Aaron was the older brother of Moses. When Moses complained to God that he needed a spokesman to accompany him before the Pharaoh, God sent Aaron as his companion. Aaron was a smooth, eloquent speaker. He obediently stood with Moses before Pharaoh and spoke the words Moses dictated to him. He performed his calling well as the first high priest of the Hebrews. Righteousness generally characterized him throughout his life. Aaron’s great weakness, however, lay in the fact that the man possessed no backbone.
Aaron was a good follower. As long as Moses was around, he did the right thing. But when Moses disappeared in the mists atop Mount Sinai, that spelled trouble for his brother. As the weeks slipped by and Moses didn’t reappear, the people decided Moses was dead and persuaded Aaron to let them fashion a golden bull. Then they began worshiping the image, and what began as a seemingly innocuous sculpturing party degenerated quickly into an idolatrous sex orgy. When Moses came down the mountain and discovered their wickedness, he was furious with Aaron and the people. Aaron had not joined the people in their sin; but neither had he shown any determination to stand for what was right. He said innocently, “The people brought their gold jewelry to me, we threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”
In the days to follow, more chinks appeared in Aaron’s backbone. Apparently he was not very assertive and thorough in the training of his sons for the priesthood. Two of his sons died because of their negligent offerings of banned incense on the altars of the Lord. Aaron’s other two sons also demonstrated imprudence, though not to the same degree.
When Miriam, Moses’ sister, came to Aaron with insidious slander against Moses, Aaron was swept along in her rebellion. And when three priests led an even more serious revolt against both Aaron and Moses, Aaron didn’t speak up in defense of his brother and his God. It was Moses who said boldly, “Who is my brother, Aaron, that you turn against him?”
It is interesting that in spite of Aaron’s failings Yahweh never punished the priest, though others around him were judged. It may be that God took into account Aaron’s character flaw and realized that though Aaron found it very difficult to stand against evil in others, he rarely initiated it himself. Though for the most part he remained in the right, the pliable priest cared too much about the good will of others to risk taking a stand against them. It was easy for an individual like Aaron to sound strong and powerful when people are around to back up his words, but then prove rather weak and helpless when, all alone, he faces opposition, strain, and storm.
What can we learn from Aaron?
Aaron was not a born leader; he was a follower. Most of us are like Aaron–we’re more comfortable following the initiative of others rather than shouldering the massive responsibility of leadership. However when the majority does wrong or a leader violates what is just, we must be able to stand strong and determined for what we believe in. Followers with backbone are the best kind of followers—they know when to say no.
Bible Verses about Aaron
Ex. 4:14, 5:20, 6:20, 7:1, 7, 12, 12:1, 16:34, 17:12, 19:24, 24:14, 28:12, 30:10, 32:2; Lev. 10:6; Num. 12:1, 16:11, 17:3, 20:25, 28; Ezra 7:5; Heb. 5:4-5, 7:11.
What questions does this help to answer?
- Who was Aaron in the Bible?
- Who were Moses’ family?
- Who were Moses and Aaron?
- Was Aaron Moses’ brother?
- What is the story of the Hebrews in Egypt?
- How did Israel escape Egypt?
- What were the plagues of Egypt?
Steve Fortosis served for six years as youth minister in several parishes. Meanwhile he was also working toward his masters, then his doctorate in religious education. Through the years he has enjoyed teaching on the college and seminary levels and writing professionally. He has published a number of books including story and prayer compilations, missionary biography, Biblical character biography, devotional lit, children’s lit, and even stories of Bible translation. Presently he resides in Florida with his wife, Debra, where he teaches part-time and writes on a free-lance basis.Steve Fortosis