New Interpreter's Bible and Dictionary of the Bible on Pre-pub

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This post has 41 Replies | 6 Followers

Posts 5248
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jan 15 2011 9:50 AM

Well I have just pre-ordered them when they come close to shipping time I will contact Logos and find out what upgrade costs will involve. Since I own them in abingdons format already. I think Abingdon is glad to get them into Logos format.  Folio was nice for it time but it is on deaths door step. The Dictionary is almost useless since it is only accessible via Windows explorer only, with no note taking ability or high-lighting. Even they know they needed to do something when I registered the Dictionary  i was asked to tell them  what Bible software i used. Abingdon will quietly let their software die, because Folio is dead.

 

-Dan

Posts 8893
fgh | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jan 15 2011 1:21 PM

Rosie Perera:
The Wilderness of God (Andrew Louth)

Yes

"The Christian way of life isn't so much an assignment to be performed, as a gift to be received."  Wilfrid Stinissen

Mac Pro OS 10.9.

Posts 149
Bob Schaefer | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jan 16 2011 4:10 PM

I've got mixed feelings about this announcement. (Like many of you, it sounds.)

On the one hand, I was practically doing the happy dance in my living room when I saw the New Interpreter's Bible on prepub. I've been lusting after a Logos edition (in a pure and holy way!) for several years now - it was so frustrating that such a useful set was available only in Abingdon's proprietary and rather limited digital form. To see Abingdon finally come on board and offer a major product like this in the Logos format is very encouraging. And I'd be lying if I said I don't seriously want to add this to my library...

On the other hand, it's already sitting on my bookshelf. And $800 is a lot of cash to rationalize away, especially when I've already got access to the material, albeit not in as convenient a form factor. (That said, having an attractive set of commentaries all in a row, filling a shelf, has a satisfaction of its own.)

The hardcover books can be had for $550 or so when purchased new on Amazon, and I'm sure there are deals to be had elsewhere. I completely understand the advantages of having a commentary in the Logos format, but it's still frustrating to have the Logos edition sell at a substantial premium over the street price of the hardcovers. And this is during the prepub period - presumably this set will top out at $1000 or so once it goes into production.

Another thing that occurs to me is that this entire set already exists in a digital format. I know that there will still be substantial work involved in formatting and markup, but doesn't it make a significant difference in production costs to have a pristine digital copy of the text ready to go? There shouldn't be any OCR work to be done, and none of the proofing that goes with it.

I'm probably getting spoiled by the tremendous deals that have popped up recently in the community pricing. I think NIB would have made it to production faster had it been announced as a community pricing resource, and certainly it would have been at a better price for everyone.

At the end of the day, I just can't imagine that there's a large market for this set at the price Logos is asking... which makes me sad.

Posts 3163
Dominick Sela | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jan 16 2011 4:41 PM

Others have made this comment before, but I really think the price is set by the publisher in some cases, like here with Abingdon.  They don't want the existence of a Logos version of their product to cannibalize their other sales. If Logos makes it on their own merit, so be it, but no advantage on price. I really believe this is what is happening here, it's not Logos. (Only an uninformed opinion mind you!)

Posts 1680
Jerry M | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jan 16 2011 4:55 PM

Bob Schaefer:
And this is during the prepub period - presumably this set will top out at $1000 or so once it goes into production.

Other prepubs have a retail price and this one doesn't.  I'm wondering if this is the final price, and the publisher requested that a discount not be offered.

"For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power"      Wiki Table of Contents

Posts 9079
Forum MVP
Mark Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jan 16 2011 5:19 PM

Jerry M:
I'm wondering if this is the final price, and the publisher requested that a discount not be offered.

I think you can be sure of it. Baker did this with the individual Baker Academic titles they recently offered. List price is the only price on those. Makes them less attractive, but it is their shot to call.

Pastor, North Park Baptist Church

Bridgeport, CT USA

Posts 2824
Michael Childs | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jan 20 2011 8:08 AM

I would love to see a Logos edition of Abingdon's the newer critical edition of Wesley's Works with the wonderful notes by Thomas Oden and other great Wesleyan scholars.  Just bought them in book form, but would would love to have them in Logos.

All that is available in Logos is the old Jackson edition.

Please!

"In all cases, the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church," John Wesley

Posts 56
David Langer | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 5 2011 3:59 PM

Will Logos consider a payment plan on this resource as a pre-pub (they have on the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary) -- this is a bit more expensive after all. . .

Posts 18651
Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 5 2011 6:35 PM

David Langer:

Will Logos consider a payment plan on this resource as a pre-pub (they have on the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary) -- this is a bit more expensive after all. . .

Email sales@logos.com or dan@logos.com (VP of Marketing & Business Development) to see if they could do that for you.

Posts 143
Sam Henderson | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Dec 9 2011 1:27 AM

Blair Laird:

Ted I am glad to hear you have the hardback... What separates this from any other commentary? Is this commentary more application, exposition, or exegetical? Why would you recommend this commentary? The information logos provided on the commentary is not very explanatory.. 

Here's one thing. Something you won't get from Logos' rather garbled author information at the top of product page is that NT Wright is one of writers featured in Vol 10 - I believe the New Interpreters is the only substantial commentary which displays Wright's rather unique and controversial reading of the Letter to the Romans. I would love to be able to purchase this volume as a standalone just for Wright on Romans, but maybe that's asking too much from Logos and Abingdon.

Posts 1
Caleb Hazel | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Dec 9 2011 7:28 AM

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Posts 561
Scott E. Mahle | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Dec 9 2011 8:02 AM

That is most excellent news! Thank you Logos and a Merry Christmas! Gift

Logos Series X Pastor’s Library | Logos 3 Leader’s Library | Logos 4 Portfolio | Logos 5 Platinum | Logos 6 Feature Crossgrade | Logos 7 Essential Upgrade - Large | Logos 8 Methodist & Wesleyan Platinum and Academic Professional

Posts 175
Bill Coley | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Dec 9 2011 9:45 AM

Caleb Hazel:

 

This is a positive development. I spent nearly $700 on hardbound copies of the NIB. This price begins to make the Logos version within reach.

Thanks, Logos.

Bill

 

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Forum MVP
Mark Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Dec 9 2011 10:19 AM

OK. So the new pricing for the Dictionary is $139.95. I am in for that.

The commentary's new price is $479.95. A much better price.

Both are still in pre-pub. Perhaps this new pricing will be enough to get them into production.

Since this thread is a bit old, I'll start a new thread so that people can quickly see the new pricing.

Pastor, North Park Baptist Church

Bridgeport, CT USA

Posts 450
Alexander | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 10 2011 7:19 AM

Does anyone know how this dictionary compares with AYBD or ISBE?  Or how the commentary compares with NICOT/NT or WBC?

Posts 570
Rev Chris | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 10 2011 8:19 AM

Alexander Longacre:

Does anyone know how this dictionary compares with AYBD or ISBE?  Or how the commentary compares with NICOT/NT or WBC?

The dictionary is similar to AYBD IMO.  AYBD has different topics that it expands upon, but both are 5 volumes and both have scholars that hit a wide range on the theological spectrum.  I have both and use both regularly (although I use AYBD a bit more simply because it's easier to access than my hard-copy NIDB).

 

As for the 12-volume commentary, I don't have NICOT or WBC, but I believe both of those are probably more conservative.  NIB again hits a wide range, keeping in line with the spirit of publishing at Abingdon Press.

