Prolegomena to the History of Israel
Julius Wellhausen

Part 4 out of 13

As the latter is framed to correspond with the seventh day,
so the former corresponds with the fiftieth, i.e., with Pentecost,
as is easily perceived from the parallelism of Leviticus xxv. 8
with Leviticus xxiii. 15. Asthe fiftieth day after the seven
Sabbath days is celebrated as a closing festival of the forty-nine
days' period, so is the fiftieth year after the seven sabbatic years
as rounding off the larger interval; the seven Sabbaths falling on
harvest time, which are usually reckoned specially (Luke vi. 1 ),
have, in the circumstance of their interrupting harvest work, a
particular resemblance to the sabbatic years which interrupt agriculture
altogether. Jubilee is thus an artificial institution superimposed
upon the years of fallow regarded as harvest Sabbaths after the
analogy of Pentecost. Both its functions appear originally to
have belonged also to the Sabbath year and to be deduced from the
two corresponding regulations in Deuteronomy relating to the
seventh year, so that thus Exod xxiii. would be the basis of Leviticus
xxv. 1-7 and Deuteronomy xv. that of xxv. 8 seq. The emancipation
of the Hebrew slave originally had to take place on the seventh
year after the purchase, afterwards (it would seem) on the seventh
vear absolutely; for practical reasons it was transferred from
that to the fiftieth. Analogous also, doubtless, is the growth of
the other element in the jubilee--the return of mortgaged property
to its hereditary owner--out of the remission of debts enjoined in
Deuteronomy xv. for the end of the seventh year; for the two hang
very closely together, as Leviticus xxv. 23 seq. shows.

As for the evidence for these various arrangements, those of the
Book of the Covenant are presupposed alike by Deuteronomy and by
the Priestly Code. It seems to have been due to the prompting of
Deuteronomy that towards the end of the reign of Zedekiah the
emancipation of the Hebrew slaves was seriously gone about; the
expressions in Jeremiah xxxiv. 14 point to Deuteronomy xv. 12,
and not to Exodus xxi. 2. The injunction not having had practical
effect previously, it was in this instance carried through by
all parties at the same date: this was of course inevitable when
it was introduced as an extraordinary innovation; perhaps it is
in connexion with this that a fixed seventh year grew out of a
relative one. The sabbatical year, according to the legislator's
own declaration, was never observed throughout the whole
pre-exilic period; for, according to Leviticus xxvi. 34, 35, the
desolation of the land during the exile is to be a compensation
made for the previously neglected fallow years:
"Then shall the land pay its Sabbaths as long as it lieth desolate;
when ye are in your enemies' land then shall the land rest
and pay its Sabbaths; all the days that it lieth desolate shall
it rest, which it rested not in your Sabbaths when ye dwelt upon
The verse is quoted in 2Chronicles xxxvi. 21 as the language
of Jeremiah,-- a correct and unprejudiced indication of its exilic
origin. But as the author of Leviticus xxvi. was also the writer of
Leviticus xxv. 1-7, that is to say, the framer of the law of the
sabbatic year, the recent date of the latter regulation also
follows at once. The year of jubilee, certainly derived from the
Sabbath year, is of still later origin. Jeremiah (xxxiv. 14) has
not the faintest idea that the emancipation of the slaves must
according to "law" take place in the fiftieth year. The name
drwr, borne by the jubilee in Leviticus xxv. 10, is applied by him
to the seventh year; and this is decisive also for Ezekiel xlvi. 17:
the gift of land bestowed by the prince on one of his servants
remains in his possession only until the seventh year.



IV.I.1 The problem now to be dealt with is exhibited with peculiar
distinctness in one pregnant case with which it will be well to set
out. The Mosaic law, that is to say, the Priestly Code,
distinguishes, as is well known, between the twelve secular tribes
and Levi, and further within the spiritual tribe itself, between
the sons of Aaron and the Levites, simply so called. The one
distinction is made visible in the ordering of the camp in Numbers
ii., where Levi forms around the sanctuary a cordon of protection
against the immediate contact of the remaining tribes; on the
whole, however, it is rather treated as a matter of course, and
not brought into special prominence (Numbers xviii. 22). The other
is accentuated with incomparably greater emphasis. Aaron and his
sons alone are priests, qualified for sacrificing and burning
incense; the Levites are hieroduli (3 Esdras i. 3), bestowed
upon the Aaronidae for the discharge of the inferior services
(Numbers iii. 9). They are indeed their tribe fellows, but it is
not because he belongs to Levi that Aaron is chosen, and his
priesthood cannot be said to be the acme and flower of the general
vocation of his tribe. On the contrary, rather was he a priest
long before the Levites were set apart; for a considerable time
after the cultus has been established and set on foot these do not
make any appearance,--not at all in the whole of the third book,
which thus far does little honour to its name _Leviticus_. Strictly
speaking, the Levites do not even belong to the clergy: they are
not called by Jehovah, but consecrated by the children of Israel
to the sanctuary,--consecrated in the place of the first-born, not
however as priests (neither in Numbers iii., iv., viii., nor
anywhere else in the Old Testament, is there a single trace of the
priesthood of the first-born), but as a gift due to the priests, as
such being even required to undergo the usual "waving" before the altar,
to symbolise their being cast into the altar flame (Numbers viii.).
The relationship between Aaron and Levi, and the circumstance that
precisely this tribe is set apart for the sanctuary in compensation
for the first-born, appears almost accidental, but at all events
cannot be explained by the theory that Aaron rose on the shoulders
of Levi; on the contrary, it rather means that Levi has mounted up
by means of Aaron, whose priesthood everywhere is treated as having
the priority. Equality between the two is not to be spoken of;
their office and their blood relationship separates them more than
it binds them together.

Now, the prophet Ezekiel, in the plan of the new Jerusalem which he
sketched in the year 573, takes up among other things the reform of
the relations of the _personnel_ of the temple, and in this
connection expresses himself as follows (xliv. 6-16):--
"Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Let it suffice you of all your
abominations, O house of Israel! in that ye have brought in strangers,
uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my
sanctuary, to pollute it, even my house, when ye offer my bread,
the fat and the blood, and have broken my covenant by all your
abominations. And ye have not kept the charge of my holy
things, inasmuch as ye have set these /1/ to be keepers of my

In ver. 7 for WYPRW read WTPRW, in ver. 8 for WT#YMWN read
WT#YMWM, and for LKM read LKN, in each case following the LXX.

charge in my sanctuary. Therefore, thus saith the Lord Jehovah,
No stranger uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh
shall enter into my sanctuary; none, of all that are among the
children of Israel. But the Levites who went away far from me
when Israel went astray from me after their idols, they shall
even bear their iniquity, and they shall be ministers in my
sanctuary, officers at the gates of the house and ministers of the
house; they shall slay for the people the burnt-offering and
the thank-offering, and they shall stand before them to minister
unto them. Because they ministered unto them before their idols,
and caused the house of Israel to fall into iniquity, therefore
have I lifted up my hand against them, saith the Lord Jehovah,
and they shall bear their iniquity. They shall not come near
unto me to do the office of a priest unto me, nor to come near to
any of my holy things, but they shall bear their shame and
their abominations which they have committed. And I will make
them keepers of the charge of the house, for all its service, and
for all that shall be done therein. But the priests, the Levites,
sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of my sanctuary when
the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall come near
to me to minister unto me, and they shall stand before me to
offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord Jehovah;
they shall enter into my sanctuary, and come near to my table
to minister unto me, and they shall keep my charge."

From this passage two things are to be learned. First, that the
systematic separation of that which was holy from profane contact
did not exist from the very beginning; that in the temple of
Solomon even heathen (Zech. xiv. 21), probably captives, were
employed to do hierodulic services which, according to the law,
ought to have been rendered by Levites, and which afterwards
actually were so rendered. Ezekiel, it is indeed true, holds
this custom to be a frightful abuse, and one might therefore
maintain it to have been a breach of the temple ordinances
suffered by the Jerusalem priests against their better knowledge,
and in this way escape accusing them of ignorance of their own
law. But the second fact, made manifest by the above-quoted
passage, quite excludes the existence of the Priestly Code so far
as Ezekiel and his time are concerned. The place of the heathen
temple-slaves is in future to be taken by the Levites. Hitherto
the latter had held the priesthood, and that too not by arbitrary
usurpation, but in virtue of their oun good right. For it is no
mere relegation back to within the limits of their lawful position
when they are made to be no longer priests but temple
ministrants, it is no restoration of the _status quo ante_, the
conditions of which they had illegally broken; it is expressly
a degradation, a withdrawal of their right, which appears as a
punishment and which must be justified as being deserved; "they
shall bear their iniquity." They have forfeited their priesthood,
by abusing it to preside over the cultus of the high places, which
the prophet regards as idolatry and hates in his inmost soul.
Naturally those Levites are exempted from the penalty who have
discharged their functions at the legal place,--the Levites the
sons of Zadok,--namely, at Jerusalem, who now remain sole priests
and receive a position of pre-eminence above those who hitherto
have been their equals in office, and who are still associated with
them by Ezekiel, under the same common name, but now are reduced
to being their assistants and hieroduli.

It is an extraordinary sort of justice when the priests of the
abolished Bamoth are punished simply for having been so, and
conversely the priests of the temple at Jerusalem rewarded for this;
the fault of the former and the merit of the latter consist simply
in their existence. In other words, Ezekiel merely drapes the logic
of facts with a mantle of morality. From the abolition of the
popular sanctuaries in the provinces in favour of the royal one at
Jerusalem, there necessarily followed the setting aside of the
provincial priesthoods in favour of the sons of Zadok at the
temple of Solomon. The original author of the centralisation, the
Deuteronomic lawgiver, seeks indeed to prevent this consequence by
giving to the extraneous Levites an equal right of sacrificing in
Jerusalem with their brethren hereditarily settled there, but it
was not possible to separate the fate of the priests from that of
their altars in this manner. The sons of Zadok were well enough
pleased that all sacrifices should be concentrated within their
temple, but they did not see their way to sharing their
inheritance with the priesthood of the high places, and the idea
was not carried out (2Kings xxiii. 9). Ezekiel, a thorough
Jerusalemite, finds a moral way of putting this departure from
the law, a way of putting it which does not explain the fact, but
is merely a periphrastic statement of it. With Deuteronomy as a
basis it is quite easy to understand Ezekiel's ordinance, but it
is absolutely impossible if one starts from the Priestly Code.
What he regards as the original right of the Levites, the
performance of priestly services, is treated in the latter
document as an unfounded and highly wicked pretension which once
in the olden times brought destruction upon Korah and his company;
what he considers to be a subsequent withdrawal of their right, as
a degradation in consequence of a fault, the other holds to have
been their hereditary and natural destination. The distinction
between priest and Levite which Ezekiel introduces and justifies
as an innovation, according to the Priestly Code has always
existed; what in the former appears as a beginning, in the latter
has been in force ever since Moses,--an original datum, not a thing
that has become or been made./1/ That the prophet should know

1. "If by reason of their birth it was impossible for the Levites
to become priests, then it would be more than strange to deprive
them of the priesthood on account of their faults,--much as if one
were to threaten the commons with the punishment of disqualification
to sit or vote in a house of lords" (Kuenen, Theol. Tijdschr., iii. 465).

nothing about a priestly law with whose tendencies he is in
thorough sympathy admits of only one explanation,--that it did
not then exist. His own ordinances are only to be understood as
preparatory steps towards its own exactment.

