From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

(According To Jerome Means "Mountain Of Strength") , the oldest son of Amram and Jochebed, of the tribe of Levi; brother of Moses and Miriam ( Numbers 26:59;  Exodus 6:20) 1574 B.C. Jochebed, mother of Moses and Aaron, bore them three centuries after the death of Levi ( Exodus 2:1); "daughter of Levi, whom her mother bore to Levi," means "a daughter of a Levite whom her mother bore to a Levite." The point of  Numbers 26:59 is, Moses and Aaron were Levites both on the father's side and mother's side, Hebrew of Hebrew. He was three years older than Moses ( Exodus 7:7): born, doubtless, before Pharaoh's edict for the destruction of the Hebrew male infants ( Exodus 1:22). Miriam was the oldest of the three, as appears from her being old enough, when Moses was only three months old and Aaron three years, to offer to go and call a Hebrew nurse for Pharaoh's daughter, to tend his infant brother.

The first mention of Aaron is in  Exodus 4:14; where, in answer to Moses' objection that he did not have the eloquence needed for such a mission as that to Pharaoh, Jehovah answers: "Is not Aaron, the Levite, thy brother? I know that he can speak well: and thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth; and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do; and he shall be thy spokesman unto the people; and he shall be instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God." His being described as "the Levite" implies that he already took a lead in his tribe; and, as the firstborn son, he would be priest of the household.

The Lord directed him to "go into the wilderness to meet Moses" ( Exodus 4:27). In obedience to that intimation, after the forty years' separation, he met Moses in the "mount of God," where the vision of the flaming bush had been vouchsafed to the latter, and conducted him back to Goshen. There Aaron, evidently a man of influence already among the Israelites, introduced Moses to their assembled elders; and, as his mouthpiece, declared to them the divine commission of Moses with such persuasive power, under the Spirit, that the people "believed, bowed their heads, and worshipped" ( Exodus 4:29-31). During Moses' forty years' absence in Midian, Aaron had married Elisheba or Elizabeth, daughter of Amminadab, and sister of Naashon, a prince of the children of Judah ( Exodus 6:23;  1 Chronicles 2:10). By her he had four sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar (father of Phinehas), and Ithamar. From his first interview with Pharaoh to the end of his course he always appears in connection with his more illustrious brother, cooperating with and assisting him.

On the way to Sinai, in the battle with Amalek, Aaron, in company with Hur, supported Moses' weary hands, which uplifted the miracle-working rod of God ( Exodus 17:9-13); and so Israel prevailed. His high dignity as interpreter of Moses, and worker of the appointed "signs in the sight of the people," and his investiture with the hereditary high priesthood, a dignity which Moses did not share, account naturally for his having once harbored envy, and joined with Miriam in her jealousy of Moses' Ethiopian wife, when they said: "Hath the Lord spoken only by Moses? Hath He not spoken also by us?" (Compare  Numbers 12:1-2 with  Exodus 15:20.) But Moses is always made the principal, and Aaron subordinate. Whereas Moses ascended Sinai, and there received the tables of the law direct from God, as the mediator ( Galatians 3:19), Aaron has only the privilege of a more distant approach with Nadab and Abihu and the seventy elders, near enough indeed to see Jehovah's glory, but not to have access to His immediate presence.

His character, as contrasted with Moses, comes out in what followed during Moses' forty days' absence on the mount. Left alone to guide the people, he betrayed his instability of character in his weak and guilty concession to the people's demand for visible gods to go before them in the absence of Moses, their recognized leader under Jehovah; and instead of the pillar of cloud and fire wherein the Lord heretofore had gone before them ( Exodus 13:21; Exodus 32). Perhaps Aaron had hoped that their love of their personal finery and jewelry, which is the idol of so many in our own days, would prove stronger than their appetite for open idolatry; but men will for superstition part with that which they will not part with for a pure worship. So, casting the responsibility on them, easy and too ready to yield to pressure from outside, and forgetting the precept, "thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil" ( Exodus 23:2), he melted, or permitted their gold to be melted in a furnace, and "fashioned it with a graving tool into a calf." This form was probably designed as a compromise to combine the seemingly common elements of the worship of Jehovah associated with the calf-formed Cherubim , and of the Egyptian idol-ox, Μnevis or Αpis .

Like Jeroboam's calves long after, the sin was a violation of the second rather than of the first commandment, the worship of the true God by an image (As The Church Of Rome Teaches) , rather than the adding or substituting of another god. It was an accommodation to the usages which both Israel and Jeroboam respectively had learned in Egypt. Like all compromises of truth, its inevitable result was still further apostasy from the truth. Aaron's words, "These are thy gods Elohim (A Title Of The True God) , O Israel, which brought thee up out of Egypt," as also his proclamation, "Tomorrow is a feast to JEHOVAH," show that he did not mean an open apostasy from the Lord, but rather a concession to the people's sensuous tastes, in order to avert a total alienation from Jehovah.

But, the so-called "feast of the Lord" sank into gross paganness; "the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play," "dancing" before the calf, "naked unto their shame among their enemies"; they aroused Moses' righteous anger when he descended from the mountain, so that he broke in pieces the tables out of his hand, as a symbol of their violation of the covenant. Then he burned the calf in the fire, ground it to powder (A Process Which Required A Considerable Acquaintance With Chemistry) , strewed it upon the water, and made the Israelites drink of it. Compare  Proverbs 1:31. Aaron alleged, as an excuse, the people's being "set on mischief," and seemingly that he had only cast their gold into the fire, and that by mere chance "there came out this calf."

Aaron's humiliation and repentance must have been very deep; for two months after this great sin, God's foreappointed plan (Exodus 29) was carried into effect in the consecration of Aaron to the high priesthood (Leviticus 8). That it was a delegated priesthood, not inherent like the Messiah's priesthood, of the order of Melchizedek, appears from the fact that Moses, though not the legal priest but God's representative, officiates on the occasion, to inaugurate him into it. Compare, for the spiritual significance of this, Hebrew 7. Aaron's very fall would upon his recovery make him the more fit as a priest, to have compassion on the ignorant and on them that are out of the way, for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity ( Hebrews 5:2); compare the case of Peter,  Luke 22:31-32.

The consecration comprised a sin offering for reconciliation, a burnt offering to express whole-hearted self-consecration to God, and a meat offering ( Minchah ), unbloody, of flour, salt, oil, and frankincense, to thank God for the blessings of nature (these marking the blessings and duties of man); then also the special tokens of the priestly office, the ram of consecration, whose blood was sprinkled on Aaron and his sons to sanctify them, the sacred robes "for glory and for beauty," breast-plate, ephod, robe, embroidered coat, mitre, and girdle, and linen breeches (Exodus 28); and the anointing with the holy oil, which it was death for anyone else to compound or use ( Exodus 30:22-38), symbolizing God's grace, the exclusive source of spiritual unction. Aaron immediately offered sacrifice and blessed the people, and the divine acceptance was marked by fire from the Lord consuming upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat, so that the people shouted at the sight and fell on their faces.

Nadab and Abihu, probably (see  Leviticus 10:8-9) under the effects of wine taken when about to be consecrated, instead of taking the sacred fire from the brazen altar, burned the incense on the golden altar with common fire; or, as Knobel and Speaker's Commentary think, they offered the incense in accompaniment of the people's shouts, not at the due time of morning or evening sacrifice, but in their own self-willed manner and at their own time. ((See Fire .) God visited them with retribution in kind, consuming them with fire from the Lord; and to prevent a similar evil recurring, forbade henceforth the use of wine to the priests when about to officiate in the tabernacle; the prohibition coming so directly after the sin, if the cause was indeed intemperance, is an undesigned coincidence and mark of genuineness: compare  Luke 1:15 and  1 Timothy 3:3 for the present application.

The true source of exhilaration to a spiritual priest unto God, is not wine, but the Spirit:  Ephesians 5:18-19; compare  Acts 2:15-18. Nothing could more clearly mark how grace had raised Aaron above his natural impulsiveness than the touching picture, so eloquent in its brevity, of Aaron's submissiveness under the crushing stroke, "and Aaron held his peace." Moses, in chronicling the disgrace and destruction of his brother's children, evinces his own candor and veracity as an impartial historian. The only token of anguish Aaron manifested was his forbearing to eat that day the flesh of the people's sin offering:  Leviticus 10:12-20. All other manifestations of mourning on the part of the priests were forbidden; compare, as to our spiritual priesthood,  Luke 9:60.

Miriam, in a fit of feminine jealousy, some time afterward acted on Aaron so as to induce him to join in murmuring against Moses: the former relying on her prophetic inspiration ( Exodus 15:20), the latter on his priesthood, as though equal with Moses in the rank of their commission. Their pretext against Moses was his Ethiopian wife, a marriage abhorrent to Hebrew feelings. That Miriam was the instigator appears from her name preceding that of Aaron (Numbers 12), and from the leprosy being inflicted on her alone. Aaron, with characteristic impressibleness, repented of his sin almost immediately after he had been seduced into it, upon Jehovah's sudden address to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, declaring His admission of Moses to speak with Him "mouth to mouth, apparently," so that he should "behold the similitude of the Lord," a favor far above all "visions" vouchsafed to prophets. At Aaron's penitent intercession with Moses, and Moses' consequent prayer, Miriam was healed.

Twenty years later (1471 B.C.), in the wilderness of Paran, the rebellion took place of Korah and the Levites against Aaron's monopoly of the priesthood, and of Dathan, Abiram, and the Reubenites against Moses' authority as civil leader. It is a striking instance of God's chastising even His own people's sin in kind. As Aaron jealously murmured against Moses, so Korah murmured against him. Fire from the Lord avenged his cause on Korah and the 250 priestsn with him burning incense: and the earth swallowed up the Reubenites with Dathan and Abiram. Possibly Reuben's descendants sought to recover the primogeniture forfeited by his incest ( Genesis 49:3-4;  1 Chronicles 5:1). The punishment corresponded to the sin; pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. His numbers were so reduced that Moses prays for his deliverance from extinction: "Let Reuben live, and not die, and let not his men be few."

A plague from the Lord had threatened to destroy utterly the people for murmuring against Moses and Aaron as the murderers of Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and their accomplices, when Aaron proved the efficacy of his priesthood by risking his own life for his ungrateful people, and "making atonement for the people" with incense in a censer, and "standing between the living and the dead," so that the plague was stopped (Numbers 16). To prevent future rivalry for the priesthood, God made Aaron's rod alone of the twelve rods of Israel, suddenly to blossom and bear almonds, and caused it to be kept perpetually "before the testimony for a token against the rebels" (Numbers 17;  Hebrews 9:4).