Pastor, seminary trustee, and app developer.  Check out my latest app for churches: The Church App

Posts 450
Alexander | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 10 2011 8:32 AM

Thank you for the info :)

Posts 334
Paul Strickert | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 10 2011 9:06 AM

ISBE

Aaron ârʹən [Heb ’aharôn—meaning uncertain; Gk Aarōn]. Moses’ older brother, the first high priest. According to the genealogical lists he was third in descent from Levi (Ex. 6:16–20; 1 Ch. 6:1–3). However, the genealogy may be incomplete, since in Ruth 4:18–20 the Judah list has six names. He was probably a descendant rather than the immediate son of Amram and Jochebed, since Amram and his three brothers had numerous descendants within a year of the Exodus (Nu. 3:27f). Aaron’s sister Miriam was several years older, since she was set to watch the bulrush boat of the infant Moses, at whose birth Aaron was three years old (Ex. 7:7).

When Moses fled from Egypt, Aaron remained to share the hardships of his people, and possibly to render them some service; for we are told that Moses pleaded inability and God sent Aaron to aid in his mission to Pharaoh and to Israel, and that Aaron went out to meet his returning brother, as the time of deliverance drew near (Ex. 4:27). While Moses, whose great gifts lay along other lines, was slow of speech (4:10), Aaron was a ready spokesman, and became his brother’s representative, being called his “mouth” (4:16) and his “prophet” (7:1). After their meeting in the wilderness the two brothers returned together to Egypt on the hazardous mission to which the Lord had called them (4:27–31). At first they appealed to their own nation, recalling the ancient promises and declaring the imminent deliverance, Aaron being the spokesman. But the heart of the people, hopeless by reason of the hard bondage and heavy with the care of material things, did not incline to them. The two brothers then at God’s command made appeal directly to Pharaoh himself, Aaron still speaking for his brother (6:10–13). He also performed, at Moses’ direction, the miracles commanded by God unto Moses (7:9f). With Hur he held up Moses’ hands, in order that the “rod of God might be lifted up,” during the fight with Amalek (17:10, 12).

Aaron next comes into prominence when, at Sinai, he is one of the elders and representatives of his tribe to approach nearer to the mount than the people in general were allowed to do, and to see the manifested glory of God (Ex. 24:1, 9f). A few days later, when Moses, attended by his “minister” Joshua, went up into the mountain, Aaron exercised some kind of headship over the people in his absence. Despairing of seeing again their leader, who had disappeared into the mystery of communion with the invisible God, they appealed to Aaron to prepare them more tangible gods, and to lead them back to Egypt (Ex. 32). Aaron never appears as the strong, heroic character his brother was; and here at Sinai he revealed his weaker nature, yielding to the demands of the people and permitting them to make the golden bullock. That he must have yielded reluctantly is evident from the eagerness of his tribesmen, whose leader he was, to stay and avenge the apostasy by rushing to arms at the call of Moses and slaying the idolaters (32:26–28).

Since Aaron and his sons were chosen for the official priesthood, elaborate and symbolical vestments were prepared for them (Ex. 28); and after the erection and dedication of the tabernacle, he and his sons were formally inducted into the sacred office (Lev. 8). It appears that Aaron alone was anointed with the holy oil (8:12), but his sons shared with him the duty of caring for sacrificial rites and utensils. They served in receiving and presenting the various offerings, and could enter and serve in the first chamber of the tabernacle; but Aaron alone, the high priest, the mediator of the old covenant, could enter into the holy of holies, and that only once a year, on the great Day of Atonement (16:12–14).

After Israel departed from Sinai, Aaron joined his sister Miriam in a protest against the authority of Moses (Nu. 12), which they claimed was self-assumed. For this rebellion Miriam was smitten with leprosy, but was made whole again, when, at the pleading of Aaron, Moses interceded with God for her. The sacred office of Aaron, requiring physical, moral, and ceremonial cleanness of the strictest order, seems to have made him immune from this form of punishment. Somewhat later (Nu. 16) Aaron himself, along with Moses, became the object of a revolt of his own tribe in conspiracy with leaders of Dan and Reuben. This rebellion was subdued and the authority of Moses and Aaron vindicated by the miraculous overthrow of the rebels. As they were being destroyed by the plague, Aaron, at Moses’ command, rushed into their midst with the lighted censer, and the destruction was stayed. The divine will in choosing Aaron and his family to the priesthood was then fully attested by the miraculous budding of his rod, when, along with rods representing the other tribes, it was left overnight in the sanctuary (Nu. 17). See Aaron’s Rod.

After this event Aaron does not come prominently into view until the time of his death, near the close of the wilderness period. Because of the impatience, or unbelief, of Moses and Aaron at Meribah (Nu. 20:12), the two brothers are prohibited from entering Canaan; and shortly after the last camp at Kadesh was broken, as the people journeyed eastward to the plains of Moab, Aaron died on Mt. Hor. This event is recorded in three passages: the detailed account in Nu. 20, a second incidental record in the list of stations of the wanderings in the wilderness (Nu. 33:38f), and a third casual reference (Dt. 10:6) in an address of Moses. These are not in the least contradictory or inharmonious. The dramatic scene is fully presented in Nu. 20: Moses, Aaron, and Eleazar go up to Mt. Hor in the people’s sight; Aaron is divested of his robes of office, which are formally put upon his eldest son; Aaron dies before the Lord on the mount at the age of 123, and is given burial by his two mourning relatives, who then return to the camp; when the people understand that Aaron is no more, they show both grief and love by thirty days of mourning. The passage in Nu. 33 records the event of his death just after the list of stations in the general vicinity of Mt. Hor; while Dt. 10 states from which of these stations, viz, Moserah, that remarkable funeral procession made its way to Mt. Hor.

Aaron married Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab and sister of Nahshon, prince of the tribe of Judah; and she bore him four sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. The sacrilegious act and consequent judicial death of Nadab and Abihu are recorded in Lev. 10. Eleazar and Ithamar were more pious and reverent; and from them descended the long line of priests to whom was committed the ceremonial law of Israel, the succession changing from one branch to the other with certain crises in the nation. At his death Aaron was succeeded by his oldest living son, Eleazar (Nu. 20:28; Dt. 10:6).

See Plate 10.

E. Mack

Aaronites ârʹən-īts [Heb le’aharôn—‘belonging to Aaron’]. A word used in the AV only, to translate the proper name Aaron in two instances where it denotes a family and not merely a person (1 Ch. 12:27; 27:17). It is equivalent to the phrases “sons of Aaron,” “house of Aaron,” frequently used in the OT. According to Joshua and Chronicles the “sons of Aaron” were distinguished from the other Levites from the time of Joshua (e.g., Josh. 21:4, 10, 13; 1 Ch. 6:54).

 

AYBD

AARON (PERSON) [Heb ˒ahărōn (אַהֲרֹן)]. AARONITES. The son of Amram and the brother of Moses and Miriam who was the eponymous ancestor of the priestly Aaronites and the paradigm for later priests. He dies at Mount Hur (Deut 32:50) and is succeeded by his son Eleazar (Num 20:22–29). Aaronites are the priests who claim descent from Levi through Aaron. They are often referred to as the “sons of Aaron” (Heb bĕnê ˒ahărōn) (cf. Lev 3:8; 21:1; Num 10:8; Josh 21:4; 1 Chr 24:1; Neh 12:47) or as “belonging to Aaron” (Heb lĕ˒ahărōn) (cf. 1 Chr 12:28—Eng12:27; 27:17). The meaning of the name “Aaron” is uncertain, although it is perhaps derived from Egyptian.

