Leviticus 22:1-16 – Holy Priests for a Holy God

Translation & Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church of Manhattan KS, 15 Jan 2017


v     [Start out with a couple of sets of pictures with one different from the others and ask which one doesn’t belong.]

v     Holiness is an extremely important concept in this chapter. In the first 16 verses, the Hebrew word for “holy” occurs in some form 17 times! In addition the antonyms “defiled” and “unclean” show up 10 times, underscoring holiness by the opposite of holiness.

v     Priests are the audience to which Lev. 22 is addressed. Does that mean you can ignore this chapter? Not on your life! The New Testament says that you are priests – every Christian is now in the position in the New Testament that the priestly sons of Aaron were in during the Old Testament!

Ø      1 Pet. 2:5 “you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ… 9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (NASB)

Ø      Rev. 1:6 “He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen… 5:10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

v     Being a priest means it is your job to bring people to God.

Ø      Jesus said, “… Make disciples of all peoples, baptizing them… and teaching them to obey all that I commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20, NAW)

Ø      And the Apostle Paul said, “…God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ… has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:18-21, NKJV)

Ø      That’s the job of a priest!

v     In their commentary on Lev. 22, Jameison, Faussett and Brown ask a good question, “[W]hy enact an express statute for priests disqualified by the leprosy or polluting touch of a carcass, when a general law was already in force which excluded from society all persons in that condition?”

Ø      Their answer? “Because priests might be apt, from familiarity, to trifle with religion, and in committing irregularities or sins, to shelter themselves under the cloak of the sacred office.”

Ø      In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul brings the same point out to us as New Testament priests: Even though we have the 10 commandments already, he knows how apt Christians living under God’s grace may be to “trifle with” sin, so he says in Romans 6, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?... Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body…” (Rom. 6:1-2&12, NKJV)

Ø      Even though we live in God’s forgiveness and bear the message of God’s grace to others, we are not free to indulge in sin or to portray God to the world as winking at sin. The holiness of God must be upheld.

v     As we consider our job as New Testament priests who bring people to God without compromising His holiness, Leviticus has two exhortations for us to keep us from becoming disqualified from our calling as priests:

Ø      Keep what is profane set apart from what is holy (vs. 1-8)

Ø      Take in holy things instead of unholy things (vs. 7-13)


1) Keep what is profane set apart from what is holy (vs. 1-8)

v     Not keeping holy things separate from unholy things violates God’s reputation – profanes His name. How does that work?

Ø      “‘To separate’ means, in the language of the Mosaic ritual, ‘to abstain’; and therefore the import of this injunction is that the priests should abstain from eating that part of the sacrifices which, though belonging to their order, was to be partaken of only by such of them as were free from legal impurities.” ~JFB

Ø      “This teaches us carefully to watch against all moral pollutions, because by them we are unfitted to receive the comfort of God's sanctuary… Note, We must not only be careful that we do not bear iniquity ourselves, but we must do what we can to prevent others bearing it.” ~Matthew Henry

v     Note that the earlier chapters of Leviticus already outline the ways to purify people from every kind of uncleanness listed in verses 4-5:

Ø      from leprosy,

Ø      from discharges,

Ø      from contact with a dead body

Ø      or contact with unclean animals

Ø      or with gentile humanity (The Hebrew word translated “man/person” at the end of v.5 is different from the Hebrew word for “man” in the rest of the chapter. At the end of v.5 it is the word “Adam,” emphasizing his earthly nature, whereas, everywhere else it is the word “ish” which emphasizes man as a relational being. I take this to mean that contact with worldly people and Gentiles was desecrating to a priest.)

Ø      But all of that was purifiable, so it wasn’t a matter of no human being ever being able to come near to God, it was more a matter of upholding the holiness of God by not bringing uncleanness into His presence thinking that He would tolerate that uncleanness.

Ø      God had to provide purification from uncleanness before a person affected by sin could approach God and be accepted. The ceremonial washing and waiting a day in v.6 were ways of saying, “God I recognize that sin is unacceptable to You, so I will not attempt to waltz into your presence with unconfessed sin that I have not sought Your procedure for cleansing from.”

v     For us who are in the New Covenant, many of these ceremonial defilements do not apply to our relationship with God:

Ø      We might get sick from eating bugs or from touching a dead body, so there is still some physical value in these distinctions between clean and unclean, but God doesn’t treat such things as moral problems which would prevent us from being able to pray to Him.

