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Topical Scripture [P15b]

Scripture / Parables Section | Topical Scripture: Alphabetical | Categorized

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Topical Scripture

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[P15b]

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priest / priestly / priesthood, continued

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Note: Although various Old Testament practices are not binding under the New Covenant, such passages may nevertheless be useful for reference purposes.  Also note that verses contained herein are but a small sampling of Scripture related to this topic.

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Although prophets were sent to them to convert them to the LORD, the people would not listen to their warnings. Then the spirit of God possessed Zechariah, son of Jehoiada the priest. He took his stand above the people and said to them: "God says, 'Why are you transgressing the LORD'S commands, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have abandoned the LORD, he has abandoned you.'" [2CHRON 24:19-20]

After the Arameans had departed from him, leaving him in grievous suffering, his servants conspired against him because of the murder of the son of Jehoiada the priest. They killed him on his sickbed. He was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings. [2CHRON 24:25]

But after he had become strong, he became proud to his own destruction and broke faith with the LORD, his God. He entered the temple of the LORD to make an offering on the altar of incense. But Azariah the priest, and with him eighty other priests of the LORD, courageous men, followed him. They opposed King Uzziah, saying to him: "It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who have been consecrated for this purpose. Leave the sanctuary, for you have broken faith and no longer have a part in the glory that comes from the LORD God." Uzziah, who was holding a censer for burning the incense, became angry, but at the moment he showed his anger to the priests, while they were looking at him in the house of the LORD beside the altar of incense, leprosy broke out on his forehead. Azariah the chief priest and all the other priests examined him, and when they saw that his forehead was leprous, they expelled him from the temple. He himself fled willingly, for the LORD had afflicted him. King Uzziah remained a leper to the day of his death. As a leper he dwelt in a segregated house, for he was excluded from the house of the LORD. Therefore his son Jotham was regent of the palace and ruled the people of the land. [2CHRON 26:16-21]

Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother was named Abia, daughter of Zechariah. He pleased the LORD just as his forefather David had done. It was he who, in the first month of the first year of his reign, opened the doors of the LORD'S house and repaired them. He summoned the priests and Levites, gathered them in the open space to the east, and said to them: "Listen to me, you Levites! Sanctify yourselves now and sanctify the house of the LORD, the God of your fathers, and clean out the filth from the sanctuary." [Taken from 2CHRON 29:1-5]

The priests entered the interior of the LORD'S house to cleanse it; and whatever they found in the LORD'S temple that was unclean they brought out to the court of the LORD'S house, where the Levites took it from them and carried it out to the Kidron Valley. [2CHRON 29:16]

Hezekiah sent a message to all Israel and Judah, and even wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh saying that they should come to the house of the LORD in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover in honor of the LORD, the God of Israel. The king, his princes, and the entire assembly in Jerusalem had agreed to celebrate the Passover during the second month, for they could not celebrate it at the time of the restoration: the priests had not sanctified themselves in sufficient numbers, and the people were not gathered at Jerusalem. [2CHRON 30:1-3]

They stood in the places prescribed for them according to the law of Moses, the man of God. The priests sprinkled the blood given them by the Levites [Taken from 2CHRON 30:16]

Thus the Israelites who were in Jerusalem celebrated the feast of Unleavened Bread with great rejoicing for seven days, and the Levites and the priests sang the praises of the LORD day after day with all their strength. [2CHRON 30:21]

The priests sanctified themselves in great numbers, and the whole assembly of Judah rejoiced, together with the priests and Levites and the rest of the assembly that had come from Israel, as well as the sojourners from the land of Israel and those that lived in Judah. There was great rejoicing in Jerusalem, for since the days of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel, there had not been the like in the city. Then the levitical priests rose and blessed the people; their voice was heard and their prayer reached heaven, God's holy dwelling. [Taken from 2CHRON 30:24-27]

Hezekiah reestablished the classes of the priests and the Levites according to their former classification, assigning to each priest and Levite his proper service [Taken from 2CHRON 31:2]

He also commanded the people living in Jerusalem to provide the support of the priests and Levites, that they might devote themselves entirely to the law of the LORD. [2CHRON 31:4]

Kore, the son of Imnah, a Levite and the keeper of the eastern gate, was in charge of the free-will gifts made to God; he distributed the offerings made to the LORD and the most holy of the consecrated things. Under him in the priestly cities were Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah and Shecaniah, who faithfully made the distribution to their brethren, great and small alike, according to their classes. There was also a register by ancestral houses of males thirty years of age and over, for all priests who were eligible to enter the house of the LORD according to the daily rule to fulfill their service in the order of their classes. The priests were inscribed in their family records according to their ancestral houses, and the Levites of twenty years and over according to their various offices and classes. A distribution was also made to all who were inscribed in the family records, for their little ones, wives, sons and daughters - thus for the entire assembly, since they were to sanctify themselves by sharing faithfully in the consecrated things. The sons of Aaron, the priests who lived on the lands attached to their cities, had in every city men designated by name to distribute portions to every male among the priests and to every Levite listed in the family records. [2CHRON 31:14-19]

Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. He pleased the LORD, following the path of his ancestor David. In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still a youth, he began to seek after the God of his forefather David, and in his twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the sacred poles and the carved and molten images. In his presence, the altars of the Baals were destroyed; the incense stands erected above them were torn down; the sacred poles and the carved and molten images were shattered and beaten into dust... and the bones of the priests he burned upon their altars. Thus he purged Judah and Jerusalem. [Taken from 2CHRON 34:1-5]

He reappointed the priests to their duties and encouraged them in the service of the LORD'S house. He said to the Levites who were to instruct all Israel, and who were consecrated to the LORD: "Put the holy ark in the house built by Solomon, son of David, king of Israel. It shall no longer be a burden on your shoulders. Serve now the LORD, your God, and his people Israel. Prepare yourselves in your ancestral houses and your classes according to the prescriptions of King David of Israel and his son Solomon. Stand in the sanctuary according to the divisions of the ancestral houses of your brethren, the common people, so that the distribution of the Levites and the families may be the same." [Taken from 2CHRON 35:2-5]

No such Passover had been observed in Israel since the time of the prophet Samuel, nor had any king of Israel kept a Passover like that of Josiah, the priests and Levites, all of Judah and Israel that were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. It was in the eighteenth year of Josiah's reign that this Passover was observed. [2CHRON 35:18-19]

Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. He did evil in the sight of the LORD, his God, and he did not humble himself before the prophet Jeremiah, who spoke the word of the LORD. He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God. He became stiff-necked and hardened his heart rather than return to the LORD, the God of Israel. Likewise all the princes of Judah, the priests and the people added infidelity to infidelity, practicing all the abominations of the nations and polluting the LORD'S temple which he had consecrated in Jerusalem. [2CHRON 36:11-14]

Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin and the priests and Levites - everyone, that is, whom God had inspired to do so - prepared to go up to build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem. [EZRA 1:5]

These men searched their family records, but their names could not be found written there; hence they were degraded from the priesthood, and His Excellency ordered them not to partake of the most holy foods until there should be a priest bearing the Urim and Thummim. [EZRA 2:62-63]

When they arrived at the house of the LORD in Jerusalem, some of the family heads made free-will offerings for the house of God, to rebuild it in its place. According to their means they contributed to the treasury for the temple service: sixty-one thousand drachmas of gold, five thousand minas of silver, and one hundred garments for the priests. The priests, the Levites, and some of the common people took up residence in Jerusalem; but the singers, the gatekeepers, and the temple slaves dwelt in their cities. Thus all the Israelites dwelt in their cities. [EZRA 2:68-70]

In the year after their coming to the house of God in Jerusalem, in the second month, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua, son of Jozadak, together with the rest of their brethren, the priests and Levites and all who had come from the captivity to Jerusalem, began by appointing the Levites twenty years of age and over to supervise the work on the house of the LORD. Jeshua and his sons and brethren, with Kadmiel and Binnui, son of Henadad, and their sons and their brethren, the Levites, stood as one man to supervise those who were engaged in the work on the house of God. When the builders had laid the foundation of the LORD'S temple, the vested priests with the trumpets and the Levites, sons of Asaph, were stationed there with the cymbals to praise the LORD in the manner laid down by David, king of Israel. They alternated in songs of praise and thanksgiving to the LORD, "for he is good, for his kindness to Israel endures forever"; and all the people raised a great shout of joy, praising the LORD because the foundation of the LORD'S house had been laid. Many of the priests, Levites, and family heads, the old men who had seen the former house, cried out in sorrow as they watched the foundation of the present house being laid. Many others, however, lifted up their voices in shouts of joy, and no one could distinguish the sound of the joyful shouting from the sound of those who were weeping; for the people raised a mighty clamor which was heard afar off. [EZRA 3:8-13]

They completed this house on the third day of the month Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius. The Israelites - priests, Levites, and the other returned exiles - celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy. [EZRA 6:15-16]

Finally, they set up the priests in their classes and the Levites in their divisions for the service of God in Jerusalem, as is prescribed in the book of Moses. [EZRA 6:18]

I had them assemble by the river that flows toward Ahava, where we made camp for three days. There I perceived that both laymen and priests were present, but I could not discover a single Levite. Therefore I sent Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah, and Meshullam, wise leaders, with a command for Iddo, the leader in the place Casiphia, instructing them what to say to Iddo and his brethren, and to the temple slaves in Casiphia, in order to procure for us ministers for the house of our God. They sent to us - for the favoring hand of our God was upon us - a well-instructed man, one of the sons of Mahli, son of Levi, son of Israel, namely Sherebiah, with his sons and brethren, eighteen men. They also sent us Hashabiah, and with him Jeshaiah, sons of Merari, and their brethren and their sons, twenty men. [EZRA 8:15-19]

Next I selected twelve of the priestly leaders along with Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brethren, and I weighed out before them the silver and the gold and the utensils offered for the house of our God by the king, his counselors, his officials, and all the Israelites of that region. I consigned it to them in these amounts: silver, six hundred and fifty talents; silver utensils, one hundred; gold, one hundred talents; twenty golden bowls valued at a thousand darics; two vases of excellent polished bronze, as precious as gold. I addressed them in these words: "You are consecrated to the LORD, and the utensils are also consecrated; the silver and the gold are a free-will offering to the LORD, the God of your fathers. Keep good watch over them till you weigh them out in Jerusalem in the presence of the chief priests and Levites and the family leaders of Israel, in the chambers of the house of the LORD." The priests and the Levites then took over the silver, the gold, and the utensils that had been weighed out, to bring them to Jerusalem, to the house of our God. [EZRA 8:24-30]

From the time of our fathers even to this day great has been our guilt, and for our wicked deeds we have been delivered over, we and our kings and our priests, to the will of the kings of foreign lands, to the sword, to captivity, to pillage, and to disgrace, as is the case today. [EZRA 9:7]

Ezra rose to his feet and demanded an oath from the chiefs of the priests, from the Levites and from all Israel that they would do as had been proposed; and they swore it. [EZRA 10:5]

Eliashib the high priest and his priestly brethren took up the task of rebuilding the Sheep Gate. They timbered it and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars, then continued the rebuilding to the Tower of Hananel. [NEH 3:1]

We, priests, Levites, and people, have determined by lot concerning the procurement of wood: it is to be brought to the house of our God by each of our family houses at stated times each year, to be burnt on the altar of the LORD, our God, as the law prescribes. We have agreed to bring each year to the house of the LORD the first fruits of our fields and of our fruit trees, of whatever kind; also, as is prescribed in the law, to bring to the house of our God, to the priests who serve in the house of our God, the first-born of our children and our animals, including the first-born of our flocks and herds. The first batch of our dough, and our offerings of the fruit of every tree, of wine and of oil, we will bring to the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God. The tithe of our fields we will bring to the Levites; they, the Levites, shall take the tithe in all the cities of our service. An Aaronite priest shall be with the Levites when they take the tithe, and the Levites shall bring the tithe of the tithes to the house of our God, to the chambers of the treasury. For to these chambers the Israelites and Levites bring the offerings of grain, wine, and oil; there also are housed the utensils of the sanctuary, and the ministering priests, the gatekeepers, and the singers. We will not neglect the house of our God. [Taken from NEH 10:35-40]

At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out wherever they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate a joyful dedication with thanksgiving hymns and the music of cymbals, harps, and lyres. The levitical singers gathered together from the region about Jerusalem, from the villages of the Netophathites, from Beth-gilgal, and from the plains of Geba and Azmaveth (for the singers had built themselves settlements about Jerusalem). The priests and Levites first purified themselves, then they purified the people, the gates, and the wall. [NEH 12:27-30]

"Did not Solomon, the king of Israel, sin because of them? Though among the many nations there was no king like him, and though he was beloved of his God and God had made him king over all Israel, yet even he was made to sin by foreign women. Must it also be heard of you that you have done this same very great evil, betraying our God by marrying foreign women?" One of the sons of Joiada, son of Eliashib the high priest, was the son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite! I drove him from my presence. Remember against them, O my God, how they defiled the priesthood and the covenant of the priesthood and the Levites! Thus I cleansed them of all foreign contamination. I established the various functions for the priests and Levites, so that each had his appointed task. I also provided for the procurement of wood at stated times and for the first fruits. Remember this in my favor, O my God! [Taken from NEH 13:26-31]

They decreed that they would use up the first fruits of grain and the tithes of wine and oil which they had sanctified and reserved for the priests who minister in the presence of our God in Jerusalem: things which no layman should even touch with his hands. [JDTH 11:13]

Phinehas our father, for his burning zeal, received the covenant of an everlasting priesthood. [1MACC 2:54]

Thus they assembled and went to Mizpah near Jerusalem, because there was formerly at Mizpah a place of prayer for Israel. That day they fasted and wore sackcloth; they sprinkled ashes on their heads and tore their clothes. They unrolled the scroll of the law, to learn about the things for which the Gentiles consulted the images of their idols. They brought with them the priestly vestments, the first fruits, and the tithes; and they brought forward the nazirites who had completed the time of their vows. And they cried aloud to Heaven: "What shall we do with these men, and where shall we take them? For your sanctuary has been trampled on and profaned, and your priests are in mourning and humiliation. Now the Gentiles are gathered together against us to destroy us. You know what they plot against us. How shall we be able to resist them unless you help us?" Then they blew the trumpets and cried out loudly. [1MACC 3:46-54]

Then Judas and his brothers said, "Now that our enemies have been crushed, let us go up to purify the sanctuary and rededicate it." So the whole army assembled, and went up to Mount Zion. They found the sanctuary desolate, the altar desecrated, the gates burnt, weeds growing in the courts as in a forest or on some mountain, and the priests' chambers demolished. Then they tore their clothes and made great lamentation; they sprinkled their heads with ashes and fell with their faces to the ground. And when the signal was given with trumpets, they cried out to Heaven. Judas appointed men to attack those in the citadel, while he purified the sanctuary. He chose blameless priests, devoted to the law; these purified the sanctuary and carried away the stones of the Abomination to an unclean place. [Taken from 1MACC 4:36-43]

At that time some priests fell in battle who had gone out rashly to fight in their desire to distinguish themselves. [1MACC 5:67]

In the year one hundred and fifty-one, Demetrius, son of Seleucus, set out from Rome, arrived with a few men in a city on the seacoast, and began to rule there. As he was preparing to enter the royal palace of his ancestors, the soldiers seized Antiochus and Lysias to bring them to him. When he was informed of this, he said, "Do not show me their faces." So the soldiers killed them, and Demetrius sat on the royal throne. Then all the lawless and impious men of Israel came to him. They were led by Alcimus, who desired to be high priest. They made this accusation to the king against the people: "Judas and his brothers have destroyed all your friends and have driven us out of our country. So now, send a man whom you trust to go and see all the havoc Judas has done to us and to the king's land, and let him punish them and all their supporters." Then the king chose Bacchides, one of the King's Friends, governor of West-of-Euphrates, a great man in the kingdom, and faithful to the king. He sent him and the impious Alcimus, to whom he granted the high priesthood, with orders to take revenge on the Israelites. They set out and, on arriving in the land of Judah with a great army, sent messengers who spoke deceitfully to Judas and his brothers in peaceful terms. But these paid no attention to their words, seeing that they had come with a great army. A group of scribes, however, gathered about Alcimus and Bacchides to ask for a just agreement. The Hasideans were the first among the Israelites to seek peace with them, for they said, "A priest of the line of Aaron has come with the army, and he will not do us any wrong." He spoke with them peacefully and swore to them, "We will not try to injure you or your friends." So they trusted him. But he arrested sixty of them and killed them in one day, according to the text of Scripture: "The flesh of your saints they have strewn, and their blood they have shed round about Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them." Then fear and dread of them came upon all the people, who said: "There is no truth or justice among them; they violated the agreement and the oath that they swore." [1MACC 7:1-18]

Alcimus spared no pains to maintain his high priesthood, and all those who were disturbing their people gathered about him. They took possession of the land of Judah and caused great distress in Israel. [1MACC 7:21-22]

King Alexander heard of the promises that Demetrius had made to Jonathan; he was also told of the battles and valiant deeds of Jonathan and his brothers and the troubles that they had endured. He said, "Shall we ever find another man like him? Let us now make him our friend and ally." So he sent Jonathan a letter written in these terms: "King Alexander sends greetings to his brother Jonathan. We have heard of you, that you are a mighty warrior and worthy to be our friend. We have therefore appointed you today to be high priest of your nation; you are to be called the King's Friend, and you are to look after our interests and preserve amity with us." He also sent him a purple robe and a crown of gold. [1MACC 10:15-20]

Thus in the year one hundred and seventy, the yoke of the Gentiles was removed from Israel, and the people began to write in their records and contracts, "In the first year of Simon, high priest, governor, and leader of the Jews." [1MACC 13:41-42]

When people heard in Rome and even in Sparta that Jonathan had died, they were deeply grieved. But when the Romans heard that his brother Simon had been made high priest in his place and was master of the country and the cities, they sent him inscribed tablets of bronze to renew with him the friendship and alliance that they had established with his brothers Judas and Jonathan. These were read before the assembly in Jerusalem. [1MACC 14:16-19]

The following is a copy of the inscription: "On the eighteenth day of Elul, in the year one hundred and seventy-two, that is, the third year under Simon the high priest in Asaramel, in a great assembly of priests, people, rulers of the nation, and elders of the country, the following proclamation was made: 'Since there have often been wars in our country, Simon, son of the priest Mattathias, descendant of Joarib, and his brothers have put themselves in danger and resisted the enemies of their nation, so that their sanctuary and law might be maintained, and they have thus brought great glory to their nation. After Jonathan had rallied his nation and become their high priest, he was gathered to his kinsmen. When the enemies of the Jews sought to invade and devastate their country and to lay hands on their temple, Simon rose up and fought for his nation, spending large sums of his own money to equip the men of his nation's armed forces and giving them their pay. He fortified the cities of Judea, especially the frontier city of Beth-zur, where he stationed a garrison of Jewish soldiers, and where previously the enemy's arms had been stored. He also fortified Joppa by the sea and Gazara on the border of Azotus, a place previously occupied by the enemy; these cities he resettled with Jews, and furnished them with all that was necessary for their restoration. When the Jewish people saw Simon's loyalty and the glory he planned to bring to his nation, they made him their leader and high priest because of all he had accomplished and the loyalty and justice he had shown his nation. In every way he sought to exalt his people. In his time and under his guidance they succeeded in driving the Gentiles out of their country, especially those in the City of David in Jerusalem, who had built for themselves a citadel from which they used to sally forth to defile the environs of the temple and inflict grave injury on its purity. In this citadel he stationed Jewish soldiers, and he strengthened its fortifications for the defense of the land and the city, while he also raised the wall of Jerusalem to a greater height. Consequently, King Demetrius confirmed him in the high priesthood, made him one of his Friends, and conferred the highest honors on him. He had indeed heard that the Romans had addressed the Jews as friends, allies, and brothers and that they had received Simon's envoys with honor. The Jewish people and their priest have, therefore, made the following decisions. Simon shall be their permanent leader and high priest until a true prophet arises. He shall act as governor general over them, and shall have charge of the temple, to make regulations concerning its functions and concerning the country, its weapons and strongholds, he shall be obeyed by all. All contracts made in the country shall be dated by his name. He shall have the right to wear royal purple and gold ornaments. It shall not be lawful for any of the people or priests to nullify any of these decisions, or to contradict the orders given by him, or to convene an assembly in the country without his consent, to be clothed in royal purple or wear an official gold brooch. Whoever acts otherwise or violates any of these prescriptions shall be liable to punishment. All the people approved of granting Simon the right to act in accord with these decisions, and Simon accepted and agreed to act as high priest, governor general, and ethnarch of the Jewish people and priests and to exercise supreme authority over all.'" [Taken from 1MACC 14:27-47]

Ptolemy, son of Abubus, had been appointed governor of the plain of Jericho, and he had much silver and gold, being the son-in-law of the high priest. But he became ambitious and sought to get control of the country. So he made treacherous plans to do away with Simon and his sons. [1MACC 16:11-13]

Now the rest of the history of John, his wars and the brave deeds he performed, his rebuilding of the walls, and his other achievements - these things are recorded in the chronicle of his pontificate, from the time that he succeeded his father as high priest. [1MACC 16:23-24]

When our fathers were being exiled to Persia, devout priests of the time took some of the fire from the altar and hid it secretly in the hollow of a dry cistern, making sure that the place would be unknown to anyone. Many years later, when it so pleased God, Nehemiah, commissioned by the king of Persia, sent the descendants of the priests who had hidden the fire to look for it. When they informed us that they could not find any fire, but only muddy water, he ordered them to scoop some out and bring it. After the material for the sacrifices had been prepared, Nehemiah ordered the priests to sprinkle with the water the wood and what lay on it. When this was done and in time the sun, which had been clouded over, began to shine, a great fire blazed up, so that everyone marveled. While the sacrifice was being burned, the priests recited a prayer, and all present joined in with them, Jonathan leading and the rest responding with Nehemiah. [2MACC 1:19-23]

As we are about to celebrate the feast of the purification of the temple, we are writing to you requesting you also to please celebrate the feast. It is God who has saved all his people and has restored to all of them their heritage, the kingdom, the priesthood, and the sacred rites, as he promised through the law. We trust in God, that he will soon have mercy on us and gather us together from everywhere under the heavens to his holy Place, for he has rescued us from great perils and has purified his Place. [2MACC 2:16-18]

While the holy city lived in perfect peace and the laws were strictly observed because of the piety of the high priest Onias and his hatred of evil, the kings themselves honored the Place and glorified the temple with the most magnificent gifts. Thus Seleucus, king of Asia, defrayed from his own revenues all the expenses necessary for the sacrificial services. But a certain Simon, of the priestly course of Bilgah, who had been appointed superintendent of the temple, had a quarrel with the high priest about the supervision of the city market. Since he could not prevail against Onias, he went to Apollonius of Tarsus, who at that time was governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia, and reported to him that the treasury in Jerusalem was so full of untold riches that the total sum of money was incalculable and out of all proportion to the cost of the sacrifices, and that it would be possible to bring it all under the control of the king. [2MACC 3:1-6]

