Eliashib (High Priest)

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Eliashib the High Priest is mentioned in Nehemiah 12:10,22 and 3:1, 20-21,13:28 and possibly the Book of Ezra 10:6 of the Hebrew Bible. Some also place him in different parts of Nehemiah including 12:23 and 13:4,7, but this is disputed. Nehemiah 3:20-21 places his home between the area of two working groups constructing the walls of Jerusalem on the north side of the city. He helped with the refortification of this wall (Neh 3:1). The size of his house indicated his wealth and high socio-economic status (Neh 3:23-21). This places him as someone who lived during the time of Nehemiah, and as a result, probably Ezra also. In the year 445 BCE, Eliashib was the high priest when Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem in the 20th year of Artaxerxes I (Nehemiah 1:1, 2:1).[1]

Josephus puts Eliashib as a contemporary of Ezra during the reign of Xerxes, in Ant. 11.5,6-8. He also dates his reign as high priest through the reign of Cyrus, also called by the Greeks, Artaxerxes. This is the Artaxerxes depicted in the Book of Esther. Josephus outlines this story in Antiq.11:185- Antiq 11:297. The last quotation of this story states, "When Eliasib the high priest was dead, his son Judas succeeded in the high priesthood."(Antiq 11:297)

Eliashib's grandson was married to the daughter of Sanballat the Horonite (Neh 13:28), and while Nehemiah was absent in Babylon Eliashib had leased the storerooms of the temple to Sanballat's associate Tobiah the Ammonite. When Nehemiah returned he threw Tobiah's furniture out of the temple and drove out Eliashib's grandson (Neh 13:4-9). This may be the political background to the allegorical vision of Satan, the Angel of the Lord and Eliashib's (possibly deceased) grandfather Joshua the High Priest in Zechariah 3.

References[edit]

  1. ^ VanderKam, From Joshua to Caiaphas (The High Priests of the Persian Period)