Ø      Likewise the physical purification ceremony in the Old Testament is succeeded in the New Testament with a spiritual transaction that purifies us from our sin. Washing with water in Lev. 22 was a picture of God providing a moral agent in the Gospel of Jesus Christ to remove the guilt of our rebellions against Him. So now, instead of doing wudu on our way into worship like the Jews and Muslims, we pray in Jesus’ name for God to forgive us of our sins.

v     Another way that the sacred and profane were kept in their right categories was the restitution prin­ciple found in v.14. If you had picked the firstfruits of your grapes and had them in the fridge wait­ing to take to church, but one of your kids came by and said, “Look! Grapes! Yummy!” and ate some of them, there was a way to keep a distinction between the ones set apart as holy to God and the ones that you could eat. You could pick some more grapes so that it would total 120% of what you were originally going to bring as firstfruits and then give that to the Lord. God knows mistakes happen, so in the law mistakes are not the end of a relationship with God, however because God’s holiness cannot be compromised, mistakes still have to be reconciled; they can’t be overlooked. In this we see the balance between the perfection of God’s holiness and the perfection of God’s grace.

v     In the holy ordinance of communion, Christians are commanded to maintain distinctions between what is holy and what is common: 1 Corinthians 11:29-31, NAW, “For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself by not distinguishing the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a few too many sleep [in death]. But if we had been distinguishing ourselves rightly, we would not have been judged out [of line].”

Ø      You see we don’t have a tabernacle with an altar anymore that is the locus of God’s holiness; we who were sanctified by Christ’s blood are now where the special presence of God’s holiness is manifested; that’s why the New Testament calls us “saints/holy ones.”

Ø      My understanding of this distinguishing process in 1 Cor. 11 is that we must start by remem­bering where the holy presence of God is. The Biblically-correct answer is that it is in the saints – the church. So ask yourself, “Am I one of those saints? Am I part of the body of Christ?”

§         If you are trusting Jesus to make you right with God, then the answer is “Yes,” and you should partake with the church. Jesus commands you to do this in His remembrance.

§         If, however, the answer is NO, you are just there for the crackers and juice, and you don’t get what the big deal is about Jesus dying on a cross, and you don’t want to be spiritually accountable to these church people, then you have no business taking the bread or the cup in the communion service. If you take it anyway, you’ll be judged out of line by God; you will be eating and drinking judgment on yourself and risking God striking you with sickness or death.

§         God calls you to maintain the distinction between who is holy in relationship with Him and who is not. Don’t blur that distinction.

2) Take in what is holy (vs. 7-13)

v     Another word that is repeated over and over again in the passage is the word “eat” – So-and-so shall eat the holy things, so-and-so shall not eat the holy things. Twelve times we see this verb about eating. “Eat, eat, eat.” What’s up with that?

v     V.7 emphasizes that the holy things are what the priest should be eating as food, so it is entirely appropriate for the priest to follow God’s way of purification in order to be able to partake in the holy food. That is good and right.

Ø      In Genesis 2, God said to Adam, “Of any tree in the garden you may freely eat…”

Ø      In Leviticus 7:34, God said, “I have taken the breast of the wave-offering and the thigh of the raised-offering from the children of Israel from their sacrifices of peace offerings, and I have given them to Aaron the priest and to his children among the children of Israel [as] a lasting statute.” (NAW)

Ø      And in 1 Cor., He tells the church, “Take, eat… let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup!”

Ø      It is good and right to partake of the food God provides. At the same time, you must see to it that you are not disqualified.

v     V. 8 reminds us that a priest was not to eat impure things because he needed to keep himself clean so that he could keep performing the work of a priest. Once again, we come to the divide between the Old and New Testaments:

Ø      In the Old Testament, the spiritual truths were embedded in physical prohibitions, and both came together.

Ø      Now we can see them separately.

§         It is physically unhealthy to eat roadkill because there’s no telling what kind of bacteria is in it and how long that bacteria had been growing.

§         That physical reality points to a spiritual reality that there are ideas that would be toxic to take into our minds because they would interrupt our fellowship with God.

Ø      What kinds of items for mental consumption do you run across that tempt your thoughts away from fellowship with God? Are there websites or magazines or games or shows that are the mental toxicity equivalent to roadkill that you need to cut out of your mental diet?

v     Verse 9 says that disregarding this principle of eating holy things rather than unholy things would result in breaking trust with God and would be a sin that warrants death. If we bring things into our lives that disqualify us from bringing people to God, we are also breaking trust with God and bringing sin into our lives. What does the NT say regarding this?

Ø      Col. 2:18  Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels dis­qualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. (NIV) Mental poison. What’s the opposite?

Ø      Philippians 4:8-9 NKJV  Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praise­worthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

Ø      Hebrews 12:13-15 NKJV  and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled”

Ø      1 Cor. 9:27 “I am whipping my body into shape and making it my servant lest I myself be disqualified after having preached to others” (NAW)

v     In verses 10-13, we see that filling ourselves with what is holy is not just for ourselves but for our whole household.

Ø      All household members, whether by blood or by money, still living under the priest’s roof were not only allowed, but encouraged to eat the holy food which the Israelites had given to God and which God had given to the priests as their livelihood.

§         Certainly the priest’s wife and children,

§         including any widowed or divorced daughters who had no income-earning sons to provide for them,

§         as well as any slaves whose labor had been contractually purchased.

§         It did not, however, include married adult children, independent contractors, or visiting guests.

