After I had finished reading through Leviticus and having written only one poem from that book — well, I was okay with that. But, when I started reading Numbers and found the story of Nadab and Abihu reviewed once more, I thought I should take another look at that story back in Leviticus. If it was important enough to bring up again, then it must be important.
This is the family line of Aaron and Moses as it was recorded when the LORD spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai: The names of Aaron’s sons were Nadab (the oldest), Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. These sons of Aaron were anointed and ordained to minister as priests. But Nadab and Abihu died in the LORD’s presence in the wilderness of Sinai when they burned before the LORD the wrong kind of fire, different than he had commanded. Since they had no sons, this left only Eleazar and Ithamar to serve as priests with their father, Aaron.
You can read the story found in Leviticus on your own. But, the thing that stood out to me was how Aaron and his two remaining sons were not allowed to grieve their obvious loss. I've heard this story before and moved on without giving it much thought. But, when I stop to put myself in Aaron's sandals and replace his two sons with my two sons, it makes it real and suddenly I see it in a new light.
Playing with Fire
O, Nadab, my firstborn! O, what have you done?
What caused you to burn this strange fire?
Did you think that I could protect you, my son,
if you went against God's desire?
Did you not believe when, before everyone,
God stated the rules he'd require?
Abihu, I loved you, and will till I die;
you've followed the path of your brother.
You've always contested each other to vie
to see who could better the other.
Now, memories of you are too few to supply
true solace for me and your mother.
My children, my sons, and the first of my joys,
I longed to embrace you, bereaving.
But, Moses convinced me to maintain my poise,
stand firm when I saw you not breathing.
In public, though I could not mourn for you boys,
my heart will forever be grieving.