High priest list in 1Chr 9 & Neh 11

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at sil.org
Wed Feb 28 13:09:53 EST 2001

Ian, you wrote: "I'd be interested in any *non-apologetic* thoughts on the
subject." So I quite deliberately avoided anything like of this nature. I
accept that one or two assumptions may have crept in, but I know you will be
careful to eradicate these from your work. I trust you will also eradicate
such presuppositions as that 1 Esdras has priority over Ezra (I would
suggest that the shortened list in 1 Esdras 8:1-2 is a result of bad
translation of the original in Ezra, and that in general shorter lists are
secondary to longer ones, but I can't prove it). Also I see no evidence for
taking Nehemiah 11:11 as in any sense a "high-priestly" genealogy,
especially when 12:10-11 and 12:26 seem to give the genealogy of the family
line elsewhere called high priests. But I don't want to descend into
apologetics. So I will leave this one with you. If, despite what you wrote,
you are not interested in my thoughts (is it because of my other views
rather than because of their contents?), then you are welcome to ignore
them. I would at least expect your thanks for pointing out an error, which I
never claimed was more than a copying error.

Peter Kirk

-----Original Message-----
From: Ian Hutchesson [mailto:mc2499 at mclink.it]
Sent: 27 February 2001 12:17
To: Biblical Hebrew
Subject: Re: High priest list in 1Chr 9 & Neh 11

>Correction: the name Meshullam, not Shallum, appears in the Nehemiah list
>and Shallum, not Meshullam, in the 1Chr 6 list,

I merely made a copying error, Peter. If you look at the first comparative
list you'll see the real situation. I then added the 1 Chr 6 list to the
right and decided it would be better to put it to the left in order to put
it in closer parallel to 1 Chr 9 and allow the Josephus data to be next to
Neh 11.

>which is 1Chr 5:38-40 in
>Hebrew. This makes this list less parallel than the 1Chr 9 and Nehemiah

1Chr 6:12f   1Chr 9:11    Neh 11:11   AJ 10,8,6

Seraiah                   Seraiah     Sareas
Azariah      Azariah        -             -
Hilkiah      Hilkiah      Hilkiah     Elcias
Shallum      Meshullam    Meshullam   Sallumus
Zadok        Zadok        Zadok         <.>
   -         Meraioth     Meraioth      <.>
Ahitub       Ahitub       Ahitub        <.>

It is the fact that Meshullam is the same in both 1 Chr 9 and Neh 11 that
ties the two lists together, it along with the name Meraioth. So, you should
be able to see that 1 Chr 6 belongs to a different sub-tradition and of
little direct relevance to the problem being dealt with, other than to show
how Seraiah could have been changed to Azariah.

>Also relevant data is that in the books of Ezra (earlier part, also 10:18),

As I said elsewhere I have worked on thi stuff many, many months, Peter. I
am well aware of nearly all, if not all, the lists in the biblical and
non-biblical tradition. (This is why I was seeking the Seder Olam data.)

>Haggai and Zechariah the high priest is Joshua/Jeshua son of J(eh)ozadak,
>and in 1Chr 6 Jehozadak is the son of Seraiah and is dated as having been
>deported by Nebuchadnezzar.


>But then in Ezra 7:1-5 we have the genealogy
>below (presumably not intended to be complete)

Why do you presume that??

>which parallels 1Chr 6.

As it's not "complete", it doesn't.

>that there is a repeated sequence of four names in the 1Chr genealogy which
>is skipped over in Ezra.


>One quite probable explanation is that there was a
>real repeated sequence of names because the priests deliberately chose to
>follow the sequence of names of their ancestors. The list in Ezra could
>been shortened either deliberately or by accidental haplography.

Before saying this sort of thing, try looking at the source of the Ezra list
in the Vorlage to 1 Esdras.

Why do you presume that the 1 Chr 6 list has priority over Ezra 7?

>The same
>principle of deliberate repetition could have produced the very similar
>in 1Chr 9 and Nehemiah.

Why? Are you arguing that the 1 Chr 9 and Neh 11 lists are fabrications?

>Of course Ezra could hardly have actually been the
>son of the pre-exilic Seraiah,

You're trying to be "historical" when you have no idea of the historicity of
the texts you are working with. Try to date them before you use them for
historical purposes. I am working with texts and how they relate to each

>he is more likely to have been the son of the
>Seraiah in Nehemiah's list.

And how do you distinguish between these two Seraiahs without
presuppositions of priority?

>Also Ezra is not called high priest,

No-one is claiming directly that Ezra was a high priest. It is sufficient
for the writer that he was of the direct Zadokite lineage -- and that he was
a scribe!

>he was a younger son or descendant of a younger son.

More presuming for no manifest reason.

>Nor is Seraiah in
>Nehemiah 11:11,

But then, Peter, who in Nehemiah is called a high priest, notwithstanding
the high priestly nature of the lists in 12:10-11 and 12:26 and the priest
Eliashib in 13:4.

>so the simplest suggestion may be that he was (the
>post-exilic) Azariah son of Hilkiah's younger brother.

There is no reason I can see for you claiming this. There is nothing simple
(nor evidence-based) about this suggestion.

>Neh 12:10 seems to give a further list of descendants of Jeshua son of
>Jehozadak: Jeshua - Joaikim - Eliashib - Joiada - Jonathan - Jaddua.
>was certainly son of Jeshua son of Jehozadak: 12:26.


>But this seems to have
>been a separate family line from that of Azariah and Seraiah.


You've been presuming and seeming a lot in here, Peter. I didn't need an
overnight harmonization of the lists. If you work with all the information,
you'll find a lot of disparate fragments. If you work with that data, you'll
find different sub-traditions, such as the one embodied in 1 Chr 9 and Neh
11 and that in 1 Esdras 8 and Ezra 7.

The Josephus high priestly list in AJ 10,8,6 is partially dependent on the
same tradition as 1 Chr 9 and Neh 11, as it doesn't have Azariah.

As the Ezra 7 list is based on 1 Esdras 8 (and I can show elsewhere a
priority of 1 Esdras over Ezra) the Josephus data starts to become relevant
here, for he is dependent on the 1 Esdras text and not Ezra, knows the last
chapter of 1 Esdras not as it is incorporated into Nehemiah, but in situ.

One has to contemplate an early rabbinical redaction to provide us with the
current Ezra-Nehemiah from 1 Esdras, the Nehemiah memoir and fragments such
as that reflected in 1 Chr 9. Josephus is a testimony to the prior literary
situation, hence the rabbinical dating.]


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