———

A.  Introduction

B.  Images of Aaron in the Biblical Literature

C.  Aaron/Aaronite Relations with Others

D.  The Priestly Functions of Aaron and the Aaronites

E.   Summary

———

A.  Introduction

The first task in understanding Aaron and the Aaronites is to examine the varied images of them in the biblical accounts. Sometimes there is a strong positive image of Aaron as the officially ordained priest of God. At other times, the picture is rather negative, portraying Aaron at odds with Moses and “mainline” religious practices. In examining these portrayals, it becomes clear that positive images appear in the later biblical materials and negative images are prominent in the earlier materials. It is also true that there is a significant body of biblical literature (the prophets—especially Ezekiel—and the Deuteronomistic History) in which priests are present but there is little or no reference to Aaron or his followers. Thus, in order to understand the images of Aaron and the Aaronites, one needs to be aware of the particular literature in which these references to Aaron are found, and the specific time frame in which that literature emerged.

A second set of concerns when discussing Aaron and the Aaronites focuses on their relationship to other people or priestly groups. In terms of individuals, the question is primarily Aaron’s relationship with Moses. In terms of the Aaronites, the question is how they relate to the Levites and Zadokites, two other major priestly factions.

Finally, Aaron and his descendants are the preeminent models of what it means to be a priest. They are the ones who perform the most holy of rituals, who handle the holiest of sacred objects and who enter the holiest of places. In addition, they are the ones who oversee all priestly functions and groups, and monitor the activities of the priests at both the temple and the tabernacle.

 

B.  Images of Aaron in the Biblical Literature

It is clear that there is some ambivalence in the biblical texts toward Aaron. On the one hand, he becomes involved with the construction of the GOLDEN CALF (Exodus 32) and joins Miriam in opposing Moses (Numbers 12). On the other hand, Aaron and his sons are singled out to serve God as priests (Exodus 28–29; Leviticus 8–9). Somewhere amid these two perspectives stands a remarkable silence on the Aaronites (e.g. 1–2 Kings, Ezekiel), in which they are neither good nor bad. There are other priests or priestly groups present, but Aaron and the Aaronites are not part of that presence.

This confusing portrayal has been the subject of speculation for some period. As early as Wellhausen (WPHI) and Kennett (1905), it was suggested that the positive portrayal of Aaron emerged only in the post-exilic period and that the negative or neutral portrayals dated from the pre-exilic period. Since those early discussions, Meek (1929), Welch (1939), North (1954) and Cody (1969, 1977) have offered slight variations on the same basic position—that the positive image of Aaron is a product of the post-exilic period.

Their arguments are based on an examination of the materials in which Aaron appears. There are 346 references to Aaron in the Hebrew Bible (several in the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha and 5 in the NT). A vast majority (296) appear in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. The remainder are spread out in Deuteronomy (4), Joshua (6), Judges (1), 1 Samuel (2), Micah (1), Psalms (9), Ezra (1), Nehemiah (3), 1 Chronicles (16), and Chronicles (7). The lack of appearances in Ezekiel, who is very concerned with priests, and the scarcity in Deuteronomy (4), where Moses plays a predominant role, are very curious. However, prior to drawing any conclusions, specific passages need to be investigated, and this investigation must be cognizant of the historical situation from which the passages emerge.

A safe place to begin such an examination is the work of the Chronicler, whose postexilic date is essentially undisputed. In 1–2 Chronicles one sees a prominent positive role for Aaron. He is the brother of Moses (1 Chr 5:29—Eng6:3); he and his sons make sacrifices, offerings, and atonement in the most holy place in the temple (1 Chr 6:34—Eng6:49); and Aaron and his sons are “set apart” to perform the most sacred of duties—to burn incense, to minister, and to bless (1 Chr 23:13; 24:19). Furthermore, in 2 Chr 26:16–21, it is explicitly indicated that only the sons of Aaron, and not King Uzziah, could burn incense to Yahweh.

There are many other positive portrayals of Aaron, but most are found in P (Priestly) material, a collection of material more problematical in terms of dating than the Chronicler’s materials. The general consensus, albeit certainly not uniform, is that the present form of the P material reflects the understandings and perspectives of the early Second Temple period (i.e., postexilic period). Following that consensus yields a perspective on Aaron which is consistent with what emerged in the postexilic work of the Chronicler.

When one looks at the P material, one sees a very positive understanding of Aaron. A few examples from Exodus will support this point. Following the description of the ark and tabernacle (Exod 25:1–27:20), Aaron and his sons (the Aaronites) are to “tend” the tent of meeting (Exod 27:21), to serve Yahweh as priests (Exod 28:1), to wear priestly garments (Exod 28:3–43), including the Urim and Thummim (Exod 28:30), to be consecrated to Yahweh (Exod 29:1) and to be ordained (Exod 29:9, 35). To celebrate this ordination, a bull and two rams are to be sacrificed in Aaron’s honor (Exod 29:10–37). Finally, Aaron and his sons shall be anointed and consecrated as priests of Yahweh with “holy oil” (Exod 30:30–31). This positive image of Aaron continues through most of Exodus (with the exception of Exodus 32, which will be discussed later), throughout all of Leviticus and most of Numbers.

In Leviticus, much time is spent describing specific offerings and the procedures for those offerings. Consistently, Aaron, or “Aaron’s sons, the priests” are specified as the only people authorized to perform these rituals. In Lev 6:1–9:24—Eng6:8–9:24, Aaron and his sons are instructed as to the law of the various offerings and their crucial role in these offerings. The ritual for anointing Aaron and his sons is spelled out in Lev 6:12–16—Eng6:19–23. The actual ceremony for the ordination of Aaron and his sons is prescribed in Leviticus 8–9. The regulations for the actions of the Aaronites—“the priests, the sons of Aaron”—are spelled out in Leviticus 21. The concern is to maintain the holy status of the priests so that they do not become defiled by such actions as marrying a divorced woman (v 7), letting one’s hair hang loose (v 10), or coming in contact with a dead body (v 11). In addition, no person with a blemish may “offer bread” to Yahweh (v 18).

In Numbers 1–4, Moses and Aaron conduct a census of the people in preparation for war. Three factors should be considered when examining the role of Aaron in this census. First, the Levites, another priestly group, are numbered separately from the rest of the people (Num 1:47; 3:16–37), and are to be given to Aaron to stand (Heb ˒md) before and serve (Heb šrt) him (3:6). The second point is that the line of succession to Aaron is established. In Num 3:2–3 Aaron’s sons are listed and identified as anointed priests “ordained to minister in the priest’s office” (literally “whose hands are filled for the priesthood” [Heb ml˒ yd lkhn], “to fill the hand,” is the common Hebrew expression used to indicate ordination). Since Nadab and Abihu, two of Aaron’s sons, have died (Leviticus 10), Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s other sons, are the successors to Aaron. Finally, only Aaron and his sons are to be priests. All others who seek to come near the tent of meeting should be killed (Num 3:10).

