Haftarah Portion Emor אמר

This week’s Haftarah portion Emor אמר  is found in Ezekiel 44:15-31.

It deals with the Levite Priests the sons of Zadok זדכ (meaning Righteous).

This is a quite an interesting passage of text to be found in the book of the Prophets. It was a time after Israel had gone astray from Adonai, and Adonai wanted to ensure they maintained the standard of holiness attributed to the priesthood especially that of the sons of the righteous priest. It is commonly believed that instructions in Ezekiel are for the priests of the 3rd Temple related to the end times.

We will be dealing with priests ministering to Adonai and conduct of the priests (especially marriage requirements).

Right off in verse 15 we see 6 times the word me or my speaking of Adonai. This speaks volumes of who the priests were ministering to. The passage goes on to include direct references to Adonai and is possessions being whom and what they serve. Obviously we know that the one whom they serve is Adonai. Verse 44:16 is definitely not discreet about who they will be serving.

“”So, the Levitical kohanim, the son’s of Zadok who kept charge of My Sanctuary when Bnei-Yisrael wandered from Me, will draw near to Me to minister to Me. They will stand before Me to offer Me the fat and the blood”- it is a declaration of Adonai. They are the ones who enter My Sanctuary, and draw near to My table to minister to Me”. Ez. 44:16

In the above quoted scripture you will notice the capitalization of the words “my and Me”. This capitalization is found in the text. It is very intentional of the scribes to ensure these stayed capitalized. It expresses complete ownership and distinction of who they will be serving.

The conduct of priests listed in Ezekiel 44 is parallel to Leviticus 21-24 which is the Torah Portion for this week as well.

They are to wear linen garments and no wool while in the gates of the inner court and within. Head turbans of linen, underclothes, and clothing that is not to cause sweat. This may seem like very practical teaching, however the reason for this is because the clothing they wore was considered holy enough to be contagious (so to speak) and Adonai did not wish for this to find a place in commonality. They were to take off the holy garments before leaving (in common clothing) the place of service and leave them in the holy chambers. Grooming is also of importance. They should not let their hair grow long, nor shave their heads. In addition they should not drink wine before entering the inner court.

Now the next part of the text is where it gets tricky. What may seem like an apparent contradiction, can be distinguished by several small details.

In the Torah portion we can read about who the priests can marry. It plainly states in verses Leviticus 21:13-14 that:

“And he shall take a wife in her virginity. A widow. or divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife.”

Just looking at these verses, it is not clear who he is speaking to. So we must take you back to the beginning of this passage which can be found in verse Lev. 21:10 in which we see that he is speaking to the high priest:

“And he that is the high priest among his brethren….”

So, you see in Leviticus that the prohibition to marry a widow is expressly listed for the High Priest. Further we also see that the prohibition is for the priesthood of Aharon and his sons.

“And Adonai said unto Moshe, Speak unto the priests the sons of Aharon….” Lev. 21:1

Now in the haftarah portion we see clear distinctions between the families in charge of the Priestly duties. In Leviticus we see Aharon and his Sons and in Ezekiel we have the Sons of Zadok.

Ezekiel 44:15 “but the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok…. ”

Further, we see that the widow that is permissible to marry in Ezekiel has to be a widow of a priest.

Ezekiel 44:22 “Neither shall they take for their wives a widow, nor her that is put away: but they shall take maidens of the seed of of the house of Yisrael, {or a widow that had a priest before}.”

You may be asking why this is important. First every word of Hashem is important. Next, there what is called counter-missionaries that often times try take text that is seemingly contradictory such as the passage about the widow, and use it to explain that the bible isn’t accurately translated or originated. Which in turn (especially for the unlearned or un-studied can cause a lot of grief and confusion. So, we study these things out to prepare us for those supposed contradictory questions you might get.