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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Leviticus

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FRAMEWORKS: Leviticus 10 : Two Priests Get It Wrong


v.1,2 The Death of Nadab and Abihu

v.3-5 Moses gives instructions (1)

v.6,7 Moses gives instructions (2)

v.8-11 The Lord instructs Aaron

v.12-15 Moses gives instructions (3)

v.16-20 The priests only partially obey



v.1,2 The Death of Nadab and Abihu


v.1 Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord , contrary to his command.

v.2 So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord .


[Notes: Bizarrely the sinfulness of mankind is revealed yet again (as it is throughout Israel's history) as two of Aaron's sons go burning incense without authority. They are casual about their holy calling – and are destroyed for it. Again and again throughout the history of Israel, God has to step in with limited judgments to preserve this nation in their calling. At this all-important and significant time in their early history, as God is establishing them as a holy people, they have to learn that they should listen to God when again and again He has said He is holy and now they are to appear holy, and that means they are to demonstrate being a people in close harmony with God and obedient to all He says.]



v.3-5 Moses gives instructions (1)


v.3 Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke of when he said: “‘Among those who approach me   I will be proved holy; in the sight of all the people   I will be honored.'” Aaron remained silent.

v.4 Moses summoned Mishael and Elzaphan, sons of Aaron's uncle Uzziel, and said to them, “Come here; carry your cousins outside the camp, away from the front of the sanctuary.”

v.5 So they came and carried them, still in their tunics, outside the camp, as Moses ordered.


[Notes: Moses rebukes Aaron (who has already once failed badly with the golden calf). He reminds him that God is holy and is to be honoured as such. Aaron has no defence and remains silent. Moses has the two corpses carried outside the camp (presumably to be buried) for they are a disgrace.]



v.6,7 Moses gives instructions (2)


v.6 Then Moses said to Aaron and his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, “Do not let your hair become unkempt and do not tear your clothes, or you will die and the Lord will be angry with the whole community. But your relatives, all the Israelites, may mourn for those the Lord has destroyed by fire.

v.7 Do not leave the entrance to the tent of meeting or you will die, because the Lord 's anointing oil is on you.” So they did as Moses said.


[Notes: Moses challenges Aaron and his other two sons and reminds them that they are representatives of God and may not therefore show any signs of grief for these two foolish sons who have taken the Lord's name in vain.]



v.8-11 The Lord instructs Aaron


v.8 Then the Lord said to Aaron,

v.9 “You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the tent of meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come,

v.10 so that you can distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean,

v.11 and so you can teach the Israelites all the decrees the Lord has given them through Moses.”


[Notes: The Lord then speaks directly to Aaron, clarifying his calling [his sons have not disqualified him!] that requires he and his sons to be holy and therefore dare not consume alcohol lest they lose control and present a bad testimony. They are to convey the distinction between holy and common, right and wrong, and are to take the responsibility of teaching the people (future generations) the Law given to Moses.]



v.12-15 Moses gives instructions (3)

v.12 Moses said to Aaron and his remaining sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, “Take the grain offering left over from the food offerings prepared without yeast and presented to the Lord and eat it beside the altar, for it is most holy.

v.13 Eat it in the sanctuary area, because it is your share and your sons' share of the food offerings presented to the Lord; for so I have been commanded.

v.14 But you and your sons and your daughters may eat the breast that was waved and the thigh that was presented. Eat them in a ceremonially clean place; they have been given to you and your children as your share of the Israelites' fellowship offerings.

v.15 The thigh that was presented and the breast that was waved must be brought with the fat portions of the food offerings, to be waved before the Lord as a wave offering. This will be the perpetual share for you and your children, as the Lord has commanded.”


[Notes: Moses instructs Aaron and his sons to eat the remaining grain offering as required.]



v.16-20 The priests only partially obey


v.16 When Moses inquired about the goat of the sin offering and found that it had been burned up, he was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron's remaining sons, and asked,

v.17 “Why didn't you eat the sin offering in the sanctuary area? It is most holy; it was given to you to take away the guilt of the community by making atonement for them before the Lord .

v.18 Since its blood was not taken into the Holy Place, you should have eaten the goat in the sanctuary area, as I commanded.”

v.19 Aaron replied to Moses, “Today they sacrificed their sin offering and their burnt offering before the Lord , but such things as this have happened to me. Would the Lord have been pleased if I had eaten the sin offering today?”

v.20  When Moses heard this, he was satisfied.


[Notes: Aaron should have eaten some of the goat but whether because of his grief over his sons or of contrition, sense of unworthiness, or of shame, he simply burns it up on the altar. Moses accepts his explanation.]