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Leviticus Chapter 10
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The Eighth Day; Nadav and Avihu Die
10:1 Aaron's sons, Nadav and Avihu, each took his fire pan, placed fire on it, and then incense on it. They offered it before God, [but it was] unauthorized fire, which [God] had not instructed them [to offer].
10:2 Fire came forth from before God, and it consumed them, so that they died before God.
10:3 Moses said to Aaron, 'This is exactly what God meant when he said, `I will be sanctified among those close to Me, and I will thus be glorified.''
10:4 Moses summoned Mishael and Eltzafan, the sons of Aaron's uncle Uzziel, and he said to them, 'Come forth and remove your close relatives from inside the sanctuary. [Bring them] outside the camp.'
10:5 They came forth and carried [Nadav and Avihu] outside the camp, in their tunics, as Moses had said.
10:6 Moses said to Aaron and his sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, 'Do not go without a haircut and do not tear your vestments; otherwise you will die, bringing divine wrath upon the entire community. As far as your brothers are concerned, let the entire family of Israel mourn for the ones whom God burned.
10:7 Do not leave the entrance of the Communion Tent lest you die, because God's anointing oil is still upon you.'

They did as Moses had said.

10:8 God spoke to Aaron, saying:
10:9 When you enter the Communion Tent, neither you nor your descendants may drink wine or any other intoxicant; otherwise you will die. This is an eternal law for all your generations.
10:10 [You will thus be able] to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the ritually unclean and the clean.
10:11 [You will also be able] to render decisions for the Israelites in all the laws that God has taught you through Moses.

Completing the Service
10:12 Moses announced to Aaron and his surviving sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, 'Take the remainder of the meal offering that is before God, and eat it as unleavened bread near the altar. Since it is holy of holies,
10:13 you must eat it in a holy place. It is the portion for you and your descendants from God's fire offerings, since I have thus been commanded.
10:14 'However, the chest taken as a wave offering and the hind leg taken as an elevated gift, you may eat together with your sons and daughters. It is the portion designated for you and your descendants from the peace sacrifices of the Israelites.
10:15 'The hind leg for the elevated gift, and the chest for the wave offering, shall be brought on top of the choice parts designated as the fire offering. [It is all] to be waved in the prescribed motions of the wave offering. [The leg and chest] are meant to be a portion for you and your descendants for all time, as God commanded.'
10:16 Moses then inquired about the goat [slaughtered] as a sin offering, and when he discovered that it had already been burned, he was angry with Aaron's surviving sons, Eleazar and Ithamar. He said to them,
10:17 'Why did you not eat the sin offering in a holy area? It is holy of holies, and has been given to you to remove the community's guilt and atone for them before God.
10:18 Since its blood was not brought into the inner sanctuary, you [should have] eaten it in a holy place, as I commanded you.'
10:19 Aaron responded to Moses, 'Today, when they sacrificed their sin offering and burnt offering before God, such a [terrible tragedy] occurred to me. If I had eaten the sin offering today, would it have been right in God's eyes?'
10:20 When Moses heard this, he approved.


Nadav and Avihu
  See Exodus 6:23. They were Aaron's eldest sons who had been chosen for special status; Exodus 24:1,9.

fire pan
  See Exodus 27:3.

  See Exodus 30:9 (Ramban; Ralbag). Some say that they wanted to make use of sacrificial methods that had been in existence before Moses received God's instructions (Josephus, Antiquities 3:8:7).

Fire came forth...
  From the Holy of Holies (Sifra). Or, 'the fire (in Leviticus 9:24) that came forth from God ...' (Rashbam). It began to burn them, and no one could quench it (Josephus 3:8:7).

I will be sanctified...
  See Exodus 19:22 (Zevachim 115b, Yehuda HaChasid; Tur; Paaneach Raza). Or, see Exodus 29:43 (Rashi).

Mishael and Eltzafan...
  (See Exodus 6:18,22).

Eleazar and Ithamar
  Aaron's younger sons (Exodus 6:23).

go without a haircut
  (Sifra; Rashi; Saadia). This is because they were now like high priests; see Leviticus 21:10 (Rashbam; Ramban). This indicates that they were not allowed to let their hair grow for 30 days without being cut (Sanhedrin 22b; Yad, Biyath HaMikdash 1:11).

This also teaches that it was forbidden for them to perform any divine service if they went without a haircut for more than 30 days (Ramban on Sefer HaMitzvoth, Negative 73, 163). Some say that it was even forbidden for them to enter the sanctuary without a haircut (Yad, Biyath HaMikdash 1:8; Sefer HaMitzvoth, Negative 163). Others maintain that as long as the Temple stood, a priest could not go without a haircut for more than 30 days under any conditions (Raavad, Biyath HaMikdash 1:9. from Ezekiel 44:20; cf. Kesef Mishneh ibid.; Sanhedrin 22b).

From here we learn that a mourner normally may not cut his hair for 30 days (Moed Katan 14b).

do not tear
  (Rashi; Ibn Ezra). Param in Hebrew. Or, 'do not unravel stitches' (Rashi, Makkoth 22b, s.v. VeNiframu; Radak, Sherashim; Arukh). According to others, param denotes pulling cloth apart so that its weave unravels, rather than tearing it cleanly (Rambam on Sotah 1:5), or in general, tearing it very badly (Rashi, Sotah 7a, s.v. VeIm).

your vestments
  This is because a priest is forbidden to enter the temple with torn vestments (Yad, Biyath HaMikdash 1:14; Sefer HaMitzvoth, Negative 164).

It is from here that we see that a mourner must rend his garments (Moed Katan 15a).

Do not leave...
  Again, like a High Priest, who may not leave the Temple to mourn: see Leviticus 21:12 (Ramban; Chizzkuni). According to some, this is a general prohibition for a priest not to leave the Temple during the service (Yad, Biyath HaMikdash 2:5; Sefer HaMitzvoth, Negative 165; Ramban). Some dispute this, and maintain that this commandment was only given to Eleazar and Ithamar, because they had the anointing oil on their heads (Raavad on Yad, loc. cit.; also not counted in Sefer Mitzvoth Gadol).

or any other intoxicant
  (cf. Ibn Ezra; Saadia). Or, 'Do not drink wine to make you drunk' (Rashi; cf. Yad, Biyath HaMikdash 1:1,2,5).

You will thus be able
  (Saadia). Or, 'This is to' (Rashi).

to render decisions
  This teaches that a rabbi may not render decisions when drunk (Kerithoth 13b; Yad, Biyath HaMikdash 1:3). According to some, this also implies a positive commandment for a duly qualified rabbi to render decisions in Torah law (Sefer Mitzvoth Katan 111; Cheredim, Positive 4:20).

remainder of...
  See Leviticus 9:17.


on top of
  (Rashi). See note on Leviticus 7:30.

  This is the middle word of the Torah.

  See Leviticus 9:15 (Baaley Tosafoth).

eat the sin offering...
  See Leviticus 6:22.

Since its blood...
  See Leviticus 6:23.

  Helped sacrifice (Rashbam; see Leviticus 9:8,12,15). Or, 'Did they then offer ...' (Rashi).


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