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X. The Hasmonean High Priests and Their Priestly Descent

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Chapter Summary

This chapter investigates the priestly descent of the Hasmoneans. It addresses the question why, according to 1 Macc 2:54, did the Hasmonean high priests claim Phinehas as their "father". Why not Aaron or Zadok? This analysis is important for at least three reasons. First, it gives a deeper understanding of the relation of Hasmonean priestly family to other priestly families. Second, it sheds light on literary traditions with regard to who could or could not occupy the high priestly office in Jerusalem in particular in the Hellenistic period. Third, it clarifies further issues related to the Jewish groups who actively opposed the institution of the Hasmonean high priesthood. As the priestly and other opponents continued to persist, the Hasmonean high priests pointed to the grandson of Aaron, Phinehas, as a convenient biblical model in order to claim legitimacy for their militarized high priesthood, which included both religious and civil offices.

Keywords: Aaron; biblical model; Hasmonean high priests; Hellenistic period; Phinehas; priestly descent



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