Ezekiel 44 Commentary

Service in the temple (44:1-31)

Because the glory of God had entered the temple through the east gate of the outer court, no human being was considered worthy to enter by this gate. It therefore had always to be kept shut (44:1-2). The king, however, could eat his sacrificial meal in the vestibule that was on the inside of the east gate. He had to enter the temple compound by either the north or the south gate, then enter the vestibule from the courtyard side (3).

The presence of God’s glory in the temple meant that there were restrictions concerning those allowed to enter it. God did not want his temple to be defiled through the introduction of heathen practices (4-5). Therefore, only God’s covenant people could enter the temple. Foreigners were not allowed even to be employed as temple servants (6-9; cf. Josh 9:23,27; 2 Kings 11:4-8).

Day to day duties in the temple, such as guarding its gates and helping with arrangements for the sacrifices, were to be carried out by the Levites along with those priests who were not of the family of Zadok. These non-Zadokite priests were excluded from higher responsibilities because of their idolatry in former days (10-14).


Zadokite priests, who were given full priestly responsibility, were to keep strictly all the laws concerning priests. They were not to allow anything connected with the sanctuary, not even the clothes they wore in the sanctuary, to be polluted through contact with people or things from the unclean world outside (15-19; cf. 42:14). In their appearance, habits, family life, purity and uprightness they were to be an example to the people of the true meaning of holiness (20-24). If for any reason they became ceremonially unclean, they had to go through the full purification rituals (25-27).

As in former days, priests were not to own any land. Their income and food supplies were to come from the various offerings of the people. However, the kind of food they ate was subject to the same restrictions as applied to the food of people in general (28-31).

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