Leviticus 21:14
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.
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(14) A widow.—By this the high priest was not only forbidden to marry the widow of an ordinary Israelite, or even the widow of a priest, but, according to the Jewish canons, a virgin who had been betrothed to another man, and whom she lost by death before they were married. If he, however, became engaged to a widow before he was elected to the pontificate, he could marry her after his consecration. He was, however, exempt from the obligation to marry the widow of his brother who died without issue. (See Leviticus 18:16.)

Or a divorced woman.—The classes of women which follow are also forbidden to the ordinary priests. (See Leviticus 21:7.)

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.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. 10-15. he that is the high priest among his brethren … shall not uncover his head, nor rend his clothes—The indulgence in the excepted cases of family bereavement, mentioned above [Le 21:2, 3], which was granted to the common priests, was denied to him; for his absence from the sanctuary for the removal of any contracted defilement could not have been dispensed with, neither could he have acted as intercessor for the people, unless ceremonially clean. Moreover, the high dignity of his office demanded a corresponding superiority in personal holiness, and stringent rules were prescribed for the purpose of upholding the suitable dignity of his station and family. The same rules are extended to the families of Christian ministers (1Ti 3:2; Tit 1:6). A widow; except she were the widow of his predecessor, which some gather from Ezekiel 44:22. But that place speaks only of the common priest, not of the high priest.

Of his own people, i.e. either,

1. Of his own tribe, which is confuted by the examples of holy men; see 2 Chronicles 22:11; or,

2. Of the seed of Israel, as it is explained Ezekiel 44:22.

A widow,.... The high priest might not marry, whether the widow of a priest or of an Israelite, as Aben Ezra, that is, of any Israelite that was not of the priesthood; and this, whether a widow after espousals, or after marriage, as runs the Jewish canon (u); the meaning is, that if she was betrothed to a man, and that man died before he married her, and so was a virgin; yet being betrothed to him was reckoned as his widow; and such an one the high priest might not marry, any more than one that had been left a widow, having being married: though, according to the same constitutions, if he had betrothed a widow, and after that was appointed an high priest, he might marry her, and an instance of it is given in Joshua the son of Gamla: and in the same it is observed, that an high priest, when his brother dies, must suffer his shoe to be plucked off, and not marry his brother's widow; which, in other cases, when there was no issue, was required:

or a divorced woman; whether by a priest, or a common Israelite; and indeed, if a common priest might not marry such a person, much less an high priest: or profane anyone born of those that were not fit for priests to marry, as the Targum of Jonathan and Jarchi; See Gill on Leviticus 21:7,

or an harlot; a common prostitute:

those shall he not take any or either of them, to be his wife; which are forbid in order to maintain the dignity of his office, and a reverence of it: there seems to be a gradation in these instances, he might not marry a widow, which was forbidden no other man; and if not such an one, much less a divorced woman, still less a profane person, and least of all an harlot:

but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife; which phrase, "of his own people", did not limit him to his own tribe, and to the fraternity of priests in it, as if he was to marry only in it, or the daughter of a priest; for the priests and Levites being scattered in the several tribes, and having no inheritances in them, were not restrained from marrying into other tribes, as the rest of the tribes were; and so an high priest sometimes married into another tribe, though he took care not to debase himself, by marrying into a mean family: so Jehoiada, the high priest, married Jehoshabeath, the daughter of King Jehoram, 2 Chronicles 22:11; but by this law he was forbid to marry a virgin of another nation, even though a proselytess and one that was made free, as Gersom observes; a captive virgin, and one that was become a Jewess, as Aben Ezra says, he was not allowed to marry.

(u) Misn. Yebamot, c. 6. sect. 4.

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 {k} people to wife.

(k) Not only of his tribe, but of all Israel.

14. A widow] The rule for the high priest was thus stricter than that for an ordinary priest. The Jewish writer Rashi, in his commentary on the Talmudic treatise Chagigah (13a, Tal. Bab.), mentions this as one of the instances of apparent discrepancies between Ezekiel (Ezekiel 44:22) and the Law (see Ryle, Canon, 203). Ezekiel (loc. cit.) allowed a priest, to marry a widow, provided she was the widow of a priest, whereas, according to the Law here, a high priest might not marry a widow. Ezekiel’s rule is, however, for priests. He does not say anything about the high priest. According to the law here, he must marry a virgin. As regards the rule for the ordinary priest, while Leviticus 21:7 does not say that he may marry a priest’s widow, Leviticus 21:14 may perhaps be taken to imply this.

of his own people] of the people of Israel, according to Ezekiel (loc. cit.), but the traditional practice was to marry a priest’s daughter, cp. Luke 1:5.

Leviticus 21:14He was only to marry a woman in her virginity, not a widow, a woman put away, or a fallen woman, a whore (זונה without a copulative is in apposition to חללה a fallen girl, who was to be the same to him as a whore), but "a virgin of his own people," that is to say, only an Israelitish woman.
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