Leviticus 21:1 – 24:23; Haftarah: Ezekiel 44:15 – 44:31
This week we continue with the laws of purity and holiness – specifically of dealing with death and the dead. We start our study with left-overs from last week’s parasha that deal with sexual immorality and study these from a spiritual standpoint (above and beyond the physical) and connect this to the laws regarding death as well as the physical perfection required from the High-Priest.
As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But tI will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
(Lev 18:5) Jerome – Homily 76.2“The man who carries out the law will find life through it.” Scripture did not say he will find life through it, in the sense that through the law he will live in heaven, but he will find life through it to the extent that what he merits, he reaps in the present world.
(Lev 21:1) Tertullian – against Marcion
When, however, He answers the man, who alleged as an excuse his father’s burial, “Let the dead bury their dead, but go thou and preach the kingdom of God,” (Luke 9:59, 60) He gave a clear confirmation to those two laws of the Creator—that in Leviticus, which concerns the sacerdotal office, and forbids the priests to be present at the funerals even of their parents. “The priest,” says He, “shall not enter where there is any dead person;and for his father he shall not be defiled”; as well as that in Numbers, which relates to the (Nazarite) vow of separation; for there he who devotes himself to God, among other things, is bidden “not to come at any dead body,” not even of his father, or his mother, or his brother. Now it was, I suppose, for the Nazarite and the priestly office that He intended this man whom He had been inspiring to preach the kingdom of God. Or else, if it be not so, he must be pronounced impious enough who, without the intervention of any precept of the law, commanded that burials of parents should be neglected by their sons. When, indeed, in the third case before us, (Christ) forbids the man “to look back” who wanted first “to bid his family farewell,” He only follows out the rule of the Creator. For this (retrospection) He had been against their making, whom He had rescued out of Sodom.(22:27) Clement of Alexandria – Stromateis 2.92.2–4.1
Scripture says, “At least grant the offspring to its mother for its first seven days.” For if nothing comes to be without reason and milk flows in the mothers for the nourishment of the offspring, then in taking the offspring away from the providential endowment of the milk, a person is doing violence to nature. So Greeks and anyone else who runs the law down ought to blush for shame if the law is generous over irrational beasts. Yet some people actually expose human offspring to abortive death. By prophetic authority the law has for a long time cut short their ferocity through this commandment of which we have been speaking. For if the law refuses to allow the offspring of irrational creatures to be separated from their mother before taking milk, it is far more forceful in preparing human beings against that cruel, uncivilized view [exposure to death of infants]. If they ignore nature, at least they may not ignore the lessons of the law.