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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 10

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

Verses 1-20

Sin and Death of Nadab and Abihu

An illustration of the necessity of a punctilious observance of the regulations. We have no means of ascertaining the precise nature of the trespass committed by the two eldest sons of Aaron. In view of Leviticus 16:12 (cp. Numbers 16:46; Revelation 8:5) we may suppose that the sin Jay in the use of common fire, instead of fire taken from the altar. But the phrase strange fire is wide enough to cover any breach of the laws regulating the preparation and use of incense (see Exodus 30:1-10, Exodus 30:34-38). Leviticus 16:1-2 might also lead us to infer that Nadab and Abihu presumptuously penetrated into the Holy of Holies. Leviticus 16:16-20 of the present chapter show that the trespass was committed on the day of their entering upon office (cp. Leviticus 9:1.). From the fact that the prohibition against the use of wine by priests on duty follows immediately upon this incident (Leviticus 10:8-9) it has been inferred by later Jewish writers and many modern commentators that Nadab and Abihu sinned when in a state of intoxication. There is, however, no real ground for this supposition, as Leviticus 16:8-9 form a separate and disconnected fragment.

3. Them that come nigh me] i.e. the priests (cp. Exodus 19:22; Ezekiel 42:13; Ezekiel 43:19). The greater the privilege the greater the responsibility. Judgement begins at the house of God (1 Peter 4:17). Held his peace] acknowledged the justice of the penalty.

4. See Exodus 6:22. It would not have been unlawful for the surviving brothers to perform this office (see Leviticus 21:1-8), but probably to spare their feelings the cousins of Aaron were selected for the duty.

6, 7. Uncover not your heads] RV ’Let not the hair of your heads go loose.’ Aaron and his sons are forbidden to exhibit the usual signs of mourning, dishevelled hair and rent garments, or to interrupt their priestly functions, as an object lesson of submission to righteous judgment.

8, 9. The priests were not absolutely forbidden the use of wine, but only when performing their priestly duties: see prefatory remarks, and cp. Ezekiel 44:21.

10. It was the duty of the priests to instruct the people in their religious duties, and to set an example to them: cp. Ezekiel 44:23.

16-20. Goat of the sin offering] i.e. the people’s sin offering (Leviticus 9:15). Aaron’s own sin offering had been burned in accordance with the law (Leviticus 9:8-11). But instead of eating the flesh of the people’s sacrifice, as prescribed in Leviticus 6:26, he had burned it also. When charged with contravening the law, Aaron pleaded that he and his sons had felt themselves to be defiled by the death of Nadab and Abihu, and that it would have been inconsistent for them to eat the sin offering, an act which signified the acceptance of the people by God and their full communion with Him. Moses admitted the justice of the plea in the exceptional circumstances.

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Leviticus 10". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/leviticus-10.html. 1909.
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