Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/31

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the supreme authority seems to have been entrusted, in the absence of the great leader, as when the latter was up on Mount Sinai; but his administration proved weak, since he so unfortunately yielded to the idolatrous tendencies of the people. According to the document in question, Aaron is neither the pontiff nor the minister of prayer. It is Moses who raises his voice to God at the tabernacle (Ex., xxxiii, 7–10), and we might perhaps understand from the same place (v. 11) that Josue, not Aaron, ministers in the tent of meeting; in like manner, Josue, not Aaron, goes up with Moses on Mount Sinai, to receive the stone Tables of the Law (Ex., xxiv, 13).

In the Priestly narratives (P) Aaron, on the contrary, occupies a most prominent place; there we learn, indeed, with Aaron's pedigree and age, almost all the above-narrated particulars, all honourable for Moses' brother, such, for instance, as the part played by Aaron in the plagues, his role in some memorable events of the desert life, as the fall of the manna, the striking of water from the rock, the confirmation of the prerogatives of his priesthood against the pretensions of Core and the others, and, finally, the somewhat mysterious relation of his death, as it is found in Num., xx. From this analysis of the sources of his history Aaron's great personality has undoubtedly come out belittled, chiefly because of the reputation of the writer of the Priestly narrative; critics charge him with caste prejudices and an unconcealed desire of extolling whatever has reference to the sacerdotal order and functions, which too often drove him to exaggerations, upon which history can hardly rely, and even to forgeries.

II. Priesthood.—Whatever opinion they adopt with regard to the historical value of all the traditions concerning Aaron's life, all scholars, whether Catholics or independent critics, admit that in Aaron's High Priesthood the sacred writer intended to describe a model, the prototype, so to say, of the Jewish High Priest. God, on Mount Sinai, instituting a worship, did also institute an order of priests. According to the patriarchal customs, the first born son in every family used to perform the functions connected with God's worship. It might have been expected, consequently, that Ruben's family would be chosen by God for the ministry of the new altar. According to the biblical narrative, it was Aaron, however, who was the object of Yahweh's choice. To what jealousies this gave rise later, has been indicated above. The office of the Aaronites was at first merely to take care of the lamp that should ever burn before the veil of the tabernacle (Ex., xxvii, 21). A more formal calling soon followed (xxviii, 1). Aaron and his sons, distinguished from the common people by their sacred functions, were likewise to receive holy vestments suitable to their office. When the moment had come, when the tabernacle, and all its appurtenances, and whatever was required for Yahweh's worship were ready Moses, priest and mediator (Gal., iii, 19), offered the different sacrifices and performed the many ceremonies of the consecration of the new priests, according to the divine instructions (Ex., xxix), and repeated these rites for seven days, during which Aaron and his sons were entirely separated from the rest of the people. When, on the eighth day, the High Priest had inaugurated his office of sacrificer by killing the victims. he blessed the people, very likely according to the prescriptions of Num., vi, 24–26, and, with Moses, entered into the tabernacle so as to take possession thereof. As they "came forth and blessed the people. And the glory of the Lord appeared to all the multitude: And behold a fire, coming forth from the Lord, devoured the holocaust, and the fat that was upon the altar: which when the multitude saw, they praised the Lord. falling on their faces" (Lev. ix. 23, 24). So was the institution of the Aaronic priesthood inaugurated and solemnly ratified by God.

According to Wellhausen's just remarks, Aaron's position in the Law with regard to the rest of the priestly order is not merely superior, but unique His sons and the Levites act under his superintendence (Num., iii, 4), he alone is the one fully qualified priest; he alone bears the Urim and Thummin and the Ephod—he alone is allowed to enter the Holy of Holies, there to offer incense (Lev., xxiii, 27) once a year on the great Day of Atonement. In virtue of his spiritual dignity as the head of the priesthood he is likewise the supreme judge and head of the theocracy (Num., xxvii, 21; Deut., xvii). He alone is the answerable mediator between the whole nation and God, for this cause he bears the names of the Twelve Tribes written on his breast and shoulders; his trespasses involve the whole people in guilt, and are atoned for as those of the whole people, while the princes, when their sin offerings are compared with his, appear as mere private persons (Lev., 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 (Num., xxxv, 28). At his investiture he receives the chrism like a king and is called accordingly the anointed priest, he is adorned with a diadem and tiara like a king (Ex., xxviii), and like a king, too, he wears the purple, except when he goes into the Holy of Holies (Lev., xvi, 4).

Aaron, first High Priest of the Old Law, is most naturally a figure of Jesus Christ, first and sole Sovereign Priest of the New Dispensation. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews was the first to set off the features of this parallel, indicating especially two points of comparison. First, the calling of both High Priests: "Neither doth any man take the honour to himself, but he that is called by God as Aaron was. So Christ also did not glorify himself, that he might be made a high priest, but he that said unto him: Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee" (Heb., v, 4, 5). In the second place, the efficacy and duration of both the one and the other priesthood. Aaron's priesthood is from this viewpoint inferior to that of Jesus Christ. If indeed, the former had been able to perfect men and communicate to them the justice that pleases God, another would have been useless. Hence its inefficacy called for a new one, and Jesus' priesthood has forever taken the place of that of Aaron (Heb., vii, 11–12).

Gigot, Outlines of Jewish History (New York, 1897); Hart, A Manual of Bible History (New York, 1906); Kennet, The Origin of the Aaronite Priesthood, in Journ. of Theol. Stud., Jan., 1905; Kent, The Student's Old Testament (New York, 1904). I; Ewald, Geschichte des Volkes Israel, tr. Carpenter, The History of Israel (1869). II; Wellhausen, Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels (Berlin, 1883), tr. Black and Menzies, Prolegomena to the History of Israel (Edinburgh, 1885); Van Hoonacker, Le sacerdoce lévitique dans la loi et dans l'histoire des Hébreux (London, 1889); Von Hummelauer, Das vormosaische Priesterthum in Israel (Freiburg, 1889); Commentaries on Exod., and Deut.; Palis in Vig., Dict. de la Bible; White in Hast., Dict. of the Bible.

Aaron, Martyr. See Alban, St.

Aaronites. See Priesthood, Jewish.

Abaddon, a Hebrew word signifying (1) ruin, destruction (Job, xxxi, 12); (2) place of destruction; the Abyss, realm of the dead (Job, xxvi, 6; Prov., xv, 11); (3) it occurs personified (Apoc., ix, 11) as Ἀββαδών, and is rendered in Greek by Ἀπολλυών, denoting the angel-prince of hell, the minister of death and author of havoc on earth. The Vulgate renders the Greek Apollyon by the Latin Exterminans (that is, "Destroyer"). The identity of Abaddon with Asmodeus, the demon of impurity, has been asserted, but not proved. In Job, xxvi, 6, and Proverbs, xv, 11, the word occurs in conjunction with Sheol.