a teacher; lofty; mountain of strength.
See Aaronites, Aaron’s Rod.
Aaron. âr´un, sometimes pronounced ar´on (אהרוןa, ‘ahărōn – Septuagint Ααρών Aaron, meaning uncertain: Gesenius suggests “mountaineer”; Fürst, “enlightened”; others give “rich,” “fluent.” Cheyne mentions Redslob’s “ingenious conjecture” of hā’ārōn – “the ark” – with its mythical, priestly significance, Encyclopedia Biblica under the word):
Probably eldest son of Amram (Exo 6:20), and according to the uniform genealogical lists (Exo 6:16-20; 1Ch 6:1-3), the fourth from Levi. This however is not certainly fixed, since there are frequent omissions from the Hebrew lists of names which are not prominent in the line of descent. For the corresponding period from Levi to Aaron the Judah list has six names (Rth 4:18-20; 1 Ch 2). Levi and his family were zealous, even to violence (Gen 34:25; Exo 32:26), for the national honor and religion, and Aaron no doubt inherited his full portion of this spirit. His mother’s name was Jochebed, who was also of the Levitical family (Exo 6:20). Miriam, his sister, was several years older, since she was set to watch the novel cradle of the infant brother Moses, at whose birth Aaron was three years old (Exo 7:7).
2. Becomes Moses’ Assistant
When Moses fled from Egypt, Aaron remained to share the hardships of his people, and possibly to render them some service; for we are told that Moses entreated of God his brother’s coöperation in his mission to Pharaoh and to Israel, and that Aaron went out to meet his returning brother, as the time of deliverance drew near (Exo 4:27). While Moses, whose great gifts lay along other lines, was slow of speech (Exo 4:10), Aaron was a ready spokesman, and became his brother’s representative, being called his “mouth” (Exo 4:16) and his “prophet” (Exo 7:1). After their meeting in the wilderness the two brothers returned together to Egypt on the hazardous mission to which Yahweh had called them (Exo 4:27-31). At first they appealed to their own nation, recalling the ancient promises and declaring the imminent deliverance, Aaron being the spokesman. But the heart of the people, hopeless by reason of the hard bondage and heavy with the care of material things, did not incline to them. The two brothers then forced the issue by appealing directly to Pharaoh himself, Aaron still speaking for his brother (Exo 6:10-13). He also performed, at Moses’ direction, the miracles which confounded Pharaoh and his magicians. With Hur, he held up Moses hands, in order that the ‘rod of God might be lifted up,’ during the fight with Amalek (Exo 17:10, Exo 17:12).
3. An Elder
Aaron next comes into prominence when at Sinai he is one of the elders and representatives of his tribe to approach nearer to the Mount than the people in general were allowed to do, and to see the manifested glory of God (Exo 24:1, Exo 24:9, Exo 24:10). A few days later, when Moses, attended by his “minister” Joshua, went up into the mountain, Aaron exercised some kind of headship over the people in his absence. Despairing of seeing again their leader, who had disappeared into the mystery of communion with the invisible God, they appealed to Aaron to prepare them more tangible gods, and to lead them back to Egypt (Ex 32). Aaron never appears as the strong, heroic character which his brother was; and here at Sinai he revealed his weaker nature, yielding to the demands of the people and permitting the making of the golden bullock. That he must however have yielded reluctantly, is evident from the ready zeal of his tribesmen, whose leader he was, to stay and to avenge the apostasy by rushing to arms and falling mightily upon the idolaters at the call of Moses (Exo 32:26-28).
4. High Priest
In connection with the planning and erection of the tabernacle (“the Tent”), Aaron and his sons being chosen for the official priesthood, elaborate and symbolical vestments were prepared for them (Ex 28); and after the erection and dedication of the tabernacle, he and his sons were formally inducted into the sacred office (Lev 8). It appears that Aaron alone was anointed with the holy oil (Lev 8:12), but his sons were included with him in the duty of caring for sacrificial rites and things. They served in receiving and presenting the various offerings, and could enter and serve in the first chamber of the tabernacle; but Aaron alone, the high priest, the Mediator of the Old Covenant, could enter into the Holy of Holies, and that only once a year, on the great Day of Atonement (Lev 16:12-14).