IV.I.2. Noldeke, however, interprets the parallelism between the
sons of Aaron and the sons of Zadok in favour of the priority of
the Priestly Code, which, after all, he points out, is not quite
so exclusive as Ezekiel. /1/ But, in the first place, this is a

1 Jahrb. f. prot. Theol., 1875, p. 351: "Its doctrine that
the Aaronidae alone are true priests has its parallel in
Ezekiel, who _still more exclusively_ recognises only
the sons of Zadok as priests."

point of subordinate importance, the main thing being that Ezekiel
has to make the distinction between priests and Levites, which is
regarded in the Priestly Code as very ancient. In presence of
the fact that the former introduces as a new thing the separation
which the latter presupposes, the precise degree of the
distinction drawn by the two is of no consequence whatever. In
the next place, to bring the sons of Aaron into comparison with the
sons of Zadok, as a proof of their higher antiquity, is just as
reasonable as to bring the tabernacle into comparison with the
temple of Jerusalem for a similar purpose. The former are priests
of the tabernacle, the latter of the temple; but as in point of
fact the only distinction to be drawn between the Mosaic and the
actual central sanctuary is that between shadow and substance, so
neither can any other be made between the Mosaic and the actual
central priesthood. In the Priestly Code the ancient name is
introduced instead of the historical one, simply in order to
maintain the semblance of the Mosaic time; if the circumstance
is to be taken as betokening the earlier origin of the work, then
a similar inference must be drawn also from the fact that in it
the origin and character of the Levites is quite obscure, while
in Ezekiel it is palpably evident that they are the priests thrown
out of employment by the abolition of the Bamoth, whom necessity
has compelled to take a position of subordination under their
haughty fellow-priests at Jerusalem. In truth it is, quite on the
contrary, a proof of the post-exilian date of the Priestly Code
that it makes sons of Aaron of the priests of the central
sanctuary, who, even in the traditional understanding (2Chronicles
xiii. 10), are in one way or other simply the priests of
Jerusalem. By this means it carries their origin back to the
foundation of the theocracy, and gives them out as from the first
having been alone legitimate. But such an idea no one could have
ventured to broach before the exile. At that time it was too well
known that the priesthood of the Jerusalem sept could not be
traced further back than David's time, but dated from Zadok, who in
Solomon's reign ousted the hereditary house of Eli from the position
it had long previously held, first at Shiloh and Nob, and
afterwards at Jerusalem, at what had become the most prominent
sanctuary of Israel.

In a passage of Deuteronomic complexion, which cannot have been
written long before the exile, we read in a prediction made to Eli
regarding the overthrow of his house by Zadok:
"I said indeed, saith Jehovah the God of Israel, that thy house
and the house of thy father shall walk before me for ever; but now
I say, Be it far from me, for them that honour me I will honour,
but they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. Behold, the days
come that I will cut off thine arm and the arm of thy father's house,
...and I will raise up for myself a faithful priest who shall do
according to what is in my heart and in my mind; and I will build
him a sure house, and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever"
(1Samuel ii. 27-36).
Here it is the house of Eli, and of Eli's father, that is the priestly
family duly chosen in Egypt; _contrary_ to hereditary title, and
contrary to a promise of perpetual continuance, is it deposed at
the higher claims of justice. The faithful priest who is to fill
the vacant place is Zadok. This is expressly said in 1Kings 2:27;
and no other than he ever had a "sure house" and walked uninterruptedly
as its head and ruler before the kings of Judah. This Zadok,
accordingly, belongs neither to Eli's house nor to that of Eli's father;
his priesthood does not go back as far as the time of the founding
of the theocracy, and is not in any proper sense "legitimate;"
rather has he obtained it by the infringement of what might be called
a constitutional privilege, to which there were no other heirs
besides Eli and his family. Obviously he does not figure as an
intermediate link in the line of Aaron, but as the beginner of an
entirely new genealogy; the Jerusalem priests, whose ancestor he is,
are interlopers dating from the beginning of the monarchical period,
in whom the old Mosaic _sacerdotium_ is not continued, but is broken
off. If then they are called in the Priestly Code "sons of Aaron,"
or at least figure there among the sons of Aaron, with whom they can
only in point of fact be contrasted, the circumstance is an unmistakable
indication that at this point the threads of tradition from the
pre-exilic period have been snapped completely, which was not yet
the case in Ezekiel's time. /1/

1. To satisfy the Pentateuch it is shown in the Book of Chronicles,
by means of artificial genalogies, how the sons of Zadok derived
their origin in an unbroken line from Aaron and Eleazar.
Compare my Pharisaer u. Sadducaer, p. 48 seq. This point was
first observed by Vatke (p. 344 seq.), then by Kuenen (Theol.
Tijdschr., iii. p. 463-509) and lastly by me (Text der BB. Sam.,
p. 48-51).

The relation between the priestly legislation and the Book of
Ezekiel, which has now been shown, gives direction and aim
to the following sketch, in which it is sought to exhibit the
individual phenomenon in its general connection.


IV.II.1. The setting apart from the rest of the people of an
entire tribe as holy, and the strongly accentuated distinction of
ranks within that tribe, presuppose a highly systematised separation
between sacred and profane, and an elaborate machinery connected
with cultus. In fact, according to the representation given in
the Priestly Code, the Israelites from the beginning were organised
as a hierocracy, the clergy being the skeleton, the high priest the
head, and the tabernacle the heart. But the suddenness with which
this full-grown hierocracy descended on the wilderness from the skies
is only matched by the suddenness with which it afterwards disappeared
in Canaan, leaving no trace behind it. In the time of the Judges,
priests and Levites, and the congregation of the children of Israel
assembled around them, have utterly vanished; there is hardly a
_people_ Israel,--only individual tribes which do not combine even
under the most pressing necessities, far less support at a common
expense a clerical _personnel_ numbering thousands of men, besides
their wives and families. Instead of the Ecclesiastical History
of the Hexateuch, the Book of Judges forthwith enters upon a secular
history completely devoid of all churchly character. The high priest,
who according to the Priestly Code is the central authority by the
grace of God, is here quite left out in the cold, for the really
acting heads of the people are the Judges, people of an entirely
different stamp, whose authority, resting on no official position,
but on strength of personality and on the force of circumstances,
seldom extends beyond the limits of their tribe. And it is plain
that in this we behold not the sorry remains of an ecclesiastico-political
system once flourishing under Moses and Joshua, now completely
fallen into ruins, but the first natural beginnings of a civil
authority which after a course of further development finally led
to the monarchy.

In the kernel of the Book of Judges (chaps. iii.-xvi.) there
nowhere occurs a single individual whose profession is to take
charge of the cultus. Sacrifice is in two instances offered, by
Gideon and Manoah; but in neither case is a priest held to be
necessary. In a gloss upon 1Samuel vi. 13 seq. the divergence of
later custom reveals itself. When the ark of Jehovah was brought
back from exile in Philistia upon the new cart, it halted in the
field of Bethshemesh beside the great stone, and the inhabitants
of Bethshemesh, who were at the time busy with the wheat harvest,
broke up the cart and made on the stone a burnt-offering of the kine
by which it had been drawn. After they have finished, the Levites
come up (ver. 15) (in the pluperfect tense) and proceed as if nothing
had happened, lift the ark from the now no longer existent cart,
and set it upon the stone on which the sacrifice is already burning;-
of course only in order to fulfil the law, the demands of which
have been completely ignored in the original narrative. Until
the cultus has become in some measure centralised the priests have
no _locus standi_; for when each man sacrifices for himself and his
household, upon an altar which he improvises as best he can for
the passing need, where is the occasion for people whose
professional and essential function is that of sacrificing for
others? The circumstance of their being thus inconspicuous in the
earliest period of the history of Israel is connected with the
fact that as yet there are few great sanctuaries. But as soon as
these begin to occur, the priests immediately appear. Thus we find
Eli and his sons at the old house of God belonging to the tribe of
Ephraim at Shiloh. Eli holds a very exalted position, his sons are
depicted as high and mighty men, who deal with the worshippers not
directly but through a servant, and show arrogant disregard of their
duties to Jehovah. The office is hereditary, and the priesthood
already very numerous. At least in the time of Saul, after they had
migrated from Shiloh to Nob, on account of the destruction by the
Philistines of the temple at the former place, they numbered more
than eighty-five men, who, however, are not necessarily proper
blood-relations of Eli, although reckoning themselves as belonging
to his clan (1Samuel xxii. 11). /1/

1. In 1Samuel i. seq., indeed, we read only of Eli and his two
sons and one servant, and even David and Solomon appear to have
had only a priest or two at the chief temple. Are we to suppose
that Doeg, single-handed, could have made away with eighty-five
men ?

One sanctuary more is referred to towards the close of the period
of the Judges,--that at Dan beside the source of the Jordan. A rich
Ephraimite, Micah, had set up to Jehovah a silver-covered image,
and lodged it in an appropriate house. At first he appointed one
of his sons to be its priest, afterwards Jonathan ben Gershom
ben Moses, a homeless Levite of Bethlehem-Judah, whom he counted
himself happy in being able to retain for a yearly salary of ten
pieces of silver, besides clothing and maintenance. When, however,
the Danites, hard pressed by the Philistines, removed from their
ancient settlements in order to establish a new home for themselves
on the slopes of Hermon in the north, they in passing carried off
both Micah's image and his priest; what led them to do so was the
report of their spies who had formerly lodged with Micah and there
obtained an oracle. It was in this way that Jonathan came to Dan
and became the founder of the family which retained the priesthood
at this afterwards so important sanctuary down to the period of the
deportation of the Danites at the Assyrian captivity (Judges xvii.,
xviii.). His position seems very different from that of Eli.
The only point of resemblance is that both are hereditary priests,
Levites so called, and trace their descent from the family of Moses,--
of which more anon. But while Eli is a man of distinction, perhaps
the owner of the sanctuary, at all events in a position of
thorough independence and the head of a great house, Jonathan is a
solitary wandering Levite who enters the service of the proprietor
of a sanctuary for pay and maintenance, and is indeed nourished
as a son by his patron, but by no means treated with special
respect by the Danites.

The latter case, it may well be conjectured, more nearly
represents the normal state of matters than the former. An
independent and influential priesthood could develop itself only
at the larger and more public centres of worship, but that of
Shiloh seems to have been the only one of this class. The
remaining houses of God, of which we hear some word from the
transition period which preceded the monarchy, are not of
importance, and are in private hands, thus corresponding to that
of Micah on Mount Ephraim. That of Ophra belongs to Gideon, and
that of Kirjathjearim to Abinadab. In fact, it appears that
Micah, in appointing one to minister at his sanctuary for hire,
would seem to have followed a more general practice. For the
expression ML( YDW, which still survived as a _terminus technicus_
for the ordination of priests long after they had attained a
perfectly independent position, can originally in this
connection hardly have meant anything else than a filling of the
hand with money or its equivalent; thus the priestly office
would appear in the older time to have been a paid one, perhaps
the only one that was paid. Whom he shall appoint is at the
discretion of the proprietor: if no one else is available, he
gives it to one of his sons (Judges xvii. 5; 1Samuel vii. 1),--
of a "character indelibilis" there is of course in such a case
no idea, as one can learn from the earliest example, in which
Micah's son retires again from the service after a brief interval.
David, when he removed the ark, intrusted it in the first instance
to the house of Obededom, a captain of his, a Philistine of Gath,
whom he made its keeper. A priest of regular calling, a Levite,
is, according to Judges xvii. 13, a very unusual person to find
at an ordinary sanctuary. Even at Shiloh, where, however, the
conditions are extraordinary, the privilege of the sons of Eli is
not an exclusive one; Samuel, who is not a member of the family,
is nevertheless adopted as a priest. The service for which a
stated minister was needed was not that of offering sacrifice;
this was not so regular an occurrence as not to admit of being
attended to by one's self. For a simple altar no priest was
required, but only for a house which contained a sacred image; /1/

1. BYT (LHYM, "house of God," is never anything but the house of an
image. Outside of the Priestly Code, _ephod_ is the image, _ephod
bad_ the priestly garment.

this demanded watching and attendance (1 Sam. vii. 1)--in fact,
an ephod like that of Gideon or that of Micah (Judges viii. 26,
27, XVii. 4) was an article well worth stealing, and the houses of
God ordinarily lay in an open place (Exodus xxxiii. 7). The
expressions #MR and #RT to denote the sacred service were
retained in use from this period to later times; and, while every
one knows how to sacrifice, the art of dealing with the ephod and
winning its oracle from it continues from time immemorial to be
the exclusive secret of the priest. In exceptional cases, the
attendant is occasionally not the priest himself, but
his disciple. Thus Moses has Joshua with him as his _aedituus_ /2/

2 M#RT M#H, more precisely m'' (T YY PNY M#H HKHN, 1Samuel. ii. 11.

(Exodus xxxiii. 11), who does not quit the tent of Jehovah; so
also Eli has Samuel, who sleeps at night in the inner portion of
the temple beside the ark of the covenant; even if perhaps the
narrative of Samuel's early years is not quite in accordance with
the actual circumstances as they existed at Shiloh, it is still
in any case a perfectly good witness to a custom of the
existence of which we are apprised from other sources. Compare now
with this simple state of affairs the fact that in the Priestly
Code the sons of Aaron have something like the half of a total of
22,000 Levites to assist them as watchers and ministers of
the sanctuary.

