Leviticus 10

The Death of Nadab and Abihu

1 Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command.
2 So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.
3 Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD spoke of when he said: “ ‘Among those who approach me I will be proved holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.’ ” Aaron remained silent.
4 Moses summoned Mishael and Elzaphan, sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel, and said to them, “Come here; carry your cousins outside the camp, away from the front of the sanctuary.”
5 So they came and carried them, still in their tunics, outside the camp, as Moses ordered.
6 Then Moses said to Aaron and his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, “Do not let your hair become unkempt[a] and do not tear your clothes, or you will die and the LORD will be angry with the whole community. But your relatives, all the Israelites, may mourn for those the LORD has destroyed by fire.
7 Do not leave the entrance to the tent of meeting or you will die, because the LORD’s anointing oil is on you.” So they did as Moses said.
8 Then the LORD said to Aaron,
9 “You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the tent of meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come,
10 so that you can distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean,
11 and so you can teach the Israelites all the decrees the LORD has given them through Moses.”
12 Moses said to Aaron and his remaining sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, “Take the grain offering left over from the food offerings prepared without yeast and presented to the LORD and eat it beside the altar, for it is most holy.
13 Eat it in the sanctuary area, because it is your share and your sons’ share of the food offerings presented to the LORD; for so I have been commanded.
14 But you and your sons and your daughters may eat the breast that was waved and the thigh that was presented. Eat them in a ceremonially clean place; they have been given to you and your children as your share of the Israelites’ fellowship offerings.
15 The thigh that was presented and the breast that was waved must be brought with the fat portions of the food offerings, to be waved before the LORD as a wave offering. This will be the perpetual share for you and your children, as the LORD has commanded.”
16 When Moses inquired about the goat of the sin offering[b] and found that it had been burned up, he was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s remaining sons, and asked,
17 “Why didn’t you eat the sin offering in the sanctuary area? It is most holy; it was given to you to take away the guilt of the community by making atonement for them before the LORD.
18 Since its blood was not taken into the Holy Place, you should have eaten the goat in the sanctuary area, as I commanded.”
19 Aaron replied to Moses, “Today they sacrificed their sin offering and their burnt offering before the LORD, but such things as this have happened to me. Would the LORD have been pleased if I had eaten the sin offering today?”
20 When Moses heard this, he was satisfied.

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 44

  • 1. Exodus 6:23; Exodus 24:1; Exodus 28:1; Numbers 3:2-4; Numbers 26:61; 1 Chronicles 6:3
  • 2. Numbers 16:46; 1 Kings 7:50; 2 Kings 25:15; 2 Chronicles 4:22; Jeremiah 52:19; Ezekiel 8:11
  • 3. Leviticus 16:12; Numbers 16:7,18; Isaiah 6:6
  • 4. S Exodus 30:9
  • 5. ver 2; Leviticus 16:1
  • 6. Exodus 30:9
  • 7. Psalms 106:18
  • 8. Numbers 3:4; Numbers 11:1; Numbers 16:35; Numbers 26:61; Psalms 2:12; Psalms 50:3; Isaiah 29:6
  • 9. S Genesis 19:24; S Genesis 38:7; Numbers 16:35; 1 Chronicles 24:2; Job 1:16
  • 10. Exodus 19:22
  • 11. Exodus 30:29; Leviticus 21:6; Leviticus 22:32; Numbers 16:5; Numbers 20:13; Isaiah 5:16; Ezekiel 28:22; Ezekiel 38:16
  • 12. Exodus 14:4; Isaiah 44:23; Isaiah 49:3; Isaiah 55:5; Isaiah 60:21
  • 13. S Exodus 6:22
  • 14. Exodus 6:18
  • 15. Ac 5:6,9,10
  • 16. S Exodus 25:8
  • 17. S Leviticus 8:13
  • 18. S Exodus 6:23
  • 19. Leviticus 13:45; Leviticus 21:10; Numbers 5:18
  • 20. Jeremiah 41:5; S Mark 14:63
  • 21. Numbers 1:53; Numbers 16:22; Joshua 7:1; Joshua 22:18; 2 Samuel 24:1
  • 22. Genesis 50:3,10; Numbers 20:29; 1 Samuel 25:1
  • 23. S Exodus 25:8
  • 24. S Exodus 28:41; Leviticus 21:12
  • 25. Genesis 9:21; Exodus 29:40; Leviticus 23:13; Numbers 15:5; Deuteronomy 28:39; Isaiah 5:22; Isaiah 22:13; Isaiah 28:1; Isaiah 29:9; Isaiah 56:12; Jeremiah 35:6; Hosea 4:11; Habakkuk 2:15-16
  • 26. Numbers 6:3; Numbers 28:7; Deuteronomy 14:26; Deuteronomy 29:6; Judges 13:4; Proverbs 20:1; Proverbs 23:29-35; Proverbs 31:4-7; Isa Numbers 28:7; Ezekiel 44:21; Micah 2:11; Luke 1:15; S Ephesians 5:18; 1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7
  • 27. S Exodus 12:14
  • 28. S Genesis 7:2; S Leviticus 6:27; Leviticus 14:57; Leviticus 11:47; Leviticus 20:25; Ezekiel 22:26
  • 29. 2 Chronicles 15:3; 2 Chronicles 17:7; Ezra 7:25; Nehemiah 8:7; Malachi 2:7
  • 30. Deuteronomy 17:10,11; Deuteronomy 24:8; Deuteronomy 25:1; Deuteronomy 33:10; Proverbs 4:27; Haggai 2:11; Malachi 2:7
  • 31. S Exodus 29:41
  • 32. Leviticus 6:14-18; Leviticus 21:22
  • 33. S Leviticus 6:16
  • 34. Ezekiel 42:13
  • 35. Numbers 5:9
  • 36. S Exodus 29:31; S Leviticus 4:12; Ex 29:24,26-27; Leviticus 7:31,34; Numbers 18:11
  • 37. S Leviticus 7:34
  • 38. S Exodus 29:28
  • 39. S Leviticus 9:3
  • 40. Leviticus 6:24-30; Ezekiel 42:13
  • 41. S Exodus 28:38
  • 42. S Leviticus 4:18; Leviticus 6:26; Lev Leviticus 6:26,30
  • 43. S Leviticus 6:17
  • 44. Leviticus 9:12

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Or "Do not uncover your heads"
  • [b]. Or "purification offering" ; also in verses 17 and 19

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

Scripture quoted by permission.  Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.