Ezekiel 44:1-31

Rules about the temple

1 Then the man brought me back to the outside gate on the east side of the temple yard. But the gate was shut.

2 The Lord said to me, ‘This gate must stay shut. Nobody may go through it. Nobody may open it again. The Lord, Israel's God, has gone through it. So it must stay shut. 3 Only Israel's ruler is allowed to sit in the gate's entrance. He may sit there to eat a holy meal in front of the Lord. He may only go in and out through the entrance room of that gate.’

4 Then the man took me through the north gate of the temple yard. We went to the front of the temple building. As I watched, I saw that the Lord's glory filled his temple. I bent down low with my face on the ground.

5 The Lord said to me, ‘Son of man, listen to what I tell you. Think carefully about it. These are the rules and laws about the Lord's temple. Understand about its entrances and the people who are allowed to go in and out of the temple. 6 Israel's people refuse to obey me. Say to them, “This is what the Almighty Lord says: Israel's people, you have done too many disgusting things! 7 You brought foreigners into my temple. They were not circumcised and they did not want to belong to me. In that way, you made my own temple unclean. You did that when you offered food, fat and blood to me there. You did not obey my covenant with you, when you did all these disgusting things. 8 You did not take care of my holy things yourselves. Instead you chose foreigners to take care of my holy place on your behalf. 9 This is what the Almighty Lord God says: No foreigner may go into my holy place if he is not circumcised and he does not want to obey me. Even if that foreigner lives among my people, the Israelites, he must not go in there.

10 As well as other Israelites, some Levite men turned away from me to worship idols. I will punish them as they deserve for their sin. 11 But they may continue to serve me in the work of the temple. They can be guards at the temple gates. They can kill the animals that people bring for burnt offerings and other sacrifices. They can help the people who come to worship me. 12 But I promise that I will punish them as they deserve for their sin. That is because they helped the people to worship their idols. In that way, they caused Israel's people to do bad things. I, the Almighty Lord, promise that I will punish them. 13 They must not come near to me to serve me as the priests do. They must not touch any of my holy things or the most holy offerings. Instead, they must be ashamed of the disgusting things that they have done. 14 But I will allow them to take care of the temple and all the ordinary work that is done there.

15 Only the priests who are descendants of Zadok, the Levite, may come near to me and serve me. When Israel's people turned away from me, only the priests of Zadok's family faithfully served me in my temple. So now Zadok's descendants may offer to me the fat and the blood of sacrifices. That is what the Almighty Lord says. 16 Only they can come into my holy place and serve me at the altar. They will do what I tell them to do.

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

17 When they come through the gates into the inside yard, they must wear linen clothes. The clothes that they wear while they serve me must not have any wool in them. They must wear linen clothes when they work at the gates of the inside yard or in the temple. 18 They must wear linen cloths around their heads. The trousers that they wear next to their skin must also be made of linen. They must not tie anything around their body that makes them sweat. 19 Before they go out to the outside yard to meet the ordinary people, they must take off their special clothes. They must leave the clothes that they wore when they were serving me in one of the rooms in the holy place. They must put on other clothes before they go out. Then their special clothes will not touch the people and make them holy.

44:18Sweat makes your skin wet when your body becomes very hot.

20 The priests must not cut all the hair off their heads. They must not let it grow long either. They must keep their hair short. 21 When a priest goes into the inside yard of the temple, he must not drink anywine. 22 Priests must not marry a widow, or a woman whose husband has sent her away. They may only marry Israelite women who have never had sex. Or they may marry a widow whose husband had been a priest. 23 They must teach my people that holy things are different from ordinary things. They must also show them how to know if something is clean or unclean.

24 If people have an argument, the priests must be their judges. They must use my laws to decide who is right. They must obey the rules about my special festivals. They must respect Sabbath days as holy.

25 A priest must not go near to a dead person. It would make him unclean. But if the dead person is his father, his mother, his son, his daughter, his brother or his sister who has not married, he may go near them. It makes him unclean but he may do that. 26 After this, he must make himself clean. Then he must wait seven days. 27 Then he can go into the inside yard of the temple to serve me there. On the day that he goes back there, he must make a sin offering for himself. That is what the Almighty Lord says.

28 Do not give the priests their own land in Israel to keep for their descendants. I myself will be the gift that they receive. I will take care of them and their families. 29 They will receive the grain offerings, the sin offerings and the guilt offerings. They are allowed to eat some of those offerings that the people bring. All the special things that people give to the Lord will belong to the priests. 30 The best of all the first crops from people's land and all their special gifts will belong to the priests. You must also give to the priests the first flour that you make from your grain. Then I will bless the people who live in your house. 31 The priests must not eat any bird or any animal that people find dead. They must not eat anything that a wild animal has killed.” ’