5. Rebels Against Moses
After the departure of Israel from Sinai, Aaron joined his sister Miriam in a protest against the authority of Moses (Nu 12), which they asserted to be self-assumed. For this rebellion Miriam was smitten with leprosy, but was made whole again, when, at the pleading of Aaron, Moses interceded with God for her. The sacred office of Aaron, requiring physical, moral and ceremonial cleanness of the strictest order, seems to have made him immune from this form of punishment. Somewhat later (Nu 16) he himself, along with Moses, became the object of a revolt of his own tribe in conspiracy with leaders of Dan and Reuben. This rebellion was subdued and the authority of Moses and Aaron vindicated by the miraculous overthrow of the rebels. As they were being destroyed by the plague, Aaron, at Moses’ command, rushed into their midst with the lighted censer, and the destruction was stayed. The Divine will in choosing Aaron and his family to the priesthood was then fully attested by the miraculous budding of his rod, when, together with rods representing the other tribes, it was placed and left overnight in the sanctuary (Num 17:1-13). See AARON’S ROD.
6. Further History
After this event Aaron does not come prominently into view until the time of his death, near the close of the Wilderness period. Because of the impatience, or unbelief, of Moses and Aaron at Meribah (Num 20:12), the two brothers are prohibited from entering Canaan; and shortly after the last camp at Kadesh was broken, as the people journeyed eastward to the plains of Moab, Aaron died on Mount Hor. In three passages this event is recorded: the more detailed account in Nu 20, a second incidental record in the list of stations of the wanderings in the wilderness (Num 33:38, Num 33:39), and a third casual reference (Deu 10:6) in an address of Moses. These are not in the least contradictory or inharmonious. The dramatic scene is fully presented in Nu 20: Moses, Aaron and Eleazar go up to Mount Hor in the people’s sight; Aaron is divested of his robes of office, which are formally put upon his eldest living son; Aaron dies before the Lord in the Mount at the age of 123, and is given burial by his two mourning relatives, who then return to the camp without the first and great high priest; when the people understand that he is no more, they show both grief and love by thirty days of mourning. The passage in Nu 33 records the event of his death just after the list of stations in the general vicinity of Mount Hor; while Moses in Dt 10 states from which of these stations, namely, Moserah, that remarkable funeral procession made its way to Mount Hor. In the records we find, not contradiction and perplexity, but simplicity and unity. It is not within the view of this article to present modern displacements and rearrangements of the Aaronic history; it is concerned with the records as they are, and as they contain the faith of the Old Testament writers in the origin in Aaron of their priestly order.
7. Priestly Succession
Aaron married Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab, and sister of Nahshon, prince of the tribe of Judah, who bore him four sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. The sacrilegious act and consequent judicial death of Nadab and Abihu are recorded in Lev 10. Eleazar and Ithamar were more pious and reverent; and from them descended the long line of priests to whom was committed the ceremonial law of Israel, the succession changing from one branch to the other with certain crises in the nation. At his death Aaron was succeeded by his oldest living son, Eleazar (Num 20:28; Deu 10:6).
Aaron. (according to Jerome means “mountain of strength”), the oldest son of Amram and Jochebed, of the tribe of Levi; brother of Moses and Miriam (Num 26:59; Exo 6:20) 1574 B.C. Jochebed, mother of Moses and Aaron, bore them three centuries after the death of Levi (Exo 2:1); “daughter of Levi, whom her mother bore to Levi,” means “a daughter of a Levite whom her mother bore to a Levite.” The point of Num 26:59 is, Moses and Aaron were Levites both on the father’s side and mother’s side, Hebrew of Hebrew. He was three years older than Moses (Exo 7:7): born, doubtless, before Pharaoh’s edict for the destruction of the Hebrew male infants (Exo 1:22). Miriam was the oldest of the three, as appears from her being old enough, when Moses was only three months old and Aaron three years, to offer to go and call a Hebrew nurse for Pharaoh’s daughter, to tend his infant brother.
