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Leviticus 10:1-20

Context
Nadab and Abihu

10:1 Then 1  Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, each took his fire pan and put fire in it, set incense on it, and presented strange fire 2  before the Lord, which he had not commanded them to do. 10:2 So fire went out from the presence of the Lord 3  and consumed them so that they died before the Lord. 10:3 Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke: ‘Among the ones close to me I will show myself holy, 4  and in the presence of all the people I will be honored.’” 5  So Aaron kept silent. 10:4 Moses then called to Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel, Aaron’s uncle, and said to them, “Come near, carry your brothers away from the front of the sanctuary to a place outside the camp.” 10:5 So they came near and carried them away in their tunics to a place outside the camp just as Moses had spoken. 10:6 Then Moses said to Aaron and to Eleazar and Ithamar his other two sons, “Do not 6  dishevel the hair of your heads 7  and do not tear your garments, so that you do not die and so that wrath does not come on the whole congregation. Your brothers, all the house of Israel, are to mourn the burning which the Lord has caused, 8  10:7 but you must not go out from the entrance of the Meeting Tent lest you die, for the Lord’s anointing oil is on you.” So they acted according to the word of Moses.

Perpetual Statutes the Lord Spoke to Aaron

10:8 Then the Lord spoke to Aaron, 10:9 “Do not drink wine or strong drink, you and your sons with you, when you enter into the Meeting Tent, so that you do not die, which is a perpetual statute throughout your generations, 9  10:10 as well as 10  to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean, 11  10:11 and to teach the Israelites all the statutes that the Lord has spoken to them through 12  Moses.”

Perpetual Statutes Moses spoke to Aaron

10:12 Then Moses spoke to Aaron and to Eleazar and Ithamar, his remaining sons, “Take the grain offering which remains from the gifts of the Lord and eat it unleavened beside the altar, for it is most holy. 10:13 You must eat it in a holy place because it is your allotted portion 13  and the allotted portion of your sons from the gifts 14  of the Lord, for this is what I have been commanded. 15  10:14 Also, the breast of the wave offering and the thigh of the contribution offering you must eat in a ceremonially 16  clean place, you and your sons and daughters with you, for they have been given as your allotted portion and the allotted portion of your sons from the peace offering sacrifices of the Israelites. 17  10:15 The thigh of the contribution offering and the breast of the wave offering they must bring in addition to the gifts of the fat parts to wave them as a wave offering before the Lord, and it will belong to you and your sons with you for a perpetual statute just as the Lord has commanded.”

The Problem with the Inaugural Sin Offering

10:16 Later Moses sought diligently for the sin offering male goat, 18  but it had actually been burnt. 19  So he became angry at Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s remaining sons, saying, 10:17 “Why did you not eat the sin offering in the sanctuary? For it is most holy and he gave it to you to bear the iniquity of the congregation, 20  to make atonement on their behalf before the Lord. 10:18 See here! 21  Its blood was not brought into the holy place within! 22  You should certainly have eaten it in the sanctuary just as I commanded!” 10:19 But Aaron spoke to Moses, “See here! 23  Just today they presented their sin offering and their burnt offering before the Lord and such things as these have happened to me! If I had eaten a sin offering today would the Lord have been pleased?” 24  10:20 When Moses heard this explanation, he was satisfied. 25 

Leviticus 21:1-24

Context
Rules for the Priests

21:1 The Lord said to Moses: “Say to the priests, the sons of Aaron – say to them, ‘For a dead person 26  no priest 27  is to defile himself among his people, 28  21:2 except for his close relative who is near to him: 29  his mother, his father, his son, his daughter, his brother, 21:3 and his virgin sister who is near to him, 30  who has no husband; he may defile himself for her. 21:4 He must not defile himself as a husband among his people so as to profane himself. 31  21:5 Priests 32  must not have a bald spot shaved on their head, they must not shave the corner of their beard, and they must not cut slashes in their body. 33 

21:6 “‘They must be holy to their God, and they must not profane 34  the name of their God, because they are the ones who present the Lord’s gifts, 35  the food of their God. Therefore they must be holy. 36  21:7 They must not take a wife defiled by prostitution, 37  nor are they to take a wife divorced from her husband, 38  for the priest 39  is holy to his God. 40  21:8 You must sanctify him because he presents the food of your God. He must be holy to you because I, the Lord who sanctifies you all, 41  am holy. 21:9 If a daughter of a priest profanes herself by engaging in prostitution, she is profaning her father. She must be burned to death. 42 