Any one may slaughter and offer sacrifice (1Samuel xiv. 34
seq.); and, even in cases where priests are present, there is not
a single trace of a systematic setting apart of what is holy, or
of shrinking from touching it. When David "entered into the house
of God and did eat the shew-bread, which it is not lawful to eat
save for the priests, and gave also to them that were with him"
(Mark ii. 26), this is not represented in 1Sam. xxi. as
illegitimate when those who eat are sanctified, that is, have
abstained on the previous day from women. Hunted fugitives lay
hold of the horns of the altar without being held guilty of
profanation. A woman, such as Hannah, comes before Jehovah, that
is, before the altar, to pray; the words WTTYCB LPNY YY
(1Samuel i. 9) supplied by the LXX, are necessary for the connection,
and have been omitted from the Massoretic text as offensive. In
doing so she is observed by the priest, who sits quietly, as is
his wont, on his seat at the temple door. The history of the ark
particularly, as Vatke justly remarks (pp. 317, 332), affords more
than one proof of the fact that the notion of the unapproachableness
of the holy was quite unknown; I shall content myself with the most
striking of these. Samuel the Ephraimite sleeps by virtue of his
office every night beside the ark of Jehovah, a place whither,
to Leviticus xvi., the high priest may come only once in the year,
and even he only after the strictest preparation and with the
most elaborate atoning rites. The contrast in the TONE OF FEELING
is so great that no one as yet has even ventured to realise it
clearly to himself.

IV.II.2. With the commencement of the monarchical period the priests
forthwith begin to come into greater prominence along with the
kings; the advance in centralisation and in publicity of life
makes itself noticeable also in the department of worship. At the
beginning of Saul's reign we find the distinguished Ephraimitic
priesthood, the house of Eli, no longer at Shiloh, but at Nob, in
the vicinity of the king, and to a certain degree in league with
him; for their head, Ahijah the priest, is in immediate
attendance on him when arms are first raised against the
Phiiistines, shares the danger with him, and consults the ephod on
his behalf. Subsequently the _entente cordiale_ was disturbed,
Ahijah and his brethren fell a sacrifice to the king's jealousy,
and thus the solitary instance of an independent and considerable
priesthood to be met with in the old history of Israel came for
ever to an end. Abiathar, who alone escaped the massacre of Nob
(1Samuel xxii.), fled with the ephod to David, for which he was
rewarded afterwards with high honours, but all that he became he
became as servant of David. Under David the regius priesthood
began to grow towards the importance which it from that time
forward had. This king exercised unfettered control over the
sanctuary of the ark which stood in his citadel, as also over
the appointment of the priests, who were merely his officials.
Alongside of Abiathar he placed Zadok (and subsequently Ira also),
as well as some of his own sons. For when it is stated in
2Sam. viii. 18 that the sons of David were priests, the words
must not out of regard to the Pentateuch be twisted so as to mean
something different from what they say. We also (1Kings iv. 5)
find the son of the prophet Nathan figuring as a priest, and on
the other hand the son of Zadok holding a high secular office
(ver. 2); even at this date the line of demarcation afterwards
drawn between holy and non-holy persons has no existence. What
under David was still wanting to the institution of the royal
worship and the regius priests--a fixed centre--was added by
the erection of the temple under his successor. At the beginning
of Solomon's reign there was still no ISRAELITE place of sacrifice
such as sufficed for the greater contingencies; he was compelled
to celebrate his accession at the great Bamah at Gibeon, a town
in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, which, although it had been
subjugated for a considerable time, was still entirely Canaanite.
He now took care to make it possible that his colossal festivals
should be celebrated at his own sanctuary. And next he made Zadok
its priest after having previously deposed and relegated to his
patrimonial property at Anathoth, a village adjoining Jerusalem,
the aged Abiathar, a man of pure and honourable priestly descent,
on account of the support he had given to the legitimate heir
to the crown, thereby bringing to pass the fate with which the
once so proud and powerful family of Eli had in 1Samuel ii. been
threatened. Doubtless other priests also by degrees attached
themselves to the family of Zadok, and ultimately came even to call
themselves his sons, just as the Rechabites regarded Jonathan
ben Rechab, or the "children of the prophets" one or other of
the great prophets, as their father.

Regarding their sanctuaries as their own private property,
precisely as Micah does in the classical instance recorded in
Judges xvii., xviii., and proceeding quite untrammelled in the
appointment and removal of the officials employed, neither do
these early kings hesitate in the least to exercise personally
the rights which had emanated from themselves, and been delegated
to others. Of Saul, who indeed was in the habit of delegating
but seldom, and of doing with his own hand all that required to
be done, it is several times mentioned that he sacrificed in person;
and it is clear that this is not brought as a charge against him in
1Samuel xiv. and xv. David sacrificed on the occasion of his having
successfully brought the ark to Jerusalem; that it was he himself
who officiated appears from the fact that he wore the priestly
ephod--_the ephod bad_--and at the close of the offering pronounced the
benediction (2Samuel vi. 14, 18). In the same way was the
consecration of the temple conducted by Solomon; it was he who
went before the altar, and after praying there upon his knees with
outstretched arms, rose and blessed the people (1Kings viii.
22, 54, 53),--doubtless also it was he who with his own hands
offered the first sacrifice. The priests' technical skill is
necessary only for inquiring of the oracle before the ephod
(1Samuel xiv. 18).

IV.II.3. These beginnings are continued in the history of the
priesthood after the division of the kingdom. Jeroboam I., the
founder of the kingdom of Israel, is treated by the historian as
the founder also of Israel's worship in so far as the latter
differed from the Judaean ideal: "he made the two calves of gold,
and set them up at Bethel and at Dan; he made the Bamoth-houses
and made priests from the mass of the people, who were not of the
sons of Levi, and ordained a feast in the eighth month and
ascended to the altar to burn incense" (1Kings xii. 28 seq.,
xiii. 33). Here indeed after the well-known manner of pious
pragmatism retrospective validity is given to the Deuteronomic
law which did not come into force until three centuries
afterwards, and judgment is thus passed in accordance with a
historically inadmissable standard; moreover, the facts on which
the judgment is based are on the one hand too much generalised,
and on the other hand laid too exclusively to the charge of
Jeroboam. The first king bears the weight of all the sins in
worship of all his successors and of the whole body of the
people. But the recognition of the sovereign priesthood of the
ruler, of the formative influence which he exercised over the
worship, is just. The most important temples were royal ones,
and the priests who attended at them were the king's priests
(Amos vii. 10 seq.). When therefore Jehu overthrew the house
of Ahab, he did not extirpate all its members merely, and its
officials and courtiers, but also its priests as well; they
too were servants of the crown and in positions of trust
(2Kings x. 11I; comp. 1Kings iv. 5). The statement that they
were chosen at the pleasure of the king is therefore to be taken
as implying that, as in David's and Solomon's time, so also later
they could and might be chosen at pleasure; on the other hand, in
point of fact the sacred office, in Dan at least, continued from
the period of the Judges down to the Assyrian deportation
hereditary in the family of Jonathan. One must, moreover, avoid
imagining that all the "houses of the high places" and all the
priestly posts /1/ belonged to the king; it was impossible that the

1. The parallelism between "Bamoth-houses" and a priestly
appointment in 1Kings xii. 31 seems not to be casual merely.
Whilst a Bamah may be a simple altar, a "Bamoth-house"
presupposes a divine image, and renders an _aedituus_ necessary.

government should be so all-pervading in such matters. At this
period most of the sanctuaries were public, but not therefore as
yet on that account royal, and so also doubtless there were
numerous priests who were not servants of the king. The
preponderance of official cultus and of an official personnel to
carry it on was counteracted in the northern kingdom by the
frequent dynastic changes and the unattached particularism of the
separate tribes; the conditions may be presumed to have
developed themselves with great variety and freedom, hereditary
and unhereditary priests, priests with independent benefices and
others in complete poverty, subsisting side by side; the variety
and the equality of rights enjoyed by all is the distinguishing
mark of the time.

Speaking generally, however, the priesthood has distinctly
consolidated itself as compared with its former condition, and
gained not a little alike in number and in influence; it has become
an important power in public life, without which the nation cannot
be imagined. It would perhaps be somewhat bold to assert this
on the strength merely of the brief and inadequate indications
in the Book of Kings, which is chiefly interested in the extraordinary
interventions of the prophets in the course of Israel's history,
but other and more authentic testimonies justify us in doing so.
First of these is the Blessing of Moses, an independent document
of northern Israel which speaks for itself. Here we read:
"Thy Thummim and thy Urim belong to the man of thy friendship,
whom thou didst prove at Massah,
for whom thou didst strive at the waters of Meribah;
who saith of father and mother,
I have never seen them,
and acknowledgeth not his brethren
nor knoweth his own children--
for they observe thy word
and keep thy covenant,
they teach Jacob thy judgments
and Israel thy law;
they bring savour of fat before thee
and whole burnt sacrifice upon thine altar;
bless, O Lord, his strength,
and accept the work of his hands;
smite through the loins of them that rise up against him,
and of them that hate him that they rise not again"
(Deuteronomy xxxiii. 8-11).
In this passage the priests appear as a strictly close corporation,
so close that they are mentioned only exceptionally in the plural
number, and for the most part are spoken of collectively in the
singular, as an organic unity which embraces not merely the
contemporary members, but also their ancestors, and which begins
its life with Moses, the friend of Jehovah who as its beginning
is identified with the continuation just as the man is identified
with the child out of which he has grown. The history of Moses
is at the same time the history of the priests, the Urim and Thummim
belong--one is not quite sure to which, but it comes to the same
thing; every priest to whom the care of an ephod has been intrusted
interrogates before it the sacred oracle. The first relative clause
relating to Moses passes over without change of subject into one
that refers to the priests, so that the singular immediately falls
into plural and the plural back to the singular. Yet this so
strongly marked solidarity of the priesthood as a profession rests
by no means upon the natural basis of family or clan unity; it is
not blood, but on the contrary the abnegation of blood that constitutes
the priest, as is brought out with great emphasis. He must act for
Jehovah's sake as if he had neither father nor mother, neither
brethren nor children. Blind prepossession in people's conceptions
of Judaism has hitherto prevented the understanding of these words,
but they are thoroughly unambiguous. What they say is, that in
consecrating himself to the service of Jehovah a man abandons his
natural relationships, and severs himself from family ties;
thus, with the brotherhood of the priests in northern Israel the
case is precisely similar as with that of the religious guilds of
the sons of the prophets--the Rechabites, and doubtless too the
Nazarites (Amos ii. 11 seq.)--also native there. Whosoever chose
(or, whomsoever he chose) was made priest by Jeroboam--such is the
expression of the Deuteronomic redactor of the Book of Kings
(1Kings xiii. 33). A historical example of what has been said is
afforded by the young Samuel, as he figures in the narrative of
his early years contained in 1Samuel i.-iii.--a narrative which
certainly reflects the condition of things in Ephraim at the period
of the monarchy. The child of a well-to-do middle class family
at Ramah, in the district of Zuph Ephraim, he is even before his
birth vowed to Jehovah by his mother, and as soon as possible
afterwards is handed over to the sanctuary at Shiloh,--not to
become a Nazarite or one of the Nethinim in the sense of the
Pentateuch, but to be a priest,--for in his ministry he wears
the linen ephod, the _ephod bad_, and even
the pallium (1Samuel ii. 18) /1/ And it is made very plain that

1. Comp. Koran, iii. 31: "I vow to thee that which is in my
womb as a devotee of the mosque, to serve it."
*[pallium. "1.Antiq. A large rectangular cloak or mantle worn by men'
chiefly among the Greeks; esp. by philosophers and by early Christian
ascetics...Himation...2.Eccl. A vestment of wool worn by patriarchs
and metropolitans... SOED. Heb. m(yl q+n ii.19?]*

the mother's act, in thus giving up her son, who is properly
hers, or (as she expresses it) lending him to Jehovah for ever
(1Samuel i. 28: #MW)L=MW#)L), is regarded as a renunciation
of family rights. The circumstance that it is by the parents
and not by Samuel himself that the consecration is made makes
no material difference; the one thing is on the same plane with
the other, and doubtless occurred as well as the other, although
seldomer. But, on the other hand, it can hardly have been the
rule that any one should abandon not parents and brethren merely,
but also wife and children as well in order to enter the priesthood;
in Deuteronomy xxxiii. 9 this is adduced only as an extreme instance
of the spirit of self-sacrifice. In any case it is not to be
inferred that celibacy was demanded, but only that the priestly
office was often barely sufficient to support the man, not to
speak of a family.

