Was Mattathias of the line of Aaron?

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Ben C. Smith
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Was Mattathias of the line of Aaron?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Mon Jul 27, 2020 9:18 pm

Was Mattathias, progenitor of the Hasmonean dynasty, of the line of Aaron? The matter would seem to be settled by his genealogy:

1 Maccabees 2.1: 1 In those days Mattathias the son of John, son of Simeon, a priest of the sons of Joarib [ἱερεὺς τῶν υἱῶν Ιωαριβ], moved from Jerusalem and settled in Modein.

1 Maccabees 14.29: 29 Since wars often occurred in the country, Simon the son of Mattathias, a priest of the sons of Joarib [ἱερεὺς τῶν υἱῶν Ιωαριβ], and his brothers, exposed themselves to danger and resisted the enemies of their nation, in order that their sanctuary and the law might be perserved; and they brought great glory to their nation.

So Mattathias is of the sons of Joarib. And who is Joarib?

1 Chronicles 9.10-13: 10 From the priests were Jedaiah and Jehoiarib and Jachin [יְדַֽעְיָ֥ה וִיהוֹיָרִ֖יב וְיָכִֽין], 11 and Azariah the son of Hilkiah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Zadok, the son of Meraioth, the son of Ahitub, the chief officer of the house of God; 12 and Adaiah the son of Jeroham, the son of Pashhur, the son of Malchijah, and Maasai the son of Adiel, the son of Jahzerah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Meshillemith, the son of Immer; 13 and their relatives, heads of their fathers’ households, 1,760 very able men for the work of the service of the house of God.

1 Chronicles 24.7-19: 7 Now the first lot came out for Jehoiarib [לִיה֣וֹיָרִ֔יב], the second for Jedaiah, 8 the third for Harim, the fourth for Seorim, 9 the fifth for Malchijah, the sixth for Mijamin, 10 the seventh for Hakkoz, the eighth for Abijah, 11 the ninth for Jeshua, the tenth for Shecaniah, 12 the eleventh for Eliashib, the twelfth for Jakim, 13 the thirteenth for Huppah, the fourteenth for Jeshebeab, 14 the fifteenth for Bilgah, the sixteenth for Immer, 15 the seventeenth for Hezir, the eighteenth for Happizzez, 16 the nineteenth for Pethahiah, the twentieth for Jehezkel, 17 the twenty-first for Jachin, the twenty-second for Gamul, 18 the twenty-third for Delaiah, the twenty-fourth for Maaziah. 19 These were their offices for their ministry when they came in to the house of the Lord according to the ordinance given to them through Aaron their father, just as the Lord God of Israel had commanded him.

Nehemiah 11.10-14: 10 From the priests: Jedaiah the son of Joiarib, Jachin, 11 Seraiah the son of Hilkiah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Zadok, the son of Meraioth, the son of Ahitub, the leader of the house of God, 12 and their kinsmen who performed the work of the temple, 822; and Adaiah the son of Jeroham, the son of Pelaliah, the son of Amzi, the son of Zechariah, the son of Pashhur, the son of Malchijah, 13 and his kinsmen, heads of fathers’ households, 242; and Amashsai the son of Azarel, the son of Ahzai, the son of Meshillemoth, the son of Immer, 14 and their brothers, valiant warriors, 128. And their overseer was Zabdiel, the son of Haggedolim.