Rules for the High Priest

21:10 “‘The high 43  priest – who is greater than his brothers, on whose head the anointing oil is poured, who has been ordained 44  to wear the priestly garments – must neither dishevel the hair of his head nor tear his garments. 45  21:11 He must not go where there is any dead person; 46  he must not defile himself even for his father and his mother. 21:12 He must not go out from the sanctuary and must not profane 47  the sanctuary of his God, because the dedication of the anointing oil of his God is on him. I am the Lord. 21:13 He must take a wife who is a virgin. 48  21:14 He must not marry 49  a widow, a divorced woman, or one profaned by prostitution; he may only take a virgin from his people 50  as a wife. 21:15 He must not profane his children among his people, 51  for I am the Lord who sanctifies him.’”

Rules for the Priesthood

21:16 The Lord spoke to Moses: 21:17 “Tell Aaron, ‘No man from your descendants throughout their generations 52  who has a physical flaw 53  is to approach to present the food of his God. 21:18 Certainly 54  no man who has a physical flaw is to approach: a blind man, or one who is lame, or one with a slit nose, 55  or a limb too long, 21:19 or a man who has had a broken leg or arm, 56  21:20 or a hunchback, or a dwarf, 57  or one with a spot in his eye, 58  or a festering eruption, or a feverish rash, 59  or a crushed testicle. 21:21 No man from the descendants of Aaron the priest who has a physical flaw may step forward 60  to present the Lord’s gifts; he has a physical flaw, so he must not step forward to present the food of his God. 21:22 He may eat both the most holy and the holy food of his God, 21:23 but he must not go into the veil-canopy 61  or step forward to the altar because he has a physical flaw. Thus 62  he must not profane my holy places, for I am the Lord who sanctifies them.’”

21:24 So 63  Moses spoke these things 64  to Aaron, his sons, and all the Israelites.

1 tn Although it has been used elsewhere in this translation as an English variation from the ubiquitous use of vav in Hebrew, in this instance “then” as a rendering for vav is intended to show that the Nadab and Abihu catastrophe took place on the inauguration day described in Lev 9. The tragic incident in Lev 10 happened in close temporal connection to the Lord’s fire that consumed the offerings at the end of Lev 9. Thus, for example, the “sin offering” male goat referred to in Lev 10:16-19 is the very one referred to in Lev 9:15.

2 tn The expression “strange fire” (אֵשׁ זָרָה, ’esh zarah) seems imprecise (cf. NAB “profane fire”; NIV “unauthorized fire”; NRSV “unholy fire”; NLT “a different kind of fire”) and has been interpreted numerous ways (see the helpful summary in J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 132-33). The infraction may have involved any of the following or a combination thereof: (1) using coals from someplace other than the burnt offering altar (i.e., “unauthorized coals” according to J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:598; cf. Lev 16:12 and cf. “unauthorized person” אִישׁ זָר (’ish zar) in Num 16:40 [17:5 HT], NASB “layman”), (2) using the wrong kind of incense (cf. the Exod 30:9 regulation against “strange incense” קְטֹרֶת זָרָה (qÿtoreh zarah) on the incense altar and the possible connection to Exod 30:34-38), (3) performing an incense offering at an unprescribed time (B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 59), or (4) entering the Holy of Holies at an inappropriate time (Lev 16:1-2).

3 tn See the note on 9:24a.

4 tn The Niphal verb of the Hebrew root קָדַשׁ (qadash) can mean either “to be treated as holy” (so here, e.g., BDB 873 s.v. קָּדַשׁ, LXX, NASB, and NEB) or “to show oneself holy” (so here, e.g., HALOT 1073 s.v. קדשׁnif.1, NIV, NRSV, NLT; J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:595, 601-3; and J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 133-34). The latter rendering seems more likely here since, in the immediate context, the Lord himself had indeed shown himself to be holy by the way he responded to the illegitimate incense offering of Nadab and Abihu. They had not treated the Lord as holy, so the Lord acted on his own behalf to show that he was indeed holy.