So fixed and influential, so independent and exclusive had the
priesthood become at the date of the composition of the Blessing
of Moses, that it takes a place of its own alongside of the tribes
of the nation, is itself a tribe, constituted, however, not by
blood, but by community of spiritual interests. Its importance
is brought into clearness even by the opposition which it
encounters, and which occasions so vigorous a denunciation of its
enemies that one might well believe the person who committed it to
writing to have been himself a priest. The cause of the hostility
is not stated, but it seems to be directed simply against the
very existence of a professional and firmly organised clergy,
and to proceed from laymen who hold fast by the rights of the old
priestless days.

Next to the Blessing of Moses the discourses of Hosea contain our
most important materials for an estimate of the priesthood of
Northern Israel. How important that institution was for public
life is clear from his expressions also. The priests are the
spiritual leaders of the people; the reproach that they do not fulfil
their high vocation proves in the first place that they have it.
Degenerate they are, to be sure; in Hosea's representation they
are seen in the same light as that in which the sons of Eli appear
as described in 1Samuel ii. 22 seq., from which description one
conjectures the author to have derived his colours from a state of
matters nearer his own day than the period of the judges. The
priests of Shechem are even taxed by the prophet with open highway
robbery (vi. 9), and in one charge after another he accuses them
of taking advantage of their office for base gain, of neglecting
its most sacred duties, and in this way having the principal
blame for the ruin of the people.
"Hear the word of Jehovah, ye children of Israel,
for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land,
because there is no truth, nor mercy,
nor knowledge of God in the land.
(2.) There is swearing, and Iying, and killing,
and stealing, and committing adultery;
they use violence and add murder to murder.
(3.) Therefore the land mourneth,
and every creature that dwelleth therein languisheth,
even to the wild beasts of the field
and the fowls of heaven;
and even the fishes of the sea are taken away.
(4.) Yet let no man strive
and no man reprove;
for the people do just as their priests.
(5.) Therefore shall ye (priests) stumble on that day,
and also the prophets with you on that night;
and I will destroy your kin.
(6.) My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge,
because ye yourselves reject knowledge;
I will therefore reject you that ye shall be no longer priests unto me;
ye have forgotten the doctrine of your God,
so will I forget your children.
(7.) The more they are,
the more they sin against me;
their glory they turn into shame.
(8.) They eat up the sin of my people,
and they set their heart on their iniquity.
(9.) And it shall be as with the people so with the priest;
I will punish them for their ways
and requite them for their doings.
(10.) They shall eat and not have enough,
they shall commit whoredom and shall not increase,
because they have ceased to take heed to the Lord"
(Hosea iv. 1-10). /1/

1. In the introductory words the people are invited to hear what it
is that Jehovah complains of them for; sin prevails to such an
extent that the complete ruin of the country is inevitable (vers.
1-3). With the word "yet" at the beginning of the following verse
the prophet changes the course of his thought; from the people he
passes to the priests; the root of the general corruption is the
want of divine knowledge (the knowledge, namely, that "I will have
mercy and not sacrifice; "compare Jeremiah xxii. 16), and for this
the priests are to blame, whose task it was to diffuse "knowledge,"
but who, instead of this for their own selfish interests fostered
the tendency of the people to seek Jehovah's grace by sacrifice
rather than by righteousness. For if it be conceded that it is
the priests who are addressed from ver. 6 onwards, then it is not
easy to see why a change in the address should take place between
ver. 5 and ver. 6, especially as the co-ordination of priests
with prophets seems more reasonable in ver. 5 than that of prophets
and people. As ver. 4 in this way occupies an intermediate position
between the complaint made against the people in vers. 1-3, and
that against the priests in vers. 5-10, the transition from the one
to the other, indicated by the "yet," must occur in it. Hosea
abruptly breaks off from reproaching the people, "Yet let no man
strive and no man reprove"--why not, the words that follow must
explain. In verse 4b some circumstance must be mentioned which
excuses the people, and at the same time draws down indignation
upon the priests who are the subjects of the following. These
considerations necessarily determine the thought which we are
to expect, namely, this--"for the people do just as their priests."
This meaning is obtained by the conjectural reading W(MY KKMRYW
instead of W(MKKMRYB. Comp. ver. 9. The remaining YKH must be
deleted. The ordinary view of ver. 4 is hardly worth refuting.
The )L YWKH, it is said, is spoken from the people's point of view.
The people repel the prophet's reproach and rebuke, because
(such is the interpretation of ver. 4b) they themselves have no
scruples in striving EVEN with the priest. "Even," for want of
subjection to the priests is held to be specially wicked.
But the prophet Hosea would hardly have considered it a capital
offence if the people had withheld from the priests the respect
of which, according to his own language, they were so utterly
unworthy. Moreover, every exegesis which finds in ver. 4 a
reproach brought against the people, leaves in obscurity the point
at which the transition is made from reproach of the people
to reproach of the priests.

In the northern kingdom, according to this, the spiritual
ascendancy of the priests over the people seems hardly to have
been less than that of the prophets, and if in the history we
hear less about it, /1/ the explanation is to be sought in the

1. According to 2Kings xvii. 27, 28, the foreign colonies
introduced by the Assyrians into Samaria after it had been
depopulated, were at first devoured by lions because they were
ignorant of the right way of honouring the deity of the land.
Esarhaddon therefore sent one of the exiled Samaritan priests, who
fixed his abode at Bethel, the ancient chief sanctuary, and
instructed (MWRH) the settlers in the religion of the god of the
country. This presupposes a definite priesthood, which
maintained itself even in exile for a considerable time.

fact that they laboured quietly and regularly in limited
circles, taking no part in politics, and fully submissive to the
established order, and that for this reason they attracted less
notice and were less talked about than the prophets who, like
Elijah and Elisha, stirred up Israel by their extraordinary and
oppositional action.

IV.II.4. In Judah the nucleus of the development was the same as in
Israel. The idea that in Judah the genuine Mosaic priesthood had
by the grace of God been maintained, while in Israel, on the other
hand, a schismatic priesthood had intruded itself by the favour
of the king and man's device, is that of the later Judaeans who
had the last word, and were therefore of course in the right. The
B'ne Zadok of Jerusalem as contrasted with the B'ne Eli whom they
superseded were originally illegitimate (if one may venture to
apply a conception which at that time was quite unknown), and did
not inherit their right from the fathers, but had it from David
and Solomon. They always remained in this dependent condition,
they at all times walked, as 1Samuel ii. 35 has it, "before
Jehovah's anointed," as his servants and officers. To the kings
the temple was a part of their palace which, as is shown by
1Kings vii. and 2Kings xi., stood upon the same hill and was
contiguous with it; they placed their threshold alongside of
that of Jehovah, and made their door-posts adjoin to His, so that
only the wall intervened between Jehovah and them (Ezekiel xliii.
8). They shaped the official cultus entirely as they chose,
and regarded the management of it, at least so far as one gathers
from the epitome of the "Book of the Kings," as the main business
of their government. They introduced new usages and abolished old
ones; and as they did so the priests always bent to their will
and were merely their executive organs. /1/ That they were at

1. Compare for example 2Kings xii. 5 seq. (Joash and Jehoiada),
xvi. 10 seq. Ahaz and Urijah), and, finally, chap. xxii.
(Josiah and Hilkiah).

liberty to offer sacrifice also is a thing of course; they did
it, however, only on exceptional occasions, such as, perhaps, at
the dedication of a new altar (2Kings xvi. 12, 13). Even with
Jeremiah, who as a rule does not consider sacrifice and drawing
near to Jehovah (Numbers xvi 5) as every man's business, the king
as such is held to be also the supreme priest; for at the
beginning of the exile and the foreign domination his hope for the
future is: "Their potentate shall be of themselves, and their
governor shall proceed from the midst of them, and I will cause
him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me; for who else
should have the courage to approach unto me? saith the Lord"
(xxx. 21). Ezekiel is the first to protest against dealing with
the temple as a royal dependency; for him the prerogative of the
prince is reduced to this, that it is his duty to support the
public cultus at his own expense.

The distinction between the Judaean and the Israelite priesthood
did not exist at first, but arose out of the course of events.
The sheltered and quiet life of the little state in the south
presents a marked contrast with the external and internal conflicts,
the easily raised turmoil, of the northern kingdom. In the latter,
the continual agitation brought extraordinary personalities up
to the surface; in the former, institutions based upon the permanent
order of things and supported by permanent powers were consolidated./1/

1. The Rechabites, who arose in the northern kingdom, continued to
subsist in Judah, and Jeremiah prophesied to them that there
should never fail them a priestly head of the family of their
founder (xxxv. 19).

Naturally the monarchy itself benefited most by this stability.
The king's cultus, which in the kingdom of Samaria was in no
position to supersede the popular and independent worship,
easily obtained a perceptible preponderance in the smaller Judah;
the king's priesthood, which in the former was incidentally involved
in disaster by the overthrow of the dynasty, in the latter gained
in strength side by side with the house of David--even Aaron
and Amminadab were according to the Priestly Code related to the
royal family, as Jehoiada and Ahaziah were in actual fact.
Thus at an early period was the way paved for the Act of Uniformity
by which Josiah made the king's cultus the official and the only one.
One effect which accompanied the measures he took was naturally the
exclusive legitimation of the king's priesthood at Jerusalem. But
the principle of heredity had already pervaded the other priestly
families so thoroughly that to enter any secular calling was
nowhere expected of them. The Deuteronomic legislator had
conferred upon them the right of carrying on their office at
Jerusalem, and of executing it there on behalf of any one who
requested their services; but this regulation, from the opposition
of the B'ne Zadok, was found on the whole impracticable (2Kings
xxiii. 9), although doubtless some extraneous elements may at
that time have succeeded in making their way into the temple
nobility. The bulk of the priests of the high places who had been
superseded had to content themselves (since they could not now
get rid of their spiritual character) with being degraded among
their brethren at Jerusalem, and with admission to a subordinate
share in the service of the sanctuary (comp. 1Samuel ii. 36).
It was thus, at the close of the pre-exilic history, that the
distinction between priests and Levites arose to which Ezekiel
is at pains to give the sanction of law.


IV.III.1. On the whole it is easy here to bring the successive strata
of the Pentateuch into co-ordination with the recognisable steps
of the historical development. In the Jehovistic legislation
there is no word of priests (Exodus xx.-xxiii., xxxiv.), and even
such precepts as "Thou shalt not go up by steps unto mine altar,
that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon " (Exodus xx. 26)
are directed to the general "thou," that is, to the people. With
this corresponds the fact that in the solemn ratification of the
covenant of Sinai (Exodus xxiv. 3-8), it is young men of the
children of Israel who officiate as sacrificers. Elsewhere in the
Jehovist Aaron (Exodus iv. 14, xxxii. 1 seq.) and Moses (xxxiii.
7-lI; Deuteronomy xxxiii. 8) figure as the founders of the clerical
order. Twice (in Exodus xix. 22 and xxxii 29) mention is made of
other priests besides; but Exodus xxxii. 29 rests upon
Deuteronomy, and even Exodus xix. 22 can hardly have been an
original constituent of one of the Jehovistic sources.