Joarib is simply one of the descendants of Aaron whose name was attached to the priestly courses (cue Charles Wilson in 3... 2... 1... :)). So obviously Mattathias is an Aaronide. Josephus agrees, calling Mattathias a ἱερεὺς ἐξ ἐφημερίδος Ἰώαβος in Antiquities 12.6.1 §265. Mattathias even calls the priest Phinehas "our father" in his famous speech:

1 Maccabees 2.49-68: 49 Now the days drew near for Mattathias to die, and he said to his sons: “Arrogance and reproach have now become strong; it is a time of ruin and furious anger. 50 Now, my children, show zeal for the law, and give your lives for the covenant of our fathers. 51 Remember the deeds of the fathers, which they did in their generations; and receive great honor and an everlasting name. 52 Was not Abraham found faithful when tested, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness? 53 Joseph in the time of his distress kept the commandment, and became lord of Egypt. 54 Phinehas our father, because he was deeply zealous, received the covenant of everlasting priesthood. 55 Joshua, because he fulfilled the command, became a judge in Israel. 56 Caleb, because he testified in the assembly, received an inheritance in the land. 57 David, because he was merciful, inherited the throne of the kingdom for ever. 58 Elijah because of great zeal for the law was taken up into heaven. 59 Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael believed and were saved from the flame. 60 Daniel because of his innocence was delivered from the mouth of the lions. 61 And so observe, from generation to generation, that none who put their trust in him will lack strength. 62 Do not fear the words of a sinner, for his splendor will turn into dung and worms. 63 Today he will be exalted, but tomorrow he will not be found, because he has returned to the dust, and his plans will perish. 64 My children, be courageous and grow strong in the law, for by it you will gain honor. 65 Now behold, I know that Simeon your brother is wise in counsel; always listen to him; he shall be your father. 66 Judas Maccabeus has been a mighty warrior from his youth; he shall command the army for you and fight the battle against the peoples. 67 You shall rally about you all who observe the law, and avenge the wrong done to your people. 68 Pay back the Gentiles in full, and heed what the law commands.”

But Morton Smith casts a bit of doubt on this picture of the Hasmoneans as Aaronides in Studies in the Cult of Yahweh, volume 1, pages 320-325: "Were the Maccabees Priests?" He points out, for example, that Josephus, in Antiquities 13.10.5-6 §288-298, tells how a Pharisee named Eleazar requested that John Hyrcanus abandon his priesthood and be content with his civil rulership over the people. The reason given for this request was that Hyrcanus' mother had been a captive under Antiochus Epiphanes, an allegation which Josephus himself claims to be false. The Talmud, however, reports a similar story concerning John Hyrcanus' son, Alexander Jannaeus:

Babylonian Talmud, Kiddushin 66a: 66a .... Now, there was a man there — frivolous, evilhearted, and worthless — named Eleazar son of Poirah, who said to King Jannai, “O King Jannai, the hearts of the Pharisees are against you.” “Then what shall I do?” “Test them by the plate between your eyes.” So he tested them by the plate between his eyes. Now an elder named Judah son of Gedidiah was present there. Said he to King Jannai, “O King Jannai! Let the royal crown suffice for you, and leave the priestly crown to the seed of Aaron.” For it was rumored that his mother had been taken captive in Modiim. Accordingly, the charge was investigated, but not sustained, and the Sages of Israel departed in anger.

Jannaeus is here told explicitly to leave the priestly crown to the seed of Aaron, an absurdity if he is, through his great grandfather Mattathias, a true Aaronide!

Morton Smith, Studies in the Cult of Yahweh, volume 1, page 321: A not improbable explanation of these differences would be, that the Talmudic account without the inserted explanation was the original form, and that the explanation, like the Josephan changes, represented modification made out of deference to the popular regard for the Maccabees. If so, the original demand was, "Leave the priesthood to the sons of Aaron," and the implications were clear.

Smith also argues that the addition of Joarib, ancestor of Mattathias, to the Aaronide rosters of the Hebrew scriptures, while usually seamless, has left at least one trace in the form of an unneeded conjunction:

Morton Smith, Studies in the Cult of Yahweh, volume 1, page 323: This evidence explains the fact, noted by Hölscher, that Yoyarib, the priestly family to which the Maccabees allegedly belonged, was lacking in the oldest lists of the priestly families, and has been interpolated into them. The interpolation is betrayed by the prefixed and in Neh 12:6, 19. A similar interpolation was made in 1 Chron 9:10f. = Neh 11:10f., where the text originally had Yedayah ben Serayah. Finally, a Hasmonean list in 1 Chron 24 gives Yoyarib first place and degrades Yedayah, the former high priestly house, to second.

