Leviticus 10 notes

Here are a couple of helpful notes from the ESV Study Bible on Lev. 10:

10:1–3 Nadab and Abihu, the eldest of Aaron’s four sons, capriciously took censers of their own, put incense in them, and offered unauthorized fire (lit., strange or foreign fire; see ESV footnote) to the LORD. The offense lies in their doing it their own way instead of in a way authorized by the Lord, and as a result they were instantly killed. (This probably also involved entering—or trying to enter—the Most Holy Place [cf. 16:1–2] after drinking alcohol [cf. 10:8–11].) The point of the story is that God will not allow his holiness to be violated, not even by members of the high priest’s family. And Aaron held his peace. He raised no vocal objection against God’s justice in the death of his sons; perhaps he was simply dumbfounded.

10:16–20 The incident described here takes place on the final day of the installation of the priesthood. Moses discovers that Eleazar and Ithamar have not followed the regulations of sacrifice given by God (v. 16). It is dramatic because it follows so closely on the offense of Nadab and Abihu (vv. 1–3). Moses voices his anger; Aaron, however, intervenes on behalf of his two sons. He argues that the events of the day have been so exceptional as to show that it is too dangerous to perform the ritual. Aaron’s defense displays his fear of the holiness of God, which Moses is glad to see in his brother.

[Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008). 228.]

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