Numbers 20:28
And Moses stripped Aaron of his garments, and put them on Eleazar his son; and Aaron died there in the top of the mount: and Moses and Eleazar came down from the mount.
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(28) And Aaron died there in the top of the mount.—The date of Aaron’s death, as we learn from Numbers 33:38, was the first day of the fifth month, in the fortieth year after the exodus, and his age a hundred and twenty-three years (Numbers 33:39), which accords with the statement contained in Exodus 7:7, that “Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three years old, when they spake unto Pharaoh.” The difference in the circumstances of the death of the two brothers is remarkable. Both Moses and Aaron were excluded from the land of promise by reason of transgression. Both died upon the top of a mountain. But whilst Moses died in solitary grandeur, and the place of his burial was unknown, Aaron ascended the mount “in the sight of all the people,” and died in the presence of Moses and Eleazar. The death of Aaron was an indication of the imperfection of the Levitical priesthood. “They truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death; but this man because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood” (Hebrews 7:23-24).

Numbers 20:28. And Moses stripped Aaron — And death will strip us. Naked we came into the world; naked we must go out. We shall see little reason to be proud of our clothes, our ornaments, or marks of honour if we consider how soon death will strip us of all our glory, and take the crown off from our head! Aaron died there — He died in Mosera, Deuteronomy 10:6. Mosera was the general name of the place where that station was, and mount Hor a particular place in it. Presently after he was stripped of his priestly garments, he lay down and died. A good man would desire, if it were the will of God, not to outlive his usefulness. Why should we covet to continue any longer in this world, than while we may do God and our generation some service?20:22-29 God bids Aaron prepare to die. There is something of displeasure in these orders. Aaron must not enter Canaan, because he had failed in his duty at the waters of strife. There is much of mercy in them. Aaron, though he dies for his transgression, dies with ease, and in honour. He is gathered to his people, as one who dies in the arms of Divine grace. There is much significancy in these orders. Aaron must not enter Canaan, to show that the Levitical priesthood could make nothing perfect; that must be done by bringing in a better hope. Aaron submits, and dies in the method and manner appointed; and, for aught that appears, with as much cheerfulness as if he had been going to bed. It was a great satisfaction to Aaron to see his son, who was dear to him, preferred; and his office preserved and secured: especially, to see in this a figure of Christ's everlasting priesthood. A good man would desire, if it were the will of God, not to outlive his usefulness. Why should we covet to continue any longer in this world, than while we may do some service in it for God and our generation?The priestly garments, wherewith Moses had invested Aaron Leviticus 8:7-9, were put upon Eleazar by way of solemn transference of Aaron's office to him; compare 1 Kings 19:19. 28. Aaron died there in the top of the mount—(See on [84]De 10:6). A tomb has been erected upon or close by the spot where he was buried. Aaron died there, to wit, in Mount Hor.

Object. He died in Mosera, Deu 10:6.

Answ. Mosera was the general name of the place where that station was, and Mount Hor is a particular place in it, where he died, and was buried also, Deu 10:6. And Moses stripped Aaron of his garments,.... His priestly garments, which, very probably, were put on at the foot of the mountain, on purpose for the transaction of this affair, since they were not in common worn, but only when in service; the same hands that clothed Aaron with them at first, stripped him of them, and both were done at the command of God; as the stripping of those garments was a divesting Aaron of his office, so it was a figure of the disannulling of his priesthood, when the Messiah should come, a priest after another order:

and put them upon Eleazar his son; which was an investing him with the office of high priest in his father's room; and which, as it must give Aaron pleasure and satisfaction to see his son put into his office before he died, so it signified the continuance of it in succession in his posterity, and was a confirmation of it; and it must be pleasing to Moses and the people of Israel to observe the care and faithfulness of God in providing for the succession of the priesthood:

and Aaron died there in the top of the mount; quietly, comfortably, and contentedly, without the least murmuring or repining: this was on the first day of the fifth month, as appears from Numbers 33:38, that is, of the month Ab, as the Targum of Jonathan here says; and in this the Jewish writers (k) agree in general, which month answers to part of July and part of August; and in this same place where he died he was buried, as is evident from Deuteronomy 10:6, wherefore no credit is to be given to the Arabs, who show a stone not far from Mount Sinai, about two feet high from the ground, on which are seen some unknown characters, which, they say, were engraven by Jeremiah the prophet, in honour of Moses and Aaron, who were buried there (l):

and Moses and Eleazar came down from the mount; after Aaron was dead and buried.

