03.05.04 Jonathan the High Priest and Governor, Jewish Anti-Semitism Grows

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 15, 2016  -  Comments Off on 03.05.04 Jonathan the High Priest and Governor, Jewish Anti-Semitism Grows

03.05.04 153 B.C. Jonathan the High Priest and Governor, Jewish Anti-Semitism Grows

Jonathan, of the freedom-fighting Maccabean family, took the position of high priest. This was with full disregard of the fact that the Maccabean family belonged to the Jehoiarib division of priests and, therefore, was not eligible for the office.  While in this position, he also held the offices of governor as well as military dictator.  While the Jewish people rejoiced in the victory afforded them, they were saddened at their power hungry leadership.  This set the stage for the Maccabean dynasty, a/k/a the Hasmonean dynasty since Jonathan was a son of Mattathias, a son of the priest Hasmon.  Scholars strongly believe that the term “wicked priest” found in the Dead Sea Scrolls refers to this Jonathan.[1]

Soon the Hasmonean rulers began persecution against other Jews, namely members of the Zadok dynasty who were the only legitimate Jews who could offer sacrifices in the temple and serve as High Priest.  As a result, the remainder of the Zadok clan moved into the desert wilderness near Damascus to join others who had relocated there some three decades earlier. By the 120s B.C., the descendants of the powerful Hasmoneans became known as the Sadducees while the descendants of the Zadok Dynasty became known as the Essenes.  These two groups hated each other as much as they later hated the new believers of the Christian movement.  Since many Essenes lived near Damascus in the first century (A.D.), it is very possible that Saul (later known as the Apostle Paul) chose to go to the Syrian capital to kill both Essenes and Christians.  While all this theological violence was going on, the Sadducees and Pharisees emerged as rival religious parties in the temple.[2]

[1]. The “wicked priest” is mentioned in the Dead Sea Scroll Habakkuk commentary 1QpHab and in the commentary of Psalm 37 4QpPs.

[2]. Wilkinson, Jerusalem as Jesus Knew It. 68.

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