Leviticus 21:16
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
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(16) And the Lord spake unto Moses.—In the preceding part of this chapter the priests were forbidden voluntarily to disfigure themselves, or to disqualify themselves and their descendants for their sacred office by illegal alliances. The legislator, therefore, now passes on to other blemishes, which, though not voluntarily contracted, likewise disqualify the priests for performing sacerdotal duties in the sanctuary.

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.He was not treated as an outcast, but enjoyed his privileges as a son of Aaron, except in regard to active duties.16-24. Whosoever he be … hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God—As visible things exert a strong influence on the minds of men, any physical infirmity or malformation of body in the ministers of religion, which disturbs the associations or excites ridicule, tends to detract from the weight and authority of the sacred office. Priests laboring under any personal defect were not allowed to officiate in the public service; they might be employed in some inferior duties about the sanctuary but could not perform any sacred office. In all these regulations for preserving the unsullied purity of the sacred character and office, there was a typical reference to the priesthood of Christ (Heb 7:26). No text from Poole on this verse.

And the Lord spake unto Moses,.... After he had spoken to him of the holiness of the priests, that they should not defile themselves, neither with the dead nor with impure marriages, he proceeded to add some things concerning blemishes in their bodies, which rendered them unfit for the service:

saying; as follows.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
16–24. Physical disqualifications for a priest

Verses 16-24. - Perfection of the body being typical of perfection of the mind and of the whole man, and symbolical perfection being required of the priest of God, none may be admitted to the priesthood with bodily defects, or excrescences, or grievous blemishes. The translation dwarf, in verse 20, is better than the marginal rendering "too slender," or withered. Being the descendants of Aaron, these priests, blemished as they were, were to be supported as the other priests were supported. He shall eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy, and of the holy; that is, the priests' portions of the meat offerings (Leviticus 2:3, 10; Leviticus 6:17), of the sin offerings (Leviticus 6:29), of the trespass offerings (Leviticus 7:1), of the shewbread (Leviticus 24:9), which were most holy, and of the heave offerings, wave offerings, firstfruit offerings, firstlings, and things devoted (Numbers 11:11-19), which were holy. They were also apparently employed in the less formal and conspicuous duties of the priests, such as examining lepers, and any other functions which did not bring them nigh unto the altar. But they were not to profane God's sanctuaries, by which is meant the holy of holies, the holy place, and the court in which the altar stood. To none of these is the blemished priest to be admitted for the purpose of officiating, though he might enter the court and probably the holy place for other purposes, and might eat the offerings of the priests in the accustomed place.

Leviticus 21:16Directions for the sons (descendants) of Aaron who were afflicted with bodily imperfections. As the spiritual nature of a man is reflected in his bodily form, only a faultless condition of body could correspond to the holiness of the priest; just as the Greeks and Romans required, for the very same reason, that the priests should be ὁλόκληροι, integri corporis (Plato de legg. 6, 759; Seneca excerpt. controv. 4, 2; Plutarch quaest. Romans 73). Consequently none of the descendants of Aaron, "according to their generations," i.e., in all future generations (see Exodus 12:14), who had any blemish (mum, μῶμος, bodily fault) were to approach the vail, i.e., enter the holy place, or draw near to the altar (in the court) to offer the food of Jehovah, viz., the sacrifices. No blind man, or lame man, or charum, κολοβόριν (from κολοβός and ῥίν), naso mutilus (lxx), i.e., one who had sustained any mutilation, especially in the face, on the nose, ears, lips, or eyes, not merely one who had a flat or stunted nose; or שׂרוּע, lit., stretched out, i.e., one who had anything beyond what was normal, an ill-formed bodily member therefore; so that a man who had more than ten fingers and ten toes might be so regarded (2 Samuel 21:20).
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