Ezekiel – Chapter 46

Coming and Going

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

G-d said that the eastern gate of the inner courtyard would remain closed on regular weekdays, but be opened on Sabbath and Rosh Chodesh (“New Moon”). The ruler would enter through the hall of the outer gate and stand by the doorway while the kohein (priest) offers his sacrifices. He will bow and exit, but the gate would not be closed until evening so that the people of the nation might also use this gate on these special days.

The burnt offering of the ruler on holidays would be six lambs and a ram. (Rashi points out that really it should be seven lambs and two rams, but this verse shows us that missing one does invalidate the service altogether.) On Rosh Chodesh, he should offer a bull in addition to the lambs and the ram. (Same as before: it really should be two, but one still works.) These animals should have the requisite amounts of meal and oil brought with them.

The ruler enters and leaves by the same gate on Sabbath and Rosh Chodesh (although not on festivals). When the people come for the festivals, they should enter by the north gate and exit by the south gate, or vice versa, but not exit the way they came in, and the ruler should do likewise. (He cannot enter through the eastern gate on festivals because there was no western gate across from it by which to exit.)

When the ruler brings a voluntary sacrifice on a regular weekday, they should open the east gate specially for him. In this case, they are to close it when he leaves.

The chapter then describes the daily sacrifices: a yearling lamb every morning, with the requisite meal and oil. (The afternoon sacrifice is not mentioned; the Radak takes this to mean that it will not be offered in the third Temple.)

If the ruler gives real estate to one of his sons, that son may keep it, since he would inherit it anyway. If the ruler gives land to one of his subjects, that is only until the Jubilee year, when land reverts to its Tribal owners. The ruler may not confiscate land from his subjects to give his sons; he may only give his own.

Ezekiel was escorted to the place where the kohanim (priests) cooked their sacrificial portions, which were not to be brought to the outer courtyard. Ezekiel was brought to the outer courtyard, where there was a small, enclosed area in each corner. Each was thirty by forty cubits. According to the Mishna in Middos 2:5, one chamber was for the Nazirites, one was for those recovering from tzaraas (commonly translated as “leprosy,” but not really the same thing), one was where firewood was checked for worms, and one was where wine and oil were stored. All four of them had a wall of stones with a place to light a fire and place a cooking pot. The angel told Ezekiel that this was where the priests would cook their portions from the people’s sacrifices. (These chambers were uncovered so that the smoke of the fires could exit.)

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