Rules for Priests
1The Lord said to Moses, “Tell these things to Aaron’s sons, the priests: A priest must not make himself unclean by touching a dead person. 2But if the dead person was one of his close relatives, he can touch the dead body. The priest can make himself unclean if the dead person is his mother or father, his son or daughter, his brother or 3his unmarried#21:3 unmarried Literally, “virgin,” a girl who was never married and never had sexual relations. sister. (This sister is close to him because she has no husband. So the priest may make himself unclean for her if she dies.) 4But a priest must not make himself unclean if the dead person was only one of his slaves.#21:4 Or “A master must not become unclean for his people.”
5“Priests must not shave their heads bald. They must not shave off the edges of their beards. They must not make any cuts in their bodies. 6Priests must be holy for their God. They must show respect for God’s name. They offer the bread and special gifts to the Lord, so they must be holy.
7“A priest serves God in a special way, so he must not marry a woman who has had sexual relations with any other man. He must not marry a prostitute or a divorced woman. 8A priest serves God in a special way. So you must treat him in a special way, because he carries holy things. He brings the holy bread to me, and I am holy. I am the Lord, and I make you holy.
9“If a priest’s daughter becomes a prostitute, she ruins her reputation and brings shame to her father. She must be burned to death in the fire!
10“The high priest was chosen from among his brothers. The anointing oil was poured on his head. In this way he was chosen for the special job of being high priest. He was chosen to wear the special clothes, so he must not do things to show his sadness in public. He must not let his hair grow wild. He must not tear his clothes. 11He must not make himself unclean by touching a dead body. He must not go near a dead body, even if it is his own father or mother. 12The high priest must not leave God’s holy place, because he might become unclean and then make God’s holy place unclean. The anointing oil was poured on the high priest’s head. This separated him from the rest of the people. I am the Lord.
13“The high priest must marry a woman who is a virgin. 14He must not marry a woman who has had sexual relations with any man. He must not marry a prostitute, a divorced woman, or a widow. The high priest must marry a virgin from his own people. 15In this way people will show respect for his children.#21:15 people … children Or “his children will not become unclean from the people.” I, the Lord, have separated the high priest for his special work.”
16The Lord said to Moses, 17“Tell Aaron: If any of your descendants have anything wrong with them, they must not carry the special bread to God. 18Any man who has something wrong with him must not serve as priest and bring sacrifices to me. These men cannot serve as priests: blind men, crippled men, men with bad scars on their faces, men with arms or legs that are too long, 19men with broken feet or hands, 20men with bent backs, men who are dwarfs,#21:20 dwarfs A small person whose body stopped growing properly. men who are cross-eyed, men with rashes or bad skin diseases, and men with crushed testicles.
21“If one of Aaron’s descendants has something wrong with him, he cannot approach the altar to bring gifts to the Lord. And he cannot carry the special bread to God. 22He is from the family of priests, so he can eat the holy bread. He can also eat the very holy bread. 23But he cannot go through the curtain into the Most Holy Place and he cannot go near the altar. This is because he has something wrong with him. He must not make my holy places unholy. I am the Lord, and I make these places holy.”
24So Moses told these things to Aaron, Aaron’s sons, and all the Israelites.