He is referring to the following passages (the other passages he brings to bear I have quoted above):

Nehemiah 12.1-7: 1 Now these are the priests and the Levites who came up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, 2 Amariah, Malluch, Hattush, 3 Shecaniah, Rehum, Meremoth, 4 Iddo, Ginnethoi, Abijah, 5 Mijamin, Maadiah, Bilgah, 6 Shemaiah and Joiarib [וְיוֹיָרִ֖יב], Jedaiah, 7 Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah and Jedaiah. These were the heads of the priests and their brethren in the days of Jeshua.

Nehemiah 12.12-21: 12 Now in the days of Joiakim, the priests, the heads of fathers’ households were: of Seraiah, Meraiah; of Jeremiah, Hananiah; 13 of Ezra, Meshullam; of Amariah, Jehohanan; 14 of Malluchi, Jonathan; of Shebaniah, Joseph; 15 of Harim, Adna; of Meraioth, Helkai; 16 of Iddo, Zechariah; of Ginnethon, Meshullam; 17 of Abijah, Zichri; of Miniamin, of Moadiah, Piltai; 18 of Bilgah, Shammua; of Shemaiah, Jehonathan; 19 and of Joiarib [וּלְיוֹיָרִ֣יב], Mattenai; of Jedaiah, Uzzi; 20 of Sallai, Kallai; of Amok, Eber; 21 of Hilkiah, Hashabiah; of Jedaiah, Nethanel.

Finally, he points out that Psalm 110 (109 OG) is often associated with the Maccabees. Scholars make this association for various reasons, one of them being the fact that the Maccabean Simon is described 1 Maccabees in language very similar to that of the psalm:

1 Maccabees 14.41-43: 41 “And the Jews and their priests decided that Simon should be their leader and high priest forever [ἀρχιερέα εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα], until a trustworthy prophet should arise, 42 and that he should be governor over them and that he should take charge of the sanctuary and appoint men over its tasks and over the country and the weapons and the strongholds, and that he should take charge of the sanctuary, 43 and that he should be obeyed by all, and that all contracts in the country should be written in his name, and that he should be clothed in purple and wear gold.”

Psalm 110.4 (109.4 OG): Yahweh has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever [ἱερεὺς εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα] according to the order of Melchizedek.”

The significance of this Maccabean connection for the psalm, if it be valid, is that attaching Simon or any of the other Maccabees to the priesthood of Melchizedek could easily be a way, before the fraud of Aaronide ancestry was perpetrated, of making up precisely for the fact that the Maccabees were not of any Aaronide priestly line (much as attaching Jesus to the priesthood of Melchizedek in Hebrews 6.16-7.22 makes up for the fact that Jesus was not a Levite).

What do you think? Does Smith have a case? Is the Hasmonean ancestry a fraud?

Ben.
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Re: Was Mattathias of the line of Aaron?

Post by StephenGoranson » Tue Jul 28, 2020 5:43 am

Relevant:
Schofield, A. and J. VanderKam (2005), “Were the Hasmoneans Zadokites?”. Journal of Biblical Literature 124: 73-87

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Re: Was Mattathias of the line of Aaron?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Jul 28, 2020 6:40 am

StephenGoranson wrote:
Tue Jul 28, 2020 5:43 am
Relevant:
Schofield, A. and J. VanderKam (2005), “Were the Hasmoneans Zadokites?”. Journal of Biblical Literature 124: 73-87
Thanks! It is a quick read.
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Re: Was Mattathias of the line of Aaron?

Post by Secret Alias » Tue Jul 28, 2020 10:11 am

The Samaritans say in their Chronicle say that when Commodus almost wiped them out the lines of the priesthood were changed. The present Samaritan priesthood claim to be Aaronite. Go figure.
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Re: Was Mattathias of the line of Aaron?

