Nadab and Abihu


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Nadab and Abihu

destroyed by God for offering Him “alien fire.” [O.T.: Leviticus 10:1–3]
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This occurred on the eighth day of the dedication of the Tabernacle, when Nadab and Abihu each took a censer full of incense and offered before the Lord alien fire, which He had not enjoined upon them (Lev.
In explaining the possible transgression of Nadab and Abihu, Vayikra Rabbah 20:8 explains that the sin took place in the Holy of Holies, in front of the Ark.
Then, however, something goes terribly wrong: "And Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu," the parasha continues, "each took his pan, put fire in them, and placed incense upon it, and they brought before the Lord foreign fire, which He had not commanded them.
As we can expect, the rabbis have been pondering this problem for millennia, providing a myriad of explanations ranging from accusing Nadab and Abihu of drunkenness to stipulating that their death was punishment for their refusal to succumb to the will of their mighty uncle, Moses.
The tale of rejection of the "alien fire" sacrificed by Nadab and Abihu (Lev 10) is regarded as an exegetical amplification by the final redactor (the "theocratic" redactor of Numbers).
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.
The priests represented by Nadab and Abihu failed to exert their claim.
The connection woven between the deaths of Nadab and Abihu, the child sacrifice ritual of Molekh, and the forbidden sexual relations is intriguing and provides the reader with a timeless message about passion and how it should be channeled.
P's story of Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10) is completely ignored.
The reason for the sudden death of Nadab and Abihu remains one of the Torah's most perplexing mysteries.