The son of Amram and Jochabed, of the tribe of Levi, and brother of Moses and Miriam, Ex 6:20; born about the year B. C. 1574. He was three years older than Moses, Ex 7:7 and was the spokesman and assistant of the latter in bringing Israel out of Egypt, Ex 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, Ex 4-16, he held up his hands in the battle with Amalek, Ex 17; and ascended Mount Sinai with him to see the glory of God, Ex 24:1-2,9-11.
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, Ex 28-29; Le 8; 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, Nu 16-17. 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, Ex 32:1-22; he joined Miriam in sedition against Moses, Nu 12; and with Moses disobeyed God at Kadesh, Nu 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, Nu 20:22-29; 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.
the eldest son of Amram and Jochebed, a daughter of Levi (Ex 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 (Ex 2:1,4; 7:7). He married Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab of the house of Judah (Ex 6:23; 1Ch 2:10), by whom he had four sons, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. When the time for the deliverance of Isarael out of Egypt drew nigh, he was sent by God (Ex 4:14,27-30) 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 (Ex 7:1-2,9-10,19). 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 (Ex 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 (Ex 19:24; 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 (Ex 32:4; Ps 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 (De 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 (Le 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 (Nu 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 (Nu 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 (Nu 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 (Nu 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 (Nu 20:23-29. Comp. De 10:6; 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 (Le 10:1-2) 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 priesthood 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.)
(according to Jerome means "mountain of strength"), the oldest son of Amram and Jochebed, of the tribe of Levi; brother of Moses and Miriam (Nu 26:59; Ex 6:20) 1574 B.C. Jochebed, mother of Moses and Aaron, bore them three centuries after the death of Levi (Ex 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 Nu 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 (Ex 7:7): born, doubtless, before Pharaoh's edict for the destruction of the Hebrew male infants (Ex 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 Ex 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" (Ex 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" (Ex 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 (Ex 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 (Ex 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 Nu 12:1-2 with Ex 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 (Ga 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 (Ex 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" (Ex 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 Pr 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, Lu 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 (Ex 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 Le 10:8-9) under the effects of win
In examining the Biblical account of Aaron, we must deal separately with the different 'sources' of the Hexateuch.
1. In Jahwist, Aaron plays a very subordinate part. He, Nadah and Ahihu, along with 70 elders, accompanied Moses up Mt. Sinai (Ex 19:24; 24:9). In the former passage he is distinguished from the priests, who are forbidden to come up; he would seem, therefore, to have been an elder or sheikh, perhaps somewhat superior to the 70. In Ex 32:25 Aaron 'let the people loose for a derision among their enemies.' What this refers to is not known; it was not the making of the golden bull, which in the eyes of the surrounding nations would be only an act of piety.
In other passages, which cannot be assigned either to Elohist or Priestly Narrative, the mention of Aaron is probably due to a later hand. In Ex 4:13-16 Moses is allowed to nave Aaron as a spokesman. But 'the Levite' (Ex 4:14) is suspicious: for Moses was also of the tribe of Levi, and the description is superfluous. The verses probably belong to a time when 'Levite' had become a technical term for one trained in priestly functions, and when such priestly officials traced their descent from Aaron. In the narratives of the plagues Aaron is a silent figure, merely summoned with Moses four times when Pharaoh entreats for the removal of the plagues (Ex 8:8,25; 9:27; 10:16). In each case Moses alone answers, and in the last three he alone departs. In Ex 10:3 Moses and Aaron went in to announce the plague, but Moses alone 'turned and went out' (Ex 10:6). The occurrence of Aaron's name seems to be due, in each case, to later redaction.
2. In Elohist, Aaron is the brother of Miriam (Ex 15:20). He was sent to meet Moses in the wilderness, and together they performed signs before the people (Ex 4:27-31). They demanded release from Pharaoh, and on his refusal the people murmured (Ex 5:1-2,4,20 f.). Little of Elohist has survived in the narrative of the plagues, and Aaron is not mentioned. In Ex 17:10,12 he and Hur held up Moses' hands, in order that the staff might be lifted up, during the fight with Amalek. And while Moses was on the mountain, the same two were left in temporary authority over the people (Ex 24:13 f.). Aaron is related to have abused this authority, in making the golden bull (Ex 32:1-6,21-24). [The narrative is composite, and in its present form must be later than Elohist. It has some connexion with the story of 1Ki 12:26-30, for Jeroboam's words, which are suitable in reference to two bulls, are placed in Aaron's mouth.] In Ex 18:12 Aaron, with the elders, was called to Jethro's sacrifice
Aa'ron Eldest son of Amram and Jochebed, of the tribe of Levi. We first read of him when Moses was excusing himself from being sent to deliver Israel from Egypt because he was 'slow of speech.' Jehovah declared that his brother Aaron who was coming to meet him could speak well and should be his spokesman. Aaron accompanied Moses in his interviews with Pharaoh, and with his rod some of the miraculous plagues were called forth. He with Hur held up the hands of Moses on the Mount when Israel fought with Amalek. Ex 17:12. Aaron with his two sons Nadab and Abihu with seventy of the elders, went with Moses into the mount where "they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness." Ex 24:9-10. When Moses retired higher into the mount, he left Israel in charge of Aaron and Hur. Ex 24:14.
Aaron, alas, had not the stability of his brother,* but at the request of the people, and apparently without a protest, made for them the golden calf: he also built an altar before it, and made proclamation of a feast to Jehovah on the morrow.
* Moses was with God
(a teacher, or lofty), the son of Amram and Jochebed, and the older brother of Moses and Miriam.
(B.C. 1573.) He was a Levite, and is first mentioned in
He was appointed by Jehovah to be the interpreter,
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,
but also the actual instrument of working most of the miracles of the Exodus.
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.
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.
Aaron was not consecrated by Moses to the new office of the high priesthood.
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.
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.
This mount is still called the "Mountain of Aaron." See HOR. The wife of Aaron was Elisheba,
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.
AARON, the son of Amram and Jochebed, of the tribe of Levi. Aaron was three years older than his brother Moses; and when God appeared in the burning bush, Moses having excused himself from the undertaking committed to him, by urging that he was slow of speech, Aaron, who was an eloquent man, was made his interpreter, and spokesman; and in effecting the deliverance of the Hebrews we therefore find them constantly associated. During the march of the children of Israel through the wilderness, Aaron and his sons were appointed by God to exercise for ever the office of priests in the tabernacle.
Moses having ascended the mountain to receive the law from God, Aaron, his sons, and seventy elders, followed him, Ex 24:1-2,9-11; not indeed to the summit, but "afar off," "and they saw the God of Israel," that is, the glory in which he appeared, "as it were the paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven for clearness;"