Ezekiel 44Living Bible (TLB)
44 Then the Lord brought me back to the outer wall’s eastern passageway, but it was closed. 2 And he said to me:
“This gate shall remain closed; it shall never be opened. No man shall pass through it; for the Lord, the God of Israel, entered here, and so it shall remain shut. 3 Only the prince—because he is the prince—may sit inside the passageway to feast there before the Lord. But he shall go and come only through the entry hall of the passage.”
4 Then he brought me through the north passageway to the front of the Temple. I looked and saw that the glory of the Lord filled the Temple of the Lord, and I fell to the ground with my face in the dust.
5 And the Lord said to me:
“Son of dust, notice carefully; use your eyes and ears. Listen to all I tell you about the laws and rules of the Temple of the Lord. Note carefully who may be admitted to the Temple and who is to be excluded from it. 6 And say to these rebels, the people of Israel, ‘The Lord God says: O Israel, you have sinned greatly 7 by letting the uncircumcised into my sanctuary—those who have no heart for God—when you offer me my food, the fat and the blood. Thus you have broken my covenant in addition to all your other sins. 8 You have not kept the laws I gave you concerning these holy affairs, for you have hired foreigners to take charge of my sanctuary.’”
9 The Lord God says: “No foreigner of all the many among you shall enter my sanctuary if he has not been circumcised and does not love the Lord. 10 And the men of the tribe of Levi who abandoned me when Israel strayed away from God to idols must be punished for their unfaithfulness. 11 They may be Temple guards and gatemen; they may slay the animals brought for burnt offerings and be present to help the people. 12 But because they encouraged the people to worship other gods, causing Israel to fall into deep sin, I have raised my hand and taken oath,” says the Lord God, “that they must be punished. 13 They shall not come near me to minister as priests; they may not touch any of my holy things, for they must bear their shame for all the sins they have committed. 14 They are the Temple caretakers, to do maintenance work and to assist the people in a general way.
15 “However, the sons of Zadok, of the tribe of Levi, continued as my priests in the Temple when Israel abandoned me for idols. These men shall be my ministers; they shall stand before me to offer the fat and blood of the sacrifices,” says the Lord God. 16 “They shall enter my sanctuary and come to my Table to minister to me; they shall fulfill my requirements.
17 “They must wear only linen clothing when they enter the passageway to the inner court, for they must wear no wool while on duty in the inner court or in the Temple. 18 They must wear linen turbans and linen trousers; they must not wear anything that would cause them to perspire. 19 When they return to the outer court, they must take off the clothes they wear while ministering to me, leaving them in the sacred chambers, and put on other clothes lest they harm the people by touching them with this clothing.
20 “They must not let their hair grow too long nor shave it off. Regular, moderate haircuts are all they are allowed. 21 No priest may drink wine before coming to the inner court. 22 He may marry only a Jewish maiden, or the widow of a priest; he may not marry a divorced woman.
23 “He shall teach my people the difference between what is holy and what is secular, what is right and what is wrong.[a]
24 “They will serve as judges to resolve any disagreements among my people. Their decisions must be based upon my laws. And the priests themselves shall obey my rules and regulations at all the sacred festivals, and they shall see to it that the Sabbath is kept a sacred day.
25 “A priest must not defile himself by being in the presence of a dead person, unless it is his father, mother, child, brother, or unmarried sister. In such cases it is all right. 26 But afterward he must wait seven days before he is cleansed and able to perform his Temple duties again. 27 The first day he returns to work and enters the inner court and the sanctuary, he must offer a sin offering for himself,” the Lord God says.
28 “As to property, they shall not own any, for I am their heritage! That is enough![b]
29 “Their food shall be the gifts and sacrifices brought to the Temple by the people—the cereal offerings, the sin offerings, and the guilt offerings. Whatever anyone gives to the Lord shall be the priests’. 30 The first of the first-ripe fruits and all the gifts for the Lord shall go to the priests. The first samples of each harvest of grain shall be donated to the priests too, so that the Lord will bless your homes. 31 Priests may never eat meat from any bird or animal that dies a natural death or that dies after being attacked by other animals.