This perspective on Aaron’s exclusive role as priest is continued in Numbers 16. The account records the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram against Moses and Aaron (Num 16:1–3) and contains the statement that only the descendants of Aaron can be priests (Num 17:5—Eng 16:40). This is curious since Korah, the son of Ishar, and Aaron, the son of Amram, are both seen as descendants of the priestly family of Levi (Exod 3:16–18; Num 3:17–19; 16:1). However, for the Priestly writer it is only Aaron’s branch of the Levitical family which can claim the legitimate right to the priesthood at the temple and tabernacle. Other material in Numbers (except Numbers 12) conveys the same basic positive evaluation of Aaron. As with the Chronicler, the Priestly writer presents a positive image of Aaron.

In contrast to that perspective, one can find materials in which there is a negative, or at least neutral, image of Aaron. One example is in Deuteronomy. This material is examined first because it can be identified, with a comfortable degree of certainty, as having originated in a pre-exilic context. One example, in particular, is Deuteronomy 9, which contains part of Moses’ presentation to the people. Of interest here is the telling of the story of Moses’ descent from Mount Horeb after having received the two tablets of stone. Moses comes upon the people who have sinned and made a GOLDEN CALF (Deut 9:15–16). The story continues with a statement that Yahweh is so angry toward Aaron that he was about to destroy him. It appears that it is only Moses’ intercessory prayer and his utter destruction of the Golden Calf which saves Aaron. It is certainly not a glowing recommendation of Aaron. Indeed, the only other appearance of Aaron in Deuteronomy is in 32:50, where Aaron is merely mentioned as a brother of Moses. Thus Deuteronomy neither presents a positive image of Aaron, nor contains a reference to Aaron as priest (unless one considers Aaron’s role in the building of the Golden Calf as priestly—but even then it would not be seen as consistent with the mainline worship of Yahweh).

This negative perspective is not confined to this passage in Deuteronomy. In Exodus 32, although there is some discussion as to the integrity of the passage, Aaron is portrayed as the villain who receives the gold from the people (Exod 32:4a), makes the calf (Exod 32:4a, 35), declares, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt!” (Exod 32:4b), and builds an altar before the calf (Exod 32:5). When Moses returns from the mountain, he indicates that Aaron has brought a great sin upon the people (Exod 32:21) and has allowed the people to “break loose” (Exod 32:25). While Aaron seeks to redirect Moses’ anger (Exod 32:22–24), his culpability is clearly indicated.

A third example of this negative image of Aaron is found in Numbers 12. Here Aaron and his sister Miriam challenge Moses’ authority (12:1) and claim that Yahweh speaks through them as well as through Moses (12:2). The response of Yahweh is clear; Moses is the specially chosen spokesperson, and no one should challenge him (12:5–8). As punishment, Yahweh makes Miriam leprous and subsequently heals her only after Aaron pleads with Moses to petition Yahweh on their behalf.

All three of these passages which convey either a negative or a nonpriestly image of Aaron are generally considered to be preexilic in date. The single reference to Aaron in the prophets (Mic 6:4), which is preexilic, merely refers to Aaron as having been sent to Egypt with Moses and Miriam. In addition, there are precious few references to Aaron in the pre-exilic and exilic work of the Deuteronomistic Historian, which is surprising, given the number of times priests or priestly factions are mentioned. It is only in Joshua, where cities are distributed to the Levites (Josh 21:4, 13, 19), that Aaron is referred to as a priest. Finally, Ezekiel, an exilic work which spends much time discussing the roles and functions of the priests and priestly groups, never refers to Aaron or the Aaronites.

The implication of this examination of the biblical passages which refer to Aaron is that the positive image of Aaron and the Aaronites, and of their role as priests, arises in the post-exilic period. This may be expected since it reflects, in general, the prominent position of priests in the postexilic period, and, in particular, the emergence of the role of the high priest. In contrast, in the pre-exilic period Aaron is mentioned only a few times, often in a neutral or negative way, and very rarely as a priest. Thus one must conclude that the prominence of Aaron and the Aaronites as priests is a post-exilic phenomenon.

 

C.  Aaron/Aaronite Relations with Others

A second area of consideration is the relationship of Aaron to other individuals and of the Aaronites to other priestly groups. Aaron’s relationship to Moses is of primary importance. In terms of the associations of the Aaronites, there are two other priestly factions which have a significant role in the Hebrew Bible—the Zadokites and the Levites. It is clear that there is struggle, conflict, and competition among these three groups over who is going to have control of the priesthood. As indicated in the previous section, one must remember that all of these relationships are fluid and that Aaron’s priority is emphasized in the later biblical materials.

The close association of Moses and Aaron is a common theme in the Pentateuch (although not exclusively found there [Josh 24:5; 1 Sam 12:6; Ps 77:21—Eng 77:20, 99:6]), particularly in the later (Priestly) writings of the Pentateuch. The association begins with the claim that Aaron is Moses’ brother (Exod 4:14; 6:20; 28:1; Num 26:59; 27:12–13; Deut 32:50; 1 Chr 5:29—Eng6:3; 23:13). There are also over 65 instances where the phrase “Moses and Aaron” appears, almost like a word pair, and only a few instances where the phrase “Aaron and Moses” occurs (Exod 6:26; Num 3:1). What is striking about many of these instances is that the presence of “Aaron” is not crucial to the passage. It could easily be removed without a significant impact on the passage or its meaning (cf. Exod 7:8; 10:3; 16:6; Lev 9:23; 11:1; Num 4:1; 14:5; 33:1). So the evidence for a close association of Moses and Aaron is not absolutely certain, and it is primarily found in the later materials.

In the relationship between Moses and Aaron, it is clear that Moses has a more prominent role. Most often in the Torah, Yahweh speaks to Moses, who in turn speaks to Aaron (Exod 7:19; 16:32–34; Lev 17:1–2; Num 6:22–23; 8:1–2), or Yahweh speaks to Moses and Aaron at the same time (Exod 12:43; Lev 11:1; 14:33; Num 2:1; 19:1; 20:12). Only rarely does Yahweh speak directly to Aaron (Lev 10:8; Num 18:1). In addition, when one looks at the dynamics of the plague stories, there is a clear but subtle shift in the relationship between Moses and Aaron. At the beginning, Moses fumbles for words and pleads his incompetence until in anger Yahweh appoints Aaron to be Moses’ spokesperson. Even then Aaron receives Yahweh’s words through Moses (Exod 4:1–17; 7:19). Thus at the beginning of the plague stories Aaron has an important role. When both Moses and Aaron appear before Pharaoh (Exod 5:1, 7:10), it is Aaron’s rod which becomes the serpent (7:10), swallows the rods of Pharaoh’s magicians (7:12), is used to turn the Nile into blood (7:19), causes the plague of frogs (8:1—Eng8:5), and brings about the plague of gnats (8:16–17). However, with Exodus 9, Aaron begins to fade from the scene, and it is Moses who brings the boils (9:10) and uses his own rod to bring hail and fire (9:23) and the locusts (10:12–13). One explanation of this shift is that the earlier plagues tend to be from the P writer and the later plagues tend to be from the older pentateuchal source, the J writer. Although there is considerable and justifiable discussion about the degree to which one can identify a particular passage or verse as J or P, the general perspective suggests that the older materials do not place an emphasis on Aaron whereas the newer materials do. Thus, like the prominence of Aaron as priest in the postexilic period, it seems that the association of Aaron with Moses also finds its greatest emphasis in the post-exilic materials.

