Key People



Some brothers, like Cain and Abel or Jacob and Esau, get each other in trouble. Nadab and Abihu got in trouble together.

Although little is known of their early years, the Bible gives us an abundance of information about the environment in which they grew up. Born in Egypt , they were eyewitnesses of God’s mighty acts of the Exodus. They saw their father, Aaron, their uncle, Moses, and their aunt, Miriam, in action many times. They had firsthand knowledge of God’s holiness as few men have ever had, and, for a while at least, they followed God wholeheartedly (Leviticus 8:36). But at a crucial moment they chose to treat with indifference the clear instructions from God. The consequence of their sin was fiery, instant, and shocking to all.

We are in danger of making the same mistake as these brothers when we treat lightly the justice and holiness of God. We must draw near to God while realizing that there is a proper fear of God. Don’t forget that the opportunity to know God personally is based on his gracious invitation to an always unworthy people, not a gift to be taken for granted. Do your thoughts about God include a humble recognition of his great holiness?

Strengths and accomplishments

    • Oldest sons of Aaron

    • Primary candidates to become high priest after their father

    • Involved with the original consecration of the Tabernacle

    • Commended for doing “everything the Lord had commanded” (Leviticus 8:36)

Weakness and mistake

    • Treated God’s commands lightly

Lessons from his life

    • Sin has deadly consequences

Vital statistics

    • Where: The Sinai peninsula

    • Occupation: Priests-in-training

    • Relatives: Father: Aaron. Uncle: Moses. Aunt: Miriam. Brothers: Eleazar and Ithamar

Key verses

    • “Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu put coals of fire in their incense burners and sprinkled incense over them. In this way, they disobeyed the Lord by burning before him the wrong kind of fire, different than he had commanded. So fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and burned them up, and they died there before the Lord” (Leviticus 10:1, 2).

The story of Nadab and Abihu is told in Leviticus 8-10. They are also mentioned in Exodus 24:1, 9; 28:1; Numbers 3:2-4; 26:60, 61.