IV.III.2. In Deuteronomy the priests, as compared with the judges and
the prophets, take a very prominent position (xvi. 18-xviii. 22)
and constitute a clerical order, hereditary in numerous families,
whose privilege is uncontested and therefore also does not require
protection. Here now for the first time begins the regular use of
the name of Levites for the priests,--a name of which the
consideration has been postponed until now.

In the pre-exilic literature apart from the Pentateuch it occurs
very seldom. First in the prophets, once in the Book of Jeremiah
(xxxiii. 17-22), in a passage which in any case is later than
the capture of Jerusalem by the Chaldaeans, and certainly was
not written by Jeremiah. /1/ The use of the name is an

1. In the LXX, chap. xxxiii. 14-26 is wanting. The parallelism
between vers. 17-22 and 23-26 is striking. It looks as if David
and Levi arose out of a misunderstanding of the families mentioned
in ver. 24, namely, Judah and Ephraim. In any case wdwd in ver.
26 is an interpolation.

established thing in Ezekiel (573 B.C.), and henceforward occurs
without interruption in the writings of the later prophets, a sign
that its earlier absence is not to be explained as accidental, not
even in Jeremiah, who speaks so frequently of the priests. /2/

1. Ezekiel xl. 46, xliii. 19, xliv. 10, 15, xlv. 5, xlviii.
11-13, 22, 31; Isaiah lxvi. 21; Zechariah xii. 13; Malachi
ii. 4, 8, iii. 3.

In the historical books the Levites (leaving out of account
1Samuel vi. 15, 2Samuel xv. 24, and 1Kings viii. 4, xii. 31) /1/

1. Upon 1Samuel vi. 15 all that is necessary has been said at IV.II.1;
on 1Kings viii. 4 see. I.III.1. That 1Kings xii. 31
proceeds from the Deuteronomic redactor, the date of whose writing
is not earlier than the second half of the exile, needs no proof.
The hopeless corruptness of 2Samuel xv. 24 I have shown in Text. d.
BB. Sam. (Goettingen, 1871).

occur only in the two appendices to the Book of Judges (chaps.
xvii., xviii., and xix., xx.), of which, however, the second is
unhistorical and late, and only the first is certainly
pre-exilic. But in this case it is not the Levites who are spoken
of, as elsewhere, but A LEVITE, who passes for a great rarity,
and who is forcibly carried off by the tribe of Dan, which has

Now this Jonathan, the ancestor of the priests of Dan,
notwithstanding that he belongs to the tribe of Judah, is
represented as a descendant of Gershom the son of Moses (Judges
xviii. 30). The other ancient priestly family that goes back
to the period of the Judges, the Ephraimitic, of Shiloh, appears
also to be brought into connection with Moses; at least in 1Samuel
ii. 27 (a passage, however, which is certainly post-Deuteronomic),
where Jehovah is spoken of as having made himself known to the
ancestors of Eli in Egypt, and as thereby having laid the foundation
for the bestowal of the priesthood, it is clearly Moses who is
thought of as the recipient of the revelation. Historical
probability admits of the family being traced back to Phinehas,
who during the early period of the judges was priest of the ark,
and from whom the inheritance on Mount Ephraim and also the second
son of Eli were named; it is not to be supposed that he is the
mere shadow of his younger namesake, as the latter predeceased his
father and was of quite secondary importance beside him. But
Phinehas is both in the Priestly Code and in Josh. xxiv. 33 (E)
the son of Eleazar, and Eleazar is, according to normal tradition,
indeed a son of Aaron, but according to the sound of his name
(Eliezer) a son of Moses along with Gershom. Between Aaron and
Moses in the Jehovistic portion of the Pentateuch no great
distinction is made; if Aaron, in contradistinction from his
brother, is characterised as THE LEVITE (Exodus iv. 14), Moses on
the other hand bears the priestly staff, is over the sanctuary,
and has Joshua to assist him as Eli had Samuel (Exodus xxxiii.
7-11). Plainly the older claims are his; in the main Jehovistic
source, in J, Aaron originally does not occur at all, /2/ neither

1. That Aaron was not originally present in J, but owed his
introduction to tile redactor who combined J nnd E together into
JE, can be shown best from Exod vii. x. For Jehovah's COMMAND
to appear before Pharaoh is in J given to Moses alone (vii. 14, 26
[viii. 1], viii. 16 [20], ix. 1, 13, x. 1); it is only in the
sequel that Aaron appears along with him four times, always when
Pharaoh in distress summons Moses and Aaron in order to ask their
intercession. But strangely enough Aaron is afterwards completely
ignored again; Moses alone makes answer, speaking solely in his
own name and not in Aaron's also (viii. 5, 22, 25 [9, 26, 29];
ix. 29), and although he has not come alone ; he goes so and makes
his prayer in the singular (viii. 8, 26 [12, 30], ix. 33, x. 18),
the change of the number in x. 17 is under these circumstances
suspicious enough. It appears as if the Jehovistic editor had held
Aaron's presence to be appropriate precisely at the intercession.

is he mentioned in Deuteronomy xxxiii. 8. In the genealogies of
the Priestly Code one main branch of the tribe of Levi is still
called, like the eldest son of Moses, Gershom, and another important
member is actually called Mushi, 2:e., the Mosaite.

It is not impossible that the holy office may have continued in
the family of Moses, and it is very likely that the two oldest
houses in which it was hereditary, those at Dan and at Shiloh,
may have claimed in all seriousness to have been descended from him.
Afterwards, as Deuteronomy xxxiii. 8 seq. informs us, all priests
honoured Moses as their father, not as being the head of their clan
but as being the founder of their order. The same took place in
Judah, but there the clerical guild ultimately acquired a hereditary
character, and the order became a sort of clan. _Levite_,
previously an official name, now became a patronymic at the same
time, and all the Levites together formed a blood-kinship, /1/

1. The instance of the Rechabites shows how easily the transition
could made.

a race which had not received any land of its own indeed, but in
compensation had obtained the priesthood for its heritage. This
hereditary clergy was alleged to have existed from the very beginning
of the history of Israel, and even then as a numerous body, consisting
of many others besides Moses and Aaron. Such is the representation
made by Deuteronomist and subsequent writers, but in Deuteronomy
we read chiefly of the _Levites_ in the provincial towns of Judah
and of the _priests_, the _Levites_ in Jerusalem, seldom of Levi
as a whole (x. 8 seq., xviii. 1) /2/

2. On Deut xxvii. compare Kuenen, Theol. Tidjdschr., 1878, p. 297.

That the hereditary character of the priesthood is here antedated
and really first arose in the later period of the Kings, has
already been shown in the particular instance of the sons of Zadok
of Jerusalem, who were at first parvenus and afterwards became
the most legitimate of the legitimate. But it is very remarkable
how this artificial construction of a priestly family,--a
construction which has absolutely nothing perplexing in itself--
was suggested and favoured by the circumstance that in remote
antiquity there once actually did exist a veritable tribe
of Levi which had already disappeared before the period of the
rise of the monarchy. This tribe belonged to the group of the
four oldest sons of Leah,--Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah,--who are
always enumerated together in this order, and who settled on both
sides of the Dead Sea, towards the wilderness. Singularly no one
of them succeeded in holding its own except Judah; all the others
became absorbed among the inhabitants of the wilderness or in
other branches of their kindred. The earliest to find this
destiny were the two tribes of Simeon and Levi (in Genesis xlix.
regarded as one), in consequence of a catastrophe which must have
befallen them at some time during the period of the judges.
"Simeon and Levi are brethren,
their shepherds' staves are weapons of slaughter;
O my soul, come not thou into their assembly!
mine honour, be thou far from their band!
for they slew men in their anger,
and in their self-will they houghed oxen;
cursed be their anger--so fierce!
and their wrath--so cruel!
I will divide them in Jacob
and scatter them over Israel!"
(Genesis xlix.5-7).
The offence of Simeon and Levi here rebuked cannot have been
committed against Israelites, for in such a case the thought
could not have occurred, which is here emphatically repelled,
that Jacob, that is to say, Israel as a whole, could have made
common cause with them. What is here spoken of must be some crime
against the Canaanites, very probably the identical crime which
is charged upon the two brothers in Genesis xxxiv., and which there
also Jacob (ver. 30) repudiates,--the treacherous attack upon
Shechem and massacre of its inhabitants, in disregard of the
treaty which had been made. In Judges ix. it is related that
Shechem, until then a flourishing town of the Canaanites, with
whom moreover Israelite elements were already beginning to blend,
was conquered and destroyed by Abimelech, but it is quite
impossible to bring into any connection with this the violent deed
of Simeon and Levi, which must have taken place earlier, although
also within the period of the judges. The consequences of their
act, the vengeance of the Canaanites, the two tribes had to bear
alone; Israel, according to the indication given in Genesis xlix.
6, xxxiv. 30, did not feel any call to interfere on their behalf
or make common cause with them. Thus they fell to pieces and
passed out of sight,--in the opinion of their own nation a just
fate. In the historical books they are never again mentioned.

It is quite impossible to regard this Levi of the Book of Genesis
as a mere shadow of the caste which towards the end of the monarchy
arose out of the separate priestly families of Judah. The utterance
given in Genesis xlix. 5-7 puts the brothers on an exact equality,
and assigns to them an extremely secular and blood-thirsty character.
There is not the faintest idea of Levi's sacred calling or of his
dispersion as being conditioned thereby; the dispersion is a curse
and no blessing, an annihilation and no establishment of his special
character. But it is equally an impossibility to derive the caste
from the tribe; there is no real connection between the two, all
the intermediate links are wanting; the tribe succumbed at an
early date, and the rise of the caste was very late, and demonstrably
from unconnected beginnings. But in these circumstances the
coincidence of name is also very puzzling: Levi the third son of
Jacob, perhaps a mere patronymic derived form his mother Leah,
and levi the official priest. If it were practicable to find
a convincing derivation of levi in its later use from the
appellative meaning of the root, then one might believe the
coincidence to be merley fortuitous, but it is impossible to do
so. the solution therefore has been suggested that the violent
dissolution of the tribe in the period of the judges led the
individual Levites, who now were landless, to seek their maintenance
by the exercise of sacrificial functions; this lay to their hand
and was successful because Moses them an of God had belonged
to their number and had transmitted to them by hereditary
succession a certain preferential claim to the sacred office.
But at that time priestly posts were not numerous, and such
an entrance of the levites _en masse_ into the service of Jehovah
in that early time is in view of the infrequency of the larger
sanctuaries a very difficult assumption. It is perhaps correct
to say that Moses actually was descended from Levi, and that the
later significance of the name Levite is to be explained by
reference to him. In point of fact, the name does appear to
have been given in the first instance only to the descendants of
Moses, and not to have been transferred until a later period
to those priests as a body, who were quite unconnected with him
by blood, but who all desired to stand related to him as their
head. Here it will never be possible to get beyond conjecture.

