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Priests as leaders?

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  • Priests as leaders?

    I am reading through Biblical Interpretation by Klein, Blomberg and Hubbard. A question came to mind from the following text (pg 344)
    Examples of priestly instruction include Lev 6-7 (about offerings) and Lev 21 ( about priestly purity). Given their intended audience, it is best to interpret them as texts that concern the duties and expectations specifically of leaders.
    They go on to make a distinction from texts addressing a lay audience. As such the use of 'leaders' is used in antithesis of 'lay audience.' But apart from this logic within the context, I am wondering if basis exists for identifying the priests as leaders, as having some sort of authority or as setting some type of example to the general people of Israel.
    Instead of speaking of them as leaders, I would tend to see the tribe as a mediary group, sort of an intercessory group, to reconcile man with God, per the actions specified in the Pentateuch. A little extension of their role included a legal function of providing the city of refuge for a man to head to if improperly accused of murder.
    Is there any basis to call them leaders? Were they even assigned a duty to teach the people? It seems that they assumed these duties by the time of Christ -- and possibly took on such role more strongly after the fall of the temple, but this would be a later development within Judaism.

  • #2
    Deuteronomy 17:8-13
    If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the Lord thy God shall choose; and thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and enquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment: and thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the Lord shall choose shall shew thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee: according to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do: thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall shew thee, to the right hand, nor to the left. And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the Lord thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel. And all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Obsidian View Post
      Deuteronomy 17:8-13
      If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the Lord thy God shall choose; and thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and enquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment: and thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the Lord shall choose shall shew thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee: according to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do: thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall shew thee, to the right hand, nor to the left. And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the Lord thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel. And all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously.
      That passage is interesting. It shows that the Levites were to instruct the town elders on an issue which the town elders could not properly sort out. The idea of having levels of judicial capability was similar to the earlier era were the initial attempt to decide cases was handled by assigned judges but the tough questions were brought up to Moses.

      We see the Levites were sort of the authority on law ... but only if the towns people could not decide. This is a narrow leadership position only on legal cases brought to them. I am wondering if there were any other leadership roles for the priests.

      We see the Levites instructed people. But this instruction again was only on issues brought to the Levites. I am wondering if any other instructive roles were supposed to be taken by the Levites.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by mikewhitney View Post
        I am reading through Biblical Interpretation by Klein, Blomberg and Hubbard. A question came to mind from the following text (pg 344)


        They go on to make a distinction from texts addressing a lay audience. As such the use of 'leaders' is used in antithesis of 'lay audience.' But apart from this logic within the context, I am wondering if basis exists for identifying the priests as leaders, as having some sort of authority or as setting some type of example to the general people of Israel.
        Instead of speaking of them as leaders, I would tend to see the tribe as a mediary group, sort of an intercessory group, to reconcile man with God, per the actions specified in the Pentateuch. A little extension of their role included a legal function of providing the city of refuge for a man to head to if improperly accused of murder.
        Is there any basis to call them leaders? Were they even assigned a duty to teach the people? It seems that they assumed these duties by the time of Christ -- and possibly took on such role more strongly after the fall of the temple, but this would be a later development within Judaism.
        Does the book assume the Documentary Hypothesis?
        Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. St. John Chrysostom

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