Leviticus – Chapter 21

The Bible – Old Testament



Chapter 21


1 The LORD said to Moses, «Speak to Aaron’s sons, the priests, and tell them: None of you shall make himself unclean for any dead person among his people,


except for his nearest relatives, his mother or father, his son or daughter, his brother


or his maiden sister, who is of his own family while she remains unmarried; for these he may make himself unclean.


But for a sister who has married out of his family he shall not make himself unclean; this would be a profanation.


2 «The priests shall not make bare the crown of the head, nor shave the edges of the beard, nor lacerate the body.


3 To their God they shall be sacred, and not profane his name; since they offer up the oblations of the LORD, the food of their God, they must be holy.


«A priest shall not marry a woman who has been a prostitute or has lost her honor, nor a woman who has been divorced by her husband; for the priest is sacred to his God.


Honor him as sacred who offers up the food of your God; treat him as sacred, because I, the LORD, who have consecrated him, am sacred.


«A priest’s daughter who loses her honor by committing fornication and thereby dishonors her father also, shall be burned to death.


4 «The most exalted of the priests, upon whose head the anointing oil has been poured and who has been ordained to wear the special vestments, shall not bare his head or rend his garments,


nor shall he go near any dead person. Not even for his father or mother may he thus become unclean


or leave the sanctuary; otherwise he will profane the sanctuary of his God, for with the anointing oil upon him, he is dedicated to his God, to me, the LORD.


«The priest shall marry a virgin.


Not a widow or a woman who has been divorced or a woman who has lost her honor as a prostitute, but a virgin, taken from his own people, shall he marry;


otherwise he will have base offspring among his people. I, the LORD, have made him sacred.»


The LORD said to Moses,


«Speak to Aaron and tell him: None of your descendants, of whatever generation, who has any defect shall come forward to offer up the food of his God.


Therefore, he who has any of the following defects may not come forward: he who is blind, or lame, or who has any disfigurement or malformation,


or a crippled foot or hand,


or who is hump-backed or weakly or walleyed, or who is afflicted with eczema, ringworm or hernia.


No descendant of Aaron the priest who has any such defect may draw near to offer up the oblations of the LORD; on account of his defect he may not draw near to offer up the food of his God.


He may, however, partake of the food of his God: of what is most sacred as well as of what is sacred.


Only, he may not approach the veil nor go up to the altar on account of his defect; he shall not profane these things that are sacred to me, for it is I, the LORD, who make them sacred.»


Moses, therefore, told this to Aaron and his sons and to all the Israelites.

1 [1] Unclean for any dead person: by preparing the corpse for burial. Cf ⇒ Numbers 6:6; ⇒ 19:11-19.
2 [5] Such mourning customs of the Canaanites were forbidden to all the Israelites, but especially to the priests. Cf ⇒ Lev 19:27-28.
3 [6] Sacred: the same Hebrew word has both the active meaning of «holy,» that is, keeping oneself free from profane impurities, and the passive meaning of «sacred,» that is, set apart from what is profane and therefore treated with religious reverence.
4 [10] Bare his head: see note on ⇒ 10:6.