Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
The relation of the different classes of people to the temple and its courts.
Eze 44:1-3. The position of the Prince.
Outward sanctuary - The court of the priests, as distinguished from the temple itself. This gate was reserved for the prince, to whom it was opened on certain days. Only a prince of the house of David might sit down in the priests' court (compare Eze 46:1-2).
The Lord hath entered in - See Eze 43:2.
The prince - Foretold under the name of David Eze 34:24. The rabbis understood this to be the Messiah.
To eat bread - See Lev 2:3; Lev 24:9; according to the old Law these feasts belonged only to the priests; none of the rest of the congregation, not even the king, might partake of them. The new system gives to the "prince" a privilege which he did not before possess; the prince, as the representative of the Messiah, standing in a higher position than the kings of old. "To eat bread" may also include participation in the animals sacrificed, portions of which were reserved for those of the people who offered them.
Admonition to the ministering priests, grounded upon former neglect.
The north gate before the house - The north gate of the inner court. God expostulates with His people in the seat of their former idolatries Eze 8:3.
Mark well - The careful arrangements made had all been intended to keep the temple and its surroundings from profanation. Hence, attention to these particulars is enjoined.
Strangers - This refers especially to the sin of unauthorized and unfaithful priests ministering in the services of the temple. Compare marginal references.
Mine holy things - The altar, its sacrifices, the sacred utensils, and the like.
For yourselves - According to your own pleasure, not My ordinances Num 16:40.
The Levites as a body had remained true to the temple-service at Jerusalem Ch2 11:13; but individuals among them deserted to Israel probably from the first (see the marginal references), as in later years some went over to the worship of the Samaritans on Mount Gerizim. These apostate Levites "shall bear their iniquities," they shall not be restored to their former rank and privileges.
Ministers - As, according to the new system, the Levites, as a body, were to receive their portion in the "oblation" Eze 45:5; the only manner in which the Levites of Eze 44:10 could live at all, was as part of the whole body, to which they were therefore reunited, but in the lowest grade. It is remarkable that the number of Levites who returned after the captivity was very small, not exceeding 400, of whom only 74 were priests' assistants (Ezr 2:40-42; compare Ezr 8:15-19). The gap in their number was filled up by 220 Nethinim ("given" ones), probably originally strangers and captives, who, although employed in the temple services, were held by the Jews in the lowest repute.
Lifted up mine hand - i. e., "The Lord sware" Eze 20:5, that they should bear their iniquities.
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.
The material of which the four vestments of the ordinary priest were made was "linen," or, more accurately, "byssus," the cotton stuff of Egypt. The two special qualities of the byssus - white and shining - are characteristic, and on them part of the symbolic meaning depended. Compare Rev 19:8.
They shall not sanctify the people - They shall not touch the people with their holy garments. The word "sanctify" is used because the effect of touching was to separate as holy the persons or things so touched (Exo 29:37; Exo 30:29; compare Lev 6:18). The priests wore the distinctive dress, only while performing in the temple strictly sacrificial services.
The holy chambers; see Eze 42:1 ff.
Restrictions and exceptions intended to mark the holiness of the office of a priest, imposing on him additional (compare the marginal reference) obligations to purity, and communicating it in some degree to his wife. In the Christian Church all the members are "priests" Pe1 2:5; Rev 1:6; Rev 20:6. Hence, the directions for maintaining the holiness of the "priesthood" in the new order, represent the necessity for holiness in all Christians, and the exclusion of the "uncircumcised in heart and in flesh" is equivalent to the exclusion of "all that defileth" from the New Jerusalem Rev 21:27.
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 Mar 15:1.
It shall be unto them - The remains of the sacrifices were a chief source of the priests' support. The burnt-offerings being entirely consumed, the priests had the skins, which yielded a considerable revenue; meat-offerings and drink-offerings belonged entirely to them. sin-offerings and trepass-offerings, except in particular cases, also belonged to the priests and were partaken of in the temple. Of the peace-offerings a portion dedicated to the Lord by waving was left for the priests, and the rest eaten by the officers and their friends, either in the courts of the temple, or at least within Jerusalem. The kitchen-courts (K, Plan II Ezek. Eze 46:21-24), were provided in order to prepare these public meals.
Oblation - Offering, margin "heave-offering" (see Eze 45:1; Exo 25:2; Exo 29:27; Notes and Pref. to Leviticus).