Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
This chapter gives an account of the glory of God having returned to the temple, Eze 44:14. The Jews reproved for suffering idolatrous priests to pollute it with their ministrations, Eze 44:5-8. Ordinances respecting the conduct of the priests, and the maintenance due to them, vv. 9-31.
The outward sanctuary - In opposition to the temple itself, which was the inner sanctuary.
This gate shall be shut - It was not to be opened on ordinary occasions, nor at all on the week days: but only on the Sabbaths and the new moons. See the account of the gates (4) in the explanation of the plan.
This verse has been adduced by the Roman Catholics to prove the perpetual virginity of the mother of our Lord; and it may be allowed to be as much to the purpose as any other that has been brought to prove this very precarious point, on which no stress should ever be laid by any man. Mary was a virgin when she brought forth Jesus.
Mark well, and behold - Take notice of every thing; register all so fully that thou shalt be able to give the most minute information to the children of Israel.
The fat and the blood - These never went into common use; they were wholly offered to God. The blood was poured out; the fat consumed.
Because of all your abominations - Several MSS. of Kennicott's and De Rossi's read their abominations, referring to the strangers mentioned before.
And the Levites that are gone away far from me - This refers to the schism of Jeroboam, who, when he set up a new worship, got as many of the priests and Levites to join him in his idolatry as he could. These, on the return from the captivity, should not be permitted to perform the functions of priests in the new temple; but they might be continued as keepers of all the charge of the house - be treasurers, guards of the temple, porters, etc.; see Eze 44:11-15. The whole of these passages refer to the period of time when the second temple was built.
Come near to my table - To place the shew-bread there, and to burn incense on the golden altar in the holy of holies.
No wool shall come upon them - The reason is plain; wool is more apt than linen to contract dirt and breed insects; linen breeds none; besides, this is a vegetable, and the other an animal substance. It was an ancient maxim, that whatever was taken from a dead body was impure in matters of religion, and should not be permitted to enter into the temple. The Egyptian priests always wore linen on their bodies, and shoes of matting or rushes on their feet. The Mohammedans never write the Koran upon vellum or skin of any kind, as they would consider that as a defilement.
Neither shall they shave their heads - The priests of Isis shaved their heads close to the skin; the priests of Budhoo do so still, their ordinances oblige them to shave their heads every tenth day. To let the hair grow long would have been improper; therefore the Lord commands them to poll - cut the hair short, but not to shave.
Neither shall they take for their wives a widow - This was prohibited to the high priest only, by Moses, Lev 21:13, Lev 21:14.
And they shall come at no dead person to defile themselves - Touching the dead defiles a Hindoo now, as it formerly did a Jew; and they must bathe to become clean again.
I am their inheritance - Those who affect to form their ecclesiastical matters on the model of the Jewish Church have with one consent left this out of the question. They will not live on the free-will offerings of the people; but must have vast revenues, and these secured to them by law. That every minister of God should be supported by the altar I grant; but I think, instead of that method of paying the parochial clergy which I see is so much objected to, and breeds so much dissension between the pastors and their flocks, it would be better, on these accounts, to assign them a portion of land adequate to their supply, or let the state maintain them as it does its other officers. In Israel God was their inheritance and their possession; but they had the breast and shoulder of all sin-offerings and trespass-offerings, and all dedicated things were theirs; and they had a portion of all the dough that was prepared for bread. These were considered as the Lord's property, and these he gave to them; and this is always implied in the Lord's being their inheritance and their possession. They had a plentiful support.
Hitherto tithes have been thought the best mode of paying the clergy, and providing for the poor of each parish; but these matters have undergone such alterations since the time of their institution, that some emendation of the system is at present absolutely necessary.
There should be a public acknowledgment of God in every nation, and this should be provided for by the state in a way the least burdensome to the people, that all may rejoice in the benefit. Happy the nations that have a Bible so correct, and a Liturgy so pure, as those in the British empire! In such cases, a religion established by the state is an unutterable blessing to the nation; only keep it to the Bible, and to the Liturgy, and all, under God, will be well; but when the sermon is against these, all is bad.