Contemporary English Version
Instructions for Priests
21 The Lord gave Moses these instructions for Aaron’s sons, the priests:
Touching a dead body will make you unclean. So don’t go near a dead relative, 2 except your mother, father, son, daughter, brother, 3 or an unmarried sister, who has no husband to take care of her. 4 Don’t make yourself unclean by attending the funeral of someone related to you by marriage.[a] 5 Don’t shave any part of your head or trim your beard or cut yourself to show that you are mourning. 6 I am the Lord your God, and I have chosen you alone to offer sacrifices of food to me on the altar. That’s why you must keep yourselves holy. 7 Don’t marry a divorced woman or a woman who has served as a temple prostitute. You are holy, 8 because I am holy. And so, you must be treated with proper respect, since you offer food sacrifices to me, the God of holiness.
9 If any of you priests has a daughter who disgraces you by serving as a temple prostitute, she must be burned to death.
10 If you are the high priest, you must not mess up your hair or tear your clothes in order to mourn for the dead. 11 Don’t make yourself unclean by going near a dead body, not even that of your own father or mother. 12 If you leave the sacred place to attend a funeral, both you and the sacred place become unclean, because you are the high priest.
13 If you are the high priest, you must marry only a virgin 14 from your own tribe. Don’t marry a divorced woman or any other woman who has already had sex, including a temple prostitute. 15 In this way, your descendants will be qualified to serve me. Remember—I am the Lord, and I have chosen you.
16 The Lord told Moses 17-18 to say to Aaron:
No descendant of yours can ever serve as my priest if he is blind or lame, if his face is disfigured, if one leg is shorter than the other, 19 if either a foot or a hand is crippled, 20 if he is a hunchback or a dwarf, if an eye or his skin is diseased, or if his testicles have been damaged. 21 These men may not serve as my priests and burn sacrifices to me. 22 They may eat the food offerings presented to me, 23 but they may not enter the sacred place or serve me at the altar. Remember—I am the Lord, the one who makes a priest holy.
24 Moses told all of this to Aaron, his sons, and the people of Israel.
- 21.4 marriage: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 4.