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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 21

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verse 1


Verses 1-6:

The priests were to be ceremonially clean, in order to officiate in their prescribed duties. Because any contact with a dead body resulted in legal ceremonial uncleanness, they were forbidden to take part in any funeral rites, except in the case of immediate family members. Shaving of the head, the certain ways of trimming the beard were funeral customs, see Le 19:27, 28.

The reason for this prohibition: they were especially dedicated to Jehovah Elohim and His service, and they must act with gravity and sobriety at all times.

Christians today belong to the Lord. For that reason, they are to act with sobriety at all times, see 1Co 9:25-27; 2Co 5:13.

Verses 7-8

Verses 7, 8:

The priest must be careful in his selection of a wife. He must not marry an immoral woman, one who had been a prostitute. Neither was he permitted to marry a woman who had been divorced. The reason: his life must be above reproach and free from any taint of suspicion, because of his position in the service of Jehovah God, cp. 1Ti 3:1-7; Tit 1:7.

Verse 9

Verse 9:

The priest must exercise care over his own family, compare 1Ti 3:11; Tit 1:6. If his daughter became a prostitute, she must be "burnt with fire." This does not mean that she was to be burned alive. She was to be put to death by some other means, either by stoning or by strangulation. Then her corpse was to be burned. There is no Scripture example of this provision being carried out.

Verses 10-15

Verses 10-15:

The ceremonial and moral requirements for the high priest were more stringent than for the common priests. This law forbade him to take part in any funeral rites, even for his own parents. He was to be ceremonially clean at all times, so as to be able to fulfill his duties in the sanctuary "in season and out of season."

The high priest must not only not marry an immoral or a divorced woman; he must marry only a virgin from among his own people, or the Levitical tribe.

The strict requirements for the high priest illustrate the principle of greater accountability for those with greater responsibility, Jas 3:1; Lu 12:28.

Verses 16-24

Verses 16-24:

Bodily perfection pictured perfection of the entire man, moral and spiritual. Thus, none could officiate at the Lord’s altar, either in the holy place or the most holy place, who had any bodily defect or blemish, or any wart or other superfluous growth, or who was injured in his testicles. As the descendants of Aaron, any priest who had such a blemish was to be supported as were the other priests, but he was not allowed to officiate at the altars.

"Sanctuaries" refers to the tabernacle courtyard, the holy place, and the holy of holies. The blemished priest could not officiate in any of these areas, though he could enter them to eat the offerings of the priests, see Le 2:3, 10; 6:17, 25, 29; 1Co 9:26, 27.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Leviticus 21". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/leviticus-21.html. 1985.
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