Leviticus 10:1

1 Now Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu, each took his censer, put fire in it, and laid incense on it; and they offered unholy fire before the Lord, such as he had not commanded them.

Leviticus 10:1 Meaning and Commentary

Leviticus 10:1

And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron
His two eldest sons, as seems from ( Exodus 6:23 ) :

took either of them his censer;
a vessel in which coals of fire were put, and incense upon them, and burnt it, and so it follows:

and put fire therein, and put incense thereon;
which, as Aben Ezra says, was on the eighth day, that is, of their consecration, the day after their consecration was completely finished, and the same day that Aaron had offered the offerings for himself and for the people, see ( Leviticus 9:1 ) :

and offered strange fire before the Lord;
upon the golden altar of incense, which stood in the holy place right against the vail, within which were the ark, mercy seat, and cherubim, the symbol and seat of the divine Majesty: this fire was not that which came down from heaven, and consumed the sacrifice, as related at the end of the preceding chapter ( Leviticus 9:24 ) , but common fire, and therefore called strange; it was not taken off of the altar of burnt offering, as it ought to have been, but, as the Targum of Jonathan, from under the trivets, skillets, or pots, such as the flesh of peace offerings were boiled in, in the tabernacle;

which he commanded not;
yea, forbid, by sending fire from heaven, and ordering coals of fire for the incense to be taken off of the altar of burnt offering; and this, as Aben Ezra observes, they did of their own mind, and not by order. It does not appear that they had any command to offer incense at all at present, this belonged to Aaron, and not to them as yet; but without any instruction and direction they rushed into the holy place with their censers, and offered incense, even both of them, when only one priest was to offer at a time, when it was to be offered, and this they also did with strange fire. This may be an emblem of dissembled love, when a man performs religious duties, prays to God, or praises him without any cordial affection to him, or obeys commands not from love, but selfish views; or of an ignorant, false, and misguided zeal, a zeal not according to knowledge, superstitious and hypocritical; or of false and strange doctrines, such as are not of God, nor agree with the voice of Christ, and are foreign to the Scriptures; or of human ordinances, and the inventions of men, and of everything that man brings of his own, in order to obtain eternal life and salvation.

Leviticus 10:1 In-Context

1 Now Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu, each took his censer, put fire in it, and laid incense on it; and they offered unholy fire before the Lord, such as he had not commanded them.
2 And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.
3 Then Moses said to Aaron, "This is what the Lord meant when he said, "Through those who are near me I will show myself holy, and before all the people I will be glorified.' " And Aaron was silent.
4 Moses summoned Mishael and Elzaphan, sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said to them, "Come forward, and carry your kinsmen away from the front of the sanctuary to a place outside the camp."
5 They came forward and carried them by their tunics out of the camp, as Moses had ordered.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.