YHVH said to Moshe, “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aharon; tell them: ‘No priest is to make himself unclean for any of his people who dies, except for his close relatives — his mother, father, son, daughter and brother; he may also make himself unclean for his virgin sister who has never married and is therefore dependent on him. He may not make himself unclean, because he is a leader among his people; doing so would profane him.”-Leviticus 21:1-4
The Levite priests were required to stay far away from death.
Because as those who were set-apart and assigned a divine status above even the whole congregation of chosen Israel, they were held to a different standard.
The priests were God’s chosen mediators and as such had to comply with a different set of rules than the common citizen.
Death was an abomination to God.
So to touch a dead body or to even touch objects that had come into contact with a dead body would instantly render a priest unclean.
Verse 1 tells us that a priest was in no way to allow himself to become UNCLEAN by touching a corpse including members of his own family.
At this point in time, this instruction at the least probably extended to their clan.
However, in God’s mercy, the following exceptions were permitted:
A priest was allowed to touch the dead body of his…
…natural son or daughter,
However, no in-laws or stepfamily were allowed!
And a priest’s natural sister was allowed ONLY if she had never been married and was still living at home with her parents.
Why is this?
Because the “ownership” of her had not yet been transferred to another man.
One thing I need to make clear is that this “stay away from a corpse” rule went far beyond just simple contact.
Priests were NOT allowed to participate or preside over burial ceremonies.
In sharp contrast to the common practice in our culture, Biblical priests could not preside over funerals.
They were also barred from participating in the normal mourning practices such tearing one’s garments, messing up one’s hair, or tossing dust or ashes over one’s head.
The bottom line is that priests were to have absolutely nothing to do with death except in carefully defined situations.
Are you seeing the picture being portrayed here?
The idea being brought forth is that death is NOT for God’s servants.
Death should be treated as an abomination because it is an abomination to God.