Ezekiel 44 NIV

The Prince, the Levites, the Priests

1 Then the man brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, the one facing east,1 and it was shut.

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2 The LORD said to me, "This gate is to remain shut. It must not be opened; no one may enter through it.2 It is to remain shut because the LORD, the God of Israel, has entered through it.

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3 The prince himself is the only one who may sit inside the gateway to eat in the presence3 of the LORD. He is to enter by way of the portico of the gateway and go out the same way.4"

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4 Then the man brought me by way of the north gate5 to the front of the temple. I looked and saw the glory of the LORD filling the temple6 of the LORD, and I fell facedown.7

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5 The LORD said to me, "Son of man, look carefully, listen closely and give attention to everything I tell you concerning all the regulations regarding the temple of the LORD. Give attention to the entrance8 of the temple and all the exits of the sanctuary.9

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6 Say to the rebellious house10 of Israel, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Enough of your detestable practices, O house of Israel!

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7 In addition to all your other detestable practices, you brought foreigners uncircumcised in heart11 and flesh into my sanctuary, desecrating my temple while you offered me food, fat and blood, and you broke my covenant.12

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8 Instead of carrying out your duty in regard to my holy things, you put others in charge of my sanctuary.13

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9 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: No foreigner uncircumcised in heart and flesh is to enter my sanctuary, not even the foreigners who live among the Israelites.14

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10 " 'The Levites who went far from me when Israel went astray15 and who wandered from me after their idols must bear the consequences of their sin.16

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11 They may serve in my sanctuary, having charge of the gates of the temple and serving in it; they may slaughter the burnt offerings17 and sacrifices for the people and stand before the people and serve them.18

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12 But because they served them in the presence of their idols and made the house of Israel fall19 into sin, therefore I have sworn with uplifted hand20 that they must bear the consequences of their sin, declares the Sovereign LORD.21

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13 They are not to come near to serve me as priests or come near any of my holy things or my most holy offerings; they must bear the shame22 of their detestable practices.23

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14 Yet I will put them in charge of the duties of the temple and all the work that is to be done in it.24

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15 " 'But the priests, who are Levites and descendants of Zadok25 and who faithfully carried out the duties of my sanctuary when the Israelites went astray from me, are to come near to minister before me; they are to stand before me to offer sacrifices of fat26 and blood, declares the Sovereign LORD.27

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16 They alone are to enter my sanctuary; they alone are to come near my table28 to minister before me and perform my service.29

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17 " 'When they enter the gates of the inner court, they are to wear linen clothes;30 they must not wear any woolen garment while ministering at the gates of the inner court or inside the temple.

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18 They are to wear linen turbans31 on their heads and linen undergarments32 around their waists. They must not wear anything that makes them perspire.33

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19 When they go out into the outer court where the people are, they are to take off the clothes they have been ministering in and are to leave them in the sacred rooms, and put on other clothes, so that they do not consecrate34 the people by means of their garments.35

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20 " 'They must not shave36 their heads or let their hair grow long, but they are to keep the hair of their heads trimmed.37

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21 No priest is to drink wine when he enters the inner court.38

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22 They must not marry widows or divorced women; they may marry only virgins of Israelite descent or widows of priests.39

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23 They are to teach my people the difference between the holy and the common40 and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean.41

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24 " 'In any dispute, the priests are to serve as judges42 and decide it according to my ordinances. They are to keep my laws and my decrees for all my appointed feasts,43 and they are to keep my Sabbaths holy.44

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25 " 'A priest must not defile himself by going near a dead person; however, if the dead person was his father or mother, son or daughter, brother or unmarried sister, then he may defile himself.45

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26 After he is cleansed, he must wait seven days.46

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27 On the day he goes into the inner court of the sanctuary47 to minister in the sanctuary, he is to offer a sin offering48 for himself, declares the Sovereign LORD.

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28 " 'I am to be the only inheritance49 the priests have. You are to give them no possession in Israel; I will be their possession.

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29 They will eat50 the grain offerings, the sin offerings and the guilt offerings; and everything in Israel devoteda to the LORD 51 will belong to them.52

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    • a 44:29 - The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord.
      30 The best of all the firstfruits53 and of all your special gifts will belong to the priests. You are to give them the first portion of your ground meal54 so that a blessing55 may rest on your household.56

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      31 The priests must not eat anything, bird or animal, found dead57 or torn by wild animals.58

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