Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/334

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320
PRIEST


But it is soon learned that a similar physical state can be produced artificially, and at the Canaanite sanctuaries this was done on a large scale. We see from I Kings xviii., 2 Kings x., that great Baal temples had two classes of ministers, kéhcinim and-nébhiim, priests ” and “ prophets, " and as the former bear a name which primarily denotes a soothsayer, so the latter are also a kind of priests who do sacrihcial service with a wild ritual of their own How deeply the orgiastic character was stamped on the priesthoods of north Semitic nature-worship is clear from Greek and Roman accounts, such as that of Appuleius (Melam. bk. viii.). The Hebrews, who made the language of Canaan their own, took also the Canaanite name for a priest. But the earliest forms of Hebrew priesthood are not Canaanite in character; the priest, as he appears in the older records of the time ot the judges, Eli at Shiloh, Jonathan in the private temple of Micah and at Dan, is much liker the soidin than the kdh1'n.' The whole structure of Hebrew society at the time of the conquest was almost precisely that of a federation of Arab tribes, and the religious ordinances are scarcely distinguishable from those of Arabia, save oniy that the great deliverance of the Exodus and the period when Moses, sitting in judgment at the sanctuary of Kadesh, had for a whole generation impressed the sovereignty of jehovah on all the tribes, had created an idea of unity between the scattered settlements in Canaan such as the Arabs before Mahomet never had. But neither in civil nor in religious life was this ideal unity ex ressed in fixed institutions, the old individualism of the gemitic nomad still held its ground. Thus the first lings, first-fruits and vows are still the free gift of the individual which no human authority exacts, and which every householder presents and consumes with his circle in a sacrificial feast without priestly aid. As in Arabia, the ordinary sanctuary is still a. sacred stone (H;1i;;> = nosb) set up under the open heaven, and here the blood of the victim is poured out as an offering to God (see especially I Sam. xiv. 34, and cf. 2 Sam. xxiii. 16, 17). The priest has no place in this ritual; he is not the minister of an altar? but the guardian of a temple, such as was already found here and there in the land for the custody of sacred images and palladia or other consecrated things (the ark at Shiloh, 1 Sam. iii. 3; images in Micah's temple, judges xvii. 5.; Goliath's sword lying behind the “ ephod " or plated image at Nob, 1 Sam. xxi. 9; no doubt also money, a sin the Canaanite temple at Shechem, judges ix. 4). Such treasures required a guardian; but, above all, wherever there was a temple there was an oracle, a kind of sacred lot, just as in Arabia (I Sam. xiv. 41, Sept.), which could only be drawn where there was an “ ephod " and a priest (1 Sam. xiv. 18, Sept., and xxiii. 6 seq.). The Hebrews had already possessed a tent-temple and oracle of this kind in the wilderness (Exod. xxxiii. 7 seq.), of which Moses was the priest and loshua the aedituus, and ever since that time the judgment of God through the priest at the sanctuary had a greater weight than the word of a seer, and was the ultimate solution of every controversy and claim (I Sam. ii. 25; Exod. xxi. 6, xxii. 8, 9, where for “ judge, " “ judges, " of A.V. read “ God " with R.V.). The temple at Shiloh, where the ark was preserved, was the lineal descendant of the Mosaic sanctuary -for it was not the place but the palladium and its oracle that were the essential thing-and its priests claimed kin with Moses himself. In the divided state of the nation, indeed, this sanctuary was hardly visited from beyond Mt Ephraim; and every man or tribe that cared to provide the necessary apparatus (ephod, teraphim, &c.) and hire a priest might have a temple and oracle of his own at which to consult Iehovah (judges xvii., xviii.); but there was hardly another sanctuary of equal dignity. The priest of Shiloh is a much greater person than Micah's priest jonathan; at the great 1 This appears even in the words used as synonyms for “ priest " num, qun ~|:r:, which exactly corresponds to .rlidin and hdjib. That the name of mn was borrowed from the Canaanites appears certain, for that out of the multiplicity of words for soothsayers and the like common to Hebrew and Arabic (either formed from a common root or expressing exactly the same idea~'Jif'}¥, 'arraf; 1;t, habir; run, nth, hazi; ooh, cf. istiksam) the two nations should have chosen the same one independently to mean a priest is, in view of the great difference in character between old Hebrew and Canaanite priesthoods, inconceivable. Besides iff: Hebrew has the word Ts: (pl. owns), which, however, is not a plied to priests, of the national religion. This, in fact, is the old lgramaic word for a priest (with suffixed article, kumrd). Its origin is obscure. In the Aramaic papyri discovered near Assouan (Syene) 1o:'is priest of the gods (Cowley and Sayce, Pap. E. line 15), presumably Khnum and Set; and in Sachau's Pap. I. line 5, N'7DJ definitely mean the priests of the god Hntib. This coincides with the Hebrew use of the term as idolatrous priests, Hos. x. 5; Zeph. i. 4; 2 Kin s xxiii. 5. 2 It is not clear from I Sam. ii. 15 whether even at éhiloh the priest had anything to do with sacrifice, whether those who burned the fat were the worshippers themselves or some subordinate ministers of the Temple. Certainly it was not the “ priest ” who did so, for he in this narrative is always in the singular. Hophni and Phinehas are not called priests, though they bore the ark and so were priests in the sense of Josh. iii.

