Eleazar (pronounced //; Hebrew: אֶלְעָזָר, Modern Elʻazar, Tiberian Elʻāzār ; "El has helped") or Elazar was a priest in the Hebrew Bible, the second Kohen Gadol (High Priest) - succeeding his father Aaron. He was a nephew of Moses.
Eleazar fulfilled a number of functions over the course of the Wilderness wanderings, from creating the plating to the altar out of the firepans of Korah's assembly to performing the ritual of the Red Heifer. After the death of his older brothers Nadab and Abihu, he and his younger brother Ithamar were appointed to the charge of the sanctuary. His wife, a daughter of Putiel, bore him Phinehas, who would eventually succeed him as Kohen Gadol.
Leviticus 10:16-18 records an incident when Moses was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, for failing to eat a sin offering inside the Tabernacle in accordance with the regulations set out in the preceding chapters of Leviticus regarding the entitlement of the priests to a share of the offerings they made on behalf of the Israelite people.
As the Israelites moved through the wilderness during the Exodus journey, Eleazar was responsible for carrying the oil for the lampstand, the sweet incense, the daily grain offering and the anointing oil, and also for oversight of the carriage of the Ark of the Covenant, table for showbread, altar and other Tabernacle fittings which were transported by the Kohathite section of the Levite tribe. Following the rebellion against Moses' leadership recorded in Numbers 16, Eleazar was charged with taking the rebels' bronze censers and hammering them into a covering for the altar, to act as a reminder of the failed rebellion and the restriction of the priesthood to the Aaronid dynasty.
On Mount Hor he was clothed with the sacred vestments, which Moses took from his father Aaron and put upon him as successor to his father in the high priest's office, before Aaron's death. Eleazar held the office of high priest for more than twenty years. He took part with Moses in numbering the people, and assisted at the inauguration of Joshua.
He assisted in the distribution of the land after the conquest. When he died, he "was buried at Gibeah, which had been allotted to his son Phinehas in the hill country of Ephraim". The Hill of Phinehas related in the Bible is associated with the location of the village of Awarta in the Samarian section of the current day West Bank. Due to the uncertain security situation, the Israel Defense Forces limit visits to the site by Jews to one annual night close to the 5th of Shevat (around January–February) on the Hebrew calendar..
The high-priesthood remained in the family of Eleazar until the time of Eli, into whose family it passed. Eli was a descendant of Ithamar, Eleazar's brother. The high priesthood was restored to the family of Eleazar in the person of Zadok after Abiathar was cast out by Solomon.
According to Samaritan sources, a civil war broke out between the Sons of Ithamar and the Sons of Phinehas - which resulted in the division of those who followed Eli and those who followed High Priest Uzzi ben Bukki at Mount Gerizim Bethel (a third group followed neither). Likewise according to Samaritan sources, the high-priestly line of the sons of Phinehas died out in 1624 C.E. with the death of the 112th High Priest Shlomyah ben Pinhas, when the priesthood was transferred to the sons of Itamar; see article Samaritan for list of High Priests from 1613 to 2004-the 131st High priest of the Samaritans is Elazar ben Tsedaka ben Yitzhaq.
Other biblical figures named Eleazar
Five other men named Eleazar are briefly mentioned in the Hebrew Bible:
- Eleazar (son of Aminadab), who was entrusted as a keeper of the Ark of the Covenant
- Eleazar (son of Dodo), one of King David's warriors
- Eleazar (son of Pinhas), one of those in charge of the sacred vessels brought back to Jerusalem after the Babylonian Exile.
- Eleazar, called Avaran who slays a battle elephant in I Maccabees.
- Eleazar, the Hebrew scribe whose martyrdom under Antiochus IV Epiphanes was recounted in II Maccabees.
Simon Perry has argued that the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) refers to Eliezer of Damascus. In Gen 15:4, God says to Abraham, "this man will not be your heir." By locating Lazarus (an abbreviated transcript of Eleazar) outside the gates of Abraham's perceived descendent, but then having him in Abraham's bosom, Jesus is portrayed as radically redefining the covenant.
According to proponents of the Documentary Hypothesis, the Elohist (E) document uses "Eleazar" as the name of the son of Moses (ref. Exodus 18:4). This figure is more commonly referred to with the name Eliezer. Eliezer is also the name of two other minor biblical figures.
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