Ø      Now, whether the Hebrew word zur means “foreigner” (as the old versions render it) or whether it means merely “layman who is outside of the priestly class” (as the new versions render it) can be debated, but both were true – neither foreigners nor non-priests were allowed to eat what the Israelites had dedicated to God.

v     As I look at this picture of a table in God’s house with holy food on it which the priests and all their family members can eat but which no outsider can eat, I can’t help but think of the New Testament meal with holy food in which the priests of the New Testament – all believers – partake and which is forbidden to non-Christians under dire consequences of sickness and even death. I am talking, of course of the Lord’s Supper.

Ø      In our responsive reading, we read about this: 1 Corinthians 11:23-28 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes. Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. Now a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself by not distinguishing the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a few too many sleep [in death].But if we had been distinguishing ourselves rightly, we would not have been judged out [of line]. (NAW)

v     Notice the parallels to the consequences for failure in upholding God’s holiness between 1 Corinthians 11 and Leviticus 22:

Ø      In Lev. 22:3 – the consequences for failing to uphold God’s holiness is being “cut off from before [God’s] face.”

§         At the minimum, it would mean disqualification from coming before God as a priest any more,

§         and at the maximum, it would mean death and hell, (since God is omnipresent, and this is being cut off from before His face ~Rashi).

Ø      In verse 9. the consequence is to become guilty of sin and also death.

Ø      In 1 Cor. 11, “eat[ing] the bread or drink[ing] the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner” results in “guilt,” “judgment,” “weakness,” “sickness,” and even death, which is referred to euphemistically as “sleep.” The parallel is significant.

v     This passage also touches on a household principle which I believe is carried on from the Old Testament into the New Testament: The children of the priest were nourished on the holy food. An Israelite priest could eat food dedicated to God which was so holy that nobody else in the world could eat it and live, and yet that right extended to every member of his family!

Ø      The children of God’s people were included when it came to feasting on the animals which had been sacrificed. The children were certainly expected to grow in their understanding of what it all meant, from the scripted questions the youngest child was trained to ask at the Passover to the priest’s son being trained to take over his father’s profession, but they were allowed to partake before their understanding was mature because they had to eat in order to grow to maturity.

Ø      I believe this supports the practice of including the children of believers in the Lord’s Supper. Children need spiritual nourishment just as much as adults do. I realize that this is a controversial position, so I’m not going to force it on anybody, but you can at least know that it is allowable practice in this church.

v     As we look at these two principles of protecting what is holy from being profaned and sharing what is holy with those to whom God gave it, really there is a balance between them that requires spiritual discernment. But in the midst of our protecting holiness on the one hand and sharing holiness on the other, let us remember three things about the source of that holiness:


1)      Holiness comes from God:
In v.9 and v.16, we see God describe Himself as “the One who makes them holy.” The holiness never came from who they were or what they did or didn’t do; it came from God who makes people holy.

2)      Holiness is conferred graciously.
Note, in verses 9 & 16 it does not say, “I am the God who condemns everything that is not holy.” That complementary truth does exist, but the emphasis here is not upon judgment but rather upon the grace of making people holy. That is how God characterizes Himself: “The one who makes them holy.” We see that graciousness throughout scripture:

Ø      from the provision in v.14 for unqualified people who accidentally ate sacred food,

Ø      to His gracious provision in Matthew 12:3-7 for unqualified people who purposefully ate sacred food, when Jesus said, “Did you not read what David did because He was hungry – he and those with him, how he entered into the house of God and ate the loaves set out, which it was not lawful for him to eat – nor for those with him, but only for the priests? … ‘It is mercy that I am wishing for and not sacrifice...’” (NAW)

Ø      We also see the principle of God’s mercy and grace at the end of the passage on the Lord’s Supper where it says in 1 Corinthians 11:32, “we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.” God’s emphasis is on saving, not condemning.

3.      Holiness is about specialness of relationship to a personal God.
The food isn’t holy in-and-of-itself, as though it had magical powers to harm people who eat it. The food is God’s food, and God, who cares about His reputation and takes care of what belongs to Him is the one who retaliates against people who “dis” Him by being careless with His belongings. This personal relationship is illustrated in the prepositions found in Leviticus 22:

a.       Although, in verses 6-10, the Hebrew preposition “from” (מ) does occur regarding eating “from” the holy things, nevertheless, in verses 4, 5, 11, 12 & 13, the Hebrew preposition “in” or “with” occurs regarding eating holy things or touching unclean things, indicating more than the mere action of eating or getting unclean; the preposition “in” implies actual identification with holiness or with unholiness.

b.      v.4 “Each man from the offspring of Aaron… may not partake in the holy things until whenever he is purified,”

c.       “likewise the one who comes into contact with any uncleanness”

d.      v.5 “or a man who comes into contact with any unclean creepy-crawly that is unclean for him or with humanity that is unclean for him”

e.       Just like the Old Testament priests, when you, as a New Testament priest, identify your­self “with” what is not set apart as holy to God you become disqualified to relate to God and have to be purified again before being able to operate in that relationship again.

