Ezekiel 44:25
And they shall come at no dead person to defile themselves: but for father, or for mother, or for son, or for daughter, for brother, or for sister that has had no husband, they may defile themselves.
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Ezekiel 44:25-26. They shall come at no dead person to defile themselves —

Whosoever touched a dead body became legally unclean, (Numbers 19:11,) and thereby was disqualified for attending upon God’s worship in the temple, Leviticus 22:3. Upon which account the priests were forbidden to contract such defilement, unless for their nearest relations, which prohibition is here renewed: see the margin. After he is cleansed they shall reckon unto him seven days — His uncleanness continued seven days, according to the forecited law, Numbers 19:11; and the priests were to reckon to him seven days more, before he could be admitted into the sanctuary.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.There was in Herod's Temple a council of priests, whose special duty it was to regulate every thing connected with the sanctuary. They did not ordinarily busy themselves with criminal questions, although they took a leading part in the condemnation of Jesus Mark 15:1.21. Neither … wine—lest the holy enthusiasm of their devotion should be mistaken for inebriation, as in Peter's case (Ac 2:13, 15, 18). They, the priests, who come near to minister before the Lord,

shall come at no dead person; neither touch, nor come into the room, nor attend the funeral of the dead; for this would be a legal and ceremonial defilement, and it is prohibited Leviticus 21:1. The Jews tell us that he who comes within four cubits of the dead is defiled; and the law, though it determine not at what distance such are defiled, it doth determine that they are unclean till evening by touch or coming near the carcass of any but man, and the defilement by coming near a dead man lasted seven days.

But for father, & c: the priest was indulged in the death of so near relations, as Leviticus 21:2,3, where they are reckoned up as ill this verse.

They may defile themselves mourn for them, touch them, be at their funerals, and show their natural affections to them. And they shall come at no dead person to defile themselves,.... Shall not come into places where they are, nor touch them, nor attend their funerals, Leviticus 21:1, that their work might not be interrupted, or they through grief and sorrow be made unfit for it, Matthew 8:22, this, in a spiritual sense, may signify, that they should have no conversation or fellowship with men dead in trespasses and sins; and should abstain from all dead works, as all sinful ones are:

but for father, or for mother, or for son, or for daughter, for brother, or for sister that hath had no husband, they may defile themselves; by coming near them, touching them, at least attending their funerals, because of their near relation to them, and that natural sympathy and affection that must be in them: all sorrow and mourning for dead relations is not forbidden saints, nor ministers of the word; provided it is in moderation, and not to excess, and is not for gracious persons, as those without hope; and should as little as possible break in upon the duties of their office, 1 Thessalonians 4:13.

And they shall come near no dead person to defile themselves: but for father, or for mother, or for son, or for daughter, for brother, or for sister that hath had no husband, they may {g} defile themselves.

(g) They may be at their burial which was a defiling.

25–27. Regulations for their necessary contact with the dead. They shall approach the dead bodies only of their nearest relatives, father, mother, son, daughter, brother and unmarried sister. From the defilement caused by this contact they must purify themselves before resuming their service in the inner court. It is curious that no reference is made to the priest’s wife among the relatives with whose dead bodies they may defile themselves. The same omission occurs Leviticus 21:1-3. In Ezekiel 24:15 it is understood that he would naturally shew tokens of mourning for his wife. The two things, however, are not identical, and Ezek. was not an acting priest. According to Leviticus 21:11 the high-priest was not to defile himself by going near any dead body whatever. How defilement was contracted is explained Numbers 19:14.Verses 25-27. - Regulations are next given for preserving the priesthood from defilement through coming in contact with the dead, and for removing such defilement in case of its having been contracted. As under the Law, so in the ideal constitution of Ezekiel, the priests should not be at liberty to contract ceremonial impurity through touching a corpse except in the case of near relations (comp. Leviticus 21:1-4). That neither in Leviticus nor in Ezekiel is the priest's wife among the excepted is surprising, and hardly to be explained, with Knobel, on the ground that a wife is not a blood-relation, since according to the Divine conception of marriage husband and wife are one (Genesis 2:24), but either by holding, with Keil, that the wife, who stands nearer her husband than any of the relatives named, was viewed as included under the phrase, "and for his kin that is near unto him" (Leviticus 21:2), or by supposing it self-evident that such defilement could not be avoided in the case of a wife and was therefore tacitly allowed. Smend, as usual, finds signs of Ezekiel's priority to the priest-code, first in the circumstance that Ezekiel regarded it as perfectly natural that a priest should sorrow for his wife (Ezekiel 24:15-18), which showed he had no acquaintance with Leviticus 21; and secondly, in the fact that Leviticus 21:11 prohibits absolutely to the high priest all contact with a corpse, which, it is argued, betrays a greater strictness than existed in the days of Ezekiel. But as the prohibition in Leviticus 21:11 applies only to the high priest, who in Ezekiel's temple has no place, an argument as to which of the books had priority of origin cannot properly be founded on so insecure a Basis. Knobel remarks on Leviticus 21:1-4 that "among the Greeks, priests and priestesses remained at a distance from funerals (Plato, 'De Legg.,' 12. p. 947); while among the Romans ought the Flamen dialis to touch no corpse (Gell., 10:15), the augur perform no funeral rites (Tacit., 'Ann.,' 1:31), and the pontifex accompany no funeral procession (Die Cass., 56:31); not at all should he behold a dead body (Serv., 'Ad AEn.,' 6:176),and in case he had occasion to pronounce a funeral oration, a curtain should hang between him and the corpse." As to the cleansing of a defiled priest, that should be conducted in accordance with the customary regulations (comp. Numbers 19.),with this difference - that on the termination of the ordinary rites, which extended over seven days, an additional seven days, according to Havernick and Keil (though Hengstenberg and Plumptre decide for only one heptade), should elapse, at the end of which, on the presentation of a sin offering, he should be restored to service in the inner sanctuary. The Cells and Arrangements for the Sacrificial Worship by and in the Inner Court