feasts he sits enthroned by the doorway, preserving decorum among the worshippers; he has certain legal dues, and, if he is disposed to exact more, no one ventures to resist (I Sam. ii. 12 seq., where the text needs a slight correction). The priestly position of the family survived the fall of Shiloh and the capture of the ark, and it was members of this house who consulted Jehovah for the early kings until Solomon deposed Abiathar. Indeed, though priesthood was not yet tied to one family, so that Micah's son, or Eleazar of Kirjath-jearim (1 Sam. vii. 1), or David's sons (2 Sam. viii. 18) could all be priests, a Levite-that is, a man of Moses' tribe-was already preferred for the office elsewhere than at Shiloh (Judges xvii. 13), and such a priest naturally handed down his place to his posterity (Judges xviii. 30).

Ultimately, indeed, as sanctuaries were multiplied and the priests all over the land came to form one well-marked class, “ Levite " and legitimate priest became equivalent expressions, as is explained in the article LEVITES. But between the priesthood of Eli at Shiloh or of jonathan at Dan and the priesthood of the Levites as described in Deut. xxxiii. 8 seq. there lies a period of the inner history of which we know almost nothing. It is plain that the various priestly colleges regarded themselves as one order, that they had common traditions of law and ritual which were traced back to Moses, and common interests which had not been vindicated without a struggle (Deut., ut supra). The kingship had not deprived them of their functions as fountains of divine judgment (cf. Deut. xvii. 8 seq.); on the contrary, the decisions of the sanctuary had grown up into a body of sacred law, which the priests administered according to a traditional precedent. According to Semitic ideas the declaration of law is quite a distinct function from the enforcing of it, and the royal executive came into no collision with the purely declaratory functions of the priests. The latter, on the contrary, must have grown in importance with the unification and progress of the nation, and in all probability the consolidation of the priesthood into one class went hand in hand with a consolidation of legal tradition. And this work'must have been well done, for, though the general corruption of society at the beginning, of the Assyrian period was nowhere more conspicuous than at the sanctuaries and among the priesthood, the invective of Hos. iv. equally with the eulogium of Deut. xxxiii. proves that the position which the later priests abused had been won by ancestors who earned the respect of the nation as worthy representatives of a divine Torah. The ritual functions of the priesthood still appear in Deut. xxxiii. as secondary to that of declaring the sentence of God, but they were no longer insignificant. With the prosperity of the nation, and especially through the absorption of the Canaanites and of their 'holy places, ritual had become much more elaborate, and in royal sanctuaries at least there were regular public offerings maintained by the king and presented by the riests (cf. 2 Kings xvi. 15). Private sacrifices, too, could hardly be ogered without some riestly aid now' that ritual was more complex; the provision ofp Deut. xviii. as to the priestly dues is certainly ancient, and shows that besides the tribute of first-fruits and the like the priests had a fee in kind for each sacrifice, as we find to have been the case among the Phoenicians according to the sacrificial tablet of Marseilles. Their judicial functions also brought profit to the priests, fines being exacted for certain offences and paid to them (2 Kings xii. 16; Hos. iv. 8; Amos ii. 8). The greater priestly officesi were therefore in every respect Very important places, and the priests of the royal sanctuaries were among the grandees of the realm (2 Sam. viii. 18; 2 Kings x. II, xii. 2); minor offices in the sanctuaries were in the patronage of the great priests and were often miserable enough, ” the petty priest depending largely on what “ customers " he could find (2 Kings xii. 7 [8]; Deut. xviii. 8). That at least the reater offices were hereditary-as in the case of the sons of Zadoi, who succeeded to the royal priesthood in Jerusalem after the fall of Abiathar-was almost a matter of course as society was then constituted, but there is not the slightest trace of an hereditary hierarchy ofiiciatin by divine right, such as existed after the exile. The sons of § adok, the priests of the royal chapel, were the king's servants as absolutely as any other great officers of state; they owed their place to the fiat of King Solomon; and the royal will was supreme in all matters of cultus (2 Kin s xii., xvi. 10 seq.); indeed the monarchs of judah, like those of otiier nations, did sacrifice in person when they chose down to the time of the captivity/ (I Kings ix. 25; 2 Kings xvi. 12 seq.; Jer. xxx. 21). And as the sons of Zadok had no divine right as against the kings, so too they had no claim to be more legitimate than the priests of the local sanctuaries, who also were reckoned to the tribe which in the 7th century B.C. was recognized as havin been divinely set apart as ]ehovah's ministers in the days of l/lgoses (Deut. x. 8, xviii. 1 seq.). The steps which prepared the way for the post-exile hierarchy, the destruction of the northern sanctuaries and priesthoods by the Assyrians, the polemic of the spiritual prophets against the corruptions of popular worship, which issued in the reformation of Josiah, the suppression of the provincial shrines of ludah and the transference of their ministers to Jlerusalem, the successful resistance of the sons 3 See 1 Sam. ii. 36, a passage written after the hereditary dignity of the sons of Zadok at Jerusalem was well established.