                                                              i.      That’s why Jesus taught us to pray “forgive us of our debts” whenever we pray.

                                                            ii.      If we are confessing our sins, He is faithful and righteous in order to send away from us the sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9, NAW)

f.       In v. 11, the household members of a priest “may partake in it” – or I prefer “may eat with him… they may partake in his food.”

g.      v.12 “Also, the daughter of a priest, if she is [married] to a foreign husband, she may not partake in the raised-offering of the holy things…”

h.      otherwise v.13 “she may eat from her father’s food, but as for any foreigner, he may not partake with him.”

i.        Do you see the relational “with-ness” of holiness?

                                                              i.      In Leviticus 22, when the qualified priest is at the table and you are in relationship to that priest as his child, you have a right to partake in what is holy and to eat with him.

                                                            ii.      In the Lord’s Supper, your priest is Jesus Christ, and when He is at the table and you are in relationship with Him as His child, you have a right to partake in His holy ordinance that He would otherwise strike people sick or dead for intruding upon, and when you partake, you are partaking with Him!

                                                          iii.      1 John 5:20, NAW And we know that the Son of God is coming and He has given us insight so that we may recognize the True One, and we are in the True One--in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the True God and eternal life.

·         So as you fill out your role as a New Testament priest of bringing people to God, faithfully protecting what is holy from what is profane and feeding your mind with a diet of holy thoughts and sharing that holiness with your family, remember that holiness comes from God, not from you, that holiness is conferred graciously, and that holiness is about being in right relationship with a personal God.


Comparative translations of Leviticus 22:1-16

When a translation adds words not in the Hebrew text, but does not indicate it has done so by the use of italics (or greyed-out text), I put the added words in [square brackets]. When one version chooses a wording which is different from all the other translations, I underline it. When a version chooses a translation which, in my opinion, either departs too far from the root meaning of the Hebrew word or departs too far from the grammar form of the original Hebrew, I use strikeout. And when a version omits a word which is in the Hebrew text, I insert an X. (Sometimes I will place the X at the end of a word if the original word is plural but the English translation is singular.) Hebrew text that is colored purple matches the Dead Sea Scrolls, and variants between the DSS and the MT are noted in endnotes with the following exceptions: When a holem or qibbutz pointing in the MT is represented in the DSS by a vav, when a hireq pointing in the MT is represented in the DSS by a yod (the corresponding consonantal representation of the same vowel), or when the tetragrammaton is spelled with paleo-Hebrew letters, I did not record it a variant. Dead Sea Scrolls which contain Leviticus 22:1-16 are: 1Q3 PaleoLev-Num (verses 2-6), 4Q26a Leviticuse (verses 4-6 & 11-18), 4Q24 Leviticus b (verses 2-6 8-28, 30-33). I also use colors to help the reader see correlations between the various editions and versions when there are more than two different translations of a given word. For instance, every instance of the root קדש (“holy”) is colored gold and every instance of the root תמא (“unclean”) is colored dark yellow. (Where I have already colored the DSS text purple, I provide underlining.)







1 Καὶ ἐλάλησεν κύριος πρὸς Μωυσῆν λέγων

1 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

1 Then Yahweh spoke to Moses saying,

א וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃

2 Εἰπὸν Ααρων καὶ τοῖς υἱοῖς αὐτοῦ καὶ προσεχ­έτωσαν ἀπὸ τῶν ἁγίων τῶν υἱῶν Ισραηλ καὶ οὐ βεβη­λώσουσιν τὸ ὄνομα τὸ ἅγιόν μου, ὅσα αὐτοὶ ἁγιά­ζουσίν μοι· ἐγὼ κύριος.

2 Speak to Aaron and to his sons, and let them take heed concerning the holy things of the children of Israel, so they shall not profane my holy name in any of the things which they consecrate to me: I am the Lord.

2 Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, that they separate themselves from the holy things of the children of Israel, and that they profane not my holy name in those things which they hallow unto me: I am the LORD.

2 “Speak to Aaron and to his sons so they will keep a separation from the holy things of the children of Israel which they are setting apart as holy for me and thus not violate the reputation of my holiness. I am Yahweh.

ב דַּבֵּ֨ר אֶֽל־אַהֲרֹ֜ן וְאֶל־בָּנָ֗יו וְיִנָּֽזְרוּ֙ מִקׇּדְשֵׁ֣י בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְלֹ֥א יְחַלְּל֖וּ אֶת־שֵׁ֣ם קׇדְשִׁ֑י אֲשֶׁ֨ר הֵ֧ם מַקְדִּשִׁ֛ים לִ֖י אֲנִ֥י יְהֹוָֽה׃

3 εἰπὸν αὐτοῖς Εἰς τὰς γενεὰς ὑμῶν πᾶς ἄνθρω­πος, ὃς ἂν προσέλθῃ ἀπὸ παντὸς τοῦ σπέρματος ὑμῶν πρὸς τὰ ἅγια, ὅσα ἂν ἁγιάζωσιν οἱ υἱοὶ Ισραηλ τῷ κυρίῳ, καὶ ἡ ἀκαθαρσία αὐτοῦ ἐπ᾿ αὐτῷ, X ἐξολεθρευθήσεται ἡ ψυχὴ ἐκείνη ἀπ᾿ X ἐμοῦ· ἐγὼ κύριος [ὁ θεὸς ὑμῶν].

