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Leviticus 21:17-24

Context
21:17 “Tell Aaron, ‘No man from your descendants throughout their generations 1  who has a physical flaw 2  is to approach to present the food of his God. 21:18 Certainly 3  no man who has a physical flaw is to approach: a blind man, or one who is lame, or one with a slit nose, 4  or a limb too long, 21:19 or a man who has had a broken leg or arm, 5  21:20 or a hunchback, or a dwarf, 6  or one with a spot in his eye, 7  or a festering eruption, or a feverish rash, 8  or a crushed testicle. 21:21 No man from the descendants of Aaron the priest who has a physical flaw may step forward 9  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 10  or step forward to the altar because he has a physical flaw. Thus 11  he must not profane my holy places, for I am the Lord who sanctifies them.’”

21:24 So 12  Moses spoke these things 13  to Aaron, his sons, and all the Israelites.

1 tn Heb “to their generations.”

2 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.

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

4 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).

5 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.

6 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).

7 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.”

8 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.

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

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

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

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

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



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