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Bible Commentaries

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Leviticus 21

Verses 1-24


Rules concerning priests (21:1-22:16)

Priests carried a heavy responsibility in acting on the people’s behalf in offering their sacrifices, and therefore they had to guard against ceremonial uncleanness. They were to have nothing to do with the burial of the dead, except in the case of close relatives, and were not to make public show of their sorrow by disfiguring themselves. They and their families were to be blameless in all things moral (21:1-9).
Rules for the high priest were even stricter than those for the ordinary priests. He was not to touch any dead body at all, nor to show the most ordinary signs of mourning. In fact, he was not even to cease his duties temporarily to show respect for the dead (10-15).
A priest with any physical defects could not act as the people’s representative in offering sacrifices. However, since the defects were not the result of his own doing, he was still allowed to enjoy the benefits of the sacrifices (16-24).
If a priest became ceremonially unclean by any means whatever, he was not to have contact with the holy things of God till he had been ceremonially cleansed (22:1-9). The part of the sacrificial food that became the priest’s portion was to be eaten only by the priest’s immediate family and those slaves who were considered permanent members of his household. Visitors, neighbours, hired workers and any of his children who married and set up house elsewhere were not allowed to eat the sacrificial food. Should a person eat such food unknowingly, he had to replace it, adding a fifth to it as a fine for his mistake (10-16).

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Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Leviticus 21". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/leviticus-21.html. 2005.