Leviticus 21

Rules for the priests

1 The LORD said to Moses, ‘Say this to the priests. They must not touch a dead body. That would make them unclean. 2 It may be the body of a person from their own family. The priest can touch the dead person if it is his mother or father. He can touch the dead person if it is his son or his daughter or his brother. 3 He can touch the dead person if it is his sister. But he must not touch her if she has a husband. 4 The priest must not touch a dead person who is married to a person of his family. That would make him unclean.

5 A priest must not cut all the hair from his head. He must not cut the sides of his beard. He must not cut his body. 6 A priest must be holy. He must not speak bad words about the LORD. He is the person who sacrifices the people's burnt offerings.

7 A priest must not marry a woman who has left her husband. He must not marry a woman if men have paid her to have sex with her. He must not marry a woman whose husband has sent her away. A priest must be holy. 8 A priest is holy because he sacrifices the people's offerings to God. A priest is holy because I, the LORD, am holy.

9 A priest's daughter must not have sex with men who pay her. That would make her unclean. She would take away her father's honour. If she does not obey, you must burn her in a fire.

10 They have poured special oil on the High Priest's head among his brothers. He must wear special clothes. He must comb his hair. He must not tear his clothes. 11 He must not go into a room where there is a dead body. Even if it is the body of his parent, he must not go in. It will make him unclean. 12 He must not leave the house of God. He has the holy oil on his head. He must be separate. I am the LORD.

13 The High Priest must marry a woman who has not had sex before. 14 The woman must not have had a husband who died. She must not have a husband that she has left. Men must not have paid to have sex with her. She must be a woman from Israel's people 15 so their children will be holy. I am the LORD. I make priests holy.’

16 The LORD said to Moses, 17 ‘Talk to Aaron. Say, “A priest who does not have a perfect body must not sacrifice the burnt offerings to God.” This rule is for now and for all time. 18 A priest who cannot see must not sacrifice the food to God. A priest who cannot walk must not sacrifice food to God. A priest with a body that is the wrong shape must not offer food to God. 19 A priest with a hand that is the wrong shape must not offer food to God. A priest with a foot that is the wrong shape must not offer food to God. 20 A priest with a back that is not straight must not offer food to God. Neither must a priest who is very small offer a food gift. A priest who has an eye illness or a skin illness must not offer food to God. Neither must a priest offer food if his testicles (male parts) are not whole. 21 If a priest's son has something wrong with his body, he must not come near to the altar. He must not give the food offering to the LORD. 22 He can eat God's holy food and God's most holy food. 23 But none of Aaron's family who is not perfect can go near the holy curtain or the altar. He would make the holy place unclean. I am the LORD. I make them holy.’

24 Moses told all these rules to Aaron, to his sons and to all Israel's people.