Leviticus 21:8
Thou shalt sanctify him therefore; for he offereth the bread of thy God: he shall be holy unto thee: for I the LORD, which sanctify you, am holy.
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(8) Thou shalt sanctify him therefore.—This is addressed to the Jewish community. They are to take care that the priest does not contract such illegal marriages, and to sanctify him only who acts in obedience to these statutes. The Jewish priest is thus placed under the supervision of the people. His sacred office, and his duly performing the priestly functions. are their concern. If he refused to conform to the law of sanctity, the people, according to the administrators of the Law during the second Temple, were to compel him to do so by the penalty of administering to him the prescribed number of stripes.

He shall be holy unto thee.—On the other hand, when he acts in accordance with his sacred office, the people must reverence his holy person. Hence the administrators of the Law during the second Temple enacted that the priest is to take precedence on public occasions. Thus, when the people assemble, he opens the meeting by invoking God’s blessing. At the reading of the Law of God in the synagogue, he is called up first to the rostrum to read the first portion, and at table he recites the benedictions over the repast. This honour the Jews assign to the priests to this day.

Leviticus 21:8. Thou — O Moses, and whosoever shall succeed in thy place, to whom it belongs to see my laws observed, shalt take care that the priest be holy, and do not defile himself by any of these forbidden marriages.

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 people of Israel are now addressed. They are commanded to regard the priests, who perform for them the service of the altar, as holy in respect of their office. 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. Thou, O Moses, and whosoever shall succeed in thy place, to whom it belongs to see those and other of my laws observed, shall take care that the priest be holy, and do not defile himself by any of these forbidden marriages, though he would do it.

He shall be holy unto thee; either

1. In thy esteem, and therefore shall not give thee cause to think meanly and irreverently of him by his defiling or debasing of himself with irregular mixtures. Or,

2. To thy use or service, in whose name he is to act with God, and therefore shall preserve himself in a state of holiness and acceptation with God. For I the Lord am holy, and therefore my ministers must be such also.

Thou shalt sanctify him therefore,.... In thought and word, as Aben Ezra, by thinking and speaking well of him; should esteem and reckon him a holy person, being in a sacred office, and honour him as such; and do all that can be done to preserve him from unholiness and impurity, and particularly from marrying with improper and unsuitable persons, such as would bring a scandal on him and his sacred office: this seems to be spoken to Moses, and so to the civil magistrate in succession, who were not to suffer such marriages to take place in the priesthood; and were not only to persuade from it, but to exercise their authority, and oblige them to put away such wives, and if they refused, to use severity; so Jarchi,""thou shalt sanctify him", whether he will or not; if he will not put her away, beat him and chastise him until he does put "her away",''see Ezra 2:62,

for he offereth the bread of the Lord; meaning not the shewbread he set in order before the Lord every week, but the various gift and sacrifices which were offered to God by him, and were acceptable to him as his food; and therefore he ought to be holy that drew nigh to God, and was employed in such service, see Leviticus 21:6,

he shall be holy unto thee; in thy account and estimation, and for thy service to offer holy sacrifices, and therefore should be careful of his holiness to preserve it:

for I the Lord, which sanctify you, am holy; in his nature, works, and ways, and who had separated them from all other people to be a holy people to him, and therefore they that ministered in holy things for them should be holy likewise.

Thou shalt {e} sanctify him therefore; for he offereth the {f} bread of thy God: he shall be holy unto thee: for I the LORD, which sanctify you, am holy.

(e) You shall count them holy and reverence them.

(f) The showbread.

8. This v. has all the air of an insertion. It interrupts the transition from the character of the priest’s wife to that of his daughter; and ‘thou’ is harsh. Who is addressed? It may be an insertion (so Oxf. Hex.) by the compiler from an older code to enforce the sanctity of the priesthood.

the bread of thy God] See on Leviticus 21:6.

Leviticus 21:8"Thou shalt sanctify him therefore," that is to say, not merely "respect his holy dignity" (Knobel), but take care that he did not desecrate his office by a marriage so polluted. The Israelites as a nation are addressed in the persons of their chiefs. The second clause of the verse, "he shall be holy unto thee," contains the same thought. The repetition strengthens the exhortation. The reason assigned for the first clause is the same as in Leviticus 21:6; and that for the second, the same as in Leviticus 20:8, Leviticus 20:26; Exodus 31:13, etc.
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