In Leviticus 21:16-23, God doesn't want the blind, the lame, the disfigured/deformed, the crippled, the hunchbacked, the dwarfed, those with eye defects, running sores, or damaged testicles to come near him and serve as priests. Why so? Isn't this discriminating? --Ingrid Le
Yes, in a way this certainly is discriminating. But is the discriminating in view necessarily wrong? In this section of Leviticus the Lord gives strict regulations for the priesthood. And there are many more! Was it "ageism" that the Lord had priests retire from service at 50 years of age (Numbers 8:25), or, for that matter, that young men were not counted in the army--and presumably not allowed to fight--unless they were at least 20 years of age (Numbers 1:3)? Yet the Lord has his reasons, whether or not we understand and appreciate them. But let's look again at the passage in question:
16 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 17 "Speak to Aaron, saying, 'No man of your offspring throughout their generations who has a defect shall approach to offer the bread of his God. 18 For no one who has a defect shall approach: a blind man, or a lame man, or he who has a disfigured face, or any deformed limb, 19 or a man who has a broken foot or 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 defect, is to come near to offer the LORD's offerings by fire since he has a defect, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God. 22 He may eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy, 23 only he shall not go in to the veil or come near the altar because he has a defect, that he may not profane My sanctuaries. For I am the LORD who sanctifies them." (NAS)
Nothing was to add to the manifold pressures of ministering before the Lord--including the difficulty of serving with the added burdens of physical deformity (blindness being an obvious example) or the emotional strain that so easily accompanies self-consciousness (e.g. in the case of a dwarf). But this is only a practical line of reasoning.
The reason given in the broader context (chapters 21-22) is that certain things make a person ceremonially unclean, or unsuitable for coming into the sanctuary of God: contact with the dead, nocturnal emission, physical defects, etc. Just as the animals to be sacrificed must be without blemish, so it is with the priests who offer them. Thus the obstacles are matters of ritual, not matters of morality or worth.
God's ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55). And yet that does not mean he is at fault for "discriminating." The deformed among the tribe of Levi were still allowed to eat the sacrifices (21:22). They were not excluded, and in the loving plan of God were to be provided for. Nor should we conclude that because they were not permitted to officiate in the sacrificial system that they were prohibited from having their own personal relationship with the Lord. In that sense, no, the Lord is not discriminating.
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