Leviticus 21:7
They shall not take a wife that is a whore, or profane; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband: for he is holy to his God.
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(7) Not take a wife.—From the defilement arising through contact with the dead, the lawgiver passes to’ regulation about the priest’s alliances with the living, which might be fraught with still more serious consequences to his sacred office. In selecting a wife he is to be careful both about her chastity and legitimate descent.

Leviticus 21:7. Profane — Or defiled, or deflowered, though it were done secretly, or by force; because the priest must take care that all the members of his family be free not only from gross wickedness, but from all suspicions of evil.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.Profane - A woman who has been seduced, or one of illegitimate birth. A somewhat stricter rule for the priests' marriages was revealed to the prophet in later times, Ezekiel 44:22. 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. Or profane, or defiled, or defloured, though it were done secretly, or by accident, or by force; because the priest must take care that all the members of his family be free not only from gross wickedness, but from all suspicion of evil, and occasions of reproach or contempt, because this would reflect upon himself, and upon his God and religion also. The word may denote one defloured by any person, though it were by her husband; or a widow, because not only the high priest was obliged to marry a virgin, Leviticus 21:13, but also the inferior priests, as appears from Ezekiel 44:22, and that is either signified by this word, or by none other here. It is true, a widow, and a profane person, are distinguished, Leviticus 21:14; but the same word may be, and oft is, taken in differing senses, both more largely and more strictly, in the same chapter. And there was some reason why it should be more expressly and distinctly set down there, a widow, or one profane or defloured otherwise, because there was the more need of caution in the high priest, and therefore the widow is particularly mentioned, which in the former case might be sufficiently comprehended under a general title.

A woman put away from her husband, though not for adultery, but for light causes, and by the husband’s fault, because though the woman might he wholly innocent and free, yet it would leave some blemish upon her. 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.

They shall not take a wife that is a whore, or {d} profane; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband: for he is holy unto his God.

(d) Which has an evil name or is defamed.

7. profane] guilty of immorality.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. The priest was not to defile himself on account of a soul, i.e., a dead person (nephesh, as in Leviticus 19:28), among his countrymen, unless it were of his kindred, who stood near to him (i.e., in the closest relation to him), formed part of the same family with him (cf. Leviticus 21:3), such as his mother, father, son, daughter, brother, or a sister who was still living with him as a virgin and was not betrothed to a husband (cf. Ezekiel 44:25). As every corpse not only defiled the persons who touched it, but also the tent or dwelling in which the person had died (Numbers 19:11, Numbers 19:14); in the case of death among members of the family or household, defilement was not to be avoided on the part of the priest as the head of the family. It was therefore allowable for him to defile himself on account of such persons as these, and even to take part in their burial. The words of Leviticus 21:4 are obscure: "He shall not defile himself בּעמּיו בּעל, i.e., as lord (pater-familias) among his countrymen, to desecrate himself;" and the early translators have wandered in uncertainty among different renderings. In all probability בּעל denotes the master of the house or husband. But, for all that, the explanation given by Knobel and others, "as a husband he shall not defile himself on the death of his wife, his mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, by taking part in their burial," is decidedly to be rejected. For, apart from the unwarrantable introduction of the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, there is sufficient to prevent our thinking of defilement on the death of a wife, in the fact that the wife is included in the "kin that is near unto him" in Leviticus 21:2, though not in the way that many Rabbins suppose, who maintain that שׁאר signifies wife, but implicite, the wife not being expressly mentioned, because man and wife form one flesh (Genesis 2:24), and the wife stands nearer to the husband than father and mother, son and daughter, or brother and sister. Nothing is proved by appealing to the statement made by Plutarch, that the priests of the Romans were not allowed to defile themselves by touching the corpses of their wives; inasmuch as there is no trace of this custom to be found among the Israelites, and the Rabbins, for this very reason, suppose the death of an illegitimate wife to be intended. The correct interpretation of the words can only be arrived at by considering the relation of the fourth verse to what precedes and follows. As Leviticus 21:1-3 stand in a very close relation to Leviticus 21:5 and Leviticus 21:6, - the defilement on account of a dead person being more particularly explained in the latter, or rather, strictly speaking, greater force being given to the prohibition, - it is natural to regard Leviticus 21:4 as standing in a similar relation to Leviticus 21:7, and to understand it as a general prohibition, which is still more clearly expounded in Leviticus 21:7 and Leviticus 21:9. The priest was not to defile himself as a husband and the head of a household, either by marrying a wife of immoral or ambiguous reputation, or by training his children carelessly, so as to desecrate himself, i.e., profane the holiness of his rank and office by either one or the other (cf. Leviticus 21:9 and Leviticus 21:15). - In Leviticus 21:5 desecration is forbidden in the event of a death occurring. He was not to shave a bald place upon his head. According to the Chethib יקרחה is to be pointed with ה- attached, and the Keri יקרחוּ is a grammatical alteration to suit the plural suffix in בּראשׁם, which is obviously to be rejected on account of the parallel יגלּחוּ לא זקנם וּפאת. In both of the clauses there is a constructio ad sensum, the prohibition which is addressed to individuals being applicable to the whole: upon their head shall no one shave a bald place, namely, in front above the forehead, "between the eyes" (Deuteronomy 14:1). We may infer from the context that reference is made to a customary mode of mourning for the dead; and this is placed beyond all doubt by Deuteronomy 14:1, where it is forbidden to all the Israelites "for the dead." According to Herodotus, 2, 36, the priests in Egypt were shaven, whereas in other places they wore their hair long. In other nations it was customary for those who were more immediately concerned to shave their heads as a sign of mourning; but the Egyptians let their hair grow both upon their head and chin when any of their relations were dead, whereas they shaved at other times. The two other outward signs of mourning mentioned, namely, cutting off the edge of the beard and making incisions in the body, have already been forbidden in Leviticus 19:27-28, and the latter is repeated in Deuteronomy 14:1. The reason for the prohibition is given in Leviticus 21:6 - "they shall be holy unto their God," and therefore not disfigure their head and body by signs of passionate grief, and so profane the name of their God when they offer the firings of Jehovah; that is to say, when they serve and approach the God who has manifested Himself to His people as the Holy One. On the epithet applied to the sacrifices, "the food of God," see at Leviticus 3:11 and Leviticus 3:16.
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