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Ezekiel 44:15-31

The Levitical Priests

44:15 “‘But the Levitical priests, the descendants of Zadok 1  who kept the charge of my sanctuary when the people of Israel went astray from me, will approach me to minister to me; they will stand before me to offer me the fat and the blood, declares the sovereign Lord. 44:16 They will enter my sanctuary, and approach my table to minister to me; they will keep my charge.

44:17 “‘When they enter the gates of the inner court, they must wear linen garments; they must not have any wool on them when they minister in the inner gates of the court and in the temple. 44:18 Linen turbans will be on their heads and linen undergarments will be around their waists; they must not bind themselves with anything that causes sweat. 44:19 When they go out to the outer court to the people, they must remove the garments they were ministering in, and place them in the holy chambers; they must put on other garments so that they will not transmit holiness to the people with their garments. 2 

44:20 “‘They must not shave their heads 3  nor let their hair grow long; 4  they must only trim their heads. 44:21 No priest may drink wine when he enters the inner court. 44:22 They must not marry a widow or a divorcee, but they may marry a virgin from the house of Israel 5  or a widow who is a priest’s widow. 44:23 Moreover, they will teach my people the difference between the holy and the common, and show them how to distinguish between the ceremonially unclean and the clean. 6 

44:24 “‘In a controversy they will act as judges; 7  they will judge according to my ordinances. They will keep my laws and my statutes regarding all my appointed festivals and will observe 8  my Sabbaths.

44:25 “‘They must not come near a dead person or they will be defiled; 9  however, for father, mother, son, daughter, brother or sister, they may defile themselves. 44:26 After a priest 10  has become ceremonially clean, they 11  must count off a period of seven days for him. 44:27 On the day he enters the sanctuary, into the inner court to serve in the sanctuary, he must offer his sin offering, declares the sovereign Lord.

44:28 “‘This will be their inheritance: I am their inheritance, and you must give them no property in Israel; I am their property. 12  44:29 They may eat the grain offering, the sin offering, and the guilt offering, and every devoted thing in Israel will be theirs. 44:30 The first of all the first fruits and all contributions of any kind 13  will be for the priests; you will also give to the priest the first portion of your dough, so that a blessing may rest on your house. 44:31 The priests will not eat any bird or animal that has died a natural death or was torn to pieces by a wild animal. 14 

1 sn Zadok was a descendant of Aaron through Eleazar (1 Chr 6:50-53), who served as a priest during David’s reign (2 Sam 8:17).

2 sn For a similar concept of the transmitting of holiness, see Exod 19:12-14; Lev 10:1-2; 2 Sam 6:7. Similar laws concerning the priest are found in Lev 10 and 21.

3 sn The shaving of the head was associated with mourning (Ezek 7:18).

4 sn Letting the hair grow was associated with the taking of a vow (Num 6:5; Acts 21:23-26).

5 tn Heb “from the offspring of the house of Israel.”

6 sn This task was a fundamental role of the priest (Lev 10:10).

7 sn For a historical illustration of the priest carrying out this function, see 2 Chr 19:9-11.

8 tn Heb “sanctify, set apart.”

9 sn This law was part of the legal code for priests (Lev 21:1-3).

10 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the priest) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

11 tc One medieval Hebrew ms, the LXX, and the Syriac along with Lev 15:13, 28 read the verb as singular.

12 sn See Num 18:20; Deut 10:9; 18:2; Josh 13:33; 18:7.

13 tn Heb has in addition “from your contributions,” a repetition unnecessary in English.

14 tn The words “by a wild animal” are not in the Hebrew text, but have been supplied in the translation as a clarification of the circumstances.

sn For this law, see Lev 7:24; 17:15.

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