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Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 4: Harmony of the Law, Part II, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at

Leviticus 21

Leviticus 21:16-24

16. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

16. Loquutus est Jehova ad Mosen, dicendo:

17. Speak unto Aaron, saying, Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God.

17. Loquere ad Aharon, dicendo, Vir e semine tuo per aetates suas, in quo fuerit macula, non accedet ut offerat panem Dei sui.

18. For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous,

18. Quippe nullus vir in quo fuerit macula, aecedet: vir crocus, vel claudus, aut diminutus, aut superfluus:

19. Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded,

19. Aut vir in quo fuerit fractura pedis, vel fractura manus:

20. Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken;

20. Aut gibbosus, aut lippus, aut qui habebit maeulam in oculo suo, aut cui fuerit scabies vel impetigo, aut qui contritus fuerit testiculo.

2l. No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the LORD made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God.

21. Omnis vir in quo fuerit macula, e semine Aharon sacerdotis, non accedet ad offerendum oblationes ignitas Jehovae: in quo fuertit macula, non accedet ad offerendum panem Dei sui.

22. He shall eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy, and of the holy.

22. Panem quidem Dei sui e sanctitatibus sanctitatum et e sanctis comedet.

23. Only he shall not go in unto thevail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries: for I the LORD do sanctify them.

23. Atqui intra velum non ingredietur, et ad altare non aceedet: quia macula est in eo, ne polluat sanctuaria mea: quoniam ego Jehova qui sanctifico vos.

24. And Moses told it unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel.

24. Loquutus est itaque Moses ad Aharon et filios ejus, et ad omnes filios Israel.


17. Speak unto Aaron, saying. Priests in whom there was any notable bodily defect are here forbidden from approaching the altar. I will not curiously inquire into the defects which Moses enumerates, since the same rule is here laid down, which is afterwards applied to the sacrifices, whereof none but perfect ones were to be offered. For God rejected whatever was defective or mutilated, in order that the Israelites might know that no victim would suffice for the expiation of sin, except such as possessed complete perfection; and this is justly required in a priest, who cannot be a mediator between God and men unless he is free from every spot. But the analogy must be kept in view between the external figures and the spiritual perfection which existed only in Christ. God could bear no defect in the priests; it follows, then, that a man of angelic purity was to be expected, who should reconcile God to the world. The bodily imperfections, then, which were here enumerated, must be transferred to the soul. The offering of bread comprehends by synecdoche the other offerings, and the whole legal service, which the priests were wont to perform in their course; and this the words of Moses immediately afterwards confirm, wherein he mentions all “the offerings made by fire,” besides the bread. We have seen elsewhere that any of the people wounded in the testicles were prohibited from entering the sanctuary; that they were, not even to set foot in the court; but there was a special reason for this as regarded the priests, lest they should pollute the sanctuary by their defects. Hence it appears how needful for us is the intercession of Christ; for, if his perfect cleanness did not wash away our impurity, no oblation could proceed from us except what would be foul and unsavory. Moreover, it is worthy of observation that the sanctuary of God is polluted by any defect or imperfection; and, consequently, that whatever of their own men obtrude upon God, is condemned as profane, so far are they from conciliating God’s favor by any merit.

22. He shall eat the bread of his God. He permits them indeed to eat of the sacrifices, because no uncleanness on account of their natural defects could prevent them from partaking of the sacred meals;  192 they are only forbidden to appear in God’s presence as mediators to propitiate Him. And here the imperfection of the legal service betrays itself; for nothing could be found among men which could fully represent the truth. Since then the defects of men rendered it necessary to separate the two connected things, viz., the honor and the burden, hence the Israelites were admonished that another priest was promised them, in whom nothing would be wanting for the consummation of all virtues and perfection. Finally, Moses relates that he delivered God’s commands not only to Aaron and his sons, but to all the people likewise; so that the humblest of them might be the censor of the priests  193 if in anything they fell short.



La nouristure assignee aux enfans d’Aaron.” — Fr.


Peust contreroler, par maniere de dire, les Sacrificateurs:” might, so to say, control the priests. — Fr.

Next: Leviticus 22:1-16