3 Say to them, Every man throughout your generations, whoever of all your seed shall approach to the holy things, whatsoever the children of Israel shall consecrate to the Lord, while his uncleanness is upon him, X that soul shall be cut off from X me: I am the Lord [your God].

3 Say unto them, Whosoever he be of all your seed among your generations, that goeth unto the holy things, which the children of Israel hallow unto the LORD, having his uncleanness upon him, X that soul shall be cut off from my presence: I am the LORD.

3 Say to them, ‘Throughout yall’s generations every man from any of y’alls offspring who, while his uncleanness is upon him, comes near to the holy things which the children of Israel set apart as holy to Yahweh, then that person must be cut off from before my face. I am Yahweh.

ג אֱמֹ֣ר אֲלֵהֶ֗ם לְדֹרֹ֨תֵיכֶ֜ם כׇּל־אִ֣ישׁ אֲשֶׁר־יִקְרַ֣ב מִכׇּל־זַרְעֲכֶ֗ם אֶל־הַקֳּדָשִׁים֙ אֲשֶׁ֨ר יַקְדִּ֤ישׁוּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ לַֽיהֹוָ֔ה וְטֻמְאָת֖וֹ עָלָ֑יו וְנִכְרְתָ֞ה הַנֶּ֧פֶשׁ הַהִ֛וא מִלְּפָנַ֖י אֲנִ֥י יְהֹוָֽה׃

4 καὶ ἄνθρωπος ἐκ τοῦ σπέρματος Ααρων [τοῦ ἱερέως] καὶ οὗτος λεπρᾷ γονορρυής, τῶν ἁγίων οὐκ ἔδεται, ἕως ἂν καθαρισθῇ· καὶ ἁπτόμενος X πάσης ἀκαθαρσίας ψυχῆς ἄνθρωπος, ἂν ἐξέλθῃ ἐξ αὐτοῦ κοίτη σπέρματος,

4 And the man of the seed of Aaron [the priest], if he should have leprosy or issue [of the reins], shall not eat of the holy things, until he be cleansed; and he that touches any uncleanness of a dead body, or the man whose seed of copulation shall have gone out from him,

4 What man soever of the seed of Aaron is a leper, or hath a running issue; he shall not eat of the holy things, until he be clean. And whoso toucheth any thing that is unclean by the dead, or a man whose X seed goeth from him;

4 Each man from the offspring of Aaron, while he has leprosy or is discharging, may not partake in the holy things until whenever he is purified, likewise the one who comes into contact with any uncleanness from a [dead] person or a man from whom lying-down seed is leaking out,

ד אִ֣ישׁ אִ֞ישׁ מִזֶּ֣רַע אַהֲרֹ֗ן וְה֤וּא צָר֙וּעַ֙[A] א֣וֹ זָ֔ב[B] בַּקֳּדָשִׁים֙ לֹ֣א יֹאכַ֔ל עַ֖ד אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִטְהָ֑ר וְהַנֹּגֵ֙עַ֙ בְּכׇל־טְמֵא־נֶ֔פֶשׁ[C] א֣וֹ אִ֔ישׁ אֲשֶׁר־תֵּצֵ֥א מִמֶּ֖נּוּ שִׁכְבַת־זָֽרַע׃






5 ὅστις ἂν ἅψηται παν­τὸς ἑρπετοῦ ἀκαθάρτου, μιανεῖ αὐτόν, ἐπ᾿ ἀνθρώ­πῳ, ἐν μιανεῖ αὐτὸν κατὰ πᾶσαν ἀκαθαρσίαν αὐτοῦ,

5 or whosoever shall touch any unclean reptile, which will defile him, or who shall touch a man, whereby he shall defile him according to all his uncleanness:

5 Or whoso[ever] toucheth any creeping thing, whereby he may be [made] unclean, or a man of whom he may [take] uncleanness, whatsoever uncleanness he [hath];

5 or a man who comes into contact with any unclean creepy-crawly that is unclean for him or with humanity that is unclean for him – for any of his uncleanness.

ה אוֹ־אִישׁ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִגַּ֔ע בְּכׇל־שֶׁ֖רֶץ[D] אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִטְמָא־ל֑וֹ א֤וֹ בְאָדָם֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִטְמָא־ל֔וֹ לְכֹ֖ל טֻמְאָתֽוֹ[E]׃

6 ψυχή, ἥτις ἂν ἅψηται αὐτῶν, ἀκάθαρτος ἔσται ἕως ἑσπέρας· X οὐκ ἔδεται ἀπὸ τῶν ἁγίων, ἐὰν μὴ λούσηται τὸ σῶμα αὐτοῦ ὕδατι·

6 whatsoever soul shall touch them shall be unclean until evening; X he shall not eat of the holy things, unless he bathe his body in water,

6 The soul which hath touched [any] such shall X be unclean until even, and shall not eat of the holy things, unless he wash his flesh with water.

