Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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With regard to the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Mother of God, the following two verses are cited: "This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter by it, because the Lord God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut. As for the prince, because he is the prince, he may sit in it to eat bread before the LORD; he shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gateway, and go out the same way"(Ezek 44:2,3).

  1. What does this verse mean? If the gate is the womb, what is 'the vestibule of the gateway'?

  2. Who is the prince?

  3. What is meant by "he may sit in it to eat bread before the LORD"?

  4. How does this verse confirm the blessed Virgin Mary’s virginity?

Although verses 1 & 2 have been adduced to prove the perpetual virginity of the mother of our Lord, there is another meaning to the verse:.Having heard the voice of the Lord Yahweh speaking to him from the sanctuary, with instructions about the altar, Ezekiel was now brought by the heavenly visitant back to the east gate of the heavenly temple. However, he found that it was permanently closed. God then spoke to him again and explained to him the reason for the closure; mainly that it was Yahweh, the God of Israel who had Himself entered by it. Therefore, it was to remain shut until it was time to release the overflowing of blessings for which it had been purposed (chapter 47).

This kind of ban was also a common practice during the time of great, important earthly monarchs. After the great king had entered a city, the gate through which he had entered would, for a time, remain closed to common people in recognition of his status and greatness.

This was once again to remind God's people of His holiness. Once His glory came in contact with something it remained 'very holy', and therefore could not be touched by any human being  This was now true of the gate of the heavenly temple by which Yahweh had entered. His glory remained in it (compare Exodus 34:29).

But this gate was no ordinary gate. It was a supernatural gate. For one day from under its threshold would flow rivers of living water, and such abundant waters that they would transform the landscape, and the world, and this too was measured by the man with the measuring line (47:3). Thus the gate symbolized the unique presence of God waiting in heavenly power in His heavenly temple to burst forth on the world.

Verse 44:3 "As for the prince, he will sit in it as prince to eat bread before Yahweh. He will enter by the way of the porch of the gate, and will go out by way of the same."

This gateway was henceforth to be so holy that only 'the prince' could enter it. He had to enter the gateway from within (from the outer court) for sacred communion and a sacral feast with Yahweh. This is speaking of the Davidic prince, God's shepherd and servant (37:24). It was a reminder that although he was not a sacrificing priest, he was recognized as having special sacred duties and responsibilities, and had a sacred place reserved for him. He was a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, a royal priest (Psalm 110:4). It indicated the favored place that a Davidic prince would have forever in the eyes of God.

A possible interpretation would be that a special place, a very holy place, should be reserved for each Davidic prince having regard to his sacred status (see 2 Samuel 21:1; 24:17,25), to enable him to commune with God and plead for the people. This place would be seen as sacred because it represented that heavenly east gate which had been entered by the manifested presence of God. It was a way of glorifying the final Davidic prince who would one day come to mean so much to Israel and the world. In addition,it confirmed his royal priesthood.

It is an honor to him that
(1) He shall sit in this gate to eat his share of the peace offerings, that sacred food, before the Lord.
(2) He shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate, by some little door or wicket, either in the gate or adjoining to it, which is called the say of the porch. This is to signify that God puts some of his glory upon magistrates, and princes of his people, for He has said, “You are gods.” Some interpreted the prince as the high priest, or the sagan or second priest; and that he only was allowed to enter by this gate, for he was God's representative. Christ is the high priest. who himself entered into the holy place, and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.

The first reference must be to the Spirit empowered Zerubbabel (Zechariah 4:6), who was responsible for the day of small things (Zechariah 4:10) which would eventually shake the world (Haggai 2:21-23). But it also certainly pointed higher to the coming of the Messianic prince Himself, of whom Zerubbabel was only a pale reflection. A place, a very holy place, was to be reserved, where he could eat bread before Yahweh, and this place would ever be a reminder of that glorious day when Yahweh had returned to the land in His glory, and it would contain a promise of the going forth of future blessing. This refers to our Lord Jesus Christ's incarnation; the Son of God came down from heaven and became man.

It may well be that whenever Jesus went into a quiet place to commune with His Father, He saw Himself as entering the east gate of the heavenly temple on 'the mountain' (Matthew 5:1; 8:1; 14:23; 15:29; 17:1; Mark 3:13; 6:46; 9:2; Luke 6:12; John 6:3,15). He alone had unique entry into God's presence. For He knew more than any other that the earthly temple was rejected, because it had rejected Him; but that God still dwelt among His true people in the heavenly temple. The Kingly Rule of God was there because He had not totally deserted them. He knew that from that temple, finally embodied in the lives of His people, that His Word would go forth into the world as Isaiah had promised (Isaiah 2:3). It was from the east gate that rivers of living water would flow out to the world (Ezekiel 47); and this represented the Holy Spirit Whom the Messianic prince would abundantly give (39:29; John 7:37-39; 15:26; 20:22).

Regarding Question #4; a girl cannot become pregnant if the gate to her womb is shut! This gate is the seal of her virginity. In the case of the virgin Mary, it remained intact because it was never entered by a man.
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