Moses and Aaron also appear together when the people are “murmuring” during the Exodus. Usually this murmuring involves the rebellion of the people against the leadership. In Exodus 17 the people murmur against Moses (v 2). Aaron is not the target of the rebellion and his role in the incident is only that of holding up Moses’ arms, along with Hur (v 12). In Numbers 12, the rebellion is again directed at Moses (v 1). However, this time it is Aaron and his sister Miriam who lead the rebellion against Moses. Finally, in Numbers 14 and 16, the rebellion is directed not just against Moses but also against Aaron (Num 14:2, 16:3). This confused situation becomes clear when one realizes that the early materials (Numbers 12, Exodus 17) either ignore Aaron or are negative toward him, whereas in the later materials (Numbers 14, 16) there is a positive picture of Aaron and a link with Moses.

When one turns to the priestly groups, it is apparent that the relations between the Zadokites and Aaronites change over time. During the monarchy, it is the Zadokites who play a prominent role in the priesthood and little is said about the Aaronites. One merely needs to look at the dearth of references to Aaron or Aaronites in Kings and Samuel (only 2 Samuel) in contrast to the 26 references to Zadok as the priest of the monarchy. At the end of David’s reign, there is a conflict over the succession to the throne between Solomon and his followers and Adonijah and his followers (1 Kings 1–2). When Solomon is victorious in the struggle, he appoints Zadok as the priest of the Temple and expels Abiathar (1 Kgs 2:27), the associate of Adonijah. While there may be some debate over the actual association of Abiathar—whether he is Levite or Aaronite—it is clear that Zadok and his followers, the Zadokites, are the priests in good standing. That perspective continues in the late exilic work of Ezekiel; he never mentions the Aaronites. Rather, it is the Zadokites with the assistance of the Levites who are the priests (Ezek 40:46; 44:15; 48:11).

It is only in the post-exilic material of the Chronicler that any association between Aaron and Zadok appears, and the perspective is always that Zadok the priest is a descendant of Aaron (1 Chr 5:29–34—Eng6:3–8; 6:35–38—Eng6:50–53; Ezra 7:1–5), which preserves the priority of Aaron. In addition, the Chronicler seeks to clarify the relationship of Zadok and Abiathar, the two priests of David (2 Sam 8:17, cf. 1 Sam 22:20) who are rivals after his death. According to 1 Chr 24:3, Zadok is a descendant of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, and Abiathar is a descendant of Ithamar, also a son of Aaron. Thus, for the Chronicler, all priests are descendants of Aaron, which again stresses the post-exilic prominence of the Aaronites.

The relationship between the Aaronites and the Levites is much more confusing and more prone to be hostile than that between the Aaronites and the Zadokites. Nevertheless, this relationship also shows development and change. A prime example of the hostility emerges in Exodus 32. The complicity of Aaron in the Golden Calf apostasy has already been mentioned. At the end of that account, there is the punishment for those involved in the idolatry (Exod 32:25–29). Moses calls for those “on Yahweh’s side” to join him in opposition to the people who “broke loose,” and presumably that included Aaron. It is the Levites who respond to Moses’ call and slay 3,000 people who participated in the apostasy. As a result of the Levites’ actions, they are “ordained” to the service of Yahweh (Exod 32:29). The Hebrew text says “their hands are filled,” which is a clear reference to their ordination as priests. It thus appears that the Levites’ rise in status is directly related to their opposition to Aaron and his followers.

This same perspective is present when one examines 1 Kings 12. In this passage Jeroboam establishes two cultic centers in the Northern Kingdom at Dan and Bethel (vv 25–33), and makes two calves of gold for these centers (v 28). Jeroboam erects these calves and declares, “Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt,” the same phrase as was used by Aaron in Exod 32:4. In addition, when Jeroboam selects priests for his temple he explicitly excludes Levites (1 Kgs 12:31). (According to 2 Chr 13:8–9, Jeroboam excludes both Levites and Aaronites, which reflects the later post-exilic perspective of the Chronicler in which Aaron is the only true priest and could not have participated in the apostasy of the Northern Kingdom.) A further piece of data which links these two golden calf incidents of Exodus 32 and 1 Kings 12 together is that the two eldest sons of Aaron and the sons of Jeroboam have virtually the same names: Nadab and Abihu for Aaron (Exod 6:23) and Nadab and Abijah for Jeroboam (1 Kgs 14:1, 20). Furthermore, all four of these sons die as a result of their idolatry (cf. Leviticus 10; 1 Kgs 14:1–14; 15:25–30). So based on these early materials, the improper cultic practices of Jeroboam are associated with those of Aaron, and the Levites either do not participate or actively oppose those idolatrous religious practices.

Numbers 16 is another passage in which there is opposition between Aaron and the Levites. However, in this instance, it is Aaron who is declared the righteous follower of God; and it is Korah, the descendant of Levi, who revolts against Moses and Aaron. Indeed, the followers of Aaron (Aaronites) are explicitly identified as the priests of Yahweh to the exclusion of Korah (Num 16:1–5—Eng16:36–40).

This change in perspective on Aaron, where Aaron is now seen as the dominant priest, is reflective of the post-exilic materials of the Priestly writer and the Chronicler and again exemplifies the post-exilic relationship of Aaronites and Levites. It also shows that although all priestly factions traced their ancestry back to Levi, and Levi is considered ordained by God, the Levites’ primary function is to serve the Aaronites.

When the census of the people is being taken by Aaron and Moses in Numbers, the Levites are explicitly set aside (Num 1:47) and not numbered at the beginning, since they have special tasks around the tabernacle. Later, however, the Levites are numbered and chosen by God to stand (Heb ˒md) before Aaron and to “minister” (Heb šrt) to Aaron, since they are given to Aaron and his sons (Num 3:5–10; cf. 4:27). What is clear in this passage is that there is a distinction between the Aaronites as priests and the Levites, who, although also ordained, are secondary priests subordinate to Aaron.

Aaron is then to collect the Levites and consecrate them to service (Heb ˓bd) (Num 8:5–26; cf. 18:1–7). This perspective is continued in Chronicles, where there is a clear distinction between priests, understood to be Aaronites, and Levites (1 Chr 23:2; 24:31; 28:13, 21; and 2 Chr 7:6; 11:13; 13:9; 19:8; 23:4, 6). The Levites are to stand (Heb ˒md) before the priests, the sons of Aaron (1 Chr 23:27–28), and guard (Heb šmr) the sons of Aaron (1 Chr 23:32; cf. 2 Chr 13:10; 35:14; Neh 12:47).

The priority of the Aaronites is illustrated in no better way than in the account in Num 17:16–28—Eng 17:1–13. According to the passage, each of the twelve tribes has a rod or staff, and each is to have the tribal ancestor’s name placed on the rod. However, the rod representing Levi’s tribe has Aaron’s name written upon it. When all twelve rods are deposited in the tent of meeting to determine which of them will be chosen by God, it is the “rod of Aaron” which sprouts and bears “ripe almonds.” This, of course, indicates Yahweh’s selection of Aaron over all other (cf. Ps-Philo 17:1–4; 53:9). Finally, Aaron’s rod, which is put before the “testimony” in the tent of meeting, is to become a sign that the people should not murmur against Yahweh (cf. Numbers 16).

