Eleazar part 1
by John Thomas Lowe
Eleazar part 1
Eleazar is the Hebrew High Priest, succeeding Aaron, his father, after death. He was the third son of Aaron and Elisheba and was in charge of the entire tabernacle, including its holy furnishings and articles.
Parents: Aaron, Elisheba
Siblings: Ithamar, Abihu
Eleazar was one of four sons born to Aaron, Moses' brother and high priest of the Israelites. Like his father and brothers, Eleazar was consecrated as a priest in service to the Lord (Exodus 28:1). Eleazar is often featured in the account of the Israelites' wanderings in the wilderness.
Eleazar and his brother Ithamar remained faithful in their service, but Eleazar's other brothers did not. Nadab and Abihu "offered unauthorized fire to the LORD" in the desert of Sinai (Leviticus 10:1; Numbers 3:4). 4 Nadab and Abihu, however, died before the LORD when they made an offering with unauthorized fire before him in the Desert of Sinai. They had no sons, so Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests during the lifetime of their father Aaron.─Numbers 3:4
Because they did not respect the Lord and honor His commands, God destroyed both of them with fire. God commanded Aaron, Eleazar, and Ithamar to refrain from mourning through Moses. They had been consecrated with oil and were to remain at the tabernacle on pain of death. God also gave them instructions never to drink alcohol when the time came to enter the tent of meeting and told them how to present the food offerings. These men and their families were allowed to eat the leftover food offerings, provided they followed specific rules (Leviticus 10:12–15).
Eleazar eventually became the chief of all the Levites, the Israelite tribe God had set apart for priestly service, and he was in charge of the workings of the tabernacle (Numbers 3:32; 4:16). While the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, Eleazar was responsible for offering sacrifices on behalf of the people (Numbers 19:1–8). When Korah, Dathan, and Abiram gathered 250 men and rebelled against Moses, God ordered Korah and the 250 men to burn incense before Him. God then judged Korah and his followers by sending fire to consume them (Numbers 16:35). Eleazar was given the horrible job of sifting through the ashes to gather the censers the men had used to burn the incense. The censers were to be melted down, hammered into sheets, and overlaid on the Altar in the tabernacle.
In Numbers 20:22–29, on the day of Aaron's death on Mount Horeb, Moses took Aaron and Eleazar up the peak to transfer Aaron's priestly garments to Eleazar. This gesture was a ceremonial confirmation that Eleazar took over for his father as high priest. Eleazar continued as a high priest for the rest of his life, serving the Israelites as a mediator, adviser, and intercessor before the Lord. Eleazar commissioned Joshua as Moses' successor and later helped with such matters as the division of land when the Israelites finally took possession of Canaan (Numbers 34:17; Joshua 14:1; 19:51).
During the time of King Solomon, Zadok was appointed as the high priest, returning that office to the family of Eleazar (1 Kings 2:35). Eleazar had a son named Phineas, who also served the Lord faithfully (see Numbers 25). Eleazar eventually passed away and was buried in Gibeah, the land given to his son Phineas when the Israelites settled in the Promised Land.
The high priest was chosen from Eleazar's line for seven generations, until the time of Eli, who was of the house of Eleazar's brother Ithamar.
There are seven other men named Eleazar found in the Bible, although none quite as noteworthy as Aaron's son. Some were Levitical priests, one was of the same line as Jesus, one was known for having married and divorced a foreign wife, and even fought the Philistines "till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword" (2 Samuel 23:10). You can read about each of these other men named Eleazar in 1 Samuel 7:1; 2 Samuel 23:9–10; 1 Chronicles 11:12; 23:21–22 and 24:28; Ezra 8:33; 10:2 and 25; Nehemiah 12:42; and Matthew 1:15)
1. High priest; third son of Aaron. After his two elder brothers, Nadab and Abihu, had suffered death for offering strange fire before the Lord, Eleazar became his father's chief assistant, with the title "Prince of the Princes of the Levites" (Num. 3:32); his functions included the supervision of the oil for the seven-branched candlestick, the incense, and all that pertained to the inner sanctuary (*ib. iv. 16).
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2. Shortly before Aaron's death, Eleazar was clothed in his father's official garments to signify Aaron's successor (ib. 20:25-28). God's commands were now addressed to Moses and Eleazar (ib. 26:1). Eleazar is God's second representative in Israel, besides Moses (ib. 32:28), and even before Joshua (Num. 32:28, 34:17; Josh. 16:1, 17:4, 19:51, 21:1). He was the progenitor (ancestor) of most of the high priests. He was buried "in Gibeah, by Phinehas his son, which was given him in the hill country of Ephraim" (Num. 26:33, R. V.). Eleazar has added to the Book of Joshua the section 26:29-32 (B. B. 15a, 1. 27), and his son Phinehas, verse 33.E. G. H. E. K.
