“Moses summoned Mishael and Elzaphan, sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel, and said to them, “Come here; carry your cousins outside the camp, away from the front of the sanctuary.” So they came and carried them, still in their tunics, outside the camp, as Moses ordered.”-Leviticus 10:4
Following the death of Nadav and Avihu, we’re told that Moses summoned their cousins Mishael and El-zaphan to carry the dead bodies away to an area designated as being OUTSIDE THE CAMP.
There is a non-negotiable protocol concerning common priests and corpses of which you need to be aware and it is this.
Common priests are forbidden from touching corpses.
However, when it involves certain relatives, it is okay.
However, the High Priest is under the most stringent regulations.
The High Priest can NEVER, under any circumstances, ever touch any dead body, and yes that would include his wife, children and parents.
When a priest comes into physical contact with a death body, he instantly becomes defiled and will then be required to go through quite a complicated and lengthy purification procedure to be made clean again.
An unclean common priest or High Priest CANNOT carry out his duties while in an unclean state.
Under normal circumstances, the duty of transporting the dead bodies would have fallen to Eleazar and Ithamar.
But since they too had just been ordained as priests at this inaugural ceremony, they were also forbidden from touching corpses.
Hence, by default, Mishael and El-zaphan were tasked with the uncomfortable duty of transporting the two corpses that had just been burned to a crisp.
Also note that the dead bodies had to be moved to OUTSIDE THE CAMP.
Corpses could not be anywhere inside the camp of Israel!
Because they would defile the camp if anybody accidentally came into contact with the dirt where the bodies were buried.
Here’s a good rule to remember when studying Scripture.
Among all the ways a person could become ritually unclean, contact with death was the absolute worst.
Take a look at verses 6 and 7.
“Then Moses said to Aaron and his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, “Do not let your hair become unkempt and do not tear your clothes, or you will die and the Lord will be angry with the whole community. But your relatives, all the Israelites, may mourn for those the Lord has destroyed by fire. Do not leave the entrance to the tent of meeting or you will die, because the Lord’s anointing oil is on you.” So they did as Moses said.”
The Lord is telling Aaron and his two surviving sons that they are forbidden from participating in the customary mourning-over-the-dead procedures.
Note how strict the Lord is in this matter.
He is basically telling them that if they do participate in the mourning, they too will be struck dead.
Again, the reason is because they are priests and are representing the entire nation of Israel.
If Aaron and his surviving sons were to join in the bereavement, they would have subjected the whole community to God’s wrath.
Although this is something we will study in detail later, the lesson we can take away from this incident is that from the Lord’s perspective, there is nothing more unnatural than death.
We human beings may view death as just an uncomfortable fact of life we have to accept, but in YHVH’s Kingdom there is nothing more unnatural and than death.
In fact, He sent us His son to save us from death.