IV.III.3 While the clerical _tribe of the Levites_ is still
brought forward only modestly in Deuteronomy (x. 8 seq.
xviii. 1; Joshua xiii. 14, 33), it is dealt with in very real
earnest in the Priestly Code. The _tribe of Levi_ (Numbers i. 47,
49, iii. 6, xvii. 3, xviii. 2) is given over by the remaining
tribes to the sanctuary, is catalogued according to the genealogical
system of its families, reckons 22,000 male members, and even
receives a sort of tribal territory, the forty-eight Levitical
cities (Josh. xxi.). At the beginning of this chapter we have
already spoken of a forward step made in the Priestly Code,
connected with this enlargement of the clergy, but of much greater
importance; hitherto the distinction has been between clergy
and laity, while here there is introduced the great division
of the order itself into sons of Aaron and Levites.
Not in Deuteronomy only, but everywhere in the Old Testament,
apart from Ezra, Nehemiah, and Chronicles, Levite is the priest's
title of honour. /1/ Aaron himself is so styled in the

1. Exodus iv. 14; Deuteronomy xxxiii. 8; Judges xvii. seq.;
Exodus xxxii. 26-28; Deuteronomy x. 8 seq., xii. 12, 18 seq.
xiv. 27, 29, xvi. 11, 14, xvii. 9, 18, xviii. 1-8, xxiv. 8,
xxvii. 9, 14, xxxi. 9, 25; Joshua iii. 3,xiii. 14, 33, xiv. 3 seq.,
xviii. 7; Judges xix. seq., 1Samuel v1. 15; 1Kings xii. 31,
Jeremiah xxxiii 17-22; Ezekiel xliv. 8 seq.; Isaiah lxvi. 2,
Zechariah xii. 13, Malachi Ii. 4, 8, iii. 3. Only the glosses
2Samuel xv. 24, and 1Kings viii. 4 (compare, however, 2Chronicles
v. 5) can rest upon the Priestly Code.

often-quoted passage, Exodus iv. 14, and that too to denote his
calling, not his family, for the latter he has in common with
Moses, from whom, nevertheless, it is intended to distinguish him
by the style, "thy brother the Levite." In Deuteronomy we are
struck by the deliberate emphasis laid on the equal right of all
the Levites to sacrificial service in Jerusalem--
"The priests, the Levites, the whole tribe of Levi, shall have
no portion or inheritance with Israel; they shall eat the
offerings of Jehovah and his inheritance....And if a Levite come
from any of thy cities out of all Israel, where he sojourned,
and come to the place which Jehovah shall choose, then he shall
minister in the name of Jehovah his God as all his brethren the
Levites do who stand there before Jehovah"
(Deuteronomy xviii. 1, 6, 7). Here the legislator has in view
his main enactment, viz., the abolition of all places of worship
except the temple of Solomon; those who had hitherto been the
priests of these could not be allowed to starve. Therefore
it is that he impresses it so often and so earnestly on the people
of the provinces that in their sacrificial pilgrimages to Jerusalem
they ought not to forget the Levite of their native place, but
should carry him with them. For an understanding of the subsequent
development this is very important, in so far as it shows how the
position of the Levites outside of Jerusalem was threatened by
the centralisation of the worship. In point of fact, the good
intention of the Deuteronomist proved impossible of realisation;
with the high places fell also the priests of the high places.
In so far as they continued to have any part at all in the sacred
service, they had to accept a position of subordination under
the sons of Zadok (2Kings xxiii. 9). Perhaps Graf was correct
in referring to this the prophecy of 1Samuel ii. 36 according
to which the descendants of the fallen house of Eli are to come
to the firmly established regius priest, to beg for an alms,
or to say, "Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priests' offices,
that I may eat a piece of bread:" that historically the deposed
Levites had no very intimate connection with those ancient
companions in misfortune is no serious objection to such an
interpretation in the case of a post-Deuteronomic writer.
In this way arose as an illegal consequence of Josiah's
reformation, the distinction between priests and Levites.
With Ezekiel this distinction is still an innovation requiring
justification and sanction; with the Priestly Code it is a
"statute for ever," although even yet not absolutely undisputed,
as appears from the Priestly version of the story of Korah's
company. /1/ For all Judaism subsequent to Ezra, and so for

1. Distorted references to the historical truth are round also in
Numbers xvii. 25 and xviii. 23, passages which are unintelligible
apart from Ezekiel xliv. Compare Kuenen, Theol. Tijdschr., 1878,
p. 138 seq.

Christian tradition, the Priestly Code in this matter also has
been authoritative. Instead of the Deuteronomic formula "the
priests the Levites," we henceforward have "the priests and
the Levites," particularly in Chronicles, /2/ and in the

2. Except in 2 Chrom v. 5, xxx. 27.

ancient versions the old _usus_ loquendi is frequently corrected. /3/

3. E.g., Josh. iii. 3 and Isaiah lxvi. 21 in the LXX, Deuteronomy
xviii. 1 and Judges xvii. 13 in "Jerome; and many passages in
the Syriac. On the carrying out of the new organisation of
the temple _personnel_ after the exile, see Vatke, p. 568, Graf (in
Merx's Archiv, i., p. 225 seq.), and Kuenen (Godsdienst, ii. p. 104
seq ). With Zerubbabel and Joshua, four priestly families,
4289 persons in all, returned from Babylon in 538 (Ezra iv. 36-39);
with Ezra in 458 came two families in addition, but the number
of persons is not stated (viii. 2). Of Levites there came on the
first occasion 74 (ii. 40); on the second, of the 1500 men who
met at the rendezvous appointed by Ezra to make the journey
through the wilderness, not one was a Levite, and it was only
on the urgent representations of the scribe that some thirty
were at last induced to join the company (viii. 15-20). How can
we explain this preponderance of priests over Levites, which
is still surprising even if the individual figures are not
to be taken as exact? Certainly it cannot be accounted for
if the state of matters for a thousand years had been that
represented in the Priestly Code and in Chronicles. On the
other hand, all perplexity vanishes if the Levites were the
degraded priests of the high places of Judah. These were
certainly not on the whole more numerous than the Jerusalem
college, and the prospect of thenceforward not being permitted
to sacrifice in their native land, but of having slaughtering
and washing for sole duties, cannot have been in any way very
attractive to them; one can hardly blame them if they were
disinclined voluntarily to lower themselves to the position
of mere laborers under the sons of Zadok. Besides, it may be
taken for granted that many (and more particularly Levitical)
elements not originally belonging to it had managed to make way
into the ranks of the Solomonic priesthood; that all were not
successful (Ezra ii. 61) shows that many made the attempt, and
considering the ease with which genealogies hoary with age were
then manufactured and accepted, every such attempt cannot have

How then came it to pass that afterwards, as one must conclude
from the statements in Chronicles, the Levites stood to the priests
in a proportion so much more nearly, if even then not quite fully
corresponding to the law? Simply by the "Levitising" of alien
families. At first in the community of the second temple the
Levites continued to be distinguished from the singers, porters,
and Nethinim (Ezra ii. 41-58), guilds which from the outset were
much more numerous and which rapidly grew (Nehemiah xi. 17, 19, 36,
xii. 28 seq.; 1Chronicles ix. 16, 22, 25). But the distinction
had in fact no longer any actual basis, once the Levites had been
degraded to the rank of temple-servitors and become Nethinim to the
priests (Numbers iii. 9). Hence, where the Chronicler, who is at
the same time the author of the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, is not
reproducing old sources but is writing freely, he regards the
singers also and the porters as Levites. By artificial genealogies
of rather a rough and ready kind the three families of singers,
Heman, Asaph, and Ethan are traced up (1Chronicles v1.. 1 seq.)
to the old Levitical families of Kohath, Gershon, and Merari
(see Graf, as above, p. 231; and Ewald, iii. p. 380 seq.).
How far the distinction between the Nethinim and the Levites
was afterwards maintained (Josh. ix. 21 seq., I Esdras i. 3;
Ezra viii. 20) is not clear. It would not be amiss if Ezekiel's
intention of banishing foreigners from the temple found its
fulfilment only through these heathen hieroduli, the Mehunim,
the Nephisim, the sons of Shalmai, and the others whose
foreign-sounding names are given in Ezra ii. 43 seq.,
obtaining admission into the tribe of Levi by artificial
genealogies. A peculiar side light is thrown upon the course
of development by the fact that the singers who in Ezra's time
were not yet even Levites, afterwards felt shame in being so, and
desired at least externally to be placed on all equality with
priests. They begged of King Agrippa II. to obtain for them the
permission of the synedrium to wear the white priestly dress.

The copestone of the sacred structure reared by the legislation of
the middle books of the Pentateuch is the high priest. As the
Aaronites are above the Levites so is Aaron himself above his
sons; in his person culminates thc development of the unity of
worship inaugurated by Deuteronomy and the agency of Josiah.
No figure of such incomparable importance occurs anywhere else in
the Old Testament; a high priest of pre-eminent sanctity is still
unknown to Ezekiel even. Even before the exile, it is true, the
temple worship at Jerusalem had become so magnificent and its
personnel so numerous as to render necessary an orderly division
of offices and a gradation of ranks. In Jeremiah's time
the priests constituted a guild divided into classes or families
with elders at their head; the principal priest had a potent
voice in the appointment of his inferior colleagues (1Samuel ii.
36); alongside of him stood the second priest, the keepers of the
threshold, the captain of the watch as holders of prominent
charges. /1/ But in the Law the position of Aaron is not merely

I The Kohen ha-rosh first occurs in 2Samuel xv. 27, but here HR)#
(so read, instead of HRW)H) comes from the interpolator of ver. 24.
So again 2Kings xii. 11, HKHN HGDWL, but 2Kings xii. is from the
same hand as 2Kings xvi. 10 seq. Elsewhere we have simply "the priest,"
compare besides 2Kings xix. 2; Jeremiah xix. 1; 2Kings xxiii. 4; xxv. 18;
Jeremiah xx. 1; xxix. 25, 26; In 1Samuel ii. 36 SPXNY "incorporate
me" shows that KHNH must mean "priestly guild" or "order." In
connection with the name LWY it is noteworthy that SPX is parallel
with LWH in Isaiah xiv. 1.

superior but unique, like that of the Pope in relation to the
episcopate; his sons act under his oversight (Numbers iii. 4); he
alone is the one fully qualified priest, the embodiment of all
that is holy in Israel He alone bears the Urim and Thummim and
the Ephod; the Priestly Code indeed no longer knows what those
articles are for, and it confounds the ephod of gold with the
ephod of linen, the plated image with the priestly robe; but the
dim recollections of these serve to enhance the magical charm of
Aaron's majestic adornment. He alone may enter into the holy of
holies and there offer incense; the way at other times
inaccessible (Nehemiah vi. 10, 11) is open to him on the great day
of atonement. Only in him, at a single point and in a single
moment, has Israel immediate contact with Jehovah. The apex of
the pyramid touches heaven.

The high priest stands forth as absolutely sovereign in his own
domain. Down to the exile, as we have seen, the sanctuary was the
property of the king, and the priest was his servant; even in
Ezekiel who on the whole is labouring towards emancipation, the
prince has nevertheless a very great importance in the temple
still; to him the dues of the people are paid, and the
sacrificial expenses are in return defrayed by him. In the
Priestly Code, on the other hand, the dues are paid direct into
the sanctuary, the worship is perfectly autonomous, and has its
own head, holding not from man but from the grace of God. Nor is
it merely the autonomy of religion that is represented by the high
priest; he exhibits also its supremacy over Israel. He does not
carry sceptre and sword; nowhere, as Vatke (p. 539) well
remarks, is any attempt made to claim for him secular power. But
just in virtue of his spiritual dignity, as the head of the priesthood,
he is head of the theocracy, and so much so that there is no room
for any other alongside of him; a theocratic king beside him cannot
be thought of (Numbers xxvii. 21). He alone is the responsible
representative of the collective nation, the names of the twelve
tribes are written on his breast and shoulders; his transgression
involves the whole people in guilt, and is atoned for as that of
the whole people, while the princes, when their sin-offerings are
compared with his, appear as mere private persons (Leviticus iv. 3,
13, 22, ix. 7, xvi. 6). His death makes an epoch; it is when the
high priest--not the king--dies that the fugitive slayer obtains
his amnesty (Numbers xxxv. 28). At his investiture he receives
the chrism like a king, and is called accordingly the anointed
priest; he is adorned with the diadem and tiara (Ezekiel xxi. 31,
A.V. 26) like a king, and like a king too he wears the purple,
that most unpriestly of all raiment, of which he therefore must
divest himself when he goes into the holy of holies (Lev. xvi. 4).
What now can be the meaning of this fact,--that he who is at the
head of the worship, in this quality alone, and without any political
attributes besides, or any share in the government, is at the same
time at the head of the nation? What but that civil power has been
withdrawn from the nation and is in the hands of foreigners; that
Israel has now merely a spiritual and ecclesiastical existence?
In the eyes of the Priestly Code Israel in point of fact is not
a people, but a church; worldly affairs are far removed from it
and are never touched by its laws; its life is spent in religious
services. Here we are face to face with the church of the second
temple, the Jewish hierocracy, in a form possible only under
foreign domination. It is customary indeed to designate in the Law
by the ideal, or in other words blind, name of theocracy that
which in historical reality is usually called hierarchy; but
to imagine that with the two names one has gained a real
distinction is merely to deceive oneself. But, this self-deception
accomplished, it is easy further to carry back the hierocratic
churchly constitution to the time of Moses, because it excludes
the kingship, and then either to assert that it was kept secret
throughout the entire period of the judges and the monarchy,
or to use the fiction as a lever by which to dislocate the whole
of the traditional history.

