AARON - Bridgeway Bible DictionaryFrom the time Moses set out to free Israel from Egypt, Aaron his brother played an important part in the young nation’s development. He remained in a position of influence and responsibility until the day of his death, forty years later (Exo 7:7; Num 33:39).
Although Aaron was three years older than Moses (Exo 7:7), he willingly accepted Moses’ supreme leadership of the nation. He became Moses’ chief spokesman and personal assistant (Exo 4:10-16; Exo 4:29-30; Exo 7:1-2; Exo 7:10; Exo 7:19; Exo 8:5; Exo 8:17; Exo 8:25). As Moses grew in confidence, he became less dependent upon Aaron in his public activities (Exo 9:13; Exo 9:22; Exo 9:33). Aaron, however, continued to support Moses, especially in prayer (Exo 17:12).
Aaron was one of the privileged few who went with Moses up on to the mountain of God. He was also one of those to whom Moses entrusted the leadership of Israel during his absence (Exo 24:1-2; Exo 24:9; Exo 24:14). Aaron proved to be a weak leader, and was easily persuaded to build an idol as a visible symbol of the invisible God (Exo 32:1-6; Exo 32:21-25). When Moses challenged the faithful to fight against this idolatry, the men of the tribe of Levi responded. God rewarded them by promising that in the new religious order, the Levites would be his chosen religious servants (Exo 32:26-29).
Levi was the tribe to which Moses and Aaron belonged (Exo 6:16-20). God had already told Moses that in the new religious order, Aaron and his sons were to be the priests, with Aaron the high priest (Exo 28:1-4). In the generations to follow, although all Levites were to be religious officials, only those of the family of Aaron could be priests (Num 3:3-10; see LEVITE; PRIEST).
Troubles along the way
In spite of his devoted service to God, Aaron had his disappointments and failures. His two older sons made an offering contrary to the way God had instructed them, and were punished with instant death (Lev 10:1-3). On another occasion, he and his sister Miriam showed some jealousy against Moses because of Moses’ supreme position in Israel. When Miriam, who had led the criticism, was punished with leprosy, Aaron confessed his wrong and asked God to heal her (Num 12:1-2; Num 12:9-12).
Just as Aaron had been jealous of Moses’ position as supreme leader, so other Levites grew jealous of Aaron’s position as high priest (Num 16:1-11). God destroyed the rebels (Num 16:31-35) and sent a plague on the people who had supported them; but Aaron prayed for them and the plague stopped (Num 16:47-48). By the miraculous budding of Aaron’s rod, God emphasized afresh that only those of the family of Aaron were to be priests (Num 17:1-11).
Moses and Aaron were guilty of disobedience to God when, in anger at the people’s constant complaining, they struck the rock at Meribah. God punished them by assuring them that they would never enter the promised land (Num 20:2; Num 20:10-13). Soon after, when the journeying Israelites reached Mt Hor, Aaron died. Before he died, however, there was a public ceremony to appoint Eleazar, Aaron’s eldest surviving son, as the replacement high priest (Num 20:22-29).
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Bridgeway Bible Dictionary
© Don Fleming 1990, 1999, 2004
First published 1990 as Bridge Bible Directory - Reprinted 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997
First published as Bridge Bible Dictionary 1999 - First published as Bridgeway Bible Dictionary 2004
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