5 tn In this context the Niphal of the Hebrew root כָּבֵד (kaved) can mean “to be honored” (e.g., NASB and NIV here), “be glorified” (ASV, NRSV and NLT here), or “glorify oneself, show one’s glory” (cf. NAB; e.g., specifically in this verse HALOT 455 s.v. כבדnif.3; J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:595, 603-4; and J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 126, 134). Comparing this clause with the previous one (see the note above), the point may be that when the Lord shows himself to be holy as he has done in 10:1-2, this results in him being honored (i.e., reverenced, feared, treated with respect) among the people. This suggests the passive rendering. It is possible, however, that one should use the reflexive rendering here as in the previous clause. If so, the passage means that the Lord showed both his holiness and his glory in one outbreak against Nadab and Abihu.

6 tc Smr has “you must not” (לֹא, lo’) rather than the MT’s “do not” (אַל, ’al; cf. the following negative לֹא, lo’, in the MT).

7 tn Heb “do not let free your heads.” Some have taken this to mean, “do not take off your headgear” (cf. NAB, NASB), but it probably also involves leaving one’s hair unkempt as a sign of mourning (see J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:608-9; cf. NCV, TEV, CEV, NLT).

8 tn Heb “shall weep [for] the burning which the Lord has burned”; NIV “may mourn for those the Lord has destroyed by fire.”

9 tn Heb “a perpetual statute for your generations”; NAB “a perpetual ordinance”; NRSV “a statute forever”; NLT “a permanent law.” The Hebrew grammar here suggests that the last portion of v. 9 functions as both a conclusion to v. 9 and an introduction to vv. 10-11. It is a pivot clause, as it were. Thus, it was a “perpetual statute” to not drink alcoholic beverages when ministering in the tabernacle, but it was also a “perpetual statue” to distinguish between holy and profane and unclean and clean (v. 10) as well as to teach the children of Israel all such statutes (v. 11).

10 tn Heb “and,” but regarding the translation “as well as,” see the note at the end of v. 9.

11 sn The two pairs of categories in this verse refer to: (1) the status of a person, place, thing, or time – “holy” (קֹדֶשׁ, qodesh) versus “common” (חֹל, khol); as opposed to (2) the condition of a person, place, or thing – “unclean” (טָמֵא, tame’) versus “clean” (טָהוֹר, tahor). Someone or something could gain “holy” status by being “consecrated” (i.e., made holy; e.g., the Hebrew Piel קִדֵּשׁ (qiddesh) in Lev 8:15, 30), and to treat someone or something that was holy as if it were “common” would be to “profane” that person or thing (the Hebrew Piel הִלֵּל [hillel], e.g., in Lev 19:29 and 22:15). Similarly, on another level, someone or something could be in a “clean” condition, but one could “defile” (the Hebrew Piel טִמֵּא [timme’], e.g., in Gen 34:5 and Num 6:9) that person or thing and thereby make it “unclean.” To “purify” (the Hebrew Piel טִהֵר [tiher], e.g., in Lev 16:19 and Num 8:6, 15) that unclean person or thing would be to make it “clean” once again. With regard to the animals (Lev 11), some were by nature “unclean,” so they could never be eaten, but others were by nature “clean” and, therefore, edible (Lev 11:2, 46-47). The meat of clean animals could become inedible by too long of a delay in eating it, in which case the Hebrew term פִּגּוּל (pigul) “foul, spoiled” is used to describe it (Lev 7:18; 19:7; cf. also Ezek 4:14 and Isa 65:4), not the term for “unclean” (טָהוֹר, tahor). Strictly speaking, therefore, unclean meat never becomes clean, and clean meat never becomes unclean.

12 tn Heb “by the hand of” (so KJV).

13 tn Heb “statute” (cf. 10:9, 11); cf. KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV “due”; NIV “share”; NLT “regular share.”

14 tn For the rendering of the Hebrew אִשֶׁה (’isheh) as “gift” rather than “offering [made] by fire,” see the note on Lev 1:9.

15 sn Cf. Lev 2:3 and 6:14-18 [6:7-11 HT] for these regulations.

16 tn The word “ceremonially” has been supplied in the translation to clarify that the cleanness of the place specified is ritual or ceremonial in nature.

