Ezekiel 44:15-31

The Levitical Priests

44:15 “‘But the Levitical priests, the descendants of Zadok 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.

44:20 “‘They must not shave their heads nor let their hair grow long; 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 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.

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

44:25 “‘They must not come near a dead person or they will be defiled; 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 

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).

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.

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

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

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

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

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

tn Heb “sanctify, set apart.”

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.