Leviticus 10: What NOT To Do

Remember how I said that a lot of things went right in the last chapter? Well, I spoke too soon.
Just when we thought we could rest easy thinking that all was well, Aaron’s dumb sons tried to offer an improper incense offering. The same fire that minutes earlier had happily consumed the offering angrily consumed them.


But it kinda makes sense. We just spent the whole first part of Leviticus learning how to make proper offerings. And at the first ceremony, two priests blatantly ignore the commands.

This is probably not the time to be lenient.

Yes, that was a super harsh punishment, but I think that more than anything it communicates that this sacrifice stuff and the duties of the priests are a big deal.

So big that God and Moses team up to address the remaining priests directly about a couple more things that will get them killed.

Or You Will Die.

Should you wish to survive your role as priests. It would behoove you to observe the following statutes:

  1. Do not publicly grieve your dead brothers. Let the people do that.
  2. Do not go outside the tent of meeting. Why? You still have the anointing oil on you.
  3. Do not drink any kind of alcoholic beverage when you go into the tent of meeting. Make sure you obey this one FOREVER.

And there you have it. Most of those go without saying.

Oh, and while I am at it (this is God here, BTW) make sure you distinguish between the holy and common, and between the clean and unclean. And teach the people the stuff that I commanded Moses.

Just so we are clear, this is the stuff your sons failed spectacularly at.

About That Sin Offering . . .

Here is my favorite line of the whole thing:

“Then Moses made inquiry about the goat of the sin offering, and – it had already been burned!”

Don’t you love the surprise conveyed there! I do. It made me chuckle a bit. But just a bit. This is serious stuff we are talking about! I see that smile!

The sin offering was supposed to be eaten and it wasn’t. This is bad news. God said to do it and they haven’t.

So why not?

Aaron’s response is a bit cryptic, but I think it boils down to “My sons made the offerings today and still ended up dead. Clearly there was still sin to atone for. So why bother eating the sin offering?”

And Moses is all like, “works for me!”

What a weird day.


12 responses

  1. God is always more intense when He is setting the foundations for things. Think about Ananias and Sapphira in Acts!
    My wife’s a teacher and she talks about how much more strict she is in the first couple weeks because she needs to set a high standard.
    God wanted His people to know that if they did not follow Him, it would always result in death. Maybe not death in a flash, but there are worse punishments than that. Anyway, good point, it’s always a good idea to follow God.

  2. This is indeed heady stuff! You may only approach me in the proscribed manner–or suffer my wrath. Makes me thankful that Jesus bore that wrath on the cross. Cause I know I screw up everyday, and need the grace that wasn’t available to Aaron’s sons.

  3. Hi Ben/JBen. I was praying for a bible study and I found you through Evan’s blog (new to him also – see commenter Evan). Don’t know if this is the answer to my prayer but I like what I have seen so far and plan to go back and start at Genesis with you, I have read a couple of “read the Bible through the year” bibles…the last one was the chronological bible..very interesting and helpful in putting things in order, but it took me almost 3 years to finish it. I have always had a problem enjoying the Old Testament (except for the Bible stories of my childhood). I get lost/bored/not seeing the significance of the rosters of how many people in each tribe…and the directions for building the temple (types of wood, etc) were excruciating to me. Question: (maybe I missed this) what do you see your readers doing , other than reading along with you? I feel like you are doing the hard work…

      • I’m sorry JBen, I don’t get notices of replies until very late. I read it as Sacred History. That does mean it is not true, nor any less inspired, but recall that the number of Laws given by God at Sinai was limited. It was after the Babylonian exile that the P and D writers began to go back to elucidate the laws in a way that reflected a people who were no longer nomadic. Leviticus is essentially a training book for Priests.

        Please do NOT think that I am dissing the Bible in it’s truth, for I am not. It is important though to know how it came to be in its present form. I love your posts. You know that.

      • Thanks for the clarification. It seems pretty clear to me that some of what you say is true. I’m getting that just by reading it.

        For the purposes of this blog, I’m just reading it as it is in its present form without factoring too much of that in.

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