Aaron: The Iconography
Aaron was the brother of Moses and high priest of the Israelites, charged with offering intercessory sacrifices on their behalf. In the latter function, he was taken in Christian typology to be a type of Christ.

In the statue at right Aaron is dressed as prescribed in Exodus 28: the breastplate with 12 stones, secured by gold chains and worn over the ephod, and the mitre with the gold plate and Hebrew inscription declaring "Holiness to the Lord."

One thing he does not wear here is the "holy crown" of Exodus 29:6. In other art, that crown has a pair of high horns that curve in toward each other (example).

In the statue shown at left, the vessel with the flame at Aaron's left foot should be the censer for the incense offering prescribed in Exodus 30:6-9. Also see Numbers 16:46: "Moses said to Aaron: Take the censer, and putting fire in it from the altar, put incense upon it, and go quickly to the people to pray for them: for already wrath is gone out from the Lord, and the plague rageth." Typologically, this intercessory role relates to Christ's reconciliation of mankind with the Father. For example, an 11th-century portable altar bears several images of intercessory sacrifices that anticipate that of Christ and, by extension, that of the Christian liturgy. In one of the images on the altar we see Aaron wielding his censer and wearing his "holy crown." As late as the 19th century, an altarpiece in Montreal includes his sacrifice of a lamb among four Old Testament episodes believed to prefigure the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and in the Mass. The sculptures flank a larger sculpture group of the Crucifixion.

Some of the incidents from Exodus in which one is likely to see Aaron include the Fall of Manna (see Moses), his investiture, his brief challenge to Moses' authority, and the brass serpent.

Prepared in 2014 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University, revised 2015-09-16, 2016-09-10.


Morlaiter's statue of Aaron in the church of the Ge­su­ati (Our Lady of the Ro­sa­ry), Venice (See de­scrip­tion page)

3rd-century wall painting at Dura-Europos (See description page)

Aaron at the Giving of the Ten Com­mand­ments (See description page)


  • 17th or 18th century: Painting of Moses and Aaron worshiping the Trinity.
  • Circa 1875: Statue with other Old Testament sacrificiants, Notre-Dame de Montréal.