Who was Aaron in the Old Testament?

Author: BibleAsk Team


In the Old Testament, Aaron emerges as a significant figure, playing a pivotal role in the unfolding narrative of the Israelites. His life, marked by moments of triumph and challenge, is intricately woven into the fabric of Israel’s history. This exploration seeks to delve into his life, shedding light on his role as a leader, priest, and brother.

Lineage and Early Life

Aaron, the elder brother of Moses, is introduced in the book of Exodus. Born to Amram and Jochebed, both from the tribe of Levi, he belonged to the lineage destined for a unique purpose (Exodus 6:20, Numbers 26:59). His early years were spent in the oppressive shadow of Pharaoh’s decree to kill all Hebrew male infants, an edict that Moses narrowly escaped (Exodus 2:1-4).

The Divine Call

Aaron’s life takes a momentous turn when God appoints him as a spokesperson for Moses, who himself is called to lead the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 4:14-16). God reassures him of His presence and promises to teach him what to say. This divine call marks the beginning of his public service to God and the Israelite community.

Support for Moses

As Moses confronts Pharaoh and demands the release of the Israelites, Aaron stands by his side, serving as a mediator between his brother and the Egyptian ruler (Exodus 7:1-7). The dramatic events that follow, including the plagues, highlight his crucial role in the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage.

At the battle with Amalek, he 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, he 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).

The Priesthood of Aaron

One of the most defining aspects of Aaron’s identity is his role as the first high priest of Israel. In Exodus 28, God provides detailed instructions for his consecration and his sons as priests, emphasizing the sacred garments and rituals that would distinguish them in their service (Exodus 28:1-4). The establishment of the priesthood solidifies his position as a conduit between God and the people.

The Golden Calf Incident

Despite his esteemed position, Aaron faces a challenging episode in Exodus 32. In Moses’ absence on Mount Sinai, the people grow restless and demand a god to lead them. Aaron, succumbing to the pressure, fashions a golden calf for the people to worship. This moment of weakness tarnishes his reputation and shows his weakness even in the presence of divine leadership (Exodus 32:1-6).

At the end of the wilderness journey, Aaron, like Moses, was not permitted to enter Canaan because the two brothers’ impatience at Meribah (Numbers 20:12-13).


Aaron’s life extends beyond the Exodus narrative, and his death is recorded in Numbers 20. God commands Moses to take his brother and his son Eleazar to Mount Hor, where Aaron is to be gathered to his people. His death marks the end of an era, but his legacy lives on in the establishment of the Levitical priesthood and the continuation of the line of Aaronic priests throughout Israel’s history.

References in the New Testament

His significance transcends the Old Testament, as references to his priesthood and the Levitical system appear in the New Testament. The book of Hebrews, in particular, expounds on the symbolism and limitations of the Aaronic priesthood, pointing to the ultimate high priesthood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 7:11-28).


In the tapestry of the Old Testament, Aaron emerges as a multifaceted figure, embodying the complexities of leadership, priesthood, and human frailty. His journey from the shadows of Egyptian oppression to the exalted role of high priest illustrates the transformative power of divine calling. His legacy extends beyond his earthly life, influencing the trajectory of Israel’s worship and laying the groundwork for the New Testament revelation of a perfect high priest in the person of Jesus Christ.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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