The first mention of Aaron is in Exo 4:14; where, in answer to Moses’ objection that he did not have the eloquence needed for such a mission as that to Pharaoh, Jehovah answers: “Is not Aaron, the Levite, thy brother? I know that he can speak well: and thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth; and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do; and he shall be thy spokesman unto the people; and he shall be instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God.” His being described as “the Levite” implies that he already took a lead in his tribe; and, as the firstborn son, he would be priest of the household.
The Lord directed him to “go into the wilderness to meet Moses” (Exo 4:27). In obedience to that intimation, after the forty years’ separation, he met Moses in the “mount of God,” where the vision of the flaming bush had been vouchsafed to the latter, and conducted him back to Goshen. There Aaron, evidently a man of influence already among the Israelites, introduced Moses to their assembled elders; and, as his mouthpiece, declared to them the divine commission of Moses with such persuasive power, under the Spirit, that the people “believed, bowed their heads, and worshipped” (Exo 4:29-31). During Moses’ forty years’ absence in Midian, Aaron had married Elisheba or Elizabeth, daughter of Amminadab, and sister of Naashon, a prince of the children of Judah (Exo 6:23; 1Ch 2:10). By her he had four sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar (father of Phinehas), and Ithamar. From his first interview with Pharaoh to the end of his course he always appears in connection with his more illustrious brother, cooperating with and assisting him.
On the way to Sinai, in the battle with Amalek, Aaron, in company with Hur, supported Moses’ weary hands, which uplifted the miracle-working rod of God (Exo 17:9-13); and so Israel prevailed. His high dignity as interpreter of Moses, and worker of the appointed “signs in the sight of the people,” and his investiture with the hereditary high priesthood, a dignity which Moses did not share, account naturally for his having once harbored envy, and joined with Miriam in her jealousy of Moses’ Ethiopian wife, when they said: “Hath the Lord spoken only by Moses? Hath He not spoken also by us?” (Compare Num 12:1-2with Exo 15:20.) But Moses is always made the principal, and Aaron subordinate. Whereas Moses ascended Sinai, and there received the tables of the law direct from God, as the mediator (Gal 3:19), Aaron has only the privilege of a more distant approach with Nadab and Abihu and the seventy elders, near enough indeed to see Jehovah’s glory, but not to have access to His immediate presence.
His character, as contrasted with Moses, comes out in what followed during Moses’ forty days’ absence on the mount. Left alone to guide the people, he betrayed his instability of character in his weak and guilty concession to the people’s demand for visible gods to go before them in the absence of Moses, their recognized leader under Jehovah; and instead of the pillar of cloud and fire wherein the Lord heretofore had gone before them (Exo 13:21; Exodus 32). Perhaps Aaron had hoped that their love of their personal finery and jewelry, which is the idol of so many in our own days, would prove stronger than their appetite for open idolatry; but men will for superstition part with that which they will not part with for a pure worship. So, casting the responsibility on them, easy and too ready to yield to pressure from outside, and forgetting the precept, “thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil” (Exo 23:2), he melted, or permitted their gold to be melted in a furnace, and “fashioned it with a graving tool into a calf.” This form was probably designed as a compromise to combine the seemingly common elements of the worship of Jehovah associated with the calf-formed cherubim, and of the Egyptian idol-ox, Mnevis or Apis.
Like Jeroboam’s calves long after, the sin was a violation of the second rather than of the first commandment, the worship of the true God by an image (as the church of Rome teaches), rather than the adding or substituting of another god. It was an accommodation to the usages which both Israel and Jeroboam respectively had learned in Egypt. Like all compromises of truth, its inevitable result was still further apostasy from the truth. Aaron’s words, “These are thy gods elohim (a title of the true God), O Israel, which brought thee up out of Egypt,” as also his proclamation, “Tomorrow is a feast to JEHOVAH,” show that he did not mean an open apostasy from the Lord, but rather a concession to the people’s sensuous tastes, in order to avert a total alienation from Jehovah.
