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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 10

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-7


Verses 1-7:

This incident likely took place on the day of Aaron’s investiture as high priest, and following the manifestation of Divine presence and approval by the fire which consumed the sacrifice upon the altar.

Nadab and Abihu were the two oldest sons of Aaron. The text implies that they placed in their "censers" live coals from one of the fires used to boil the sacrificial flesh, and put incense thereon.

"Censer," machtah, a vessel used for holding embers or tinder.

The "incense" was probably that prescribed in Ex 30:34-38. This implies that they were going into the tabernacle to offer this upon the golden altar of incense. Comparison of verse 12 with verse 16 indicates that the time was between Aaron’s sacrifice and the festive meal. Incense was to be offered on the golden altar at the morning and evening sacrifices only.

"Strange," zar, "alien." The word in the Septuagint is allotrion, meaning "not one’s own; alien," from allos, meaning "another of a different kind."

Le 16:12 specifies that on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the fire for the incense altar was to be taken from the brazen altar. This implies that the same rule was to be followed on all occasions.

God’s reaction to this was swift and terrible. The same fire which consumed the offerings on the altar came forth to destroy Nadab and Abihu. This was in judgment of their sin, which was two-fold:

1. They had not sanctified the Lord in their heart;

2. They offered worship to Jehovah of their own devising, by using fire other than what God had prescribed, 1Pe 3:15.

Verse 3 is the Lord’s explanation of His action, see Ex 19:22; 28:41; 29:44; Le 8:33. God will glorify Himself, either in the service of those who are consecrated to Him; or in judgment upon those who rebel against Him, see Eze 38:16.

Aaron was silent, indicating his submission to the judgment of God, see Ps 39:9; Job 1:22.

Mishael and Elzaphan were sons of Uzziel, the younger brother of Aaron’s father Amram, Ex 6:18-22. Moses instructed these two to remove the corpses of Nadab and Abihu outside the camp and bury them.

Aaron and his family were to make no show of mourning whatever. This signified their assent to God’s righteous judgment. This illustrates the attitude God’s child today should have toward His judgments upon the rebellious, even of one’s own family.

The people of Israel were to observe the customary period of mourning because of the death of Nadab and Abihu.

Aaron and his surviving sons were to continue in the tabernacle, in fulfillment of their priestly duties, until they had eaten the sacrificial feast. This symbolizes the primacy of God’s service, that it must come first before all else, see Mt 8:21, 22.

Verses 8-11

Verses 8-11:

The proximity of this command with the death of Nadab and Abihu may imply that these two had acted under the influence of intoxicating drink.

Wine was made from fermented grape juice; "strong drink" was made from other products, such as dates, honey, or grain (as barley).

The prohibition against intoxication drink was: that the minds of the priests might not be confused, but that they might be able to discern between right and wrong, and what should and should not be done.

This illustrates the prohibition against intoxicating drinks by the "bishop" or the pastor and minister of God today, 1Ti 3:2, 8; 5:23. Eph 5:18, 19 points out the contrast between the influence of wine, and the influence of the Holy Spirit in the life of God’s child.

Verses 12-15

Verses 12-15:

Moses commanded that Eleazar and Ithamar proceed with the ritual of the offerings, in spite of the awful judgment which had just fallen upon their elder brothers. The sacrifices had been made, but the ceremony had not been completed: the priests had not eaten the portion that was their "due," see Le 7:28-34.

Verses 16-20

Verses 16-20:

Moses became angry with Eleazar and Ithamar The reason: the sin offering had been burnt, but the blood had not been brought within the holy place. The sacrificial regulations provided that when the flesh was burned, the blood was brought into the sanctuary. When the blood was not brought into the holy place the flesh was eaten by the priests and not burnt. Moses demanded an explanation from Aaron’s sons.

Aaron came to their defense. His plea was two fold:

1. The sons had indeed done what the law required of them. It was not their responsibility, but Aaron’s, to bring the blood into the holy place. Any fault was his, not theirs.

2. The distress he felt but was unable to show in the events of the day made him unable to eat the sin offering of the people, as he should have done.

Moses was content with Aaron’s explanation. The letter of the law had indeed been broken, but the spirit of the law was intact. This illustrates Jesus’ meaning on various occasions, see Mr 2:27, 28; Lu 13:10-15; Joh 5:10-18.

Verse 17 implies that the eating of the sacrifice symbolized the forgiveness of the iniquity of the congregation.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Leviticus 10". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/leviticus-10.html. 1985.
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