|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
21:1-24 Laws concerning the priests. - As these priests were types of Christ, so all ministers must be followers of him, that their example may teach others to imitate the Saviour. Without blemish, and separate from sinners, He executed his priestly office on earth. What manner of persons then should his ministers be! But all are, if Christians, spiritual priests; the minister especially is called to set a good example, that the people may follow it. Our bodily infirmities, blessed be God, cannot now shut us out from his service, from these privileges, or from his heavenly glory. Many a healthful, beautiful soul is lodged in a feeble, deformed body. And those who may not be suited for the work of the ministry, may serve God with comfort in other duties in his church.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
They shall not make baldness upon their head,.... For the dead, as Jarchi, Aben Ezra, and Ben Gersom; not shave their heads, or round the corners of them, or make baldness between their eyes on that account; as those things were forbid the Israelites, so the priests also; this and what follow being superstitious customs used among the Heathens in their mournings for the dead, particularly by the Chaldeans, as Aben Ezra observes; and so by the Grecians; when Hephestion, one of Alexander's captains, died, he shaved his soldiers and himself, imitating Achilles in Homer (t); so the Egyptians, mourning for the loss of Osiris, annually shaved their heads (u); and the priests of Isis, mourning for her lost son, are called by Minutius Felix (w) her bald priests; see Leviticus 19:27,
neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard: the five corners of it; See Gill on Leviticus 19:27. This the Israelites in common might not do, and particularly their priests; though the Egyptian priests shaved both their heads and beards, as Herodotus (x) relates: and so they are represented in the Table of Isis (y):
nor make any cuttings in their flesh; either with their nails, tearing their cheeks and breasts, or with an instrument cutting their flesh in any part of their bodies, as was the custom of Heathen nations; such were made by the Egyptians in their mournings (z); See Gill on Leviticus 19:28.
(t) Aelian. Var. Hist. l. 7. c. 8. (u) Julius Firmicus de Error. Proph. p. 2.((w) In Octavio, p. 22. Vid. Lactant. de fals. Relig. l. 1. c. 21. (x) Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 36. (y) Vid. Pignorii Mens. Isiac. liter. S. (z) Julius Firmicus, ut supra. (u))
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. They shall not make baldness upon their heads … nor … cuttings in their flesh—The superstitious marks of sorrow, as well as the violent excesses in which the heathen indulged at the death of their friends, were forbidden by a general law to the Hebrew people (Le 19:28). But the priests were to be laid under a special injunction, not only that they might exhibit examples of piety in the moderation of their grief, but also by the restraint of their passions, be the better qualified to administer the consolations of religion to others, and show, by their faith in a blessed resurrection, the reasons for sorrowing not as those who have no hope.
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