But, the so-called “feast of the Lord” sank into gross paganness; “the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play,” “dancing” before the calf, “naked unto their shame among their enemies”; they aroused Moses’ righteous anger when he descended from the mountain, so that he broke in pieces the tables out of his hand, as a symbol of their violation of the covenant. Then he burned the calf in the fire, ground it to powder (a process which required a considerable acquaintance with chemistry), strewed it upon the water, and made the Israelites drink of it. Compare Pro 1:31. Aaron alleged, as an excuse, the people’s being “set on mischief,” and seemingly that he had only cast their gold into the fire, and that by mere chance “there came out this calf.”
Aaron’s humiliation and repentance must have been very deep; for two months after this great sin, God’s foreappointed plan (Exodus 29) was carried into effect in the consecration of Aaron to the high priesthood (Leviticus 8). That it was a delegated priesthood, not inherent like the Messiah’s priesthood, of the order of Melchizedek, appears from the fact that Moses, though not the legal priest but God’s representative, officiates on the occasion, to inaugurate him into it. Compare, for the spiritual significance of this, Hebrew 7. Aaron’s very fall would upon his recovery make him the more fit as a priest, to have compassion on the ignorant and on them that are out of the way, for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity (Heb 5:2); compare the case of Peter, Luk 22:31-32.
The consecration comprised a sin offering for reconciliation, a burnt offering to express whole-hearted self-consecration to God, and a meat offering (minchah), unbloody, of flour, salt, oil, and frankincense, to thank God for the blessings of nature (these marking the blessings and duties of man); then also the special tokens of the priestly office, the ram of consecration, whose blood was sprinkled on Aaron and his sons to sanctify them, the sacred robes “for glory and for beauty,” breast-plate, ephod, robe, embroidered coat, mitre, and girdle, and linen breeches (Exodus 28); and the anointing with the holy oil, which it was death for anyone else to compound or use (Exo 30:22-38), symbolizing God’s grace, the exclusive source of spiritual unction. Aaron immediately offered sacrifice and blessed the people, and the divine acceptance was marked by fire from the Lord consuming upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat, so that the people shouted at the sight and fell on their faces.
Nadab and Abihu, probably (see Lev 10:8-9) under the effects of wine taken when about to be consecrated, instead of taking the sacred fire from the brazen altar, burned the incense on the golden altar with common fire; or, as Knobel and Speaker’s Commentary think, they offered the incense in accompaniment of the people’s shouts, not at the due time of morning or evening sacrifice, but in their own self-willed manner and at their own time. ((See FIRE.) God visited them with retribution in kind, consuming them with fire from the Lord; and to prevent a similar evil recurring, forbade henceforth the use of wine to the priests when about to officiate in the tabernacle; the prohibition coming so directly after the sin, if the cause was indeed intemperance, is an undesigned coincidence and mark of genuineness: compareLuk 1:15 and 1Ti 3:3 for the present application.
The true source of exhilaration to a spiritual priest unto God, is not wine, but the Spirit: Eph 5:18-19; compare Act 2:15-18. Nothing could more clearly mark how grace had raised Aaron above his natural impulsiveness than the touching picture, so eloquent in its brevity, of Aaron’s submissiveness under the crushing stroke, “and Aaron held his peace.” Moses, in chronicling the disgrace and destruction of his brother’s children, evinces his own candor and veracity as an impartial historian. The only token of anguish Aaron manifested was his forbearing to eat that day the flesh of the people’s sin offering: Lev 10:12-20. All other manifestations of mourning on the part of the priests were forbidden; compare, as to our spiritual priesthood, Luk 9:60.
Miriam, in a fit of feminine jealousy, some time afterward acted on Aaron so as to induce him to join in murmuring against Moses: the former relying on her prophetic inspiration (Exo 15:20), the latter on his priesthood, as though equal with Moses in the rank of their commission. Their pretext against Moses was his Ethiopian wife, a marriage abhorrent to Hebrew feelings. That Miriam was the instigator appears from her name preceding that of Aaron (Numbers 12), and from the leprosy being inflicted on her alone. Aaron, with characteristic impressibleness, repented of his sin almost immediately after he had been seduced into it, upon Jehovah’s sudden address to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, declaring His admission of Moses to speak with Him “mouth to mouth, apparently,” so that he should “behold the similitude of the Lord,” a favor far above all “visions” vouchsafed to prophets. At Aaron’s penitent intercession with Moses, and Moses’ consequent prayer, Miriam was healed.
