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 Ezekiel 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 Numbers 16:40.
The Levites as a body had remained true to the temple-service at Jerusalem 2 Chronicles 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” Ezekiel 45:5; the only manner in which the Levites of Ezekiel 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 (Ezra 2:40-42; compare Ezra 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” Ezekiel 20:5, that they should bear their iniquities.