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Nadab and Abihu


Now Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, each took his censer, put fire in it, and laid incense on it; and they offered unholy fire before the L ord, such as he had not commanded them. 2And fire came out from the presence of the L ord and consumed them, and they died before the L ord. 3Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the L ord meant when he said,

‘Through those who are near me

I will show myself holy,

and before all the people

I will be glorified.’ ”

And Aaron was silent.

4 Moses summoned Mishael and Elzaphan, sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said to them, “Come forward, and carry your kinsmen away from the front of the sanctuary to a place outside the camp.” 5They came forward and carried them by their tunics out of the camp, as Moses had ordered. 6And Moses said to Aaron and to his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, “Do not dishevel your hair, and do not tear your vestments, or you will die and wrath will strike all the congregation; but your kindred, the whole house of Israel, may mourn the burning that the L ord has sent. 7You shall not go outside the entrance of the tent of meeting, or you will die; for the anointing oil of the L ord is on you.” And they did as Moses had ordered.

8 And the L ord spoke to Aaron: 9Drink no wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons, when you enter the tent of meeting, that you may not die; it is a statute forever throughout your generations. 10You are to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean; 11and you are to teach the people of Israel all the statutes that the L ord has spoken to them through Moses.

12 Moses spoke to Aaron and to his remaining sons, Eleazar and Ithamar: Take the grain offering that is left from the L ord’s offerings by fire, and eat it unleavened beside the altar, for it is most holy; 13you shall eat it in a holy place, because it is your due and your sons’ due, from the offerings by fire to the L ord; for so I am commanded. 14But the breast that is elevated and the thigh that is raised, you and your sons and daughters as well may eat in any clean place; for they have been assigned to you and your children from the sacrifices of the offerings of well-being of the people of Israel. 15The thigh that is raised and the breast that is elevated they shall bring, together with the offerings by fire of the fat, to raise for an elevation offering before the L ord; they are to be your due and that of your children forever, as the L ord has commanded.

16 Then Moses made inquiry about the goat of the sin offering, and—it had already been burned! He was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s remaining sons, and said, 17“Why did you not eat the sin offering in the sacred area? For it is most holy, and God has given it to you that you may remove the guilt of the congregation, to make atonement on their behalf before the L ord. 18Its blood was not brought into the inner part of the sanctuary. You should certainly have eaten it in the sanctuary, as I commanded.” 19And Aaron spoke to Moses, “See, today they offered their sin offering and their burnt offering before the L ord; and yet such things as these have befallen me! If I had eaten the sin offering today, would it have been agreeable to the L ord?” 20And when Moses heard that, he agreed.

12. And Moses spake unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar Lest hereafter the priests should transgress through ignorance, Moses admonishes them of their duty; and perhaps he was moved by some immediate reason to give these particular injunctions rather than any others. As yet they were but little practiced in the observance of the rites; and what had happened to their brethren must have rendered them anxious. Now, this consternation at the death of their brethren might have so confounded their senses, that they could not apply themselves with so much composure as they ought to the service of God; and thus the offering would have been improperly made. Lest, therefore, their grief should so disturb them as to prevent the due performance of their office, he commands them to eat what remained of the meat-offering with the burnt-sacrifices. Whence we gather that he endeavored to prevent them from transgressing on that day in consequence of their minds being occupied by their recent grief. And in order to induce them to obedience, he sets before them the authority of God, to which it was fitting that the priesthood should be subject, as being founded upon it.

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