And the LORD said unto Moses,
Speak unto the priests the sons of Aaron, and say unto them, There shall none defile himself for the dead among his people:
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George Leo Haydock
An uncleanness; viz., such as was contracted in laying out the dead body, or touching it; or in going into the house, or assisting at the funeral (Challoner)
At the death. Hebrew, "for a soul "by which name the carcass is here denoted, because it had once been ruled by the soul. (St. Augustine, q. 81.) This law related only to the family of Aaron, when no absolute necessity or near relationship required their attendance. When such offices of charity should be deemed defiling, it is not easy to say. But the ancients generally looked upon them in this light, chap. x. 6. Porphyrius enquired of Anebo, why the holy inspector touched not the dead, since in all sacred transactions, the death of animals generally intervenes. We know not the answer of this pretended prophet Egypt; and Jamblicus confesses, that he cannot resolve the difficulty. The Romans placed a branch of cypress before the door where a corpse was lying, lest any priest might see it unthinkingly, and be defiled. (Servius) "At...