Aaron was a prophet, high priest, and the brother of Moses (Exodus 6:20; 15:20). While Moses grew up in the Egyptian royal court, Aaron and his elder sister Miriam lived in Goshen. When Moses first confronted the Egyptian king about the Israelites, Aaron served as his brother’s spokesman before Pharaoh (Exodus 4:10-17; 7:1). At the command of Moses, he let his rod turn into a snake (Exodus 7:10). Then he stretched out his rod in order to bring on the first three plagues (Exodus 8:6-19) to demonstrate to Pharaoh that they were sent from God.
The Lord ordained that Aaron would have the priesthood for himself and his male descendants (Exodus 28:1). The rest of his tribe, the Levites, were given subordinate responsibilities within the sanctuary (Numbers 3).
At the battle with Amalek, Aaron was chosen with Hur to support the hands of Moses that held the “rod of God” (Exodus 17). When the revelation was given to Moses at Mount Sinai, his brother was the head of the elders who accompanied Moses on the way to the summit. Joshua went with Moses to the top, but Aaron and Hur remained behind (Exodus 32).
During the long absence of Moses on Mount Sinai, the people asked Aaron to make a Golden Calf as a visible image of the divinity, who had delivered them from Egypt (Exodus 32:1-6). Aaron yield to their demands. This incident brought God’s destruction to the camp (Exodus 32:10; Exodus 32:25-35).
On one occasion, Miriam and her brother murmured about Moses’ claim to be the LORD’s prophet. But God affirmed Moses’ office as the one with whom the LORD spoke face to face. Miriam was punished with leprosy for a brief period of time. Her brother pleaded with Moses to intercede for her, and Miriam was healed (Numbers 12).
A Levite named Korah led many to rebel against Moses’ and his brother’s claim to the priesthood (Numbers 16-17). But God punished the rebels and they were destroyed (Numbers 16:25-35). And the Lord confirmed that Aaron alone should hold the high office by making his staff alone to blossom (Numbers 17:8).
Aaron, like Moses, was not permitted to enter Canaan because the two brothers’ impatience at Meribah (Numbers 20:12-13). Soon after this incident, he with his son Eleazar and Moses ascended Mount Hor. There, Moses transferred the priestly garments from Aaron to Eleazar. Then, he died on the summit of the mountain, and the people mourned for him thirty days (Numbers 20:22-29).
Aaron’s life apart from his shortcomings was a clear demonstration of a man who served the Lord, devoted his life to the priesthood, and supported Moses as he led the nation of Israel from the Egyptian bondage to the promised land.
In His service,