In the following chapter (Numbers 18), where Aaron’s priesthood and the role of the tribe of Levi are again discussed, the priority of Aaron and his sons as priests and the secondary status of the tribe of Levi are reiterated. The Levites are to minister to (Heb šrt; Num 18:2), to guard (Heb šmr; Num 18:3), and to serve (Heb ˓bd; Num 18:6) Aaron and his sons. This role of attending to Aaron and the Aaronites is given exclusively to the Levites (Num 18:4). However, the Levites are firmly cautioned not to approach the altar, lest they die (Num 18:3). This material in Numbers is late, again suggesting that the priority of Aaron and the Aaronites and the secondary status of the tribe of Levi (the Levites) emerges in the time of the Second Temple. In the material from the earlier periods, the Levites are often preferred, and it is the Aaronites whose activities are questionable and whose status is secondary to the Levites.

In general, it appears that Aaron’s relationship with others has had the same mixed history as was seen in the review of Aaron in the biblical literature. In the monarchical period, Aaron and the Aaronites have a secondary, nonexistent, or negative status in relation to the other priestly groups. That perspective changes in the post-exilic period of the high priest, when Aaron and his sons (the Aaronites) become the high priests and establish their superiority over other groups. They do this by a genealogical link which traces their ancestry back to Moses and beyond to Levi, and by the accounts of Yahweh’s selection of Aaron as the chosen priest, the paradigm—preferred over the other priestly factions (Levites and Zadokites). Indeed, the other priestly factions became servants to Aaron and the Aaronites.

 

D.  The Priestly Functions of Aaron and the Aaronites

The role of Aaron as priest emerges in the activities and functions he and his descendants, the Aaronites, perform. Of course, one of their main functions is to preside at cultic ceremonies. However, there are other related activities in which they are involved.

There are numerous references in which Aaron (or his descendants) officiate at and participate in cultic rituals. In fact, the majority of the discussion in Leviticus is devoted to the priestly functions of Aaron and the Aaronites. They perform the “burnt offering” (Lev 1:3–17; 9:12–14), the “cereal offering” (Lev 2:1–16), and the “peace offering” (Lev 3:1–17; 9:18–21). Aaron is not explicitly mentioned when the “sin offering” (Lev 4:1–5:13) or “guilt offering” (Lev 5:14–26—Eng5:14–6:7) are discussed. However, when the laws (Heb tôrāt) of the “sin offering” are presented (Lev 6:17–23—Eng6:24–30; cf. 9:8, 16:6), it is the Aaronites who are addressed. For the “guilt offering” Aaron is again not specified, but it is always a priest who officiates (Lev 5:16, 5:25–26—Eng6:6–7, 7:1–5), and Aaron is in charge when the offering of atonement is made (Leviticus 16). Thus the presumption that this anonymous priest should be understood as Aaron seems valid (cf. 1 Chr 6:34—Eng6:49).

Another priestly function of the Aaronites is participation in ordination. Indeed, the Aaronites participate in their own ordination ceremony (Leviticus 8). It is run by Moses at Yahweh’s command, but Aaron and his sons participate by laying their hands upon the bull of the “sin offering” (8:14), the ram of the “burnt offering” (8:18), and the ram of the “ordination” (8:22). Finally, they are to eat from the ordination offering (8:31–36).

An important passage which outlines Aaron’s duties is Leviticus 10:8–11. This passage is unusual because it is one of the few places where Yahweh speaks directly to Aaron rather than through Moses. Here Aaron is told to do three things: avoid drinking when going into the tent of meeting; distinguish between the holy and the common and between the clean and the unclean; and teach the people Yahweh’s statutes. One curiosity about the passage is how closely it echoes Ezekiel 44. In Ezekiel the reference is not to Aaron but to the priests who are the sons of Zadok and who also claim descent from Levi. Nevertheless, the functions of the priests are very similar: the sons of Zadok are told not to drink before going into the temple (Ezek 44:21); to distinguish between clean and unclean (Ezek 44:23b); to teach the people the difference between holy and common (Ezek 44:23a); to act as judge (Ezek 44:24a; cf. Exod 28:29–30); and to keep Yahweh’s laws (Ezek 44:24b). Although the priestly faction in charge may have changed, the priestly functions relative to the central shrine remain essentially the same.

The distinction between clean and unclean is the focus of Leviticus 11–14. Moses and Aaron (Lev 11:1) are to speak to the people about this distinction, and people who are thought to be diseased are to be brought before Aaron and his sons for examination (Lev 13:1–2). It is Aaron who is to determine clean and unclean in relation to disease, and to deal with unclean houses and how to cleanse them (Lev 14:33–57). The same standards of purity apply to the Aaronites themselves. They are to be without blemish and pure in all ways (Leviticus 21). This is another means of distinguishing Aaron from others, and supports the contention that Aaron is chosen above the others to be priest (Ps 105:26, 106:16) and to have access to the holy things (1 Chr 23:13) in the temple (1 Chr 24:19) or in the tent of meeting (Exod 27:21, Num 17:1–5—Eng 16:36–40).

In Joshua 21, the Aaronites are to receive 48 Levitical cities from among the cities recently conquered by the twelve tribes (vv 4, 10, 13, 19). These cities, along with their pasture lands (but not, presumably, the agricultural lands [Num 35:1–8]), are to be set aside as land in which the priests can live and raise herds. This perspective is reiterated in 1 Chr 6:39–66—Eng6:54–81, where there is a special reference to the sons of Aaron receiving cities of refuge (1 Chr 6:42–45—Eng6:57–60). They are said to receive 13 cities, although only 11 are listed by name, in which a criminal may find refuge from pursuers. In the other major references to the cities of refuge (Num 35:9–15; Deut 19:1–10; Joshua 20), only 6 cities are set aside, and there is no mention of the cities being given to Aaron. The Aaronite control of these cities of refuge may well reflect the Chronicler’s post-exilic perspective, in which there is a positive image of Aaron, and the Aaronites are in charge of the priesthood.

Finally, the Aaronites are given the Urim and Thummim (Exod 28:30, Lev 8:5–9). These “sacred lots” are used to determine the will of Yahweh (Num 27:21; 1 Sam 14:36–42, 27:6; cf. 1 Sam 10:20–24) and to indicate the juridical role of Aaron (Exod 28:29–30a; cf. Ezek 44:24). In Num 27:21, it is Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the next in the priestly line (cf. Num 20:22–29), who uses the Urim to inquire whether Joshua should succeed Moses. The Urim and Thummim are thus symbols of special access to God’s will; and, according to parts of the biblical tradition, they belong in the hands of the Aaronites.

It is clear that Aaron and the Aaronites play a prominent role as priests. Their fulfillment of that role is emphasized in the Hebrew Bible, especially in the later materials. That perspective continues in the intertestamental literature (4 Macc 7:11; 3 En. 2:3; 48A:7), although there are surprisingly few references to Aaron in this material. In the New Testament, the book of Hebrews speaks of Jesus being called by God, just like Aaron (Heb 5:4–5). However, to distinguish Jesus from the priests of his contemporary time, Jesus is said to be of the order of Melchizedek, not that of Aaron and the Levites (Heb 7:4–22). Thus the writer of Hebrews is claiming a priestly authority for Jesus which predates that of Aaron or Levi and comes through Melchizedek at the time of Abraham (Gen 14:17–24; Ps 110:4; Heb 7:1–3).

