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Nadab and Abihu

Posted by Marisa Lin on


“So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them”
                                                                Leviticus 10:2

In violent percussion
the flames erupting from censers
striking open-mouthed faces
enveloping them—
priests, brothers, sons.

I will be proved holy was the consolation
but what solace was there in this combustive wrath;
what comfort in the command to keep composure—
                             (your hair kempt / your clothes untorn)
cruel division between the clean and unclean?

Did Moses detect how in a father’s silence
reverberated the shattered convictions of sacrifice—
bulls and lambs whose sliced throats,
gouged entrails, disassembled limbs, pleased the deity
just as He was pleased to extinguish
the breaths of His set-apart servants?

What desert plot could be vacant
of bitterness, the anger
that fights against belief?

But as it were, the vortex of a father’s grief
did not account for divine authority,
did not wish to consider
the implications of being anointed,
nor did it permit its bearer
to pay homage at the proper time—

instead observing in silence
the ashes swirling in fragrance,
the goat burned, like the sons,
as if to ask how could one eat
when such things as this have happened

such things as the fiery blast

such things as cousins carrying cousins
outside the camp for the wind to peel
flake by flake

such things as the morning after,
the resumption of duties
(because mourning was optional)

and to the father, each beastly offering,
wary approach into the holy chamber,
was a remembrance of their trespass
and a sign to carry on:

for how could the vagaries of God be defined? 


Marisa Lin began attending The River Church Community in late 2018. She is a recent graduate of Stanford University, where she was involved during all four years in InterVarsity's campus ministry. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the contours of language through poetry.


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