Aaron (~2300-2400 B.C.) هارون

Aaron (~2300-2400 B.C.) هارون

Biblical version of Haroon of the Islamic literature, but not exactly so. He is depicted in the Torah as the one who instituted calf-worship: “And Aaron said to them, ‘Take off the rings of gold which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.’ So all the people took off the rings of gold which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, and made a molten calf; and they said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation and said, ‘Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.’” (Ex., 32: 2-5). This was despite the fact that Aaron and his progeny had been appointed earlier as the chief priest whose priestly garment alone (including a turban) was specified in detail occupying an entire chapter (Ex., ch. 28).

According to Jewish literature, Aaron (the co-Prophet of Moses) was the one who made the molten image of a calf from gold and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’

The Torah also attributes the miracle of the rod turning into snake to Aaron: “So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did as the Lord commanded; Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent” (Ex., 7: 10). Similarly, the miracle of “frogs all over the place,” is also attributed to Aaron instead of Moses: “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your rod over the rivers, over the canals, and over the pools, and cause frogs to come upon the land of Egypt.’” (Ex., 8: 5)

According to the Bible, Aaron does not seem to go well with Moses either. He is unhappy that Moses married a Chusite woman, although the impression one gets from Num. 12: 1-15, (as pointed out by the New Catholic Encyclopedia, Second Edition, Gale Pub.), is that he is the “envy of Moses as the instrument of God’s revelation.” And, according to Num 20: 24 he is “forbidden to enter the Promised Land because of the incident at Meriba, where he sinned against the Lord” (Ibid).

The Encyclopedia Judaica, (Second Edition, Gale Publication) confirms Aaron’s introduction of calf-worship among the Israelites after their escape from Egypt: “It was during his brother’s prolonged absence on the mount that, yielding to popular insistence, he fashioned a golden calf that became a cause of apostasy (ch. 32). On the one hand, the text stresses the grave responsibility of Aaron in this incident. He makes no attempt to dissuade the would-be idolaters, but himself issues instructions, produces the molten image, builds an altar, and proclaims a religious festival (32:2–5).”

Obviously, this is not the Haroon of the Qur’an wherein he is declared (Taha, 20: 90), as actually preventing the idolatrous act.

Yet, he died a popular figure. Mighty Moses might have brought the Israelis out of Egypt, but Aaron is the preferred priest. Says The Encyclopedia Judaica: “Aaron was one of those who died not on account of sin ‘but through the machinations of the serpent.’” (Sif. Deut. 338–9). When Aaron died “all the house of Israel” wept for him (Num. 20:29), while after the death of Moses, the stern leader who reprimanded them by harsh words, only part of the people, “the men,” bewailed him (Sifra 45d).”

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