וַיִּקְחוּ בְנֵי־אַהֲרֹן נָדָב וַאֲבִיהוּא אִישׁ מַחְתָּתֹו וַיִּתְּנוּ בָהֵן אֵשׁ וַיָּשִׂימוּ עָלֶיהָ קְטֹרֶת וַיַּקְרִבוּ לִפְנֵי 10:1
יְהוָה אֵשׁ זָרָה אֲשֶׁר לֹא צִוָּה אֹתָם
Levi. 10:1 And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer, and they put fire in them, and they put incense on it, and they brought strange fire before the Lord that He had not commanded them.
Perhaps the two eldest of Aaron’s sons were eager to start on their duties. However, if we were to look back at the preceding chapters of both Exodus and Leviticus in which the Lord directs Moses in Tabernacle worship, we would find that Moses hadn’t yet informed Aaron’s sons about burning incense. The incense was supposed to be placed on the incense altar fire, not on a fire on the censer. Thus their acts were premature and improper, fatally so. For this they were to die at God’s “hand.” We are reminded here of God’s strict standards of behavior, especially in worshiping Him.
Another possibly important point. If my understanding is correct, the reason the sons were to die is because only Aaron, the High Priest, was allowed to enter the holy space before the veil where the incense altar and the table of show bread were situated.
וַתֵּצֵא אֵשׁ מִלִּפְנֵי יְהוָה וַתֹּאכַל אֹותָם וַיָּמֻתוּ לִפְנֵי יְהוָה 10:2
Levi. 10:2 And a fire came forth from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.
וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל־אַהֲרֹן הוּא אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּר יְהוָה לֵאמֹר בִּקְרֹבַי אֶקָּדֵשׁ וְעַל־פְּנֵי כָל־הָעָם אֶכָּבֵד וַיִּדֹּם 10:3
Levi. 10:3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “It is what the Lord spoke saying, ‘By those who are near to Me I shall be sanctified, and before all the people I shall be glorified.’” And Aaron was silent.
וַיִּקְרָא מֹשֶׁה אֶל־מִישָׁאֵל וְאֶל אֶלְצָפָן בְּנֵי עֻזִּיאֵל דֹּד אַהֲרֹן וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵהֶם קִרְבוּ שְׂאוּ אֶת־אֲחֵיכֶם 10:4
מֵאֵת פְּנֵי־הַקֹּדֶשׁ אֶל־מִחוּץ לַמַּחֲנֶה
Levi. 10:4 And Moses called to Mishael and to Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel, uncle of Aaron, and said to them, “Come near, carry your brethren from the front of the sanctuary to the outskirts of the camp.”
וַיִּקְרְבוּ וַיִּשָּׂאֻם בְּכֻתֳּנֹתָם אֶל־מִחוּץ לַמַּחֲנֶה כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר מֹשֶׁה 10:5
Levi. 10:5 So they came near and carried them in their tunics to the outskirts of the camp as Moses had spoken.
וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל־אַהֲרֹן וּלְאֶלְעָזָר וּלְאִיתָמָר בָּנָיו רָאשֵׁיכֶם אַל־תִּפְרָעוּ וּבִגְדֵיכֶם לֹא־תִפְרֹמוּ וְלֹא 10:6
תָמֻתוּ וְעַל כָּל־הָעֵדָה יִקְצֹף וַאֲחֵיכֶם כָּל־בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל יִבְכּוּ אֶת־הַשְּׂרֵפָה אֲשֶׁר שָׂרַף יְהוָה
Levi. 10:6 And Moses said to Aaron, and to Eleazar and to Ithamar, his sons, “You must not bare your heads, nor rend your clothes, so you will not die and He be angry with the entire congregation, but your brethren, the house of Israel, will mourn the burning that the Lord kindled.”
We may ask what it means to bare the head. It could mean simply that any head covering is not to be removed. However, we will find later in this book of Leviticus that shaving the head as a mourning ritual is prohibited for priests Therefore I interpret the phrase to mean not to remove the hair of the head. [Return to Levi. 21:5]
וּמִפֶּתַח אֹהֶל מֹועֵד לֹא תֵצְאוּ פֶּן־תָּמֻתוּ כִּי־שֶׁמֶן מִשְׁחַת יְהוָה עֲלֵיכֶם וַיַּעֲשׂוּ כִּדְבַר מֹשֶׁה 10:7
Levi. 10:7 “And you shall not go out from the entrance of the tent of meeting lest you would die, for the oil of anointing of the Lord is on you.” And they did according to the word of Moses.
וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל־אַהֲרֹן לֵאמֹר 10:8
Levi. 10:8 And the Lord spoke to Aaron saying,
יַיִן וְשֵׁכָר אַל־תֵּשְׁתְּ אַתָּה וּבָנֶיךָ אִתָּךְ בְּבֹאֲכֶם אֶל־אֹהֶל מֹועֵד וְלֹא תָמֻתוּ חֻקַּת עֹולָם לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם 10:9
Levi. 10:9 “On your going in to the tent of meeting, you must not drink wine or strong drink, you and your descendants with you, so you will not die -- an eternal statute for your generations --
This verse offers another possible explanation for the the violation and punishment of Nadab and Abihu. Perhaps they were drunk, and that caused them to be careless in their duty and ignore the restrictions of the Tabernacle. These verses may be a warning to us all. However, I doubt that. I believe this strictness is intended for those directly involved in the worship service in the Lord’s dwelling place. I believe we need always be mindful that the Lord will favor whom He will favor, and love whom He will love (Exod. 33:19).
Also please be aware that the pronoun, your, in the phrase “On your going in ...,” is plural, as is the “you” in “so you will not die” and the last “your” in the verse. The Lord is speaking only to Aaron, but is addressing future generations with these words. My question: Does this apply only to future High Priests or to all the descendants of Aaron?
