Leviticus 21: This chapter is about the purity of the priesthood. In the days of Moses, there was the congregation, the priesthood, and the High Priest. The higher the position, the greater the obligation.
Today, all who are chosen of Elohim are a part of the royal priesthood. Because of this we are to live a holy (set-apart) life which is only possible through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 2:9-10).
I came from a denominational background that did not speak of the conduct of the believer. But the believer is called to a different and higher way of life (1 Peter 2:11-12, Eph. 4:22-24).
(Lev 21:1 NASB) Then the LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them, ‘No one shall defile himself for a dead person among his people,
(Lev 21:2 NASB) except for his relatives who are nearest to him, his mother and his father and his son and his daughter and his brother,
(Lev 21:3 NASB) also for his virgin sister, who is near to him because she has had no husband; for her he may defile himself.
Lev 21:3: In this section, Moses is to address the priests. When someone touches a dead body, they are unclean for seven days (Num. 19:14-16). Death is caused by sin and the priests are not to defile themselves with death or sin. They were allowed to defile themselves in the case of the death of an immediate family member, but that is all. He could mourn the deaths of others, but he had to avoid physical contact.
(Lev 21:4 NASB) ‘He shall not defile himself as a relative by marriage among his people, and so profane himself.
Lev 21:4: There is some discussion of this verse. But it is apparently saying that a priest is not allowed to touch his dead wife. For sure the death of his in-laws do not qualify for him defiling himself. He is only allowed to do so in the case of a close blood relative.
(Lev 21:5 NASB) ‘They shall not make any baldness on their heads, nor shave off the edges of their beards, nor make any cuts in their flesh.
Lev 21:5: This was something the pagans did in mourning for their dead. Elohim’s people are to avoid doing things like the heathen. The shaving of the edges of their beards is the Hebrew word peah which is a reference to around the mouth.
(Lev 21:6 NASB) ‘They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God, for they present the offerings by fire to the LORD, the bread of their God; so they shall be holy.
(Lev 21:7 NASB) ‘They shall not take a woman who is profaned by harlotry, nor shall they take a woman divorced from her husband; for he is holy to his God.
Lev 21:7: The wife of a priest had to meet certain conditions. She could not be a divorced woman and could not be a former harlot.
(Lev 21:8 NASB) ‘You shall consecrate him, therefore, for he offers the bread of your God; he shall be holy to you; for I the LORD, who sanctifies you, am holy.
Lev 21:8: The priest is to be set-apart because Yahweh is set-apart. This is a reminder that the priest is to act like and be like Elohim (Lev. 11:44-45).
(Lev 21:9 NASB) ‘Also the daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by harlotry, she profanes her father; she shall be burned with fire.
Lev 21:9: Why should she be burned with fire? Because of the position of the father as a priest of Elohim. She cannot disgrace this position.
The method punishment is interesting. She is to be burned with fire. This is the same punishment given to a man who marries both a woman and her daughter (Lev. 20:14).
(Lev 21:10 NASB) ‘And the priest who is the highest among his brothers, on whose head the anointing oil has been poured, and who has been consecrated to wear the garments, shall not uncover his head, nor tear his clothes;
(Lev 21:11 NASB) nor shall he approach any dead person, nor defile himself even for his father or his mother;
(Lev 21:12 NASB) nor shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor profane the sanctuary of his God; for the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is on him: I am the LORD.
Lev 21:12: This pertains to the High Priest. He was not to leave the sanctuary during his duty even for the funeral of his mother or father.
Also he was not to tear his clothes as an emphasis of expression. Caiaphis broke this law during the trial of Yeshua (Matt. 26:64-65).
(Lev 21:13 NASB) ‘And he shall take a wife in her virginity.
(Lev 21:14 NASB) ‘A widow, or a divorced woman, or one who is profaned by harlotry, these he may not take; but rather he is to marry a virgin of his own people;
(Lev 21:15 NASB) that he may not profane his offspring among his people: for I am the LORD who sanctifies him.'”
Lev 21:15: His wife was to measure up to the position of a holy office also. The High Priest is a picture of Messiah. As our High Priest, His bride is to be pure and chaste (Rev. 19:7-9).
(Lev 21:16 NASB) Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
(Lev 21:17 NASB) “Speak to Aaron, saying, ‘No man of your offspring throughout their generations who has a defect shall approach to offer the bread of his God.
Lev 21:17: Priests that offer sacrifices are not to have physical defects. Sacrifices are not to have blemishes and neither are the ones who offer them.
(Lev 21:18 NASB) ‘For no one who has a defect shall approach: a blind man, or a lame man, or he who has a disfigured face, or any deformed limb,
(Lev 21:19 NASB) or a man who has a broken foot or broken hand,
(Lev 21:20 NASB) or a hunchback or a dwarf, or one who has a defect in his eye or eczema or scabs or crushed testicles.
(Lev 21:21 NASB) ‘No man among the descendants of Aaron the priest, who has a defect, is to come near to offer the LORD’S offerings by fire; since he has a defect, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God.
Lev 21:21: The priest needs to be without any physical defects because, just like the sacrifice, the priest is a picture of Yeshua Messiah who is without blemish.
(Lev 21:22 NASB) ‘He may eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy,
(Lev 21:23 NASB) only he shall not go in to the veil or come near the altar because he has a defect, that he may not profane My sanctuaries. For I am the LORD who sanctifies them.'”
(Lev 21:24 NASB) So Moses spoke to Aaron and to his sons and to all the sons of Israel.
Lev 21:24: Although those with a blemish were forbidden to serve as priests, they were not shut out from the table of Elohim. He still provided for them.
We must remember that we are not judged according to the level of status we receive, but according to our faithfulness. We are to do our best in the position that Elohim put us in and glorify Him accordingly.
Patrick McGuireCopyright 2014 Patrick McGuire and Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly All rights reserved, no portion of this Lesson may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews. Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly Fort Smith, Arkansas