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CHAPTER 21 Mar. 13 
Regulations about the Private Lives of Priests
Yahweh said to Moses, Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them: ‘A priest shall not defile himself for the dead among his people; 2except for his relatives that are near to him: for his mother, for his father, for his son, for his daughter, for his brother, 3and for his virgin sister who is near to him, who has had no husband; for her he may defile himself. 4He shall not defile himself, being a chief man among his people, to profane himself. 5They shall not shave their heads, neither shall they shave off the corners of their beards, nor make any cuttings in their flesh. 6They shall be holy to their God, and not profane the name of their God; for they offer the offerings of Yahweh made by fire, the food of their God; therefore they shall be holy. 7They shall not marry a woman who is a prostitute, or profane; neither shall they marry a woman divorced from her husband; for he is holy to his God. 8You shall sanctify him therefore; for he offers the bread of your God: he shall be holy to you; for I Yahweh, who sanctify you, am holy. 9The daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by playing the prostitute, she profanes her father: she shall be burned with fire. 10He who is the high priest among his brothers, upon whose head the anointing oil is poured, and that is consecrated to put on the garments, shall not let the hair of his head hang loose, nor tear his clothes; 11neither shall he go in to any dead body, nor defile himself for his father, or for his mother; 12neither shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor profane the sanctuary of his God; for the crown of the anointing oil of his God is upon him. I am Yahweh. 13He shall take a wife in her virginity. 14A widow, or one divorced, or a woman who has been defiled, or a prostitute, these he shall not marry; but a virgin of his own people shall he take as a wife. 15He shall not profane his seed among his people; for I am Yahweh who sanctifies him’.
Priests to Be without Blemish
16Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 17Say to Aaron, ‘None of your seed throughout their generations who has a blemish may approach to offer the food of his God. 18For whatever man he is that has a blemish, he shall not draw near: a blind man, or a lame, or he who has a flat nose, or any deformity, 19or a man who has an injured foot, or an injured hand, 20or hunchbacked, or a dwarf, or one who has a defect in his eye, or an itching disease, or scabs, or who has damaged testicles; 21no man of the seed of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer the offerings of Yahweh made by fire. Since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the food of his God. 22He shall eat the food of his God, both of the most holy, and of the holy. 23He shall not come near to the veil, nor come near to the altar, because he has a blemish; that he may not profane My sanctuaries, for I am Yahweh who sanctifies them’.24So Moses spoke to Aaron, and to his sons, and to all the children of Israel.


21:6 Food of their God- God invited Israel to eat with Him at the altar, which became His table. The equivalent for us is eating with God at the Lord’s table, the breaking of bread (1 Cor. 10:21). Eating together was understood in Semitic culture as a sign of religious acceptance and fellowship.
21:7 A woman who is a prostitute- Another tacit recognition within the Law that it would not be fully kept; for prostitution was outlawed. Thus in the very structure of the Law we see God’s sensitive recognition of the fact it would not be fully kept. His sensitivity to and provision for our failures in advance, both individually and collectively, shouldn’t lead us to think that therefore we needn’t take His principles seriously; His foreknowledge of our weakness shouldn’t be perceived by us as a safety net for our sinfulness.
21:10 Not let the hair of his head hang loose- This is not to say that long hair is wrong in itself for a male. The pagan priests of Egypt, from where Israel had just been brought out, were noted for their long hair, which stood out from the rest of the male population in Egypt who generally had shaved heads at that time. The principle is that we shouldn’t perceive our religion as merely just one of many other religions; there is something utterly unique about our way to God through Christ, who is our only mediator, the only way, “the truth”. Whilst on one hand God doesn’t judge the outward appearance but the heart, we should also be careful not to have externalities which make us appear to be ‘pagan’ and not the unique people of God.
21:22 Whatever blemish the man had, he could still personally fellowship with God, but he was not to publically offer the offerings of others. The priests at that moment were to be consciously representative of the sacrifices, which are the only other things which have the language of ‘blemish’ and ‘unblemished’ applied to them (e.g. 22:20).