|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.
Verses 7-9. - Moral uncleanness or defilement passes to the husband and father kern an immoral wife or daughter, and therefore the priest is to be specially careful in the selection of his wife; and his daughter, if she leads a licentious life, is to be stoned to death, and then burnt with fire, because she profaneth her father (cf. 1 Samuel 2:17). In a similar spirit, St. Paul gives directions as to the families of those to whom the ministry of the Spirit is assigned (1 Timothy 3:11; Titus 1:6). Keil would unite verse 4 in sense with verses 7-9, and argues that he shall not defile himself, being a chief man among his people, to profane himself, refers to the kind of marriage which the priest is to make, but the interposition of verses 5 and 6 forbid this explanation of verse 4.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
They shall not take a wife that is a whore, or profane,.... By the former is meant a common whore, that prostitutes herself to any one through lust or for gain; and by the latter one whose chastity is violated, but either unwillingly, that has been forced and ravished, or else willingly, being enticed, persuaded, and prevailed upon, but did not make a practice of it; this seems to be the true sense of the words: but the Jewish writers understand them differently; by a "whore" they suppose is meant one that is not an Israelitish woman, that is not born of an Israelite, at least of an Israelitish woman, as proselytes or freed persons; for they say there are no whores but such, or one that lies with such persons, she may not marry with; as such as are guilty of cutting off, or any of the Nethinim, or spurious persons, so Jarchi; and by a "profane" person they think is meant such as are born of those that are rejected, as the Targum of Jonathan paraphrases it; that is, that are either born of incestuous marriages, such as are forbidden, Leviticus 18:1; or that are born of those that are rejected in the priesthood, or whom a priest might not marry, as the daughter of a widow, by the high priest, or the daughter of one divorced, by a common priest, which is the sense of Jarchi:
neither shall they take a woman put away by her husband: which was, in these and later times, common for any offence, when the crime of adultery was not pretended; but this always supposed something bad or amiss, and made such a woman suspected of having done an unseemly thing, therefore priests were forbidden marrying such persons: the Targum of Jonathan adds,"or by her husband's brother;''and so takes in one that has loosed the shoe, as the Jews call her, who being left without issue, her husband's brother refused to marry her, and therefore she plucked off his shoe, and spit in his face, see Deuteronomy 25:7; such an one a priest might not marry, according to this paraphrast, and other Jewish writers, and if he did was to be beaten (a):
for he is holy unto his God; separated from common persons, and devoted to the service of God, and therefore not to be defiled with such sort of women, or to lie under any scandal or reproach through such, marriages.
(a) Misn. Maccot, c. 3. sect. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
7-9. They shall not take a wife that is a whore, or profane—Private individuals might form several connections, which were forbidden as inexpedient or improper in priests. The respectability of their office, and the honor of religion, required unblemished sanctity in their families as well as themselves, and departures from it in their case were visited with severer punishment than in that of others.
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