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Ritual of the priests' mar
. xxi. 7.
priest's besides which, there were also some other office, by considerations of their birth and persons, to the ritual.
qualify them for the execution of their office, as the priests of Jehovah, for the honour of a family made holy by a near approach to the Presence; to remove idolatrous customs, and to prevent the invention of more.
The ritual therefore directs, They shall not take a wife that is an whore, or profane;
neither shall they take a woman put away riages. from her husband, for he is holy unto his
God. The law for the high priest goes further, and appoints, a widow, or a devorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these he shall not take, but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife.
This ritual directs an extraordinary and more than common care to preserve the families of the priests in reputation and honour, from every thing that might disgrace them as profane, or lessen the distinguishing dignity of their office, and so dishonour the name of Jehovah too; as the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, is said to profane her father also. To preserve, then, the honour of this family, and keep it from any mark of disgrace, they are not to marry any profane person, or a person born of a marriage declared by the ritual profane, as the daughter of a priest, by a woman that had been divorced, or a profane person;
who, according to Selden, is a person born of a woman whom it was not lawful for a priest to marry*.
The Hebrew masters, according to the same learned author, understand by a whore, any woman who is not an Israelite, or an Israelite with whom a man had lain, whom she could not marry according to law, or who had lain with a profane persont:
The Romans were used to regard the Alexand. honour of marriages, so that none were andro, accounted honourable or lawful, but be- 1. ii. c. 5. tween citizens. The like constitutions were in Greece, and other cities eminent for their wisdom. Now, to preserve the honour of a family, especially ennobled by the immediate service of the God and King of Israel, would much serve to excite a care to keep up the purity and dignity of their character, and the respect due to it. Here is nothing appointed, but what the wisest nations have accounted honourable; nothing like the monstrous constitutions of the Magians, that they were fittest for the highest offices of priesthood, who were the issue of
* Quæ nata est ex iis quæ sacerdotibus jungi rite nequeant, profanus est, qui nascitur ex coitu sacerdoti interdicto.-Selden de Success. in Pontif. Vol. II. lib. ii. c. 2. p. m. 158.
+ Zona (seu scortum) in lege memoratum, foemina est quæcunque non est Israelitis, aut Israelitis, quacum concubuit vir, cujus nuptiæ ei ex interdicto omnium communi interdicuntur, aut quocum concubuit profanus. -Idem, ibid. p. m. 159.
To be free from
ral ble mish.
the most detestable incests, whose mothers
The ritual, for the further honour of the all natu- priests' character, required them to be free
from any natural defect or blemish in their bodies, which might make their appearance in their high office mean and despicable in the eyes of the people: Therefore the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Whosoever he be that hath any blemish, let him not approach
to offer the bread of his God; for whatsoxxi, 16,
ever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall 17, 18.
not approach. The particulars, to avoid mistakes or uncertainties, are set down, and may be seen in the following verses.
The ritual here provides for the greater honour and dignity of the service of the sanctuary. It permits those who had natural blemishes, but which were not moral defects, to eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy, and of the holy; only he shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto
the altar, because he hath a blemish, that 22, 23. he profane not my sanctuaries.
These natural infirmities were not considered, as Bishop Patrick observes, as legal impurities, rather as incapacities for the exercise of their office; and herein, says Ainsworth, the blemished had a privilege above the unclean, who might not eat of
cration to the office
the holy things. However, as such blemishes made it unseemly for them to officiate before the Presence, the ritual took care the service should be performed in a manner more expressive of reverence to the presence of Jehovah. The decency, in this respect, so long settled in the courts and presence of princes, will easily point out the respect and honours due to the court and presence of Jehovah, which always carry
with them moral instructions of great and profitable use, as we shall more fully see, in its proper place.
2. The ritual required of all who were Consefound worthy to minister in the priest's office, that they should be regularly invested of priests. in it, and settled in particular all the rites of investiture. This put a stop to all imaginations of their own, and to all superstitious and idolatrous ceremonies, which the maxims and customs of their neighbour heathen nations might introduce, either as to the nature of their idols and dæmons, or as to the service and worship supposed most acceptable to them, in which there were many magical rites, in particular as to the form and colour of the garments in which they officiated; in which they placed great hopes of better acceptance, and fell into many dangerous superstitions. The ritual of consecration is therefore wisely very particular, though it consisted principally in the following things, of easy and instruc
tive meaning, as well as most proper to
These chief rites were, washing them
Let us see briefly how the Scriptures themselves describe this part of the ri
And the Lord (Jehovah) spake unto viii. 1, 2, Moses, saying, Take Aaron and his sons
with him, and the garments, and the anoint-
whole congregation of Israel present, as Exodus, consenting and assisting; as if they had
said, as on a like occasion, And all the