Occurences of "High Priest" in the Hebrew Bible
Several things are clear from this chart. First, "high priest" is used only once in Chronicles, and it occurs in a synoptic text that has been rewritten. The other two times Hilkiah is referenced in this way in 2 Kings 22–23, the title has been deleted in Chronicles. Second, the Chronicler replaces "high priest" with "chief priest" in reference to Jehoiada. Third, the title "chief priest" appears four times in Chronicles, but only three times in the rest of the Hebrew Bible. The Chronicler thus acknowledges the existence of the office of "high priest", but diminishes and does not enhance the title of the most significant cultic official in the Second Temple period.
1. The High-Priestly Genealogies
a) Comparison Chart of the Genealogical Lists of "High Priests"
The table below, similar to those used by previous scholars addressing this genealogical material4, summarizes the genealogical material from the Hebrew Bible and Josephus that contains information regarding the office of the high priest. A few observations should be noted. First, none of the "high-priestly lists" in the Hebrew Bible are so designated. The high-priestly lists are always part of other larger complexes: genealogies or settlement lists. Thus, these lists are not explicitly about the high priests. If anything, the lists are about the tribe of Levi and its importance in Israel"s history. This includes the list of high priests in Neh 12,8-11.22, which explicitly calls these individuals "Levites" and locates them in the Levitical line without declaring their priestly status. Second, the evidence from Antiquities strongly suggests that portions of the high-priestly list (the beginning and end) had attained a relative degree of stability in transmission.
However, the middle of the list was more fluid and provided the opportunity for expansion, both by Josephus and the Chronicler5. Third, the distinction between "high" and "chief" priest in the Hebrew Bible is blurred by Josephus who uses the same term, o( a)rxiereu/j, for both titles.
b) The Genealogy of 1 Chr 6,1-15
The genealogy in 1 Chr 6,1-15, is a composite text constructed from a variety of sources. The sequence "Levi, Kohath, Amram" is taken from the Priestly source6. This beginning supports the claim that "all priests are Levites, but all Levites are not priests"7.
The sequence "Ahitub, Zadok, Ahimaaz, Azariah" is gleaned from the narrative in DtrH; this then presents Zadok I as David"s Zadok, which is a temporal problem for Azariah II being the priest in the new temple under Solomon (1 Chr 6,10; cf. 1 Kgs 4,1-4). A common resolution is to emend this temple claim and to apply it to Azariah I, which although lacking textual evidence, makes sense on chronological grounds if the genealogical material is to be read in conversation with the narratives that follow8. The selection of Amariah as the name for this additional necessary individual has apparently been taken from the duplicate sequence in the following list of "Amariah, Ahitub, Zadok". The sequences of Aaron through Meraioth and Azariah II through Seraiah apparently have been reproduced from Ezra 7,1-5.
The sequence "Azariah, Johanan, Azariah" is difficult to assess. Why Azariah I (from 1 Kings) and Azariah II (from Ezra 7) were not considered the same individual by the Chronicler has no easy answer. It may reflect the tendency towards expansion of lists rather than contraction or assimilation in the ancient world9. However, the fact that they were not assimilated caused a noticeable difficulty: father and son would have the same name, without the insertion of Johanan.
Only the names of Amariah I and Johanan do not appear in the source material used by the Chronicler to construct this genealogy10. I have already suggested why Amariah was used, and the insertion of Johanan may have been simply to add a generation between the two Azariah"s. However, why select the name "Johanan" in particular?
While this question cannot be answered with certainty, I suggest the following explanation. Perhaps the choice of the name Johanan was taken from the current high priest at the time when the Chronicler was writing his history. Following VanderKam"s reconstruction of the high priesthood during the Persian period, Johanan would have attained the office sometime prior to 408 BCE (as can determined from TAD A4.7) and continued to hold it "until c. 370, or perhaps even beyond"11. This explanation would also be consistent with Cross" more complex reconstruction that places Johanan III in office at this time until his son, Jaddua (III), would have become high priest12.
