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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Chapter 44

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1The man again brought me round to the outer gate of the sanctuary facing east. It was shut, and 2he a 44:2 he: prob. rdg; Heb. the LORD. said to me, ‘This gate is to be kept closed and is not to be opened, No one may enter by it, for the LORD the God of Israel has entered by it. It must be kept shut. 3Only the ruling prince himself may sit there to eat the sacrificial meal in the presence of the LORD. He is to come in and go out by the vestibule of the gate.’

4The man brought me round by the north gate to the front of the temple, and I saw the glory of the LORD filling the LORD's house, and I prostrated myself. 5He b 44:5 He: prob. rdg; Heb. The LORD. said to me, ‘Note carefully, O man, look closely, and listen attentively to all I say to you, to all the rules and the regulations for the LORD's house. Take note of the entrance to c the entrance to: or those who may enter. the house and all the exits d the exits: or those to be excluded. from the sanctuary. 6Say to Israel: The Lord GOD says: Enough of all those abominations of yours, you Israelites! 7You admit foreigners, uncircumcised in mind and body, into my sanctuary, so defiling my house, when you present to me the fat and blood which are my food. They have made my covenant void with e 44:7 with: so Gk; Heb. in addition to. your abominations. 8Instead of keeping charge of my holy things yourselves, you have put these men in charge of my sanctuary.

9‘The Lord GOD says: No foreigner, uncircumcised in mind and body, who may be living among the Israelites is to enter my sanctuary. 10But the Levites, though they deserted me when the Israelites went astray after their idols and had to bear the punishment of their iniquity, 11may yet be servants in my sanctuary, having charge of the gates of the temple and serving in it. They are to slaughter the whole-offering and the sacrifice for the people and be in attendance to serve them. 12Because they served the Israelites in the presence of their idols and caused the people to fall into sin, I have sworn with uplifted hand, says the Lord GOD, that they shall bear the punishment of their iniquity. 13They shall not have access to me, to serve me as priests; nor shall they approach any of my holy or most holy things. They shall bear the shame of the abominable deeds they have committed. 14I shall put them in charge of all the work which has to be done in the temple.

15‘But the levitical priests of the family of Zadok who remained in charge of my sanctuary when the Israelites went astray from me, they shall approach and serve me. They shall stand before me, to present the fat and the blood, says the Lord GOD. 16It is they who are to enter my sanctuary and approach my table to serve me and keep my charge.

17‘When they come to the gates of the inner court they must put on linen garments; they must wear no wool when serving me at the gates of the inner court and inside it. 18They are to wear linen turbans, and have linen drawers on their loins; they must not fasten their clothes with a belt, which might cause sweating. 19Before going out to the people in the outer court, they are to remove the clothes they have worn while serving; leaving them in the sacred rooms, they are to put on other clothes, so that they do not by means of their clothing transmit holiness to the people.

20‘They must neither shave their heads nor let their hair grow long; they must keep their hair trimmed. 21No priest may drink wine when he is to enter the inner court. 22He may not marry a widow or a divorced woman, but only a virgin of Israelite birth. He may, however, marry the widow of a priest.

23‘They are to teach my people to distinguish the sacred from the profane, and show them the difference between unclean and clean. 24When disputes arise, let them take their place in court and decide each case according to my laws. At all my appointed seasons they must observe my rules and statutes, and they are to keep my sabbaths holy.

25‘They must not defile themselves by contact with any dead person, except father or mother, son or daughter, brother or unmarried sister. 26After purification, they are to count off seven days and then they will be clean f 44:26 and then … clean: so Syriac; Heb. omits. , 27and when they re-enter the inner court to serve in the Holy Place, they are to present their purification-offering, says the Lord GOD.

28‘They are to own no holding g 44:28 no holding: so Lat.; Heb. omits no. in Israel; I am their holding. No possession is to be granted them in Israel; I am their possession. 29The grain-offering, the purification-offering, and the reparation-offering are to be eaten by them. Everything in Israel devoted to God will be theirs. 30The first of all the firstfruits and all your contributions of every kind are to belong wholly to the priests. You must give the first lump of your dough to the priests, so that a blessing may rest on your house.

31‘The priests must eat nothing, whether bird or beast, which has died a natural death or been killed by a wild animal.

Notes:

a 44:2 he: prob. rdg; Heb. the LORD.

b 44:5 He: prob. rdg; Heb. The LORD.

c the entrance to: or those who may enter.

d the exits: or those to be excluded.

e 44:7 with: so Gk; Heb. in addition to.

f 44:26 and then … clean: so Syriac; Heb. omits.

g 44:28 no holding: so Lat.; Heb. omits no.

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