Two sons of Aaron die inside the sanctuary after offering an unholy fire

Leviticus 10:2 NASB

And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.

There is no mention of defilement or cleansing ceremony after this incident,just the removal of the bodies from the sanctuary

Leviticus 10:4 NASB

4 Moses called also to Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel, and said to them, “Come forward, carry your relatives away from the front of the sanctuary to an area outside of the camp.

But according to the law anything unclean ie:(death)tended to defile God's presence

Numbers 19:13 NASB

Anyone who touches a dead body, the [k]body of a person who has died, and does not purify himself, defiles the [l]tabernacle of the Lord; and that person shall be cut off from Israel. Since the water for impurity was not sprinkled on him, he will be unclean; his uncleanness is still on him.

Was the sanctuary not defiled after this incident?

1 Answer 1


The Bible often represents sins as defiling or desecrating the sanctuary.

  • I will set my face against that man and I will cut him off from his people; for by giving his children to Molech, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name. Lev 20:3.
  • You must keep the Israelites separate from things that make them unclean, so they will not die in their uncleanness for defiling my dwelling place, which is among them. Lev 15:31.
  • Whoever touches the dead body of anyone and fails to purify himself defiles the Lord's tabernacle… But if a person who is unclean does not purify himself, he must be cut off from the community, because he has defiled the sanctuary of the LORD. Num 19:13, 20.
  • Then he said to them, "Defile the temple and fill the courts with the slain. Go!" So they went out and began killing throughout the city.” Eze 9:7, see also Eze 5:11. Judah has broken faith. A detestable thing has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem: Judah has desecrated the sanctuary the LORD loves, by marrying the daughter of a foreign god. Mal 2:11.

See also Jer 7:30, 32:34, Eze 23:38, 24:21, 25:3, Zeph 3:4, 2 Chron 29:4-7, 36:14, which all record acts of sin defiling the sanctuary. Note that in most instances the sanctuary is defiled by God’s people sinning. However, there are a few cases where non-believers desecrate the sanctuary by destroying it, but always as a result of the sin of God’s people. See Ps 74:7, 79:1, Eze 7:20-22, Dan 11:31.

Under this scenario, the sanctuary would have been defiled in Lev 10:1 when the original sin was committed of offering strange fire - the death of the sinners was as a result of the defilement of the sanctuary, not what defiled it.

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