Twenty years later (1471 B.C.), in the wilderness of Paran, the rebellion took place of Korah and the Levites against Aaron’s monopoly of the priesthood, and of Dathan, Abiram, and the Reubenites against Moses’ authority as civil leader. It is a striking instance of God’s chastising even His own people’s sin in kind. As Aaron jealously murmured against Moses, so Korah murmured against him. Fire from the Lord avenged his cause on Korah and the 250 priestsn with him burning incense: and the earth swallowed up the Reubenites with Dathan and Abiram. Possibly Reuben’s descendants sought to recover the primogeniture forfeited by his incest (Gen 49:3-4; 1Ch 5:1). The punishment corresponded to the sin; pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. His numbers were so reduced that Moses prays for his deliverance from extinction: “Let Reuben live, and not die, and let not his men be few.”
A plague from the Lord had threatened to destroy utterly the people for murmuring against Moses and Aaron as the murderers of Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and their accomplices, when Aaron proved the efficacy of his priesthood by risking his own life for his ungrateful people, and “making atonement for the people” with incense in a censer, and “standing between the living and the dead,” so that the plague was stopped (Numbers 16). To prevent future rivalry for the priesthood, God made Aaron’s rod alone of the twelve rods of Israel, suddenly to blossom and bear almonds, and caused it to be kept perpetually “before the testimony for a token against the rebels” (Numbers 17; Heb 9:4).
Inclined to lean on his superior brother, Aaron naturally fell into Moses’ sin at Meribah, and shared its penalty in forfeiting entrance into the promised land (Num 20:1-13). As Moses’ self-reliance was thereby corrected, so was Aaron’s tendency to be led unduly by stronger natures than his own. To mark also the insufficiency of the Aaronic priesthood to bring men into the heavenly inheritance, Aaron must die a year before Joshua (the type of Jesus) leads the people into their goodly possession. While Israel in going down the wady Arabah, to double the mountainous land of Edom, was encamped at Mosera, he ascended Mount Hor at God’s command. There Moses stripped him of his pontifical robes, and put them upon Eleazar his son; and Aaron died, 123 years old, and was buried on the mountain (Num 20:28; Num 20:38; Deu 10:6; Deu 32:50). The mountain is now surmounted by the circular dome of the tomb of Aaron, a white spot on the dark red surface.
For thirty days all Israel mourned for him; and on the 1st of the 5th month, Ab (our July or August), the Jews still commemorate him by a fast. Eleazar’s descendants held the priesthood until the time of Eli, who, although sprung from Ithamar, received it. With Eli’s family it continued until the time of Solomon, who took it from Abiathar, and restored it to Zadok, of the line of Eleazar; thus accomplishing the prophecy denounced against Eli (1Sa 2:30). For the Jews’ opinion of Aaron, see the apocryphal Ecclesiasticus 45.
His not taking the priestly honor to himself, but being called by God (Heb 5:4-5), his anointing with incommunicable ointment (compare Psa 45:7 and Psa 133:2), his intercession for his guilty people, his bearing the names of his people on his shoulders and breast (Exo 28:12; Exo 28:29-30), his being the only high priest, so that death visited any other who usurped the priesthood, his rod of office (compare Psa 110:2; Num 24:17), his alone presenting the blood before the mercy-seat on the day of atonement, the HOLINESS TO THE LORD on his forehead in his intercession within the veil (compare 1Co 1:30; Heb 9:24), the Urim and Thummim (Light and Perfection), all point to the true High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ. Aaron’s descendants, to the number of 3,700 fighting men, with Jehoiada, father of Benaiah, their head, joined David at Hebron (1Ch 12:27; 1Ch 27:17); subsequently, Zadok was their chief, “a young man mighty of valor.”
