Leviticus 21:4

4 He must not make himself unclean for people related to him by marriage,[a] and so defile himself.

Leviticus 21:4 in Other Translations

4 But he shall not defile himself, being a chief man among his people, to profane himself.
4 He shall not make himself unclean as a husband among his people and so profane himself.
4 But a priest must not defile himself and make himself unclean for someone who is related to him only by marriage.
4 but he must not contaminate himself with the dead who are only related to him by marriage and thus profane himself.
4 He is not to make himself unclean for those related to him by marriage and so defile himself.

Leviticus 21:4 Meaning and Commentary

Leviticus 21:4

[But] he shall not defile himself, [being] a chief man among
his people
Which is not to be understood of any lord or nobleman or any chief ruler or governor of the people; for the context speaks only of priests, and not of other personages; besides, such might defile themselves, or mourn for their dead, as Abraham did for Sarah; nor of any husband for his wife, for even a priest, as has been observed, might do this for his wife, and much more a private person; nor is there any need to restrain it, as some Jewish writers do, to an adulterous wife, which a husband might not mourn for, though he might for his right and lawful wife; but there is nothing in the text, neither of an husband, nor a wife: the words are to be interpreted of a priest, and either of him as considered as a person of eminence, consequence, and importance, and sons giving a reason why he should not defile himself for the dead, because he was a principal person among his people to officiate for them in sacred things; wherefore if he did not take care that he was not defiled for the dead, which might often happen, he would be frequently hindered from doing his office for the people, which would be attended with ill consequence to them; and therefore the above cases are only excepted, as being such that rarely happened: or rather the words are to be considered as a prohibition of defiling himself "for [any] chief" F19, or principal man, lord, ruler, or governor, among his people; even for such an one he was not to defile himself, being no relation of his: to profane himself;
make himself unfit for sacred service, or make himself a common person; put himself upon a level with a common private man, and be no more capable of serving at the altar, or doing any part of the work off priest, than such an one.


F19 (wymeb leb) "in principe populi sui", V. L. so Pesicta & Ben Melech in loc. & Kimchi Sepher Shorash. rad. (leb)

Leviticus 21:4 In-Context

2 except for a close relative, such as his mother or father, his son or daughter, his brother,
3 or an unmarried sister who is dependent on him since she has no husband—for her he may make himself unclean.
4 He must not make himself unclean for people related to him by marriage, and so defile himself.
5 “ ‘Priests must not shave their heads or shave off the edges of their beards or cut their bodies.
6 They must be holy to their God and must not profane the name of their God. Because they present the food offerings to the LORD, the food of their God, they are to be holy.

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or "unclean as a leader among his people"
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