Leviticus 10:3
Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) Then Moses said . . . This is it that the Lord spake.—Here we have another instance of a reference to a well-known Divine communication made through Moses, which has not been previously recorded in the Pentateuch. Moses adduces this declaration to explain to the bereaved father the judgment of God.

I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me.—Better. I will sanctify myself in them that come near to me. God had sanctified to himself Aaron and his sons by the holy unction (see Leviticus 8:10; Leviticus 8:12), that they might sanctify Him in the strict performance of their sacred duties as the mediators between God and man. Having failed to do this, God sanctified himself in them by the awful punishment inflicted upon them for their transgression. (See Ezekiel 27:22; Ezekiel 38:16; Ezekiel 38:23.) The phrase, “that come near to God,” is a frequent designation for the priest. (Exodus 19:22; Numbers 16:5; Ezekiel 42:13; Ezekiel 43:19.)

And before all the people I will be glorified.—Better, and I will glorify myself before all the people. By this judgment God vindicated His law, showing that it cannot be violated with impunity, and thus glorified Himself as the Holy One of Israel.

And Aaron held his peace.—He silently submitted to the righteous judgment which bereft him of his two sons. So the Psalmist, “I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it” (Psalm 39:9).

Leviticus 10:3. Moses said unto Aaron — This awful stroke having wounded Aaron with deep anguish, Moses endeavours to allay his sorrows, by representing to him how very faulty his two sons had been, and how agreeable their punishment was to the wisdom of the divine government, and what good ends it might answer. This is it that the Lord spake — Though the words be not recorded in Scripture, where only the heads of discourses are contained, yet it is probable they were uttered by Moses in God’s name. Howsoever, the sense of them is in many places. I will be sanctified — This may denote, either, 1st, Their duty to sanctify God, to demean themselves with such care, and reverence, and watchfulness, as became the holiness of the God whom they served; whence he leaves them to gather the justice of the present judgment. Or, 2d, God’s purpose to sanctify himself, to manifest himself to be a holy and righteous God by his severe and impartial punishment of all transgressors, how near soever they were to him. That come nigh me — Who draw near to me, or to the place where I dwell, and are admitted into the holy place, whence others are shut out. It is a description of the priests. I will be glorified — As they have sinned publicly and scandalously, so I will vindicate my honour in a public and exemplary manner, that all men may learn to give me the glory of my holiness by an exact conformity to my laws. And Aaron held his peace —

In acknowledgment of God’s justice, and submission to it. He murmured not, nor replied against God, nor against Moses, wisely considering that their sin was directly against God, and in that which is most dear and honourable in God’s account, his worship; and that God’s honour ought to be dearer to him than his sons. The words are most beautiful and emphatical.

10:3-7 The most quieting considerations under affliction are fetched from the word of God. What was it that God spake? Though Aaron's heart must have been filled with anguish and dismay, yet with silent submission he revered the justice of the stroke. When God corrects us or ours for sin, it is our duty to accept the punishment, and say, It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good. Whenever we worship God, we come nigh unto him, as spiritual priests. This ought to make us very serious in all acts of devotion. It concerns us all, when we come nigh to God, to do every religious exercise, as those who believe that the God with whom we have to do, is a holy God. He will take vengeance on those that profane his sacred name by trifling with him.Rather, I will sanctify myself in them that come near to me (i. e. the priests), and I will glorify myself before all the people. The words used by Moses on this occasion are not found elsewhere in the Pentateuch. But the sense is implied in such passages as Exodus 19:22; Exodus 28:41; Exodus 29:1, Exodus 29:44.

Aaron's silence (compare Psalm 39:9) on this occasion may be compared with his reasonable and natural expostulation with Moses when his surviving sons were rebuked for not having eaten the flesh of the sin-offering Leviticus 10:19.

3. Moses said … This is it that the Lord spoke … I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me—"They that come nigh me," points, in this passage, directly to the priests; and they had received repeated and solemn warnings as to the cautious and reverent manner of their approach into the divine presence (Ex 19:22; 29:44; Le 8:35).

Aaron held his peace—The loss of two sons in so sudden and awful a manner was a calamity overwhelming to parental feelings. But the pious priest indulged in no vehement ebullition of complaint and gave vent to no murmur of discontent, but submitted in silent resignation to what he saw was "the righteous judgment of God" [Ro 2:5].

