Priestly Rule: Polemic and Biblical Interpretation in Ezekiel 44

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After this brief outline, MacDonald discusses a few methodological issues related to both inner-biblical interpretation pp. Regarding inner-biblical interpretation, he mainly discusses the two questions: "How might we ascertain where inner-biblical interpretation has occurred, and how can we determine the general direction of dependence? Hereby, he follows largely David Carr with some "rough guides requiring judicious use" which should not be understood as a series of rules p. Regarding redaction-criticism, MacDonald insists on the distinction between redaction as a "scribal activitiy that rewrites and reworks an entire text for a new ideological purpose" and Fortschreibung as "the interpretive development of a text" p.

Furthermore, he points to the fact "that inner-biblical interpretation can sometimes be used to explain the same data" p. Unfortunately, he gives no hints how to deal methodically with these different possibilities. In my view, the demonstration of a use of sources be they inner-or outer-biblical should always have priority over redaction-critical explanations which make these redundant. Finally, MacDonald states that, "as proponents of final-form and canonical readings insist, [ In the following, I give a brief evaluation of the study along these methodological considerations, starting with the final-form reading which should stand at the beginning of any diachronic investigation.

On pp. He emphasizes that Ezek refers back to where the ordinances and laws of the temple are announced. However, if we try to understand Ezek 44 within the whole book of Ezekiel, it would be equally important to consider that Ezek refers back to the first temple vision in Ezek , where the glory of YHWH, which now returns to the temple, has left it. According to Ezek , the ordinances and laws that are given to the house of Israel which is addressed in Ezek shall make them ashamed of their former iniquities. Thus, Ezek 43 prepares the reader to remember Ezek when reading Ezek This should be addressed in each attempt to understand Ezek Yet MacDonald moves immediately to three difficulties pp.

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Secondly, Israel's failure is described in different terms in vv. Thirdly, the word of judgment moves between past and future in a surprising way. Rather than trying to understand these difficulties on a synchronic level, MacDonald sees in these problems the legitimation to look for a diachronic solution in inner-biblical interpretation.

In what follows, the place of Ezek 44 within the book of Ezekiel plays almost no further role for his interpretation of the text apart of his proposal to see Ezek 14 as one of the texts interpreted in Ezek Therefore, MacDonald's approach is not totally satisfying. The suggestions on inner-biblical interpretation are the most important contribution of this study. They would be even stronger if MacDonald would have explained in the context of the book of Ezekiel why which reference to an older biblical text is made and what the function of these references is.

First, he interprets Ezek as an inner-biblical interpretation of Isa against some scholars Fishbane, Schaper, Tuell who suggested the reverse direction of dependence. While the suggestion that there is a direct literary relationship between the two texts is not completely conclusive in my view, the arguments for the priority of Isa are strong if one accepts the dependency at all. According to MacDonald, Ezek 44 contradicts the promise of Isa 56 that non-Israelites shall serve as priests on the basis of Gen 17 where the foreigners are characterized as uncircumcised and of Lev 22, where the offering is polluted by the presence of foreigners.

With regard to Ezek , MacDonald argues convincingly as several scholars since Gunneweg have done before, but even more precisely, that it draws on Num 18 and that thus the distinction between priests and Levites is not first established in Ezekiel as Wellhausen suggested and few scholars still suggest today but rather in the Pentateuch. Sign In. Advanced Search.


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Permissions Icon Permissions. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals. Issue Section:. You do not currently have access to this article. Download all figures. The latter introduced the subject of this subdivision, having associated the matter of priestly arrangements, including the organization of priestly courses, with King David himself. Had the Chronicler been in possession of any tradition in this respect, namely, which of the priestly families are Eleazarite and which Ithamarite, detailed information would most assuredly have been forthcoming, akin to his usual approach concerning priestly genealogies, wherever the pertinent data was available.

Ezekiel 33-36 • The Watchman Prophecies to Israel

Contrariwise, the Chronicler feels no need for the genealogies and family ties of the various courses during the Return. In his view of things, these arrangements were, to all intents and purposes, of ancient origin. Any alterations that occurred during the Second Temple period and which were in opposition to the customary procedure at the time of the Return, were regarded by the Chronicler as no more than a revival of antique practice.

As to Zadok himself, I Chronicles 29, 22 relates that during the Solomonic unctional rite, Zadok the priest was simultaneously anointed Similarly evident is the fact that in the eyes of the Chronicler, the house of Zadok are primarily the high priestly family.

Ezek studies on individual chapters

The Ezra data fit into this pattern. During the Oniad priestly reign, the appellative became linked to this family. One scholar 48 has even ventured the thought that the Ben-Sira passage already alluded to is actually a later interpolation penned by a sectary in possession of a Ben-Sira manuscript. A copy of this emended version, the reasoning goes, ultimately found its way into the Cairo genizah.

The opinion that the Ben-Sira song of thanksgiving is a sectarian product, is completely unwarranted, however, the latter having left no identifiable clues. While some similarities in ideological approach between the two may be present 50 , a greater basic contrast would be difficult to entertain. On the one hand, there is Ben-Sira, the sedate man of wisdom, sociable in nature and savoring every-day pleasures Strikingly different from this personage is the isolationist desert sect, warringly fanatic, with all its esoteric teachings and severely exacting pattern of existence.

The Ben-Sira benediction already alluded to on the election of the sons of Zadok to the priesthood , is merely a reflection of the position of authority and respect enjoyed by the Oniad House prior to the Antiochide decrees. The sect differed from Ezekiel as regards priestly temple service, and acknowledged the right of all priests not only those of Zadokite lineage to participate in the sacred rites. Furthermore, the Damascus Document exposition III, 20 — IV, 4 on Ezekiel 44, 15 concerning the sons of Zadok , departs from the literal interpretation of the prophetic text, not only by virtue of its allegorical exegesis, but in the very passage quoted.

