Leviticus 21:3
And for his sister a virgin, that is near to him, which has had no husband; for her may he be defiled.
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(3) And for his sister a virgin, that is nigh unto him—That is, his maiden sister who still remains in sole relationship with him. What this is the next clause explains more minutely.

Which hath had no husband.—When she is married she goes to her husband, and ceases to be near her brother. It then devolves upon her husband to attend to the funeral rites.

For her may he be defiled.—According to the administrators of the Law during the second Temple, the priest was not only allowed to contract defilement by attending to the funeral rites of these seven relations, but was obliged to do it.

Leviticus 21:3. His sister, a virgin, that hath no husband — No husband to take care of her funeral; which was therefore a needful office of charity in her brother, though a priest. That is nigh to him — That is, by nearness, not of relation, (for that might seem a needless addition,) but of habitation, one not yet cut off from the family. For if she was married she was now of another family, and under her husband’s care in those matters.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.The distinction between clean and unclean for the whole people, and not for any mere section of it, was one great typical mark of "the kingdom of priests, the holy nation." See the Leviticus 11:42 note.

Leviticus 20:25

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 sister, either by father or mother.

Nigh unto him, i.e. by nearness, not of relation, (for that might seem a needless addition,) but of habitation, i.e. one not yet cut off from the family, as it follows.

Which hath had no husband; for if she was married, she was now of another family, and under her husband’s special care in those matters. And for his sister a virgin, that is nigh unto him,.... That is, his sister by both father's and mother's side, as Aben Ezra; though, according to Gersom, his sister by his father's side, and not by his mother's side, is meant; but, according to Alphes, by his mother's side: perhaps this may signify not nearness of kin, which is expressed by being his sister, but nearness of place, for, being unmarried, she remained unto her death in her father's house:

which hath had no husband; neither betrothed to one, for then she would have been nigh to her husband, and not her brother, and therefore he might not pollute himself for her, as Gersom observes; nor married to him, for such an one he might not defile himself, even though she might have been rejected or divorced by her husband, as the same writer says:

for her may he be defiled; for a pure virgin that had never been betrothed nor married to a man, and had never departed from her father's house, and so had no husband to mourn for her, and take care of her funeral, and so for all the rest before mentioned; and which Jarchi says is a command, and not a bare sufferance or allowance, but what he ought and was obliged to do; and so it is related of Joseph (r), a priest, that his wife died in the evening of the sabbath, and he would not defile himself for her, and his brethren the priests obliged him, and made him defile himself against his will.

(r) T. Bab. Zebachim, fol. 90. 1.

And for his sister a {b} virgin, that is nigh unto him, which hath had no husband; for her may he be defiled.

(b) For being married she seemed to be cut off from his family.

3. The same six cases are enumerated in Ezekiel 44:25. The non-mention of a wife is not easily accounted for. Was it that this exception would be self-evident? This seems probable from Ezekiel 24:15 ff., which appears from its prohibition to assume that a priest would mourn for his wife.

that is near unto him] that is not yet, as the following words shew, transferred by marriage to another family.The list of punishments concludes, like the prohibitions in 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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