Post by John2 » Wed Jul 29, 2020 2:59 pm

annaeus is here told explicitly to leave the priestly crown to the seed of Aaron, an absurdity if he is, through his great grandfather Mattathias, a true Aaronide!

But wouldn't it not be an absurdity from the point of view of Eleazar and Judah and anyone else who believed that Hyrcanus and Alexander Janneaus' mothers had been foreign captives? That would mean (to believers) that Hyrcanus and Jannaeus would not have been Aaronnides if their fathers were foreigners, right? And doesn't this belief explain why Judah says that Jannaeus was not of "the seed of Aaron"?

But maybe I'm missing something here.

The significance of this Maccabean connection for the psalm, if it be valid, is that attaching Simon or any of the other Maccabees to the priesthood of Melchizedek could easily be a way, before the fraud of Aaronide ancestry was perpetrated, of making up precisely for the fact that the Maccabees were not of any Aaronide priestly line (much as attaching Jesus to the priesthood of Melchizedek in Hebrews 6.16-7.22 makes up for the fact that Jesus was not a Levite).

Assuming that the saying in Ps. 110:4 about being "a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” refers to Simon, could it perhaps just be a way of saying that Simon was so awesome that his priestly credentials went back even further than Aaron ("spiritually" speaking)?

Jesus isn't thought to be a literal descendant of Melchizedek, is he, or David (contextually) in Ps. 110? And being a priest "according to the order of Melchizedek" in a "spiritual" sense doesn't negate whatever actual lineage a person has, right? So couldn't Simon be a priest "according to the order of Melchizedek" (in Ps. 110) and be related to Aaron (in other sources)? In other words, is there really any problem here? But perhaps I'm missing something here too.
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Re: Was Mattathias of the line of Aaron?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Jul 29, 2020 3:34 pm

John2 wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 2:59 pm
annaeus is here told explicitly to leave the priestly crown to the seed of Aaron, an absurdity if he is, through his great grandfather Mattathias, a true Aaronide!
But wouldn't it not be an absurdity from the point of view of Eleazar and Judah and anyone else who believed that Hyrcanus and Alexander Janneaus' mothers had been foreign captives? That would mean (to believers) that Hyrcanus and Jannaeus would not have been Aaronnides if their fathers were foreigners, right? And doesn't this belief explain why Judah says that Jannaeus was not of "the seed of Aaron"?

But maybe I'm missing something here.
Do the time frames line up such that Jannaeus and Hyrcanus were born within 9 months of their mothers' captivity? Genuine question. I guess, if we do not know for sure, that the way the accusation itself is framed may be a bit of evidence for this possibility. But I am not sure of the chronology, and the Hasmonean family tree is pretty confusing.
Assuming that the saying in Ps. 110:4 about being "a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” refers to Simon, could it perhaps just be a way of saying that Simon was so awesome that his priestly credentials went back even further than Aaron ("spiritually" speaking)?

Jesus isn't thought to be a literal descendant of Melchizedek, is he, or David (contextually) in Ps. 110)? And being a priest "according to the order of Melchizedek" in a "spiritual" sense doesn't negate whatever actual lineage a person has, right? So couldn't Simon be a priest "according to the order of Melchizedek" (in Ps. 110) and be related to Aaron (in other sources)? In other words, is there really any problem here? But perhaps I'm missing something here too.
Of course this is possible, since the "order of Melchizedek" is not genealogical, but the question is not whether it is possible, but rather whether it is either as or more probable that a high priest would be praised for his nongenealogical credentials despite bearing perfectly good genealogical credentials either as or than that a high priest might be praised for his nongenealogical credentials precisely because he lacked good genealogical credentials. I myself am not (yet) sure, but I see I can mark you down in the "yes" column. :)
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Re: Was Mattathias of the line of Aaron?

