Leviticus 21:12
Neither shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor profane the sanctuary of his God; for the crown of the anointing oil of his God is on him: I am the LORD.
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(12) Neither shall he go out of the sanctuary.—Better, and he shall not go out of the sanctuary as in Leviticus 10:7. When the tidings of the death of a parent is brought to him during the service, he must not desist from the service and quit the sanctuary, lest it should appear that he has a greater regard for the dead than for the service of the living God. The difference between the ordinary priest and the high priest in this respect was, that when the former heard, during the service, of the death of any one of the seven relations for whom he had to mourn, he was obliged to discontinue the service, though he too could not leave the precincts of the sanctuary; whilst the former, under these circumstances, was bound to continue the service. The former, by becoming a mourner, profaned the service if he continued it; the latter never became a mourner, and hence profaned the service if he discontinued it.

Leviticus 21:12. Out of the sanctuary — To attend the funeral of any person: for upon other occasions he might, and did commonly go out. Nor profane the sanctuary — Either by the performance of a civility, or by entering into the sanctuary before the seven days allotted for his cleansing (Numbers 19:11) were expired. The crown of the anointing oil — Or, the crown, the golden plate, which is called the holy crown, (Exodus 29:6,) and the anointing oil of his God are upon him. So there is only an ellipsis of the conjunction and, which is frequent. And these two things, being most eminent, are put for the rest, as the sign is put for the thing signified, as if he had said, For he is God’s high-priest. But the word נזר, Nezer, which we render crown, more properly signifies separation, or consecration; and so the clause might here be rendered, — The consecration of the anointing oil of his God is upon him.21:1-24 Laws concerning the priests. - As these priests were types of Christ, so all ministers must be followers of him, that their example may teach others to imitate the Saviour. Without blemish, and separate from sinners, He executed his priestly office on earth. What manner of persons then should his ministers be! But all are, if Christians, spiritual priests; the minister especially is called to set a good example, that the people may follow it. Our bodily infirmities, blessed be God, cannot now shut us out from his service, from these privileges, or from his heavenly glory. Many a healthful, beautiful soul is lodged in a feeble, deformed body. And those who may not be suited for the work of the ministry, may serve God with comfort in other duties in his church.Go out of the sanctuary - i. e. not for the purpose to which reference is here made. The words do not mean, as some have imagined, that his abode was confined to the sanctuary. 10-15. he that is the high priest among his brethren … shall not uncover his head, nor rend his clothes—The indulgence in the excepted cases of family bereavement, mentioned above [Le 21:2, 3], which was granted to the common priests, was denied to him; for his absence from the sanctuary for the removal of any contracted defilement could not have been dispensed with, neither could he have acted as intercessor for the people, unless ceremonially clean. Moreover, the high dignity of his office demanded a corresponding superiority in personal holiness, and stringent rules were prescribed for the purpose of upholding the suitable dignity of his station and family. The same rules are extended to the families of Christian ministers (1Ti 3:2; Tit 1:6). Out of the sanctuary, to wit, to attend the funerals of any person; for upon other occasions he might and did commonly go out.

Nor profane the sanctuary; either by making the service thereof give place to the discharge of his passions, or the performance of a civility, or by entering into the sanctuary before the seven days allotted for his cleansing { Numbers 19:11} were expired.

The crown of the anointing oil, i.e. the anointing oil, which to him was instead of a crown, by which he was advanced not only above the rest of his brethren, but even above all the people, whose chief governor he was in the things of God, though subject and accountable to the civil magistrate, by which also he was made an eminent type of Christ, who was to be King and Priest. Or, the crown, to wit, the golden plate, which is called the holy crown, Exodus 29:6, and

the anointing oil of his God are upon him. So there is only an ellipsis of the conjunction and, which is frequent, as Psalm 144:9 Isaiah 63:11 Habakkuk 3:11, &c. And these two things being most eminent, are put for the rest, and the sign is put for the thing signified, q.d. for he is God’s high priest. Or, the consecration (for so nezer signifies) of the anointing oil, which by an hypallage may be put for the anointing oil of the consecration, i.e. whereby he is consecrated, is upon him; i.e. though that action be past, yet the virtue of it remains still upon him; he is a sacred person in the highest degree, and therefore not to defile himself in any kind. Neither shall he go out of the sanctuary,.... In the time of service, upon any occasion whatever; otherwise, when there was a necessity for it, he might go out from thence, though this was rarely done, and only in the night time: Maimonides (m) says he had a house prepared for him in the sanctuary, called the chamber of the high priest; and it was his honour and his glory to remain in the sanctuary all the day, and he did not go out, except to his own house, and that only in the night, or an hour or two in the day; and his house was in Jerusalem, and from thence he never removed: but this law respects him only in the case of his dead; as when any news was brought him of the death of his father, or of his mother, if in his service, he was not to quit it on any account; for we are told (n), that an high priest might offer when mourning, though he might not eat in such a circumstance, whereas a common priest might neither offer nor eat; nor might an high priest go out of the sanctuary on such an occasion, if he was not in service, as to follow the dead corpse or bier, as Jarchi and Aben Ezra interpret it; at least, he was to go no further than the gate of the city; though even this is not allowed by others, who say (o), if the dead were his, he might not go out after it; he might not go out of the door of his house, nor out of the sanctuary, and all the people were to come and comfort him at his own house:

nor profane the sanctuary of his God; by deserting the service of it, on any account, and particularly on account of the dead, by departing from it to go after them, and by entering into it again before the time, when so defiled:

for the crown of the anointing oil of his God is upon him; the anointing oil, which was a crown of glory, and gave him a superior dignity to others, which it became him to be careful not to debase by any of the above things: or "the crown and the anointing oil", so some (p) supply the word "and"; both the golden plate or the holy crown, as it is sometimes called, and the anointing oil were upon him, which showed him to be a very dignified person, a sort of king as well as a priest, and so a type of Christ, who is a priest upon his throne, Zechariah 6:13,

I am the Lord: whose high priest he is, and who command him all these things, and expect to be obeyed in them.

