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:
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,
And for his sister a virgin, that is nigh unto him, which hath had no husband; for her may he be defiled.
But he shall not defile himself, being a chief man among his people, to profane himself.
The sense seems to be that, owing to his position in the nation, the priest is not to defile himself in any cases except those named in Leviticus 21:2-3. The Septuagint appear to have followed a different reading of the text which would mean, "he shall not defile himself for a moment." The explanation in the margin of our version is hardly in keeping with the prohibition to Ezekiel on a special occasion. See Ezekiel 24:16.
They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh.
These prohibitions given to the people at large (compare the margin reference.) had a special fitness for the Hebrew priests. They were the instruments of the divine will for averting death, all their sacrifices were a type of the death of Christ, which swallowed up death in victory 1 Corinthians 15:54-57, and it would therefore have been unsuitable that they should have the same freedom as other people to become mourners.
They shall be holy unto their God, and not profane the name of their God: for the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and the bread of their God, they do offer: therefore they shall be holy.
The word here and in Leviticus 21:8 rendered "bread", is the same as is rendered food in Leviticus 3:11, Leviticus 3:16, etc., and meat in Leviticus 22:11. The reader of the English Bible should keep in view that bread, meat, and food, were nearly equivalent terms when our translation was made, and represent no distinctions that exist in the Hebrew.
They shall not take a wife that is a whore, or profane; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband: for he is holy unto his God.
Profane - A woman who has been seduced, or one of illegitimate birth. A somewhat stricter rule for the priests' marriages was revealed to the prophet in later times, Ezekiel 44:22.
Thou shalt sanctify him therefore; for he offereth the bread of thy God: he shall be holy unto thee: for I the LORD, which sanctify you, am holy.
The people of Israel are now addressed. They are commanded to regard the priests, who perform for them the service of the altar, as holy in respect of their office.
And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire.
burnt with fire - See the Leviticus 20:14 note.
And he that is the high priest among his brethren, upon whose head the anointing oil was poured, and that is consecrated to put on the garments, shall not uncover his head, nor rend his clothes;
It was the distinguishing mark of the anointing of the high priest, that the holy oil was poured upon his head like a crown (compare Leviticus 8:12).
Uncover his head - Rather, let his hair be disheveled. See the note at Leviticus 10:6.
Neither shall he go in to any dead body, nor defile himself for his father, or for his mother;
Neither shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor profane the sanctuary of his God; for the crown of the anointing oil of his God is upon him: I am the LORD.
Go out of the sanctuary - i. e. not for the purpose to which reference is here made. The words do not mean, as some have imagined, that his abode was confined to the sanctuary.
And he shall take a wife in her virginity.
A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife.
Neither shall he profane his seed among his people: for I the LORD do sanctify him.
Profane his seed - i. e. by a marriage which was not in keeping with the holiness of his office.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
He was not treated as an outcast, but enjoyed his privileges as a son of Aaron, except in regard to active duties.
Speak unto Aaron, saying, Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God.
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, or any thing superfluous,
Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded,
Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken;
A dwarf - One who is small and wasted, either short, as in the text, or slender, as in the margin. It is hardly likely that dwarfishness would be overlooked in this enumeration. So most critical authorities.
Scurry or scabbed - These words most probably include all affected with any skin disease.
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 shall eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy, and of the holy.
Only he shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries: for I the LORD do sanctify them.
Sanctuaries - The places especially holy, including the most holy place, the holy place, and the altar.
This law is of course to be regarded as one development of the great principle that all which is devoted to the service of God should be as perfect as possible of its kind.
And Moses told it unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel.