John R. Spencer

in Biblical Studies

ISBN: 9780195393361
Published online March 2013 | | DOI:

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Aaron has an important role as priest in the Bible, particularly in the Hebrew Bible. When he is first introduced in Exodus 4:14, he is identified as the brother of Moses and as a Levite, one of the groups of priests. Hence, from the beginning, Aaron is seen as a priest. He is the son of Amram, the brother of Moses and Miriam (Numbers 26:50), and the eponymous ancestor of the priestly group called the Aaronites (the “Sons of Aaron”) (Exodus 28:1). The portrayal of Aaron is mixed. At times it is very positive, with Aaron and his sons serving as the priests for the ancient Israelites (Exodus 28–29; Leviticus 8–9). At other times, Aaron appears in a negative light, associated with the building of the golden calf (Exodus 32), the opposition to Moses (Numbers 12), and the incident at Meribah (Numbers 20). This fluctuating prominence of Aaron appears to be connected with the changing dynamics of the relationship between Aaron and his followers (Aaronites, or sometimes Aaronides), on the one hand, and the priestly groups of Levi (and the Levites) and Zadok (and the Zadokites), on the other. In the earlier materials of the Hebrew Bible, Aaron appears to have a neutral or negative persona. In later materials, especially in what is traditionally see as postexilic (after 586–538 bce), Aaron has a very positive reputation and is seen as having a priestly role superior to that of the Levites (1 Chronicles 23–24) and Zadokites (Ezra 7:1–5).

Article.  4676 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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