AaronBiblical Figure / Religious Figure
Born: 2nd century B.C.
Died: 2nd century B.C. (by God's decree)
Best known as: The brother of Moses who performed miracles with a rod
Aaron was the first priest of Israel, according to the biblical book Leviticus. His story begins in Exodus, with Aaron as spokesperson for and assistant to his younger brother, Moses. Together they help lead the Hebrews out of slavery and through years of desert wandering. At key moments, Aaron wields a rod that becomes a serpent, brings plagues upon Egypt, and sprouts blossoms and almonds. While Moses is off receiving the Ten Commandments, Aaron commits idolatry by building a golden calf for the people to worship. He survives this sin and later is anointed chief priest over the Hebrews' new "tabernacle" form of worship. In Numbers, Aaron's death is decreed by God, for a sin he and Moses committed (its nature is unclear) in drawing water from a rock. God sends the two to Mt. Hor, where Aaron dies after Moses strips him of his priestly garments.
Extra credit: As great-grandson of Levi, Aaron is among the priestly class of Levites. His family's altar duties turn tragic when his sons Nadab and Abihu disobey sanctuary rules and are killed by fire. Another son, Eleazar, later succeeds Aaron as chief priest... Like Moses, Aaron is also a figure of faith in Christianity and a prophet in Islam... The title character in D.H. Lawrence's 1922 novel, Aaron's Rod, carries a flute.
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