When Apollonius had an audience with the king, he informed him about the riches that had been reported to him. The king chose his minister Heliodorus and sent him with instructions to expropriate the aforesaid wealth. So Heliodorus immediately set out on his journey, ostensibly to visit the cities of Coelesyria and Phoenicia, but in reality to carry out the king's purpose. When he arrived in Jerusalem and had been graciously received by the high priest of the city, he told him about the information that had been given, and explained the reason for his presence, and he asked if these things were really true. The high priest explained that part of the money was a care fund for widows and orphans, and a part was the property of Hyrcanus, son of Tobias, a man who occupied a very high position. Contrary to the calumnies of the impious Simon, the total amounted to four hundred talents of silver and two hundred of gold. He added that it was utterly unthinkable to defraud those who had placed their trust in the sanctity of the Place and in the sacred inviolability of a temple venerated all over the world. But because of the orders he had from the king, Heliodorus said that in any case the money must be confiscated for the royal treasury. So on the day he had set he went in to take an inventory of the funds. There was great distress throughout the city. Priests prostrated themselves in their priestly robes before the altar, and loudly begged him in heaven who had given the law about deposits to keep the deposits safe for those who had made them. Whoever saw the appearance of the high priest was pierced to the heart, for the changed color of his face manifested the anguish of his soul. The terror and bodily trembling that had come over the man clearly showed those who saw him the pain that lodged in his heart. People rushed out of their houses in crowds to make public supplication, because the Place was in danger of being profaned. Women, girded with sackcloth below their breasts, filled the streets; maidens secluded indoors ran together, some to the gates, some to the walls, others peered through the windows, all of them with hands raised toward heaven, making supplication. It was pitiful to see the populace variously prostrated in prayer and the high priest full of dread and anguish. [2MACC 3:7-21]

But Seleucus died, and when Antiochus surnamed Epiphanes succeeded him on the throne, Onias' brother Jason obtained the high priesthood by corrupt means: in an interview, he promised the king three hundred and sixty talents of silver, as well as eighty talents from another source of income. Besides this he agreed to pay a hundred and fifty more, if he were given authority to establish a gymnasium and a youth club for it and to enroll men in Jerusalem as Antiochians. When Jason received the king's approval and came into office, he immediately initiated his countrymen into the Greek way of life. He set aside the royal concessions granted to the Jews through the mediation of John, father of Eupolemus (that Eupolemus who would later go on an embassy to the Romans to establish a treaty of friendship with them); he abrogated the lawful institutions and introduced customs contrary to the law. He quickly established a gymnasium at the very foot of the acropolis, where he induced the noblest young men to wear the Greek hat. The craze for Hellenism and foreign customs reached such a pitch, through the outrageous wickedness of the ungodly pseudo-high-priest Jason, that the priests no longer cared about the service of the altar. Disdaining the temple and neglecting the sacrifices, they hastened, at the signal for the discus-throwing, to take part in the unlawful exercises on the athletic field. They despised what their ancestors had regarded as honors, while they highly prized what the Greeks esteemed as glory. Precisely because of this, they found themselves in serious trouble: the very people whose manner of life they emulated, and whom they desired to imitate in everything, became their enemies and oppressors. It is no light matter to flout the laws of God, as the following period will show. [2MACC 4:7-17]

When Apollonius, son of Menestheus, was sent to Egypt for the coronation of King Philometor, Antiochus learned that the king was opposed to his policies; so he took measures for his own security. After going to Joppa, he proceeded to Jerusalem. There he was received with great pomp by Jason and the people of the city, who escorted him with torch lights and acclamations; following this, he led his army into Phoenicia. Three years later Jason sent Menelaus, brother of the aforementioned Simon, to deliver the money to the king, and to obtain decisions on some important matters. When he had been introduced to the king, he flattered him with such an air of authority that he secured the high priesthood for himself, outbidding Jason by three hundred talents of silver. He returned with the royal commission, but with nothing that made him worthy of the high priesthood; he had the temper of a cruel tyrant and the rage of a wild beast. Then Jason, who had cheated his own brother and now saw himself cheated by another man, was driven out as a fugitive to the country of the Ammonites. Although Menelaus had obtained the office, he did not make any payments of the money he had promised to the king, in spite of the demand of Sostratus, the commandant of the citadel, whose duty it was to collect the taxes. For this reason, both were summoned before the king. Menelaus left his brother Lysimachus as his substitute in the high priesthood, while Sostratus left Crates, commander of the Cypriots, as his substitute. [2MACC 4:21-29]

Very soon afterward, Lysias, guardian and kinsman of the king and head of the government, being greatly displeased at what had happened, mustered about eighty thousand infantry and all his cavalry and marched against the Jews. His plan was to make Jerusalem a Greek settlement; to levy tribute on the temple, as he did on the sanctuaries of the other nations; and to put the high priesthood up for sale every year. He did not take God's power into account at all, but felt exultant confidence in his myriads of foot soldiers, his thousands of horsemen, and his eighty elephants. [2MACC 11:1-4]

A certain Alcimus, a former high priest, who had willfully incurred defilement at the time of the revolt, realized that there was no way for him to salvage his position and regain access to the holy altar. So he went to King Demetrius in the year one hundred and fifty-one and presented him with a gold crown and a palm branch, as well as some of the customary olive branches from the temple. On that occasion he kept quiet. But he found an opportunity to further his mad scheme when he was invited to the council by Demetrius and questioned about the dispositions and intentions of the Jews. He replied: "Those Jews called Hasideans, led by Judas Maccabeus, are warmongers, who stir up sedition and keep the kingdom from enjoying peace and quiet. For this reason, now that I am deprived of my ancestral dignity, that is to say, the high priesthood, I have come here - first, out of my genuine concern for the king's interests, and secondly, out of consideration for my own countrymen, since our entire nation is suffering great affliction from the unreasonable conduct of the people just mentioned. When you have informed yourself in detail on these matters, O king, act in the interest of our country and its hard-pressed people with the same gracious consideration that you show toward all. As long as Judas is around, it is impossible for the state to enjoy peace." When he had said this, the other Friends who were hostile to Judas quickly added fuel to Demetrius' indignation. The king immediately chose Nicanor, who had been in command of the elephants, and appointed him governor of Judea. He sent him off with orders to put Judas to death, to disperse his followers, and to set up Alcimus as high priest of the great temple. [2MACC 14:3-13]

