept out of the sanctuary; when the days of purifying are fulfilled he then may go in.
The sanctuary; not the temple itself, but, as the next words have it, the inner court.
To minister; to execute the priest’s office.
Sin-offering: it is not said what this should be, nor doth that Leviticus 6:21 refer to this. I think rather that, Leviticus 4:3, a young bullock was to be this sin-offering in purifying as it was in consecrating him, Ezekiel 43:19.
Sin-offering being mentioned immediately before, gives the occasion of repeating the provision made for the priests, for under this one all other offerings are couched; and if the Lord do so expressly require a defiled priest to bring his sin-offering, in which the ministering priests had their share, he would expect the same of all Israel, which would amount to a great sum.
For an inheritance, instead of lands and cities.
I am their inheritance; God is the inheritance of all his people, but especially of his priests; and so what is given to God, by him is assigned to his officers.
Ye shall give them no possession, as the rest of the tribes had.
I am their possession; the peculiar blessing of God on them, and their share in his offerings, was a very rich possession.
We must not think that the whole of these were eat, God had his part, and the priest his part too; somewhat of each came to the priest.
Every dedicated thing; as first-fruits, and tithes, &c., the priest had part of them.
And the first; so soon as the first-fruits are ripe in the field, your vineyards and olive-yards, &c.; nay, redemption money for the first-born of man was theirs.
Every oblation, whether free-will offering or prescribed.
Of every sort; of what sort soever, whether of flock, or herd, &c.
The first of your dough: it is conceived this was of every mass of dough they made, and of the first of the dough which every year they first made of the new corn, as by the custom of the Jews at this day appears, who, since they cannot give to the priest, will burn a little cake of every batch in the oven.
That he, the priest, may bless and pray for thee.
This was forbidden to all the Jews, much more to the priests, Exodus 22:31; Leviticus 22:8.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Ezekiel 44". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26