Inclined to lean on his superior brother, Aaron naturally fell into Moses' sin at Meribah, and shared its penalty in forfeiting entrance into the promised land ( Numbers 20:1-13). As Moses' self-reliance was thereby corrected, so was Aaron's tendency to be led unduly by stronger natures than his own. To mark also the insufficiency of the Aaronic priesthood to bring men into the heavenly inheritance, Aaron must die a year before Joshua (the type of Jesus) leads the people into their goodly possession. While Israel in going down the wady Arabah, to double the mountainous land of Edom, was encamped at Mosera, he ascended Mount Hor at God's command. There Moses stripped him of his pontifical robes, and put them upon Eleazar his son; and Aaron died, 123 years old, and was buried on the mountain ( Numbers 20:28;  Numbers 20:38;  Deuteronomy 10:6;  Deuteronomy 32:50). The mountain is now surmounted by the circular dome of the tomb of Aaron, a white spot on the dark red surface.

For thirty days all Israel mourned for him; and on the 1st of the 5th month, Ab (our July or August), the Jews still commemorate him by a fast. Eleazar's descendants held the priesthood until the time of Eli, who, although sprung from Ithamar, received it. With Eli's family it continued until the time of Solomon, who took it from Abiathar, and restored it to Zadok, of the line of Eleazar; thus accomplishing the prophecy denounced against Eli ( 1 Samuel 2:30). For the Jews' opinion of Aaron, see the apocryphal Ecclesiasticus 45.

His not taking the priestly honor to himself, but being called by God ( Hebrews 5:4-5), his anointing with incommunicable ointment (compare  Psalms 45:7 and  Psalms 133:2), his intercession for his guilty people, his bearing the names of his people on his shoulders and breast ( Exodus 28:12;  Exodus 28:29-30), his being the only high priest, so that death visited any other who usurped the priesthood, his rod of office (compare  Psalms 110:2;  Numbers 24:17), his alone presenting the blood before the mercy-seat on the day of atonement, the Holiness To The Lord on his forehead in his intercession within the veil (compare  1 Corinthians 1:30;  Hebrews 9:24), the Urim and Thummim (Light and Perfection), all point to the true High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ. Aaron's descendants, to the number of 3,700 fighting men, with Jehoiada, father of Benaiah, their head, joined David at Hebron ( 1 Chronicles 12:27;  1 Chronicles 27:17); subsequently, Zadok was their chief, "a young man mighty of valor."

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [2]

the son of Amram and Jochebed, of the tribe of Levi. Aaron was three years older than his brother Moses; and when God appeared in the burning bush, Moses having excused himself from the undertaking committed to him, by urging that he was slow of speech, Aaron, who was an eloquent man, was made his interpreter, and spokesman; and in effecting the deliverance of the Hebrews we therefore find them constantly associated. During the march of the children of Israel through the wilderness, Aaron and his sons were appointed by God to exercise for ever the office of priests in the tabernacle.

Moses having ascended the mountain to receive the law from God, Aaron, his sons, and seventy elders, followed him,  Exodus 24:1-2;  Exodus 24:9-11; not indeed to the summit, but "afar off," "and they saw the God of Israel," that is, the glory in which he appeared, "as it were the paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven for clearness;"—a clear and dazzling, azure, a pure, unmingled splendour like that of the heavens. "And upon the nobles of Israel," Aaron, his sons, and the seventy elders, "he laid not his hand,"—they were not destroyed by a sight which must have overwhelmed the weakness of mortal men had they not been strengthened to bear it; "and they did eat and drink,"—they joyfully and devoutly feasted before the Lord, as a religious act, upon the sacrifices they offered. After this they departed, and Moses remained with God on the very summit of the mount forty days.

During this period, the people, grown impatient at the long absence of Moses, addressed themselves to Aaron in a tumultuous manner, saying, "Make us gods which shall go before us: for, as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him." Aaron sinfully yielded to the importunities of the people; and having ordered them to bring the pendants and the earrings of their wives and children, he melted them down, and then made a golden calf, probably in imitation of the Egyptian Apis, an ox or calf dedicated to Osiris. In this instance the image was dedicated to Jehovah the true God; but the guilt consisted in an attempt to establish image worship, which, when even ultimately referring to God, he has forbidden. Neither are images to be worshipped, nor the true God by images;—this is the standing unrepealed law of Heaven. The calf was called a golden calf, as being highly ornamented with gold. Having finished the idol, the people placed it on a pedestal, and danced around it, saying, "These be thy gods, O Israel;" or, as it is expressed in Nehemiah, "This is thy God," the image or symbol of thy God, "which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." Moses, having hastened from the mount by the command of God, testified to the people, by breaking the tables of the law in their presence, that the covenant between God and them was now rendered of none effect through their offence. He also indignantly reproved Aaron, whose sin indeed had kindled against him the anger of the Lord, so that he would "have destroyed him but that Moses prayed for him."

After the tabernacle was built, Moses consecrated Aaron to the high priesthood with the holy oil, and invested him with his priestly robes,—his garments "of glory and beauty;" but Aaron's weakness was again manifested in concurring with Miriam, his sister, to censure and oppose Moses, through envy. Aaron, as being the elder brother, could not perhaps brook his superiority. What the motive of Miriam might be does not appear; but she being struck with leprosy, this punishment, as being immediately from God, opened Aaron's eyes; he acknowledged his fault, and asked forgiveness of Moses both for himself and his sister.

Aaron himself became also the object of jealousy; but two miraculous interpositions confirmed him in his office of high priest, as of Divine appointment. The first was the destruction of Korah, who sought that office for himself, and of the two hundred and fifty Levites who supported his pretensions, Numbers 16. The second was the blossoming of Aaron's rod, which was designed "to cause the murmurings of the Israelites against him to cease," by showing that he was chosen of God. Moses having, at the command of God, taken twelve rods of an almond tree from the princes of the twelve tribes, and Aaron's separately, he placed them in the tabernacle before the sanctuary, after having written upon each the name of the tribe which it represented, and upon the rod of Aaron the name of Aaron. The day following, when the rods were taken out, that of Aaron "was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds." This rod therefore was laid up by the ark, to perpetuate the remembrance of the miracle, and to be a token of Aaron's right to his office.

Aaron married Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab, of the tribe of Judah, by whom he had four sons, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar,  Exodus 6:23 . The two first were killed by fire from heaven, as a punishment for presuming to offer incense with strange fire in their censers,  Leviticus 10:1-2 . From the two others the succession of high priests was continued in Israel.

The account of the death of Aaron is peculiarly solemn and affecting. As he and Moses, in striking the rock at Meribah, Num. xvi, had not honoured God by a perfect obedience and faith, he in his wrath declared unto them that they should not enter into the promised land. Soon after, the Lord commanded Moses, "Take Aaron, and Eleazar, his son, and bring them up to mount Hor; and strip Aaron of his garments,"—his splendid pontifical vestments,—"and put them upon Eleazar, his son; and Aaron shall be gathered unto his people, and shall die there." This command was carried into effect in the presence of all Israel, who were encamped at the foot of the mountain; and his son being invested with the father's priestly dress, Aaron died, and all the people mourned for him thirty days. His sepulchre was left unmarked and unknown, perhaps to prevent the superstitious reverence of future ages. In Deuteronomy it is said that Aaron died at Mosera; because that was the name of the district in which mount Hor was situated.

2. The Priesthood being established in Aaron and his family, the nature of this office among the Israelites, and the distinction between the high priest and the other priests, require here to be pointed out.

Before the promulgation of the law by Moses, the fathers of every family, and the princes of every tribe, were priests. This was the case both before and after the flood; for Cain and Abel, Noah, Abraham, Job, Abimelech, Laban, Isaac, and Jacob, themselves offered their own sacrifices. But after the Lord had chosen the family of Aaron, and annexed the priesthood to that line, then the right of sacrificing to God was reserved to that family only. The high priesthood was confined to the first-born in succession; and the rest of his posterity were priests simply so called, or priests of the second order. Both in the high priest and the second or inferior priests, two things deserve notice,—their consecration and their office. In some things they differed, and in others agreed. In their consecration they differed thus: the high priest had the chrism, or sacred ointment, poured upon his head, so as to run down to his beard, and the skirts of his garment,   Exodus 30:23;  Leviticus 8:12;  Psalms 133:2 . But the second priests were only sprinkled with this oil, mixed with the blood of the sacrifice,  Leviticus 8:30 . They differed also in their robes, which were a necessary adjunct to consecration. The high priest wore at the ordinary times of his ministration in the temple, eight garments;—linen drawers—a coat of fine linen close to his skin—an embroidered girdle of fine linen, blue and scarlet, to surround the coat—a robe all of blue with seventy-two bells, and as many embroidered pomegranates upon the skirts of it; this was put over the coat and girdle—an ephod of gold, and of blue, purple, scarlet, and fine linen, curiously wrought, on the shoulders of which were two stones engraved with the names of the twelve tribes; this was put over the robe, and girt with a curious girdle of the same—a breastplate, about a span square, wrought with gold, blue, purple, scarlet, and fine linen, and fastened upon the ephod by golden chains and rings; in this breastplate were placed the urim and thummim, also twelve several stones, containing the names of the twelve tribes—a mitre of fine linen, sixteen cubits long, to wrap round his head—and lastly, a plate of gold, or holy crown, two fingers broad, whereon was engraved, "Holiness to the Lord;" this was tied with blue lace upon the front of the mitre. Beside these garments, which he wore in his ordinary ministration, there were four others, which he wore only upon extraordinary occasions, viz. on the day of expiation, when he went into the holy of holies, which was once a year. These were: linen drawers—a linen coat—a linen girdle—a linen mitre, all white, Exodus xxviii;   Leviticus 16:4 . But the inferior priests had only four garments: linen drawers—a linen coat—a linen girdle—a linen bonnet. The priest and high priest differed also in their marriage restrictions; for the high priest might not marry a widow, nor a divorced woman, nor a harlot, but a virgin only; whereas the other priests might lawfully marry a widow,   Leviticus 21:7 .

In the following particulars the high priest and inferior priests agreed in their consecration; both were to be void of bodily blemish—both were to be presented to the Lord at the door of the tabernacle—both were to be washed with water—both were to be consecrated by offering up certain sacrifices—both were to have the blood of a ram put upon the tip of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the great toe of the right foot,  Exodus 29:20 . In the time of consecration, certain pieces of the sacrifice were put into the priest's hand, which was called "filling his hand;" hence the Hebrew phrase, "to fill the hand," signifies consecration.

In the discharge of their offices, the high priest differed from the other priests in these particulars: the high priest only, and that but once a year, might enter into the holy of holies—the high priest might not mourn for his nearest relations by uncovering his head, or tearing any part of his garments, except the skirt; whereas the priest was allowed to mourn for these six,—father, mother, son, daughter, brother, and sister if she had no husband,  Leviticus 21:2;  Leviticus 21:10-11; but they agreed in these respects; they both burnt incense and offered sacrifices—they both sounded the trumpet, either as an alarm in war, or to assemble the people and their rulers—they both slew the sacrifices—both instructed the people—and both judged of leprosy.

For the more orderly performance of these offices, the high priest had his sagan, who, in case of the high priest's pollution, performed his duty. The high priest and his sagan resembled our bishop and his suffragan.