When Nicanor realized that he had been disgracefully outwitted by the man, he went to the great and holy temple, at a time when the priests were offering the customary sacrifices, and ordered them to surrender Judas. As they declared under oath that they did not know where the wanted man was, he raised his right hand toward the temple and swore this oath: "If you do not hand Judas over to me as prisoner, I will level this shrine of God to the ground; I will tear down the altar, and erect here a splendid temple to Dionysus." With these words he went away. The priests stretched out their hands toward heaven, calling upon the unfailing defender of our nation in these words: "Lord of all, though you are in need of nothing, you have approved of a temple for your dwelling place among us. Therefore, O holy One, Lord of all holiness, preserve forever undefiled this house, which has been so recently purified." [2MACC 14:31-36]

God heard and grew angry; he rejected Israel completely. He forsook the shrine at Shiloh, the tent where he dwelt with humans. He gave up his might into captivity, his glorious ark into the hands of the foe. God abandoned his people to the sword; he was enraged against his heritage. Fire consumed their young men; their young women heard no wedding songs. Their priests fell by the sword; their widows made no lamentation. [PS 78:59-64]

 Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel among those who called on God's name; they called on the LORD, who answered them. From the pillar of cloud God spoke to them; they kept the decrees, the law they received. O LORD, our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God, though you punished their offenses. Exalt the LORD, our God; bow down before his holy mountain; holy is the LORD, our God. [PS 99:6-9]

The LORD says to you, my lord: "Take your throne at my right hand, while I make your enemies your footstool." The scepter of your sovereign might the LORD will extend from Zion. The LORD says: "Rule over your enemies! Yours is princely power from the day of your birth. In holy splendor before the daystar, like the dew I begot you." The LORD has sworn and will not waver: "Like Melchizedek you are a priest forever." At your right hand is the Lord, who crushes kings on the day of wrath, Who, robed in splendor, judges nations, crushes heads across the wide earth, Who drinks from the brook by the wayside and thus holds high the head. [PS 110:1-7]

"Arise, LORD, come to your resting place, you and your majestic ark. Your priests will be clothed with justice; your faithful will shout for joy." [PS 132:8-9]

"I will clothe its priests with blessing; its faithful shall shout for joy. There I will make a horn sprout for David's line; I will set a lamp for my anointed. His foes I will clothe with shame, but on him my crown shall gleam." [PS 132:16-18]

With all your soul, fear God, revere his priests. With all your strength, love your Creator, forsake not his ministers. Honor God and respect the priest; give him his portion as you have been commanded: First fruits and contributions, due sacrifices and holy offerings. [SIRACH 7:29-31]

He raised up also, like Moses in holiness, his brother Aaron, of the tribe of Levi. He made him perpetual in his office when he bestowed on him the priesthood of his people; He established him in honor and crowned him with lofty majesty; He clothed him with splendid apparel, and adorned him with the glorious vestments: Breeches and tunic and robe with pomegranates around the hem, And a rustle of bells round about, through whose pleasing sound at each step He would be heard within the sanctuary, and the children of his race would be remembered; The sacred vestments of gold, of violet, and of crimson, wrought with embroidery; The breastpiece for decision, the ephod and cincture with scarlet yarn, the work of the weaver; Precious stones with seal engravings in golden settings, the work of the jeweler, To commemorate in incised letters each of the tribes of Israel; On his turban the diadem of gold, its plate wrought with the insignia of holiness, Majestic, glorious, renowned for splendor, a delight to the eyes, beauty supreme. Before him, no one was adorned with these, nor may they ever be worn by any Except his sons and them alone, generation after generation, for all time. [SIRACH 45:6-13]

For Moses ordained him and anointed him with the holy oil, In a lasting covenant with him and with his family, as permanent as the heavens, That he should serve God in his priesthood and bless his people in his name. [SIRACH 45:15]

Phinehas too, the son of Eleazar, was the courageous third of his line When, zealous for the God of all, he met the crisis of his people And, at the prompting of his noble heart, atoned for the children of Israel. Therefore on him again God conferred the right, in a covenant of friendship, to provide for the sanctuary, So that he and his descendants should possess the high priesthood forever. [SIRACH 45:23-24]

Beloved of his people, dear to his Maker, dedicated from his mother's womb, Consecrated to the LORD as a prophet, was Samuel, the judge and priest. At God's word he established the kingdom and anointed princes to rule the people. [SIRACH 46:13]

The greatest among his brethren, the glory of his people, was Simon the priest, son of Jochanan, In whose time the house of God was renovated, in whose days the temple was reinforced. [SIRACH 50:1]

The sons of Aaron would sound a blast, the priests, on their trumpets of beaten metal; A blast to resound mightily as a reminder before the Most High. Then all the people with one accord would quickly fall prostrate to the ground In adoration before the Most High, before the Holy One of Israel. [SIRACH 50:16-17]

You yourselves shall be named priests of the LORD, ministers of our God you shall be called. You shall eat the wealth of the nations and boast of riches from them. [ISA 61:6]

I come to gather nations of every language; they shall come and see my glory. I will set a sign among them; from them I will send fugitives to the nations: to Tarshish, Put and Lud, Mosoch, Tubal and Javan, to the distant coastlands that have never heard of my fame, or seen my glory; and they shall proclaim my glory among the nations. They shall bring all your brethren from all the nations as an offering to the LORD, on horses and in chariots, in carts, upon mules and dromedaries, to Jerusalem, my holy mountain, says the LORD, just as the Israelites bring their offering to the house of the LORD in clean vessels. Some of these I will take as priests and Levites, says the LORD. [ISA 66:18-21]

The priests asked not, "Where is the LORD?" Those who dealt with the law knew me not: the shepherds rebelled against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal, and went after useless idols. [JER 2:8]

So gird yourselves with sackcloth, mourn and wail: "The blazing wrath of the LORD is not turned away from us." In that day, says the LORD, The king will lose heart, and the princes; the priests will be amazed, and the prophets stunned. [JER 4:8-9]

