Leviticus 21:23

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.’ ”

Read Leviticus 21:23 Using Other Translations

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.
but he shall not go through the veil or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not profane my sanctuaries, for I am the LORD who sanctifies them."
Yet because of his physical defect, he may not enter the room behind the inner curtain or approach the altar, for this would defile my holy places. I am the LORD who makes them holy.”

What does Leviticus 21:23 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Leviticus 21:23

Only he shall not go in unto the vail
So far as to the vail, which divided between the holy and the holy of holies; that is, he shall not go into the holy place which was before the vail; not to set the shewbread upon the table there, nor to light and him the lamps in the candlestick, nor to offer incense on the altar of incense, which stood in it: some render it "within the vail" F8, where only the high priest might enter once a year; but if he had any blemish on him he might not, nor might such an one be an high priest; Aben Ezra seems to have some respect to this in his note,

``to the vail he shall not come, that he may be an high priest:''

nor come nigh unto the altar;
as not to the altar of incense in the holy place, so neither to the altar of burnt offering in the court of the tabernacle, that is, so as to officiate there: but though they might not be employed in such sacred service, the Jews in later times have found business for them to employ them in, and that was worming the wood, or searching the wood for worms, which was used in the burning of the sacrifices; for we are told F9, that at the northeast corner (of the court of the women) was the wood room, where the priests that had blemishes wormed the wood; and whatsoever wood in which a worm was found, was rejected from being laid upon the altar: the reason why he might not go into either place before mentioned is repeated,

because he hath a blemish;
either fixed or transient; one of those particularly expressed, or any other; for the Jews suppose there are others implied besides those expressed, which disqualified for service:

that he profane not my sanctuaries;
if an high priest, the holy of holies, if a common priest, the holy place, and the court of the tabernacle:

for I the Lord do sanctify them;
the vail, to which blemished priests might not go: and the altar, to which they might not come nigh: or rather, the sanctuaries or holy places, where they might not officiate, which God had separated and devoted for sacred uses, and were not to be defiled by any; though Ben Gersom observes, that this has no respect to the sanctuary, for if it had it would have been said, "I am the Lord, that sanctify it"; but since a plural word is used before, I see not but that with great propriety it is expressed, and with reference thereunto, "sanctify them"; which he would have understood of holy things, but what he means is not easy to say, unless the holy things such persons might eat of, ( Leviticus 21:22 ) , which is fetched.


F8 (tkrph la) "intra velum", V. L.
F9 Misn. Middot, c. 2. sect. 5.
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