17 sn Cf. Lev 7:14, 28-34 for these regulations.

18 sn This is the very same male goat offered in Lev 9:15 (cf. the note on Lev 10:1 above).

19 tn Heb “but behold, it had been burnt” (KJV and NASB both similar).

20 sn This translation is quite literal. On the surface it appears to mean that the priests would “bear the iniquity” of the congregation by the act of eating the sin offering (so J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:622-25, 635-40). Such a notion is, however, found nowhere else in the Levitical regulations and seems unlikely (so J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 136). A more likely interpretation is reflected in this interpretive rendering: “he gave it to you [as payment] for [your work of] bearing the iniquity of the congregation.” The previous section of the chapter deals with the prebends that the priests received for performing the ministry of the tabernacle (Lev 10:12-15). Lev 10:16-18, therefore, seems to continue the very same topic in the light of the most immediate situation (see R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 2:702-4).

21 tn Or “Behold!” (so KJV, ASV, NASB).

22 sn The term here rendered “within” refers to the bringing of the blood inside the holy place for application to the altar of incense rather than to the altar of burnt offering in the courtyard of the tabernacle (cf. Lev 4:7, 16-18; 6:30 [23 HT]).

23 tn Or “Behold!” (so KJV, ASV, NASB); NRSV “See.”

24 tn Heb “today they presented their sin offering and their burnt offering before the Lord, and like these things have happened to me, and (if) I had eaten sin offering today would it be good in the eyes of the Lord?” The idiom “would it be good in the eyes of [the Lord]” has been translated “would [the Lord] have been pleased.” Cf. NRSV “would it have been agreeable to the Lord?”; CEV, NLT “Would the Lord have approved?”

25 tn Heb “it was good in his eyes” (an idiom). Cf. KJV “he was content”; NLT “he approved.”

26 tn The Hebrew term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “soul, person, life”) can sometimes refer to a “dead person” (cf. Lev 19:28 above and the literature cited there).

27 tn Heb “no one,” but “priest” has been used in the translation to clarify that these restrictions are limited to the priests, not to the Israelites in general (note the introductory formula, “say to the priests, the sons of Aaron”).

28 tc The MT has “in his peoples,” but Smr, LXX, Syriac, Targum, and Tg. Ps.-J. have “in his people,” referring to the Israelites as a whole.

29 tn Heb “except for his flesh, the one near to him.”

30 tn Cf. v. 2a.

31 tn Heb “He shall not defile himself a husband in his peoples, to profane himself.” The meaning of the line is disputed, but it appears to prohibit a priest from burying any relative by marriage (as opposed to the blood relatives of vv. 2-3), including his wife (compare B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 142-43 with J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 343, 348).

32 tn Heb “they”; the referent (priests, see the beginning of v. 1) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

33 tn Heb “and in their body they shall not [cut] slash[es]” (cf. Lev 19:28). The context connects these sorts of mutilations with mourning rites (cf. Lev 19:27-28 above).

34 sn Regarding “profane,” see the note on Lev 10:10 above.

35 sn Regarding the Hebrew term for “gifts,” see the note on Lev 1:9 above (cf. also 3:11 and 16 in combination with the word for “food” that follows in the next phrase here).

36 tc Smr and all early versions have the plural adjective “holy” rather than the MT singular noun “holiness.”

37 tn Heb “A wife harlot and profaned they shall not take.” The structure of the verse (e.g., “wife” at the beginning of the two main clauses) suggests that “harlot and profaned” constitutes a hendiadys, meaning “a wife defiled by harlotry” (see the explanation in B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 143, as opposed to that in J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 343, 348; cf. v. 14 below). Cf. NASB “a woman who is profaned by harlotry.”

38 sn For a helpful discussion of divorce in general and as it relates to this passage see B. A. Levine, Leviticus (JPSTC), 143-44.

39 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the priest) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

40 tn The pronoun “he” in this clause refers to the priest, not the former husband of the divorced woman.

41 tn The three previous second person references in this verse are all singular, but this reference is plural. By adding “all” this grammatical distinction is preserved in the translation.

42 tn See the note on “burned to death” in 20:14.

43 tn The adjective “high” has been supplied in the translation for clarity, as in many English versions.