Ezekiel 40:38. And a cell with its door was by the pillars at the gates; there they had to wash the burnt-offering. Ezekiel 40:39. And in the porch of the gate were two tables on this side and two tables on that, to slay thereon the burnt-offering, the sin-offering, and the trespass-offering. Ezekiel 40:40. And at the shoulder outside, to one going up to the opening of the gate toward the north, stood two tables; and at the other shoulder, by the porch of the gate, two tables. Ezekiel 40:41. Four tables on this side and four tables on that side, at the shoulder of the gate; eight tables on which they were to slaughter. Ezekiel 40:42. And four tables by the steps, hewn stone, a cubit and a half long, and a cubit and a half broad, and a cubit high; upon these they were to lay the instruments with which they slaughtered the burnt-offerings and other sacrifices. Ezekiel 40:43. And the double pegs, a span long, were fastened round about the house; but the flesh of the sacrifice was placed upon the tables. Ezekiel 40:44. And outside the inner gate were two cells in the inner court, one at the shoulder of the north gate, with its front side toward the south; one at the shoulder of the south gate, with the front toward the north. Ezekiel 40:45. And he said to me, This cell, whose front is toward the south, is for the priests who attend to the keeping of the house; Ezekiel 40:46. And the cell whose front is toward the north is for the priests who attend to the keeping of the altar. They are the sons of Zadok, who draw near to Jehovah of the sons of Levi, to serve Him. Ezekiel 40:47. And he measured the court, the length a hundred cubits, and the breadth a hundred cubits in the square, and the altar stood before the house. - The opinions of modern commentators differ greatly as to the situation of the cells mentioned in Ezekiel 40:38, since Bttcher and Hitzig had adjusted a text to suit their own liking, founded upon the Septuagint and upon decidedly erroneous suppositions. The dispute, whether בּאילים is to be rendered in or by the אילים, may be easily set at rest by the simple consideration that the אילים in front of the porch of the gate were pillars of two cubits long and the same broad (Ezekiel 40:9), in which it was impossible that a room could be constructed. Hence the לשׁכּה could only be by (near) the pillars of the gate. To בּאילים there is also added השּׁערים (by the gates)in loose coordination (vid., Ewald, 293e), not for the purpose of describing the position of the pillars more minutely, which would be quite superfluous after Ezekiel 40:9, but to explain the plural אילים, and extend it to the pillars of all the three inner gates, so that we have to assume that there was a לשׁכּה by the pillars of all these gates (Plate I O). This is also demanded by the purpose of these cells, viz., "for the cleansing or washing of the burnt-offering." As the sacrifices were not taken through one gate alone, but through all the gates, the Sabbath-offering of the prince being carried, according to Ezekiel 46:1-2, through the east gate, which was closed during the week, and only opened on the Sabbath, there must have been a cell, not by the north gate alone (Bttcher, Hvernick), or by the east gate only (Ewald, Hitzig), but by every gate, for the cleansing of the burnt-offering. Hvernick, Hitzig, and others are wrong in supposing that העולה is a synecdochical designation applied to every kind of animal sacrifice. This is precluded not only by the express mention of the burnt-offerings, sin-offerings, and trespass-offerings (Ezekiel 40:39), and by the use of the word קרבּן in this sense in Ezekiel 40:43, but chiefly by the circumstance that neither the Old Testament nor the Talmud makes any allusion to the washing of every kind of flesh offered in sacrifice, but that they merely speak of the washing of the entrails and legs of the animals sacrificed as burnt-offerings (Leviticus 1:9), for which purpose the basins upon the mechonoth in Solomon's temple were used (2 Chronicles 4:6, where the term רחץ used in Leviticus 1:9 is interpreted by the apposition את־מעשׂה העולה י). A room at every gate (not by every pillar) was sufficient for this purpose. If there had been a לשׁכּה of this kind on each side of the gate, as many have assumed on symmetrical grounds, this would have been mentioned, just as in the case of the slaughtering-tables (Ezekiel 40:39-42). The text furnishes no information as to the side of the doorway on which it stood, whether by the right or the left pillars. On the ground plan we have placed the one at the east gate, on the right side, and those by the north and south gates on the western side (Plate I O O O).

