The Outer Gate
Then the man brought me back to the east gate of the Temple area. We were outside the gate and the gate was shut. The LORD said to me, “This gate will stay shut. It will not be opened. No one will enter through it, because the LORD of Israel has entered through it. So it must stay shut. Only the ruler of the people may sit at this gate when he eats a meal with the LORD. He must enter through the porch of the gateway and go out the same way.”
The Holiness of the Temple
Then the man led me through the north gate to the front of the Temple. I looked and saw the Glory of the LORD filling the LORD’S Temple. I bowed with my face touching the ground. The LORD said to me, “Son of man,* look very carefully! Use your eyes and ears. Look at these things, and listen very carefully to everything that I tell you about all the rules and laws about the LORD’S Temple. Look carefully at the entrances to the Temple and at all the exits from the holy place. Then give this message to all the people of Israel who refused to obey me. Tell them, ‘This is what the Lord GOD said: Family of Israel, I have had enough of the terrible things you have done! You brought foreigners into my Temple who are not circumcised and have not given themselves to me. In this way you made my Temple unclean. You broke our agreement and did terrible things, and then you gave me the offerings of bread, the fat, and the blood. But this only made my Temple unclean. You did not take care of my holy things. No, you let foreigners have responsibility of my holy place!’ ”
This is what the Lord GOD says: “A foreigner who is not truly circumcised must not come into my Templenot even a foreigner living permanently among the people of Israel. He must be circumcised, and he must give himself completely to me before he can come into my Temple. 10 In the past, the Levites left me when Israel turned away from me. Israel left me to follow their idols. The Levites will be punished for their sin. 11 The Levites were chosen to serve in my holy place. They guarded the gates of the Temple. They served in the Temple. They killed the animals for the sacrifices and burnt offerings for the people. They were chosen to help the people and to serve them. 12 But the Levites helped the people sin against me! They helped the people worship their idols! So I am making this promise against them: ‘They will be punished for their sin.’ ” This is what the Lord GOD said.
13 So the Levites will not bring offerings to me like the priests. They will not come near any of my holy things or the things that are most holy. They must carry their shame because of the terrible things that they did. 14 But I will let them take care of the Temple. They will work in the Temple and do the things that must be done in it.
15 The priests are all from the tribe of Levi. But only priests from Zadok’s family took care of my holy place when the people of Israel turned away from me. So only Zadok’s descendants will bring offerings to me. They will stand before me to offer me the fat and the blood from the animals they sacrifice.” This is what the Lord GOD said! 16 They will enter my holy place and come near my table to serve me. They will take care of the things I gave them. 17 When they enter the gates of the inner courtyard, they will wear linen clothes. They will not wear wool while they serve at the gates of the inner courtyard and in the Temple. 18 They will wear linen turbans on their heads, and they will wear linen underwear. They will not wear anything that makes them sweat. 19 Before they go out into the outer courtyard to the people, they will take off the clothes they wear while serving me. They will put these clothes away in the holy rooms. Then they will put on other clothes. In this way they will not let people touch those holy clothes.
20 “These priests will not shave their heads or let their hair grow long. The priests may only trim the hair of their heads. 21 None of the priests may drink wine when they go into the inner courtyard. 22 The priests must not marry a widow or a divorced woman. No, they must only marry a virgin from the family of Israel or a woman whose dead husband was a priest.
23 Also, the priests must teach my people the difference between things that are holy and things that are not holy. They must help my people know what is clean and what is unclean. 24 The priests will be the judges in court. They will follow my laws when they judge people. They will obey my laws and my rules at all my special feasts. They will respect my special days of rest and keep them holy. 25 They will not go near a dead person to make themselves unclean. But they may make themselves unclean if the dead person is their father, mother, son, daughter, brother, or a sister who is not married. 26 After the priest has been made clean, he must wait seven days. 27 Then he can go back into the holy place. But on the day he goes into the inner courtyard to serve in the holy place, he must offer a sin offering for himself.” This is what the Lord GOD said.
28 About the land that will belong to the Levites: I am their property. You will not give the Levites any land in Israel. I am their share in Israel. 29 They will have the right to eat the grain offerings, the sin offerings, and the guilt offerings. Also, anything in Israel that is a special gift to God§ will belong to them. 30 And the first part of the harvest from every kind of crop will be for the priests. You will also give the priests the first part of your flour. This will bring blessings to your house. 31 The priests must not eat any bird or animal that has died a natural death or has been torn to pieces by a wild animal.
* 44:5 Son of man This was usually just a way of saying “a person” or “a human being.” Here, it is a way of addressing Ezekiel. 44:7 not circumcised … to me Literally, “not circumcised in their heart or in their body.” See “circumcise, circumcision” in the Word List. Also in verse 9. 44:20 These priests … grow long This would show that they are sad, and the priests must be happy about serving the Lord. § 44:29 special gift to God Anything offered to God that could not be bought back. See Leviticus 27:28-29.