A son of Dodai, an Ahohite (II Sam. xxiii. 9, R. V.), or of Dodo the Ahohite (I Chron. xi. 12); one of the three principal captains of David's army.
3. Fourth son of Mattathias and brother of Judas Maccabeus; surname.
"Avaran" (I Macc. 2:5, Ααράν; ib. 6:43, Σαναράν for Αὐαράν Josephus, "Ant." 7:6, § 1, Αὐρράν). He distinguished himself by a courageous act at the battle of Bet-Zekaryah (162 B.C.), when the Jews under Judas Maccabeus were hard-pressed by the sizeable Syrian army commanded by Lysias and encouraged by the presence of the youthful king Antiochus Eupator. Eleazar, seeing among the enemy's elephants armed with royal breastplates taller than the rest, concluded it carried the king. Wishing to put an end to the misery of his people and being desirous of gaining everlasting fame for himself, Eleazar fought his way through the ranks of the enemy and, creeping under the elephant, speared it from beneath, the animal crushing him in its fall (I Macc. 6:43-46; Josephus, l.c. 7:9, § 4; idem, "B. J." i. 1, § 5). Because of this deed, Eleazar is specially mentioned in a midrash (Rashi to Deut. 33:11; comp. Megillat Antiochus," ed. Gaster, verses 63, 64).II Maccabees does not mention Eleazar, and Josephus modifies the account in his "Wars," following the story of I Macc. 6:43 only in his "Antiquities." Eleazar is included among the seventy translators of the Bible that are mentioned in the Letter of Aristeas (§ 50), and scholars have assumed that this fictitious name was taken from that of the Maccabean (Wendland, in Kautzsch, "Apokryphen," 2:3). In the Syrian document, however, the name reads "Eliezer" (Wendland, "Aristeas," p. 143, Leipsic, 1900).Bibliography: Grätz, Gesch. ii. 363; Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., i. 213; Willrich, Judaica, p. 149, Göttingen, 1900; Krauss, in Rev. Et. Juives, xxx. 216; for the name "Avaran" see Fritsche, Kurzgefasstes Exegetisches Handbuch to I Macc. ii. 5, and Zöckler, Kurzgefasstes Commentar, ibid.E. G. H. E. K. S. Kr.
4. Son of Ananias, the high priest. Though belonging to a family which strove to maintain friendly terms with the Romans, he induced his priestly colleagues to discontinue the daily sacrifice for the emperor and to decline presents from the pagans ("B. J." ii. 17, §§ 2-4), thereby causing a rupture with the Romans. The rebels, under the leadership of Eleazar, took possession of the lower city and the Temple and fought for seven days with the peace party. The Sicarii under Menahem attacked the peace party, killing Ananias and Hezekiah. This led to a conflict between the parties of Menahem and Eleazar, in which the former was defeated and driven from Jerusalem. Eleazar also attacked the Roman garrison that had retired to the fortified towers—Hippicus, Phasælus, and Mariamne; the Romans capitulated and surrendered their arms on condition of free retreat but were all massacred by the rebels (Josephus, "B. J." ii. 17, §§ 2-10). Meg. Ta'an. 11 refers to this event. The Romans retired from Judah and Jerusalem on the 17th of Elul. It seems that Eleazar had coins struck in his name, with the inscription: "The First Year of the Liberation of Jerusalem." On the organization of the rebellion Eleazar, with Jesus b. Sapphires were appointed general of Idumea ("B. J." ii. 20, § 4, reading' A νανιον instead of υἱὸν Nέον). Grätz's opinion that Eleazar is identical with Eleazar b. Ananiah b. Hezekiah Garon is inadmissible. In Yosippon, ch. 95-97, Eleazar b. Ananiah is confounded with Eleazar ben Jair (see Albinus; Ananias).Bibliography: Grätz, Gesch. 4th ed., iii. 453, 471; Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., i. 602; Schlatter, Zur Topographie und Gesch. Pakistanis, p. 368; Madden, History of Jewish Coinage, pp. 161-166; Levy, Gesch. der Jüdischen Münzen, p. 88; Agadat Shir ha-Shirim, ed. Schechter, pp. 47, 96.