Aaron. The eldest son of Amram and Jochebed, a daughter of Levi (Exo 6:20). Some explain the name as meaning mountaineer, others mountain of strength, illuminator. He was born in Egypt three years before his brother Moses, and a number of years after his sister Miriam (Exo 2:1, Exo 2:4; Exo 7:7). He married Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab of the house of Judah (Exo 6:23; 1Ch 2:10), by whom he had four sons, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. When the time for the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt drew nigh, he was sent by God (Exo 4:14, Exo 4:27-30) to meet his long-absent brother, that he might co-operate with him in all that they were required to do in bringing about the Exodus. He was to be the “mouth” or “prophet” of Moses, i.e., was to speak for him, because he was a man of a ready utterance (Exo 7:1, Exo 7:2, Exo 7:9, Exo 7:10,Exo 7:19). He was faithful to his trust, and stood by Moses in all his interviews with Pharaoh.
When the ransomed tribes fought their first battle with Amalek in Rephidim, Moses stood on a hill overlooking the scene of the conflict with the rod of God in his outstretched hand. On this occasion he was attended by Aaron and Hur, his sister’s husband, who held up his wearied hands till Joshua and the chosen warriors of Israel gained the victory (Exo 17:8-13).
Afterwards, when encamped before Sinai, and when Moses at the command of God ascended the mount to receive the tables of the law, Aaron and his two sons, Nadab and Abihu, along with seventy of the elders of Israel, were permitted to accompany him part of the way, and to behold afar off the manifestation of the glory of Israel’s God (Exo 19:24; Exo 24:9-11). While Moses remained on the mountain with God, Aaron returned unto the people; and yielding through fear, or ignorance, or instability of character, to their clamour, made unto them a golden calf, and set it up as an object of worship (Exo 32:4; Psa 106:19). On the return of Moses to the camp, Aaron was sternly rebuked by him for the part he had acted in this matter; but he interceded for him before God, who forgave his sin (Deu 9:20).
On the mount, Moses received instructions regarding the system of worship which was to be set up among the people; and in accordance therewith Aaron and his sons were consecrated to the priest’s office (Lev. 8; 9). Aaron, as high priest, held henceforth the prominent place appertaining to that office.
When Israel had reached Hazeroth, in “the wilderness of Paran,” Aaron joined with his sister Miriam in murmuring against Moses, “because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married,” probably after the death of Zipporah. But the Lord vindicated his servant Moses, and punished Miriam with leprosy (Num. 12). Aaron acknowledged his own and his sister’s guilt, and at the intercession of Moses they were forgiven.
Twenty years after this, when the children of Israel were encamped in the wilderness of Paran, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram conspired against Aaron and his sons; but a fearful judgment from God fell upon them, and they were destroyed, and the next day thousands of the people also perished by a fierce pestilence, the ravages of which were only stayed by the interposition of Aaron (Num. 16). That there might be further evidence of the divine appointment of Aaron to the priestly office, the chiefs of the tribes were each required to bring to Moses a rod bearing on it the name of his tribe. And these, along with the rod of Aaron for the tribe of Levi, were laid up overnight in the tabernacle, and in the morning it was found that while the other rods remained unchanged, that of Aaron “for the house of Levi” budded, blossomed, and yielded almonds (Num 17:1-10). This rod was afterwards preserved in the tabernacle (Heb 9:4) as a memorial of the divine attestation of his appointment to the priesthood.
Aaron was implicated in the sin of his brother at Meribah (Num 20:8-13), and on that account was not permitted to enter the Promised Land. When the tribes arrived at Mount Hor, “in the edge of the land of Edom,” at the command of God Moses led Aaron and his son Eleazar to the top of that mountain, in the sight of all the people. There he stripped Aaron of his priestly vestments, and put them upon Eleazar; and there Aaron died on the top of the mount, being 123 years old (Num 20:23-29. Compare Deu 10:6; Deu 32:50), and was “gathered unto his people.” The people, “even all the house of Israel,” mourned for him thirty days. Of Aaron’s sons two survived him, Eleazar, whose family held the high-priesthood till the time of Eli; and Ithamar, in whose family, beginning with Eli, the high-priesthood was held till the time of Solomon. Aaron’s other two sons had been struck dead (Lev 10:1, Lev 10:2) for the daring impiety of offering “strange fire” on the alter of incense.
