From Joshua to Caiaphas: High Priests after the Exile

By James C. Vanderkam | Go to book overview

4
The Hasmonean High Priests
(152-37 BCE)

Preliminary Issues

The reigns of Jason, Menelaus, and Alcimus marked a period (175-159 BCE) when the royal administration took a direct hand in the high-priestly succession and provoked a strong reaction from some elements in Judea. The Seleucid sovereigns would continue their involvement in the office in subsequent years, but a new era was soon to dawn when the descendants of the priest Mattathias, the pioneering leader of the revolt according to 1 Maccabees, succeeded in taking the office. First Maccabees reports that the first member of the family to be appointed high priest was Jonathan, who donned the sacred vestments in 152 BCE; it says nothing about Judas, his brother and predecessor as leader of the Maccabean forces, serving as high priest. The point may seem self-evident, as Judas died in 161 BCE when Alcimus was still in office (he continued to occupy it until 159 BCE). Yet, the two had been bitter enemies, and it is possible that Judas operated as a rival high priest to Alcimus for some time. This is only a possibility, not a demonstrable conclusion, but there are a few hints in the literature pointing toward it. This matter should be explored before we turn to the period of the official Hasmonean1 high priesthood. A second preliminary problem that will be treated is the so-called intersacerdotium, that is, the years 159 (death of Alcimus) to 152 (accession of the Hasmonean Jonathan) when, to judge by the high-priestly lists, no one occupied the office.

1. As noted before, Josephus lists a certain Asamonaios (= Hebrew

as an ancestor of Mattathias (Ant. 12.6, 1 [§265]); for this reason the family is known as the Hasmoneans.

-240-

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From Joshua to Caiaphas: High Priests after the Exile
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • 1 - Beginnings 1
  • 2 - The High Priests of the Persian Period 43
  • 3 - The High Priests in the Early Hellenistic Period 112
  • 4 - The Hasmonean High Priests (152-37 Bce) 240
  • 5 - The High Priests in the Herodian Age (37 Bce to 70 Ce) 394
  • The High Priests of the Second Temple 491
  • Bibliography 494
  • Index of Ancient People 523
  • Index of Ancient Sources 528
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