Today we begin Leviticus Chapter 22.
For the Complete Jewish Bible, click here.
For the King James version, click here.
“And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and to his sons, that they keep apart from the sacred donations of the Israelites— lest they profane My holy name— which they consecrate to Me.”-Leviticus 22:1-2
Leviticus chapter 22 deals with the series of rules governing how priests and their families are to eat the food sacrificed to HASHEM.
This food is referred to as the “sacred donations” or the “holy things” depending on which translation you’re reading.
Recall that the majority of the priests’ food supply came from the grain and animal sacrifices brought by the common folk for sacrifice in the Tabernacle and later the Temple.
Now what should not be overlooked are the similarities between the requirements of perfection for the priests who offer the sacrifices and the sacrificial animals themselves.
Even the descriptions of the banned blemishes for priests and the sacrificial animals were practically identical.
If a priest or animal had any of the following defects, they were UNACCEPTABLE to take their roles in the sacrificial process:
-any injured or broken limbs
-limbs that were abnormally too long or short
-crushed or missing testicles
-some kind of growth in the eye
The last chapter 21 we studied dealt with the physical defects which disqualified a priest from approaching the Lord at the Tabernacle or Temple.
This chapter 22 mainly deals with those circumstances under which priests CANNOT eat of the food that was brought as sacrifices.
The first thing commanded is that if a priest is in a state of impurity for any reason, he is forbidden from eating the “sacred donations” or the “holy things”.
We’re told if the priest does eat of the holy food, he is to be KARET or cut-off from the Lord.
In this context, it’s not talking about a permanent cutting off.
It just means that he is dismissed from his priestly duties for some unspecified time until he is ritually clean again.
From verse 4, we get the following series of examples of things that could cause a priest to become unclean and thus barred from eating the sacred offerings brought by the people.
-one who has TZARA-AT ( a skin affliction, NOT leprosy)
-one who has a discharge
-one who has touched a person made unclean by a dead body
-one who has had a seminal emission
-one who has touched an unclean reptile or insect
One point of confusion often raised is most of the types of uncleanness mentioned here require an 8-day cycle of ritual cleansing before the priest can once again be considered pure and resume his duties.
Yet verse 6 says “after sunset he will be clean; and afterwards, he may eat the holy things; because they are his food“.
What’s going on here?
What happened to the 8-day requirement established in the earlier chapters of Leviticus?
The answer lies in understanding the difference between DIRECT DEFILEMENT and INDIRECT DEFILEMENT.
If a priest DIRECTLY defiles himself by committing a forbidden act such as touching a dead body or having an open sore or a bodily discharge, then the degree of UNCLEANNESS he contracts requires the normal 8-day cycle of purification.
However, if a priest INDIRECTLY defiles himself by touching another person who became UNCLEAN due to touching a dead body or having an open sore etcetera, then the degree of UNCLEANNESS is milder and requires only waiting until sundown (the end of the day) and taking a ritual bath to be restored to CLEAN again.
So we’re talking about two different situations here.
Easy enough to understand I think.
Note that verse 5 says, “Anyone who has touched… a man who is unclean for any reason and who can transmit to him his uncleanness”.
Also, understand that the priest who became UNCLEAN wasn’t barred from eating at all.
He just couldn’t eat of the sacred offerings that were brought to the Lord.
Instead, he had to purchase or somehow receive the regular non-sanctified food that the common citizens ate.