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Ezekiel 44

Rules about how to use the temple

1 Then the man brought me back to the outside gate of the holy place. That gate opened to the east. But it they had shut it.

2 ‘This gate must stay shut’, the LORD said to me. ‘Nobody can go through it. It must remain closed because the LORD, the God of Israel, has gone through it. 3 Only the king himself can sit inside the gate to eat a holy meal in front of the LORD. He must go in and out through the inside entrance room.’

4 Then the man took me through the north gate. We went to the front of the temple. I saw that the LORD's glory filled his temple. And I fell flat on my face.

5 ‘Son of man, look and listen carefully’, the LORD said to me. ‘You must listen very carefully to everything that I tell you. These are the rules for the LORD's temple. Understand which people can go into the temple. And learn which people can go out of the temple. 6 Speak to those Israelites who do not obey me. Say, “This is what the LORD God says. ‘You have done enough evil things. 7 You even brought foreigners into my holy place. But they were not circumcised and they did not obey my important rules. You made my temple not clean. It was no longer holy. And you offered me food, fat and blood there. You did not keep your promise to me, your covenant promise. 8 You did not do the work yourselves. But you made people that I had not chosen work in my holy place.’ 9 This is what the LORD God says. ‘No foreigner who is not circumcised can go into my holy place. He must not go in because he does not obey my rules. Even if that foreigner lives among my people, he must not go in.

10 Some men from Levi's tribe turned away from me to worship idols. I will punish them because of their sin. 11 They can work for me in the holy place. They can open and close the doors. They can make offerings and sacrifices. And they can stand and work for the people. 12 But I have decided that I must punish them. That is because they helped the people to worship idols. And so they caused them to sin. I promise that I will do this. 13 They must not come near to me to work for me as priests. They must not come near to my holy things or my most holy offerings. They must become ashamed of the evil things that they have done. 14 But I will let them do the work of the temple that is not special priest's work. 15 Only the priests, sons of Zadok, Levi's son, can offer sacrifices to me. Only they worked for me and obeyed me. They remained faithful to me when other Israelites worshipped false gods. They can offer sacrifices of fat and blood to me’, says the LORD God. 16 ‘Only they can come into the holy place. They are the only men who can come near to my table to work for me.

44:16Zadok was a priest at the time of David. He was loyal to David when David's sons, Absalom and Adonijah, tried to oppose their father (2 Samuel 8:17; 2 Samuel 15:24-29; 1 Kings 1:8). David's son Solomon appointed Zadok to be the chief priest (1 Kings 2:35).

17 When they come into the inside yard, they must wear linen clothes. They must not wear anything woollen while they are working. They must not wear them inside the yard or inside the temple. 18 They must wear linen cloths round their heads and linen clothes next to their skin. They must not wear anything that makes them hot and sticky. 19 They must take off their special clothes when they leave the holy place. They must leave them in the holy place when they go out to meet the people. Then their special clothes will not make the people holy.

20 They must keep the hair on their heads short. They must not cut it all off, or let it grow long. 21 A priest must not drink wine when he goes into the inside yard. 22 He must not marry a woman whose husband has died. And he must not marry a woman whose husband has sent her away. Priests can only marry women who have never had sex. Or they can marry the wives of priests who are now dead. 23 They must teach my people that holy things are different from common things.

24 If people do not agree with each other, the priests must be their judges. They must decide who is right. They must use my rules to decide. They must obey the rules about my special feasts and they must keep my Sabbaths holy.

25 A priest must not go near to a dead person. It would stop him from being holy. But he can go near to a dead person who is his father or mother. He can also make himself not clean (not pure) for a son, daughter or a sister who is not married. 26 After this, he must make himself clean. Then he must wait seven (7) days. 27 And he can go back into the inside yard of the holy place to work for me there. Then he must offer a sin offering for himself’, says the LORD God.

28 ‘The priests must not own any land in Israel to keep for their children and grandchildren. I will be like the land that belongs to them. 29 They will eat the offerings of grain and the offerings because of sin. They can also eat some other offerings that people bring. All the LORD's special things will belong to them. 30 The best of your first fruits and all your special gifts will belong to the priests. You must also give them the first flour that you make from your grain. Then I will bless those who live in your house. 31 The priests must not eat anything, bird or animal, that men find dead.’ ” ’