This is it that the Lord spake; though the express words be not recorded in Scripture, where only the heads of sermons are contained, yet it is probable they were uttered by Moses in God’s name. Howsoever, the sense and substance of them is in many places. See Exodus 19:22 29:43 Leviticus 8:35.

I will be sanctified: this may note either,

1. Their duty to sanctify God, i.e. to demean themselves with such care, and reverence, and watchfulness, as becomes the holiness of the God whom they serve, and of the worship in which they are engaged; whence he leaves them to gather the justice of the present judgment for their gross neglect herein. Or,

2. God’s purpose to sanctify himself, i.e. to declare and manifest himself to be a holy and righteous God by his severe and impartial punishment of all transgressors, how near soever they are to him.

In them that come nigh me, i.e. who draw near to me, or to the place where I dwell, and are admitted into the holy place, whence others are shut out. It is a description of the priests. See Exodus 19:22 Leviticus 21:7 Ezekiel 42:13,14.

Before all the people I will be glorified: as they have sinned publicly and scandalously, so I will vindicate my honour in a public and exemplary manner, that all men may learn to give me the glory of my sovereignty and holiness by an exact conformity to my laws.

Aaron held his peace, partly through excessive grief, which is sometimes signified by silence, as Isaiah 47:5 Lamentations 2:10, and principally in acknowledgment of God’s justice and submission to it. Compare Psalm 39:10 Ezekiel 24:17. He murmured not, nor replied against God, nor against Moses; wisely considering that their sin was directly against God, and in that which is most dear and honourable in God’s account, to wit, in his worship; and that God’s honour ought to be dearer to him than his sons; and that this being the first violation of the law newly given, and committed by those who should have been the strictest observers and assertors of it, did deserve a very severe punishment.

And Moses said unto Aaron,.... Upon this awful occasion, and in order to quiet and humble him under the mighty hand of God:

this is it that the Lord spoke, saying; but when he spoke it, and where it is said and recorded, is not so very clear; it might have been said, and yet not recorded, or the substance of it may be recorded, though not in the express words here delivered; it may refer, as some think, to Exodus 19:22 or else to Exodus 29:43 which seems to come nearest to what follows, so Jarchi:

I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me; in the priests that drew nigh to him, and offered sacrifice and burnt incense to him; by these he expected to be sanctified, not to be made holy, but to be declared to be so, and obeyed and worshipped as such; as he is, when his commands and ordinances are observed, as he would have them be, in faith and fear, which were not done by these sons of Aaron; and therefore the Lord, by the punishment he inflicted, showed himself to be an holy, righteous, and jealous God:

and before all the people I will be glorified; as he is when he is believed and trusted in; when his worship is carried on in his own house, according to his will; when his ordinances are kept as they were delivered, and when he is reverenced in the assembly of his saints; all which were wanting in this case. And this may also have respect to the glory of divine justice, in the public punishment of the sin of those men, that since he was not glorified by them before the people in the way of their duty, he would glorify himself in their punishment:

and Aaron held his peace: was in a stupor, as the Septuagint, quite amazed, thunderstruck, as we say; he was silent, said not one word against what was done; murmured not at the providence, nor complained of any severity, but was patient under the hand of God, and resigned to his will; and since God was sanctified and glorified, he was contented.

Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be {b} sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.

(b) I will punish them that serve me in other ways than I have commanded, not sparing the chief, that the people may fear and praise my judgments.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. I will be sanctified] The words seem to be a quotation and are in poetical parallelism:

“In them that come nigh me I will shew myself holy,

And before all the people I will glorify myself.”

The sense is that the priests are those who have the right to approach God, and He shews Himself holy in punishing those who do it improperly.

