God spoke to Moses: "Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron. Tell them, A priest must not ritually contaminate himself by touching the dead,
except for close relatives: mother, father, son, daughter, brother,
or an unmarried sister who is dependent on him since she has no husband; for these he may make himself ritually unclean,
but he must not contaminate himself with the dead who are only related to him by marriage and thus profane himself.
"Priests must not shave their heads or trim their beards or gash their bodies.
They must be holy to their God and must not profane the name of their God. Because their job is to present the gifts of God, the food of their God, they are to be holy.
"Because a priest is holy to his God he must not marry a woman who has been a harlot or a cult prostitute or a divorced woman.
Make sure he is holy because he serves the food of your God. Treat him as holy because I, God, who make you holy, am holy.
"If a priest's daughter defiles herself in prostitution, she disgraces her father. She must be burned at the stake.
"The high priest, the one among his brothers who has received the anointing oil poured on his head and been ordained to wear the priestly vestments, must not let his hair go wild and tangled nor wear ragged and torn clothes.
He must not enter a room where there is a dead body. He must not ritually contaminate himself, even for his father or mother;
and he must neither abandon nor desecrate the Sanctuary of his God because of the dedication of the anointing oil which is upon him. I am God.
"He is to marry a young virgin,
not a widow, not a divorcee, not a cult prostitute - he is only to marry a virgin from his own people.
He must not defile his descendants among his people because I am God who makes him holy."
God spoke to Moses:
"Tell Aaron, None of your descendants, in any generation to come, who has a defect of any kind may present as an offering the food of his God.
That means anyone who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed,
crippled in foot or hand,
hunchbacked or dwarfed, who has anything wrong with his eyes, who has running sores or damaged testicles.
No descendant of Aaron the priest who has any defect is to offer gifts to God; he has a defect and so must not offer the food of his God.
He may eat the food of his God, both the most holy and the holy,
but because of his defect he must not go near the curtain or approach the Altar. It would desecrate my Sanctuary. I am God who makes them holy."
Moses delivered this message to Aaron, his sons, and to all the People of Israel.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)