Ezekiel 44:17
And it shall come to pass, that when they enter in at the gates of the inner court, they shall be clothed with linen garments; and no wool shall come on them, whiles they minister in the gates of the inner court, and within.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) Clothed with linen garments.—The rest of the chapter is occupied with directions for the clothing and conduct of the priests. The dress (Ezekiel 44:17-19) is the same as that prescribed in Lev. 28, only a few special points being mentioned partly for emphasis, and partly as recalling to mind the whole.

Ezekiel 44:17-20. When they shall enter in at the gates of the inner court — The court just before the temple, where the altar of the burnt-offering stood; they shall be clothed with linen garments — The ephod, breeches, mitre, and girdle, (the habit of the ordinary priests,) were all of fine linen, contrived for glory and beauty, (Exodus 28:40,) fine linen being the habit of persons of the greatest quality; while they minister in the gates of the inner court — That is, in the court of the priests; and within — In the sanctuary itself. They shall not gird themselves with any thing that causeth sweat — Not with a woollen girdle, which may make them sweat during their laborious service about the altar, and make their garments smell offensively. When they go forth into the outer court, they shall put off their garments — See note on Ezekiel 42:14. They shall not sanctify the people with their garments — According to the law, common things, touching holy things, became consecrated, and no more fit for common use. Neither shall they shave their heads — This prescription is implied in the words of the law, Leviticus 21:5; especially according to the translation of the LXX., who render the sentence, Thou shalt not shave thyself with baldness [to make thyself bald] upon the head for the dead. They indeed understand it as an expression of mourning for the dead, which agrees with the sense of the parallel texts, Leviticus 19:27-28; Deuteronomy 14:1. But the words in the original contain a general prohibition, and consequently include other seasons, as well as times of mourning. St. Jerome upon this place supposes, with great probability, that the Jewish priests were forbidden to shave their heads, that they might distinguish themselves from the heathen priests, particularly the Egyptian priests of Isis and Serapis, who had their heads shaved and uncovered. Learned men have observed, that many other Jewish laws were made in opposition to the rites observed in the heathen worship. Nor suffer their locks to grow long — Letting their hair grow long and neglected was a sign of mourning, as well as shaving it close to the head, and therefore was forbidden to be practised by the priests of God.44:1-31 This chapter contains ordinances relative to the true priests. The prince evidently means Christ, and the words in ver. 2, may remind us that no other can enter heaven, the true sanctuary, as Christ did; namely, by virtue of his own excellency, and his personal holiness, righteousness, and strength. He who is the Brightness of Jehovah's glory entered by his own holiness; but that way is shut to the whole human race, and we all must enter as sinners, by faith in his blood, and by the power of his grace.Regulations as to the priests' services. The garments of the priests are defined and various rules prescribed in the Law are repeated with some additions in order to denote additional care to avoid uncleanness.17. linen—symbolical of purity. Wool soon induces perspiration in the sultry East and so becomes uncleanly. When they enter: they must put on their priestly garments in the chambers that are appointed for vestries to them, where they put off the garments when the service was done, and where they put them on when they approached to the altar, Ezekiel 42:14.

At the gates of the inner court; where the altar of burnt-offering stood, and where the temple, which is included, stood.

@With linen garments; according to the law, Exodus 28:42,43.

No wool; the reason hereof is given in the next verse.

In the gates of the inner court; about the altar of burnt-offering.

