In Ezekiel 44, foreigners are prohibited from entering the sanctuary of Ezekiel’s visionary temple. Past scholars have often read this passage in view of postexilic xenophobic developments in the Israelite attitude toward the foreigner, especially noting the foreigners’ total exclusion from the later Herodian temple precincts, the violation of which was punishable by death. However, I argue that in keeping with common Priestly tradition, Ezekiel reserves the term “sanctuary” (מקדש) for the realm of the Levites and Zadokite priests, that is, specifically the inner court of the temple complex. In light of this interpretation, Ezekiel 44 cannot be read to represent any especial polemic against the foreigner, pagan, or proselyte. Rather, I assert that the traditional place of the foreigner within the cultus of the first temple is understood to be among the native Israelite laity within the outer court of the temple complex.

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