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Leviticus 21 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 21

Sanctity of the Priesthood. [a]The Lord said to Moses: Speak to the priests, Aaron’s sons, and tell them: None of you shall make himself unclean for any dead person among his kindred, except for his nearest relatives, his mother or father, his son or daughter, his brother or his unmarried sister, who is of his own family while she remains single; for these he may make himself unclean. But as a husband among his kindred[b] he shall not make himself unclean and thus profane himself.

The priests shall not make bald the crown of their head, nor shave the edges of their beard, nor lacerate their body. They shall be holy to their God, and shall not profane their God’s name, since they offer the oblations of the Lord, the food of their God; so they must be holy.

[c]A priest shall not marry a woman debased by prostitution, nor a woman who has been divorced by her husband; for the priest is holy to his God. Honor him as holy for he offers the food of your God; he shall be holy to you, because I, the Lord, am holy who make you holy.

If a priest’s daughter debases herself by prostitution, she thereby debases her father; she shall be burned with fire.

10 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 dishevel his hair or rend his garments, 11 nor shall he go near any dead person. Not even for his father or mother may he thus become unclean; 12 nor shall he leave the sanctuary and profane the sanctuary of his God, for the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is upon him. I am the Lord.

13 He shall marry only a woman who is a virgin. 14 He shall not marry a widow or a woman who has been divorced or one who has been debased by prostitution, but only a virgin, taken from his kindred, he shall marry, 15 so that he not profane his offspring among his kindred. I, the Lord, make him holy.

Priestly Blemishes.[d] 16 The Lord said to Moses: 17 Say to Aaron: None of your descendants, throughout their generations, who has any blemish shall come forward to offer the food of his God. 18 Anyone who has any of the following blemishes may not come forward: he who is blind, or lame, or who has a split lip, or a limb too long, 19 or a broken leg or arm, 20 or who is a hunchback or dwarf or has a growth in the eye, or who is afflicted with sores, scabs, or crushed testicles. 21 No descendant of Aaron the priest who has any such blemish may draw near to offer the oblations of the Lord; on account of his blemish he may not draw near to offer the food of his God. 22 He may, however, eat the food of his God: of the most sacred as well as sacred offerings. 23 Only, he may not enter through the veil nor draw near to the altar on account of his blemish; he shall not profane my sacred precincts, for it is I, the Lord, who make them holy.

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

Footnotes:

  1. 21:1–12 While off duty the regular priests are not to become corpse-contaminated except for the close relatives listed in vv. 2–3. While on duty they presumably could not become impure at all. The high priest is restricted from all corpse contamination, on or off duty (vv. 11–12). Lay Israelites are not restricted from corpse contamination, except when in contact with what is holy (cf. Dt 26:14). See note on Lv 11:39–40. Israelites who undertake a nazirite vow enter into a sanctified state and cannot contact corpses (Nm 6:6–12). Cf. Ez 44:25–27.
  2. 21:4 Husband among his kindred: this probably refers to relatives by marriage and may even include his wife.
  3. 21:7 The ideal seems to be that a priest marry a virgin. This is explicitly stated for the high priest (cf. vv. 13–14; so also Ez 44:22, except there priests may marry widows of priests). The high priest has the added limitation that his wife must come from his kindred, i.e., the priestly family (cf. Ez 44:22).
  4. 21:16–23 Though priests with certain bodily imperfections cannot serve at the altar (vv. 18–20), they are not impure, since they may still eat of the offerings, which are holy, and do so within the sanctuary precincts since it is there the most holy offerings are to be eaten (v. 22).
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

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Leviticus 21 New International Version (NIV)

Rules for Priests

21 The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them: ‘A priest must not make himself ceremonially unclean for any of his people who die, except for a close relative, such as his mother or father, his son or daughter, his brother, or an unmarried sister who is dependent on him since she has no husband—for her he may make himself unclean. He must not make himself unclean for people related to him by marriage,[a] and so defile himself.

“‘Priests must not shave their heads or shave off the edges of their beards or cut their bodies. They must be holy to their God and must not profane the name of their God. Because they present the food offerings to the Lord, the food of their God, they are to be holy.

“‘They must not marry women defiled by prostitution or divorced from their husbands, because priests are holy to their God. Regard them as holy, because they offer up the food of your God. Consider them holy, because I the Lord am holy—I who make you holy.

“‘If a priest’s daughter defiles herself by becoming a prostitute, she disgraces her father; she must be burned in the fire.

10 “‘The high priest, the one among his brothers who has had the anointing oil poured on his head and who has been ordained to wear the priestly garments, must not let his hair become unkempt[b] or tear his clothes. 11 He must not enter a place where there is a dead body. He must not make himself unclean, even for his father or mother, 12 nor leave the sanctuary of his God or desecrate it, because he has been dedicated by the anointing oil of his God. I am the Lord.

13 “‘The woman he marries must be a virgin. 14 He must not marry a widow, a divorced woman, or a woman defiled by prostitution, but only a virgin from his own people, 15 so that he will not defile his offspring among his people. I am the Lord, who makes him holy.’”

16 The Lord said to Moses, 17 “Say to Aaron: ‘For the generations to come none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the food of his God. 18 No man who has any defect may come near: no man who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed; 19 no man with a crippled foot or hand, 20 or who is a hunchback or a dwarf, or who has any eye defect, or who has festering or running sores or damaged testicles. 21 No descendant of Aaron the priest who has any defect is to come near to present the food offerings to the Lord. He has a defect; he must not come near to offer the food of his God. 22 He may eat the most holy food of his God, as well as the holy food; 23 yet because of his defect, he must not go near the curtain or approach the altar, and so desecrate my sanctuary. I am the Lord, who makes them holy.’”

24 So Moses told this to Aaron and his sons and to all the Israelites.

Footnotes:

  1. Leviticus 21:4 Or unclean as a leader among his people
  2. Leviticus 21:10 Or not uncover his head
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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