3. Aaron was a TYPE of Christ, not personally, but as the high priest of the Jewish church. All the priests, as offering gifts and sacrifices, were in their office types of Christ; but Aaron especially,

1. As the high priest.

2. In entering into the holy place on the great day of atonement, and reconciling the people to God; in making intercession for them, and pronouncing upon them the blessing of Jehovah, at the termination of solemn services.

3. In being anointed with the holy oil by effusion, which was pre- figurative of the Holy Spirit with which our Lord was endowed.

4. In bearing the names of all the tribes of Israel upon his breast and upon his shoulders, thus presenting them always before God, and representing them to him.

5. In being the medium of their inquiring of God by urim and thummim; and of the communication of his will to them. But though the offices of Aaron were typical, the priesthood of Christ is of a different and higher Order than his, namely, that of MELCHIZIDECK. See Calf , See Priest , See Type , See Ephod , See Breastplate , See Urim .

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [3]

Aaron . In examining the Biblical account of Aaron, we must deal separately with the different ‘sources’ of the Hexateuch.

1. In J [Note: Jahwist.] , Aaron plays a very subordinate part. He, Nadah and Ahihu, along with 70 elders, accompanied Moses up Mt. Sinai (  Exodus 19:24;   Exodus 24:9 ). In the former passage he is distinguished from the priests, who are forbidden to come up; he would seem, therefore, to have been an elder or sheikh , perhaps somewhat superior to the 70. In   Exodus 32:25 Aaron ‘let the people loose for a derision among their enemies.’ What this refers to is not known; it was not the making of the golden bull, which in the eyes of the surrounding nations would be only an act of piety.

In other passages, which cannot be assigned either to E [Note: Elohist.] or P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] , the mention of Aaron is probably due to a later hand. In  Exodus 4:13-16 Moses is allowed to nave Aaron as a spokesman. But ‘the Levite’ (  Exodus 4:14 ) is suspicious: for Moses was also of the tribe of Levi, and the description is superfluous. The verses probably belong to a time when ‘Levite’ had become a technical term for one trained in priestly functions, and when such priestly officials traced their descent from Aaron. In the narratives of the plagues Aaron is a silent figure, merely summoned with Moses four times when Pharaoh entreats for the removal of the plagues (  Exodus 8:8;   Exodus 8:25 ,   Exodus 9:27 ,   Exodus 10:16 ). In each case Moses alone answers, and in the last three he alone departs. In   Exodus 10:3 Moses and Aaron went in to announce the plague, but Moses alone ‘turned and went out’ (  Exodus 10:6 ). The occurrence of Aaron’s name seems to be due, in each case, to later redaction.

2. In E [Note: Elohist.] , Aaron is the brother of Miriam (  Exodus 15:20 ). He was sent to meet Moses in the wilderness, and together they performed signs before the people (  Exodus 4:27-31 ). They demanded release from Pharaoh, and on his refusal the people murmured (  Exodus 5:1-2;   Exodus 5:4;   Exodus 5:20 f.). Little of E [Note: Elohist.] has survived in the narrative of the plagues, and Aaron is not mentioned. In   Exodus 17:10;   Exodus 17:12 he and Hur held up Moses’ hands, in order that the staff might be lifted up, during the fight with Amalek. And while Moses was on the mountain, the same two were left in temporary authority over the people (  Exodus 24:13 f.). Aaron is related to have abused this authority, in making the golden bull (  Exodus 32:1-6;   Exodus 32:21-24 ). [The narrative is composite, and in its present form must be later than E [Note: Elohist.] . It has some connexion with the story of   1 Kings 12:26-30 , for Jeroboam’s words, which are suitable in reference to two bulls, are placed in Aaron’s mouth.] In   Exodus 18:12 Aaron, with the elders, was called to Jethro’s sacrifice an incident which must he placed at the end of the stay at Horeb. In   Numbers 12:1-16 Aaron and Miriam claimed that they, no less than Moses, received Divine revelations; only Miriam, however, was punished. In   Joshua 24:5 there is a general reference to the part played by Aaron in the Exodus.

It is noteworthy that there is not a word so far either in J [Note: Jahwist.] or E [Note: Elohist.] , which suggests that Aaron was a priest. But it is probable that by the time of E [Note: Elohist.] the belief had begun to grow up that Aaron was the founder of an hereditary priesthood.  Deuteronomy 10:6 occurs in a parenthesis which seriously interrupts the narrative, and which was perhaps derived from E [Note: Elohist.] (cf.   Joshua 24:33 ).

3. In D [Note: Deuteronomist.] , Aaron was probably not mentioned.   Deuteronomy 10:6 has been referred to;   Deuteronomy 32:50 is from P [Note: Priestly Narrative.]; and the only remaining passage (  Deuteronomy 9:20 ) appears to be a later insertion.

4. Outside the Hexateuch, two early passages (  1 Samuel 12:6;   1 Samuel 12:8 ,   Micah 6:4 ) refer to Aaron merely as taking a leading part in the Exodus.

5. In P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] , the process by which the tradition grew up that Moses delegated his priesthood to Aaron is not known. But the effect of it was that the great majority of ‘Levites,’ i.e. trained official priests, at local sanctuaries throughout the country traced their descent to Aaron. The priests of Jerusalem, on the other hand, were descendants of Zadok (  1 Kings 1:39;   1 Kings 2:27 ); and when local sanctuaries were abolished by Josiah’s reforms, and the country priests came up to seek a livelihood at Jerusalem (see   Deuteronomy 18:6-8 ), the Zadokite priests charged them with image-worship, and allowed them only an inferior position as servants (see   2 Kings 23:9 ,   Ezekiel 44:9-15 ). But at the Exile the priests who were in Jerusalem were carried off, leaving room in the city for many country (Aaronite) priests, who would establish themselves firmly in official prestige with the meagre remnant of the population. Thus, when the Zadokite priests returned from Babylon, they would find it advisable to trace their descent from Aaron (see   Ezra 2:61 f.). But by their superiority in culture and social standing they regained their ascendancy, and the country priests were once more reduced, under the ancient title of ‘Levites,’ to an inferior position.

This explains the great importance assigned to Aaron in the priestly portions of the Hexateuch. Reference must be made to other articles for his consecration, his purely priestly functions, and his relation to the Levites (see articles Priests and Levites, Sacrifice, Tabernacle). But he also plays a considerable part in the narrative of the Exodus and the wanderings. His family relationships are stated in  Exodus 6:20;   Exodus 6:23;   Exodus 6:25 ,   Leviticus 10:4 . He became Moses’ spokesman, not to the people but to Pharaoh (7:1), in whose presence he changed the staff into a ‘reptile’ (contrast ‘serpent’ in 4:3 J [Note: Jahwist.] ). P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] relates the 2nd plague (combined with J [Note: Jahwist.] ), the 3rd and the 6th, in each of which Aaron is conspicuous. Aaron as well as Moses suffered from the murmurings of the people (  Exodus 16:2 ,   Numbers 14:2;   Numbers 16:3;   Numbers 16:41;   Numbers 20:2 ); both were consulted by the people (  Numbers 9:6;   Numbers 15:33 ); and to both were addressed many of God’s commands (  Exodus 9:8-10;   Exodus 12:1;   Exodus 12:43 ,   Leviticus 11:1;   Leviticus 13:1;   Leviticus 14:33;   Leviticus 15:1 ,   Numbers 2:1 ). Aaron stayed a plague by offering incense (  Numbers 16:46-48 ). [On the combined narratives in chs. 16, 17 see Aaron’s Rod, Korah]. At Meribah-kadesh he, with Moses, sinned against J″ [Note: Jahweh.] (  Numbers 20:1-13 ), but the nature of the sin is obscure (see Gray, Com . p. 262 f.). He was consequently forbidden to enter Canaan, and died on Mt. Hor, aged 123, Eleazar his son being clothed in the priestly garments (  Numbers 20:22-29;   Numbers 33:38 f.,   Deuteronomy 32:50 ).

6. In the NT:   Luke 1:5 ,   Acts 7:40 ,   Hebrews 5:4;   Hebrews 7:11;   Hebrews 9:4 .

A. H. M‘Neile.

Holman Bible Dictionary [4]

 Deuteronomy 9-10 Joshua 21:1 Judges 20:1 1 Samuel 12:1 1 Chronicles 6:1 1 Chronicles 15:1 1 Chronicles 23-24 2 Chronicles 13:1 2 Chronicles 26:1 2 Chronicles 29:1 2 Chronicles 31:1 2 Chronicles 35:1 Ezra 7:1 Nehemiah 10:1 Nehemiah 12:1 Psalm 77:20 Psalm 99:6 Psalm 105:26 Psalm 106:16 Psalm 115:10 Psalm 115:12 Psalm 135:19 Micah 6:4

Aaron's parents Amram and Jochebed were from the tribe of Levi, Israel's tribe of priests. Miriam was his sister. See  Exodus 6:16-26 . With his wife Elisheba, Aaron had four sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. The first two perished when they offered sacrifices with fire that God had not commanded them to make ( Leviticus 10:1-2;  Leviticus 16:1-2 ). Two priestly lines developed from the remaining sons: (1) Ithamar through Eli to Abiathar and (2) Eleazar to Zadok ( 1 Samuel 14:3;  1 Samuel 22:20;  1 Kings 2:26-27;  1 Chronicles 6:50-53 ).

Aaron experienced the joy of starting Israel's formal priesthood, being consecrated to the office ( Exodus 28-29;  Leviticus 8-9 ), wearing the first priestly garments, and initiating the sacrificial system ( Leviticus 1-7 ). He also bore the burdens of his office as his sons were killed for their disobedience ( Leviticus 10:1-2 ), and he could not mourn for them ( Leviticus 10:6-7 ). He also bore the special rules of conduct, clothing, and ritual cleanness ( Leviticus 27:1-22:33 ).

He could not live up to such high standards perfectly. Thus he had to offer sacrifices for his own sins ( Leviticus 16:11 ). Then in his cleansed, holy office, he offered sacrifices for others. In his imperfection, Aaron still served as a symbol or type of the perfect priest as seen in  Psalm 110:4 , where the future king was described as eternal priest.  Zechariah 6:11-15 also speaks of a priest—Joshua—in typical terms. Thus the imperfect Aaron established an office full of symbolic meaning for Israel.

Aaron's life. With all his faults, Aaron was a man chosen by God. We do not know what Aaron did during Moses' forty-year exile from Egypt, but he maintained the faith, kept contact with Israel's leaders, and did not forget his brother ( Exodus 4:27-31 ). Ready of speech, he served nobly as Moses' spokesman before Pharaoh. More than once he stretched out Moses' staff to bring God's plagues on the land ( Exodus 7:9 ,Exodus 7:9, 7:19 ). In the wilderness Aaron and Hur helped Moses hold up the staff, the symbol of God's power, so that Israel would prevail over Amalek ( Exodus 17:12 ).