6 A person who comes into contact with such will also be unclean until the evening, and he may not eat from the holy things until he has bathed his body with water.

ו[F] נֶ֚פֶשׁ אֲשֶׁ֣ר תִּגַּע־בּ֔וֹ וְטָמְאָ֖ה עַד־הָעָ֑רֶב וְלֹ֤א יֹאכַל֙ מִן־הַקֳּדָשִׁ֔ים כִּ֛י אִם־רָחַ֥ץ בְּשָׂר֖וֹ בַּמָּֽיִם׃

7 καὶ δύῃ ὁ ἥλιος, καὶ καθαρὸς ἔσται καὶ τότε φάγεται τῶν ἁγίων, ὅτι ἄρτος ἐστὶν αὐτοῦ.

7 and the sun go down, and then he shall be clean; and then shall he eat of all the holy things, for they are his bread.

7 And when the sun is down, he shall be clean, and shall afterward eat of the holy things; because it is his food.

7 When the sun goes down then he can be purified, and afterward he may eat from the holy things, because that is his food.

ז וּבָ֥א הַשֶּׁ֖מֶשׁ וְטָהֵ֑ר וְאַחַר֙ יֹאכַ֣ל מִן־הַקֳּדָשִׁ֔ים כִּ֥י לַחְמ֖וֹ הֽוּא׃

8 θνησιμαῖον καὶ θηριάλωτον οὐ φάγεται X μιανθῆναι [αὐτὸν] ἐν αὐτοῖς· ἐγὼ κύριος.

8 He shall not eat that which dies of itself, or is [taken] of beasts, so that he should be polluted by them: I am the Lord.

8 That which dieth of itself, or is torn with beasts, he shall not eat to defile himself therewith: I am the LORD.

8 He may not eat of a carcass or roadkill, for he would become unclean by such; I am Yahweh.

ח נְבֵלָ֧ה וּטְרֵפָ֛ה[G] לֹ֥א יֹאכַ֖ל[H] לְטׇמְאָה־בָ֑הּ אֲנִ֖י יְהֹוָֽה׃

9 καὶ φυλάξονται τὰ φυλάγματ μου, ἵνα μὴ λάβωσιν δι᾿ αὐτ ἁμαρτίαν καὶ ἀποθάνωσιν δι᾿ αὐτ, ἐὰν βεβηλώσωσιν αὐτ· ἐγὼ κύριος [ὁ θεὸς]ἁγιάζων αὐτούς. --

9 And they shall keep my ordinance[s], that they do not bear iniquity because of them, and die because of them, if they shall profane them: I am the Lord [God] that sanctifies them.

9 They shall therefore keep mine ordinance, lest they bear sin for it, and die therefore, if they profane it: I the LORD do sanctify them.

9 So they must keep my charge so that they will not bear sin over it and die by it because they violated it. I am Yahweh, the One who makes them holy.

ט וְשָׁמְר֣וּ אֶת־מִשְׁמַרְתִּ֗י וְלֹֽא־יִשְׂא֤וּ עָלָיו֙ חֵ֔טְא וּמֵ֥תוּ ב֖וֹ כִּ֣י יְחַלְּלֻ֑הוּ אֲנִ֥י יְהֹוָ֖ה מְקַדְּשָֽׁם׃

10 καὶ πᾶς ἀλλογενὴς οὐ φάγεται ἅγια· πάροικος ἱερέως ἢ μισθωτὸς οὐ φάγεται ἅγια.

10 And no X stranger shall eat the holy thing[s]: one that sojourns with a priest, or a hireling, shall not eat the holy thing[s].

10 X There shall no X stranger eat of the holy thing: a sojourner of the priest, or an hired [servant], shall not eat of the holy thing.

10 Now, as for any foreigner, he may not eat holy stuff. Neither a tenant of - nor a contractor for a priest may eat holy stuff.

י וְכׇל־זָ֖ר לֹא־יֹ֣אכַל קֹ֑דֶשׁ תּוֹשַׁ֥ב כֹּהֵ֛ן וְשָׂכִ֖יר[I] לֹא־יֹ֥אכַל קֹֽדֶשׁ׃

11 ἐὰν δὲ ἱερεὺς κτήσηται ψυχὴν ἔγκτητον ἀργυρίου X, οὗτος φάγεται ἐκ [τῶν ἄρτων] αὐτοῦ· καὶ οἱ οἰκο­γενεῖς αὐτοῦ, [καὶ] οὗτοι φάγονται τῶν ἄρτων αὐτοῦ.

11 But if a priest should have a soul X purchased for X money, he shall eat of his [bread]; and they that are born in his house, they [also] shall eat of his bread.