To any one who knows anything about history it is not necessary
to prove that the so-called Mosaic theocracy, which nowhere suits
the circumstances of the earlier periods, and of which the prophets,
even in their most ideal delineations of the Israelite state as it
ought to be, have not the faintest shadow of an idea, is, so to
speak, a perfect fit for post-exilian Judaism, and had its
actuality only there. Foreign rulers had then relieved the Jews
of all concern about secular affairs; they had it in their
power, and were indeed compelled to give themselves wholly up to
sacred things, in which they were left completely unhampered.
Thus the temple became the sole centre of life, and the prince of
the temple the head of the spiritual commonwealth, to which also
the control of political affairs, so far as these were still left
to the nation, naturally fell there being no other head! /1/

1. Very interesting and instructive is Ewald's proof of the way in
which Zech. vi. 9-15 has been tampered with, so as to eliminate
Zerubbabel and leave the high priest alone. Just so in dealing
with Caliphs and Sultans, the Patriarchs were and are the natural
heads of the Greek and Oriental Christians even in secular matters.

The Chronicler gave a corresponding number of high priests to the
twice twelve generations of forty years each which were usually
assumed to have elapsed between the exodus and the building of
Solomon's temple, and again between that and the close of the
captivity; the official terms of office of these high priests, of
whom history knows nothing, have taken the place of the reigns of
judges and kings, according to which reckoning was previously
made (1Chronicles v. 29, seq.). One sees clearly from Sirach l.,
and from more than one statement of Josephus (e.g., Ant., xviii.
4, 3, xx. 1, 11), how in the decorations of Aaron (where, however,
the Urim and Thummim were wanting; Nehemiah vii. 65) people
reverenced a transcendent majesty which had been left to the people
of God as in some sense a compensation for the earthly dignity
which had been lost. Under the rule of the Greeks the high priest
became ethnarch and president of the synedrium; only through the
pontificate was it possible for the Hasmonaeans to attain to power,
but when they conjoined it with full-blown secular sovereignty,
they created a dilemma to the consequences of which they succumbed.


The power and independence of the clergy run parallel with its
material endowment, which accordingly passes through the same
course of development. Its successive steps are reflected even in
the language that is employed, in the gradual loss of point
sustained by the phrase "to fill the hand," at all times used to
denote ordination. Originally it cannot have had any other
meaning than that of filling the hand with money or its
equivalent; we have seen that at one time the priest was
appointed by the owner of a sanctuary for a salary, and that,
without being thus dependent upon a particular employer, he could
not then live on the income derived from those who might employ
him sacrificially. But when the Levitical hereditary priesthood
arose in the later kingdom of Judah the hands of the priests were
no longer filled by another who had the right to appoint and to
dismiss, but they themselves at God's command "filled their own
hand," or rather they had done so in the days of Moses once for
all, as is said in Exodus xxxii. 26-29, an insertion
corresponding with the position of Deuteronomy. It is obvious
that such a statement, when carefully looked at, is absurd, but
is to be explained by the desire to protest against outside
interference. Even here the etymological sense is still
sufficiently felt to create an involuntary jar and leads to a
change of the construction; but finally all sense of it is lost,
and the expression becomes quite colourless: "to fill the hand "
means simply "to consecrate." In Ezekiel not only the priest but
also the altar has its "hand filled" (xliii. 26); in the
Priestly Code the abstract _milluim_ ["consecrations"] is chiefly
used, with subject and object left out, as the name of a mere
inaugural ceremony which lasts for several days (Leviticus viii. 33;
Exodus xxix. 34), essentially consists in the bringing of an
offering on the part of the person to be consecrated, and has no
longer even the remotest connection with actual filling of the
hand (2Chronicles xiii. 7; comp. xxix. 31). The verb, therefore,
now means simply the performance of this ceremony, and the subject
is quite indifferent (Leviticus xvi. 32, xxi. 10; Numbers iii. 3);
the installation does not depend upon the person who performs the
rite, but upon the rite itself, upon the unction, investiture,
and other formalities (Exodus xxix. 29).

This variation in the _usus Ioquendi_ is the echo of real changes
in the outuard condition of the clergy, which we must now proceed
to consider more in detail.


V.I.1. Of the offerings, it was the custom in the earlier time to
dedicate a portion to the deity but to use the greater part in
sacred feasts, at which a priest, if present, was of course
allowed also in one way or another to participate. But he does
not appear to have had a legal claim to any definite dues of
"Eli's sons were worthless persons, and cared not about
Jehovah, or about the priests' right and duty with the people.
When any man offered a sacrifice the servant of the priest came
(that is all we have here to represent the 22,000 Levites) while
the flesh was in seething, with a three-pronged flesh-hook in his
hand, and stuck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot;
and all that the flesh-hook brought up the priest took. So they
did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither. Even
before the fat was burnt, the servant of the priest came and said
to the man that sacrificed: "Give flesh to roast for the priest;
he will not take sodden flesh of thee, but raw. And if the other
said to him: Let the fat first be burnt, and then take according
to thy soul's desire; then he would answer: Nay, but thou shalt
give it now; and if not, I will take it by force" (1Samuel ii. 12-16).
The tribute of raw portions of flesh before the burning
of the fat is here treated as a shameless demand which is fitted to
bring Jehovah's offering into contempt (ver. 17), and which has
the ruin of the sons of Eli as its merited reward. More tolerable
is it, though even that is an abuse, when the priests cause
boiled flesh to be brought them from the pot, though not seeking
out the best for themselves, but leaving the selection to chance;
they ought to wait and see what is given to them, or be contented
with an invitation to the banquet. On the other hand we have it
in Deuteronomy as "the priest's due from the people" (xviii. 3
= 1Samuel ii. 12) that he receives the shoulder and the two
cheeks and the maw of the slaughtered animal; and yet this is a
modest claim compared with what the sons of Aaron have in the
Priestly Code (Leviticus vii. 34),--the right leg and the breast.
The course of the development is plain; the Priestly Code became
law for Judaism. In sacrifice, ITS demands were those which were
regarded; but in order to fulfil all righteousness the precept of
Deuteronomy was also maintained, this being applied--against the
obvious meaning and certainly only as a result of later scrupulosity
of the scribes--not to sacrifices but to ordinary secular slaughterings,
from which also accordingly the priests received a portion, the
cheeks (according to Jerome on Malachi ii. 3), including the tongue,
the precept being thus harmonistically doubled. /1/ At an earlier

1. Philo, De praem. sacerd., sec. 3. Josephus, Ant., iii. 9. 2;
iv. 4, 4.

date the priests at Jerusalem received money from those who
employed them (Deuteronomy xviii. 8), but for this had the obligation
of maintaining the temple; from this one can discern that the
money was properly speaking paid to the sanctuary, and was only
conditionally delivered to its servitors. When they failed to
observe the condition, King Jehoash took the money also from them
(2Kings xii. 7 seq.).

The meal-offerings are in the Priestly Code a subordinate matter,
and the share that falls to the priests is here trifling compared
with what they receive of the other sacrifices. The meal, of
which only a handful is sprinkled upon the altar, the baked
bread, and the minha altogether are theirs entirely, so also the
sin and trespass offerings so frequently demanded, of which God
receives only the blood and the fat and the offerer nothing at
all (Ezekiel xliv. 29); of the burnt-offering at least the skin
falls to their lot, These perquisites, however, none of them in
their definite form demonstrably old, and some of them
demonstrably the reverse, may be presumed to have had their
analogues in the earlier period, so that they cannot be regarded
absolutely as augmentation of the priestly income. In Josiah's
time the mac,c,oth were among the principal means of support of
the priests (2Kings xxiii. 9); doubtless they came for the
most part from the minha. Instead of sin and trespass offerings,
which are still unknown to Deuteronomy, there were formerly sin
and trespass dues in the form of money payments to the
priests,--payments which cannot, however, have been so regular
(2Kings xii. 17). It is as if money payments were in the eye of
the law too profane; for atonement there must be shedding of blood.
That the skin of the holocaust, which cannot well be consumed on
the altar, should fall to the priest is so natural an arrangement,
that one will hardly be disposed to regard it as new, although
Ezekiel is silent about a due which was not quite worthless
(xliv. 28-31).

So far then as departures from earlier custom can be shown in the
sacrificial dues enjoined by the Priestly Code, they must not
indeed be treated as purely local differences, but neither are
they to be regarded as on the whole showing a serious raising of
the tariff. But in the Code the sacrificial dues are only a
subordinate part of the income of the priests. In Deuteronomy the
priests are entirely thrown upon the sacrifices; they live upon
them (xviii. 1) and upon invitations to the sacred banquets (xii.
I2, 18 seq.); if they are not exercising the priestly function
they must starve (1Samuel ii. 36). On the other hand, the
Aaronidae of the Priestly Code do not need to sacrifice at all,
and yet have means of support, for their chief revenue consists
of the rich dues which must be paid them from the products of
the soil.

V.I.2. The dues falling to the priests according to the law were all
originally offerings--the regular offerings which had to be brought
on the festivals; and these all originally were for sacred
banquets, of which the priests received nothing more than the
share which was generally customary. This is true in the first
instance of the male firstlings of cattle. As we have seen in the
chapter on the sacred feasts, these are sacrifices and sacrificial
meals, alike in the Jehovistic legislation and in the Jehovistic
narrative of the exodus and of Abel, as were all the offerings
brought by private individuals in the olden time. When in Exodus
xxii. 29 it is said that they must be given to JEHOVAH, this does
not mean that they must be given to THE PRIESTS; no such thing
is anywhere said in thc Book of the Covenant. Matters still stand
on essentially the same footing in Deuteronomy also: "THOU
SHALT SANCTIFY THEM UNTO JEHOVAH; thou shalt not plough with the
firstling of the bullock, nor shear the firstling of thy sheep;
THOU SHALT EAT IT BEFORE JEHOVAH year by year in the place which
He shall choose; and if there be any blemish therein, thou shalt
not OFFER IT TO JEHOVAH THY GOD" (Deuteronomy xv. 19, 20). To
sanctify to Jehovah, to eat before Jehovah, to offer to Jehovah,
are here three equivalent ideas. If now, in Numbers xviii. 15
seq., every first birth is assigned without circumlocution to the
priest, and a special paschal offering is appointed in addition,
this can only be understood as the last phase in the development,
partly because the idea of dues altogether is secondary to that
of offerings, and partly because the immense augmentation in the
income of the priests points to an increase of the hierocratic
power. Ezekiel does not yet reckon the firstlings among the
revenues of the clergy (xliv. 28-3I); the praxis of Judaism, on
the other hand, since Nehemiah x. 37, is regulated, as usual, in
accordance with the norm of the Priestly Code.

The tithe also is originally given to God, and treated just as the
other offerings are; that is to say, it is not appropriated by
the priests, but eaten by those who bring it in sacred banquets.
It does not occur in the Jehovistic legislation, but Jacob
dedicates it (Genesis xxviii. 22) to the God of Bethel, a place
where, although the whole story is a projection out of a later
time, it would hardly be in harmony with the conceptions of the
narrator to think of the presence of priests. The prophet Amos,
who probably represents much the same stage of the cultus as the
Jehovist does, says: "Come to Bethel to transgress, to Gilgal to
sin still more; and bring every morning your sacrifices, every
three days your tithes, and offer with bread pieces of flesh to the
flames, and proclaim free offerings aloud, for so ye like, ye
children of Israel" (Amos iv. 4 seq.). He ironically recommends
them to persevere in the efforts they have hitherto made in
honour of God, and to double them; to offer daily, instead of, as
was usual (1Samuel i.), yearly at the chief festival; to pay
tithes every three days, instead of, as was the custom, every
three years. It is clear that the tithe here holds rank with Zebah,
Toda, and Nedaba; it is a sacrifice of joy, and a splendid
element of the public cultus, no mere due to the priests. Now,
in this point also Deuteronomy has left the old custom, on the
whole, unchanged. According to xiv. 22 seq. the tithe of the
produce of the soil, or its equivalent in money, must be brought
year by year to the sanctuary, and there consumed before Jehovah
that is, as a sacrificial meal; only every third year it is not
to be offered in Jerusalem, but is to be given as alms to the
people of the locality who have no land, to which category the
Levites in particular belong. This last application is an
innovation, connected on the one hand with the abolition of the
sanctuaries, and on the other with the tendency of the
Deuteronomist to utilise festal mirth for humane ends. /1/

1. Connection is, however, possible with some older custom, such as
must certainly be assumed for Amos iv. 4. Comp. Deuteronomy xxvi.
12, "the year of tithing."

