Skip to content

Leviticus 21 (Vayikra)

Leviticus 21

Leviticus 21 (Vayikra) Summary

Leviticus 21 (Vayikra) addresses the priest and their role in holiness. As Israel is called to holiness, so too are their priests. Israel must work to attain holiness whereas their priests must strive to maintain holiness. 

Leviticus 21 (Vayikra) Outline

Leviticus 21 (Vayikra) can be navigated in three possible ways. (1) The traditional verse division, (2) Jewish tradition of daily reading called Torah Portions, and (3) the Literary Layout per Jacob Milgrom. Click the caret below to navigate using the Torah Portions and Literary Layout.

Click to see Leviticus 21 Outline

Torah Portions:

  1. First Reading – vv. 1-15 – Parsha Emor
  2. Second Reading – vv. 16-24 – Parsha Emor

Literary Layout:

  1. Introduction – v. 1a
  2. Mourning – vv. 1b-6
  3. Marriage – vv. 7-8
  4. Addendum on a Priest’s Daughter – v. 9
  5. The High Priest – vv. 10-15
  6. Blemished Priests – vv. 16-23
  7. Subscript – v. 24

Leviticus 21 Structure:

Listed below are two important structures of chapter 21. See explanations below.

Leviticus 21 Structure:

This is an outline to Leviticus 21.
Leviticus 21 Structure

Leviticus 21 & 22 Structure:

Leviticus 21 and 22 are interconnected. In Hebrew they are a single unit of thought. Together they form a chiasm as shown in the outline below.
Leviticus 21 & 22 Structure

Leviticus 21 (Vayikra) English Verses

Parsha Emor #31
~ Say ~


→ Introduction

1 And the LORD said unto Moses: Speak unto the priests the sons of Aaron, and say unto them:

→ Mourning

There shall none defile himself for the dead among his people;
2 except for his kin, that is near unto him, for his mother, and for his father, and for his son, and for his daughter, and for his brother;
3 and for his sister a virgin, that is near unto him, that hath had no husband, for her may he defile himself.
4 He shall not defile himself, being a chief man among his people, to profane himself.
¶ 5 They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corners of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh.
6 They shall be holy unto their God, and not profane the name of their God; for the offerings of the LORD made by fire, the bread of their God, they do offer; therefore, they shall be holy.

→ Marriage

7 They shall not take a woman that is a harlot, or profaned; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband; for he is holy unto his God.
8 Thou shalt sanctify him; therefore, for he offereth the bread of thy God; he shall be holy unto thee; for I the LORD, who sanctify you, am holy.

→ Addendum on a Priest’s Daughter

9 And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the harlot, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire.

→ The High Priest

10 And the priest that is highest among his brethren, upon whose head the anointing oil is poured, and that is consecrated to put on the garments, shall not let the hair of his head go loose, nor rend his clothes;
11 neither shall he go in to any dead body, nor defile himself for his father, or for his mother;
12 neither shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor profane the sanctuary of his God; for the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is upon him: I am the LORD.
¶ 13 And he shall take a wife in her virginity.
14 A widow, or one divorced, or a profaned woman, or a harlot, these shall he not take; but a virgin of his own people shall he take to wife.
15 And he shall not profane his seed among his people; for I am the LORD who sanctify him.


→ Blemished Priests

16 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying:
17 Speak unto Aaron, saying: Whosoever he be of thy seed throughout their generations that hath a blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God.
18 For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath any thing maimed, or anything too long,
19 or a man that is broken-footed, or broken-handed,
20 or crook-backed, or a dwarf, or that hath his eye overspread, or is scabbed, or scurvy, or hath his stones crushed;
21 no man of the seed of Aaron the priest, that hath a blemish, 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.
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 unto the veil, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not My holy places; for I am the LORD who sanctify them.

→ Subscript

24 So Moses spoke unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel.

Leviticus 21 (Vayikra) English Verses

Previous & Next Pages

Leviticus ChaptersLeviticus 21 ResourcesCopyright

WSB Links

  1. Parsha Emor – The Parsha page containing Stats, Readings, and additional links.
  2. Sefer Vayikra- Chapter 21 – The Hebrew text for this chapter.
  3.  Leviticus/Vayikra Chapter 21 Interlinear – Coming Soon

Online Resources

  1. Bible Hub Interlinear Chapter 21

Offline Resources


  1. The Schocken Bible: Volume 1, The Five Books of Moses | Schocken Books | Everett Fox – My Hebrew teacher, Yoel HaLevi, has stated this is the best English translation he has heard. It is a first in a three-volume series translated by rabbis for Jewish English readers.
  2. The Steinsaltz Humash | Koren Publishers | Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz – The Late Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz was renowned for his Koren Talmud. He has been called the modern Rashi.
  3. The Pentateuch & Haftorahs | The Soncino Press | Dr. J.H. Hertz – The Late Chief Rabbi of the British Empire was renowned for his writings and teachings. Many consider this a must have for any personal library. In the Preface Dr. Hertz calls this “a People’s Commentary”.
  4. The Living Torah | Maznaim Publishing | Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan – Rabbi Kaplan is well known for working with texts from Kabbalah. In the Translator’s Introduction he writes, “It (this book) is meant to be a book that can be given to a boy on the day of his Bar Mitzvah, and yet remain the subject of lifelong study.”


  1. Leviticus: A Book of Ritual and Ethics: Continental Commentaries| Fortress Press | Professor Joseph Milgrom – He is the leading authority on the book of Leviticus. This is the scaled down version of his three-volume work in the Anchor Bible Series.
  2. The JPS Torah Commentary: Leviticus | Jewish Publication Society | Dr. Baruch A. Levine – This is a semi-scholarly work that is required reading for anyone wanting to study the book of Leviticus.
  3. Covenant & Conversation Commentary | Schocken Books | Rabbi Jonathan Sacks – The Late Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ last published commentary on the Torah.
  4. The Parsha with Rabbi Juravel: Sefer Vayikra | MC Publications | Rabbi M. Feinzeig – Rabbi Juravel is well-known for his teachings for children. This series were created from his famous children’s teachings. In my opinion, everyone new to Jewish studies should start their studies here.

Hebrew Resources

  1. The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon | Hendrickson Pub. | Francis Brown – One of the most used Hebrew and English Lexicons among serious Bible students.
The Holy Scriptures
According to the Masoretic Text
The Jewish Publication Society translation
[1917] – Public Domain