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Leviticus Chapter 21
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Priestly Laws
21:1 God told Moses to declare the following to Aaron's descendants, the priests:

Let no [priest] defile himself [by contact with] the dead among his people,

21:2 except for such close blood relatives as his mother, father, son, daughter or brother.
21:3 He may also allow himself to become ritually unclean for his [deceased] virgin sister, who is [also] close to him as long as she is not married.
21:4 [However,] a husband may not defile himself for his [dead] wife if she is legally unfit for him.
21:5 Let no priest shave off patches of hair from his head. Let them not shave the edges of their beards and not make gouges in their skin.
21:6 They must be holy to their God, and not profane their God's name. Since they present God's fire offerings, the food offering for their God, they must remain holy.
21:7 They shall not marry an immoral or profaned woman. They [also] must not marry a woman who has been divorced from her husband.

[The priest] must thus be holy to his God.

21:8 You must [strive to] keep him holy, since he presents the food offering to God. He must be holy, since I am God - I am holy and I am making you holy.
21:9 If a priest's daughter defiles herself by committing adultery she has defiled her father's [position], and she must be burned with fire.

The High Priest
21:10 [These are the rules for] the High Priest among his brothers, upon whose head the anointing oil has been poured, and who has been inaugurated to wear the [special priestly] vestments:

He shall not go without a haircut, and shall not allow his vestments to be torn.

21:11 He shall not come in contact with any dead body. He shall thus not defile himself, even for his father or mother.
21:12 [In such a case] he may not [even] leave the sanctuary. He will then not profane his God's sanctuary, since his God's anointing oil is upon him. I am God.
21:13 He must marry a virgin.
21:14 He must not marry a widow, a divorcee, or a profaned or immoral woman. He may only marry a virgin from his own people.
21:15 He will then not profane his children because of his wife.

[He must do all this] because I am God, [and] I make him holy.

Blemished Priests
21:16 God spoke to Moses, telling him to
21:17 speak to Aaron as follows:

Anyone among your descendants who has a blemish may not approach to present his God's food offering.

21:18 Thus, any blemished priest may not offer sacrifice.

[This includes] anyone who is blind or lame, or who has a deformed nose or a misshapen limb.

21:19 [Also included] is anyone who has a crippled leg, a crippled hand,
21:20 who is a hunchback or a dwarf, who has a blemish in the eye, who has severe eczema or ringworm, or who has a hernia.
21:21 Any descendant of Aaron the priest who has a blemish may not approach to present God's fire offering. As long as he has a blemish, he may not approach to present his God's food offering.
21:22 [Still] he may eat the food offerings of his God, both from the holy of holies and from the holy.
21:23 But he may not come to the cloth partition [in the sanctuary], and he may not approach the altar if he has a blemish. He shall thus not defile that which is holy to Me, since I am God [and] I sanctify it.
21:24 Moses told this to Aaron, his sons and all the Israelites.


defile himself...
  See Numbers 19:14.

close to him
  This is a sister who has the same father as the priest (Yevamoth 22b; Yad, Avel 2:1).

a husband may not...
  (Sifra; Rashi). Or, 'a man may not defile himself for a corpse among his people' - when there are others to care for it (Rashi). Or, 'a man may not defile himself, even for the great' (Saadia; Baaley Tosafoth). Or, '[Since he is] a leader, he shall not be defiled among his people' (Targum).

if she is legally unfit...
  See Leviticus 21:7 (Yevamoth 22b; Rashi; cf. Targum Yonathan.) Or, 'since it makes him unfit for service' (Rashi; Rashbam).

Let no priest...
  (Sifra; Rashi cf. Yad, Avodath Kokhavim 12:15). See Deuteronomy 14:1.

Let them not shave...
  See Leviticus 19:27.

and not make gouges...
  See Leviticus 19:28.

  Born from a marriage between a priest and a woman forbidden to him (Rashi). See Leviticus 21:15.

  If she is married (Rashi).

High Priest
  Cohen Gadol in Hebrew.

He shall not...
  See Leviticus 10:6.

In such a case

He will then not profane...
  This defines the 'defiled' woman of Leviticus 21:7 (Rashi).

  Literally 'man.'

  Even in one eye (Bekhoroth 44a).