The Arabs still show with veneration the traditionary site of Aaron’s grave on one of the two summits of Mount Hor, which is marked by a Mohammedan chapel. His name is mentioned in the Koran, and there are found in the writings of the rabbins many fabulous stories regarding him.
He was the first anointed priest. His descendants, “the house of Aaron,” constituted the priesthood in general. In the time of David they were very numerous (1Ch 12:27). The other branches of the tribe of Levi held subordinate positions in connection with the sacred office.
Aaron was a type of Christ in his official character as the high priest. His priest-hood was a “shadow of heavenly things,” and was intended to lead the people of Israel to look forward to the time when “another priest” would arise “after the order of Melchizedek” (Heb 6:20). (See MOSES.)
The son of Amram and Jochabed, of the tribe of Levi, and brother of Moses and Miriam, Exo 6:20; born about the year B. C. 1574. He was three years older than Moses, Exo 7:7 and was the spokesman and assistant of the latter in bringing Israel out of Egypt, Exo 4:16. His wife was Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab; and his sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. He was 83 years old when God summoned him to join Moses in the desert near Horeb. Cooperating with his brother in the exodus from Egypt, Exo 4:1–; Exo 16:36, he held up his hands in the battle with Amalek, Exo 17:1-16; and ascended Mount Sinai with him to see the glory of God, Exo 24:1-2; Exo 24:9-11.
Aaron’s chief distinction consisted in the choice of him and his male posterity for the priesthood. He was consecrated the first high priest by God’s directions, Exo 28:1–; Exo 29:46 Le 8:1-36; and was afterwards confirmed in his office by the destruction of Korah and his company, by the staying of the plague at his intercession, and by the budding of his rod, Num 16:1–; Num 17:13. He was faithful and self-sacrificing in the duties of his office, and meekly “held his peace” when his sons Nadab and Abihu were slain, Le 10:1- 3. Yet he fell sometimes into grievous sins: he made the golden calf at Sinai, Exo 32:1-22; he joined Miriam in sedition against Moses, Num 12:1-16; and with Moses disobeyed God at Kadesh, Num 20:8-12. God, therefore did not permit him to enter the promised land; but he died on Mount Hor, in Edom, in the fortieth year after leaving Egypt, at the age of about 123 years, Num 20:22-29; Num 33:39. In De 10:6, he is said to have died at Mosera, which was probably the station in the valley west of Mount Hor, whence he ascended into the mount. The Arabs still pretend to show his tomb on the mount, and highly venerate it. In his office as high priest, Aaron was an eminent type of Christ, being “called of God,” and anointed; bearing the names of the tribes on his breast; communicating God’s will by Urim and Thummim; entering the Most Holy place on the Day of Atonement, “not without blood;” and interceding for and blessing the people of God. See PRIEST.
Aa ron [etymology doubtful. The name possibly means bright, shining].
The brother of Moses and his senior by three years (Ex. 7:7). He was a descend ant of Levi through Kohath and Amram (Ex. 6:14-27). As we do not read of perils attending his infancy, it may be inferred that he was born before the promulgation of the nefarious Egyptian edicts dooming the He brew male children to death. He was younger than his sister Miriam (q. v.). He married Elisheba, daughter of Amrninadab and sister of Nahshon, of the tribe of Judah, who bore him four sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar (Ex. 6:23; Num. 3:2).
When Moses at Horeb was called to stand forth as the deliverer of his oppressed countrymen, and, wishing to escape the mission, complained that he was slow of speech, and of a slow tongue,” God repelled the objection, and said, “Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well.”
