By Martha Himmelfarb
In response to the account within the publication of Exodus, God addresses the kids of Israel as they stand ahead of Mt. Sinai with the phrases, "You will probably be to me a nation of clergymen and a holy state" (19:6). The sentence, Martha Himmelfarb observes, is paradoxical, for clergymen are by means of definition a minority, but the that means in context is obvious: the full humans is holy. The phrases additionally aspect to a couple major tensions within the biblical knowing of the folk of Israel. If the full humans is holy, why does it desire monks? If club in either humans and priesthood is an issue no longer of advantage yet of delivery, how can both the folks or its monks wish to be holy? How can one reconcile the gap among the dignity due the priest and the particular habit of a few who stuffed the function? What can the folk do to make itself really a state of priests?Himmelfarb argues that those questions turn into primary in moment Temple Judaism. She considers various texts from this era, together with the publication of Watchers, the e-book of Jubilees, felony records from the useless Sea Scrolls, the writings of Philo of Alexandria, and the publication of Revelation of the recent testomony, and is going directly to discover rabbinic Judaism's emphasis on descent because the fundamental criterion for inclusion one of the selected humans of Israel—a place, she contends, that took on new strength in response to early Christian disparagement of the concept that mere descent from Abraham used to be enough for salvation.
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Extra resources for A Kingdom of Priests: Ancestry and Merit in Ancient Judaism (Jewish Culture and Contexts)
Against this view, Beentjes argues that b e n Sira measures S o l o m o n by the standards o f D e u t e r o n o m y ' s law o f the king: "And h e shall n o t multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; n o r shall h e gready multiply for himself silver and g o l d " (Deut 1 7 : 1 7 ) . Thus the negative side o f the picture begins in the m i d d l e o f Sir 47:18, with the amassing o f g o l d and silver. By appealing to the law o f the king, b e n Sira suggests that S o l o m o n ' s betrayal o f his wisdom was n o ac cident.
W h o h a d taken foreign wives — or at least wives Ezra c o n s i d e r e d foreign. Like E n o c h , Ezra, as we have seen, was b o t h priest a n d scribe. But Nickelsburg suggested another di rection as well. H e also c o n n e c t e d the Book of the Watchers' language about the Watchers' defilement with w o m e n an d the b l o o d o f w o m e n (1 Enoch 15:3-4) to texts that c o n d e m n the defilement o f the temple by m e n w h o contracted impurity f r o m sexual relations with w o m e n in a state o f menstrual impurity.
T h e cli m a x o f the passage describes the p e o p l e b o w i n g b e f o r e S i m o n to receive the blessing h e mediates (Sir 50:20-21). As b e n Sira emphasizes the eternal covenants o f p r i e s t h o o d m a d e with A a r o n and Phinehas, h e downplays the covenant with David. " T h e Greek alludes to the covenant only in the c o n c l u d i n g verse o f its ac c o u n t o f David's career: ' T h e L o r d t o o k away his sins, and exalted his p o w e r for ever; h e gave h i m the covenant o f kings and a throne o f glory in Israel" (Sir 4 7 : 1 1 ) .
A Kingdom of Priests: Ancestry and Merit in Ancient Judaism (Jewish Culture and Contexts) by Martha Himmelfarb