11 But if the priest buy any soul X with his money, X he shall eat of it, and he that is born in his house: they shall eat of his meat.

11 However, if a priest acquires with his money a person as an acquisition, such may eat with him, and so may one who is born in his house – they may partake in his food.

יא וְכֹהֵ֗ן כִּֽי־יִקְנֶ֥ה נֶ֙פֶשׁ֙ קִנְיַ֣ן כַּסְפּ֔וֹ ה֖וּא יֹ֣אכַל בּ֑וֹ וִילִ֣יד[J] בֵּית֔וֹ הֵ֖ם יֹאכְל֥וּ בְלַחְמֽוֹ׃

12 καὶ θυγάτηρ ἀνθρώπου ἱερέως ἐὰν γένηται ἀνδρὶ ἀλλογενεῖ, αὐτὴ τῶν ἀπαρχ­ῶν τῶν ἁγίων οὐ φάγεται.

12 And if the daughter of a priest should marry a stranger, she shall not eat of the offerings of the sanctuaryX.

12 If the priest's daughter also be married unto a stranger, she may not eat of an offering of the holy things.

12 Also, the daughter of a priest, if she is [married] to a foreign husband, she may not partake in the raised-offering of the holy things.

יב וּבַ֨ת־כֹּהֵ֔ן כִּ֥י תִהְיֶ֖ה לְאִ֣ישׁ זָ֑ר הִ֕וא בִּתְרוּמַ֥ת[K] הַקֳּדָשִׁ֖ים לֹ֥א תֹאכֵֽל׃






13 καὶ θυγάτηρ ἱερέως ἐὰν γένηται χήρα ἢ ἐκβεβλη­μένη, σπέρμα δὲ μὴ ἦν αὐτῇ, X ἐπαναστρέψει ἐπὶ τὸν οἶκον τὸν πατρικὸν X κατὰ τὴν νεότητα αὐτῆς· ἀπὸ τῶν ἄρτων τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτῆς φάγεται. καὶ πᾶς ἀλλογενὴς οὐ φάγεται ἀπ᾿ αὐτῶν.

13 And if the daughter of priest should be a widow, or put away, and have no seed, X she shall return to her father's house, as in her youth: she shall eat of her father's bread, but no stranger shall eat of it.

13 But if the priest's daughter be a widow, or divorced, and have no child, and is returned unto her father's house, as in her youth, she shall eat of her father's meat: but there shall no stranger eat thereof.

13 But the daughter of a priest, if she is a widow or is divorced, and there is no offspring belonging to her, and she has returned to her father’s house as in her youth, she may eat from her father’s food, but as for any foreigner, he may not partake with him.

יג וּבַת־כֹּהֵן֩ כִּ֨י תִהְיֶ֜ה אַלְמָנָ֣ה וּגְרוּשָׁ֗ה וְזֶ֘רַע֮ אֵ֣ין לָהּ֒ וְשָׁבָ֞ה אֶל־בֵּ֤ית אָבִ֙יהָ֙ כִּנְעוּרֶ֔יהָ מִלֶּ֥חֶם אָבִ֖יהָ תֹּאכֵ֑ל וְכׇל־זָ֖ר לֹא־יֹ֥אכַל בּֽוֹ׃

14 καὶ ἄνθρωπος, ὃς ἂν φάγῃ ἅγια κατὰ ἄγνοιαν, καὶ προσθήσει τὸ ἐπίπεμπ­τον αὐτοῦ ἐπ᾿ αὐτὸ καὶ δώσει τῷ ἱερεῖ τὸ ἅγιον.

14 And the man who shall ignorantly eat holy thing[s], shall add the fifth part to it, and give the holy thing to the priest.

14 And if a man eat of the holy thing unwittingly, then he shall put the fifth part thereof unto it, and shall give it unto the priest with the holy thing.

14 Now, if a man happens to eat a holy item in error, then he must give the holy thing to the priest and add his twenty-percent over-and-above it.

יד וְאִ֕ישׁ כִּֽי־יֹאכַ֥ל קֹ֖דֶשׁ בִּשְׁגָגָ֑ה[L] וְיָסַ֤ף חֲמִֽשִׁיתוֹ֙ עָלָ֔יו וְנָתַ֥ן לַכֹּהֵ֖ן אֶת־הַקֹּֽדֶשׁ׃

15 καὶ οὐ βεβηλώσουσιν τὰ ἅγια τῶν υἱῶν Ισραηλ, [αὐτοὶ] ἀφαιροῦσιν τῷ κυρίῳ,

15 And they shall not profane the holy things of the children of Israel, which they offer to the Lord.

15 And they shall not profane the holy thing[s] of the children of Israel, which they offer unto the LORD;

15 So they must not violate the holy things of the children of Israel which they offer up to Yahweh

טו וְלֹ֣א יְחַלְּל֔וּ אֶת־קׇדְשֵׁ֖י בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל אֵ֥ת אֲשֶׁר־יָרִ֖ימוּ לַיהֹוָֽה׃

16 καὶ ἐπάξουσιν [ἐφ᾿] ἑαυτοὺς ἀνομίαν πλημμελ­είας ἐν τῷ ἐσθίειν αὐτοὺς τὰ ἅγια αὐτῶν· ὅτι ἐγὼ κύριος ὁ ἁγιάζων αὐτούς.

