Study Guide

Leviticus Chapter 21

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Chapter 21

Priests Gone Mild

  • God instructs the Israelites to be holy, sure, but the priests gotta be extra holy. But what does it mean when being holy involves being kind of a jerk?
  • Like in chapter 8, God tells Moses to speak to the priests.
  • Unlike in chapter 8, that's all Moses does. It's just a list of the commandments for priests all the way through.
  • First there's the Big Boys Don't Cry rule. Priests can't mourn for the dead like ordinary people.
  • In the ancient Near East, this involves shaving your head, trimming your beard, or cutting your flesh.
  • God allows a priest to mourn certain family members, but the exceptions don't include his wife.
  • Also, he can only mourn for his sister if she dies a virgin.
  • Speaking of virgins, they're the only women a priest can marry. Women who have been divorced, raped, or been a sex worker are off-limits.
  • The daughter of a priest who becomes a sex worker shall be burned alive.
  • The daughter of a priest who stars on Preachers' Daughters shall get her own apartment.
  • The strict purity rule also applies to who can perform services at the Tabernacle. Normally, male descendants of Aaron get to enter the family business. However, descendants found to be defective in some way can't be priests.
  • That means no blemish allowed: no little people, no blind guys, no guys in wheelchairs, and no man with a skin problem, scoliosis, smushed nose or—everyone's favorite—crushed testicles.
  • For such a man as this to enter into the Tabernacle would be to make a holy place ordinary, and God can't have that, can he?

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