וּלֲהַבְדִּיל בֵּין הַקֹּדֶשׁ וּבֵין הַחֹל וּבֵין הַטָּמֵא וּבֵין הַטָּהֹור 10:10
Levi. 10:10 so to differentiate between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the pure,
וּלְהֹורֹת אֶת־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֵת כָּל־הַחֻקִּים אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר יְהוָה אֲלֵיהֶם בְּיַד־מֹשֶׁה 10:11
Levi. 10:11 and to teach the children of Israel all the statutes that the Lord spoke to them through Moses.”
וַיְדַבֵּר מֹשֶׁה אֶל־אַהֲרֹן וְאֶל אֶלְעָזָר וְאֶל־אִיתָמָר בָּנָיו הַנֹּותָרִים קְחוּ אֶת־הַמִּנְחָה הַנֹּותֶרֶת מֵאִשֵּׁי 10:12
יְהוָה וְאִכְלוּהָ מַצֹּות אֵצֶל הַמִּזְבֵּחַ כִּי קֹדֶשׁ קָדָשִׁים הִוא
Levi. 10:12 And Moses said to Aaron, and to Eleazar and to Ithamar, his remaining sons, “Take the meal offering left over from the fire of the Lord and eat it without leaven beside the altar, for it is of holiest of holy things.”
וַאֲכַלְתֶּם אֹתָהּ בְּמָקֹום קָדֹשׁ כִּי חָקְךָ וְחָק־בָּנֶיךָ הִוא מֵאִשֵּׁי יְהוָה כִּי־כֵן צֻוֵּיתִי 10:13
Levi. 10:13 “So you shall eat it in a holy place, for it is your portion and the portion of your sons, from the fire offerings of the Lord, for so I have been commanded.”
וְאֵת חֲזֵה הַתְּנוּפָה וְאֵת שֹׁוק הַתְּרוּמָה תֹּאכְלוּ בְּמָקֹום טָהֹור אַתָּה וּבָנֶיךָ וּבְנֹתֶיךָ אִתָּךְ כִּי־חָקְךָ 10:14
וְחָק־בָּנֶיךָ נִתְּנוּ מִזִּבְחֵי שַׁלְמֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל
Levi. 10:14 “And you shall eat the breast of the wave offering and the thigh of heaving in a pure place, you and your sons and your daughters with you; as your due and your sons' due they are given from the sacrifices of peace offerings of the children of Israel.”
שֹׁוק הַתְּרוּמָה וַחֲזֵה הַתְּנוּפָה עַל אִשֵּׁי הַחֲלָבִים יָבִיאוּ לְהָנִיף תְּנוּפָה לִפְנֵי יְהוָה וְהָיָה לְךָ 10:15
וּלְבָנֶיךָ אִתְּךָ לְחָק־עֹולָם כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהוָה
Levi. 10:15 “They shall bring the thigh of heaving and the breast of waving with the fire offerings of the fat for waving a wave offering before the Lord, and it shall be for you and your sons with you for a perpetual portion, as the Lord has commanded.”
וְאֵת שְׂעִיר הַחַטָּאת דָּרֹשׁ דָּרַשׁ מֹשֶׁה וְהִנֵּה שֹׂרָף וַיִּקְצֹף עַל־אֶלְעָזָר וְעַל־אִיתָמָר בְּנֵי אַהֲרֹן 10:16
Levi. 10:16 Then Moses diligently sought the goat of the sin offering but behold, it was burnt, and he was angry with Eleazar and with Ithamar, the remaining sons of Aaron, saying,
מַדּוּעַ לֹא־אֲכַלְתֶּם אֶת־הַחַטָּאת בִּמְקֹום הַקֹּדֶשׁ כִּי קֹדֶשׁ קָדָשִׁים הִוא וְאֹתָהּ נָתַן לָכֶם לָשֵׂאת 10:17
אֶת־עֲוֹן הָעֵדָה לְכַפֵּר עֲלֵיהֶם לִפְנֵי יְהוָה
Levi. 10:17 “Because it is of holiest of holy things, why did you not eat the sin offering in the place of the sanctuary which He gave to you to bear the iniquity of the congregation to make atonement for them before the Lord?”
הֵן לֹא־הוּבָא אֶת־דָּמָהּ אֶל־הַקֹּדֶשׁ פְּנִימָה אָכֹול תֹּאכְלוּ אֹתָהּ בַּקֹּדֶשׁ כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוֵּיתִי 10:18
Levi. 10:18 “Behold, he did not bring its blood in to the sanctuary at its front. You are surely to eat it in the sanctuary as I have commanded.”
וַיְדַבֵּר אַהֲרֹן אֶל־מֹשֶׁה הֵן הַיֹּום הִקְרִיבוּ אֶת־חַטָּאתָם וְאֶת־עֹלָתָם לִפְנֵי יְהוָה וַתִּקְרֶאנָה אֹתִי 10:19
כָּאֵלֶּה וְאָכַלְתִּי חַטָּאת הַיֹּום הַיִּיטַב בְּעֵינֵי יְהוָה
Levi. 10:19 And Aaron said to Moses, “Behold, they have offered their sin offering and their burnt offering before the Lord this day, but such things as these have befallen me that were I to have eaten the sin offering today, would it have been good in the sight of the Lord?”
וַיִּשְׁמַע מֹשֶׁה וַיִּיטַב בְּעֵינָיו 10:20
Levi. 10:20 And Moses heard, and it was good in his eyes.
Torah Commandments in this Chapter
143. No priest shall drink wine or strong drink on or before entering
the tent of meeting/Temple. V. 10:9
[Return to Leviticus Chapters] [Prev: Levi. 9] [Next: Levi. 11]