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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

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Commentary on Leviticus

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21.1–22.33 : Priestly restrictions and sacrificial requirements.

Chs 18–20 gave commands whose observance leads to the people's holiness (cf. 19.2; 20.7,26 ); the text now gives commands to ensure the priests’ holiness, which had been granted to them through their ordination (see ch 8 ).

21.1–12 :

Besides having marriage and mourning restrictions, priests are restricted from corpse contamination; because of their holiness, they are expected to maintain their ritual purity. The high priest (vv. 10–15 ) is restricted from all corpses; regular priests may become impure by corpses of close relatives (cf. 10.6–7; Ezek 44.25–27 ). This contrasts with the rule for Israelites, who may become corpse contaminated as long as they purify on time (cf. Num 19 ) and do not contact what is holy (cf. Deut 26.14 ). The holiness of an Israelite under a nazirite vow is similar to a priest's; therefore the nazirite cannot come in contact with corpses (Num 6.1–21n. ). For another impurity restriction of priests, cf. Lev 11.39–40n.

5 :

Apparently mourning rituals, also prohibited to non‐priests (19.27–28); cf. Deut 14.1–2; Isa 22.12; Jer 16.6 .

6 :

Food of their God, sacrifice is a metaphorical meal offered to the deity based in part on the analogy of presenting feasts to chieftains and kings ( 3.11; 21.8,17,21–22; 22.25; Num 28.2,24; Ezek 44.7; Mal 1.7 ). According to the priestly view, God does not eat this food, but smells its “pleasing odor” (Gen 8.21; Lev 1.9 and often elsewhere). Offerings consist of the main ingredients found in meals and feasts: meats, grains, and wine (cf. Num 15.2–16n. ). On the metaphor, cf. Mal 1.8; Ps 50.7–14.

10 :

See 8.10–12n.

16–23 :

Bodily defects prevent priests from working at the altar (vv. 18–20 ), but they do not render them impure. These priests may still eat of the most holy offerings in the sanctuary (v. 22; cf. Num 18.8–10n.). Cf. 22.17–25 .

22.1–16 :

A continuation of the previous unit: Priests with impurity, which is a temporary state, as opposed to bodily imperfections ( 21.16–23 ), cannot eat any sacrifices or holy donations (cf. 11.1–15.33n.; 12.2–5n. ).

8 :

See 11.39–40n.

10–13 :

On the priest's family consuming lesser holy offerings, see Num 18.20 . The priest's family was his immediate household, which included slaves but not servants.

14 :

One fifth, according to 5.14–16 , inadvertent misuse of sacred items similarly requires restoration of the item plus a payment of one‐fifth its cost.

17–30 :

The focus shifts from the person who makes the offering (an unmaimed, pure priest) to the type of animal that may be offered.

17–25 :

Compare this passage to the rules on priestly defects in 21.16–23 . Anything or anyone contacting the altar must be without defect. Cf. Mal 1.6–14 .

30 :

7.15 .

31–33 :

God's holiness in the midst of Israel, assured by Israel's proper behavior, assures the divine presence in Israel.

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