16 So should they bring [upon] themselves the iniquity of trespass in their eating their holy things: for I am the Lord that sanctifies them.

16 Or suffer them to bear the iniquity of trespass, when they eat their holy things: for I the LORD do sanctify them.

16 and thus cause them to bear the guilt of iniquity while they eat their holy things, for I am Yahweh, the One who makes them holy.

טז וְהִשִּׂ֤יאוּ אוֹתָם֙[M] עֲוֺ֣ן אַשְׁמָ֔ה בְּאׇכְלָ֖ם אֶת־קׇדְשֵׁיהֶ֑ם כִּ֛י אֲנִ֥י יְהֹוָ֖ה מְקַדְּשָֽׁם׃


[A] Cf. 13:2

[B] Cf. 15:2

[C] Cf. 15:16ff

[D] The Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint, and DSS(4Q26a) add טמא – an adjective describing the creeping thing as “unclean,” whereas DSS 1Q3 supports the MT without the extra adjective. I suspect that the additional word is original and should be included. Nevertheless it does not introduce any new meaning seeing as the very next phrase indicates that it would make the man unclean.

[E] Cf. 5:3. Medieval Jewish commentator Rashi (a.k.a. Jarchi) claimed that the unclean animal had to be at least as big as a lentil and that the human uncleanness had to be at least as big as an olive to convey uncleanness. This went beyond what is written.

[F] DSS 1Q3 adds an “and” at the beginning of the verse. This appears to be an outlier not supported by even other DSS, but it still does not change the meaning.

[G] These two words are found in Lev. 17:15.

[H] Samaritan Pentateuch and Vulgate make this word plural, but the plural is not supported by the LXX or DSS, so I would stick with the MT reading.

[I] The Soncino Chumash explains “A toshab is a man who had his ear pierced and has passed into the possession of his master until the year of Jubilee (cf. Exod. xxi.6). A hired servant is a Hebrew servant whom one has acquired for a limited period only and goes free at the end of six years. The reason why they cannot eat of the heave-offering is because it is only their service that the priest has acquired and not their body (and so they are not regarded as part of his household)… [v.11 refers] “to a Canaanite servant whose very body has been acquired by his master…” While this is reasonable, I don’t think it’s the only reasonable explanation (for example JFB: “A temporary guest or a hired servant,” K&D “a visitor or day-labourer”), hence my translation.

[J] The two DSS of this verse agree with the MT in making the “one born” singular, so I suspect that the SP, LXX, Syriac and Targums and NASB translated the word plural to match the next verb (which is plural). It makes for smoother reading to change it to plural, and doesn’t really change the meaning, but I suspect it’s not the original.

[K] That is, the right thigh, cf. Lev. 7:34.

[L] Cf. 4:2 & 22, 5:15

[M] The subject of the first verb (profane) is disputed:

·         I side with Rashi, who said said “they” = priests, but Nachminides said “they” = laymen, but all are agreed that the “their” in “their holy things” refers to “the children of Israel” (Soncino Chumash).

·         “The subject of the preceding context being occupied about the priests, it is supposed by some that this relates to them also; and the meaning then is that the whole people would incur guilt through the fault of the priests, if they should defile the sacred offerings, which they would have done had they presented them while under any defilement [Calvin]. According to others, “the children of Israel” is the nominative in the sentence; which thus signifies, the children of Israel shall not profane or defile their offerings, by touching them or reserving any part of them, lest they incur the guilt of eating what is divinely appointed to the priests alone [Calmet].” ~JFB

·         They are not to profane the sanctified gifts of the children of Israel, what they heave for the Lord (namely, by letting laymen eat of them), and are to cause them (the laymen) who do this unawares to bear a trespass-sin (by imposing the compensation mentioned in v.14), if they eat their (the priests') sanctified gifts.” ~K&D

·         “But perhaps there is another meaning of those words: the priests' eating the sin-offerings is said to signify their bearing the iniquity of the congregation, to make an atonement for them, Lev.10:17. Let not a stranger therefore eat of that holy thing particularly, and so pretend to bear the iniquity of trespass; for it is daring presumption for any to do that, but such as are appointed to do it. Those that set up other mediators besides Christ our priest, to bear the iniquity of trespass, sacrilegiously rob Christ of his honour, and invade his rights.” ~Matthew Henry

·         [T]he strangers, when they eat… the holy things belonging to the priests, which they permitting them to do, suffer them to be liable to the punishment incurred thereby.” ~John Gill

·         “They (the priests) must make them (the Israelites) bear the penalty of reparation if they (the Israelites) eat their holy things.” ~Gordon Wenham