Messianic Education Trust
(Lev 21:1 - 24:23)

Vayikra/Leviticus 21:17   A man from your descendants, to their generations, who has a blemish ...

Here is an important admission from the Torah: priests can have blemishes! The next verses (v18-v21) state that a man who has a blemish may not draw near to serve in the Mishkan, and list some of the conditions that constitute a disqualifying blemish. Who Is ...

Rashi: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (1040-1105 CE), French rabbi who wrote commentaries on the Torah, the Prophets and the Talmud, lived in Troyes where he founded a yeshiva in 1067; focuses on the plain meaning (p'shat) of the text, although sometimes quite cryptic in his brevity
Rashi connects this to Malachi 1:8 "Try offering [a sick] animal to your governor and see if he would be pleased with you" (CJB). The priesthood, although all of different sizes and shapes - as men are - had to be physically unblemished, like the sacrifices they offered, in order to be the reflection of G-d for the people. And yet here the Torah accepts that there will be children born to the descendants of Aharon who will have some physical defects from birth - that is, beyond their control. Even though Aharon and his sons were to be the "priests for ever" before the L-rd, He was not going to protect them from the normal human conditions that affected all the other Israelites. The Name ...

HaShem: literally, Hebrew for 'The Name' - an allusion used to avoid pronouncing the Tetragrammaton, the so-called 'ineffable' name of G–d
HaShem wasn't creating a strain of super-humans who never caught a cold or suffered from illness or disease - the priests were to be just like everyone else.

In 2nd Temple times, there was a common belief that physical deformity or disablement was the result of sin, either on the part of the person themselves or their parents. This is why we find the disciples asking Yeshua, in the case of a man blind from birth, whether he or his parents had sinned. Yeshua's response shocked them: "His blindness is due neither to his sin nor to that of his parents; it happened so that G-d's power might be seen at work in him" (John 9:3, CJB). G-d never promised our people that we would always be healthy and live long sickness-free lives. He certainly did say, "If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the L-rd your G-d, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians" (Shemot 15:26, NASB), but that's not the same thing as "no sickness" which some people assume. Let's face the truth: bad things do happen to good people - so that G-d's power might be seen at work in them!

The writer to the Hebrew goes on to talk about Yeshua, "Therefore, since the children share a common physical nature as human beings, He became like them and shared that same nature" (Hebrews 2:14, CJB). Yeshua became like us "in every respect" (v17) so that He shared our human fabric and frailty; "in every respect He was tempted just as we are, the only difference being that He did not sin" (Hebrew 4:15, CJB). As both the priest who offered Himself as a sacrifice, and that perfect sacrifice for our sin, Yeshua had to be both physically and spiritually pure. Yeshua was absolutely glatt kosher in every respect. Not only did He bear our diseases (Isaiah 53:4) and the punishment for our sin (Isaiah 53:5) but He did so having resisted all temptation in His own life.

Further Study: Psalm 103:3-5; Matthew 8:16-17

Application: If you face challenges in your life, be they physical, mental or spiritual, know that Yeshua has been there before you and for you. As believers, we can and will have blemishes, but it is so that G-d's power might be seen in us and Yeshua makes us acceptable in G-d's sight as He is perfect in and for us.

© Jonathan Allen, 2005

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