Aaron occupies a unique place in the history of God’s people. He was endowed with special skills that made him useful to God, but he was not the leader into which Moses naturally grew. Presumably, he was a better public speaker than his brother Moses (Ex. 4:14), though Moses often told him just what to say (Ex. 4:28-30). In the Pentateuch, Moses very often connected his own name with Aaron’s name (e.g., Ex. 5:1, 4, 20; et. al.). In the instances where Moses was describing their genealogy, Moses placed Aaron’s name before his own (Ex. 6:20,26; Num. 3:1; 26:59; see also I Chron. 6:3; 23:13). This is probably because Aaron was the elder of Moses by three years (Ex. 7:7).
The relationship between brothers Moses and Aaron must have been good. As Moses knew of his Hebrew heritage (e.g., Acts 7:23-25; see also MOSES), Moses very likely could have known his brother while he was in Egypt and in Pharaoh’s court. We could speculate–and it would only be shear speculation–that, among others, Aaron kept his brother informed of the conditions of the Hebrews such that it made Moses want to go and see their condition for himself. But after Moses fled Pharaoh’s wrath and was in the wilderness, he was separated from his family for forty years (Acts 7:23; Ex. 7:7). Yet, after all those years, Aaron was still “glad in his heart” to see his brother (Ex. 4:14, 27).
From the Account, it would appear that Aaron wholeheartedly agreed with his brother’s, God ordained mission. Aaron was with Moses every step of the way. Even when Pharaoh was ready to relent and let God’s people go (albeit only to renig later on the promise), he called for both Moses and Aaron (Ex. 8:25; 5:4). When these brothers met for the first time in forty years, Moses poured out his heart to his brother about the things that had happened to him and when Aaron heard this, he didn’t call Moses mad, he didn’t distance himself from his brother, but he freely and willingly went with him, first to the elders of the people and then to Pharaoh himself (Ex, 4:27-31; 5:1).
While Moses did his share of speaking, Aaron was the spokesman, especially early on (Ex. 4:16). God did not speak to Aaron as He spoke to Moses (Ex. 33:11). But God spoke to Moses and Moses spoke to Aaron and Aaron spoke for Moses. Aaron was to Moses, as the prophets were to God (Ex. 7:1,2). This duo was so closely aligned in purpose that when ever God commanded Moses to do a thing, Moses often records “Moses and Aaron did so” (Ex. 7:19,20; cf. Ex. 8:5,6, 16,17, etc). When Korah led a rebellion, it was “against Moses and against Aaron” because, Korah alleged, they took too much upon themselves (Num. 16:1-3). It was Moses, however, who passed God’s judgement on them in this rebellion because Moses was the leader (Num. 16:4,5,8,15,16 etc.) .
We each have our roles to fulfill. Aaron’s role was not to be leader. Though Moses had given Aaron (and Hur) responsibility to judge certain matters while he was away (Ex. 24:14), when he tried this role himself he failed miserably. While Moses was receiving the law from God, Aaron submitted to the people and made a golden calf and said “These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” (Ex. 32:1-4). When Moses confronted Aaron, he asked him, “What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them? (Ex. 32:21). Aaron’s response was to blame the people (Ex. 32:22-24). Aaron’s talents were needed in another role.
God wanted Aaron to minister unto Him in the priest’s office (Ex. 28:1). This was an important and necessary role. It involved not only making atonement for his own sins, but also for the sins of others (Lev. 16:6,11; 4:7-24; Heb. 7:27; 9:7). The glory and beauty of the holy garments bore testimony to the importance of this role (Ex. 28:2). More importantly, the typology of the old Testament priesthood foreshadowed the coming of the True Tabernacle, which the Lord pitched and not man, and the great High Priest, Who is set at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens (Heb. 8:1,2).
Aaron was tempted and gave into temptation. Jesus Christ, was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. This allows Him to identify with the trials through we go in this life and help us when we boldly go to the throne of grace (Heb. 4:14-16). Aaron could offer the sacrifices which the law required, for himself and the people, but they could never really take away sin (Heb. 10:1-4). But because the Lord took on Him the seed of Abraham, and in all things be made like to His brethren, He is able to make reconciliation for us and succour those of us that are tempted (Heb. 2:14-18).
Aaron was not perfect. He built the golden calf and spoke out against Moses when he married an Ethiopian woman (Num. 12:1), but he was active in his role in the deliverance of God’s people. When his two oldest sons failed to follow God’s commandments and were struck dead by the Lord, he held his peace (Lev. 10:1-3). We know that Moses was not allowed to go into the promised land, but neither was Aaron, and for the exact same reason Moses was prohibited (Num. 20:24). The Lord told Aaron to go to the top of Mount Hor, along with Moses and Aaron’s son Eleazar, and Aaron was stripped of his priestly garments and they were given to his son. Aaron died on the top of Mount Hor and when the children of Israel saw it, they mourned for him thirty days.
When the fullness of time was come and the Lord came unto His own, who but a son of Aaron would announce His coming (Luke 1:5-13).
Eric L. Padgett