And within; in the temple itself, in every service of both. And it shall come to pass, that when they enter in at the gates of the inner court,.... The priests before described; when they enter the right way into a true Gospel church, consisting of such who are internally renewed, and have an inward work of grace upon their hearts, and are inward court worshippers; either as private Christians, to pray together, to praise the Lord, to hear his word, and sit down at his table; or as public ministers, to preach the Gospel, and administer ordinances:

they shall be clothed with linen garments; meaning not the outward conversation garments of the Lord's people; nor their inward garment of sanctification; but the robe of Christ's righteousness, and garments of salvation; that fine linen, clean and white, which is the righteousness of the saints; and which, though but one, serves for many; and answers not only all the purposes of a garment, but even of many, of change of raiment: like a garment, it is on, and not in, the saints; it is put upon them by imputation; and, like a garment, it covers them, protects them from all injuries, keeps them warm and comfortable, and beautifies and adorns them; and is compared to linen for its whiteness and purity; see Revelation 3:18 and in this all the people of God, ministers and private Christians, perform all their services in the house of God; making mention of this, and of this only, whereby they become acceptable unto God, Psalm 71:16,

and no wool shall come upon them, while they minister in the gates of the inner court, and within; it is certain that the priests under the law had wool upon them in the time of their ministry; for the purple, blue, and scarlet, as the Jewish writers (k) observe, were all of them dyed wool; of which, with other things, the girdle common to all the priests, and the ephod and breast plate of the high priest, were made, Exodus 28:5, and which they wore in their common service: to the Jews in general it was not lawful to wear a garment of linen and woollen, Leviticus 19:19 and therefore, as Josephus says (l), to the priests only it was allowed to wear such a garment; and it is common with the Jewish doctors (m) to observe, that

"the priests were not clothed to minister in the temple but with wool and linen;''

indeed, on the day of atonement, the high priest, when he went into the holiest of all, had only linen garments on him; and of the service of this day Jarchi interprets the text; but Kimchi rightly objects, that the holiest of all cannot be called a court; and besides, it is said in the plural number,

they shall be clothed, and minister; whereas only the high priest went into the most holy place; and therefore he truly observes, that this is a new thing to be done in future times: and this is true of the spiritual priesthood of saints and ministers of the Gospel, who are to have no wool upon them in their ministrations, whether in a more private or public way; who are, and should profess to be, justified by the righteousness of Christ only, without any works of their own to be joined with it; which to do is unnecessary, indecent, and dangerous: wool is observed to be the clothing of brute beasts, and therefore not a fit emblem of the clothing of saints; and likewise of such as are most slow, and sluggish, and inactive (n), and so an emblem of sloth; and which ought not to be in any of the people of God, and especially in ministers, who of all men should not be slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. It may be further observed, that clothes made of wool are heavy, and render unfit for business, and cause sweat, which is offensive; and which seems to be a reason, Ezekiel 44:18, why wool should not be upon them, only linen garments wore by them; that they might be more quick and expeditious in the dispatch of business, and avoid everything that gives offence, that the ministry may not be blamed: woollen clothes are also liable to moths, and worms, and to contract filth; and may signify that the priests of the Lord should be clear of carnal and sensual lusts; these should not be upon them, or they under the predominance of them, and particularly avarice; they should feed the flock, and not fleece it and clothe themselves with the wool of it, Ezekiel 34:2. The phrase, "and within", or "in the house", seems to denote some place distinct from the inner court, even the more inmost place of the temple, the holy of holies; which signifies heaven itself, into which only the high priest entered once a year, typical of Christ's entering into heaven; and who has opened a way, and given all his people, who are priests unto God, boldness to enter there also by prayer, in the exercise of faith and hope; and which service they perform in the righteousness of Christ, and that only; see Hebrews 9:8.

(k) Jarchi and Aben Ezra in Exodus 25.4. (l) Antiqu. l. 4. c. 8. sect. 11. (m) Misna Kilaim, c. 9. sect. 1. Maimon. Hilchot Cele Hamikdash, c. 8. sect. 12. (n) "Lana segnissimi corporis excrementum est et prophanus vestitus, itaque lanea vestis videtur desidiam, et segnitiem indicare", Apuleius.

