A Kingdom of Priests: Ancestry and Merit in Ancient Judaism by Martha Himmelfarb

By Martha Himmelfarb

In line with the account within the booklet of Exodus, God addresses the kids of Israel as they stand prior to Mt. Sinai with the phrases, "You will likely be to me a country of clergymen and a holy country" (19:6). The sentence, Martha Himmelfarb observes, is paradoxical, for monks are by way of definition a minority, but the which means in context is apparent: the total humans is holy. The phrases additionally element to a couple major tensions within the biblical knowing of the folks of Israel. If the complete humans is holy, why does it want clergymen? If club in either humans and priesthood is an issue no longer of benefit yet of beginning, how can both the folks or its monks desire to be holy? How can one reconcile the gap among the consideration due the priest and the particular habit of a few who crammed the position? What can the folk do to make itself actually a state of priests?Himmelfarb argues that those questions develop into imperative in moment Temple Judaism. She considers a number of texts from this era, together with the booklet of Watchers, the booklet of Jubilees, felony files from the useless Sea Scrolls, the writings of Philo of Alexandria, and the e-book 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 mere descent from Abraham was once adequate for salvation.

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303-12). Manasseh married Nikaso, the daughter o f Sanballat, the g o v e r n o r o f Samaria. W h e n Jaddua and the elders o f Jerusalem pressured Manasseh to divorce Nikaso, Sanballat built the temple. Manasseh then left Jerusalem for Samaria, where h e served as high priest in the temple, a c c o m p a n i e d by many other Israelites, includ­ ing priests, w h o were married to Samaritan w o m e n . 34 35 This explanation for the building o f the Samaritan temple certainly d o e s n o t inspire c o n f i d e n c e , but the assumption that marriage with Samaritan w o m e n was c o m m o n in fourth-century Jerusalem is n o t im­ plausible.

36 37 38 Priests and Marriage in Second Temple Times 39 I w o u l d prefer to read the Book of the Watchers in light o f Aramaic Levi, a roughly c o n t e m p o r a r y text that appears to c o m e f r o m the same mi­ l i e u . Unfortunately, the text is fragmentary, but it is clear that Aramaic Levi is deeply c o n c e r n e d with questions o f acceptable marriage part­ ners. It begins with S i m e o n and Levi's attack o n the Shechemites {Ar. Levi 1-3), which it views as entirely praiseworthy.

Nickelsburg is certainly right that the language o f covenant, the figure o f Moses, and the c o n t e n t o f the Torah d o n o t figure prominently in the Book of the Watchers o r elsewhere in 1 Enoch, but this absence is to a considerable extent a result o f the Active setting o f the work, which places Moses many centuries in the future. Nickelsburg's view that the Book of the Watchers stands apart from the Torah is related to his understanding o f it and o f the larger corpus o f 1 Enoch as sectarian.

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