Numbers 3:4
And Nadab and Abihu died before the LORD, when they offered strange fire before the LORD, in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children: and Eleazar and Ithamar ministered in the priest's office in the sight of Aaron their father.
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(4) Died before the Lord.—The account is given in Leviticus 10:1-2, where the same expression “before the Lord” is used both in regard to the offering of strange fire by Nadab and Abihu, and also in regard to their death.

And they had no children.—To die childless was regarded not only as a reproach, but also as a judgment. This was especially the case in regard to Nadab and Abihu, inasmuch as the sons of one, or of both (as was the case in regard to the sons of Eleazar and of Ithamar), would have succeeded to the high priesthood.

Numbers 3:4. In the sight of Aaron — Under his inspection and direction, and as his servants or ministers in the priest’s office.3:1-13 There was much work belonging to the priests' office, and there were now only Aaron and his two sons to do it; God appoints the Levites to attend them. Those whom God finds work for, he will find help for. The Levites were taken instead of the first-born. When He that made us, saves us, as the first-born of Israel were saved, we are laid under further obligations to serve him faithfully. God's right to us by redemption, confirms the right he has to us by creation.whom he consecrated - i. e. whom Moses consecrated, or literally as in the margin, whose "hand he filled," by conferring their office upon them (Leviticus 8:1 ff). 2-4. And these are the names of the sons of Aaron—All the sons of Aaron, four in number, were consecrated to minister in the priest's office. The two oldest enjoyed but a brief term of office (Le 10:1, 2; Nu 3:4; 26:61); but Eleazar and Ithamar, the other two, were dutiful, and performed the sacred service during the lifetime of their father, as his assistants, and under his superintendence. In the time of Aaron’s life, as this phrase is taken, Numbers 3:4; see also Psalm 72:5,17; and under their father’s inspection and direction, and as their father’s servants or ministers in the priest’s office; for servants are oft described by this phrase of being, or standing, or serving in the sight or presence, we of their master. And Nadab and Abihu died before the Lord,...., By flaming fire, as the Targum of Jonathan adds, see Leviticus 10:2; and so were not alive at this time when the account of the priests and Levites was taken:

when they offered strange fire before the Lord in the wilderness of Sinai; after the tabernacle was set up, and the service of it begun, and quickly after their unction and consecration: of this strange fire; see Gill on Numbers 10:1,

and they had no children; which is observed, partly to show the punishment of them, and the reproach upon their names, that they died childless, and had none to succeed them in the priesthood; for as the Jewish writers (n) observe if they had left any behind them, those would have come into the office before Eleazar and Ithamar; and partly to show that all the priests in succeeding ages sprung from those next mentioned:

and Eleazar and Ithamar ministered in the priest's office, in the sight of Aaron their father; in his presence, under his inspection, and by his direction, he seeing and observing that they did everything according to the laws delivered by Moses, relating to, the office of the priesthood; or while he was yet alive, as Aben Ezra, they were concerned with him, and acted under him in the priestly office; and so the Septuagint version renders it, "with Aaron their father" (o); but a Jewish writer (p) interprets it in a different manner, "in the room of Aaron their father"; as if it respected not any conjunction with him in the then present exercise of their office in his lifetime, but their succession in it after his death; but the former seems most correct.

(n) Torat Cohanim apud Ceseph Misnah in Maimon. Melachim, c. 1. sect. 7. Chaskuniin in loc. (o) Which is approved by Noldius, p. 731. (p) Chaskuni.

And Nadab and Abihu died {b} before the LORD, when they offered strange fire before the LORD, in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children: and Eleazar and Ithamar ministered in the priest's office in the {c} sight of Aaron their father.

(b) Or, before the altar.

(c) While their father lived.

4. The incident here referred to is related in Leviticus 10:1-7. The meaning of ‘strange fire’ is uncertain. Either the incense which they burnt was not made in accordance with the divine prescription (given in Exodus 30:34-38). or the fire was not taken from the proper place—the altar of burnt-offering. ‘Strange’ means ‘not in accordance with the regular ritual’; see n. on Numbers 1:51.

they had no children] The point of this lies in the fact that after the exile all the priestly families called themselves ‘sons of Aaron,’ and traced their descent through Eleazar or Ithamar (see p. xvi).Verse 4. - They had no children. If they had left sons, these would have succeeded to their office, and to the headship of the priestly line. In the sight of Aaron. In his lifetime (cf. Genesis 11:28). Septuagint, "with Aaron." In the time of David the descendants of Eleazar were divided into sixteen courses, the descendants of Ithamar into eight (2 Chronicles 24:3). In Numbers 2:32 we have the whole number given, 603,550 men, not including the Levites (Numbers 2:33, see at Numbers 1:49); and in Numbers 2:34 the concluding remark as to the subsequent execution of the divine command-an anticipatory notice, as in Exodus 12:50; Exodus 40:16, etc.
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