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Directions to the priests, ver. 1 - 9.
To the high - priest, ver. 10 - 15.
None of these must have any blemish, ver. 16 - 24.
1: Among his people - None of the priests shall touch the dead body,
or assist at his funeral, or eat of the funeral feast. The reason of this
law is evident, because by such pollution they were excluded from converse
with men, to whom by their function they were to be serviceable upon all
occasions, and from the handling of holy things. And God would hereby teach
them, and in them all successive ministers, that they ought entirely to
give themselves to the service of God. Yea, to renounce all expressions
of natural affection, and all worldly employments, so far as they are
impediments to the discharge of their holy services.
2: Near to him - Under which general expression his wife seems to be
comprehended, though she be not expressed. And hence it is noted as a
peculiar case, that Ezekiel, who was a priest, was forbidden to mourn
for his wife, (Eze 24:16), &c. These exceptions God makes in
condescension to human infirmity, because in such cases it was very hard
to restrain the affections. But this allowance concerns only the inferior
priest, not the high - priest.
3: That is nigh him - That is, by nearness not of relation, (for that
might seem a needless addition) but of habitation, one not yet cut off from
the family. For if she was married, she was now of another family, and
under her husband's care in those matters.
4: Being - Or, seeing he is a chief man, for such not only the
high - priest, but others also of the inferior priests were. He shall
not defile himself for any other person whatsoever. To profane
himself - Because such defilement for the dead did profane him, or make
him as a common person, and consequently unfit to manage his sacred
5: They shall not make baldness - In funerals, as the Heathens did.
Though I allow them to defile themselves for some of the dead, yet in no
case shall they use these superstitious rites, which also the people were
forbidden to do; but the priests in a more peculiar manner, because they
are by word and example to teach the people their duty.
6: Holy unto their God - Devoted to God's service, and always
prepared for it, and therefore shall keep themselves from all defilements.
The name of their God - Which they especially bear. The bread of
their God - That is, the shew - bread: or rather, all the other offerings,
besides burnt - offerings: which are called bread, because bread is commonly
put for all food.
7: Profane - Or defiled, or deflowered, though it were done
secretly, or by force: because the priest must take care that all the
members of his family be free not only from gross wickedness, but from all
suspicions of evil.
8: Thou - O Moses, and whosoever shall succeed in thy place, to
whom it belongs to see my laws observed, shall take care that the priest be
holy, and do not defile himself by any of these forbidden marriages.
9: And the daughter - And by analogy his son also, and his wife,
because the reason of the law here added, concerns all. And nothing is
more common than to name one kind for the rest of the same nature, as
also is done (Le 18:6).
She profaneth her father - Exposeth his person and office, and
consequently religion, to contempt.
10: The garments - Those holy garments, which were peculiar to him.
Shall not uncover his head - This being then the posture of mourners,(Le 10:6), though afterwards the custom was changed and mourners
covered their heads, (2Sa 15:30,Es 6:12).
Nor rent his clothes - Another expression of mourning.
11: Go in - Into the chamber or house where they lie. This and
divers other rites here prescribed were from hence translated by the
Heathens into their use, whose priests were put under the same obligations.
12: Out of the sanctuary - To attend the funerals of any person: for
upon other occasions he might and did commonly go out. Nor profane the
sanctuary - Either by the performance of a civility, or by entering into
the sanctuary before the seven days allotted for his cleansing,(Nu 19:11), were expired.
The crown of the anointing oil - Or, the crown, the golden plate,
which is called the holy crown, (Ex 29:6), and
the anointing oil of his God are upon him. So there is only an
ellipsis of the conjunction and, which is frequent. And these two
things, being most eminent, are put for the rest, as the sign is put for
the thing signified, that is, for he is God's high - priest.
13: In her virginity - Or, a virgin, partly because as he was a type
of Christ, so his wife was a type of the church, which is compared to a
virgin, and partly for greater caution and assurance that his wife was not
a defiled or deflowered person. Most of these things are forbidden to all
the priests; and here to the high - priest, to shew that he also, and he
especially is obliged to the same cautions.
15: I the Lord sanctify him - I have separated him from all other men
for my immediate service, and therefore will not have that race corrupted.
17: Of thy seed - Whether the high priest, or the inferior ones.
That hath - In all successive ages, any defect or excess of parts, any
notorious deformity or imperfection in his body. The reason hereof is
partly typical, that he, might more fully represent Christ, the great
high - priest, who was typified both by the priest and sacrifice, and
therefore both were to be without blemish; partly moral, to teach all
Christians and especially ministers of holy things, what purity and
perfection of heart and life they should labour after, and that notorious
blemishes in the mind or conversation, render a man unfit for the ministry
of the gospel; and partly prudential, because such blemishes were apt to
breed contempt of the person; and consequently, of his function, and of the
holy things wherein he ministered. For which reason, such persons as have
notorious defects or deformities, are still unfit for the ministry except
where there are eminent gifts and graces, which vindicate a man from the
contemptibleness of his bodily presence. The particular defect's here
mentioned, I shall not enlarge upon because some of the Hebrew words are
diversely interpreted, and because the use of these things being abolished,
the knowledge of them is not necessary.
18: A flat nose - Most restrain this word to the nose, and to some
great deformity relating to it. But according to others, it signifies more
generally, a person that wants some member or members, because the next
word, to which it is opposed, signifies one that hath more members than he
21: A blemish - Any notorious blemish whereby he is disfigured,
though not here mentioned.
22: He shall eat - Which a priest having any uncleanness might not
do whereby God would shew the great difference between natural infirmities
sent upon a man by God, and moral defilements which a man brought upon
23: To the veil - To the second veil which was between the holy and
the most holy place, to burn incense, to order the shew - bread, and to dress
the lamps, which were nigh unto that veil though without. My altar - The
altar of burnt - offering, which was without the sanctuary. The sense is, he
shall not execute the priest's office, which was to be done in those two