And it shall come to pass, that when they enter in at the gates of the inner court, they shall be clothed with linen garments; and no wool shall come upon them, whiles they minister in the gates of the inner court, and within.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verses 17-31. - The duties and emoluments of the priests. Verse 17. - Beginning with their attire when engaged in temple service, this verse states, in a general way, that the priests should be clothed with linen garments, as the priests were under the Law (Exodus 28:40-43; Exodus 39:27-29; Leviticus 6:10), with this difference, that whereas under the Law the terms employed were שֵׁשׁ, the white byssus of Egypt, and בַּד, "fine white linen," here the word is פִּשְׁתֶּה, or "flax" - a difference which assists newer critics to perceive in the so-called priest-code a refinement on Ezekiel, and therefore an evidence that the priest-cede arose later than Ezekiel But if the so-called priest-code had already indicated that the linen for priests' garments should be of the finest quality, Ezekiel may have felt there was no occasion for him to use other than the generic term for "linen," which פִעשׁתֶּה (pishteh) seems to have been (comp. Leviticus 13:47, 48, 52, 59; Deuteronomy 22:11; Jeremiah 13:1). That this was so is suggested by the statement that no wool, צֶמֶר, "perhaps so called from its being shorn off" (Gesenius), should come upon them whiles they ministered in the gates of the inner court, or within the court itself, or the house - the contrast being between what was of vegetable and what was of animal production. The reason for the prohibition of wool is hinted at in ver. 18 - it was apt to cause sweat, and thus entail impurity; the clean white linen, on the other hand, was designed both for hygienic reasons and as an emblem of purity (comp. Revelation 19:8, 14). The Gates of the Inner Court

(Vid., Plate I B and Plate II II). - Ezekiel 40:28. And he brought me into the inner court through the south gate, and measured the south gate according to the same measures; Ezekiel 40:29. And its guard-rooms, and its pillars, and its wall-projections, according to the same measures; and there were windows in it and in its wall-projections round about: fifty cubits was the length, and the breadth five and twenty cubits. Ezekiel 40:30. And wall-projections were round about, the length five and twenty cubits, and the breadth five cubits. Ezekiel 40:31. And its wall-projections were toward the outer court; and there were palms on its pillars, and eight steps its ascendings. Ezekiel 40:32. And he led me into the inner court toward the east, and measured the gate according to the same measures; Ezekiel 40:33. And its guard-rooms, and its pillars, and its wall-projections, according to the same measures; and there were windows in it and its wall-projections round about: the length was fifty cubits, and the breadth five and twenty cubits. Ezekiel 40:34. And its wall-projections were toward the outer court; and there were palms on its pillars on this side and on that side, and eight steps its ascent. Ezekiel 40:35. And he brought me to the north gate, and measured it according to the same measures; Ezekiel 40:36. Its guard-rooms, its pillars, and its wall-projections; and there were windows in it round about: the length was fifty cubits, and the breadth five and twenty cubits. Ezekiel 40:37. And its pillars stood toward the outer court; and palms were upon its pillars on this side and on that; and its ascent was eight steps. - In Ezekiel 40:27 the measuring man had measured the distance from the south gate of the outer court to the south gate of the inner court, which stood opposite to it. He then took the prophet through the latter (Ezekiel 40:28) into the inner court, and measured it as he went through, and found the same measurements as he had found in the gates of the outer court. This was also the case with the measurements of the guard-rooms, pillars, and wall-projections, and with the position of the windows, and the length and breadth of the whole of the gate-building (Ezekiel 40:29); from which it follows, as a matter of course, that this gate resembled the outer gate in construction, constituent parts, and dimensions. This also applied to both the east gate and north gate, the description of which in Ezekiel 40:32-37 corresponds exactly to that of the south gate, with the exception of slight variations of expression. It is true that the porch is not mentioned in the case of either of these gates; but it is evident that this was not wanting, and is simply passed over in the description, as we may see from Ezekiel 40:39, where the tables for the sacrifices are described as being in the porch (בּאוּלם). There are only two points of difference mentioned in Ezekiel 40:31, Ezekiel 40:34, and Ezekiel 40:37, by which these inner gates were distinguished from the outer. In the first place, that the flights of steps to the entrances to these gates had eight steps according to the closing words of the verses just cited, whereas those of the outer gates had only seven (cf. Ezekiel 40:22 and Ezekiel 40:26); whilst the expression also varies. מעלו being constantly used here instead of עלותו (Ezekiel 40:26). עלות, from עלה, the ascending, are literally ascents, i.e., places of mounting, for a flight of steps or staircase. מעלו, the plural of מללה, the ascent (not a singular, as Hitzig supposes), has the same meaning.

