But for his kin, that is near to him, that is, for his mother, and for his father, and for his son, and for his daughter, and for his brother.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)But for his kin, that is near unto him.—There are, however, seven exceptions to the general rule. According to the administrators of the Law during the second Temple, the phrase, “his kin that is near unto him,” or rather, “his flesh that is near unto him” (comp. Leviticus 18:6 with Genesis 2:24), denotes “wife.” Hence the Chaldee version of Jonathan renders it, “but for a wife who is of kin to his flesh.”
For his mother, and for his father.—This is the second of the three instances in the Bible where the mother is mentioned before the father (see Leviticus 19:3). The Jewish canonists, who call attention to this unusual phrase, account for it by saying that she is placed first because the son’s qualifications for the priesthood depend more upon his having a good mother (see Leviticus 21:7). This will be readily understood when it is borne in mind that the regulations about the woman whom a priest was allowed to marry during the second Temple were of the most stringent nature, and that the slightest infringement of them disqualified the son for performing sacerdotal functions. Thus the daughter of a foreigner or of a released captive was forbidden to the priest, and when a city was besieged and taken by the enemy all the wives of the priests had to be divorced for fear lest they had suffered violence.Leviticus 21:2. Near to him — Under which general expression his wife seems to be comprehended, though she be not expressed. And hence it is noted as a peculiar case, that Ezekiel, who was a priest, was forbidden to mourn for his wife, Ezekiel 24:16, &c. These exceptions God made in condescension to human infirmity; because in such cases it was very hard to restrain the affections. But this allowance concerns only the inferior priests, not the high-priest.Leviticus 11:42 note.
Any manner of living thing that creepeth - Rather, any creeping thing; that is, any vermin. See Leviticus 11:20-23. The reference in this verse is to dead animals, not to the creatures when alive.
Le 21:1-24. Of the Priests' Mourning.
1. There shall none be defiled for the dead among his people—The obvious design of the regulations contained in this chapter was to keep inviolate the purity and dignity of the sacred office. Contact with a corpse, or even contiguity to the place where it lay, entailing ceremonial defilement (Nu 19:14), all mourners were debarred from the tabernacle for a week; and as the exclusion of a priest during that period would have been attended with great inconvenience, the whole order were enjoined to abstain from all approaches to the dead, except at the funerals of relatives, to whom affection or necessity might call them to perform the last offices. Those exceptional cases, which are specified, were strictly confined to the members of their own family, within the nearest degrees of kindred.For his kin that is near unto him: under this general expression his wife seems to be comprehended, though she be not expressed in the following instances, because from the mention of others more remote it was easy to gather that so near a relation was not excluded. And hence it is noted as a peculiar and extraordinary case, that Ezekiel, who was a priest, was forbidden to mourn for his wife, Ezekiel 24:16, &c. These exceptions God here makes in condescension to human infirmity, because in such cases it was very hard to restrain the affections. But this allowance concerns only the inferior priest, not the high priest, as we shall see.
For his brother.
Object. Eleazar and Ithamar are forbidden to mourn for their brethren, Nadab and Abihu.
Answ. 1. That case was singular, both because such a mourning might seem to be a censure of God’s severity upon them, and because they were then in the actual execution of their office, and in their initiation to it, and they were the only persons, besides Aaron, that could perform that work, and therefore their attendance upon it was more necessary than it would be in after-times and other cases.
2. The latter law can either limit of enlarge the former at the pleasure of the lawgiver. And this law may seem to be added, lest that prohibition, Le 10, should be taken for a general rule. Ezekiel 24:15; he being forbid it, shows his case to be an extraordinary one, and that ordinarily it was admitted, otherwise there would have been no need of a particular prohibition of him:
that is, for his mother, and for his father, and for his son, and for his daughter, and his brother; R. Alphes adds (q), "and his wife"; these being all near relations, and for whom natural affection would lead and oblige him to mourn, and show a concern for their death, and to take care of their funeral. This is to be understood of common priests; for as for the high priest, he might not mourn, or be concerned for either of these.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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)2. The defilement prohibited in Leviticus 21:1 is allowed for certain near relations.Leviticus 18:24., with exhortations to observe the commandments and judgments of the Lord, and to avoid such abominations (on Leviticus 18:22 cf. Leviticus 18:3-5, Leviticus 18:26, Leviticus 18:28, Leviticus 18:30; and on Leviticus 18:23 cf. Leviticus 18:3 and Leviticus 18:24). The reason assigned for the exhortations is, that Jehovah was about to give them for a possession the fruitful land, whose inhabitants He had driven out because of their abominations, and that Jehovah was their God, who had separated Israel from the nations. For this reason (Leviticus 18:25) they were also to sever (make distinctions) between clean and unclean cattle and birds, and not make their souls (i.e., their persons) abominable through unclean animals, with which the earth swarmed, and which God had "separated to make unclean," i.e., had prohibited them from eating or touching when dead, because they defiled (see ch. 11). For (Leviticus 18:26) they were to be holy, because Jehovah their God was holy, who had severed them from the nations, to belong to Him, i.e., to be the nation of His possession (see Exodus 19:4-6).
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