Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Pinchas and the priesthood

From Parshat Tetzaveh:

כא  בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד מִחוּץ לַפָּרֹכֶת אֲשֶׁר עַל-הָעֵדֻת, יַעֲרֹךְ אֹתוֹ אַהֲרֹן וּבָנָיו מֵעֶרֶב עַד-בֹּקֶר--לִפְנֵי יְהוָה:  חֻקַּת עוֹלָם לְדֹרֹתָם, מֵאֵת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.  {ס} 21 In the tent of meeting, without the veil which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall set it in order, to burn from evening to morning before the LORD; it shall be a statute for ever throughout their generations on the behalf of the children of Israel. {S}

מג  וְהָיוּ עַל-אַהֲרֹן וְעַל-בָּנָיו בְּבֹאָם אֶל-אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד, אוֹ בְגִשְׁתָּם אֶל-הַמִּזְבֵּחַ לְשָׁרֵת בַּקֹּדֶשׁ, וְלֹא-יִשְׂאוּ עָוֹן, וָמֵתוּ:  חֻקַּת עוֹלָם לוֹ, וּלְזַרְעוֹ אַחֲרָיו.  {ס}
43 And they shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they go in unto the tent of meeting, or when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy place; that they bear not iniquity, and die; it shall be a statute for ever unto him and unto his seed after him. {S}

יט  וְרָחֲצוּ אַהֲרֹן וּבָנָיו, מִמֶּנּוּ, אֶת-יְדֵיהֶם, וְאֶת-רַגְלֵיהֶם. 19 And Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat;
כ  בְּבֹאָם אֶל-אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד, יִרְחֲצוּ-מַיִם--וְלֹא יָמֻתוּ; אוֹ בְגִשְׁתָּם אֶל-הַמִּזְבֵּחַ לְשָׁרֵת, לְהַקְטִיר אִשֶּׁה לַיהוָה. 20 when they go into the tent of meeting, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to cause an offering made by fire to smoke unto the LORD;
כא  וְרָחֲצוּ יְדֵיהֶם וְרַגְלֵיהֶם, וְלֹא יָמֻתוּ; וְהָיְתָה לָהֶם חָק-עוֹלָם לוֹ וּלְזַרְעוֹ, לְדֹרֹתָם.  {פ} 21 so they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not; and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations.' {P}

יא  פִּינְחָס בֶּן-אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן-אַהֲרֹן הַכֹּהֵן, הֵשִׁיב אֶת-חֲמָתִי מֵעַל בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, בְּקַנְאוֹ אֶת-קִנְאָתִי, בְּתוֹכָם; וְלֹא-כִלִּיתִי אֶת-בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, בְּקִנְאָתִי.11 'Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned My wrath away from the children of Israel, in that he was very jealous for My sake among them, so that I consumed not the children of Israel in My jealousy.
יב  לָכֵן, אֱמֹר:  הִנְנִי נֹתֵן לוֹ אֶת-בְּרִיתִי, שָׁלוֹם.12 Wherefore say: Behold, I give unto him My covenant of peace;
יג  וְהָיְתָה לּוֹ וּלְזַרְעוֹ אַחֲרָיו, בְּרִית כְּהֻנַּת עוֹלָם--תַּחַת, אֲשֶׁר קִנֵּא לֵאלֹהָיו, וַיְכַפֵּר, עַל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.13 and it shall be unto him, and to his seed after him, the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was jealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel.'

It appears to me that the descendants of Aharon/Aaron were already promised the priesthood, so what's the big deal about Pinchas?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because he wasn't. Aaron and his sons (not grandsons) were. Pinchas was alive at the time, so they weren't part of the group that became kohanim. It went Aaron, his sons, and any sons born thereafter. Since Pinchas was already alive, he was a stam levi.

Think of it this way. An immigrant couple comes to America, leaving their two grown children in Honduras. The immigrant couple become citizens. If they have a kid, that kid is a citizen. But what about the two kids in Honduras? They aren't citizens unless something happens.

Wed Mar 11, 03:46:00 PM 2015  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

What about the "throughout their generations" part of these quotes? What else could that mean, other than all the descendants of Aharon would be priests?

Wed Mar 11, 05:22:00 PM 2015  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Parshat P'kudei, Exodus 40:

טו וּמָשַׁחְתָּ אֹתָם, כַּאֲשֶׁר מָשַׁחְתָּ אֶת-אֲבִיהֶם, וְכִהֲנוּ, לִי; וְהָיְתָה לִהְיֹת לָהֶם מָשְׁחָתָם, לִכְהֻנַּת עוֹלָם--לְדֹרֹתָם. 15 And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto Me in the priest's office; and their anointing shall be to them for an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations.'

How is this not a hereditary priesthood from the very beginning?

Wed Mar 11, 05:49:00 PM 2015  
Blogger The Reform Baal Teshuvah said...

Anonymous 3:46 is citing the Rashi on the text to explain this problem.

Put another way, Pnchas' father was not yet a priest at the time of his birth, so Pinchas is shunted.

But consider another possibility: Pinchas my have been a priest the whole time, but now something special is happening, and Pinchas will go on to become the first Army Chaplain

Wed Mar 11, 10:10:00 PM 2015  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

First Army Chaplain. An interesting possibility, given that the Israelites were going to be engaged in a war of conquest.

Thu Mar 12, 10:14:00 AM 2015  

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