Moreover, according to Ezekiel 40:39-41, there were twice two tables on each side, eight therefore in all, which served for slaughtering. Two pairs stood "in the porch of the gate," i.e., in the inner space of the porch, one pair on this side, the other pair on that, i.e., on the right and left sides to a person entering the porch, probably near the wall (see Plate II II f f). The expression לשׁחוט אליהם, to slaughter at the tables (Ezekiel 40:39 and Ezekiel 40:40), stands for "to use when slaughtering" - that is, for the purpose of laying the slaughtered flesh upon. This is apparent from the fact itself in Ezekiel 40:39. For the slaughtering was not performed within the front porch, but outside, and somewhere near it. The front porch of the gate-building was not a slaughter-house, but the place where those who entered the gate could assemble. The only purpose, therefore, for which the tables standing here could be used was to place the sacrificial flesh upon when it was prepared for the altar, that the priests might take it thence and lay it upon the altar. בּאלם השּׁער is to be understood as signifying the inner space of the porch; this is required by the antithesis in Ezekiel 40:40, where two pair of tables outside the porch are mentioned. Two of these stood "by the shoulder outside to one going up to the gate opening, the northern" (Plate II II d d). The meaning of these not very intelligible words is apparent from the second half of the verse, which adds the correlative statement as to the two opposite tables. When it is said of these tables that they stood by the other shoulder (אל־הכּתף ) which the porch of the gate had, not only is לפּתח השּׁער of the first hemistich more precisely defined hereby as the gate-porch, but החּפונה is also rendered intelligible, namely, that as it corresponds to האחרת, it is an adjective belonging to אל הכּתף, "at the northern shoulder outside to a person going up the steps to the opening of the gate" (מחוּצה, the outer side, in contrast to the inside of the porch, בּאלּם, Ezekiel 40:39). The shoulder of the gate, or rather of the porch of the gate, is the side of it, and that the outer side. Consequently these four tables stood by the outer sides of the porch, two by the right wall and two by the left. In Ezekiel 40:41, what has already been stated concerning the position of the tables mentioned in Ezekiel 40:39 and Ezekiel 40:40 is summed up: Four tables stood on each side of the porch, two inside, and two against the outer wall, eight tables in all, which were used for slaughtering purposes. There is nothing strange in לכתף as an abbreviated expression for לכּתף אשׁר לאלם השּׁער in Ezekiel 40:40, as want of clearness was not to be feared after Ezekiel 40:40. In addition to these there were four other tables (וארבּעה, and four, Ezekiel 40:42) of stone, from which it may be inferred that the four already mentioned were of wood. The four stone tables stood לעולה, i.e., at (near) the flight of steps (cf. לפי קרת, at the entrance to the city, Proverbs 8:3), and were of hewn square stones, as no doubt the steps also were (see Plate II II e e). It yields no sense whatever to render לעולה "for the burnt-offering" (lxx and others); and the expression עלות in Ezekiel 40:26 thoroughly warrants our translating עולה, a flight of steps or staircase). These stone tables served as flesh-benches, on which the slaughtering tools were laid. אליהם וינּיחוּ belong together, the ו being inserted "as if at the commencement of a new sentence after a pause in the thought" (cf. Proverbs 23:24; Proverbs 30:28; Genesis 50:9, Bttcher). It is not expressly stated, indeed, that these four tables were distributed on the two sides of the steps; but this may be inferred with certainty from the position of the other tables. Moreover, the twelve tables mentioned were not merely to be found at one of the gate-porches, but by all three of the inner fates, as was the case with the washing-cells (Ezekiel 40:38), for sacrificial animals were taken to the altar and slaughtered at every gate; so that what is stated in Ezekiel 40:39-42 with reference to one porch, namely, the porch of the east gate, to judge from הצּפונה in Ezekiel 40:40, is applicable to the porches of the south and north gates also.

