Orthodox icon of Prophet Aaron. Icon of 16 cent. Mount Athos Monastery of Stavronikita.
Aaron was the first priest of Israel, according to the biblical book Leviticus. His story begins in Exodus, with Aaron as spokesperson for and assistant to his younger brother, Moses. Together they help lead the Hebrews out of slavery and through years of desert wandering. At key moments, Aaron wields a rod that becomes a serpent, brings plagues upon Egypt, and sprouts blossoms and almonds. While Moses is off receiving the Ten Commandments, Aaron commits idolatry by building a golden calf for the people to worship. He survives this sin and later is anointed chief priest over the Hebrews' new "tabernacle" form of worship. In Numbers, Aaron's death is decreed by God, for a sin he and Moses committed (its nature is unclear) in drawing water from a rock. God sends the two to Mt. Hor, where Aaron dies after Moses strips him of his priestly garments.