The second difference, which we find in the first clause of the verses mentioned, as of a more important character. It is contained in the words, "and its אלמּים (the projecting portions of the inner side-walls of the gateway) were directed toward the outer court" (אל and ל indicating the direction). The interpretation of this somewhat obscure statement is facilitated by the fact that in Ezekiel 40:37 אילו stands in the place of אילמּו (Ezekiel 40:31 and Ezekiel 40:34). אילו are the two lofty gate-pillars by the porch of the gate, which formed the termination of the gate-building towards the inner court in the case of the outer gates. If, then, in the case of the inner gates, these pillars stood toward the outer court, the arrangement of these gates must have taken the reverse direction to that of the outer gates; so that a person entering the gate would not go from the flight of steps across the threshold to the guard-rooms, and then across the second threshold to the porch, but would first of all enter the porch by the pillars in front, and then go across the threshold to the guard-rooms, and, lastly, proceed across the second threshold, and so enter the inner court. But if this gate-building, when looked at from without, commenced with the porch-pillars and the front porch, this porch at any rate must have been situated outside the dividing wall of the two courts, that is to say, must have been within the limits of the outer court. And further, if the אילמּים, or wall-projections between the guard-rooms and by the thresholds, were also directed toward the outer court, the whole of the gate-building must have been built within the limits of that court. This is affirmed by the first clauses of Ezekiel 40:31, Ezekiel 40:34, and Ezekiel 40:37, which have been so greatly misunderstood; and there is no necessity to alter ואילו in Ezekiel 40:37 into ואלמּו, in accordance with Ezekiel 40:31 and Ezekiel 40:34. For what is stated in Ezekiel 40:31 and Ezekiel 40:34 concerning the position or direction of the אילמּים, also applies to the אילים; and they are probably mentioned in Ezekiel 40:37 because of the intention to describe still further in Ezekiel 40:38 what stood near the אילים. Kliefoth very properly finds it incomprehensible, "that not a few of the commentators have been able, in spite of these definite statements in Ezekiel 40:13, Ezekiel 40:34, and Ezekiel 40:37, to adopt the conclusion that the gate-buildings of the inner gates were situated within the inner court, just as the gate-buildings of the outer gates were situated within the outer court. As the inner court measured only a hundred cubits square, if the inner gates had stood within the inner court, the north and south gates of the inner court would have met in the middle, and the porch of the east gate of the inner court would have stood close against the porches of the other two gates. It was self-evident that the gate-buildings of the inner gates stood within the more spacious outer court, like those of the outer gates. Nevertheless, the reason why the situation of the inner gates is so expressly mentioned in the text is evidently, that this made the position of the inner gates the reverse of that of the outer gates. In the case of the outer gates, the first threshold was in the surrounding wall of the outer court, and the steps stood in front of the wall; and thus the gate-building stretched into the outer court. In that of the inner gates, on the contrary the second threshold lay between the surrounding walls of the inner court, and the gate-building stretched thence into the outer court, and its steps stood in front of the porch of the gate. Moreover, in the case of the east gates, for example, the porch of the outer gate stood toward the west, and the porch of the inner gate toward the east, so that the two porches stood opposite to each other in the outer court, as described in Ezekiel 40:23 and Ezekiel 40:27."