 

E.  Summary

Aaron and the Aaronites play an important role in the religious structure of ancient Israel. The emphasis upon them and their functions clearly indicates their place as the preeminent priests. However, close examination of the biblical literature suggests that this prominent role was not present at the beginnings of Israel and was not won without a struggle. The earlier materials indicate a more significant role for the Levite and Zadokite priestly factions than for the Aaronites. It is only with the realignment and reorganization forced upon the Israelites by the trauma of the fall of Jerusalem in 586 b.c.e. that the Aaronites assume center stage. Then, in the writings of the post-exilic period, the Aaronites are portrayed as the paradigm of priests, and the other priestly groups are relegated to secondary or servant status. (See also PRIESTS AND LEVITES.)

 

Bibliography

Aberbach, M., and Smolar, L. 1967. Aaron, Jeroboam, and the Golden Calves. JBL 86: 129–40.

Cody, A. 1969. A History of Old Testament Priesthood. AnBib 35. Rome.

———. 1977. Aaron: A Figure with Many Facets. BToday 88: 1089–94.

Gunneweg, A. H. J. 1965. Leviten und Priester. FRLANT 89. Göttingen.

Horbury, W. 1983. The Aaronic Priesthood in the Epistle to the Hebrews. JSNT 19: 43–71.

Judge, H. G. 1956. Aaron, Zadok and Abiathar. JTS n.s. 7: 70–74.

Kennett, R. H. 1905. Origin of the Aaronite Priesthood. JTS 6: 161–86.

Meek, T. J. 1929. Aaronites and Zadokites. AJSL 45: 149–66.

North, F. S. 1954. Aaron’s Rise in Prestige. ZAW 66: 191–99.

Sabourin, L. 1973. Priesthood: A Comparative Study. SHR 25. Leiden.

Welch, A. C. 1939. The Work of the Chronicler. London.

                 John R. Spencer

 

NIDB

AARON, AARONITES air´uhn, air´uh-nit [Nrohj)a )aharon, Nrohj)a yn'b@; bene )aharon, Nrohj)a tyb@' beth )aharon]. 1. The elder brother of Moses, eventually considered to be the primary ancestor of the Jerusalem priesthood. In preexilic texts, Aaron appears in non-priestly roles as Moses’ spokesperson and assistant. In materials from the Second Temple period, he is presented as the first ancestor from whom the priestly families of the Jerusalem Temple descended and paradigm for the office of high priest. Claiming Aaronic ancestry played a decisive role in conflicts among groups competing for priestly legitimacy.

Those portions of the Pentateuch generally thought to be preexilic (attributed to J and E) do not present Aaron as a priest or priestly ancestor, in contrast to the portrayal of the later Priestly Writer (P). In preexilic texts Aaron is primarily the elder brother of Moses (Exod 6:20; 7:7 Exod 6:20 Exod 7:7 ) and thus brother of Miriam (Exod 15:20 Exod 15:20 ).

As God equips Moses for confrontation with Pharaoh, Aaron is provided as his spokesperson. Aaron’s role is explained to Moses using the metaphor of a prophet as one who speaks for God (Exod 4:14-16 Exod 4:14 Exod 4:15 Exod 4:16) and illustrated in the scene described in Exod 4:27-31 Exod 4:27 Exod 4:28 Exod 4:29 Exod 4:30 Exod 4:31. Elsewhere Aaron functions as an assistant for Moses, so that “Moses and Aaron” work together as a team throughout the final form of Exod 5-12 5-12 as the conflict with Pharaoh and the plagues reach their culmination. During a battle with the Amalekites, Aaron links up with the otherwise obscure Hur (Exod 24:14 Exod 24:14 ) to support Moses’ hands while Joshua fights (Exod 17:8-13 Exod 17:8 Exod 17:9 Exod 17:10 Exod 17:11 Exod 17:12 Exod 17:13). Aaron is present at Sinai, but not as a priest (Exod 19:24 Exod 19:24 ). With his two sons, Aaron joins the elders in seeing God and eating and drinking during the covenant ceremony described in Exod 24 Exod 24 , but it is Moses who performs the priestly actions (vv. 6, 8). Aaron also appears as Moses’ assistant in the P narrative of the miraculous provision of water from the rock at Meribah (Num 20:2-13 Num 20:2 Num 20:3 Num 20:4 Num 20:5 Num 20:6 Num 20:7 Num 20:8 Num 20:9 Num 20:10 Num 20:11 Num 20:12 Num 20:13). Aaron’s non-priestly role in the exodus tradition is summed up by Mic 6:4 Mic 6:4 , “I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.”

Although it is impossible to say anything about Aaron as an actual historical figure, his name is of Egyptian derivation (“the name [of the god] is great”), like other names associated with Israel’s earliest priesthood (Moses, Phinehas, Hophni). His traditional gravesite was Mount Hor in Edom (Num 20:12, 22-29 Num 20:12 Num 20:22 Num 20:23 Num 20:24 Num 20:25 Num 20:26 Num 20:27 Num 20:28 Num 20:29, called Moserah, “Chastisement,” in Deut 10:6 Deut 10:6 ). Like Moses, he died outside of the land of promise as a punishment (Deut 32:50 Deut 32:50 ).

In P and Chronicles, Aaron is presented as the ancestor of the Jerusalem priesthood and the original and model high priest. He is declared to be a descendant of Levi through Kohath (Exod 6:16-25 Exod 6:16 Exod 6:17 Exod 6:18 Exod 6:19 Exod 6:20 Exod 6:21 Exod 6:22 Exod 6:23 Exod 6:24 Exod 6:25), but his offspring are exalted above the other Levite families in possessing the sole right to priesthood (Num 3:5-10 Num 3:5 Num 3:6 Num 3:7 Num 3:8 Num 3:9 Num 3:10). Laws instituting the priesthood and sacrificial cult are applied to “Aaron and his sons,” a phrase that directly corresponds to the priesthood of the Second Temple. Exodus 28-29 28-29 and Lev 1-8 1-8 inaugurate and regulate their vestments, ordination, and sacrificial functions. Leviticus 21 Lev 21 guards their holiness, and Num 18 Num 18 promotes their prerogatives in contrast to the lower status Levites. Numbers 6:22-27 Num 6:22 Num 6:23 Num 6:24 Num 6:25 Num 6:26 Num 6:27 grants them authority to bless the people with a distinctive benediction. These texts read back the later priesthood of the Jerusalem temple into the desert period and attach it securely to the sons of Aaron.

Although certain priests were more important than others in preexilic Jerusalem, the office of high priest as such emerged as a new development in the Second Temple. This office combined political and religious leadership and was achieved through family succession. In P, Aaron embodies and personifies the figure of the high priest. His rich vestments are described in Exod 28 Exod 28 and his exclusive responsibilities in the Day of Atonement ritual in Lev 16 Lev 16 .

The final form of the OT portrays a straightforward and settled priestly reality. Aaron was the ancestor of all legitimate priests through his sons Eleazar and Ithamar (Num 3:1-4 Num 3:1 Num 3:2 Num 3:3 Num 3:4), and the office of high priest belonged to the family line descended from Zadok, whom Solomon appointed (1 Kgs 2:35 1 Kgs 2:35 ; see ZADOK, ZADOKITES). However, it is clear that actual developments were much more complicated, involving struggles among rival priestly groups both inside and outside Jerusalem. Eventually, a particular faction’s ability to claim Aaronic descent became the decisive factor in advancing and maintaining its privileges. Numerous theories have attempted to untangle these convoluted developments, but no consensus has emerged.

