Aaron - First High Priest of Israel

Profile of Aaron, Spokesman and Older Brother of Moses

Moses and Aaron
Moses and Aaron meet Pharaoh and Aaron turns his rod into a snake. Culture Club / Contributor / Getty Images

Aaron ranks as one of the three most important high priests mentioned in the Bible, the other two being Melchizedek and Jesus Christ.

Melchizedek, an early worshiper of the One True God, blessed Abraham at Salem (Genesis 14:18). Hundreds of years later came the priesthood of the tribe of Levi, started by Aaron. Now, our final and eternal high priest, interceding for us in heaven, is Jesus himself (Hebrews 6:20).

As the older brother of Moses, Aaron played a major role in the Jews' escape from Egypt and their wanderings in the desert for 40 years.

Aaron acted as Moses' spokesman to Pharaoh in Egypt, because Moses complained to God that he could not do it himself, being slow of speech. Aaron also became an instrument of God in the miracles that convinced Pharaoh to let the Hebrew people go.

When God assigned Moses to free the enslaved Hebrews, Moses expressed self doubt (Exodus 4:13). Aaron stepped up as a strengthening partner throughout the ordeal, then later led the people in formalized worship of God in the wilderness.

In the desert of Zin, at Meribah, the people demanded water. Instead of speaking to the rock, as God had commanded him, Moses struck it with his staff in anger. Aaron participated in that disobedience and along with Moses, was banned from entering Canaan. On the border of the promised land, Moses took Aaron up Mount Hor, passing his priestly garments on to Aaron's son Eleazar. Aaron died there, at 123 years old, and the people mourned him for 30 days.

Today, a small white mosque stands on top Mount Hor, on the spot said to be the burial place of Aaron. Muslims, Jews and Christians respect Aaron as a key person in their religious history.

Aaron was far from perfect. Time and again he stumbled when put to the test, but like his brother Moses, his heart was aimed toward God.

Accomplishments of Aaron:

Aaron began Israel's first formal line of priests, was first to wear the priestly garments and started the sacrificial system. He helped Moses defeat Pharaoh. With Hur, he supported Moses' arms at Rephidim so the Israelites could defeat the Amalekites. When Israel had finished its wandering, Aaron went up Mount Sinai with Moses and 70 elders to worship God.

Aaron's Strengths:

Aaron was loyal to Moses, an eloquent interpreter, and a conscientious priest.

Aaron's Weaknesses:

When Moses did not come down from Mount Sinai, Aaron helped the Israelites craft a golden calf and worshiped it with them. Aaron did not set a good example for his sons and did not instruct them in absolute obedience to the Lord, resulting in his sons Nadab and Abihu offering "unauthorized fire" before God, who struck both men dead.

Aaron joined Miriam in criticizing Moses' marriage to a Cushite woman. Aaron also shared in Moses' disobedience to God at Meribah, when the people demanded water, and thus was forbidden to enter the Promised Land.

Life Lessons:

We all have strengths and weaknesses, but the wise person asks God to reveal both. We tend to be proud of our strengths while ignoring our weaknesses. That gets us into trouble, as it did Aaron.

Whether we are operating in one of our talents or struggling under our shortcomings, we do well to keep our focus on God for guidance. Aaron's life shows us we don't have to be the leader to play an important role.


Egyptian land of Goshen.

Referenced in the Bible:

Aaron appears throughout Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, to Deuteronomy 10:6, and is mentioned in Hebrews 5:4 and 7:11.


Interpreter for Moses, high priest of Israel.

Family Tree:

Parents - Amram, Jochebed
Brother - Moses
Sister - Miriam
Wife - Elisheba
Sons - Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, Ithamar

Key Verses:

Exodus 6:13
Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron about the Israelites and Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he commanded them to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. (NIV)

Exodus 32:35
And the LORD struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made. (NIV)

Numbers 20:24
"Aaron will be gathered to his people. He will not enter the land I give the Israelites, because both of you rebelled against my command at the waters of Meribah." (NIV)

Hebrews 7:11
If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come-one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? (NIV)

Old Testament People of the Bible (Index)
New Testament People of the Bible (Index)

Jack Zavada, a career writer and contributor for About.com, is host to a Christian website for singles. Never married, Jack feels that the hard-won lessons he has learned may help other Christian singles make sense of their lives. His articles and ebooks offer great hope and encouragement. To contact him or for more information, visit Jack's Bio Page.

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Zavada, Jack. "Aaron - First High Priest of Israel." Learn Religions, Dec. 6, 2021, learnreligions.com/aaron-first-high-priest-of-israel-701156. Zavada, Jack. (2021, December 6). Aaron - First High Priest of Israel. Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/aaron-first-high-priest-of-israel-701156 Zavada, Jack. "Aaron - First High Priest of Israel." Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/aaron-first-high-priest-of-israel-701156 (accessed June 8, 2023).