At Sinai, Aaron and his two older sons, Nadab and Abihu, were called to go up the mountain with Moses and seventy elders ( Exodus 24:9 ). There they worshiped and ate and drank in heavenly fellowship. As Moses and Joshua went farther up, Moses left Aaron and Hur in charge ( Exodus 24:14 ). But as Moses delayed on the mountain, the people asked Aaron for action. They cried, “Make us gods” ( Exodus 32:1 ). Their sin was polytheism (worship of many gods) as well as idolatry. Aaron all too easily obliged and made a calf and apparently led in its worship. How far into sin Aaron went we do not know. Was it giving in or active error? The text does not say, but Aaron was not specifically judged. The Levites, the tribe of Moses and Aaron, rallied to Moses and were blessed accordingly ( Exodus 32:26-29 ).

On another occasion Aaron appeared in a bad light. In  Numbers 12:1 he and Miriam spoke against Moses' marriage to the Cushite (Ethiopian) woman. (Cush was an old name for upper Egypt—approximately modern Sudan.) We are not told if this was a wife in addition to Zipporah, or if Zipporah had died, or even if Zipporah—a Midianite—had Cushite connections. Anyway, Aaron and Miriam were jealous of their younger brother. Really, their murmuring was against God's selection. Second place did not satisfy them.

Miriam was severely judged. Again, Aaron was not as harshly judged. Perhaps again he was not the instigator but the accomplice. He confessed his sin and pleaded for mercy for Miriam. When Korah, Dathan, and Abiram opposed Moses and Aaron, Aaron's intercession stopped the plague ( Numbers 16:1 ). Aaron's leadership was vindicated by God in the miraculous blossoming of his staff ( Numbers 17:1 ). When the people cried for water at Kadesh in the desert of Zin, Aaron joined in Moses' sin as they seized the power of the Lord for themselves ( Numbers 20:7-13 ). In consequence, Aaron, like Moses, was not to enter the Promised Land. Nearby on the border of Edom after forty years of his priesthood, Moses took Aaron up mount Hor, transferred his garments to his son, Eleazar, and Aaron died there at the age of 123 years ( Numbers 20:23-28 ). Israel mourned for their first high priest thirty days ( Numbers 20:29 ), as they soon would mourn for Moses ( Deuteronomy 34:8 ).

R. Laird Harris

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [5]

By name Aaron is mentioned in the NT only by St. Luke ( Luke 1:5,  Acts 7:40) and by the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews ( Hebrews 5:4;  Hebrews 7:11;  Hebrews 9:4), and in his personal history very little interest is taken. Offically, he was represented to be the first of a long line of high priests, specifically appointed such ( Exodus 28:1 f.) in confirmation of the status already allowed him in Arabic usage ( Exodus 4:14); and, though his successors were probably not all in the direct line of descent, they found it convenient to claim relationship with him ( Ezra 2:61 f.), and gradually the conceptions involved in high-priesthood were identified with the name of Aaron. That continued to be the case in the apostolic period; and it became a familiar thought that the high priest was a type of Christ, who was viewed as the antitype of all true sacerdotal persons and ministries.

In this typical relation between Aaron as the embodiment of priestly ideas and Christ as their final expression, an attempt was made to trace differences as well as correspondences. Christ was thought of, not as identical with His prototype, but as invested with higher qualities, of which only the germ and promise are to be found in Aaron.

1. In regard to vocation , both were appointed by God ( Hebrews 5:4); yet to the priesthood of Christ no Aaronic ( Hebrews 7:11), or Levitical ( Hebrews 7:14), or legal ( Hebrews 9:9) measure may he put. He was a man like Aaron ( Hebrews 2:16 f.), capable of sympathy both by nature and from experience ( Hebrews 4:15); yet His priesthood is distinctly of a higher and eternal order ( Hebrews 5:9), limited neither to an earthly sanctuary ( Hebrews 9:24), nor to the necessity of repeating the one great sacrifice ( Hebrews 9:25 f.), nor in efficiency to the treatment of offences that ware chiefly ceremonial or ritual ( Hebrews 9:9;  Hebrews 9:14).

2. In the consecration of the high priest the supreme act was anointing with oil ( Leviticus 8:12), from which, indeed, the designation Messiah (‘anointed one’) arose. Yet such was the lofty position of Jesus, and such was His consciousness, that He could say, ‘I consecrate myself’ ( John 17:19 m), on the very eve of His priestly sacrifice.

3. In function Aaron stood between God and the congregation, representing each to the other. On the one hand, not only were the priests gathered together into an embodied unity in him, but in his annual approach to God he brought a sacrifice even for the ‘ignorances’ of the people ( Hebrews 9:7), and purified the sanctuary itself from any possible defilements contracted through the sins of its frequenters ( Hebrews 9:19 ff.; cf.  Leviticus 16:16). As the representative of God, he wore the sacred Urim and Thummim in the pouch of judgment upon his heart ( Exodus 28:30), indicating his qualification to communicate God’s decision on matters that transcended human wit; and through him and his order the blessing of God was invoked. In the Christian thought of the apostolic age all these functions pass over to Jesus Christ, with modifications emphasizing their ethical effect and the intrinsically spiritual benefit that follows. One of the most general statements is  Hebrews 2:17, where the phrase ‘things pertaining to God’ covers both sides of the relations between God and man, though prominence is given, as in the passages that speak of Christ as our Advocate with God, to the work done by Him as representing men. Much the same is the case with the great passage on mediatorship ( 1 Timothy 2:5). As He is the Saviour, so He is the High Priest, of all men, ‘specially of them that believe’ ( 1 Timothy 4:10). In virtue of His immanence as God, as well as of His priestly rank and sympathy, He fitly represents all men before God, while for those who have put themselves into a right attitude towards Him He acts as Paraclete ( 1 John 2:1), promoting their interests and completing their deliverance from sin. On the other hand, as representative of God, He bestows gifts upon men ( Ephesians 4:8), communicating to them the will of God and enriching them with every spiritual blessing. He is not only the Revealer of the Father; but, just as He offers His sacrifice to God in the stead of man, so He represents to man what God is in relation to human sin, and what God has devised and does with a view to human redemption. Between God and man He stands continuously, the medium of access on either side, the channel of Divine grace and of human prayer and praise.

See, further, articleMelchizedek.

Literature.-See article‘Aaron’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) , Dict. of Christ and the Gospels and Jewish Encyclopedia , and Comm. on Hebrews, esp. those of A. B. Davidson and B. F. Westcott, A. S. Peake ( Century Bible ), E. C. Wickham ( Westminster Com. ); also Phillips Brooks, Sermons in English Churches , 1833, p. 43; J. Wesley, Works , vii. [London, 1872] 273.

R. W. Moss.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [6]

 Exodus 6:20 1 Chronicles 2:10 Exodus 4:14,27-30

When the ransomed tribes fought their first battle with Amalek in Rephidim, Moses stood on a hill overlooking the scene of the conflict with the rod of God in his outstretched hand. On this occasion he was attended by Aaron and Hur, his sister's husband, who held up his wearied hands till Joshua and the chosen warriors of Israel gained the victory (17:8-13).

Afterwards, when encamped before Sinai, and when Moses at the command of God ascended the mount to receive the tables of the law, Aaron and his two sons, Nadab and Abihu, along with seventy of the elders of Israel, were permitted to accompany him part of the way, and to behold afar off the manifestation of the glory of Israel's God ( Exodus 19:24;  24:9-11 ). While Moses remained on the mountain with God, Aaron returned unto the people; and yielding through fear, or ignorance, or instability of character, to their clamour, made unto them a golden calf, and set it up as an object of worship ( Exodus 32:4;  Psalm 106:19 ). On the return of Moses to the camp, Aaron was sternly rebuked by him for the part he had acted in this matter; but he interceded for him before God, who forgave his sin ( Deuteronomy 9:20 ).

On the mount, Moses received instructions regarding the system of worship which was to be set up among the people; and in accordance therewith Aaron and his sons were consecrated to the priest's office ( Leviticus 8;  9 ). Aaron, as high priest, held henceforth the prominent place appertaining to that office.

When Israel had reached Hazeroth, in "the wilderness of Paran," Aaron joined with his sister Miriam in murmuring against Moses, "because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married," probably after the death of Zipporah. But the Lord vindicated his servant Moses, and punished Miriam with leprosy ( Numbers 12 ). Aaron acknowledged his own and his sister's guilt, and at the intercession of Moses they were forgiven.

Twenty years after this, when the children of Israel were encamped in the wilderness of Paran, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram conspired against Aaron and his sons; but a fearful judgment from God fell upon them, and they were destroyed, and the next day thousands of the people also perished by a fierce pestilence, the ravages of which were only stayed by the interposition of Aaron ( Numbers 16 ). That there might be further evidence of the divine appointment of Aaron to the priestly office, the chiefs of the tribes were each required to bring to Moses a rod bearing on it the name of his tribe. And these, along with the rod of Aaron for the tribe of Levi, were laid up overnight in the tabernacle, and in the morning it was found that while the other rods remained unchanged, that of Aaron "for the house of Levi" budded, blossomed, and yielded almonds ( Numbers 17:1-10 ). This rod was afterwards preserved in the tabernacle ( Hebrews 9:4 ) as a memorial of the divine attestation of his appointment to the priesthood.

Aaron was implicated in the sin of his brother at Meribah ( Numbers 20:8-13 ), and on that account was not permitted to enter the Promised Land. When the tribes arrived at Mount Hor, "in the edge of the land of Edom," at the command of God Moses led Aaron and his son Eleazar to the top of that mountain, in the sight of all the people. There he stripped Aaron of his priestly vestments, and put them upon Eleazar; and there Aaron died on the top of the mount, being 123 years old ( Numbers 20:23-29 . Compare  Deuteronomy 10:6;  32:50 ), and was "gathered unto his people." The people, "even all the house of Israel," mourned for him thirty days. Of Aaron's sons two survived him, Eleazar, whose family held the high-priesthood till the time of Eli; and Ithamar, in whose family, beginning with Eli, the high-priesthood was held till the time of Solomon. Aaron's other two sons had been struck dead ( Leviticus 10:1,2 ) for the daring impiety of offering "strange fire" on the alter of incense.

The Arabs still show with veneration the traditionary site of Aaron's grave on one of the two summits of Mount Hor, which is marked by a Mohammedan chapel. His name is mentioned in the Koran, and there are found in the writings of the rabbins many fabulous stories regarding him.

He was the first anointed priest. His descendants, "the house of Aaron," constituted the priesthood in general. In the time of David they were very numerous ( 1 Chronicles 12:27 ). The other branches of the tribe of Levi held subordinate positions in connection with the sacred office. Aaron was a type of Christ in his official character as the high priest. His priesthood was a "shadow of heavenly things," and was intended to lead the people of Israel to look forward to the time when "another priest" would arise "after the order of Melchizedek" ( Hebrews 6:20 ). (See Moses )

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [7]

From the time Moses set out to free Israel from Egypt, Aaron his brother played an important part in the young nation’s development. He remained in a position of influence and responsibility until the day of his death, forty years later ( Exodus 7:7;  Numbers 33:39).