In Ezekiel 40:43 another provision for the slaughtering of the sacrificial animals is mentioned, concerning which the opinions of the older translators and commentators are greatly divided. but the only explanation that can be sustained, so far as both the usage of the language and the facts are concerned, is that adopted by the Chaldee, viz., וענקלין נפקין פשׁך חד קביעין בעמּוּדי בּית , et uncini egrediebantur (longitudine) unius palmi defixi in columnis domus macelli, to which not only Bצttcher, but Roediger (Ges. Thes. p. 1470) and Dietrich (Lex.) have given their adhesion. For שׁפתּים, from שׁפת, to set or stand (act.), signifies stakes or pegs (in Psalm 68:14, the folds constructed of stakes), here pegs a span long on the wall, into which they were inserted, and from which they projected to the length of a span. In the dual it stands for double pegs, forked pegs, upon which the carcases of the beasts were hung of the purpose of flaying, as Dav. Kimchi has interpreted the words of the Chaldee. The article indicates the kind, viz., the pegs required for the process of slaughtering. This explanation is also in harmony with the verb מוּכנים, Hophal of כוּן, fastened, which by no means suits the rendering originated by the lxx, viz., ledges round the edge or the rim of the table. The only remaining difficulty is the word בּבּית, which Bttcher interprets as signifying "in the interior of the gate-porch and pillars" (Roediger, in interiore parte, nempe in ea atrii parte, ubi hostiae mactandae essent), on the just ground that the interior of the front porch could not be the place for slaughtering, but that this could only be done outside, either in front of or near the porch. But even in interiore parte atrii is not really suitable, and at all events is too indefinite for מוּכנים. It would therefore be probably more correct to render it "fastened against the house," i.e., to the outer walls of the gate-porch buildings, so that בּית would stand for buildings in the sense of בּניה, although I cannot cite any passage as a certain proof of the correctness of this rendering. But this does not render the explanation itself a doubtful one, as it would be still more difficult to interpret בּבּית if שׁפתּים were explained in any other way. סביב סביב refers to the three outer sides of the porch. The description of the slaughtering apparatus closes in Ezekiel 40:43 with the words, "and upon the tables (mentioned in Ezekiel 40:39-42) came the flesh of the offering." קרבּן, the general word for sacrificial offerings, as in Leviticus 1:2 ff.

In Ezekiel 40:44-46 we have a description of cells for the officiating priests, and in Ezekiel 40:45 and Ezekiel 40:46 two such cells are plainly mentioned according to their situation and purpose (vid., Plate I F F). But it is impossible to bring the Masoretic text of Ezekiel 40:44 into harmony with this, without explaining it in an arbitrary manner. For, in the first place, the reference there is to לשׁכות שׁרים, cells of the singers; whereas these cells, according to Ezekiel 40:45 and Ezekiel 40:46, were intended for the priests who performed the service in the temple-house and at the altar of burnt-offering. The attempt of both the earlier and the more recent supporters of the Masoretic text to set aside this discrepancy, by arguing that the priests who had to attend to the service in the temple and at the altar, according to Ezekiel 40:45 and Ezekiel 40:46, were singers, is overturned by the fact that in the Old Testament worship a sharp distinction is made between the Levitical singers and the priests, i.e., the Aaronites who administered the priesthood; and Ezekiel does not abolish this distinction in the vision of the temple, but sharpens it still further by the command, that none but the sons of Zadok are to attend to the priestly service at the sanctuary, while the other descendants of Aaron, i.e., the Aaronites who sprang from Ithamar, are only to be employed in watching at the gate of the house, and other non-priestly occupations (Ezekiel 44:10 ff.). Consequently Ezekiel could not identify the priests with the singers, or call the cells intended for the officiating priests singers' cells. Moreover, only two cells, or cell-buildings, are mentioned in Ezekiel 40:45 and Ezekiel 40:46, and their position is described in the same words as that of the cells mentioned in Ezekiel 40:44, so that there can be no doubt as to the identity of the former and the latter cells. In Ezekiel 40:44 the supposed singers' cells are placed at the north gate, with the front toward the south, which only applies, according to Ezekiel 40:45, to the one cell intended for the priests who attended to the service in the holy place; and again, in Ezekiel 40:44, another cell is mentioned at the east gate, with the front toward the north, which was set apart, according to Ezekiel 40:46, for the priests who attended to the altar service. Consequently, according to our Masoretic text of the 44th verse, there would be first singers' cells (in the plural), and then one cell, at least three cells therefore; whereas, according to Ezekiel 40:45 and Ezekiel 40:46, there were only two. And lastly, the אחד in Ezekiel 40:44 can only be understood by our taking it in the sense of "another," in opposition to the usage of the language. For these reasons we are compelled to alter שׁרים into שׁתים, and אשׁר into אחת, after the lxx, and probably also הקּדים into הדּרום, and in consequence of this to adopt the pointing לשׁכות, and to read פּניה instead of פּניהם. Further alterations are not requisite or indicated by the lxx, as the rest of the deviations in their text are to be explained from their free handling of the original.

