Nadab and Abihu. Priestly conduct. Eating the priestly portion.
VERSE 1. Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer, and put fire in it, and laid incense on it, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them.
offered strange fire before the LORD. The “sin” committed by Aarons’ sons was to have the wrong stuff in their censer.
Fire … devoured them, and they died. Nadab and Abihu were struck dead because they did not obey.
Many people assume religious rules are all man-made. However, the events of this verse prove otherwise.
Man-made rules don’t shoot out and burn people to death.
VERSE 3. Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD spoke of, saying, ‘I will show myself holy to those who come near me, and before all the people I will be glorified.’ ” Aaron held his peace.
VERSE 4. Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said to them, “Draw near, carry your brothers from before the sanctuary out of the camp.”
Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan. We imagine these two men were frightened to walk into the sanctuary to retrieve the dead bodies of those who were slain by God Almighty.
VERSE 5. So they came near, and carried them in their tunics out of the camp, as Moses had said.
VERSE 6. Moses said to Aaron, and to Eleazar and to Ithamar, his sons, “Don’t let the hair of your heads go loose, and don’t tear your clothes, so that you don’t die, and so that he will not be angry with all the congregation; but let your brothers, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the LORD has kindled.
don’t tear your clothes. The priests were not permitted to tear their clothes at the death of Nadab and Abihu.
bewail the burning which the LORD has kindled. Moses clearly perceived it was the LORD God who burnt the men to death.
VERSE 7. You shall not go out from the door of the Tent of Meeting, lest you die; for the anointing oil of the LORD is on you.” They did according to the word of Moses.
lest you die. The penalties for a misbehaving Levite are severe. And instantaneous.
the LORD said to Aaron. This is unusual.
Normally the LORD speaks to Moses, and then Moses relays the message to Aaron. But in this case, the LORD spoke directly to Aaron.
VERSE 9. “You and your sons are not to drink wine or strong drink whenever you go into the Tent of Meeting, or you will die. This shall be a statute forever throughout your generations.
not to drink wine or strong drink. During the time of their priestly ministry, the Levites had to be tee-totalers.
But not at other times. Alcohol was not an absolute prohibition for them.
VERSE 10. You are to make a distinction between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean.
You are to make a distinction. The purpose of the Law is to teach them to distinguish between:
- holy versus unholy
- clean versus unclean
VERSE 11. You are to teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them by Moses.”
You are to teach. Aaron and his sons are to be teachers. They are to teach the requirements of the faith to the people.
VERSE 12. Moses spoke to Aaron, and to Eleazar and to Ithamar, his sons who were left, “Take the meal offering that remains of the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and eat it without yeast beside the altar; for it is most holy;
VERSE 13. and you shall eat it in a holy place, because it is your portion, and your sons’ portion, of the offerings of the LORD made by fire; for so I am commanded.
VERSE 14. The waved breast and the heaved thigh you shall eat in a clean place, you, and your sons, and your daughters with you: for they are given as your portion, and your sons’ portion, out of the sacrifices of the peace offerings of the children of Israel.
VERSE 15. They shall bring the heaved thigh and the waved breast with the offerings made by fire of the fat, to wave it for a wave offering before the LORD. It shall be yours, and your sons’ with you, as a portion forever, as the LORD has commanded.”
VERSE 16. Moses diligently inquired about the goat of the sin offering, and, behold, it was burned. He was angry with Eleazar and with Ithamar, the sons of Aaron who were left, saying,
Moses diligently inquired. Moses asked about the burnt offering of the goat.
Behold. This word is from the Hebrew word הִנֵּה. It means look at, take notice, observe, see, or gaze at. It is often used as an interjection.
VERSE 17. “Why haven’t you eaten the sin offering in the place of the sanctuary, since it is most holy, and he has given it to you to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the LORD?
Why haven’t you eaten the sin offering. Moses was angry. He scolded the surviving sons for not eating the sacrificial goat.
make atonement for them before the LORD. The priests are to eat the sin offering. By their eating it, the guilt of the community is transferred to them, and they make atonement for the community.
This prefigures the Christian theory of substitutionary atonement, where our sins are transferred to Jesus Christ.
VERSE 18. Behold, its blood was not brought into the inner part of the sanctuary. You certainly should have eaten it in the sanctuary, as I commanded.”
You certainly should have eaten it. The priests certainly should have eaten the sacrificial goat.
In our day, Jesus Christ is the sin offering. His followers are baptized as priests. They should eat the flesh of the offering.
VERSE 19. Aaron spoke to Moses, “Behold, today they have offered their sin offering and their burnt offering before the LORD; and such things as these have happened to me. If I had eaten the sin offering today, would it have been pleasing in the LORD’s sight?”
VERSE 20. When Moses heard that, it was pleasing in his sight.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.