Early developments

Although Aaron was three years older than Moses ( Exodus 7:7), he willingly accepted Moses’ supreme leadership of the nation. He became Moses’ chief spokesman and personal assistant ( Exodus 4:10-16;  Exodus 4:29-30;  Exodus 7:1-2;  Exodus 7:10;  Exodus 7:19;  Exodus 8:5;  Exodus 8:17;  Exodus 8:25). As Moses grew in confidence, he became less dependent upon Aaron in his public activities ( Exodus 9:13;  Exodus 9:22;  Exodus 9:33). Aaron, however, continued to support Moses, especially in prayer ( Exodus 17:12).

Aaron was one of the privileged few who went with Moses up on to the mountain of God. He was also one of those to whom Moses entrusted the leadership of Israel during his absence ( Exodus 24:1-2;  Exodus 24:9;  Exodus 24:14). Aaron proved to be a weak leader, and was easily persuaded to build an idol as a visible symbol of the invisible God ( Exodus 32:1-6;  Exodus 32:21-25). When Moses challenged the faithful to fight against this idolatry, the men of the tribe of Levi responded. God rewarded them by promising that in the new religious order, the Levites would be his chosen religious servants ( Exodus 32:26-29).

Levi was the tribe to which Moses and Aaron belonged ( Exodus 6:16-20). God had already told Moses that in the new religious order, Aaron and his sons were to be the priests, with Aaron the high priest ( Exodus 28:1-4). In the generations to follow, although all Levites were to be religious officials, only those of the family of Aaron could be priests ( Numbers 3:3-10; see Levite ; Priest ).

Troubles along the way

In spite of his devoted service to God, Aaron had his disappointments and failures. His two older sons made an offering contrary to the way God had instructed them, and were punished with instant death ( Leviticus 10:1-3). On another occasion, he and his sister Miriam showed some jealousy against Moses because of Moses’ supreme position in Israel. When Miriam, who had led the criticism, was punished with leprosy, Aaron confessed his wrong and asked God to heal her ( Numbers 12:1-2;  Numbers 12:9-12).

Just as Aaron had been jealous of Moses’ position as supreme leader, so other Levites grew jealous of Aaron’s position as high priest ( Numbers 16:1-11). God destroyed the rebels ( Numbers 16:31-35) and sent a plague on the people who had supported them; but Aaron prayed for them and the plague stopped ( Numbers 16:47-48). By the miraculous budding of Aaron’s rod, God emphasized afresh that only those of the family of Aaron were to be priests ( Numbers 17:1-11).

Moses and Aaron were guilty of disobedience to God when, in anger at the people’s constant complaining, they struck the rock at Meribah. God punished them by assuring them that they would never enter the promised land ( Numbers 20:2;  Numbers 20:10-13). Soon after, when the journeying Israelites reached Mt Hor, Aaron died. Before he died, however, there was a public ceremony to appoint Eleazar, Aaron’s eldest surviving son, as the replacement high priest ( Numbers 20:22-29).

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [8]

Aaron had the distinctive privilege of being Moses' close associate and also the one selected as the first high priest of God's people. He and the firstborn son of each generation of his lineage were dedicated in a special anointing ceremony to officiate before God and on behalf of God's people as high priests.

Aaron, the first priest of ancient Israel, was the older brother of Moses. His parents Amram and Jochebed were Kohathites of the tribe of Levi. Two aspects of Aaron's earlier years provided a matrix out of which he responded to God's call to help Moses when he returned to Egypt. First, Aaron was committed to the God of the “fathers”—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob ( Exodus 3:1-6 ). Second, he understood that God had made a covenant with Abraham that included him and the people of Israel.

Pre-Sinai . Aaron agreed to help his brother Moses in the cause of seeking the release of his people from bondage. He and Moses were Yahweh's human instruments, carrying out Yahweh's mighty, unprecedented salvation-acts.

First, he accepted God's call to be Moses' mouthpiece before Pharaoh ( Exodus 4:10-17;  5:1-13;  6:10-13;  6:28-7:7 ), a risky assignment. Both he and Moses were to be Yahweh's messengers in a hostile, polytheistic setting.

Second, as Moses' prophet ( Exodus 7:1 ) he was an important proclaimer of God's word to Pharaoh and the other Egyptians. He fulfilled his priestly role by serving as mediator and intercessor on behalf of the people of Israel.

Third, like Moses he was moved by the Spirit of God and was used to effect miracles a number of times on the way to Sinai.

At Sinai . God graciously granted both Moses and Aaron new revelation during Israel's encampment at Sinai.

First, they were granted an unparalleled privilege. Moses and Aaron were allowed to enter into God's holy presence on Sinai ( Exodus 19:24;  24:9-10 ).

Second, Aaron and Moses were leader-participants in the covenant Yahweh made between himself and the people of Israel.

Third, Yahweh delivered specific instructions to Aaron and Moses at Sinai about how they were to lead Israel to become his holy nation and kingdom of priests.

The Break in Loyalty . Aaron was directly responsible for a grave offense against God when Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the written law of Israel ( Exodus 32:1-10 ). He gave in to the demands of the people, collecting the necessary materials and supervising the making of a golden calf. He then told the people, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt." Aaron then set up an altar and proceeded to lead the people in worshiping the calf.

Aaron acted against what he knew God wanted. Perhaps he had not completely detached himself from the Apis-bull worship of Egypt or from some insidious feature of Baal worship present in Egypt. In spite of his sin, Aaron was restored to his position of high priest. This is a most remarkable incident demonstrating the grace and compassion of God.

High Priest of God Most High . Aaron was duly attired and dedicated as God's priest ( Leviticus 8-9 ). He ministered before Yahweh, whose presence-cloud dwelt above the mercy seat over the ark of the covenant in the Most Holy Place of the tabernacle ( Exodus 40:38 ).

Aaron was chief as he ministered with other priests in presenting offerings and sacrifices to Yahweh for himself and for the people of Israel. He was an intercessor and mediator before Yahweh among his people. His priestly vestments, especially the ephod and breastplate adorned with precious stones inscribed with the names of the tribes, emphasized in a special way this ministry before God on behalf of the people.

Harvey E. Finley

See also Offerings And Sacrifices; Priesthood Priest

Bibliography . W. F. Albright, History, Archaeology and Christian Humanism  ; O. T. Allis, ZPEB, 1:1-4; B. S. Childs, The Book of Exodus  ; L. G. Cox, Exodus  ; C. F. H. Henry, God Who Speaks and Shows  ; J. P. Hyatt, Exodus  ; C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, The Pentateuch  ; D. F. Kinlaw, Leviticus .

People's Dictionary of the Bible [9]

Aaron ( Âr'On or Â'Ron ). The name, if of Hebrew origin, means Enlightened. According to Jerome, it means Mountain Of Strength. The son of Amram and Jochebed, of the tribe of Levi He was three years older than his brother Moses.  Exodus 6:20;  Exodus 7:7. Aaron was noted for his eloquence, and was appointed by Jehovah to speak for Moses in the court of Pharaoh.  Exodus 4:14-16. He aided Moses in leading the Hebrews out of Egypt; and was consecrated the first high priest of the Hebrew nation.  Exodus 7:1-10;  Exodus 28:1-43;  Leviticus 8:1-36. He was a man of great devotion; but, from want of firmness, he sometimes fell into grievous sins. While Moses was absent in Mount Sinai receiving the law, Aaron weakly yielded to the people's demand to have some image of a deity for them to worship. The image he made was a golden calf, after the form of the Egyptian Apis or Mnevis.  Exodus 32:1-35;  Psalms 106:19-20. Aaron joined Miriam, his sister, in sedition against Moses,  Numbers 12:1-12, and, with Moses, neglected to acknowledge the power of God at Kadesh. For this sin he was denied the privilege of entering the promised land.  Numbers 20:12-24. While the Hebrews were encamped at Moserah, in the fortieth year after leaving Egypt, Aaron, at the divine command, ascended Mount Hor and died, at the age of 123 years.  Numbers 20:25-29;  Deuteronomy 10:6. The sons and descendants of Aaron served as priests at the sanctuary; while the other families of the tribe of Levi performed those religious duties which were of an inferior kind.  Numbers 4:15-16;  Numbers 4:24. Aaron is called the "saint of the Lord" with reference to his official character,  Psalms 106:16, but, as the most superficial study of his life shows, he had many faults. Yet the people loved him, and the mourning over his death, which lasted 30 days,  Numbers 20:28, was sincere. One of the fasts of later Judaism was held in his memory, on the first day of the fifth month, Ab, our July or August.

Aaron married Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab, probably a prince of the tribe of Judah, and had four sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.  Exodus 6:23;  Numbers 1:7. The Jewish priesthood began in the family of Aaron and remained in its possession, though not uninterruptedly, in the line of Eleazar; it passed into the family of Ithamar, the brother of Eleazar, in the person of Eli; but, in consequence of the wickedness of Ell's sons, God declared that it should be taken from his family,  1 Samuel 2:30, and this prophecy was fulfilled in the time of Solomon, who took the priesthood from Abiathar and restored it to Zadok, of the line of Eleazar.  1 Kings 2:27.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [10]

[Aa'ron] Eldest son of Amram and Jochebed, of the tribe of Levi. We first read of him when Moses was excusing himself from being sent to deliver Israel from Egypt because he was 'slow of speech.' Jehovah declared that his brother Aaron who was coming to meet him could speak well and should be his spokesman. Aaron accompanied Moses in his interviews with Pharaoh, and with his rod some of the miraculous plagues were called forth. He with Hur held up the hands of Moses on the Mount when Israel fought with Amalek.  Exodus 17:12 . Aaron with his two sons Nadab and Abihu with seventy of the elders, went with Moses into the mount where "they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness."  Exodus 24:9,10 . When Moses retired higher into the mount, he left Israel in charge of Aaron and Hur.  Exodus 24:14 .

Aaron, alas, had not the stability of his brother,* but at the request of the people, and apparently without a protest, made for them the golden calf: he also built an altar before it, and made proclamation of a feast to Jehovah on the morrow.

* Moses was with God — Aaron with the people. The stability of Moses was dependent upon the fact, that he was sustained by sovereign grace in communion with the thoughts of God: while Aaron below fell in with the thoughts of the people.

He was thus engaged while God was directing Moses respecting the tabernacle and its offerings, and declaring that Aaron and his sons were to be the appointed priests. Their appointment stood, showing how marvellously God's grace abounds over sin, and that none are chosen because of their inherent goodness. â€

†Aaron's rod that budded had more to do with the tribe of Levi being chosen for the priesthood than with Aaron as an individual.  Numbers 17:8 .

