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“Fear the Lord and honor the Priest”: Ben Sira as defender of the jerusalem priesthood

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Chapter Summary

In the early second century BCE, perhaps the most prominent of those who supported the Jerusalem priests was a Jerusalemite named Jesus ben Eleazar ben Sira. The argument of this chapter is that Ben Sira was aware of and intended some passages to respond polemically to complaints that had been lodged against the Jerusalem priestly establishment and those who supported it. These complaints can be found in the works mentioned above, which are roughly contemporary to Ben Sira. He had a strategy for addressing these concerns that consisted of (1) writing positively about the priesthood and encouraging Jews to pay the priests in the Temple the honor due them and (2) confronting some of the means by which the communities who produced and used these works that opposed the Temple priests legitimated or gave authority to their criticisms.

Keywords: 1 Enoch; Aramaic Levi; Ben Sira; Jerusalem Priesthood



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