Here’s an interesting exercise. Choose your favorite Internet search engine. Put in the words “Nadab” and “Abihu” or put “Nadab and Abihu” as a phrase. Run the search. In the ones I’ve done over the past few years, the majority of the sites that have come up have been sites with articles by members of the church of Christ. I just did one on dogpile.com and had to go down to the 15th position before I found an article by someone from another religious fellowship (there were a few sites with just the biblical text).
Here go some reflections:
(1) Aaron had four sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. Two of these are mentioned much more often in the Bible than are their brothers. They are, of course, Eleazar and Ithamar.
(2) In fact, following the passage in Leviticus 10 that records the deaths of Nadab and Abihu, the two who died are never mentioned by name in a passage that does not include their brothers.
(3) The New Testament does not contain the names of Nadab and Abihu.
(4) Nowhere in the Bible are Nadab and Abihu held up as an example to be avoided. There are warnings to not be like Cain, not like Esau, not like Balaam, not like many other people… and not one specific reference to Nadab and Abihu. (Leviticus 16 is the closest I can find)
So why do we as a fellowship refer to these men so often? You can search the Internet on many other biblical stories, and we won’t dominate the rankings as we do with Aaron’s two oldest sons. (Try searching on “Eleazar and Ithamar,” for example) Why the fascination with this story?
Personally, I’ve resolved to follow the biblical example. I try my hardest not to mention Nadab and Abihu without mentioning Eleazar and Ithamar. Next week I want to look at the story of all four of them from Leviticus 10; I think that if we talk about two of them without talking about the others, we get an unbalanced view of God.
Still, I’d like to hear some opinions. Why our fascination with these two men?