Feb. 3 Reading: Leviticus 8-10 Commentary

Below is our Leviticus 8-10 commentary from our Beginning to End Bible reading program. You can find an email link at the end of this page to share your thoughts or comments with us.

Key Verse(s):

  “By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified.” (Lev. 10:3)

Leviticus 8 and 9 – Aaron and His Sons Consecrated as Priests

commentaryIn Leviticus 8 and 9, God consecrates Aaron and his sons to serve as priests. It’s an elaborate ceremony that is observed by all the congregation at the door of the tabernacle (v. 3). It was that important for the people to witness, because, as Moses said, “This is what the Lord commanded to be done” (v. 5).

First, Aaron and his sons are washed with water, signifying cleanliness and purity. Then, they are dressed in the appropriate attire, with Aaron specifically adorning all the high priestly elements (see Exodus 28 and commentary on those items). With that as the setup, it’s time for the ceremony to begin.

Consecration Ceremony Highlights

There was a specific timeline for the consecration events. It proceeded as follows:

1. Moses presented a sin offering (vv. 14-17).

2. Next, he conducted a burnt offering of a ram (vv. 18-21).

3. Then a second “ram of consecration” was sacrificed (vv. 22-29) with some of the blood being put on Aaron’s right ear, the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of the right foot. (The reasoning for this is not known.)

4. Moses sprinkled oil and some of the blood on the altar and on Aaron and his sons (v. 30).

5. They were to remain in the tabernacle for seven days. This time frame fulfilled the days of their consecration (vv. 31-36).

6. On the eighth day, Moses completed the ceremony. Aaron and his sons were called back and all four of the regular public offerings (burnt, sin, peace and grain offerings) were performed (9:1-21).

7. Aaron concluded the ceremony by blessing the people.

And in a dramatic display, “…the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people, and fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar” (v. 24).

What could the people do in response to witness the glory of the Lord? Exactly what we would do in that situation: “When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces” (v. 24). 

Leviticus 10 – Nadab and Abihu

Straight off the heals of the priestly ministry beginning in Leviticus 9, a really disturbing incident occurred. God killed Aaron’s two oldest sons, Nadab and Abihu, who were serving as priests. Their crime? The text says: 

“Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.” (Lev. 10:1-2)

It may seem harsh that God dealt with them this way. The author does not say how they violated God’s holiness. Whatever the cause, they were clearly and knowingly violating the standards God had set for worshiping Him.

That’s what Moses essentially said to Aaron when he addressed the Lord’s point of view in verse 3:

“By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified.” (Lev. 10:3)

It does go to show that sin always has consequences. It doesn’t matter the type of sin – big or small, personal or public, secret or open. There will be ramifications when we disobey the Lord.

The Aftermath

It is interesting that right after the deaths of Nadab and Abihu, God speaks directly to Aaron (10:8). It’s the only time in the book that He speaks to Aaron alone. God told him:

“Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean, and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them by the hand of Moses.” (vv. 8-11).

The timing of this command is interesting. The text does not say, but it’s possible the sons had been intoxicated when they offered profane fire before the Lord. If so, they would not have had the proper mindset to worship God or to carry out their responsibilities correctly. Perhaps this is what led to their death. (see Lev. 16:1-2 for further possible explanation).

Additionally, Aaron’s other two sons Eleazar and Ithamar do not follow through on their responsibility to eat a portion of the flesh from the sin offering. Moses inquires about this and is angry that they may bring further retribution from God on the people by not doing the rituals properly. There had already been two deaths for not obeying God’s instructions. Moses doesn’t want two more (Lev. 10:12-20).

However, Aaron steps in to say they were not being rebellious, just cautious, considering what’s happened to his two sons (their two brothers). Essentially, Aaron is saying, “Hey, I wasn’t sure God would accept the sin offering today considering my state of mind” (v. 19). So when Moses heard Aaron’s sensitivity to the issue, he was content to not push the issue further.

Questions to Consider:

Have you ever had a situation where you suffered a negative consequence because of your sin? More importantly though, what did God teach you through that experience?

What other points would you want to know about in our Leviticus 8-10 commentary? Email us here with questions or comments.