The final observation about the genealogical list of high priests in 1 Chr 6,1-15 is that while there are some priests named in both the genealogical list and the narrative, there are others who are only mentioned in the narrative or who cannot be equated with individuals in the list because of chronological difficulties. Zadok and Hilkiah are the only leading priests named in both the genealogy and the narrative. There are four priests — and also the only ones termed "chief priest" in Chronicles — that appear only in the narrative. They are: Jehoiada (2 Chr 22–24), the Azariah under Uzziah (2 Chr 26,16-21), the Azariah of the house of Zadok under Hezekiah (2 Chr 31,9-19), and the Amariah under Jehoshaphat — although it is chronologically possible that he is Amariah II from the genealogy (2 Chr 19,5-11)13. While the identity of Amariah is uncertain, it is clear that the first three chief priests have been excluded from the Zadokite lineage presented in the genealogy. Jehoiada has no ancestry14, Uzziah"s Azariah (who is unique to Chronicles) is also without an ancestry; and Hezekiah"s Azariah is strangely "of the house of Zadok" but not to be found among his descendants in 1 Chr 6,1-1515. The Chronicler creates two priests (the two Azariah"s) and has another in his source specifically called a "high priest" who has now become "chief priest" (namely, Jehoiada).
I will assess the data concerning the high priest in Chronicles according to the inclusion and exclusion of names in this genealogical list of high priests. First, I will address the priests that are included in both the list and the narrative. Next, I will discuss the priests mentioned only in the narrative. Following this, I will deal with the ambiguous case of Amariah II separately. Finally, I will compare and contrast the presentation of these groups of leading priests in Chronicles.
2. High Priests mentioned in both the Genealogical Material and the Narrative
Zadok, who is never termed "high priest" or "chief priest" in the entire Hebrew Bible, is mentioned several times during the reign of David. Zadok is possibly first mentioned as joining David at Hebron, although this association is not clear (1 Chr 12,28). He is next singled out in David"s command to bring up the ark to Jerusalem from the house of Obed-Edom (1 Chr 15,11-15). In this passage he is mentioned first along with Abiathar and several Levites. He is addressed by David as one of the "heads of the families of the Levites". This is most likely an intentional move by the Chronicler to provide Zadok with a Levitical heritage, as well as Abiathar. When the ark is finally brought to Jerusalem, Levites under Asaph are assigned to attend it while the rest of the tabernacle apparatus with its functioning sacrificial cult is left at Gibeon under the direction of Zadok (1 Chr 16,37-42).
Zadok is also explicitly mentioned in 1 Chr 24,3-4 (cf. 2 Sam 8,17) in tandem with Ahimelech when the priestly divisions are organized by the two of them and David. This method of organizing the priestly divisions is different from the organization of the Levitical divisions mentioned in 1 Chr 23, which David does alone. Leading priests have input in the matters of the priestly structure while they do not have authority over the Levites. The Levites are responsible to other Levites who are in turn responsible to the king rather than to any priest16.
At the transition from David"s reign to Solomon"s in 1 Chr 29,22b-25, Zadok appears again. Zadok is anointed as priest just as Solomon is anointed as prince (dygn). This is the only passage in the Hebrew Bible outside the Torah which refers to a priest being anointed for service17. This elevated status of Zadok seems at odds with the fact that he fails to appear during the entire reign of Solomon (2 Chr 1–9), even in the building of the temple and the formal institution of its cult. Zadok may be anointed as priest, but he is never shown to function as one in the temple18.
The only priest explicitly called "high priest" in Chronicles is Hilkiah, who is also a Zadokite (1 Chr 6,13; 2 Chr 34,9). The term "high priest" is retained from 2 Kgs 22,4, while its occurrences in 2 Kgs 22,8 and 23,4 have been deleted by the Chronicler19.
The Chronicler tends to follow his source, which limits Hilkiah"s role in the account of Josiah"s reforms20. In the lengthy addition to the Pesach narrative, Hilkiah"s role and duties are not described while the duties and actions of the priests and Levites are given in detail (2 Chr 35,1-19)21. Two activities not mentioned in his source are added by the Chronicler: Hilkiah is singled out among the group sent by Josiah to the prophetess Huldah, and Hilkiah along with two other priests — all three being termed Myhl)h tyb ydygn "chief officers of the house of God" — provide for the priestly portions at Pesach (2 Chr 34,22; 35,8). Thus, Hilkiah is under the authority of the king and has a place of prominence and responsibility distinct from ordinary priests. However, it is not explicitly stated that this prestige is specifically a result of his position as "high priest"; it could be a result of his position as "chief officer of the house of God", which was apparently held by more than one individual at the same time according to Chronicles.