According to the text with these alterations, even in Ezekiel 40:44 there are only two cells mentioned. They were situated "outside the inner gate." This definition is ambiguous, for you are outside the inner gate not only before entering the gate, i.e., while in the outer court, but also after having passed through it and entered the inner court. Hence there follows the more precise definition, "in the inner court." If, then, we read אחת for אשׁר, there follows, in prefect accordance with the fact, a more precise statement as to the situation of both the one and the other of these cells, אחת and אחד corresponding to one another. The second אחד, instead of אחת, which is grammatically the more correct, is to be attributed to a constructio ad sensum, as the לשׁכות were not separate rooms, but buildings with several chambers. One cell stood by the shoulder (side) of the north gate, with the front (פנים) toward the south; the other at the shoulder of the south gate, with the front toward the north. They stood opposite to one another, therefore, with their fronts facing each other. Instead of the south gate, however, the Masoretic text has שׁער הקּדים, the east gate; and Ezekiel 40:46 contains nothing that would be expressly at variance with this, so that הקּדים could be defended in case of need. But only in case of need - that is to say, if we follow Kliefoth in assuming that it stood on the left of the gateway to persons entering through the east gate, and explaining the fact that its front turned toward the north, on the ground that the priests who resided in it were charged with the duty of inspecting the sacrifices brought through the east gate, or watching the bringing in of the sacrifices, so that this cell was simply a watchman's cell after all. But this assumption is founded upon a misinterpretation of the formula שׁמר משׁמרת , to keep the keeping of the altar. This formula does not mean to watch and see that nothing unlawful was taken to the altar, but refers to the altar service itself, the observance of everything devolving upon the servants of the altar in the performance of the sacrificial worship, or the offering of the sacrifices upon the altar according to the precepts of the law. If, then, this duty was binding upon the priests who resided in this cell, it would have been very unsuitable for the front of the cell to be turned toward the north, in which case it would have been absolutely impossible to see the altar from the front of the cell. This unsuitability can only be removed by the supposition that the cell was built at the south gate, with the front toward the north, i.e., looking directly toward the altar. For this reason we must also regard הקּדים as a corruption of הדּרום, and look for this second cell at the south gate, so that it stood opposite to the one built at the north gate. - All that remains doubtful is, whether these two cells were on the east or the west side of the south and north gates, a point concerning which we have no information given in the text. In our sketch we have placed them on the west side (vid., Plate I f), so that they stood in front of the altar and the porch-steps. The concluding words of Ezekiel 40:46, in which המּה refers to the priests mentioned in Ezekiel 40:45 and Ezekiel 40:46, state that in the new sanctuary only priests of the sons of Zadok were to take charge of the service at the altar and in the holy place; and this is still further expanded in Ezekiel 44:10 ff. - Finally, in Ezekiel 40:47 the description of the courts is concluded with the account of the measure of the inner court, a hundred cubits long and the same in breadth, according to which it formed a perfect square surrounded by a wall, according to Ezekiel 42:10. The only other observation made is, that it was within this space that the altar of burnt-offering stood, the description of which is given afterwards in Ezekiel 43:13 ff. (see Plate I H).

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