Do ye not know, that they which minister about holy things,
&c.] Not the priests in the temples of the Heathen deities, as the Ethiopic version suggests; but the priests in the temple at Jerusalem, who were employed in slaying the sacrifices, taking off their skins, cutting them into pieces, laying them in order with the wood upon the altar, and burning them, with other services they there performed, which were well known to the Corinthians, many of this church being Jews:
live of the things of the temple;
the tithes and firstfruits, and other oblations, and presents in money or goods, thither brought; nor had they any other way of living and supporting their families; for the priests and Levites had no inheritance among the children of Israel, and therefore provision was made for them in this way:
and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar;
some read it, "who sit at the altar"; but none might sit in the temple but a king of the house of David F14; the priests and Levites always stood in their ministry, some doing one thing, and some another; some slew the sacrifice, others sprinkled the blood; some took away the ashes, others laid the wood, others brought up the parts of the sacrifice when slain, skinned, and cut asunder, and laid them on the altar F15, and these partook with the altar; some parts the altar devoured, being consumed by fire upon it; but then there were other pieces which by law were reserved for the priests, and upon which they and their families lived: hence the distinction of (xbzm tlyka) , the food of the altar, and (Mda tlyka) , "the food of man" F16; and therefore as it was but just and equitable that persons so employed should be maintained out of the revenues of the temple and altar, it is but right that Gospel ministers should be provided for with a suitable maintenance.
F14 Bartenora in Misn. Yoma, c. 8. sect. 1.
F15 Misn. Yoma, c. 2. sect. 3. Tamid. c. 3. sect. 1.
F16 Vid. Maimon. & Bartenora in Menachot, c. 3. sect 1.