3. Chief Priests mentioned only in the Narrative
a) The Azariah under Uzziah
At least three chief priests are mentioned in the narrative but not in the genealogical list. The Azariah under Uzziah is presented in a brief explanatory narrative, unique to Chronicles, as a defender of the priestly, but not explicitly high-priestly, privilege of offering incense in 2 Chr 26,16-2122. The chief priest Azariah seems to be in charge of these priests, at least as their spokesman, and to exercise authority over issues of cultic purity and privilege.
b) The Azariah under Hezekiah23
While completely absent from the detailed description of Hezekiah"s reforms24, the chief priest Azariah seems responsible for the priests and the Levites in other contexts. First, Azariah responds to Hezekiah"s question addressed to the priests and Levites. This may suggest that he speaks on behalf of both groups who are responsible to him. Second, the appointments of Levites over the newly built store-chambers are made by "King Hezekiah and Azariah the chief officer of the house of God" (2 Chr 31,13). Azariah has administrative responsibilities in the cult. However, he has no authority beyond this role and is responsible to the Davidic king.
The depiction of Jehoiada, apparently a non-Zadokite, presents the largest amount of data concerning the office of leading priest (2 Chr 22–24). His portrayal in Chronicles is consistent in many ways with that in 2 Kgs 11–1225. There are, however, several instances of an increased role and power being attributed to Jehoiada by the Chronicler which are not stated explicitly or clearly in his source26. Jehoiada has married into the Davidic line as his wife is the daughter of King Jehoram. This additional information has been seen by scholars as an attempt by the Chronicler to protect the purity of the temple since this female Davidide lives in the house of God for six years. However, this explanation does not account for Joash"s presence, which would also be a problem and which Chronicles does not address. In addition, such a marriage would seem to violate the purity regulations for the "priest exalted above his brothers" in Lev 21,10-15 which command this priest to marry only a virgin of his own kin. Jehoiada is obviously in violation of this command (if it even applies to him)27.
As in 2 Kings, not only does Jehoiada save the Davidic line from destruction, but also his actions place him in a position temporarily superior to it28. Joash is only seven years old when these events occur, so Jehoiada takes these actions as an exceptional case. However, the exception proves the rule. When Joash is old enough, Jehoiada is depicted as under the king"s authority and answerable to him (2 Chr 24,4-14). Jehoiada is not presented as an equal to the king or as having political power29.
He also is apparently in charge of cultic matters and in charge of both the Levites and the priests (2 Chr 31,9-10). Joash summons Jehoiada and seems to assume in his comments that Jehoiada is responsible for the actions, or rather inactions, of the Levites (2 Chr 24,4-6)30.
Jehoiada is buried in the royal tombs while Joash is not (2 Chr 24,15-16.25-27). The fact that Chronicles allows, or even creates the idea, that a "worthy" leading priest can have a royal burial may be significant. However, this is clearly an exception, which once again proves the rule. Leading priests are not typically given royal burials, but the possibility is at least held out as an option. Could this be a retrojection of Second Temple practice by the Chronicler? Possibly, but no conclusion on this point can be definitive.
Finally, the most explicit statement made regarding Jehoiada which may reflect an actual Second Temple practice concerns the dismissal of the gatekeepers on the Sabbath (2 Chr 23,4.8). The explanatory statement that "the priest Jehoiada did not dismiss the divisions" is apparently added in Chronicles to account for how the large number of priests and Levites in the temple all at once was possible. This statement may indicate that the leading priest was responsible to oversee the changing of "duty shifts". Again, a note of exceptional action (this time one not taken) provides evidence of the rule. The leading priest of the Second Temple period may have been normally responsible for this daily activity. If so, this also indicates that the leading priest exercised authority over the Levitical divisions.
That Jehoiada appears to be the leading priest who reflects most what one would expect if the Chronicler was indeed retrojecting Second Temple practice into his narrative may not be accidental. A bit of speculation: if, as suggested above, the Chronicler inserted Johanan into the genealogical list to honor the current high priest of his day, then it is possible that he takes advantage of the similarity of names between Jehoiada ((dywhy) and Joiada ((dywy), the father of the current high priest. His sources, as in the case of the genealogy, provide an opportunity to make a connection to his present situation. Virtually nothing whatsoever is known about Joiada outside of his placement in the high-priestly list in Neh 12,8-11.22. It seems likely that he is the Jehoiada, son of the high priest Eliashib, whose son marries into the Sanballat family (Neh 13,28)31. If so, then the presentation of Jehoiada marrying into the Davidic family may bear some relationship to the text from Nehemiah concerned with improper high-priestly marriage practices.
