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Leviticus 21 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Leviticus 21 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto the priests the sons of Aaron, and say unto them, There shall none be defiled for the dead among his people:

2 But for his kin, that is near unto him, that is, for his mother, and for his father, and for his son, and for his daughter, and for his brother,

3 And for his sister a virgin, that is nigh unto him, which hath had no husband; for her may he be defiled.

4 But he shall not defile himself, being a chief man among his people, to profane himself.

5 They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh.

(21:5) "They shall not make baldness upon their head."
Priests can't shave their heads, round their beards, or "make cuttings in their flesh."
These were things done by heathen priests.

6 They shall be holy unto their God, and not profane the name of their God: for the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and the bread of their God, they do offer: therefore they shall be holy.

7 They shall not take a wife that is a whore, or profane; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband: for he is holy unto his God.

(21:7) "They shall not take a wife that is a whore."
Priests can't marry whores or divorced women.
I don't see how this is women-unfriendly. Priests were in service of God, if they didn't like being a priest, they didn't have to. And if they were, there were certain restrictions, as they come with every job.

8 Thou shalt sanctify him therefore; for he offereth the bread of thy God: he shall be holy unto thee: for I the LORD, which sanctify you, am holy.

9 And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire.

(21:9) "She shall be burnt with fire."
If a priest's daughter "plays the whore," burn her to death.
What the Bible says about burning people to death
Not only priests had to be holy, but his family as well. Note that this punishment is similar to chapter 20:14.

10 And he that is the high priest among his brethren, upon whose head the anointing oil was poured, and that is consecrated to put on the garments, shall not uncover his head, nor rend his clothes;

11 Neither shall he go in to any dead body, nor defile himself for his father, or for his mother;

(21:11) "Neither shall he go in to any dead body."
Priests must not "go in to any dead body," nor defile himself for his father, or for his mother."
Anyone entering into a house with a dead body, would be ceremonially unclean for seven days, see Num. 19:14, and therefore unable to serve as a priest.

12 Neither shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor profane the sanctuary of his God; for the crown of the anointing oil of his God is upon him: I am the LORD.

13 And he shall take a wife in her virginity.

(21:14) "He shall take a virgin of his own people to wife."
A priest can only marry an Israelite virgin. No harlots, widows, or divorced women will do.
(God really likes virgins.)
You had the right to become a priest by birth. Clearly there was an interest in avoiding sexual diseases to spread or to be introduced.

14 A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife.

15 Neither shall he profane his seed among his people: for I the LORD do sanctify him.

(21:15) "Neither shall he profane his seed among his people."
The priests held this office by birth, so as John Gill explains:

By marrying any such persons, whereby his children, born of them, would lie under disgrace, and be unfit to succeed him in the priesthood, or by marrying among mean persons, or by marrying them to such as were unlawful, and would be a disparagement to them.

16 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

17 Speak unto Aaron, saying, Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God.

(21:16-23) God can't stand the sight of handicapped people.
The blind, the lame, dwarfs, people with funny noses or blemishes, with damaged testicles, or broken hands or feet, crooked backs, or who have scurvy or scabs, or who have anything superfluous must not approach the altar of God.
What the Bible says about blind and handicapped people.
First of all, their handicap might make them unable to do the office of a priest. So instead of cruelly letting them struggle or being a laughing stock, because they could not do a task they were permitted to do, God discharges them from this service. But although not qualified to serve, every handicapped person was able to share in the benefits of being a priest, see verse 22.
Secondly, this had a symbolic meaning under the law of Moses: God's service requires perfection: in particular of a perfect heart, of which the body was just a symbol.
But thirdly, does the author of the SAB lambaste that only very fit persons can serve as fighter pilots? The air force hates handicapped persons?

18 For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous,

19 Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded,

20 Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken;

21 No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the LORD made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God.

22 He shall eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy, and of the holy.

23 Only he shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries: for I the LORD do sanctify them.

24 And Moses told it unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel.