TEMPLE KEEPERS (SERVANTS)
After the conquest of Midian, "Moses took one drawn out of every fifty, both of man and of beast, and gave them unto the Levites, that kept the charge of the tabernacle of Yahweh" (Numbers 31:47; compare 31:30). Similarly, after the deception of Joshua by the Gibeonites, "Joshua made them that day hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation, and for the altar of Yahweh, unto this day" (Joshua 9:27). The object of these notices, evidently, is to explain how a non-Israelitish class of sanctuary servants had taken their origin. Their existence at the time of Ezekiel, however, is the object of one of the latter's severest denunciations:
"Ye have brought in foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my sanctuary, to profane it. .... And ye have not kept the charge of my holy things; but ye have set keepers of my charge in my sanctuary for yourselves" (Ezekiel 44:7). In place of these servants or "keepers" Ezekiel directs that such Levites are to be employed as have been degraded from priestly privileges for participating in idolatrous worship. On them shall devolve all the various duties of the temple except the actual offering of sacrifices, which is reserved for "the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok" (44:10-15). For the use of this deposed class, "the priests, the keepers of the charge of the house," is reserved a special room in the inner court of the temple (40:44 f).
See, further, NETHINIM.
Burton Scott Easton
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