Leviticus 10

Listen to Leviticus 10

The Death of Nadab and Abihu

1 Now 1Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, 2each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered 3unauthorized[a] fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them.
2 And fire 4came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.
3 Then Moses said to Aaron, "This is what the LORD has said, 'Among 5those who are near me 6I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.'"7And Aaron held his peace.
4 And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of 8Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said to them, "Come near; carry your brothers away from the front of the sanctuary and out of the camp."
5 So they came near and carried them in their coats out of the camp, as Moses had said.
6 And Moses said to Aaron and to Eleazar and Ithamar his sons, 9"Do not let the hair of your heads hang loose, and do not tear your clothes, lest you die, and 10wrath come upon all the congregation; but let your brothers, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning that the LORD has kindled.
7 11And do not go outside the entrance of the tent of meeting, lest you die, 12for the anointing oil of the LORD is upon you." And they did according to the word of Moses.
8 And the LORD spoke to Aaron, saying,
9 13"Drink no wine or strong drink, you or your sons with you, when you go into the tent of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations.
10 You are to 14distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean,
11 and 15you are to teach the people of Israel all the statutes that the LORD has spoken to them by Moses."
12 Moses spoke to Aaron and to Eleazar and Ithamar, his surviving sons: "Take the 16grain offering that is left of the LORD's food offerings, and eat it unleavened beside the altar, for 17it is most holy.
13 You shall eat it in a holy place, because it is your due and your sons' due, from the LORD's food offerings, for 18so I am commanded.
14 But the 19breast that is waved and the thigh that is contributed you shall eat in a clean place, you and your sons and your daughters with you, for they are given as your due and your sons' due from the sacrifices of the peace offerings of the people of Israel.
15 20The thigh that is contributed and the breast that is waved they shall bring with the food offerings of the fat pieces to wave for a wave offering before the LORD, and it shall be yours and your sons' with you as a due forever, as the LORD has commanded."
16 Now Moses diligently inquired about 21the goat of the sin offering, and behold, it was burned up! And he was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, the surviving sons of Aaron, saying,
17 22"Why have you not eaten the sin offering in the place of the sanctuary, since 23it is a thing most holy and has been given to you that you may bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the LORD?
18 Behold, 24its blood was not brought into the inner part of the sanctuary. You certainly ought to have eaten it in the sanctuary, 25as I commanded."
19 And Aaron said to Moses, "Behold, 26today they have offered their sin offering and their burnt offering before the LORD, and yet such things as these have happened to me! If I had eaten the sin offering today, 27would the LORD have approved?"
20 And when Moses heard that, he approved.

Leviticus 10 Commentary

Chapter 10

The sin and death of Nadab and Abihu. (1,2) Aaron and his sons forbidden to mourn for Nadab and Abihu. (3-7) Wine forbidden to the priests when in the service of the tabernacle. (8-11) Of eating the holy things. (12-20)

Verses 1-2 Next to Moses and Aaron, none were more likely to be honourable in Israel than Nadab and Abihu. There is reason to think that they were puffed up with pride, and that they were heated with wine. While the people were prostrate before the Lord, adoring his presence and glory, they rushed into the tabernacle to burn incense, though not at the appointed time; both together, instead of one alone, and with fire not taken from the altar. If it had been done through ignorance, they had been allowed to bring a sin-offering. But the soul that doeth presumptuously, and in contempt of God's majesty and justice, that soul shall be cut off. The wages of sin is death. They died in the very act of their sin. The sin and punishment of these priests showed the imperfection of that priesthood from the very beginning, and that it could not shelter any from the fire of God's wrath, otherwise than as it was typical of Christ's priesthood.

Verses 3-7 The most quieting considerations under affliction are fetched from the word of God. What was it that God spake? Though Aaron's heart must have been filled with anguish and dismay, yet with silent submission he revered the justice of the stroke. When God corrects us or ours for sin, it is our duty to accept the punishment, and say, It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good. Whenever we worship God, we come nigh unto him, as spiritual priests. This ought to make us very serious in all acts of devotion. It concerns us all, when we come nigh to God, to do every religious exercise, as those who believe that the God with whom we have to do, is a holy God. He will take vengeance on those that profane his sacred name by trifling with him.

Verses 8-11 Do not drink wine or strong drink. During the time they ministered, the priests were forbidden it. It is required of ( 1 Timothy. 3:3 ) is, Lest ye die; die when ye are in drink. The danger of death, to which we are continually exposed, should engage all to be sober.

Verses 12-20 Afflictions should rather quicken us to our duty, than take us from it. But our unfitness for duty, when it is natural and not sinful, will have great allowances made for it; God will have mercy, and not sacrifice. Let us profit by the solemn warning this history conveys. When professing worshippers come with zeal without knowledge, carnal affections, earthly, light, vain, trifling thoughts, the devices of will-worship, instead of the offering of soul and spirit; then the incense is kindled by a flame which never came down from heaven, which the Spirit of a holy God never sent within their hearts.

Cross References 27

  • 1. Leviticus 16:1; Exodus 6:23; Exodus 28:1; Numbers 3:4; Numbers 26:61; 1 Chronicles 24:2
  • 2. [Numbers 16:18]
  • 3. Exodus 30:9
  • 4. Leviticus 9:24; Numbers 16:35; [2 Samuel 6:7]
  • 5. Leviticus 21:17, 21
  • 6. Ezekiel 28:22
  • 7. [Psalms 39:9]
  • 8. Exodus 6:18, 22; Numbers 3:19, 30
  • 9. Leviticus 13:45; Leviticus 21:10; Ezekiel 24:16, 17
  • 10. Numbers 1:53; Numbers 16:22, 46; Numbers 18:5; Joshua 7:1; Joshua 22:18, 20
  • 11. Leviticus 21:12
  • 12. Leviticus 8:30
  • 13. Ezekiel 44:21; [Numbers 6:3, 20; Luke 1:15; 1 Timothy 3:3, 8]
  • 14. Leviticus 11:47; Leviticus 20:25; Ezekiel 22:26; Ezekiel 44:23
  • 15. Leviticus 14:57; Deuteronomy 24:8; Neh. 8:2, 8, 9; [Jeremiah 18:18; Malachi 2:7]
  • 16. Leviticus 6:16; Numbers 18:9, 10
  • 17. See Leviticus 6:17
  • 18. Leviticus 2:3; Leviticus 6:16
  • 19. Leviticus 7:31, 34; Ex. 29:24, 26, 27; Numbers 18:11
  • 20. Leviticus 7:31, 34
  • 21. Leviticus 9:3, 15
  • 22. Leviticus 6:26, 29
  • 23. [See ver. 12 above]
  • 24. Leviticus 6:30
  • 25. Leviticus 6:26
  • 26. Leviticus 9:8, 12
  • 27. Jeremiah 6:20; Jeremiah 14:12; Hosea 9:4; Malachi 1:10, 13; Malachi 2:13

Footnotes 1

Chapter Summary


This chapter begins with the sin and punishment of two sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Le 10:1-5 for whose death Aaron and his sons are commanded not to mourn, nor to depart from the tabernacle, Le 10:6,7 and an order is given, prohibiting the priests from drinking wine when they went into it, Le 10:8-11 the law of eating holy things, both those that were more, and those that were less holy, is enjoined, Le 10:12-15 and the flesh of the sin offering not being eaten, but burnt, Aaron's sons are blamed for it, for which he makes an apology to the satisfaction of Moses, Le 10:16-20.

Leviticus 10 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.