This chapter starts with Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, prepared censers and made an offering to God. Except that it was “unholy fire” that God had not commanded. So being a reasonable, merciful deity, he immolated the pair because that’s normal. Moses had the charcoal remains removed and told Aaron and his two remaining sons that they were not allowed to mourn or else they would be killed too along with the rest of the congregation.
So because did not demand the offering of the sons, he not only did not accept the offering, but he killed the sons. The Oxford Bible Commentary is of no help in giving a reason behind this story. It’s my opinion that this is nothing more than an allegory that tells priests to obey and follow ritual instructions…or else. However, that’s reading too much into the story when it comes to biblical literalists. I can’t even imagine how they would justify God’s reaction to this story. Anyway, moving along.
8And the LORD spoke to Aaron: 9Drink no wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons, when you enter the tent of meeting, that you may not die; it is a statute forever throughout your generations.Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 234). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
The above verse holds a significance to me and other fans of the TV show M*A*S*H, due to an episode Season 3, “Alcoholics Unanimous”, Father Mulcahy attempts to give a sermon on temperance, but due to being drunk never actually gets past this verse. It’s also why I can’t read the sons’ names without hearing them in William Christopher’s drunk voice. That is my explanation for the picture accompanying this chapter.
The rest of this chapter is about the offerings gone wrong. The goat was burned, but it wasn’t eaten and the blood was spread properly and that meant another sin offering was demanded.