Aaron -

Aaron, ca. the first half of the 13th century BC, according to the biblical Book of Exodus, older brother of Moses, from the tribe of Levi, the first high priest of Israel. During the Egyptian captivity of the Israelites, as a better speaker than Moses, he was their spokesman in disputes with the pharaoh. He proved to the pharaoh the superiority of his abilities over the Egyptian magic (e.g. his rod miraculously turned into a serpent and swallowed the rods of Egyptian magicians turned into serpents). He accompanied Moses and the Israelites in their 40-year journey to the Promised Land. During the prolonged absence of Moses he gave in to the demands of the people, when they lost their faith in Yahweh, and cast a calf sculpture, which Moses ordered to destroy immediately after his return. Similarly to Moses, Aaron did not reach the Promised Land, but due to his virtues Yahweh gave him a long life and many children. At the command of Yahweh, Aaron was ordained the high priest by Moses. From that time, according to the tradition, "Aaron" and “House of Aaron" mean priesthood. In the opinion of modern scholars, references to Aaron mostly reflect the later status of Jewish priests, and their descent from Aaron is a typical etiological legend. The tradition of the golden age could appear in the 10th century BC or later, criticising the forms of worship introduced by Jeroboam I.

From the early Middle Ages, Aaron was depicted in book paintings, mostly as a Jewish priest with an incense and a miraculously bloomed rod. Moreover, he appeared as a companion of Moses or in a cluster of the Old Testament prophets. The most popular scene from the history of Aaron was the miracle with the flowering rod.

The content of this entry has been prepared on the basis of the source materials of the Polish Scientific Publishers PWN.

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