  Or, 'paralyzed' (Saadia).

deformed nose
  (Septuagint; Targum Yonathan). Charum in Hebrew. This includes one whose nose is abnormally long or short, or who has an unopened nostril (Bekhoroth 43a; Yad, Biyath HaMikdash 8:7; Ramban). Or, 'broken-nosed' (Saadia; cf. Chizzkuni). Some say that this is speaking specifically of a deformity where the bridge of the nose between the eyes is sunken (Rashi; Radak, Sherashim). Others say that it is speaking of one who has part of the lower septum missing (Ibn Janach).

According to others, however, charum denotes a person who has a missing limb (Ralbag) or one that is too short (Ibn Ezra; see next note, 'misshapen limb'.

misshapen limb
  (Sifra). Sarua in Hebrew. Some say that this includes anyone who has a limb that is disproportionate, while others say that it denotes an oversized limb (Ibn Ezra; cf. Isaiah 28:20) or an extra limb (Ralbag). It includes such specific deformities as a club foot or an overly wide foot (Sifra) or eyes that are unusually large or small (Rashi).

According to some, sarua denotes a person who limps (Saadia), or who has a dislocated hip (Targum Yonathan; Yad, Biyath HaMikdash 7:9; Ibn Janach, Radak, Sherashim). Some sources state that it denotes one who has mutilated ears (Septuagint; cf. Ralbag).

  (Sifra; Bekhoroth 43b; Saadia; Septuagint. Cf. Rambam on Bekhoroth 7:2; Ibn Janach, Radak, Sherashim). Gibben in Hebrew. Or, 'grossly fat' (Chizzkuni). According to others, the first three blemishes mentioned in this verse are in the eye, and gibben denotes a person with misformed eyebrows (cf. Ralbag). Some say that it denotes a person whose eyebrows are unusually long (Targum Yonathan; Bekhoroth 43b; Rashi; Ramban; Radak, Sherashim), or whose eyebrows are attached to each other (Bekhoroth 43b). Others say that it denotes one with missing eyebrows (Ibid.).

  (Targum Yerushalmi; Ibn Ezra; Chizzkuni). Dak in Hebrew. Here too, some say that this is relating specifically to the eye. Some say that dak denotes a membrane or film over the eye, tella in Old French and Latin (Rashi; Radak, Sherashim; cf. Septuagint). Others say that it denotes a white spot on the pupil of the eye (Yad, Biyath HaMikdash 7:5; Ramban on Bekhoroth 6:2; Ralbag; cf. Bekhoroth 38b). Still others describe the dak as a loss of eyebrows (Targum Yonathan) or as droopy eyelids (Ibn Janach).

  (Chizzkuni). Te-bhalul in Hebrew. Some say that this specifically denotes one who has a streak of white going into the iris (Rashi; Targum Yonathan; Yad, Biyath HaMikdash 7:5; Bekhoroth 38a) or pupil (Ibn Janach; Radak, Sherashim) of the eye. Others see it as a growth in the eye (Saadia), or missing eyelashes (Septuagint). It also includes a case where the eyes focus in abnormal directions (Sifra; Bekhoroth 44a).

in the eye
  As we have seen, there is a question as to whether just one term modifies 'in the eye,' or if all three terms do. Thus, the verse can also be translated, 'Who has misshapen brows, a film, or a blemish in the eye.' Although there is a dispute as to the precise meaning of the words here, all the blemishes are known from tradition (Rambam on Bekhoroth 7:2).

severe eczema
  Or, 'a hard dry rash,' garav in Hebrew (Bekhoroth 41a; Saadia; Rashi). See Deuteronomy 28:27. Or, 'an itch' (Radak, Sherashim) or, 'a malignant skin ulcer' (Septuagint).

  Yalefeth in Hebrew, leichen (lichen) in Greek (Septuagint). This is described as running sores, pimples or scabs (Bekhoroth 41a; Saadia; Rashi; Targum Yerushalmi).

  Or 'swollen testicles' (Targum Yonathan; Saadia). Meroach ashekh in Hebrew. Or, 'crushed testicles' (Targum; Rashi; Radak, Sherashim; Chizzkuni), or 'a missing testicle' (Septuagint; cf.Targum Yerushalmi). According to others, meroach ashekh denotes a person with abnormally dark skin coloration (Bekhoroth 44b; Rambam on Bekhoroth 7:5).

holy of holies
  The meal offering (Leviticus 2:3,10), the sin offering (Leviticus 6:18), and the guilt offering (Leviticus 7:1).

  Such as peace offerings.

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