Leviticus 10 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Leviticus 10)

Verse 1

[1] And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.

Strange fire — Fire so called, because not taken from the altar, as it ought, but from some common fire.

Before the Lord — Upon the altar of incense.

Which he commanded not — Not commanding may be here put for forbidding, as it is, Jeremiah 32:35. Now as this was forbidden implicitly; Leviticus 6:12, especially when God himself made a comment upon that text, and by sending fire from heaven declared of what fire he there spake; so it is more than probable it was forbidden expressly, though that be not here mentioned, nor was it necessary it should be.

Verse 2

[2] And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.

From the Lord — From heaven, or rather from the sanctuary.

Devoured them — Destroyed their lives; for their bodies and garments were not consumed. Thus the sword is said to devour, 2 Samuel 2:26. Thus lightning many times kill persons, without any hurt to their garments.

Verse 3

[3] Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.

The Lord spake — Though the words be not recorded in scripture, where only the heads of discourses are contained, yet it is probable they were uttered by Moses in God's name. Howsoever the sense of them is in many places.

I will be sanctified — This may note, either, 1. their duty to sanctify God, to demean themselves with such care, and reverence, and watchfulness, as becomes the holiness of the God whom they serve; whence he leaves them to gather the justice of the present judgment. Or, 2. God's purpose to sanctify himself, to manifest himself to be an holy and righteous God by his severe and impartial punishment of all transgressors, how near soever they are to him.

That come nigh me — Who draw near to me, or to the place where I dwell, and are admitted into the holy place, whence others are shut out. It is a description of the priests.

I will be glorified — As they have sinned publickly and scandalously, so I will vindicate my honour in a public and exemplary manner, that all men may learn to give me the glory of my holiness by an exact conformity to my laws.

And Aaron held his peace — In acknowledgment of God's justice and submission to it. He murmured not, nor replied against God.

Verse 4

[4] And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said unto them, Come near, carry your brethren from before the sanctuary out of the camp.

Moses called Mishael — For Aaron and his sons were employed in their holy ministrations, from which they were not called for funeral solemnities.

Brethren — That is, kinsmen, as that word is oft used.

Out of the camp — Where the burying-places of the Jews were, that the living might neither be annoyed by the unwholesome scent of the dead, nor defiled by the touch of their graves.

Verse 5

[5] So they went near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp; as Moses had said.

In their coats — In the holy garments wherein they ministered; which might be done, either, 1. as a testimony of respect due to them, notwithstanding their present failure; and that God in judgment remembered mercy, and when he took away their lives, spared their souls. Or, 2. because being polluted both by their sin, and by the touch of their dead bodies, God would not have them any more used in his service.

Verse 6

[6] And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people: but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the LORD hath kindled.

Uncover not your head — That is, give no signification of your sorrow; mourn not for them; partly lest you should seem to justify your brethren, and tacitly reflect upon God as too severe; and partly lest thereby you should be diverted from, or disturbed in your present service, which God expects to be done chearfully.

But bewail the burning — Not so much in compassion to them, as in sorrow for the tokens of divine displeasure.

Verse 7

[7] And ye shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: for the anointing oil of the LORD is upon you. And they did according to the word of Moses.

Ye shall not go from the tabernacle — Where at this time they were, because this happened within seven days of their consecration.

The oil of the Lord is upon you — You are persons consecrated peculiarly to God's service, which therefore it is just you should prefer before all funeral solemnities.

Verse 9

[9] Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations:

Drink not wine — it is not improbable, that the sin of Nadab and Abihu was owing to this very thing. But if not, yet drunkenness is so odious a sin in itself, especially in a minister, and most of all in the time of his administration of sacred things, that God saw fit to prevent all occasions of it. And hence the devil, who is God's ape, required this abstinence from his priests in their idolatrous service.

Verse 10

[10] And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean;

Between holy and unholy — Persons and things, which Nadab and Abihu did not.

Verse 11

[11] And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.

Ye may teach — Which drunken persons are very unfit to do.

Verse 12

[12] And Moses spake unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons that were left, Take the meat offering that remaineth of the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and eat it without leaven beside the altar: for it is most holy:

Eat it — Moses repeats the command, partly lest their grief should cause them to neglect their meat prescribed by God, (which abstinence would have been both a signification of their sorrow which God had forbidden them, and a new transgression of a divine precept;) and partly to encourage them to go on in their holy services, and not to be dejected, as if God would no more accept them or their sacrifices.

Verse 13

[13] And ye shall eat it in the holy place, because it is thy due, and thy sons' due, of the sacrifices of the LORD made by fire: for so I am commanded.

In the holy place — in the court, near the altar of burnt-offerings.

Verse 14

[14] And the wave breast and heave shoulder shall ye eat in a clean place; thou, and thy sons, and thy daughters with thee: for they be thy due, and thy sons' due, which are given out of the sacrifices of peace offerings of the children of Israel.

In a clean place — In any of your dwellings, or any place in the camp, which was kept clean from all ceremonial defilement. In any place where the women as well as the men might come, for the daughters of the priest might eat these as well as their sons, if they were maids, or widows, or divorced, Leviticus 22:11-13.

Verse 16

[16] And Moses diligently sought the goat of the sin offering, and, behold, it was burnt: and he was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, the sons of Aaron which were left alive, saying,

He was angry with Eleazar — He spares Aaron at this time, as overwhelmed with sorrow, and because the rebuking him before his sons might have exposed him to some contempt; but he knew that the reproof though directed to them, would concern him too.

Who were left alive — And therefore ought to have taken warning.

Verse 17

[17] Wherefore have ye not eaten the sin offering in the holy place, seeing it is most holy, and God hath given it you to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the LORD?

God hath given it to you — As a reward of your service, whereby you expiate, bear, and take away their sins, by offering those sacrifices, by which God through Christ is reconciled to the penitent and believing offerers.

Verse 18

[18] Behold, the blood of it was not brought in within the holy place: ye should indeed have eaten it in the holy place, as I commanded.

The blood was not brought in — Because Aaron was not yet admitted into the holy place, whither that blood should have been brought, 'till he had prepared the way by the sacrifices which were to be offered in the court.

Verse 19

[19] And Aaron said unto Moses, Behold, this day have they offered their sin offering and their burnt offering before the LORD; and such things have befallen me: and if I had eaten the sin offering to day, should it have been accepted in the sight of the LORD?

They have offered — They have done the substance of the thing, though they have mistaken this one circumstance.

Such things — Whereby, haying been oppressed with grief, it is not strange nor unpardonable if I have mistaked.

Should it have been accepted — Because it was not to be eaten with sorrow, but with rejoicing and thanksgiving.

Verse 20

[20] And when Moses heard that, he was content.

He rested satisfied with his answer. it appeared, that Aaron sincerely aimed at pleasing God: and those who do so, will find he is not extreme to mark what is done amiss.