4. The Ambiguous Case of the Amariah under Jehoshaphat, possibly Amariah II (1 Chr 6,11)
The final priest to be discussed is the ambiguous Amariah at the time of Jehoshaphat who may be Amariah II in 1 Chr 6,11. The narrative from 2 Kings has been significantly augmented by the Chronicler, but the chief priest Amariah is far less important than Jehoshaphat and his reforms32. Jehoshaphat institutes cultic reforms and initiates a program of teaching officials, two priests, and several Levites, but no leading priest, who travel throughout the cities of Judah with the Torah (2 Chr 17,1-9). Continuing his reforms, Jehoshaphat appoints judges in the cities of Judah (2 Chr 19,5-7)33 stating that "Amariah the chief priest is over you in all matters of YHWH; and Zebediah son of Ishmael, the governor (dygn) of the house of Judah, in all the king"s matters; and the Levites will serve you as officers" (2 Chr 19,11)34. The Levites are assistants in legal matters to judges who are accountable to a chief priest over cultic issues and to a governor (who is not explicitly a Davidide) over civic matters. Both of these individuals are in turn ultimately responsible to the king. This chief priest is the highest cultic authority; it is also clear that he is not involved in civic matters and that he is not independent of the Davidic king.
The two leading priests mentioned in both the genealogy and the narrative do not do very much and have a rather limited role in civic and cultic administration35. They act either within their roles as presented by the Chronicler"s source or within the cultic sphere as a supervisor of priests36. The Chronicler has not overtly enhanced the presentation of the Zadokite high priests in the narrative.
The three chief priests who are not mentioned in the Zadokite genealogy of 1 Chr 6,1-15 are presented with more authority and an increased role in cultic matters. Several details from these narratives could possibly be retrojections of high-priestly responsibilities from the Second Temple period: 1) acting as spokesperson to the civic official on behalf of the cult; 2) being responsible for the actions of all the temple functionaries including the Levites; 3) serving as the leading cultic official who may at times appear to have royal prestige; and 4) overseeing the dismissal of the Levitical gatekeepers on the Sabbath. Even if these items are accepted as retrojections of Second Temple practice, they do not overtly enhance the power and authority of the leading priest into civic matters.
One priest who looks more like the expected presentation of a high priest during the Persian period, Jehoiada, is presented as an exception under extreme circumstances. Perhaps the depiction of this chief priest served as a model of how the government and the cult should function when Davidic kingship was not a viable option. Here the title "chief priest" comes into focus. In Chronicles, the office of "high priest" in the Second Temple period is a continuation of a pre-exilic position termed "chief priest" which was not held continually by Zadokites. It seems that if the Chronicler"s audience wished to see a Second Temple high priest, they were directed to this non-Zadokite chief priest as the closest model.
It has been suggested that the Chronicler did not hope for a restoration of the Davidic dynasty37. Rather, the Persian kings have taken over this role38. If this is correct, the judicial structure represented by the Davidic king Jehoshaphat with a chief priest over cultic matters and a non-Davidide governor over civic matters may be a parallel to the Chronicler"s actual historical situation: a Persian king with a high priest over the cult and an appointed governor over civic affairs39. In addition to the non-Zadokite Jehoiada, this Amariah of ambiguous lineage, serves as a model for the role of Second Temple high priests by delineating the scope of their duties, but without a clear presentation of their ceremonial role in the operation of the cult. In Chronicles, the high (and chief) priest is the chief cultic official, the final authority in cultic matters, but only in cultic matters; thus, Chronicles does not provide evidence for an independent high priest or even of one involved in the administration of civic affairs.
The high and chief priests mentioned in both the genealogy of 1Chr 6,1-15 and the narrative of Chronicles (Zadok and Hilkiah) are compared with priests mentioned only in the narrative (the Azariah under Uzziah, the Azariah under Hezekiah, and Jehoiada); the Amariah under Jehoshaphat, possibly Amariah II in 1 Chr 6,11, is treated separately. This article concludes: Chronicles has not enhanced the Zadokite high priests; the three priests not mentioned in the genealogy are presented with increased cultic roles which delineate some of their duties; leading priests in Chronicles operate within the cultic sphere while their precise ceremonial role is unclear.
1 In previous scholarship, virtually no attempt has been
made to describe the high priesthood as it is presented in Chronicles.
One important exception is the recent work of D.W. ROOKE, Zadok"s
Heirs. The Role and Development of the High Priesthood in Ancient Israel
(Oxford 2000), who devotes one chapter to the High Priesthood in Chronicles, p.
184-218. My structure for this analysis is different than hers and provides
another means of interpreting these data.