Ezekiel 44:3 MEANING

Ezekiel 44:3
(3) The prince.--The Rabbis understood this to refer to the Messiah, and unquestionably the same person must be meant as by David in Ezekiel 34:23-24; Ezekiel 37:24. This gives another and a conclusive reason for regarding the sacrificial worship of Ezekiel 46 as symbolical.

To eat bread before the Lord.--This is the common scriptural expression for partaking of the sacrifices (see Genesis 31:54; Exodus 18:12), and there is no reason for restricting it to the shew-bread and other unbloody offerings. The eating of the latter was an exclusively priestly prerogative, and the "prince" of Ezekiel, though greatly distinguished, is not in any way endued with priestly functions. He is to partake of his sacrificial meals within this highly-honoured gate, while the people eat in the outer court. There has been much discussion as to whether the prince was to go in and out by this gateway, or only, having entered by one of the others, to eat in this. The language here seems sufficiently plain, and if there could be any doubt, it would be removed by Ezekiel 46:1-2; Ezekiel 46:8; Ezekiel 46:10; Ezekiel 46:12. It appears there that the prince is always to enter and leave by this gate except "in the solemn feasts;" then he is to enter in the midst of the people, by either the north or the south gate, and go out by the opposite one.

Verse 3. - It is for the prince conveys an erroneous impression, as if the edict, excluding all from passing through the east outer gate, did not apply to the prince; but even for him the gate was not to serve as a mode of entrance into the temple, or, if so, only on exceptional occasions (see on Ezekiel 46:2), but merely as a place to sit in. The Revised Version accurately renders the words, As for the prince, he shall sit therein as prince, etc. That the "prince" here alluded to (הַגָּשִׂיא) could not have been the Prince David, i.e. the Messiah already spoken of (Ezekiel 34:23, 24; Ezekiel 37:24), but must have denoted the civic authorities of the new community of Israel, "the civil head of the theocracy," Havernick infers from Ezekiel 45:8, 9, where the coming "prince" is contrasted with Israel's previous rulers who oppressed their subjects, from the absence of some such characteristic predicate as "shepherd" or "king," which would, he thinks, have been attached to the word "prince" had it been intended to designate Messiah, from the prince's offering for himself a sin offering (Ezekiel 45:22), from the allusion to his sons (Ezekiel 46:16), and from what is recorded about his behavior in worship (Ezekiel 46:2); but none of these statements concerning the "prince' forbids his identification with Messiah, unless on the supposition that it was already understood Messiah should be a Divine-human Personage. This, however, had not then been so distinctly revealed as to be widely and accurately known. Hence it seems enough to say that while the "prince" would have his highest antitype in the Messiah, he would also have, though in a lower and lesser degree, an antitype in every righteous ruler (if ever there should be such) who might subsequently preside over Israel (see on Ezekiel 37:25). The phrase, to eat bread before the Lord, while referring in the first instance to those sacrificial meals which, under the Law, commonly accompanied unbloody offerings, as the meat offerings (Leviticus 2:3), the showbread (Leviticus 24:9), and the unleavened leaves of the Passover (Exodus 12:18; Leviticus 23:6; Numbers 28:17; Deuteronomy 16:3), and could only be partaken of by the priests, in the second instance signified to partake of sacrificial meals in general, even of such as consisted of the portions of flesh which were eaten in connection with ordinary bloody offerings (Genesis 31:54; Exodus 18:12). If, after Kliefoth, the former be adopted as the import of the phrase here, then the thought will be that in the new cultus the prince should enjoy a privilege which under the old was not possessed even by the king; if, after Keil, the second view be preferred, the sense will amount to this, that under the regulations of the future the prince should have the favor accorded him "of holding his sacrificial meals in the gate," whereas the people should only be permitted to hold theirs "in the court," or "in the vicinity of the sacrificial kitchens." The way of the porch is mentioned as the ingress and egress for the prince; which implies that he should obtain access to the outer court by either the north or the south gate, since the outer door of the east gate was shut. This renders it probable that Ezekiel was himself standing on the outside of the east gate (see on ver. 1).

44:1-31 This chapter contains ordinances relative to the true priests. The prince evidently means Christ, and the words in ver. 2, may remind us that no other can enter heaven, the true sanctuary, as Christ did; namely, by virtue of his own excellency, and his personal holiness, righteousness, and strength. He who is the Brightness of Jehovah's glory entered by his own holiness; but that way is shut to the whole human race, and we all must enter as sinners, by faith in his blood, and by the power of his grace.It is for the prince: the prince shall sit in it to eat bread before the Lord,.... Or, "as for the prince, the prince shall sit in it" (e); in the gate which is shut to others: not the high priest, as Jarchi, though he might have a particular seat in the temple, as Eli had in the tabernacle, 1 Samuel 1:9, where he might eat the bread and flesh of holy things: nor the political prince, the king of Israel, though he might have a place in the temple peculiar to himself; see 2 Chronicles 6:12, 2 Chronicles 24:31, and the Jews say only the kings of the house of David were allowed to sit in the sanctuary: but the King Messiah, as Kimchi and Ben Melech rightly interpret it, is here meant; who before, in this prophecy, is called David a Prince, Ezekiel 34:24, he who is the Prince of peace; Michael the great Prince; the Prince of life, and the Prince of the kings of the earth; the Messiah the Prince. Such who interpret the gate of the gate of heaven understand this of Christ's sitting down there at his Father's right hand, on the same throne with him, having done his work, and being at ease, and in honour; and of his enjoyment of glory there, as the heavenly glory is sometimes signified by a feast, by sitting down at a table, and eating bread in the kingdom of God, Matthew 8:11, and so it may intend his being in the presence of God with the utmost delight and joy; having that glory he had with him before the world was, and all power in heaven and in earth; dispensing gifts and grace to men, and receiving honour and glory from them, and seeing the travail of his soul with satisfaction: but why may it not be understood, more consistent with the scope of the vision, of his sitting in his church, at his table there with his saints, eating with them, and they with him, in his word and ordinances before the Lord? see Sol 1:12,

he shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate, and shall go out by the way of the same; which some explain of Christ's ascension to heaven, and descent from thence in the same way; he went up to heaven in the eastern part of the world, from the mount of Olives, to the east of Jerusalem; and in like manner shall he descend, and his feet shall stand on that mount, Acts 1:11, but it may be interpreted of his going in and out of his church at his will and pleasure; and affording his gracious presence and fellowship with himself in his house and ordinances,

(e) "veruntamen ad principem quod attinet, princeps ipse inquam", &c. Piscator; "quantum ad principem"; "princeps sedebit in ea", Noldius, Ebr. Part. Concord. p. 120.

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