King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Leviticus 10

The sin and death of Nadab and Abihu. (1,2) Aaron and his sons forbidden to mourn for Nadab and Abihu. (3-7) Wine forbidden to the priests when in the service of the tabernacle. (8-11) Of eating the holy things. (12-20)

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The sin and death of Nadab and Abihu

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.

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

Aaron and his sons forbidden to mourn for Nadab and Abihu

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Wine forbidden to the priests when in the service of the tabernacle

8 And the LORD spake unto Aaron, saying,

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:

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

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.

Of eating the holy things

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:

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.

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.

15 The heave shoulder and the wave breast shall they bring with the offerings made by fire of the fat, to wave it for a wave offering before the LORD; and it shall be thine, and thy sons’ with thee, by a statute for ever; as the LORD hath commanded.

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,

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?

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.

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?

20 And when Moses heard that, he was content.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. The eldest sons, as they are mentioned first. Ex. vi. 23. — Censers. On the same evening of their consecration. — Fire. Not taken from the altar of holocausts. C. vi. 9. Whether they neglected to do so out of respect for the miraculous fire, or out of thoughtlessness and inattention, their fault was severely punished, however venial in itself; (T.) that all might learn to comply exactly with God’s commands, and not dare to explain them away. Thus we must carefully avoid the mixing of falsehood with the word of God. Theod. q. 9. W. — Those in power, like priests, if they be negligent, shall suffer great torments. Wisd. vi. 7. They must expect to be treated with rigour. S. Aug. q. 21. Estius infers, from the command to abstain from wine being given, (v. 8,) that these priests had been rather intoxicated. Josephus says, they had not offered proper victims; and the Rabbins assert, that they were not clothed with the sacred garments: but the Scripture only condemns them for taking strange fire. Some imagine, that no formal precept had yet been given. But had not God commanded (C. vi. 9. 12,) that the victims should be burnt with the perpetual fire on the altar, and were not these young priest guilty of rashness in doing any thing of their own head, without positive instructions? Hence some infer that their offence was mortal, and that their punishment a prelude of eternal torments; while others piously hope that their sin was only venial, and that it was expiated by their repentance and violent death, in which sense Philo explains they died before the Lord. Hence they were buried honourably.

Ver. 2. Lord. Near the altar of incense, being stricken, as it were with lightning, so that their garments were not injured. C.

Ver. 3. Spoken, by this exemplary judgment. H. — We do not find the exact words recorded before: but there are some equivalent, shewing that God requires a particular sanctity in his ministers. C. viii. 35. Ex. xix. 22. The altar shall be sanctified by my glory; (Ex. xxix. 43,) may be considered as a prediction of what happened on this melancholy occasion. — Peace. Excessive grief requires silence; curæ graviores silent. “He was filled with grief.” Sept. adoring the judgments of God. The fortitude of Mino and Xenophon, who, upon hearing of the death of their sons, did not desist from sacrificing, is greatly admired. C.

Ver. 4. Brethren; cousins. These were ordered to bury the priests, as Aaron and his family were employed about the altar, (H.) and could not perform the office without contracting a legal uncleanness. Josephus. T.

Ver. 6. Uncover not. Take not off your mitres; (Sept.) let not your hair grow long, (Chal) as the Egyptians do in mourning, nor, yet shave your heads, like the priests of Isis. This God forbids. C. xxi. 5. And Ezechiel, (xliv. 20,) probably with reference to this law, says, Neither shall they shave their heads, nor wear long hair…and no priest shall drink wine when, &c. — Garments, sacred vestments, which were worn only in the tabernacle or temple. C. — The high priests are forbidden to tear their garments at funerals, (C. xxi. 10,) as this would betray a want of fortitude. — Perhaps. This does not imply any doubt. M. See Gen. iii. 3. — Indignation of God, punishing the people, while there is none to entreat for them. — Burning of the two priests.

Ver. 7. On you. So that you cannot now join in the funeral, as there are so few anointed. H. — On other occasions, priests are allowed to mourn. C. xxi.

Ver. 9. Drunk. Hebrew shekar; which the Sept. and Vulg. commonly translate by sicera, any strong liquor, (S. Jerom) particularly palm-wine. S. Chrys. in Isai. v. 11.) Jonathan says old wine. Hecateus assures us, that the Jews drink no wine at all in the temple. But the Rabbins admit of some exceptions. This abstinence was prescribed by any other nations to their priests and magistrates in office. C. — The intent of the law, is to prevent any mistake arising from the fumes of wine, (v. 10,) as likewise all drowsiness or foolish mirth. As mourning and excessive grief are prohibited on the one hand; so are intoxicating liquors, on the other. H.

Ver. 12. Sacrifice, of flour or bread. A tent was undoubtedly erected, where the priests might take the necessary refreshments of meat and sleep, during the days of their service.

Ver. 14. Place, at home. The Sept. translate, “in the holy place;” understanding that these sacrifices for sin were to be eaten in the court of the tabernacle. Malvenda allows, that the children of the priests, and their wives, might come thither to eat the parts of the peace-offerings allotted to them. But of this there is no proof.

Ver. 15. Sons. Sam. and Sept. add, “and thy daughters.” The male children were allowed to partake of the sin-offerings: those of peace, were given also to females.

Ver. 16. While, &c. Heb. “and Moses sought diligently for,” &c. This goat had been offered the same day, for the sins of the priest and of the people. C. ix. 15. Aaron had not taken the parts allotted to his family, being too much grieved, and perhaps thinking that they could not eat all. C. — Therefore, he judged it conformable to God’s command to consume the whole. C. vii. 17. Moses fearing lest the thing had been done through negligence, finds fault with this two sons; but on hearing the remonstrance of Aaron, is satisfied. H.

Ver. 17. People. Offering the sacrifices of expiation, as mediators between them and God.

Ver. 18. Places. This is not a victim, the blood of which is to be poured out in the holy place, and the flesh consumed with fire. C. — You ought, or might lawfully have eaten it. C. vi. 25.

Ver. 19. How, &c. My children are slain. Heb. “and if I had eaten the sin-offering to-day, would it have been agreeable to the Lord?” H.