But this is a mere trifle compared with what we find in the Priestly
Code, where the whole tithe has become a mere due to be collected
by the Levites (Nehemiah x. 38 [37]) on behalf of the clergy,
whose endowment thereby is again very largely increased. Ezekiel
is silent on this point also (xliv. 18-31), but as the tithe is
demanded in Numbers (xviii. 21 seq.), so was it paid from the days
of Nehemiah (x. 38 [37] seq.) by the church of the second temple.
Later there was added over and above, so as to meet the divergent
requirement of Deuteronomy, the so-called second tithe, which usually
was consumed at Jerusalem, but in every third year was given to the
poor (so Deuteronomy xxvi. 12, LXX), and in the end the tithe for
the poor was paid separately over and above the first and second
(Tobit i. 7, 8; Jos., Ant., iv. 8, 22).

It is absolutely astounding that the tithe which in its proper
nature should apply only to products of definite measure, such
as corn and wine and oil (Deuteronomy xiv. 23), comes to be extended
in the Priestly Code to cattle also, so that besides the male
firstlings every tenth head of cattle and of sheep must also be
paid to the priests. This demand, however, is not yet met with in
Numbers xviii., nor even in Nehemiah x. 38, 39, but first occurs as a
novel in Lev. xxvii. 32 (1Samuel viii. 17). Whether it ever
came into the actual practice of Judaism seems doubtful; in
2Chronicles xxxi. 6 the tithe of cattle is indeed mentioned,
but on the other hand the firstlings are not; in the pre-rabbinical
literature no traces of it are discoverable,--especially not in
Philo, who knows only of the ordinary tithes due to the Levites,
and not of the tithes of cattle due to the priests (De praem.
sacerd. 6).

With the tithe of the fruit of the soil the first fruits are at
bottom identical; the latter were reduced to definite measure
later and through the influence of the former. This is no doubt
the reason why in the Jehovistic legislation tithe and first
fruits are not both demanded, but only a gift of the first and
best of corn, wine, and oil, left to the free discretion of the
offerer, which is conjoined with the firstling of cattle and sheep
(Exodus xxii. 28 [29]. xxiii. 19, xxxiv. 26). In a precisely
similar way the TITHE of the field stands conjoined with the
firstlings of cattle in Deuteronomy (xiv. 22, 23, xv. 19 seq.).
But also the _reshith_, usually translated first-fruits, occurs in
Deuteronomy,--as a payment of corn, wine, oil, and wool to the
priests (xviii. 4); a small portion, a basketful, thereof is
brought before the altar and dedicated with a significant liturgy
(xxvi. 1 seq.). It appears that it is taken from the tithe, as
might be inferred from xxvi. 12 seq. taken as the continuation
of vers. 1-11; in one passage, xxvi. 2, the more general
_usus loquendi_ reappears, according to which the _reshith_ means
the entire consecrated fruit, which as a whole is consumed by the
offerers before Jehovah, and of which the priests receive only a
portion. But in the Priestly Code not only is the entire tithe
demanded as a due of the clergy, the _reshith_ also is demanded in
addition (Numbers xviii. 12), and it is further multiplied,
inasmuch as it is demanded from the kneading-trough as well as
from the threshing-floor: in every leavening the _halla_ belongs
to Jehovah (xv. 20). Nor is this all; to the _reshith_ (xviii. 12)
are added the _bikkurim_ also (xviii. 13), as something
distinct. The distinction does not occur elsewhere (Exodus xxxiv.
26); prepared fruits alone are invariably spoken of, the yield
of the threshing-floor and the wine-press, of which first
produce--"the fulness and the overflow "--was to be consecrated.
The FAT of oil, wine, and corn is the main thing in Numbers xviii.
also, and is called _reshith_ (ver 12) or _terumah_ (ver. 27); but
the _bikkurim_ (ver. 13) seem to be a separate thing, and, if
this be really the case, must mean those raw fruits which have
ripened earliest. Judaism, here once more moulding itself
essentially in accordance with the tenor of the Priestly Code,
actually drew this distinction; from the publication of the Law
through Ezra the community pledged itself to bring up yearly the
_bikkurim_ to the house of Jehovah, and to deliver the _reshith_ into
the temple cells (Nehemiah x. 36 [35]). The former was a religious
solemnity, associated with processions, and the use of the ritual
in Deuteronomy xxvi.; the latter was rather a simple tax paid from
natural products,--a distinction which perhaps is connected with
the different expressions _they shall bring_ (Numbers xviii. 13) and
_they shall give_ (xviii. 12). The LXX keeps )APARXH and
PRWTOGENNHMATA strictly apart, as also do Philo (De praem. sacerd.
1, 2) and Josephus (Ant., iv. 4, 8, 22).

V.I.3. The amount which at last is required to be given is enormous.
What originally were alternatives are thrown together, what
originally was left free and undetermined becomes precisely
measured and prescribed. The priests receive all the sin and trespass
offerings, the greater share of the vegetable offerings, the hides
of the burnt offerings, the shoulder and breast of meat offerings.
Over and above are the firstlings, to which are added the tithes
and first-fruits in a duplicate form, in short, all _kodashim_,
which originally were demanded merely as ordinary meat offerings
(Deuteronomy xii. 26 = ver. 6, 7, and so on), and were
consumed at holy places and by consecrated guests indeed, but not
by the priest. And, notwithstanding all this, the clergy are not
even asked (as in Ezekiel is the prince, who there receives the
dues, xlv. 13 seq.) to defray the cost of public worship; for
this there is a poll-tax, which is not indeed enjoined in the body
of the Priestly Code, but which from the time of Nehemiah x. 33
[32] was paid at the rate of a third of a shekel, till a novel of
the law (Exodus xxx. 15) raised it to half a shekel.


V.II.1. To the endowment of the clergy in the Priestly Code belong
finally the forty-eight cities assigned by Joshua in accordance
with the appointment of Moses (Numbers xxxv.; Josh. xxi.). The
tribes gave them up freely; the smaller giving few and the larger
more (Numbers xxxv. 8). The Aaronidae and the three families of
the Levites cast lots about them in four divisions; the sons of
Aaron get thirteen cities in Judah, the Levites ten in
Ephraim-Manasseh, thirteen in Galilee, and twelve in the territory
eastward of Jordan. It is not merely the right to inhabit, but,
in spite of all apologetic rationalism, the right of absolute
possession that they receive (Josh. xxi. 12), inclusive of a portion
of land two thousand ells square (square in the strictly literal
sense; Numbers xxxv. 5), which serves as public common.

The physical impracticability of such an arrangement has been
conclusively shown, after Gramberg, by Graf (Merx, Archiv, i.
p. 83). The 4 x 12 or the substituted 13+10+13+12 cities,
of which in spite of Numbers xxxv. 8 for the most part four belong
to each of the twelve tribes, are already sufficient to suggest a
suspicion of artificial construction; but the regulation that a
rectangular territory of two thousand ells square should be
measured off as pasture for the Levites around each city (which
at the same time is itself regarded only as a point; Numbers xxxv.
4) might, to speak with Graf, be very well carried out perhaps in
a South Russian steppe or in newly founded townships in the
western States of America, but not in a mountainous country like
Palestine, where territory that can be thus geometrically
portioned off does not exist, and where it is by no means left to
arbitrary legal enactments to determine what pieces of ground are
adapted for pasturage and what for tillage and gardening; there,
too, the cities were already in existence, the land was already
under cultivation, as the Israelites slowly conquered it in the
course of centuries. Besides, from the time of Joshua there is
not a historical trace of the existence of the Levitical cities.
Quite a number of them were in the days of the judges and down
to the early monarchy still in the hands of the Canaanites,--
Gibeon, Shechem, Gezer, Taanach; some perhaps may even have so
continued permanently. Those on the other hand which passed
into the possession of the Israelites at no time belonged
to the Levites. Shechem, Hebron, Ramoth, were the capital cities
of Ephraim, Judah, and Gilead; and Gibeon, Gezer, Heshbon were in
like manner important but by no means ecclesiastical towns. In
the Deuteronomic period the Levites were scattered throughout
Judah in such a manner that each locality had its own Levites or
Levite; nowhere did they live separated from the rest of the
world in compact masses together, for they made their living by
sacrificing for others, and without a community they could not
exercise their calling. Some indeed possessed land and heritage;
such were at an earlier period the Silonic family at
Gibeath-Phineas, Amaziah at Bethel, and Abiathar at Anathoth, and
at a later period Jeremiah, also at Anathoth. But Anathoth (for
example) was not on that account a priestly city in the sense of
Joshua xxi.; Jeremiah had his holding there as a citizen and not
as a priest, and he shared not with the priests but with the
people (xxxvii. 12). As a tribe Levi was distinguished from the
other tribes precisely by holding no land, and its members
joined themselves to the settled citizens and peasants, for the
most part as dependent inmates (Deuteronomy x. 9, xviii. 1).

Even after the exile, indeed, matters were not different in this
respect. "Ab excidio templi prioris sublatum est Levitis jus
suburbiorum," says R. Nachman (B. Sotah, 48b), and he is
borne out by the silence of Nehemiah x. The execution of the law
was probably postponed to the days of the Messiah; it was not in
truth within the power of man, and cannot be seriously demanded
in the Priestiy Code itself, which contemplates a purely ideal
Israel, with ideal boundaries, and leaves the sober reality so
far out of sight that on archaeological grounds it never once so
much as mentions Jerusalem, the historical capital of the priests.

The circumstance that these towns lay _in partibus infiidelium_
seems to make them unavailable as a means of fixing the antiquity
of the Priestly Code. It is possible with Bleek to explain the
transcendence of history as Mosaicity; such a view is not to be
argued against. But it is also possible with Noldeke to insist
that an invention so bold cannot possibly be imputed to the
spirit of the exilic and post-exilic time, which in everything
is only anxiously concerned to cleave to what is old and to
restore it; and such a contention deserves and admits of refutation.
It is not the case that the Jews had any profound respect for their
ancient history; rather they condemned the whole earlier
development, and allowed only the Mosaic time along with its
Davidic reflex to stand; in other words, not history but the
ideal. The theocratic ideal was from the exile onwards the centre
of all thought and effort, and it annihilated the sense for
objective truth, all regard and interest for the actual facts as
they had been handed down. It is well known that there never
have been more audacious history-makers than the Rabbins. But
Chronicles affords evidence sufficient that this evil propensity
goes back to a very early time, its root the dominating
influence of the Law, being the root of Judaism itself. Judaism
is just the right soil for such an artificial growth as the
forty-eight priestly and Levitical cities. It would hardly have
occurred to an author living in the monarchical period, when the
continuity of the older history was still unbroken, to look so
completely away from all the conditions of the then existing
reality; had he done so, he would have produced upon his
contemporaries the impression merely that he had scarcely all his
wits about him. But after the exile had annihilated the ancient
Israel, and violently and completely broken the old connection
with the ancient conditions, there was nothing to hinder from
planting and partitioning the _tabula rasa_ in thought at pleasure,
just as geographers are wont to do with their map as long as the
countries are unknown.

But, of course, no fancy is pure fancy; every imagination has
underlying it some elements of reality by which it can be laid
hold of, even should these only be certain prevailing notions of
a particular period. It is clear, if a proper territory is
assigned to the clergy, that the notion of the clerical tribe which
already had begun to strike root in Deuteronomy has here grown
and gathered strength to such a degree that even the last and
differentiating distinction is abolished which separates the
actual tribes from the Levites, viz. communal independence and
the degree of concentration which expresses itself in separate
settlements. For when we read, notwithstanding, in the Priestly
Code that Aaron and Levi are to have no lot nor inheritance in
Israel (Numbers xviii. 20, 23), this is merely a form of speech


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