Sotah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Seven



In the last clause of yesterday’s mishnah we learned that the meal offering of a priest is not eaten and neither is the meal offering of a sotah who is married to a priest.  Our mishnah compares several laws concerning priests, their wives and their daughters. 


Mishnah Seven

1)      The meal-offering of the daughter of an Israelite who is married to a priest is burned.

a)      But the meal-offering of the daughter of a priest who is married to an Israelite is eaten.

2)      What [differences are there in law] between a priest and a priest’s daughter?

a)      The meal-offering of a priest’s daughter is eaten but the meal-offering of a priest is not eaten. 

3)      A priest’s daughter may become deconsecrated, but a priest does not become deconsecrated. 

4)      A priest’s daughter may defile herself by contact with the dead, but a priest may not defile himself by contact with the dead.

5)      A priest eats of the most holy things, but a priest’s daughter may not eat of the most holy things.



Section one: With regard to the eating of the meal offering, what matters is whether or not she is married to a priest and not whether or not she is the daughter of a priest.  If she is married to a priest she takes on his status and if she is married to an Israelite, she takes on his status.

Section two:  The mishnah now begins to examine in general the difference in law between priests and their daughters. 

The meal offering of a priest’s daughter is eaten, even if she is not married to an Israelite.  Only the meal-offering of a priest himself is not eaten.

Section three:  If a priest’s daughter has sexual intercourse with someone to whom she is prohibited to marry, she becomes a halalah, or “deconsecrated.”  As a halalah, she can not subsequently marry a priest nor can she eat terumah.  However, if a priest has sexual relations with someone prohibited to him, such as a divorcee, he does not become a halal, “deconsecrated.”  The prohibited sexual relations do not impact his class status.

Section four:  Leviticus 21 teaches that priests may not defile themselves through contact with the dead, with the exception of their immediate family.  These laws apply only to male priests and not to their daughters.

Section five:  Leviticus 6:22 and 7:6 state explicitly, “Only the males in the priestly line may eat of it:  it is most holy.”  Women may not therefore eat most holy things, which include certain sacrifices.  However, they may eat other sacrifices which do not fall into this category.