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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 21

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-12

Their Outward Appearance and Relations.

v. 1. And the Lord said unto Moses, Speak unto the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say unto them, There shall none be defiled for the dead among his people (for a person became unclean not only by touching a dead body, but also by being in the same tent or room with a deceased person, Numbers 19:11-14)

v. 2. but for his kin that is near unto him, that is, for his mother, and for his father, and for his son, and for his daughter, and for his brother,

v. 3. and for his sister, a virgin, as long as she is unmarried, that is nigh unto him, which hath had no husband; for her may he be defiled. After her marriage she belonged to her husband's family, and the intimate ties of relationship were naturally severed. A daughter always retains her affection for her parents, while a married sister is usually estranged from her brother

v. 4. But he shall not defile himself being a chief among his people, to profane himself; that is, he was not permitted to become unclean on account of any person related to him by marriage, but only on account of blood-relatives.

v. 5. They shall not make baldness upon their head, by shaving off the hair, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, crop or trim the edges, nor make any cuttings in their flesh, all these being extreme marks of severe mourning and grief. Cf Leviticus 19:27-28; Deuteronomy 14:1.

v. 6. They shall be holy unto their God, and not profane the name of their God, as they would do by expressions of passionate grief, which are often equivalent to rebellion against His dispensations; for the offerings of the Lord made by fire, and the bread of their God, they do offer, thus serving Jehovah, drawing near to the Lord who has revealed Himself to His people as the Holy One; therefore they shall be holy.

v. 7. They shall not take a wife that is a whore, a public prostitute, or profane, a fallen woman, or one of illegitimate birth; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband, a divorced woman; for he (the priest) is holy unto his God. The wives of the priests had to be of unblemished and spotless character.

v. 8. Thou shalt sanctify him therefore; for he offereth the bread of thy God, in the various sacrifices; he shall be holy unto thee; for I, the Lord, which sanctify you, am holy. The entire life and surroundings of the priests were to be in harmony with their calling.

v. 9. And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father, brings disgrace not only upon his person, but also upon his office; she shall be burned with fire, after having suffered the punishment of death.

v. 10. And he that is the high priest among his brethren, selected for that position from among his brethren, the children of Levi, upon whose head the anointing oil was poured, and that is consecrated to put on the garments, shall not uncover his head, go about with unkempt hair, nor rend his clothes, another of the accustomed marks of mourning, a precept which was disregarded by Caiaphas during the trial of Christ, Matthew 26:65;

v. 11. neither shall he go into any dead body, nor defile himself for his father or for his mother, contact with the dead body of even these nearest relatives being forbidden;

v. 12. neither shall he go out of the Sanctuary, namely, for the purpose of visiting the home of his relatives at such a time, nor profane the Sanctuary of his God by bringing uncleanness upon his person in this manner; for the crown of the anointing oil of his God is upon him. I am the Lord. As a high priest of the Lord, set apart for the work of the Sanctuary by the oil of consecration, he was strictly to avoid all contamination, since this would bring disgrace upon Jehovah.

Verses 13-24

Wives of Priests; Blemishes

v. 13. And he shall take a wife in her virginity, a pure virgin.

v. 14. A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, a fallen woman, or an harlot, these shall he not take,

v. 7. but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife, a daughter of Israel.

v. 15. Neither shall he profane his seed among his people by being joined in wedlock in a way which would not harmonize with the sanctity of his position; for I, the Lord, do sanctify him.

v. 16. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,

v. 17. Speak unto Aaron, saying, Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations, among all his coming descendants, that hath any blemish, any bodily defect, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God, the sacrifices in general, for these culminated in the showbread.

v. 18. For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, misshapen or slit, or anything superfluous, abnormal members of the body,

v. 19. or a man that is broken-footed, that has broken-down arches, or broken-handed,

v. 20. or crookbacked, one that has a hump, or a dwarf, one that is abnormally slender, or that hath a blemish in his eye, that is, a white spot conspicuous enough to draw attention, or be scurvy, affected with a growth which resembled leprosy, or scabbed, with a disfiguring skin-disease, or hath his stones broken, affected with a disease of the sexual organs;

v. 21. no man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron, the priest, shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the Lord made by fire; he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God, he was excluded from the characteristic work of the priesthood.

v. 22. He shall eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy, Leviticus 2:3, and of the holy, of the wave-breast and of the heave-shoulder, of first-fruits, tithes, and gifts. This compassionate provision compensated, in a way, for the exclusion of these men from active service in the Sanctuary.

v. 23. Only he shall not go in unto the veil, nor come nigh unto the altar, he shall not discharge the official functions of the high priest or of the priests, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not My sanctuaries; for I, the Lord, do sanctify them.

v. 24. And Moses told it unto Aaron and to his sons and unto all the children of Israel; for the entire congregation was interested in the observance of these ordinances. In the New Testament the congregation of the believers is even more interested in the keeping of God's ordinances, because the discrimination between a special priesthood and a laity no longer exists, and every member is responsible for matters of doctrine and of life.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Leviticus 21". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/leviticus-21.html. 1921-23.
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