44 tn Heb “and he has filled his hand.” For this expression see the note on Lev 8:33.

45 tn Regarding these signs of mourning see the note on Lev 10:6. His head had been anointed (v. 10a) so it must not be unkempt (v. 10b), and his garments were special priestly garments (v. 10a) so he must not tear them (v. 10b). In the translation “garments” has been employed rather than “clothes” to suggest that the special priestly garments are referred to here; cf. NRSV “nor tear his vestments.”

46 tc Although the MT has “persons” (plural), the LXX and Syriac have the singular “person” corresponding to the singular adjectival participle “dead” (cf. also Num 6:6).

47 sn Regarding “profane,” see the note on Lev 10:10 above.

48 tn Heb “And he, a wife in her virginity he shall take.”

49 tn Heb “take.” In context this means “take as wife,” i.e., “marry.”

50 tc The MT has literally, “from his peoples,” but Smr, LXX, Syriac, Targum, and Tg. Ps.-J. have “from his people,” referring to the Israelites as a whole.

51 tc The MT has literally, “in his peoples,” but Smr, LXX, Syriac, Targum, and Tg. Ps.-J. have “in his people,” referring to the Israelites as a whole.

52 tn Heb “to their generations.”

53 tn Heb “who in him is a flaw”; cf. KJV, ASV “any blemish”; NASB, NIV “a defect.” The rendering “physical flaw” is used to refer to any birth defect or physical injury of the kind described in the following verses (cf. the same Hebrew word also in Lev 24:19-20). The same term is used for “flawed” animals, which must not be offered to the Lord in Lev 22:20-25.

54 tn The particle כִּי (ki) in this context is asseverative, indicating absolutely certainty (GKC 498 §159.ee).

55 tn Lexically, the Hebrew term חָרֻם (kharum) seems to refer to a split nose or perhaps any number of other facial defects (HALOT 354 s.v. II חרם qal; cf. G. J. Wenham, Leviticus [NICOT], 292, n. 7); cf. KJV, ASV “a flat nose”; NASB “a disfigured face.” The NJPS translation is “a limb too short” as a balance to the following term which means “extended, raised,” and apparently refers to “a limb too long” (see the explanation in B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 146).

56 tn Heb “who there is in him a broken leg or a broken arm,” or perhaps “broken foot or broken hand.” The Hebrew term רֶגֶל (regel) is commonly rendered “foot,” but it can also refer to the “leg,” and the Hebrew יָד (yad) is most often translated “hand,” but can also refer to the “[fore]arm” (as opposed to כַּף, kaf, “palm of the hand” or “hand”). See HALOT 386 s.v. יָד and 1184 s.v. רֶגֶל respectively (cf. the NJPS translation). In this context, these terms probably apply to any part of the limb that was broken, including hand and the foot. B. A. Levine (Leviticus [JPSTC], 146) points out that such injuries often did not heal properly in antiquity because they were not properly set and, therefore, remained a “physical flaw” permanently.

57 tn Heb “thin”; cf. NAB “weakly.” This could refer to either an exceptionally small (i.e., dwarfed) man (B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 146) or perhaps one with a “withered limb” (J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 342, 344).

58 tn The term rendered “spot” derives from a root meaning “mixed” or “confused” (cf. NAB “walleyed”). It apparently refers to any kind of marked flaw in the eye that can be seen by others. Smr, Syriac, Tg. Onq., and Tg. Ps.-J. have plural “his eyes.”

59 tn The exact meaning and medical reference of the terms rendered “festering eruption” and “feverish rash” is unknown, but see the translations and remarks in B. A. Levine, Leviticus (JPSTC), 146; J. E. Hartley, Leviticus (WBC), 342, 344, 349-50; and R. K. Harrison, NIDOTTE 1:890 and 2:461.

60 tn Or “shall approach” (see HALOT 670 s.v. נגשׁ).

61 sn See the note on Lev 16:2 for the rendering “veil-canopy.”

62 tn Heb “And.” The Hebrew conjunction ו (vav, “and”) can be considered to have resultative force here.

63 tn Heb “And.” The Hebrew conjunction ו (vav, “and”) introduces a concluding statement for all the preceding material.

64 tn The words “these things” are not in the Hebrew text, but have been supplied in the translation for clarity.



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