At an early stage, not all Israelite priests were regarded as descendants of Aaron, but rather bore the title Levite (Deut 18:1-8; 33:8-11 Deut 18:1 Deut 18:2 Deut 18:3 Deut 18:4 Deut 18:5 Deut 18:6 Deut 18:7 Deut 18:8 Deut 33:8 Deut 33:9 Deut 33:10 Deut 33:11; Judg 17 Judg 17 ) or considered Moses as their ancestor (Judg 18:30 Judg 18:30 ; perhaps the “Mushites” of Num 3:33; 26:58 Num 3:33 Num 26:58 ). No unambiguous line of priestly descent connects Aaron (and his son Eleazar and grandson Phinehas) with the priests mentioned Page 2in Samuel and Kings (Eli and his family and Zadok). Significantly, Aaron is almost completely absent from the Deuteronomistic History and the prophetic books (including that of the priest Ezekiel).

Rivalries between priestly groups are reflected in the story of the objections that Aaron and Miriam raise with Moses over his Cushite wife in Num 12 Num 12 : “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” (v. 2). Aaron and Miriam give voice to claims of legitimacy that the story undermines by asserting Moses’ unique status as one to whom the Lord relates “face to face” (v. 8). Miriam is severely punished with leprosy, apparently a harsh rejection of any priestly entitlements that may have been claimed by women cultic personnel. Numbers 16 Num 16 legitimizes Aaron’s exclusive priestly rank in opposition to rival claims by Levite groups personified by Korah “son of Levi” (vv. 1, 5-11). Korah’s dreadful death (vv. 32-33) stresses that only “the descendants of Aaron” (v. 40) can perform the priestly act of offering incense. When they do so, however, it serves as an effective intercession (vv. 47-48). Similarly, 2 Chr 26:16-21 2 Chr 26:16 2 Chr 26:17 2 Chr 26:18 2 Chr 26:19 2 Chr 26:20 2 Chr 26:21 describes the punishment of King Uzziah for encroaching on the cultic rights of “the descendants of Aaron” (v. 18). The budding of Aaron’s staff in Num 17 Num 17 also authenticates the Aaronic priesthood over against its rivals. See AARON’S STAFF.

Significantly, the golden calf incident (Exod 32 Exod 32 and Deut 9 Deut 9 ) associates Aaron with the cult of the calf image practiced in Bethel and founded by Jeroboam I, first monarch of the Northern Kingdom (compare Exod 32:4, 8 Exod 32:4 Exod 32:8 with 1 Kgs 12:28 1 Kgs 12:28 ). This could indicate that the priests of Bethel claimed Aaronic descent, or it might be a libel against the Aaronic priests by a competing faction represented by the “sons of Levi” who display such commendable zeal (Exod 32:25-29 Exod 32:25 Exod 32:26 Exod 32:27 Exod 32:28 Exod 32:29). First Kings 12:31 asserts that the Bethel priesthood was non-Levitical. Again, this could be a false vilification of the Aaronites or an indication that they were not yet claiming a Levite background. Some sort of connection between Aaron and the Bethel priesthood is suggested by the circumstance that the burial site of his son Eleazar was thought to be in Ephraim (Josh 24:33 Josh 24:33 ) and the association of Eleazar’s son Phinehas with Bethel in Judg 20:26-28 Judg 20:26 Judg 20:27 Judg 20:28. Another hint is the perplexing correlation between Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu and Jeroboam’s sons Nadab and Abijah, all of whom suffer premature deaths (Lev 10:1-2 Lev 10:1 Lev 10:2; 1 Kgs 14:1, 17; 15:25, 28 1 Kgs 14:1 1 Kgs 14:17 1 Kgs 15:25 1 Kgs 15:28 ).

Genealogical traditions in Ezra and Nehemiah also advance claims and negotiate tensions between rival priestly groups. The most trustworthy list of those who returned from exile, that of Ezra 2 Ezra 2 (Neh 7 Neh 7 ), makes no mention of either Aaron or Zadok in describing the four families of Jerusalem priests. In contrast, the genealogy of Ezra insists on his Aaronic and Zadokite descent (Ezra 7:1-5 Ezra 7:1 Ezra 7:2 Ezra 7:3 Ezra 7:4 Ezra 7:5). Scholars generally agree that the Zadokite Jerusalem priesthood advanced its claim to Aaronic descent only in the Second Temple period. Ezekiel 44 Ezek 44 , e.g., advances Zadokite prerogatives without mentioning Aaron. The Chronicler supplements and rewrites Samuel and Kings to incorporate mention of Aaron and the Aaronic priesthood. Examples are 1 Chr 24:1-3 1 Chr 24:1 1 Chr 24:2 1 Chr 24:3 which makes Zadok a son of Eleazar son of Aaron and 2 Chr 13:9-10 2 Chr 13:9 2 Chr 13:10 where Jeroboam is accused of excluding not only Levites but also Aaronic priests. The sequence in 1 Chr 6:3 1 Chr 6:3 -15, 50-53 presents the final resolution of the genealogical question: “Aaron . . . Eleazar . . . Phinehas . . . Ahitub . . . Zadok.” See PRIESTS AND LEVITES.

2. The Aaronites were sons or house of Aaron. Descendants of Aaron, who emerged as the sole legitimate claimants to priesthood. Priestly office was not originally limited to Aaronites. Exodus 32 Exod 32 and Num 12, 16-17 Num 12 16-17 witness to rivalries between Aaronites and other groups claiming priestly prerogatives. The Priestly Writer and Chronicles confirm that, by the Second Temple period, all legitimate priests were considered Aaronites. See P, PRIESTLY WRITERS; PRIESTS AND LEVITES.

Bibliography: Frank M. Cross. “The Priestly Houses of Early Israel.” Canaanite Myth and Hebrew (1973) 195-215; Gary N. Knoppers. “Aaron’s Calf and Jeroboam’s Calves.” Fortunate the Eyes That See: Essays in Honor of David Noel Freedman. A. B. Beck, et al., eds. (1995) 92-104. Richard D. Nelson. Raising Up a Faithful Priest (1993).

RICHARD D. NELSONPerkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX

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Posts 18651
Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 10 2011 9:15 AM

Paul Newsome:

A Grammar for Biblical Hebrew (C.L. Seow)

Rosie, I'm curious, do you have any connection to this book or have you been through it before.  Reason being, after my first semester of Hebrew using Seow... I still can't do much of anything in Hebrew.  Of course I have plenty of responsibility in this if not all of it, but I found Seow's Grammar to be way too technical with minimal emphasis on repetition and vocabulary

Hi Paul, I just noticed this question you posted to me months ago which I'd overlooked.

Yes, this was the textbook we used in my Introductory Hebrew class. I liked it and learned well and got an A+ in both semesters of the class. Of course I've forgotten much of what I learned because I didn't go any further with Hebrew and haven't practiced using it (my fault, not the book's). It might not be right for everyone, but for the way my brain is wired, it was perfect.

Posts 450
Alexander | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 10 2011 9:21 AM

Thank you Paul! Excellent post :) 

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