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:
- Do not publicly grieve your dead brothers. Let the people do that.
- Do not go outside the tent of meeting. Why? You still have the anointing oil on you.
- 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.