Aaron with Miriam (priest and prophetess) spake against Moses, with whom as mediator God had established His covenant for Israel in sovereign mercy,  Exodus 34:27; and to whom God spake 'mouth to mouth' at that time. Their excuse was that he had married an Ethiopian woman (sign of the same sovereign grace that goes out to Gentiles who have no claim to it). Aaron humbled himself and interceded for Miriam.  Numbers 12 . Aaron also sinned with Moses at the waters of Meribah, and was not allowed to enter the promised land.  Numbers 20:10-29 . He was stripped of his robes, which were put on Eleazar his son, and he died and was buried on Mount Hor. Viewed officially Aaron is a striking type of Christ. In his consecration he was clothed with the priestly garments, with the breastplate, the mitre and the crown, and then was anointed with oil, type of the Holy Spirit. It was only in connection with his sons that there was any washing spoken of, or any sacrifice, even as Christ identified Himself with the priestly company, His brethren.  Exodus 24:4,10,19,20;  Hebrews 2:11-13

Smith's Bible Dictionary [11]

Aaron. (A Teacher, or Lofty). The son of Amram and Jochebed, and the older brother of Moses and Miriam.  Numbers 26:59;  Numbers 33:39. (B.C. 1573). He was a Levite, and is first mentioned in  Exodus 4:14. He was appointed by Jehovah to be the interpreter,  Exodus 4:16, of his brother Moses, who was "slow of speech;" and accordingly he was not only the organ of communication with the Israelites and with Pharaoh,  Exodus 4:30;  Exodus 7:2, but also the actual instrument of working most of the miracles of the Exodus.  Exodus 7:19, etc.

On the way to Mount Sinai, during the battle with Amalek, Aaron with Hur stayed up the weary hands of Moses when they were lifted up for the victory of Israel.  Exodus 17:9. He is mentioned as dependent upon his brother and deriving all his authority from him.

Left, on Moses' departure into Sinai, to guide the people, Aaron is tried for a moment on his own responsibility, and he fails from a weak inability to withstand the demand of the people for visible "gods to go before them," by making an image of Jehovah , in the well-known form of Egyptian idolatry (Apis or Mnevis). He repented of his sin, and Moses gained forgiveness for him.  Exodus 9:20. Aaron was not consecrated by Moses to the new office of the high priesthood.  Exodus 29:9.

From this time, the history of Aaron is almost entirely that of the priesthood, and its chief feature is the great rebellion of Korah and the Levites. Leaning, as he seems to have done, wholly on Moses, it is not strange that he should have shared his sin at Meribah and its punishment. See Moses .  Numbers 20:10-12.

Aaron's death seems to have followed very speedily. It took place on Mount Hor, after the transference of his robes and office to Eleazar.  Numbers 20:28. This mount is still called the "Mountain of Aaron." See Hor .

The wife of Aaron was Elisheba,  Exodus 6:23, and the two sons who survived him, Eleazar and Ithamar. The high priesthood descended to the former, and to his descendants until the time of Eli, who, although of the house of Ithamar, received the high priesthood and transmitted it to his children; with them it continued till the accession of Solomon, who took it from Abiathar and restored it to Zadok (of the house of Eleazar). See Abiathar .

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [12]

The son of Amram and Jochabed, of the tribe of Levi, and brother of Moses and Miriam,  Exodus 6:20; born about the year B. C. 1574. He was three years older than Moses,  Exodus 7:7 and was the spokesman and assistant of the latter in bringing Israel out of Egypt,   Exodus 4:16 . His wife was Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab; and his sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. He was 83 years old when God summoned him to join Moses in the desert near Horeb. Cooperating with his brother in the exodus from Egypt,  Exodus 4:1-16:36 , he held up his hands in the battle with Amalek,  Exodus 17:1-16; and ascended Mount Sinai with him to see the glory of God,  Exodus 24:1,2,9-11 .

Aaron's chief distinction consisted in the choice of him and his male posterity for the priesthood. He was consecrated the first high priest by God's directions,  Exodus 28:1-29:46   Leviticus 8:1-36; and was afterwards confirmed in his office by the destruction of Korah and his company, by the staying of the plague at his intercession, and by the budding of his rod,  Numbers 16:1-17:13 . He was faithful and self-sacrificing in the duties of his office, and meekly "held his peace" when his sons Nadab and Abihu were slain,  Leviticus 10:1 -  3 . Yet he fell sometimes into grievous sins: he made the golden calf at Sinai,  Exodus 32:1-22; he joined Miriam in sedition against Moses,  Numbers 12:1-16; and with Moses disobeyed God at Kadesh,  Numbers 20:8-12 . God, therefore did not permit him to enter the promised land; but he died on Mount Hor, in Edom, in the fortieth year after leaving Egypt, at the age of about 123 years,  Numbers 20:22-29   33:39 . In  Deuteronomy 10:6 , he is said to have died at Mosera, which was probably the station in the valley west of Mount Hor, whence he ascended into the mount. The Arabs still pretend to show his tomb on the mount, and highly venerate it. In his office as high priest, Aaron was an eminent type of Christ, being "called of God," and anointed; bearing the names of the tribes on his breast; communicating God's will by Urim and Thummim; entering the Most Holy place on the Day of Atonement, "not without blood;" and interceding for and blessing the people of God. See Priest .

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [13]

Son of Amram, and the elder brother of Moses. He was of the tribe of Levi. ( Exodus 6:19-20.) His name is derived from Har, a Mountain: and consequently signifies somewhat great and lofty. And when we consider, to what an high honour Aaron was called; to be the type of Him, who, in the everlasting nature of his office, was, and is, JEHOVAH'S High Priest; both the altar, and the offering, the sacrifice, and the sacrificer, through whom alone, all offerings must be presented: surely, none taken from among men, could be more great and lofty in office than Aaron. The history of Aaron, incorporated as it is with that of Moses, fills a large part in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. But the great eminency of his character is formed from his becoming so illustrious a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every thing in his priestly office ministered to this one point. Indeed the whole law, and consequently the priesthood, became "a shadow of good things to come; but the body, which formed that shadow, was Christ." ( Colossians 2:17;  Leviticus 16:2;  Numbers 16:46-47.)

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [14]

 Hebrews 5:4 (c) Aaron is a type of Christ in many ways.

  • As he entered into the Holy of Holies once a year with the blood of an animal, so our Lord Jesus entered into Heaven by His own blood, not just once a year, but forever.
  • Aaron bore the names of the twelve tribes on his shoulders, so the Lord JESUS carries His people and their burdens on His shoulders.
  • Aaron bore the breastplate of twelve stones over his heart, and our Saviour bears His own children on His heart.
  • Aaron wore a gold band on his forehead bearing the inscription "Holiness to the Lord." So our Lord JESUS was holy, pure and perfect in all His ways, words and character.
  • Aaron pleaded with GOD for the people, and pleaded with the people for GOD. So our Lord JESUS "ever liveth to make intercession for us," and appears in GOD's presence for us. He also reveals GOD to us.
  • Aaron was chosen by GOD to be the High Priest, and GOD chose CHRIST to be our High Priest.
  • Aaron's garments were prescribed by GOD and were called holy garments. So the garment of our Lord JESUS is called "the robe of righteousness, the garments of salvation,"  Isaiah 61:10.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [15]

[vulgarly pronounced Ar'on] (Heb. Aharon', אתְֲרֹן , derivation uncertain: Gesenius, Thesaur. Hebrews p. 33, thinks from the obsolete root אָתִר , to be Libidinous [so the Heb. Lex. Aruch, from תָרָת , referring (erroneously) to his Conception during the Pharaonic edict]; but in his Hebrews Lex. s.v. compares with תָרוֹן , mountaineer; Furst, Hebrews Handworterbuch, s.v., makes it signify Enlightener, from an obsolete root אָתִר = אוֹר , To Shine. Sept., N.T., and Josephus, Ἀαρών ).

I. History . Aaron was the eldest son of the Levite Amram by Jochebed, and the brother of Moses ( Exodus 6:20;  Exodus 7:7;  Numbers 26:59); born B.C. 1742. He is first mentioned in the account of Moses' vision of the burning bush ( Exodus 4:14), whore the latter was reminded by the Lord that Aaron possessed a high degree of persuasive readiness of speech, and could therefore speak in His name in his behalf. During the absence of Moses in Midian (B.C. 1698-1658), Aaron had married a woman of the tribe of Judah, named Elisheba (or Elizabeth), who had borne to him four sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar; and Eleazar had, before the return of Moses, become the father of Phinehas ( Exodus 6:23-25). Pursuant to an intimation from God, Aaron went into the wilderness to meet his long-exiled brother, and conduct him back to Egypt. They met and embraced each other at the Mount of Horeb ( Exodus 4:27), B.C. 1658. When they arrived in Goshen, Aaron, who appears to have been well known to the chiefs of Israel, introduced his brother to them, and aided him in opening and enforcing his great commission ( Exodus 4:29-31). In the subsequent transactions, Aaron appears to have been almost always present with his more illustrious brother, assisting and supporting him; and no separate act of his own is recorded, although he seems to have been the actual instrument of effecting many of the miracles ( Exodus 7:1-25;  Exodus 19:1-25 sq.). Aaron and Hur were present on the hill from which Moses surveyed the battle which Joshua fought with the Amalekites ( Exodus 17:10-12); and these two long sustained the weary hands upon whose uplifting (in order to extend the official rod, rather than in prayer, see ver. 9) the fate of the battle was found to depend. Afterward, when Moses ascended Mount Sinai to receive the tables of the law, Aaron, with his sons and seventy of the elders, accompanied him part of the way up, and were permitted to behold afar off the symbol of the Sacred Presence ( Exodus 24:1-2;  Exodus 24:9-11). During the absence of Moses in the mountain the people seem to have looked upon Aaron as their head, and an occasion arose which fully vindicates the divine preference of Moses by showing that, notwithstanding the seniority and greater eloquence of Aaron, he wanted the high qualities which were essential in the leader of the Israelites (see Niemeyer, Charakt. 3, 238 sq.). The people at length concluded that Moses had perished in the fire that gleamed upon the mountain's top, and, gathering around Aaron, clamorosly demanded that he should provide them with a visible symbolic image of their God, that they might worship him as other gods were worshipped ( Exodus 32:1-35). Either through fear or ignorance, Aaron complied with their demand; and with the ornaments of gold which they freely offered, cast the figure of a calf (see Kitto's Daily Bible Illust. in loc.). (See Calf).

However, to fix the meaning of this image as a symbol of the true God, Aaron was careful to proclaim a feast to Jehovah for the ensuing day (see Moncaeius, Aaron Purgatus Sive De Vitulo Aures, Atreb. 1605, Franckf. 1675). At this juncture, Moses' reappearance confounded the multitude, who were severely punished for this sin. Aaron attempted to excuse himself by casting the whole blame upon the people, but was sternly rebuked by his brother, at whose earnest intercessions, however, he received the divine forgiveness ( Deuteronomy 9:20). During this and a second absence in the mountain, Moses had received instructions regarding the ecclesiastical establishment, the tabernacle, and the priesthood, which he soon afterward proceeded to execute. (See Tabernacle); (See Worship). Under the new institution Aaron was to be high-priest, and his sons and descendants priests; and the whole tribe to which he belonged, that of Levi, was set apart as the sacerdotal or learned caste. (See Levite). Accordingly, after the tabernacle had been completed, and every preparation made for the commencement of actual service, Aaron and his sons were consecrated by Moses, who anointed them with the holy oil and invested them with the sacred garments ( Leviticus 8:1-36;  Leviticus 9:1-24), B.C. 1657. The high-priest applied himself assiduously to the duties of his exalted office, and during the period of nearly forty years that it was filled by him his name seldom comes under our notice. But soon after his elevation his two eldest sons, Nadab and Abihu, were struck dead for daring, seemingly when in a state of partial inebriety, to conduct the service of God in an irregular manner, by offering incense with unlawful fire. On this occasion it was enjoined that the priests should manifest none of the ordinary signs of mourning for the loss of those who were so dear to them. To this heavy stroke Aaron bowed in silence ( Leviticus 10:1-11). Aaron joined in, or at least sanctioned, the invidious conduct of his sister Miriam, who, after the wife of Moses had been brought to the camp by Jethro, became apprehensive for her own position, and cast reflections upon Moses, much calculated to damage his influence, on account of his marriage with a foreigner always an odious thing, among the Hebrews. For this Miriam was struck with temporary leprosy, which brought the high-priest to a sense of his sinful conduct, and he sought and obtained forgiveness ( Numbers 12:1-16). (See Miriam).