Verse 3. - This is that the Lord spake (see Exodus 19:22; Exodus 28:41; Exodus 29:44; Leviticus 8:33). God will be sanctified either by the obedience or by the punishment of those that come nigh him, that is, his priests. If they have greater privileges, they have greater perils (cf. Matthew 11:21). Aaron held his peace - in submission (see Psalm 39:9; Job 1:22), acknowledging that Moses had justified the act of God in executing so terrible a judgment. Leviticus 10:3Nadab and Abihu took their censers (machtah, Exodus 25:38), and having put fire in them, placed incense thereon, and brought strange fire before Jehovah, which He had not commanded them. It is not very clear what the offence of which they were guilty actually was. The majority of expositors suppose the sin to have consisted in the fact, that they did not take the fire for the incense from the altar-fire. But this had not yet been commanded by God; and in fact it is never commanded at all, except with regard to the incense-offering, with which the high priest entered the most holy place on the day of atonement (Leviticus 16:12), though we may certainly infer from this, that it was also the rule for the daily incense-offering. By the fire which they offered before Jehovah, we are no doubt to understand the firing of the incense-offering. This might be called "strange fire" if it was not offered in the manner prescribed in the law, just as in Exodus 30:9 incense not prepared according to the direction of God is called "strange incense." The supposition that they presented an incense-offering that was not commanded in the law, and apart from the time of the morning and evening sacrifice, and that this constituted their sin, is supported by the time at which their illegal act took place. It is perfectly obvious from Leviticus 10:12. and 16ff. that it occurred in the interval between the sacrificial transaction in ch. 9 and the sacrificial meal which followed it, and therefore upon the day of their inauguration. For in Leviticus 10:12 Moses commands Aaron and his remaining sons Eleazar and Ithamar to eat the meat-offering that was left from the firings of Jehovah, and inquires in Leviticus 10:16 for the goat of the sin-offering, which the priests were to have eaten in a holy place. Knobel's opinion is not an improbable one, therefore, that Nadab and Abihu intended to accompany the shouts of the people with an incense-offering to the praise and glory of God, and presented an incense-offering not only at an improper time, but not prepared from the altar-fire, and committed such a sin by this will-worship, that they were smitten by the fire which came forth from Jehovah, even before their entrance into the holy place, and so died "before Jehovah." The expression "before Jehovah" is applied to the presence of God, both in the dwelling (viz., the holy place and the holy of holies, e.g., Leviticus 4:6-7; Leviticus 16:13) and also in the court (e.g., Leviticus 1:5, etc.). It is in the latter sense that it is to be taken here, as is evident from Leviticus 10:4, where the persons slain are said to have lain "before the sanctuary of the dwelling," i.e., in the court of the tabernacle. The fire of the holy God (Exodus 19:18), which had just sanctified the service of Aaron as well-pleasing to God, brought destruction upon his two eldest sons, because they had not sanctified Jehovah in their hearts, but had taken upon themselves a self-willed service; just as the same gospel is to one a savour of life unto life, and to another a savour of death unto death (2 Corinthians 2:16). - In Leviticus 10:3 Moses explains this judgment to Aaron: "This is it that Jehovah spake, saying, I will sanctify Myself in him that is nigh to Me, and will glorify Myself in the face of all the people." אכּבד is unquestionably to be taken in the same sense as in Exodus 14:4, Exodus 14:17; consequently אקּדשׁ is to be taken in a reflective and not in a passive sense, in the Ezekiel 38:16. The imperfects are used as aorists, in the sense of what God does at all times. But these words of Moses are no "reproof to Aaron, who had not restrained the untimely zeal of his sons" (Knobel), nor a reproach which made Aaron responsible for the conduct of his sons, but a simple explanation of the judgment of God, which should be taken to heart by every one, and involved an admonition to all who heard it, not to Aaron only but to the whole nation, to sanctify God continually in the proper way. Moreover Jehovah had not communicated to Moses by revelation the words which he spoke here, but had made the fact known by the position assigned to Aaron and his sons through their election to the priesthood. By this act Jehovah had brought them near to Himself (Numbers 16:5), made them קרבי equals ליהוה קרבים "persons standing near to Jehovah" (Ezekiel 42:13; Ezekiel 43:19), and sanctified them to Himself by anointing (Leviticus 8:10, Leviticus 8:12; Exodus 29:1, Exodus 29:44; Exodus 40:13, Exodus 40:15), that they might sanctify Him in their office and life. If they neglected this sanctification, He sanctified Himself in them by a penal judgment (Ezekiel 38:16), and thereby glorified Himself as the Holy One, who is not to be mocked. "And Aaron held his peace." He was obliged to acknowledge the righteousness of the holy God.
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