In Ezekiel 40:30 further particulars respecting the אילמּים are given, which are apparently unsuitable; and for this reason the verse has been omitted by the lxx, while J. D. Michaelis, Bttcher, Ewald, Hitzig, and Maurer, regard it as an untenable gloss. Hvernick has defended its genuineness; but inasmuch as he regards אילמּים as synonymous with אוּלם, he has explained it in a most marvellous and decidedly erroneous manner, as Kliefoth has already proved. The expression סביב סביב, and the length and breadth of the אלמּות here given, both appear strange. Neither of the length of the twenty-five cubits nor the breadth of the five cubits seems to tally with the other measures of the gate-building. So much may be regarded as certain, that the twenty-five cubits' length and the five cubits' breadth of the אלמּות cannot be in addition to the total length of the gate-building, namely fifty cubits, or its total breadth of twenty-five cubits, but must be included in them. For the אלמּות were simply separate portions of the side-enclosure of the gateway, since this enclosure of fifty cubits long consisted of wall-projections (אלמּות), three open guard-rooms, and a porch with pillars. The open space of the guard-rooms was 3 x 6 equals 18 cubits, and the porch was six cubits broad in the clear (Ezekiel 40:7 and Ezekiel 40:8), and the pillars two cubits thick. If we deduct these 18 + 6 + 2 equals 26 cubits from the fifty cubits of the entire length, there remain twenty-four cubits for the walls by the side of the thresholds and between the guard-rooms, namely, 2 x 5 equals 10 cubits for the walls between the three guard-rooms, 2 x 6 equals 12 cubits for the walls of the threshold, and 2 cubits for the walls of the porch; in all, therefore, twenty-four cubits for the אלמּות; so that only one cubit is wanting to give us the measurement stated, viz., twenty-five cubits. We obtain this missing cubit if we assume that the front of the wall-projections by the guard-rooms and thresholds was a handbreadth and a half, or six inches wider than the thickness of the walls, that is to say, that it projected three inches on each side in the form of a moulding. - The breadth of the אלמּות in question, namely five cubits, was the thickness of their wall-work, however, or the dimension of the intervening wall from the inside to the outside on either side of the gateway. That the intervening walls should be of such a thickness will not appear strange, if we consider that the surrounding wall of the court was six cubits thick, with a height of only six cubits (Ezekiel 40:5). And even the striking expression סביב סביב becomes intelligible if we take into consideration the fact that the projecting walls bounded not only the entrance to the gate, and the passage through it on the two sides, but also the inner spaces of the gate-building (the guard-rooms and porch) on all sides, and, together with the gates, enclosed the gateway on every side. Consequently Ezekiel 40:30 not only as a suitable meaning, but furnishes a definite measurement of no little value for the completion of the picture of the gate-buildings. The fact that this definite measure was not given in connection with the gates of the outer court, but was only supplemented in the case of the south gate of the inner court, cannot furnish any ground for suspecting its genuineness, as several particulars are supplemented in the same manner in this description. Thus, for example, the number of steps in front of the outer gates is first given in Ezekiel 40:22, where the north gate is described. Still less is there to surprise us in the fact that these particulars are not repeated in the case of the following gates, in which some writers have also discovered a ground for suspecting the genuineness of the verse.

From the south gate the measuring man led the prophet (Ezekiel 40:32) into the inner court toward the east, to measure for him the inner east gate, the description of which (Ezekiel 40:33 and Ezekiel 40:34) corresponds exactly to that of the south gate. Lastly, he led him (Ezekiel 40:35) to the inner north gate for the same purpose; and this is also found to correspond to those previously mentioned, and is described in the same manner. The difficulty which Hitzig finds in אל־החצר in Ezekiel 40:32, and which drives him into various conjectures, with the assistance of the lxx, vanishes, if instead of taking דּרך הקּדים along with החצר הפּנימי as a further definition of the latter, we connect it with ויביאני as an indication of the direction taken: he led me into the inner court, the way (or direction) toward the east, and measured the gate (situated there). The words, when taken in this sense, do not warrant the conclusion that he had gone out at the south gate again. - וּמדד in Ezekiel 40:35 is an Aramaic form for ויּמד in Ezekiel 40:32 and Ezekiel 40:28.

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