Subsequently to this (apparently B.C. 1620), a formidable conspiracy was organized against Aaron and his sons, as well as against Moses, by chiefs of influence and station Korah, of the tribe of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, of the tribe of Reuben. (See Korah). But the divine appointment was attested and confirmed by the signal destruction of the conspirators; and the next day, when the people assembled tumultuously, and murmured loudly at the destruction which had overtaken their leaders and friends, a fierce pestilence broke out among them, and they fell by thousands on the spot. When this was seen, Aaron, at the command of Moses, filled a censer with fire from the altar, and, rushing forward, arrested the plague between the living and the dead ( Numbers 16:1-50). This was, in fact, another attestation of the divine appointment; and, for its further confirmation, as regarded Aaron and his family, the chiefs of the several tribes were required to deposit their staves, and with them was placed that of Aaron for the tribe of Levi. They were all laid up together over night in the tabernacle, and in the morning it was found that, while the other rods remained as they were, that of Aaron had budded, blossomed, and yielded the fruit of almonds. The rod was preserved in the tabernacle (comp.  Hebrews 9:4) as an authentic evidence of the divine appointment of the Aaronic family to the priesthood which, indeed, does not appear to have been ever afterward disputed ( Numbers 17:1-13). Aaron was not allowed to enter the Promised Land, on account of the distrust which he, as well as his brother, manifested when the rock was stricken at Meribah ( Numbers 20:8-13). When the host arrived at Mount Hor, in going down the Wady Arabah (See Exode), in order to Double the mountainous territory of Edom, the divine mandate came that Aaron, accompanied by his brother Moses and by his son Eleazar, should ascend to the top of that mountain in the view of all the people; and that he should there transfer his pontifical robes to Eleazar, and then die ( Numbers 20:23-29). He was 123 years old when his career thus strikingly terminated; and his son and his brother buried him in a cavern of the mountain, B.C. 1619. (See Hor).

The Israelites mourned for him thirty days; and on the first day of the month Ab the Jews yet hold a fast in commemoration of his death (Kitto, s.v.). The Arabs still show the traditionary site of his grave ( Numbers 20:28;  Numbers 33:38;  Deuteronomy 32:50), which in the time of Eusebius was reputed to be situated in Petra, in the modern Wady Mousa (Onomast. s.v. Or; Am. Bib. Repos. 1838, p. 432, 640). He is mentioned in the Koran (Hottinger, Hist. Orient. p. 85 sq.), and the Rabbins have many fabulous stories relating to him (Eisenmenger, Ent. Judenth. 1:342,855,864). For Talmudical references, see Real-Encyklop. s.v. For an attempted identification with Mercury, see the Europ. Mag. 1:16. (See Moses).

In  Psalms 133:2, Aaron's name occurs as that of the first anointed priest. His descendants ("sons of Aaron,"  Joshua 21:4;  Joshua 21:10;  Joshua 21:13, etc.; poetically, "house of Aaron,"  Psalms 115:10;  Psalms 115:12;  Psalms 118:3, etc.) were the priesthood in general, his lineal descendants being the high- priests. (See Aaronite). Even in the time of David, these were a very numerous body ( 1 Chronicles 12:27). The other branches of the tribe of Levi were assigned subordinate sacred duties. (See Levite). For the list of the pontiffs, including those of the line of Ithamar (q.v.), to whom the office was for some reason transferred from the family of the senior Eleazar (see Josephus, Ant. v. 11, 5, 8:1, 3), but afterward restored (comp.  1 Samuel 2:30), (See High-Priest).

II. Priesthood. Aaron and his sons were invested by Moses with the priestly office, which was to remain in Aaron's line forever ( Exodus 29:1-46). This was altogether distinct from the semi-sacerdotal character with which his mere seniority in the family invested him according to patriarchal usage. The duty and right of sacrificing to God was thereafter reserved to that family exclusively. The high-priesthood was confined to the first-born in succession; and the rest of his posterity were priests, simply so called, or priests of the second order (Ernesti, De Aarone, Wittenb. 1688-9). (See Sacerdotal Order).

III. Typical Character. Aaron was a type of Christ (see Hylander, De Aarone summisque Judoeor. pontificibus, Messioe typis, Lond. and Goth. 1827) not, indeed, in his personal, but in his official, character:

1. As high-priest, offering sacrifice;

2. In entering into the holy place on the great day of atonement, and reconciling the people to God; in making intercession for them, and pronouncing upon them the blessing of Jehovah, at the termination of solemn services;

3. In being anointed with the holy oil by Effusion, which was pre-figurative of the Holy Spirit with which our Lord was endowed;

4. In bearing the names of all the tribes of Israel upon his breast and upon his shoulders, thus presenting them always before God, and representing them to Him;

5. In being the medium of their inquiring of God by Urim and Thummim, and of the communication of His will to them. But, though the offices of Aaron were typical, the priesthood of Christ is of a far higher order. Aaron's priesthood was designed as "a shadow of heavenly things," to lead the Israelites to look forward to "better things to come," when "another priest" should arise, "after the order of Melchizidek" ( Hebrews 6:20), and who should "be constituted, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life." (See Hunter, Sacred Biog. p. 282 sq.; Evans, Scrip. Biog. 3, 77; Williams, Characters of O.T. p. 97; Gordon, Christ in the Ancient Church, 1:271.) (See Priest).

Addendum From Volume 11:

The following description of the ascent to his reputed tomb on Mount Hor is taken from Porter's Handbook for Syria (p. 91). See HOR.

"Ascending the ravine from the south-eastern angle of the valley, we reach in about half an hour the plain called Sutuh Harun, which skirts the base of Mount Hor. Crossing this towards the south-east side of the peak, we find a path winding up to the summit. The ascent from the plain must be made on foot, and occupies about an hour. It is neither difficult nor dangerous if the proper track be followed, for in the steeper portions rude steps aid the pilgrim. Not far from the summit is a little platform, from which the central and culminating peak rises in broken masses, giving a peculiar character to the mountain, like

Embattled towers raised by Nature's hands.'

A deep cleft in the rock opens a way to the top. A little way up are the openings to subterraneous vaults with rounded arches, nearly similar to those in front of the tomb in the eastern cliff of Petra. From hence a staircase leads to the narrow platform on which the tomb stands.

"The tomb, as it now stands, is comparatively modern; but it is composed of the ruins of a more ancient and imposing structure. Some small columns are built up in the walls, and fragments of marble and granite lie scattered around. The door is in the- outh-west corner. An ordinary cenotaph, such as met with in every part of the East a patchwork of stone and marble is the only thing in the interior. It is covered with a ragged pall, and garnished with the usual accompaniments old shawls, ostrich-eggs, and a few heads;" Near the north-west angle a staircase leads down to a dark vault, partly hewn in the rock. Visitors desirous of exploring this grotto would do well to have lights in readiness. The real tomb of the high-priest is here shown at the far end of the vault. It was formerly guarded by an iron grating. The date of the building is at least prior to the time of the Crusades; for the author of the Gesta Prancorum mentions that in the time of Baldwin (A.D. 1100) an expedition was made in vallem Moysi, to Wady Musa;' and that there, on the summit of a mountain, was an oratory. Fulcher of Chartres, who also gives an account of the expedition, says he saw the chapel. It is highly probable that the spot was held sacred by the Christians before the Mohammedan Conquest.

Aaron is commemorated as a Christian saint in the Ethiopic calendar on March 27; and his deposition on Mount Hor is assigned in early Roman martyrologies to July 1.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [16]

âr´un , sometimes pronounced ar´on ( אהרון , 'ahărōn - S eptuagint Ἀαρών Aarō̇n , meaning uncertain: Gesenius suggests "mountaineer"; Fürst, "enlightened"; others give "rich," "fluent." Cheyne mentions Redslob's "ingenious conjecture" of hā'ārōn - "the ark" - with its mythical, priestly significance, Encyclopedia Biblica under the word):

1. Family

Probably eldest son of Amram ( Exodus 6:20 ), and according to the uniform genealogical lists ( Exodus 6:16-20;  1 Chronicles 6:1-3 ), the fourth from Levi. This however is not certainly fixed, since there are frequent omissions from the Hebrew lists of names which are not prominent in the line of descent. For the corresponding period from Levi to Aaron the Judah list has six names (Rth 4:18-20; 1 Ch 2). Levi and his family were zealous, even to violence ( Genesis 34:25;  Exodus 32:26 ), for the national honor and religion, and Aaron no doubt inherited his full portion of this spirit. His mother's name was Jochebed, who was also of the Levitical family ( Exodus 6:20 ). Miriam, his sister, was several years older, since she was set to watch the novel cradle of the infant brother Moses, at whose birth Aaron was three years old ( Exodus 7:7 ).

2. Becomes Moses' Assistant

When Moses fled from Egypt, Aaron remained to share the hardships of his people, and possibly to render them some service; for we are told that Moses entreated of God his brother's coöperation in his mission to Pharaoh and to Israel, and that Aaron went out to meet his returning brother, as the time of deliverance drew near ( Exodus 4:27 ). While Moses, whose great gifts lay along other lines, was slow of speech ( Exodus 4:10 ), Aaron was a ready spokesman, and became his brother's representative, being called his "mouth" ( Exodus 4:16 ) and his "prophet" ( Exodus 7:1 ). After their meeting in the wilderness the two brothers returned together to Egypt on the hazardous mission to which Yahweh had called them ( Exodus 4:27-31 ). At first they appealed to their own nation, recalling the ancient promises and declaring the imminent deliverance, Aaron being the spokesman. But the heart of the people, hopeless by reason of the hard bondage and heavy with the care of material things, did not incline to them. The two brothers then forced the issue by appealing directly to Pharaoh himself, Aaron still speaking for his brother ( Exodus 6:10-13 ). He also performed, at Moses' direction, the miracles which confounded Pharaoh and his magicians. With Hur, he held up Moses hands, in order that the 'rod of God might be lifted up,' during the fight with Amalek ( Exodus 17:10 ,  Exodus 17:12 ).