(k) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 10. p. 29. Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 7. 2. Schulchan Aruch, par. 1. c. 580. sect. 2.((l) Journal from Cairo to Mount Sinai, p. 40. Ed. 2.

And Moses stripped Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son; and Aaron died there in the top of the mount: and Moses and Eleazar came down from the mount.
Verse 28. - Moses stripped Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son. This was done in token that the office was transferred; it was done out of sight, and far above, in token that the priesthood was perpetual, although the priest was mortal. Aaron died there. In this case, as in that of Miriam (verse 1), and of Moses himself (Deuteronomy 34:5), no details are given. God drew as it were a veil over a departure hence which could but be very sad, because it was in a special sense the wages of sin. We may perhaps conclude that Aaron died alone, and was buried, as Moses was, by God; otherwise Moses and Eleazar would have been unclean under the law of Numbers 19:11 (cf. also Leviticus 21:11). Death of Aaron at Mount Hor. - The Israelites left Kadesh, and passed along the road just mentioned to Mount Hor. This mountain, which was situated, according to Numbers 33:37, on the border of the land of Edom, is placed by Josephus (Ant. iv. 4, 7) in the neighbourhood of Petra; so also by Eusebius and Jerome: "Or mons, in quo mortuus est Aaron, juxta civitatem Petram." According to modern travellers, it is Mount Harun, on the north-western side of Wady Musa (Petra), which is described by Robinson (vol. ii. p. 508) as "a cone irregularly truncated, having three ragged points or peaks, of which that upon the north-east is the highest, and has upon it the Muhammedan Wely, or tomb of Aaron," from which the mountain has received its name "Harun," i.e., Aaron (vid., Burckhardt, Syr. pp. 715, 716; v. Schubert, Reise, ii. pp. 419ff.; Ritter, Erdkunde, xiv. pp. 1127ff.). There can be no doubt as to the general correctness of this tradition;

(Note: There is no force whatever in the arguments by which Knobel has endeavoured to prove that it is incorrect. The first objection, viz., that the Hebrews reached Mount Hor from Kadesh in a single march, has no foundation in the biblical text, and cannot be inferred from the circumstance that there is no place of encampment mentioned between Kadesh and Mount Hor; for, on the one hand, we may clearly see, not only from Numbers 21:10, but even from Exodus 17:1, as compared with Numbers 33:41. and Numbers 33:12., that only those places of encampment are mentioned in the historical account where events occurred that were worthy of narrating; and, on the other hand, it is evident from Numbers 10:33, that the Israelites sometimes continued marching for several days before they formed an encampment again. The second objection - viz., that if Hor was near Petra, it is impossible to see how the advance of the Hebrews from Kadesh to Hor could be regarded by the king of Arad, who lived more than thirty hours' journey to the north, as coming (Numbers 33:40), not to mention "coming by the way of the spies" (Numbers 21:1), and how this king could come into conflict with the Hebrews when posted at Petra - rests upon the erroneous assumption, that the attack of the king of Arad did not take place till after the death of Aaron, because it is not mentioned till afterwards. Lastly, the third objection - viz., that a march from Kadesh in a south-westerly direction to Wady Musa, and then northwards past Zalmona to Phunon (Numbers 33:41), is much too adventurous - is overthrown by Numbers 21:4, where the Israelites are said to have gone from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea. (See the notes on Numbers 21:10.))

for even if the Mohammedan tradition concerning Aaron's grave is not well accredited, the situation of this mountain is in perfect harmony with the statement in Numbers 20:23 and Numbers 33:37, viz., that the Israelites had then reached the border of the land of Edom. The place where the people encamped is called Mosera in Deuteronomy 10:6, and Moseroth in the list of stations in Numbers 33:30, and is at all events to be sought for in the Arabah, in the neighbourhood of Mount Hor, though it is altogether unknown to us. The camp of 600,000 men, with their wives, children, and flocks, would certainly require a space miles wide, and might therefore easily stretch from the mouths of the Wady el Weibeh and Wady Ghuweir, in the Arabah, to the neighbourhood of Mount Harun. The place of encampment is called after this mountain, Hor, both here and in Numbers 33:37., because it was there that Aaron died and was buried. The Lord foretold his death to Moses, and directed him to take off Aaron's priestly robes, and put them upon Eleazar his son, as Aaron was not to enter the promised land, because they (Aaron and Moses) had opposed the command of Jehovah at the water of strife (see at Numbers 20:12). "Gathered to his people," like the patriarchs (Genesis 25:8, Genesis 25:17; Genesis 35:29; Genesis 49:33).

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