Regulations concerning Priests

1 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them:

‘No one shall defile himself [that is, become ceremonially unclean] for the dead among his people [by touching a corpse or assisting in preparing it for burial],
2 except for his relatives who are nearest to him, his mother, his father, his son, his daughter, and his brother, 3 also his virgin sister, who is near to him because she has had no husband; for her he may become unclean. 4 He shall not become unclean as a relative by marriage among his people, and so profane himself. 5 The priests (a)shall not shave their heads, nor shave off the edges of their beards, nor make any cuts in their body. 6 They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God; for they present the offerings by fire to the Lord, the food of their God; so they shall be holy. 7 They shall not take [as a wife] a woman who is a prostitute, nor a woman who is divorced from her husband; for the priest is holy to his God. 8 You shall consecrate him, therefore, for he offers the food of your God; he shall be holy to you; for I the Lord, who sanctifies you, am holy. 9 The daughter of any priest who profanes herself by prostitution profanes her father; she shall be burned in fire.(A)
10 ‘But he who is the high priest among his brothers, on whose head the anointing oil has been poured and who has been consecrated to wear the [sacred] garments, shall not uncover his head nor tear his clothes [in mourning], 11 nor shall he approach any dead person, nor defile himself [by doing so, even] for his father or for his mother; 12 nor shall he go out of the sanctuary nor profane (make ceremonially unclean) the sanctuary of his God, for the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is on him; I am the Lord. 13 He shall take a wife in her virginity. 14 He may not marry a widow or a divorced woman or one who is profaned by prostitution, but he is to marry a virgin from his own people,(B) 15 so that he will not profane or dishonor his children among his people; for I am the Lord who sanctifies the high priest.’”
16 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 17 “Say to Aaron, ‘Throughout their generations none of your descendants who has any [physical] defect shall approach [the altar] to present the food of his God. 18 For no man who has a defect shall approach [God’s altar as a priest]: no man who is blind or lame, or who has a disfigured face, or any deformed limb, 19 or a man who has a broken foot or a broken hand, 20 or a hunchback or a dwarf, or one who has a defect in his eye or eczema or scabs or crushed testicles. 21 No man among the descendants of Aaron the priest who has a [physical] defect and is disfigured or deformed is to approach [the altar] to present the offerings of the Lord by fire. He has a defect; he shall not approach [the altar] to present the food of his God. 22 He may eat the food of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy things, 23 but he shall not go within the veil or approach the altar [of incense], because he has a defect, so that he will not profane My sanctuaries; for I am the Lord who sanctifies them.’”(C) 24 So Moses spoke to Aaron and to his sons, and to all the Israelites.


a. Leviticus 21:5: These practices were mourning customs associated with paganism.