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Leviticus 21Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

Rules for Priests

21 The Lord said to Moses, “Tell these things to Aaron’s sons, the priests: A priest must not make himself unclean by touching a dead person. But if the dead person was one of his close relatives, he can touch the dead body. The priest can make himself unclean if the dead person is his mother or father, his son or daughter, his brother or his unmarried[a] sister. (This sister is close to him because she has no husband. So the priest may make himself unclean for her if she dies.) But a priest must not make himself unclean if the dead person was only one of his slaves.[b]

“Priests must not shave their heads bald. They must not shave off the edges of their beards. They must not make any cuts in their bodies. Priests must be holy for their God. They must show respect for God’s name. They offer the bread and special gifts to the Lord, so they must be holy.

“A priest serves God in a special way, so he must not marry a woman who has had sexual relations with any other man. He must not marry a prostitute or a divorced woman. A priest serves God in a special way. So you must treat him in a special way, because he carries holy things. He brings the holy bread to me, and I am holy. I am the Lord, and I make you holy.

“If a priest’s daughter becomes a prostitute, she ruins her reputation and brings shame to her father. She must be burned to death in the fire!

10 “The high priest was chosen from among his brothers. The anointing oil was poured on his head. In this way he was chosen for the special job of being high priest. He was chosen to wear the special clothes, so he must not do things to show his sadness in public. He must not let his hair grow wild. He must not tear his clothes. 11 He must not make himself unclean by touching a dead body. He must not go near a dead body, even if it is his own father or mother. 12 The high priest must not leave God’s holy place, because he might become unclean and then make God’s holy place unclean. The anointing oil was poured on the high priest’s head. This separated him from the rest of the people. I am the Lord.

13 “The high priest must marry a woman who is a virgin. 14 He must not marry a woman who has had sexual relations with any man. He must not marry a prostitute, a divorced woman, or a widow. The high priest must marry a virgin from his own people. 15 In this way people will show respect for his children.[c] I, the Lord, have separated the high priest for his special work.”

16 The Lord said to Moses, 17 “Tell Aaron: If any of your descendants have anything wrong with them, they must not carry the special bread to God. 18 Any man who has something wrong with him must not serve as priest and bring sacrifices to me. These men cannot serve as priests: blind men, crippled men, men with bad scars on their faces, men with arms or legs that are too long, 19 men with broken feet or hands, 20 men with bent backs, men who are dwarfs,[d] men who are cross-eyed, men with rashes or bad skin diseases, and men with crushed testicles.

21 “If one of Aaron’s descendants has something wrong with him, he cannot approach the altar to bring gifts to the Lord. And he cannot carry the special bread to God. 22 He is from the family of priests, so he can eat the holy bread. He can also eat the very holy bread. 23 But he cannot go through the curtain into the Most Holy Place and he cannot go near the altar. This is because he has something wrong with him. He must not make my holy places unholy. I am the Lord, and I make these places holy.”

24 So Moses told these things to Aaron, Aaron’s sons, and all the Israelites.

Footnotes:

  1. Leviticus 21:3 unmarried Literally, “virgin,” a girl who was never married and never had sexual relations.
  2. Leviticus 21:4 Or “A master must not become unclean for his people.”
  3. Leviticus 21:15 people … children Or “his children will not become unclean from the people.”
  4. Leviticus 21:20 dwarfs A small person whose body stopped growing properly.
Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

Copyright © 2006 by Bible League International

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