Leviticus 21:5
They shall not make baldness on their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh.
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(5) Make baldness upon their head.—The natural expression of grief, however, which the priests were to manifest for the above-named departed relations, was not to show itself in the practices which disfigure their bodily appearance, and which obtained among other nations of antiquity in connection with funeral ceremonies. Thus, in the graphic description of the idolatrous priests mourning, we are told “the priests sit in their temples, having their clothes rent, and their heads and beards shaven, and nothing upon their heads.” (Bar 6:31.) The three things here prohibited to the priests are also forbidden to the people at large under other circumstances. (See Leviticus 19:27-28; Deuteronomy 14:1.) The ordinary Israelites, however, indulged in the same practices. (See Jeremiah 16:6; Ezekiel 7:18; Amos 8:10.)

Leviticus 21:5. They shall not make baldness — In funerals, as the heathen did. Though I allow them to defile themselves for some of the dead, yet in no case shall they use these superstitious rites, which also the people were forbidden to do; but the priests in a more peculiar manner, because they were by word and example to teach the people their duty.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.These prohibitions given to the people at large (compare the margin reference.) had a special fitness for the Hebrew priests. They were the instruments of the divine will for averting death, all their sacrifices were a type of the death of Christ, which swallowed up death in victory 1 Corinthians 15:54-57, and it would therefore have been unsuitable that they should have the same freedom as other people to become mourners. 5. They shall not make baldness upon their heads … nor … cuttings in their flesh—The superstitious marks of sorrow, as well as the violent excesses in which the heathen indulged at the death of their friends, were forbidden by a general law to the Hebrew people (Le 19:28). But the priests were to be laid under a special injunction, not only that they might exhibit examples of piety in the moderation of their grief, but also by the restraint of their passions, be the better qualified to administer the consolations of religion to others, and show, by their faith in a blessed resurrection, the reasons for sorrowing not as those who have no hope. To wit, in funerals, as the heathens did: q. d. Though I allow them to defile themselves for some of the dead, yet in no case shall they use these superstitious and heathenish rites, which also the people are forbidden to do, Leviticus 19:27 Deu 14:1, but the priests in a more peculiar manner, because they are by word and example to teach the people their duty not to sorrow for the dead as persons without hope. They shall not make baldness upon their head,.... For the dead, as Jarchi, Aben Ezra, and Ben Gersom; not shave their heads, or round the corners of them, or make baldness between their eyes on that account; as those things were forbid the Israelites, so the priests also; this and what follow being superstitious customs used among the Heathens in their mournings for the dead, particularly by the Chaldeans, as Aben Ezra observes; and so by the Grecians; when Hephestion, one of Alexander's captains, died, he shaved his soldiers and himself, imitating Achilles in Homer (t); so the Egyptians, mourning for the loss of Osiris, annually shaved their heads (u); and the priests of Isis, mourning for her lost son, are called by Minutius Felix (w) her bald priests; see Leviticus 19:27,

neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard: the five corners of it; See Gill on Leviticus 19:27. This the Israelites in common might not do, and particularly their priests; though the Egyptian priests shaved both their heads and beards, as Herodotus (x) relates: and so they are represented in the Table of Isis (y):

nor make any cuttings in their flesh; either with their nails, tearing their cheeks and breasts, or with an instrument cutting their flesh in any part of their bodies, as was the custom of Heathen nations; such were made by the Egyptians in their mournings (z); See Gill on Leviticus 19:28.

(t) Aelian. Var. Hist. l. 7. c. 8. (u) Julius Firmicus de Error. Proph. p. 2.((w) In Octavio, p. 22. Vid. Lactant. de fals. Relig. l. 1. c. 21. (x) Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 36. (y) Vid. Pignorii Mens. Isiac. liter. S. (z) Julius Firmicus, ut supra. (u))

They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh.
5. See on Leviticus 19:27-28.The list of punishments concludes, like the prohibitions in Leviticus 18:24., with exhortations to observe the commandments and judgments of the Lord, and to avoid such abominations (on Leviticus 18:22 cf. Leviticus 18:3-5, Leviticus 18:26, Leviticus 18:28, Leviticus 18:30; and on Leviticus 18:23 cf. Leviticus 18:3 and Leviticus 18:24). The reason assigned for the exhortations is, that Jehovah was about to give them for a possession the fruitful land, whose inhabitants He had driven out because of their abominations, and that Jehovah was their God, who had separated Israel from the nations. For this reason (Leviticus 18:25) they were also to sever (make distinctions) between clean and unclean cattle and birds, and not make their souls (i.e., their persons) abominable through unclean animals, with which the earth swarmed, and which God had "separated to make unclean," i.e., had prohibited them from eating or touching when dead, because they defiled (see ch. 11). For (Leviticus 18:26) they were to be holy, because Jehovah their God was holy, who had severed them from the nations, to belong to Him, i.e., to be the nation of His possession (see Exodus 19:4-6).
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