Shall I not punish these things? says the LORD; on a nation such as this shall I not take vengeance? A shocking, horrible thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests teach as they wish; Yet my people will have it so; what will you do when the end comes? [JER 5:29-31]

Thus says the LORD: Beware! I am filling with drunkenness all the inhabitants of this land, the kings who succeed to David's throne, the priests and prophets, and all the citizens of Jerusalem. I will dash them against each other, fathers and sons together, says the LORD; I will show no compassion, I will not spare or pity, but will destroy them. [Taken from JER 13:13-14]

"Come," they said, "let us contrive a plot against Jeremiah. It will not mean the loss of instruction from the priests, nor of counsel from the wise, nor of messages from the prophets. And so, let us destroy him by his own tongue; let us carefully note his every word." Heed me, O LORD, and listen to what my adversaries say. Must good be repaid with evil that they should dig a pit to take my life? Remember that I stood before you to speak in their behalf, to turn away your wrath from them. [Taken from JER 18:18-20]

The prophet Jeremiah answered the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people assembled in the house of the LORD, and said: Amen! thus may the LORD do! May he fulfill the things you have prophesied by bringing the vessels of the house of the LORD and all the exiles back from Babylon to this place! But now, listen to what I am about to state in your hearing and the hearing of all the people. From of old, the prophets who were before you and me prophesied war, woe, and pestilence against many lands and mighty kingdoms. But the prophet who prophesies peace is recognized as truly sent by the LORD only when his prophetic prediction is fulfilled. Thereupon the prophet Hananiah took the yoke from the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, broke it, and said in the presence of all the people: "Thus says the LORD: 'Even so, within two years I will break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, from off the neck of all the nations.'" At that, the prophet Jeremiah went away. [JER 28:5-11]

Say this to Shemaiah, the Nehelamite: Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Because you sent letters on your own authority to all the people of Jerusalem, to all the priests and to Zephaniah, the priest, son of Maaseiah, with this message: "The LORD has appointed you priest in place of the priest Jehoiada, so that there may be police officers in the house of the LORD, to take action against all madmen and those who pose as prophets, by putting them into the stocks or the pillory. Why, then, do you not rebuke Jeremiah of Anathoth who poses as a prophet among you? For he sent us in Babylon this message: It will be a long time; build houses to live in; plant gardens and eat their fruits..." When the priest Zephaniah read this letter to the prophet, the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: Send the message to all the exiles: Thus says the LORD concerning Shemaiah, the Nehelamite: Because Shemaiah prophesies to you without a mission from me, and raises false confidence, says the LORD, I will therefore punish Shemaiah, the Nehelamite, and his offspring. None of them shall survive among this people to see the good I will do to this people, says the LORD, because he preached rebellion against the LORD. [JER 29:24-32]

The LORD shall ransom Jacob, he shall redeem him from the hand of his conqueror. Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion, they shall come streaming to the LORD'S blessings: The grain, the wine, and the oil, the sheep and the oxen; They themselves shall be like watered gardens, never again shall they languish. Then the virgins shall make merry and dance, and young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into joy, I will console and gladden them after their sorrows. I will lavish choice portions upon the priests, and my people shall be filled with my blessings, says the LORD. [JER 31:11-14]

Thus says the LORD: If you can break my covenant with day, and my covenant with night, so that day and night no longer alternate in sequence, then can my covenant with my servant David also be broken, so that he will not have a son to be king upon his throne, and my covenant with the priests of Levi who minister to me. Like the host of heaven which cannot be numbered, and the sands of the sea which cannot be counted, I will multiply the descendants of my servant David and the Levites who minister to me. [JER 33:19-22]

The roads to Zion mourn for lack of pilgrims going to her feasts; All her gateways are deserted, her priests groan, Her virgins sigh; she is in bitter grief. [LAM 1:4]

"I cried out to my lovers, but they failed me. My priests and my elders perished in the city; Where they sought food for themselves, they found it not." [LAM 1:19]

He has demolished his shelter like a garden booth, he has destroyed his dwelling; In Zion the LORD has made feast and sabbath to be forgotten; He has scorned in fierce wrath both king and priest. The Lord has disowned his altar, rejected his sanctuary; The walls of her towers he has handed over to the enemy, Who shout in the house of the LORD as on a feast day. The LORD marked for destruction the wall of daughter Zion: He stretched out the measuring line; his hand brought ruin, yet he did not relent - He brought grief on wall and rampart till both succumbed. Sunk into the ground are her gates; he has removed and broken her bars. Her king and her princes are among the pagans; priestly instruction is wanting, And her prophets have not received any vision from the LORD. [LAM 2:6-9]

The LORD has spent his anger, poured out his blazing wrath; He has kindled a fire in Zion that has consumed her foundations. The kings of the earth did not believe, nor any of the world's inhabitants, That enemy or foe could enter the gates of Jerusalem. Because of the sins of her prophets and the crimes of her priests, Who shed in her midst the blood of the just! - They staggered blindly in the streets, soiled with blood, So that people could not touch even their garments: "Away you unclean!" they cried to them, "Away, away, do not draw near!" If they left and wandered among the nations, nowhere could they remain. The LORD himself has dispersed them, he regards them no more; He does not receive the priests with favor, nor show kindness to the elders. [LAM 4:11-16]

I will turn away my face from them, and my treasure shall be profaned: robbers shall enter and profane it. They shall wreak slaughter, for the land is filled with bloodshed and the city full of violence. I will bring in the worst of the nations, who shall take possession of their houses. I will put an end to their proud strength, and their sanctuaries shall be profaned. When anguish comes they shall seek peace, but there will be none. There shall be disaster after disaster, rumor after rumor. Prophetic vision shall fade; instruction shall be lacking to the priest, and counsel to the elders, while the prince shall be enveloped in terror, and the hands of the common people shall tremble. I will deal with them according to their conduct, and according to their judgments I will judge them; thus they shall know that I am the LORD. [EZEK 7:22-27]

Her priests violate my law and profane what is holy to me; they do not distinguish between the sacred and the profane, nor teach the difference between the unclean and the clean; they pay no attention to my sabbaths, so that I have been profaned in their midst. [EZEK 22:26]