(m) Cele Hamikdash, c. 5. sect. 7. (n) Misn. Horayot, c. 3. sect. 5. (o) Maimon. Cele Hamikdash, c. 5. sect. 5, 6. Vid. Misn. Sanhedrim, c. 2. sect. 1.((p) So Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, &c.

Neither shall he go out of the {h} sanctuary, nor profane the sanctuary of his God; for the {i} crown of the anointing oil of his God is upon him: I am the LORD.

(h) To go to the dead.

(i) For by his anointing he was preferred above the other priests and therefore could not lament the dead, least he should have polluted his holy anointing.

12. go out, etc.] lest, on returning to the sanctuary, he should pollute it. The words seem to imply that the sanctuary was his usual abode. Cp. 1 Samuel 1:9; 1 Samuel 3:2. But they may only mean that he was not to go out during the ceremonial.

crown] R.V. mg. consecration. The former is the literal rendering, but the mg. gives the sense here. The oil was the symbol of his office, marking him out as a crowned one among his brethren. The original word is used elsewhere in the special sense of the consecration of a Nazirite (Numbers 6:7, etc.).The priest was not to defile himself on account of a soul, i.e., a dead person (nephesh, as in Leviticus 19:28), among his countrymen, unless it were of his kindred, who stood near to him (i.e., in the closest relation to him), formed part of the same family with him (cf. Leviticus 21:3), such as his mother, father, son, daughter, brother, or a sister who was still living with him as a virgin and was not betrothed to a husband (cf. Ezekiel 44:25). As every corpse not only defiled the persons who touched it, but also the tent or dwelling in which the person had died (Numbers 19:11, Numbers 19:14); in the case of death among members of the family or household, defilement was not to be avoided on the part of the priest as the head of the family. It was therefore allowable for him to defile himself on account of such persons as these, and even to take part in their burial. The words of Leviticus 21:4 are obscure: "He shall not defile himself בּעמּיו בּעל, i.e., as lord (pater-familias) among his countrymen, to desecrate himself;" and the early translators have wandered in uncertainty among different renderings. In all probability בּעל denotes the master of the house or husband. But, for all that, the explanation given by Knobel and others, "as a husband he shall not defile himself on the death of his wife, his mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, by taking part in their burial," is decidedly to be rejected. For, apart from the unwarrantable introduction of the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, there is sufficient to prevent our thinking of defilement on the death of a wife, in the fact that the wife is included in the "kin that is near unto him" in Leviticus 21:2, though not in the way that many Rabbins suppose, who maintain that שׁאר signifies wife, but implicite, the wife not being expressly mentioned, because man and wife form one flesh (Genesis 2:24), and the wife stands nearer to the husband than father and mother, son and daughter, or brother and sister. Nothing is proved by appealing to the statement made by Plutarch, that the priests of the Romans were not allowed to defile themselves by touching the corpses of their wives; inasmuch as there is no trace of this custom to be found among the Israelites, and the Rabbins, for this very reason, suppose the death of an illegitimate wife to be intended. The correct interpretation of the words can only be arrived at by considering the relation of the fourth verse to what precedes and follows. As Leviticus 21:1-3 stand in a very close relation to Leviticus 21:5 and Leviticus 21:6, - the defilement on account of a dead person being more particularly explained in the latter, or rather, strictly speaking, greater force being given to the prohibition, - it is natural to regard Leviticus 21:4 as standing in a similar relation to Leviticus 21:7, and to understand it as a general prohibition, which is still more clearly expounded in Leviticus 21:7 and Leviticus 21:9. The priest was not to defile himself as a husband and the head of a household, either by marrying a wife of immoral or ambiguous reputation, or by training his children carelessly, so as to desecrate himself, i.e., profane the holiness of his rank and office by either one or the other (cf. Leviticus 21:9 and Leviticus 21:15). - In Leviticus 21:5 desecration is forbidden in the event of a death occurring. He was not to shave a bald place upon his head. According to the Chethib יקרחה is to be pointed with ה- attached, and the Keri יקרחוּ is a grammatical alteration to suit the plural suffix in בּראשׁם, which is obviously to be rejected on account of the parallel יגלּחוּ לא זקנם וּפאת. In both of the clauses there is a constructio ad sensum, the prohibition which is addressed to individuals being applicable to the whole: upon their head shall no one shave a bald place, namely, in front above the forehead, "between the eyes" (Deuteronomy 14:1). We may infer from the context that reference is made to a customary mode of mourning for the dead; and this is placed beyond all doubt by Deuteronomy 14:1, where it is forbidden to all the Israelites "for the dead." According to Herodotus, 2, 36, the priests in Egypt were shaven, whereas in other places they wore their hair long. In other nations it was customary for those who were more immediately concerned to shave their heads as a sign of mourning; but the Egyptians let their hair grow both upon their head and chin when any of their relations were dead, whereas they shaved at other times. The two other outward signs of mourning mentioned, namely, cutting off the edge of the beard and making incisions in the body, have already been forbidden in Leviticus 19:27-28, and the latter is repeated in Deuteronomy 14:1. The reason for the prohibition is given in Leviticus 21:6 - "they shall be holy unto their God," and therefore not disfigure their head and body by signs of passionate grief, and so profane the name of their God when they offer the firings of Jehovah; that is to say, when they serve and approach the God who has manifested Himself to His people as the Holy One. On the epithet applied to the sacrifices, "the food of God," see at Leviticus 3:11 and Leviticus 3:16.
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