More was expected from a priest than from other people, but more from the high priest than from other priests, because upon his head the anointing oil was poured, and he was consecrated to put on the garments (Lev. 21:10), both which were typical of the anointing and adorning of the Lord Jesus, with all the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, which he received without measure. It is called the crown of the anointing oil of his God (Lev. 21:12); for the anointing of the Spirit is, to all that have it, a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty. The high priest being thus dignified,
I. He must not defile himself at all for the dead, no, nor for his nearest relations, his father or his mother, much less his child or brother, Lev. 21:11. 1. He must not use the common expressions of sorrow on those occasions, such as uncovering his head, and rending his clothes (Lev. 21:10), so perfectly unconcerned must he show himself in all the crosses and comforts of this life: even his natural affection must be swallowed up in compassion to the ignorant, and a feeling of their infirmities, and a tender concern for the household of God, which he was made the ruler of. Thus being the holy one that was entrusted with the thummim and the urim he must not know father or mother, Deut. 33:8, 9. 2. He must not go in to any dead body, Lev. 21:11. If any of the inferior priests were under a ceremonial pollution, there were other priests that might supply their places; but, if the high priest were defiled, there would be a greater want of him. And the forbidding of him to go to any house of mourning, or attend any funeral, would be an indication to the people of the greatness of that dignity to which he was advanced. Our Lord Jesus, the great high priest of our profession, touched the dead body of Jairus’s daughter, the bier of the widow’s son, and the grave of Lazarus, to show that he came to altar the property of death, and to take off the terror of it, by breaking the power of it. Now that it cannot destroy it does not defile. 3. He must not go out of the sanctuary (Lev. 21:12); that is, whenever he was attending or officiating in the sanctuary, where usually he tarried in his own apartment all day, he must not go out upon any occasion whatsoever, nor cut short his attendance on the living God, no, not to pay his last respects to a dying relation. It was a profanation of the sanctuary to leave it, while his presence was requisite there, upon any such occasion; for thereby he preferred some other business before the service of God and the business of his profession, to which he ought to make every thing else give place. Thus our Lord Jesus would not leave off preaching to speak with his mother and brethren, Matt. 12:48.
II. He might not marry a widow (as other priests might), much less one divorced, or a harlot, Lev. 21:13, 14. The reason of this was to put a difference between him and other priests in this matter; and (as some suggest) that he might be a type of Christ, to whom the church was to be presented a chaste virgin, 2 Cor. 11:2. See Ezek. 44:22. Christ must have our first love, our pure love, our entire love; thus the virgins love thee (Song 1:3), and such only are fit to follow the Lamb, Rev. 14:4.
III. He might not profane his seed among his people, Lev. 21:15. Some understand it as forbidding him to marry any of an inferior rank, which would be a disparagement to his family. Jehoiada indeed married of his own tribe, but then it was into the royal family, 2 Chron. 22:11. This was not to teach him to be proud, but to teach him to be pure, and to do nothing unbecoming his office and the worthy name by which he was called. Or it may be a caution to him in disposing of his children; he must not profane his seed by marrying them unsuitably. Ministers’ children are profaned if they be unequally yoked with unbelievers.