3. An Elder

Aaron next comes into prominence when at Sinai he is one of the elders and representatives of his tribe to approach nearer to the Mount than the people in general were allowed to do, and to see the manifested glory of God ( Exodus 24:1 ,  Exodus 24:9 ,  Exodus 24:10 ). A few days later, when Moses, attended by his "minister" Joshua, went up into the mountain, Aaron exercised some kind of headship over the people in his absence. Despairing of seeing again their leader, who had disappeared into the mystery of communion with the invisible God, they appealed to Aaron to prepare them more tangible gods, and to lead them back to Egypt (Ex 32). Aaron never appears as the strong, heroic character which his brother was; and here at Sinai he revealed his weaker nature, yielding to the demands of the people and permitting the making of the golden bullock. That he must however have yielded reluctantly, is evident from the ready zeal of his tribesmen, whose leader he was, to stay and to avenge the apostasy by rushing to arms and falling mightily upon the idolaters at the call of Moses ( Exodus 32:26-28 ).

4. High Priest

In connection with the planning and erection of the tabernacle ("the Tent"), Aaron and his sons being chosen for the official priesthood, elaborate and symbolical vestments were prepared for them (Ex 28); and after the erection and dedication of the tabernacle, he and his sons were formally inducted into the sacred office (Lev 8). It appears that Aaron alone was anointed with the holy oil ( Leviticus 8:12 ), but his sons were included with him in the duty of caring for sacrificial rites and things. They served in receiving and presenting the various offerings, and could enter and serve in the first chamber of the tabernacle; but Aaron alone, the high priest, the Mediator of the Old Covenant, could enter into the Holy of Holies, and that only once a year, on the great Day of Atonement ( Leviticus 16:12-14 ).

5. Rebels Against Moses

After the departure of Israel from Sinai, Aaron joined his sister Miriam in a protest against the authority of Moses (Nu 12), which they asserted to be self-assumed. For this rebellion Miriam was smitten with leprosy, but was made whole again, when, at the pleading of Aaron, Moses interceded with God for her. The sacred office of Aaron, requiring physical, moral and ceremonial cleanness of the strictest order, seems to have made him immune from this form of punishment. Somewhat later (Nu 16) he himself, along with Moses, became the object of a revolt of his own tribe in conspiracy with leaders of Dan and Reuben. This rebellion was subdued and the authority of Moses and Aaron vindicated by the miraculous overthrow of the rebels. As they were being destroyed by the plague, Aaron, at Moses' command, rushed into their midst with the lighted censer, and the destruction was stayed. The Divine will in choosing Aaron and his family to the priesthood was then fully attested by the miraculous budding of his rod, when, together with rods representing the other tribes, it was placed and left overnight in the sanctuary ( Numbers 17:1-13 ). See Aaron 'S Rod .

6. Further History

After this event Aaron does not come prominently into view until the time of his death, near the close of the Wilderness period. Because of the impatience, or unbelief, of Moses and Aaron at Meribah ( Numbers 20:12 ), the two brothers are prohibited from entering Canaan; and shortly after the last camp at Kadesh was broken, as the people journeyed eastward to the plains of Moab, Aaron died on Mount Hor. In three passages this event is recorded: the more detailed account in Nu 20, a second incidental record in the list of stations of the wanderings in the wilderness ( Numbers 33:38 ,  Numbers 33:39 ), and a third casual reference ( Deuteronomy 10:6 ) in an address of Moses. These are not in the least contradictory or inharmonious. The dramatic scene is fully presented in Nu 20: Moses, Aaron and Eleazar go up to Mount Hor in the people's sight; Aaron is divested of his robes of office, which are formally put upon his eldest living son; Aaron dies before the Lord in the Mount at the age of 123, and is given burial by his two mourning relatives, who then return to the camp without the first and great high priest; when the people understand that he is no more, they show both grief and love by thirty days of mourning. The passage in Nu 33 records the event of his death just after the list of stations in the general vicinity of Mount Hor; while Moses in Dt 10 states from which of these stations, namely, Moserah, that remarkable funeral procession made its way to Mount Hor. In the records we find, not contradiction and perplexity, but simplicity and unity. It is not within the view of this article to present modern displacements and rearrangements of the Aaronic history; it is concerned with the records as they are, and as they contain the faith of the Old Testament writers in the origin in Aaron of their priestly order.

7. Priestly Succession

Aaron married Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab, and sister of Nahshon, prince of the tribe of Judah, who bore him four sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. The sacrilegious act and consequent judicial death of Nadab and Abihu are recorded in Lev 10. Eleazar and Ithamar were more pious and reverent; and from them descended the long line of priests to whom was committed the ceremonial law of Israel, the succession changing from one branch to the other with certain crises in the nation. At his death Aaron was succeeded by his oldest living son, Eleazar ( Numbers 20:28;  Deuteronomy 10:6 ).

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [17]

Aa´ron, the eldest son of Amram and Jochebad, of the tribe of Levi, and brother of Moses. He was born B.C. 1574 (Hales, B.C. 1730), three years before Moses, and one year before Pharaoh's edict to destroy the male children of the Israelites ( Exodus 6:20;  Exodus 7:7). His name first occurs in the mysterious interview which Moses had with the Lord, who appeared to him in the burning bush, while he kept Jethro's flock in Horeb. Among other excuses by which Moses sought to evade the great commission of delivering Israel, one was that he lacked that persuasive readiness of speech (literally was 'not a man of words') which appeared to him essential to such an undertaking. But he was reminded that his brother Aaron possessed in a high degree the endowment which he deemed so needful, and could therefore speak in his name and on his behalf ( Exodus 4:14). During the forty years' absence of Moses in the land of Midian, Aaron had married a woman of the tribe of Judah, named Elisheba (or Elizabeth), who had born to him four sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazer, and Ithamar; and Eleazer had, before the return of Moses, become the father of Phinehas ( Exodus 6:23-25).

In obedience to an intimation from God, Aaron went into the wilderness to meet his brother, and conduct him back to Egypt. After forty years of separation they met and embraced each other at the mount of Horeb. When they arrived in Goshen, Aaron introduced his brother to the chiefs of Israel, and assisted him in opening and enforcing the great commission which had been confided to him ( Exodus 4:27-31). In the subsequent transactions, from the first interview with Pharaoh till after the delivered nation had passed the Red Sea, Aaron appears to have been almost always present with Moses, assisting and supporting him; and no separate act of his own is recorded. This co-operation was ever afterwards maintained. Aaron and Hur were present on the hill from which Moses surveyed the battle which Joshua fought with the Amalekites; and these two long sustained the weary hands upon whose uplifting the fate of the battle was found to depend ( Exodus 17:10-12).

While Moses was absent in the mountain to receive the tables of the law, the people seem to have looked upon Aaron as their head, and growing impatient at the protracted absence of their great leader, they gathered around Aaron, and clamorously demanded that he should provide them with a visible symbolic image of their God, that they might worship him as other gods were worshipped. Aaron ventured not to stem the torrent, but weakly complied with their demand; and with the ornaments of gold which they freely offered, cast the figure of a calf or young bull, being doubtless that of the bull-god Apis at Memphis, whose worship extended throughout Egypt. However, to fix the meaning of this image as a symbol of the true God, Aaron was careful to proclaim a feast to Jehovah for the ensuing day. On that day the people met to celebrate the feast, after the fashion of the Egyptian festivals of the calf-idol, with dancing, with shouting, and with sports.

Meanwhile Moses had been dismissed from the mountain, provided with the Decalogue, written 'by the finger of God,' on two tablets of stone. These, as soon as he came sufficiently near to observe the proceedings in the camp, he cast from him with such force that they brake in pieces. His reappearance confounded the multitude, who quailed under his stern rebuke and quietly submitted to see their new-made idol destroyed. For this sin the population was decimated by sword and plague (Exodus 32).

During his long absence in the mountain, Moses had received instructions regarding the ecclesiastical establishment, the tabernacle [TABERNACLE], and the priesthood [PRIEST], which he soon afterwards proceeded to execute. Under the new institution Aaron was to be high-priest, and his sons and descendants priests; and the whole tribe to which he belonged, that of Levi, was set apart as the sacerdotal or learned caste [LEVITES]. Accordingly, after the tabernacle had been completed, and every preparation made for the commencement of actual service, Aaron and his sons were consecrated by Moses, who anointed them with the holy oil and invested them with the sacred garments. The high-priest applied himself assiduously to the duties of his exalted office, and during the period of nearly forty years that it was filled by him, the incidents which bring him historically before us are very few. It is recorded to his honor that 'he held his peace' when his two eldest sons were, for their great offence, struck dead before the sanctuary ( Leviticus 10:1-11) [ABIHU]. Aaron would seem to have been liable to some fits of jealousy at the superior influence and authority of his brother; for he at least sanctioned the invidious conduct of his sister Miriam [MIRIAM], who, after the wife of Moses had been brought to the camp by Jethro, became apprehensive for her own position, and cast reflections upon Moses, much calculated to damage his influence, on account of his marriage with a foreigner—always an odious thing among the Hebrews. For this, Miriam was struck with temporary leprosy, which brought the high-priest to a sense of his sinful conduct, and he sought and obtained forgiveness (Numbers 12).

Some twenty years after (B.C. 1471), when the camp was in the wilderness of Paran, a formidable conspiracy was organized against the sacerdotal authority exercised by Aaron and his sons, and the civil authority exercised by Moses. This conspiracy was headed by chiefs of influence and station—Korah, of the tribe of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, of the tribe of Reuben [KORAH]. But the Divine appointment was confirmed by the signal destruction of the conspirators: and the next day, when the people assembled tumultuously and murmured loudly at the destruction which had overtaken their leaders and friends, a fierce pestilence broke out among them, and they fell by thousands on the spot. When this was seen, Aaron, at the command of Moses, filled a censer with fire from the altar, and, rushing forward, 'he stood between the dead and the living,' and the plague was stayed (Numbers 16). This was in fact another attestation of the Divine appointment; and, for its further confirmation, the chiefs of the several tribes were required to lay up their staves overnight in the tabernacle, together with the rod of Aaron for the tribe of Levi; and in the morning it was found that, while the other rods remained as they were, that of Aaron had budded, blossomed, and yielded the fruit of almonds. The rod was preserved in the tabernacle in evidence of the Divine appointment of the Aaronic family to the priesthood ( Numbers 17:10).

Aaron was not allowed to enter the Promised Land, on account of the distrust which he, as well as his brother, manifested when the rock was stricken at Meribah ( Numbers 20:8-13). His death indeed occurred very soon after that event. For when the host arrived at Mount Hor, the Divine mandate came, that Aaron, accompanied by his brother Moses and by his son Eleazer, should ascend to the top of that mountain in the view of all the people; and that he should there transfer his pontifical robes to Eleazer, and then die. He was 123 years old when his career thus terminated; and his son and his brother buried him in a cavern of the mountain [HOR]. The Israelites mourned for him thirty days; and on the first day of the month Ab the Jews still hold a fast in commemoration of his death.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [18]

The elder brother of Moses, and the first high-priest of the Jews, an office he held for forty years.