The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Prophecy of Ezechiel
Then he brought me back to the eastern gate of the outer precincts, that was fast shut.
Shut this gate must ever be, the Lord told me, nor open its doors to give man entrance again, since the Lord, the God of Israel, entered by it. Access to it is none,
even for the prince himself; sit there he may, to eat his share of the welcome-offering, but it is through the hall at the other end of the gateway he comes and goes.
And so he took me towards the northern gate, in full view of the temple; and all the temple was filled with the brightness of the Lord’s presence, a sight that brought me to my knees, face to earth.
Give good heed, son of man, the Lord said to me; the open eye, the open ear! Rule and observance of the Lord’s house I mean to tell thee; of the temple, and who may approach it, of my sanctuary, and the manner of leaving it.
This message deliver, from the Lord God, to the rebel brood of Israel: Will you never have done with insult, men of Israel,
letting alien folk, that in mind and body circumcision have none, profane my house by entering the sanctuary? What avails it, to offer me bread, and fat, and blood, when all the while these foul doings of yours violate my covenant?
The sacred charge committed to you went for nothing; guardians of my own worship, in my own sanctuary, should be men of your choosing!
Place the alien may have, though body and mind be both uncircumcised, in the commonwealth of Israel, the Lord says; place in my sanctuary he has none.
There be Levites that have forsaken the following of me, when all the race of Israel went a-straying; that have betaken themselves to false gods, and must needs do penance for their fault.
What forbids they should be sacrists and door-keepers of mine, temple attendants to prepare burnt-sacrifice, slay victim, and stand ministering in the people’s presence?
Ministers of false worship, that betrayed Israel into guilt, they have made me their sworn enemy, and must be held to account for it;
never may they come before me as priests, never touch consecrated gift that is set apart for holy uses; disgraced they must needs be, penance must needs bear;
yet I would have them keep the doors of my house, and be charged with all the menial offices that belong to it.
The priests, the true Levites, shall be those sons of Sadoc that held fast by my temple worship when Israel left the following of me. Theirs to come forward as my ministers; theirs to wait upon my presence, offering me fat and blood of victims, the Lord God says;
theirs my sanctuary to enter, my table to approach, servants of mine that shall keep the charge I gave them.
Come they within the inner gate, they shall be all vested in linen; nothing of wool shall clothe them, when they serve me in the intimacy of the inner court;
mitres of linen on their brows, breeches of linen about their loins, with no such habiting as may bring them out in a sweat.
These vestments of office they must lay aside, and put away in the temple sacristy, when they go out to mingle with the people in the outer court; that holy contact is not for common folk; it is time they put on their workaday clothes instead.
They shall be at pains to cut their hair, not grow it long; yet cropped their heads must not be.
As for wine, a priest may not drink it when he is soon to enter the sanctuary.
Wed he, it must be a maid he weds, of Israelite birth; not rejected wife or widow, save it be the widow of another priest.
Their office it is, to teach the people what is clean and unclean, what is holy and what profane;
when dispute arises, to take their place at my judgement-seat and give award; my feasts with due rite and ordinance to observe, my sabbaths to keep holy.
Never shall they defile themselves with dead body’s contact, save only it be father or mother, son or daughter, brother or unwedded sister of theirs.
Cleansed though he be after such contact, a priest must wait for seven days yet,
nor enter the inner court to do service in my sanctuary, the Lord God says, till he has made an offering in amends for his fault.
And for the priestly tribe, it must have no patrimony assigned to it; I am their patrimony, nor needs he portion, whose portion is his God.
Bloodless offering they shall eat, and the victim that is offered for a fault or a wrong done; theirs every gift an Israelite vows to me,
theirs the first of all first-fruits, and the residue of all you offer; and the first batch of your baking you must give to the priest, to win his blessing for you and yours.
Bird or beast that drops dead, or has been a wild thing’s prey, the priest may not eat.
The Holy Bible