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Improper Conduct for Priests

10 Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu each took an incense burner and put burning coals and incense in it. Then in Yahweh’s presence they offered this unauthorized fire. A fire flashed from Yahweh and burned them, and they died in the presence of Yahweh.

Moses said to Aaron, “This is exactly what Yahweh said:

‘I will show my holiness among those who come to me.
I will show my glory to all the people.’”

Aaron was speechless.

Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Aaron’s uncle, Uzziel. He told them, “Come and take your relatives away from in front of the holy place. Take them outside the camp.” So they came and took them away to a place outside the camp, as Moses told them. The dead men were still in their linen robes.

Moses told Aaron and his sons Eleazar and Ithamar: “Do not mourn by leaving your hair uncombed or tearing your clothes. If you do, you will die and Yahweh will become angry with the whole congregation. All the other Israelites may cry over the fire Yahweh sent, but you may not. You must not leave the entrance to the tent of meeting or else you, too, will die, because Yahweh has anointed you with his oil.” They obeyed Moses.

Proper Conduct for Priests

Yahweh spoke to Aaron, “You and your sons must not drink any wine or liquor when you go into the tent of meeting, or you will die. This is a permanent law for generations to come. 10 Teach them the difference between what is holy and what is unholy, what is clean and what is unclean.[a] 11 Also teach the Israelites all the laws that Yahweh gave them through Moses.”

12 Moses told Aaron and his surviving sons Eleazar and Ithamar, “Take the grain offering left over from the offering by fire to Yahweh. Make unleavened bread, and eat it next to the altar because it is very holy. 13 Eat it in a holy place because it is the part of the offering by fire to Yahweh that belongs to you and your children. That is the command I received. 14 Also eat the breast presented to the Lord and the thigh that was given as a contribution. You and your sons and daughters may eat them in a clean place because they are your part of the fellowship offerings from the Israelites. 15 They will bring the thigh given as a contribution, the breast presented to the Lord, and the fat that is to be burned and present them to Yahweh. These parts will belong to you and your children. This will be a permanent law, as Yahweh has commanded.”

Eleazar and Ithamar Sacrifice the Offering for Sin

16 Moses tried to find out what had happened to the male goat that was supposed to be the offering for sin. To his surprise, it had already been burned. So he became angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s surviving sons. 17 He asked them, “Why didn’t you eat the offering for sin in the holy place? It is very holy and was given to you to take away the sins of the congregation and to make peace with the Lord for them. 18 Since its blood was not brought inside the holy place, you certainly should have eaten it there, as I commanded.”

19 Aaron answered Moses, “Today they sacrificed their offering for sin and their burnt offering in Yahweh’s presence, and look what happened to me. If I had eaten the offering for sin today, would Yahweh have approved?”

20 When Moses heard this, he was satisfied.


  1. Leviticus 10:10 “Clean” refers to anything that is presentable to God. “Unclean” refers to anything that is not presentable to God.