The 2001 Translation CommentariesThe Sin of Aaron’s Sons

This scriptural commentary is not an official view of the 2001 Translation project. We are not a religion and we do not establish doctrine; these commentaries reflect a variety of views and some disagree with each other. Anyone can submit a commentary for inclusion (see requirements).

In Leviticus chapter 10, we read of something that was done by Aaron’s sons Nadab and AbiUd that caused them to be destroyed by God, and for some of their priestly relatives to be cut off from IsraEl by being driven away from the camp.
So, this was obviously a very serious matter.
What had they done?

We can’t be sure, because the Bible just doesn’t tell us anything more.
However, notice that thereafter;
The Priests were told that they weren’t to use the sacred incense for any purpose other than on the incense Altar, which was inside the Tent of Proofs.
And any person that used it or made any of it for other purposes was to be destroyed…
So the indication is, that their sin involved a misuse of the sacred incense.

Why had they done such a thing?
The answer to this is also implied by God’s instructions that followed:
‘You and your sons must not drink any wine or liquor before you enter the Tent of Proofs or before you approach the Altar, so that you don’t die.’

This seems to indicate that Aaron’s two sons (and some of his relatives) had been drinking too much alcohol and had likely gotten drunk, which led Nadab and AbiUd to do something foolish and disrespectful with the incense.

Notice also Moses’ instructions to the remaining Priests, that they were not to bare their heads or rip their clothes over the deaths of these men. So it is clear that they weren’t to show any signs of mourning for those that had been destroyed by God, or any support for the rest of those that had been driven out of the camp.
Rather, their actions were to reflect that all of IsraEl fully supported God’s discipline.