Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu, set light to their incense burners using ordinary fire* and put in incense, and in this way offered forbidden fire in the Lord's presence, something he had not authorized. Fire came out from the Lord's presence and burned them up. They died in the Lord's presence. Moses explained to Aaron, “This is what the Lord was talking about when he said: ‘I will show my holiness to those who approach me; I will reveal my glory so everyone can see.” But Aaron didn't reply.
Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, sons of Aaron's uncle Uzziel, and told them, “Come and carry away the bodies of your cousins and take them outside the camp, away from the front of the sanctuary.” They came and picked them up by their clothes, and took them outside the camp, as Moses had ordered.
Then Moses told Aaron and his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, “Don't leave your hair uncombed, and don't tear your clothes in mourning,§ otherwise you will die, and the Lord will be angry with everyone. But your relatives and all the other Israelites may mourn for those the Lord killed by fire. Don't go outside the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, or you will die, because you have been anointed by the Lord.” They did what Moses said.
The Lord told Aaron, You and your descendants must not to drink wine or any other alcohol when you go in to the Tent of Meeting, otherwise you will die. This regulation is for all time and for all future generations. 10 You must realize the difference between the holy and the ordinary, between clean and unclean, 11 so you can teach the Israelites all the regulations that the Lord has given to them through Moses.”
12 Moses told Aaron and his two sons who were left, Eleazar and Ithamar, “Take the grain offering that is left over from the food offerings given to the Lord and eat it without yeast beside the altar, because it is most holy. 13 You must eat it in a holy place, because it is the share for you and your descendants from the food offerings given to the Lord. This is what I have been ordered.
14 You and your male and female descendants can eat the breast of the wave offering and the thigh contribution anywhere that is ceremonially clean, because you and your descendants have been given these as your share from the peace offerings of the Israelites. 15 The thigh contribution and the breast of the wave offering, as well as the fat portions of the food offerings made, they are to bring and wave as a wave offering before the Lord. They belong to you and your children forever as the Lord has ordered.”
16 Moses checked what had happened to the goat of the sin offering, and found out that it had been burned. He got angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, the sons Aaron had left, and asked them, 17 Why didn't you take the sin offering and eat it in the holy place, because it is most holy and it was given to you to take away the people's guilt by making them right before the Lord. 18 As its blood was not taken into the holy place, you should have eaten it in the sanctuary area, as I ordered.”
19 So Aaron explained to Moses, “Look, it was today that they presented their sin offering and their burnt offering before the Lord. After all that's just happened to me, would the Lord have been pleased if I'd eaten the sin offering today?”
20 When Moses heard what Aaron had to say, he accepted the explanation.
* 10:1 “Using ordinary fire”: supplied for clarity. 10:1 “Forbidden”: the words used here means “strange” or “alien.” Clearly the issue was acting in disobedience to God's explicit commands regarding the way in which such items were to be used in his service. The fire was to come from the altar. 10:2 “The Lord's presence”: because the Tabernacle was seen as where God “lived,” the concept of being in “the Lord's presence” or being “before the Lord” is frequently mentioned. § 10:6 “In mourning” supplied for clarity.