The initiators of the sect and molders of its spiritual visage amongst these the priestly Teacher of Righteousness 54 , were indubitably from among the Zadokite priests. Clear testimony to this effect is supplied by the sources and many scholars have voiced agreement in this respect.

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Despite the more nebulous situation on the question of source evidence to sectarian origins, relevant literature and archaeological findings permit one to adduce that the sect first appears on the scene with the decline of Oniad and establishment of Hasmonean rule Apparently the sect sprang forth from circles spiritually close to the Hasidim, the extreme pietists who had fled into the desert after the promulgation of Antiochide edicts. Among them were also members of the priestly aristocracy and of the High Priestly family of Zadokites. Soil such as this produced and nourished the sect which could not make its peace with the Hasmonean House, to the extent that eventually it had become segregated from the national entity.

The proffered reason lies not only in the unique status of the Zadokite priests within the sect itself, but also in its background of polemic against the Hasmonean priests who had appropriated the high priesthood from the House of Onias Sectarian opposition to the Hasmonean dynasty and all it represented is, of course, not to be gainsaid.


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  • The question, however, remains- do we possess any source evidence to corroborate the thesis that the argument with the Hasmonean rulers included the contention that the Hasmonean priesthood were of non-Zadokite lineage, and consequently unfit for the high priesthood. As stated previously, insufficient data prevents us from determining which of the priesthood during the Hellenistic era were reckoned as descendants of Zadok.

    Source evidence proves that the Hasmonean line traced itself to the priestly course of Jehoiarib I Macc. In the Old Testament Jehoiarib is generally mentioned together with Jedaiah—the priestly family with which the high priest of the Return, Jeshua, son of Jehozadak, was associated. We have already had occasion to note that it would not be unwarranted to assume that the ramified family of Jedaiah are, in fact, the sons of Zadok of the First Temple period, and that several of the priestly courses were branches of this ramified family We may also reasonably assume that prominent among the priestly courses that branched off from the Jedaiah family was the Jehoiarib course.

    Such an inference may be adduced from the juxtaposition of Jedaiah and Jehoiarib in Return sources and from the prominent status of the latter in the list of the twenty-four priestly courses. These deductions notwithstanding, we are constantly enjoined to keep one point in mind- any investigations into the question of priestly genealogy from early post-exilic days, based as they are on indirect evidence, will lack any real significance for the period within our purview.

    No concrete evidence, however, is available to support such a contention, whereas numerous and important considerations may be mustered for rejecting this thesis. It is undeniable that until the Antiochide decrees, the high priesthood was an hereditary affair, remaining within the province of a single family over the course of hundreds of years and invariably transmitted from father to son.

    Concomitant patterns and procedures were developed. Fundamentally speaking, however, this exalted office was not perforce the exclusive province of any one priestly family One may surmise that during the First Temple period as well, there was an interchange of families from amongst whose ranks the high priest was chosen This situation prevailed without hindrance after the decline of Hasmonean rule until the destruction of the Second Temple The sources at our disposal, at any rate, which contended against the very Hasmonean House, that had been chosen by the populace to assume the high priesthood, make no mention of Hasmonean unfitness in this respect which may be traceable to their lineage How did the Dead Sea Sect view the matter?

    Generally speaking, Zadokite priests are mentioned in conjunction with their position of authority within the sect and not in relation to cultic matters.

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    The sons of Zadok are nowhere mentioned in these writings in connection with the Anointed of Aaron, who was to serve as high priest in the end of days. No reason was felt, however, to stress this aspect unduly, which would have been self-evident were the question of the legality of the Jerusalemite high priest to have been the subject of contention against the Hasmonean House.

    Judaean Desert writings, moreover, whilst containing severe recriminations against the priests of Jerusalem, headed by the Wicked Priest, contain no depreciatory statements on the issue of usurption of high priestly authority. Epigraphical and archaeological findings, as previously pointed out, substantiate the view concerning the Dead Sea Sect history that the genesis of the sect and its segregation from the mass of the nation occurred quite some time after the establishment of the Hasmonean rule It would thus be hard to contend that at this time, after several Hasmonean high priests already officiated, the members of the sect were to segregate themselves from the national entity owing to polemics concerning the legitimacy of the Hasmonean high priests VIII, Not priestly lineage, but personal acts and outlook are thus seen to be the underlying cause of sectarian wrath.

    Amongst the adherents of the Dead Sea Sect were the Zadokite priests who traced their ancestry to the High Priestly family of Jeshua son of Jehozadak, as well as other priests descended from different priestly families. This precedence was theirs not by virtue of any special rights in matters of priestly ritual, but rather owing to their authority concerning the maintenance of the ordinances of the sect and the interpretation of its precepts and beliefs.

    The founders of the sect who also determined its overall image were the priestly descendants of Zadok. One can but hope that publication of additional sectarian writings, whether already known as extant, or as yet to make their appearance, will assist us in our search for solutions to these problems. Varying opinions were already then expressed see- M. Several hypotheses were voiced when only few of the pertinent data were before the scholars; others still based themselves on attempts to fix the date of the Dead Sea Sect either prior to the Hasmonean revolt, at the time of the fall of the Second Temple, or even later.

    In the present state of research as regards the history and literature of the Dead Sea Sect, I deem it superfluous to present a detailed listing of the various arguments or, for that matter, to engage in debate with them. I wish to thank my friend, Dr. LICHT, who was kind enough to peruse my essay and offer his comments.