Aaron was forthwith instructed to go out and meet Moses in the wilderness. He did so. The brothers met and embraced each other (Ex. 4:10-16, 27). Returning to Egypt, they gathered together the elders of Israel and intimated to them the approaching deliverance (29-31). The wonder-working rod of Moses was, apparently with the divine sanction, transferred to Aaron, and is hence forth usually known as Aaron’s rod (Ex. 4:17; 7:9, 19). Acts of smiting with this rod brought on in succession the ten Egyptian plagues (vii. 17, 19, 20; 8:5, etc.). At the Red Sea, Moses was directed to lift up the rod (this time called his) and the waters would be divided (xiv. 16). Aaron and Hur sup ported Moses arms during the battle with Amalek (xvii. 12). Aaron and two of his sons, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders were permitted to accompany Moses into the mount before he received the tables of the law, and to behold the God of Israel (Ex. 24:1, 9, 10). During the prolonged stay of Moses in the mount, the people became impatient at the absence of their leader and turned to Aaron with the demand that he make them gods to go before them. Aaron weakly yielded and made the golden calf (Ex. xxxii.). According to instructions which Moses received, Aaron and his sons were to fill the office of priest. Accordingly, after the tabernacle had been completed, and was ready for actual services to begin, Aaron and his four sons were solemnly consecrated to the priesthood by being anointed with oil and clothed in splendid typical official vestments (Ex. xxviii.; xl. 13-16; Lev. viii.). Aaron was thus the first high priest, an office which he filled for nearly forty years. Shortly after leaving Sinai, he joined with Miriam in finding fault with Moses for having married a Cushite woman (Num. 12:1-16). The rebellion of Korah was directed as much against the exclusive priesthood of Aaron and his sons as against the civil authority of Moses. The divine appointment of Moses and Aaron to their respective offices was at tested by the destruction of the rebels; and Aaron’s right to the priesthood was further and specially vindicated by the budding of his rod (Num. xvi. and xvii.). Toward the close of the journey in the wilderness, when the people were encamped for the second time at Kadesh, Aaron and Moses dishonored God by their conduct when they smote the rock.
For this sin they were denied the privilege of entering the promised land. Soon after wards by divine direction Aaron was led by Moses up mount Hor and stripped of his sacred vestments, which were transferred to his son Eleazar. There he died, at the age of one hundred and twenty -three years. The nation publicly mourned for him thirty days (Num. xx, 33:37-39, and see PRIEST).
(a teacher, or lofty), the son of Amram and Jochebed, and the older brother of Moses and Miriam. (Numbers 26:59; 33:39) (B.C. 1573.) He was a Levite, and is first mentioned in (Exodus 4:14) He was appointed by Jehovah to be the interpreter, (Exodus 4:16) of his brother Moses, who was “slow of speech;” and accordingly he was not only the organ of communication with the Israelites and with Pharaoh, (Exodus 4:30; 7:2) but also the actual instrument of working most of the miracles of the Exodus. (Exodus 7:19) etc. On the way to Mount Sinai, during the battle with Amalek, Aaron with Hur stayed up the weary hands of Moses when they were lifted up for the victory of Israel. (Exodus 17:9) He is mentioned as dependent upon his brother and deriving all his authority from him. Left, on Moses’ departure into Sinai, to guide the people, Aaron is tried for a moment on his own responsibility, and he fails from a weak inability to withstand the demand of the people for visible “gods to go before them,” by making an image of Jehovah, in the well-known form of Egyptian idolatry (Apis or Mnevis). He repented of his sin, and Moses gained forgiveness for him. (9:20) Aaron was not consecrated by Moses to the new office of the high priesthood. (Exodus 29:9) From this time the history of Aaron is almost entirely that of the priesthood, and its chief feature is the great rebellion of Korah and the Levites. Leaning, as he seems to have done, wholly on Moses, it is not strange that he should have shared his sin at Meribah and its punishment. See MOSES. (Numbers 20:10-12) Aaron’s death seems to have followed very speedily. It took place on Mount Hor, after the transference of his robes and office to Eleazar. (Numbers 20:28) This mount is still called the “Mountain of Aaron.” See HOR. The wife of Aaron was Elisheba, (Exodus 6:23) and the two sons who survived him, Eleazar and Ithamar. The high priesthood descended to the former, and to his descendants until the time of Eli, who, although of the house of Ithamar, received the high priesthood and transmitted it to his children; with them it continued till the accession of Solomon, who took it from Abiathar and restored it to Zadok (of the house of Eleazar). See ABIATHAR.