Leviticus 21:11 Commentary - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)
(11) Neither shall he go in to any dead body.—Not only is he to abstain from the manifestation of sorrow for the troubles which befell the community, or those whom he loves, but in the case of death he is not to enter into a tent, house, or place where a human corpse was lying (Num. 19:14), lest he should contract defilement. According to the administrators of the Law during the second Temple, the expression any dead body extends to any portion of it, so that when the pontiff entered a place where a certain quantity of the blood of the dead body was to be found, he became defiled. Accordingly, “any dead soul,” which is literally the meaning of the phrase here translated by “dead body,” denotes the blood which constitutes the soul or life. (See Lev. 17:10-14.)
Nor defile himself for his father . . . —Better, not for his father . . . shall he defile himself or, not even for his father, &c. As the rigorous enactment in the preceding clause constitutes already the difference between the high priest and the ordinary priest, this clause simply adduces an instance to illustrate it. Whilst the ordinary priest was not only permitted, but even obliged, to attend the funeral ceremonies of no less than seven of his relations (see Lev. 21:2-3), the high priest was not even allowed to join in the obsequies of his parents. The only exception made in his case was when he found a human body in an isolated place. Under such circumstances he was not only permitted, but it was a meritorious act on his part, to bury it. (See Lev. 21:1.)
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Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)
Charles John Ellicott (1819 - 1905) was a distinguished English Christian theologian, academic and churchman. He briefly served as Dean of Exeter, then Bishop of the united see of Gloucester and Bristol.
His works include:
- An Old Testament Commentary for English Readers, 1897. (Editor)
- A New Testament Commentary for English Readers, 1878.