Post by John2 » Wed Jul 29, 2020 3:48 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 3:34 pm
John2 wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 2:59 pm
annaeus is here told explicitly to leave the priestly crown to the seed of Aaron, an absurdity if he is, through his great grandfather Mattathias, a true Aaronide!
But wouldn't it not be an absurdity from the point of view of Eleazar and Judah and anyone else who believed that Hyrcanus and Alexander Janneaus' mothers had been foreign captives? That would mean (to believers) that Hyrcanus and Jannaeus would not have been Aaronnides if their fathers were foreigners, right? And doesn't this belief explain why Judah says that Jannaeus was not of "the seed of Aaron"?

But maybe I'm missing something here.
Do the time frames line up such that Jannaeus and Hyrcanus were born within 9 months of their mothers' captivity? Genuine question. I guess, if we do not know for sure, that the way the accusation itself is framed may be a bit of evidence for this possibility. But I am not sure of the chronology, and the Hasmonean family tree is pretty confusing.

Well, that's what the accusation seems to imply to me, at least (i.e., that Jannaeus and Hyrcanus were sons of foreigners). I didn't consider the chronology of that though and am not sure how it could (otherwise) be determined.

Assuming that the saying in Ps. 110:4 about being "a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” refers to Simon, could it perhaps just be a way of saying that Simon was so awesome that his priestly credentials went back even further than Aaron ("spiritually" speaking)?

Jesus isn't thought to be a literal descendant of Melchizedek, is he, or David (contextually) in Ps. 110)? And being a priest "according to the order of Melchizedek" in a "spiritual" sense doesn't negate whatever actual lineage a person has, right? So couldn't Simon be a priest "according to the order of Melchizedek" (in Ps. 110) and be related to Aaron (in other sources)? In other words, is there really any problem here? But perhaps I'm missing something here too.
Of course this is possible, since the "order of Melchizedek" is not genealogical, but the question is not whether it is possible, but rather whether it is either as or more probable that a high priest would be praised for his nongenealogical credentials despite bearing perfectly good genealogical credentials either as or than that a high priest might be praised for his nongenealogical credentials precisely because he lacked good genealogical credentials. I myself am not (yet) sure, but I see I can mark you down in the "yes" column. :)

But why is the Melichizedek credential given to David (in Ps. 110) instead of his being of Judah or Ruth or Jesse? Because it makes him sound super-extra "cool" is my guess.
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Re: Was Mattathias of the line of Aaron?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Jul 29, 2020 4:10 pm

John2 wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 3:48 pm
But why is the Melichizedek credential given to David (in Ps. 110) instead of his being of Judah or Ruth or Jesse?
Is it given to David? I am not sure the psalm ascriptions are original.
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Re: Was Mattathias of the line of Aaron?

Post by John2 » Wed Jul 29, 2020 4:24 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 4:10 pm
John2 wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 3:48 pm
But why is the Melichizedek credential given to David (in Ps. 110) instead of his being of Judah or Ruth or Jesse?
Is it given to David? I am not sure the psalm ascriptions are original.

Well, the psalm as we have it now says it is "of David" and that "The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion" and "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” which sounds messianic/David-like. So if "of David" is not original to the psalm, I still get the sense that it is about David or the Messiah.
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Re: Was Mattathias of the line of Aaron?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Jul 29, 2020 4:27 pm

John2 wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 4:24 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 4:10 pm
John2 wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 3:48 pm
But why is the Melichizedek credential given to David (in Ps. 110) instead of his being of Judah or Ruth or Jesse?
Is it given to David? I am not sure the psalm ascriptions are original.
Well, the psalm as we have it now says it is "of David" and that "The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion" and "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” which sounds messianic/David-like. So if "of David" is not original to the psalm, I still get the sense that it is about David or the Messiah.
What if it was really originally composed about Simon? That was the contingency I was considering here.
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