The Priests Begin Their Work
After the ordination ceremony, on the eighth day, Moses called together Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel. He said to Aaron, “Take a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering, both without defects, and present them to the Lord. Then tell the Israelites, ‘Take a male goat for a sin offering, and take a calf and a lamb, both a year old and without defects, for a burnt offering. Also take a bull[a] and a ram for a peace offering and flour moistened with olive oil for a grain offering. Present all these offerings to the Lord because the Lord will appear to you today.’”
So the people presented all these things at the entrance of the Tabernacle,[b] just as Moses had commanded. Then the whole community came forward and stood before the Lord. And Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded you to do so that the glory of the Lord may appear to you.”
Then Moses said to Aaron, “Come to the altar and sacrifice your sin offering and your burnt offering to purify yourself and the people. Then present the offerings of the people to purify them, making them right with the Lord,[c] just as he has commanded.”
So Aaron went to the altar and slaughtered the calf as a sin offering for himself. His sons brought him the blood, and he dipped his finger in it and put it on the horns of the altar. He poured out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar. Then he burned on the altar the fat, the kidneys, and the long lobe of the liver from the sin offering, just as the Lord had commanded Moses. The meat and the hide, however, he burned outside the camp.
Next Aaron slaughtered the animal for the burnt offering. His sons brought him the blood, and he splattered it against all sides of the altar. Then they handed him each piece of the burnt offering, including the head, and he burned them on the altar. Then he washed the internal organs and the legs and burned them on the altar along with the rest of the burnt offering.
Next Aaron presented the offerings of the people. He slaughtered the people’s goat and presented it as an offering for their sin, just as he had first done with the offering for his own sin. Then he presented the burnt offering and sacrificed it in the prescribed way. He also presented the grain offering, burning a handful of the flour mixture on the altar, in addition to the regular burnt offering for the morning.
Then Aaron slaughtered the bull and the ram for the people’s peace offering. His sons brought him the blood, and he splattered it against all sides of the altar. Then he took the fat of the bull and the ram—the fat of the broad tail and from around the internal organs—along with the kidneys and the long lobes of the livers. He placed these fat portions on top of the breasts of these animals and burned them on the altar. Aaron then lifted up the breasts and right thighs as a special offering to the Lord, just as Moses had commanded.
After that, Aaron raised his hands toward the people and blessed them. Then, after presenting the sin offering, the burnt offering, and the peace offering, he stepped down from the altar. Then Moses and Aaron went into the Tabernacle, and when they came back out, they blessed the people again, and the glory of the Lord appeared to the whole community. Fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When the people saw this, they shouted with joy and fell face down on the ground.
- 9:4 Or cow; also in 9:18, 19.
- 9:5 Hebrew Tent of Meeting; also in 9:23.
- 9:7 Or to make atonement for them.
The Sin of Nadab and Abihu
Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu put coals of fire in their incense burners and sprinkled incense over them. In this way, they disobeyed the Lord by burning before him the wrong kind of fire, different than he had commanded. So fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and burned them up, and they died there before the Lord.
Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord meant when he said,
‘I will display my holiness
through those who come near me.
I will display my glory
before all the people.’”
And Aaron was silent.
Then Moses called for Mishael and Elzaphan, Aaron’s cousins, the sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel. He said to them, “Come forward and carry away the bodies of your relatives from in front of the sanctuary to a place outside the camp.” So they came forward and picked them up by their garments and carried them out of the camp, just as Moses had commanded.
Then Moses said to Aaron and his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, “Do not show grief by leaving your hair uncombed[a] or by tearing your clothes. If you do, you will die, and the Lord’s anger will strike the whole community of Israel. However, the rest of the Israelites, your relatives, may mourn because of the Lord’s fiery destruction of Nadab and Abihu. But you must not leave the entrance of the Tabernacle[b] or you will die, for you have been anointed with the Lord’s anointing oil.” So they did as Moses commanded.
Instructions for Priestly Conduct
Then the Lord said to Aaron, “You and your descendants must never drink wine or any other alcoholic drink before going into the Tabernacle. If you do, you will die. This is a permanent law for you, and it must be observed from generation to generation. You must distinguish between what is sacred and what is common, between what is ceremonially unclean and what is clean. And you must teach the Israelites all the decrees that the Lord has given them through Moses.”
Then Moses said to Aaron and his remaining sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, “Take what is left of the grain offering after a portion has been presented as a special gift to the Lord, and eat it beside the altar. Make sure it contains no yeast, for it is most holy. You must eat it in a sacred place, for it has been given to you and your descendants as your portion of the special gifts presented to the Lord. These are the commands I have been given. But the breast and thigh that were lifted up as a special offering may be eaten in any place that is ceremonially clean. These parts have been given to you and your descendants as your portion of the peace offerings presented by the people of Israel. You must lift up the thigh and breast as a special offering to the Lord, along with the fat of the special gifts. These parts will belong to you and your descendants as your permanent right, just as the Lord has commanded.”
Moses then asked them what had happened to the goat of the sin offering. When he discovered it had been burned up, he became very angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s remaining sons. “Why didn’t you eat the sin offering in the sacred area?” he demanded. “It is a holy offering! The Lord has given it to you to remove the guilt of the community and to purify the people, making them right with the Lord.[c] Since the animal’s blood was not brought into the Holy Place, you should have eaten the meat in the sacred area as I ordered you.”
Then Aaron answered Moses, “Today my sons presented both their sin offering and their burnt offering to the Lord. And yet this tragedy has happened to me. If I had eaten the people’s sin offering on such a tragic day as this, would the Lord have been pleased?” And when Moses heard this, he was satisfied.
- 10:6 Or by uncovering your heads.
- 10:7 Hebrew Tent of Meeting; also in 10:9.
- 10:17 Or to make atonement for the people before the Lord.