Another striking interpretation pertains to a different aspect of the Revelation at Sinai: Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu
, and seventy elders of Israel ascended; and they saw the God of Israel: under His feet there was the likeness of a pavement of sapphire, like the very sky for purity.
No doubt, a multitude of similar, supporting examples can be gleaned from throughout the Hebrew Bible: for example, Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu
, who offer an unholy sacrifice at the opening of Leviticus 10; inept, spiritually blind Eli and his greedy, villainous sons as depicted throughout the opening chapters of 1 Samuel; even the good priest Samuel's sons themselves, who "did not follow in his ways, but turned aside after gain; they took bribes and perverted justice.
Then bring near to you your brother Aaron, and his sons with him, from among the Israelites, to serve me as priests--Aaron and Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu
, Eleazar and Ithamar.
A close reading of Leviticus 10 reveals that Nadab and Abihu
, sons of Aaron, had their own "personal" hand-censers from which they attempted to offer incense but "fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.
These days should have been joyous but concluded in the catastrophic deaths of Nadav and Abihu
Thus, to begin, Yahweh commanded Moses: "And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu
, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron's sons.
2) It explains why no detail is given about what Nadab and Abihu
did or did not do to cause their sudden extermination when fire "came forth from the Lord's presence and consumed them" (Lev 10:2); it sufficed simply to point out that they had done what the Lord (or Moses) had not authorized (10:1).
The danger is noted also in the story of Nadab and Abihu
who offered "unholy fire" and were consumed by fire (10:1-2).
Fishbane suggests that the linkage between the death of Uzzah, on the one hand, and Nadab and Abihu
on the other hand, is the effect of different religious modalities, the death of Uzzah exemplifying the death and destruction that may result when religious worship is overly physical, whereas the deaths of Nadab and Abihu
represent the ideal of self-renunciation, the figure of David in the narrative offering a middle way.
Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu
, and the 70 elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel.
The reason for the sudden death of Nadab and Abihu
remains one of the Torah's most perplexing mysteries.
Consider also the notoriously ambiguous story in Leviticus 10 of the burning of Nadab and Abihu
, the sons of Aaron.