He then led me to the inner court where there were two chambers, one beside the north gate, facing south, and the other beside the south gate, facing north. He said to me, "This chamber which faces south is for the priests who have charge of the temple, and the chamber which faces north is for the priests who have charge of the altar. These are the Zadokites, the only Levites who may come near to minister to the LORD." [EZEK 40:44-46]

Below the chambers to the south there was an entrance at the beginning of the way which led to the back wall, by which one could enter from the east. He said to me, "The north and south chambers which border on the free area are the sanctuary chambers; here the priests who draw near to the LORD shall eat the most sacred meals, and here they shall keep the most sacred offerings: cereal offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings; for it is a holy place. When the priests have once entered, they shall not leave the holy place for the outer court until they have left here the clothing in which they ministered, for it is holy. They shall put on other garments, and then approach the place destined for the people." [EZEK 42:12-14]

Because they used to minister for them before their idols, and became an occasion of sin to the house of Israel, therefore I have sworn an oath against them, says the Lord GOD: they shall bear the consequences of their sin. They shall no longer draw near me to serve as my priests, nor shall they touch any of my sacred things, or the most sacred things. Thus they shall bear their disgrace because of all their abominable deeds. But I will set them to the service of the temple, for all its work and for everything that is to be done in it. [EZEK 44:12-14]

It is they [the Zadokites], who shall enter my sanctuary, they who shall approach my table to minister to me, and they who shall carry out my service. Whenever they enter the gates of the inner court, they shall wear linen garments; they shall not put on anything woolen when they minister at the gates of the inner court or within the temple. They shall have linen turbans on their heads and linen drawers on their loins; they shall not gird themselves with anything that causes sweat. When they are to go out to the people in the outer court, they shall take off the garments in which they ministered and leave them in the chambers of the sanctuary, putting on other garments; thus they will not transmit holiness to the people with their garments. They shall not shave their heads nor let their hair hang loose, but they shall keep their hair carefully trimmed. No priest shall drink wine when he is to enter the inner court. [Taken from EZEK 44:16-21]

All the choicest first fruits of every kind, and all the best of your offerings of every kind, shall belong to the priests; likewise the best of your dough you shall give to the priests to bring a blessing down upon your house. [EZEK 44:30]

The consecrated priests, the Zadokites, who fulfilled my service and did not stray along with the Israelites as the Levites did, shall have within this tract of land their own most sacred domain, next to the territory of the Levites. [EZEK 48:11-12]

Priests of the Lord, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. [DAN 3:84]

But let no one protest, let no one complain; with you is my grievance, O priests! You shall stumble in the day, and the prophets shall stumble with you at night; I will destroy your mother. My people perish for want of knowledge! Since you have rejected knowledge, I will reject you from my priesthood; Since you have ignored the law of your God, I will also ignore your sons. One and all they sin against me, exchanging their glory for shame. They feed on the sin of my people, and are greedy for their guilt. The priests shall fare no better than the people: I will punish them for their ways, and repay them for their deeds. [HOSEA 4:4-9]

Lament like a virgin girt with sackcloth for the spouse of her youth. Abolished are offering and libation from the house of the LORD; In mourning are the priests, the ministers of the LORD. The field is ravaged, the earth mourns, Because the grain is ravaged, the must has failed, the oil languishes. Be appalled, you husbandmen! wail, you vinedressers! Over the wheat and the barley, because the harvest of the field has perished. The vine has dried up, the fig tree is withered; The pomegranate, the date palm also, and the apple, all the trees of the field are dried up; Yes, joy has withered away from among mankind. Gird yourselves and weep, O priests! wail, O ministers of the altar! Come, spend the night in sackcloth, O ministers of my God! The house of your God is deprived of offering and libation. Proclaim a fast, call an assembly; Gather the elders, all who dwell in the land, Into the house of the LORD, your God, and cry to the LORD! Alas, the day! for near is the day of the LORD, and it comes as ruin from the Almighty. [JOEL 1:8-15]

Between the porch and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep, And say, "Spare, O LORD, your people, and make not your heritage a reproach, with the nations ruling over them! Why should they say among the peoples, 'Where is their God?'" [JOEL 2:17]

Hear this, you leaders of the house of Jacob, you rulers of the house of Israel! You who abhor what is just, and pervert all that is right; Who build up Zion with bloodshed, and Jerusalem with wickedness! Her leaders render judgment for a bribe, her priests give decisions for a salary, her prophets divine for money, While they rely on the LORD, saying, "Is not the LORD in the midst of us? No evil can come upon us!" Therefore, because of you, Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem reduced to rubble, And the mount of the temple to a forest ridge. [MICAH 3:9-12]

I will stretch out my hand against Judah, and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; I will destroy from this place the last vestige of Baal, the very names of his priests. [ZEPH 1:4]

Woe to the city, rebellious and polluted, to the tyrannical city! She hears no voice, accepts no correction; In the LORD she has not trusted, to her God she has not drawn near. Her prophets are insolent, treacherous men; Her priests profane what is holy, and do violence to the law. [ZEPH 3:1-2,4]

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, while Satan stood at his right hand to accuse him. [ZECH 3:1]

This word of the LORD then came to me: Take from the returned captives Heldai, Tobijah, Jedaiah; and go the same day to the house of Josiah, son of Zephaniah (these had come from Babylon). Silver and gold you shall take, and make a crown; place it on the head of (Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest) Zerubbabel. And say to him: Thus says the LORD of hosts: Here is a man whose name is Shoot, and where he is he shall sprout, and he shall build the temple of the LORD. Yes, he shall build the temple of the LORD, and taking up the royal insignia, he shall sit as ruler upon his throne. The priest shall be put at his right hand, and between the two of them there shall be friendly understanding. The crown itself shall be a memorial offering in the temple of the LORD in favor of Heldai, Tobijah, Jedaiah, and the son of Zephaniah. And they who are from afar shall come and build the temple of the LORD, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. [Taken from ZECH 6:9-15]

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