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Sin of Nadab and Abihu (10:1-20)
Although Aaron and his four sons had a special place in the Israelite community, they had no right to act independently of God. When the two older sons offered fire upon the altar of incense contrary to the way they had been instructed, they were punished with instant death (10:1-4). (Apparently the only fire allowed on the altar of incense was that which came from the altar of burnt offering; see 16:12; Numbers 16:46.)
God demanded obedience and holiness in all matters connected with the service of the tabernacle. This truth was impressed upon the people when they saw the two offenders, along with their priestly clothes, buried outside the camp. Moses allowed no mourning for them by the other priests, as their death was an act of God’s judgment (5-7).
Under no circumstances were God’s priests to carry out his service carelessly or in an unfit state of mind, body or spirit (8-11). They were also to note carefully which parts of the offerings belonged to them and how they were to eat them (12-15).
In view of these instructions, Moses was angry when he found that the portion of the people’s sin offering that the priests should have eaten had been burnt instead (cf. 6:26; 9:3,15). Aaron replied that because of the terrible happenings that day, his two younger sons thought it would be more acceptable to God for them to burn their portion in sorrow than to eat it in joy. Their action was wrong but it came from good motives. Moses, with great sympathy and understanding, saw this and said no more. No doubt God also saw that the attitude of heart of these two brothers was vastly different from that of the former two. They were therefore pardoned, whereas the former two were punished (16-20).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Leviticus 10". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26