“Aharon answered Moshe, ‘Even though they offered their sin offering and burnt offering today, things like these have happened to me! If I had eaten the purification offering today, would it have pleased Adonai?‘ On hearing this reply, Moshe was satisfied.”-Leviticus 10:19-20
In verses 18-20, we encounter a somewhat difficult to understand exchange between Moses and Aaron.
Moses asks Aaron why didn’t he eat the of the Purification Offering as he was supposed to?
Aaron says something to the effect that in light of what has happened to his sons, would it have made sense to do such a thing?
On the surface, it simply seems like Aaron is being redundant by saying, “if I had eaten the meat from the Purification Offering as required, would that have been acceptable to the Lord?”
It doesn’t really make sense, does it?
What was the real dilemma Aaron was posing here?
Here’s the situation.
In those days, it was common for Hebrew families in mourning to refrain from eating out of respect for the dead.
Aaron and his remaining sons were caught between a rock and a hard place.
The problem they faced was per the Lord’s command, should they have eaten the HATTA-AT portion assigned to them or should they have refrained from eating out of respect for their dead family members in accordance with the mourning rituals?
What made this matter particularly sticky was that what they were not just dealing with ordinary food.
We’re talking about Holy Food here!
This was the portion especially set aside from God’s Holy Property for the priests to eat.
So this was quite a conundrum.
What choice should they have made in this situation?
Well, the truth be told, they should have eaten the Purification Offering and here are the reasons why:
First, they were specifically commanded NOT to mourn for their two kin who had just been roasted to death.
Second, the reason their two kin (Nadav and Avihu) were killed in the first place was for a blatant disregard of the Lord’s procedures that were to be followed when officiating at the Tabernacle.
Their mourning would have been like telling the Lord that His killing of them was not righteous.
So Aaron and his sons did choose wrongly by deciding NOT to eat the meat from the Purification Offering.
Yet, we’re told that when Aaron offered up his explanation, Moses accepted it.
I can only see this as Moses extending grace and being sympathetic to the dilemma Aaron was facing.
There’s also another interesting little point I want you to notice.
When Aaron asked “would the Lord have approved”, notice what the Scripture says.
We’re told that it was Moses, NOT God, who approved.
Other Bible translations will say Moses was “satisfied”.
I think we need to remember that Moses was unique among Bible characters.
The Scriptures make it clear that if Moses spoke it, it was as if the Lord spoke it.
And this is not some teaching based on tradition or Judaism.
It is a direct instruction straight from the Scriptures.
NEXT TIME WE BEGIN LEVITICUS CHAPTER ELEVEN