Ezekiel 44:20

Ezekiel 44:20

Yoel Halevi One comments

There is an interesting question raised in the laws about the Kohanim in Ezekiel 44:20

וְרֹאשָׁם לֹא יְגַלֵּחוּ וּפֶרַע לֹא יְשַׁלֵּחוּ כָּסוֹם יִכְסְמוּ אֶת רָאשֵׁיהֶם

“They are not to shave their heads or let their hair grow long, but must keep their hair carefully trimmed”

The above translation uses the traditional Jewish understanding of the verbs כָּסוֹם יִכְסְמוּ which understands that the Kohanim are to have short trimmed hair. This understanding is based on the analysis that the root is כסס which means “to trim, cut very small”. However, this verb is primarily common in Hebrew after the bible and is probably not the root or the meaning. 

It is more likely that the root is כסמ and that contextually it means “to keep fashioned and organized”. This can be understood from the context of prohibiting shaving the head and growing the hair wild. Hence, Ezekiel is presenting laws similar to that in Leviticus 21:5&10

לֹא (יקרחה) יִקְרְחוּ קָרְחָה בְּרֹאשָׁם

אֶת רֹאשׁוֹ לֹא יִפְרָע וּבְגָדָיו לֹא יִפְרֹם

“They are not to make bald spots on their heads…”

He is not to make his hair wild (i.e., stop grooming his hair), and he will not tear his clothes”.

The above verses are used for regular kohanim and the high kohen, but Ezekiel has enhanced laws that expanded the rules to both types of kohanim and are based on Torah law. Why this is done is unclear to me, but it is clear that Ezekiel knows the laws of the Torah and the prophecy uses them. 

One comments

Hermine Dow

May 30, 2023 at 4:45 pm

makes sense to me. I sometimes wondered if Ezekiel was trying to remember…many things…and therefore wrote them down.

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