Exodus 4:14, usually identified as belonging to the Elohist source, labels Aaron as Moses’ Levite brother, that is, a fellow Levite.
However, at Exodus 6:20, 7:1, and 7:7 Aaron is presented as Moses’ flesh and blood brother. In fact, Exodus 7:7 identifies Aaron as the older brother by 3 years! These passages fall in with other Priestly indicators and have been identified as part of the Priestly source. As we saw in contradictions #91 and #93, here too the Priestly writer changes the tradition he inherited, transforming Aaron’s pedigree from a fellow Levite to Moses’ older brother. This is merely one literary technique that P employs to raise Aaron’s status on the one hand and denigrate Moses’ on the other hand.
While the JE narrative had a very limited role and importance for Aaron, in the Priestly writer’s rewriting Aaron is not only elevated to the status of Moses’ brother, but even higher. Aaron is the central most important figure in the Priestly source, indeed the forefather of the Aaronid guild that was responsible for producing the text scholars label the Priestly source. Aaron appears 261 times in the Priestly literature. This is remarkable when we note that outside of P, Aaron is mentioned 35 times in E and only twice in D!
The Priestly literature’s focus on Aaron, the Aaronid priesthood, and the sacrificial cult is even more pronounced when we compare the Priestly writer’s vocabulary with the other Pentateuchal sources. For instance, the term for sacrifice appears 82 times throughout P, while only 20 times in E, and merely a dozen times in D. The tabernacle, the central sacrificial institution, is mentioned in P over 100 times, while nothing is said of the tabernacle in D. The word “priest,” which not surprisingly gives this source its title, appears 275 times in P, while making a meager 7 appearances in D! This is not just a difference in terminology, but in the whole concept and purpose of religion as imagined by these two authors, D and P. The Aaronid priests of the Priestly source define religion in terms of the sacrificial cult. The Deuteronomist, on the other hand, defines religion in vastly different terms. We will get to this in due course.
Finally, the new sibling status of Aaron and Moses is also problematized when P is added to JE. Since Aaron is Moses’ older brother by 3 years in P (Ex 7:7), when the JE narrative of Moses’ childhood is added to P, we must also assume that Aaron too was miraculously born against Pharaoh’s decree to kill all the first-born (#83).