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Azariah III

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This article is about the third of the high priests of Israel of this name. For other uses, see Azariah (disambiguation).

Azariah III (Hebrew: עזריה, ʼAzāryāh; "Name means::helped by YHWH") (ca. 757/6–fl. 726695/4 BC) was the twenty-third high priest of Israel and a prize example of a good son following a bad father.

Flavius Josephus[1] and the Seder 'Olam Zuṭa[2] both call him "Neriah," meaning "light of YHWH." This could be a variation on the name of his father Urijah, whose name means flame of YHWH. (Jeremiah mentions another man named Neriah who was the father of a courtier named Baruch; see Jeremiah 32:12 . But this cannot be the same man, as he lived much later.)

Genealogy

 
 
 
Jotham
 
 
 
grandson of::Zechariah II
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Ahaz
 
Abi
 
son of::Urijah
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Hephzibah
 
Hezekiah
 
 
 
Azariah III
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Manasseh
 
Meshullemeth
 
Hoshea
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Jedidah
 
Amon
 
 
 
Shallum
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Josiah
 
 
 
 
 
ancestor of::Hilkiah

This Azariah was the great-grandson of Azariah II, who famously confronted his brother-in-law, King Uzziah of Judah, after the king tried to burn holy incense in the Temple of Jerusalem. He was also the first cousin of King Hezekiah, through the child marriage of his aunt Abi to the future King Ahaz.

Career

Azariah took the ephod probably at the age of thirty, the minimum age at which he would be eligible to perform sacerdotal duties. The circumstances of his father's death remain a mystery, but the Bible clearly says that Azariah was the high priest in the first regnal year of Hezekiah.

Reopening of the Temple

Hezekiah's father and predecessor had closed the Temple. In the very first day of his first official year (Hezekiah reckoned his years through accession dating), Hezekiah ordered that the Temple be reopened and repaired.[3][4][5][6][7][8][3][9][10][11][12] The king then called an assembly of the priests and the Levites and delivered a stern speech, in which he spared no criticism of his ancestors and of the policies of his father. He ended with an order that the assembled men begin at once the process of ritual sanctification, so that they would be fit to carry out Temple rites according to Levitical law.

In accordance with Hezekiah's further orders, the priests and Levites cleaned out all the idolatrous and other improper elements from one end of the Temple to the other—a process that took eight days. They then took another eight days to sanctify the Temple itself.

The first offerings

Next Hezekiah ordered a great sin offering of seven bullocks, seven rams, seven lambs, and seven he-goats. After this Hezekiah encouraged all the people to bring their own sacrifices, thank offerings, and burnt offerings. The congregants brought so many that the priests could not handle the workload, so the Levites helped them until the work was done.

The Passover

Hezekiah next made a public notice, and also sent copies of this notice to the people in Manasseh, Ephraim, Zebulun, and other remaining tribal provinces in the Kingdom of Israel, inviting all to come join in the observance of a Passover. Normally this ought to have been done in the first month of the religious year—but that was not possible because the priests could not be properly sanctified in time, nor had the people made a pilgrimage. But Hezekiah did not want to wait until the next year, and according to ancient law, he didn't have to.[3][7][9][10][12] (Numbers 9:10-11 )

The total attendance at the Passover is not given, but described merely as "a very great congregation."[10] The Bible does give this clue, however: that Hezekiah provided a thousand bullocks and seven thousand sheep, and the "princes" (either heads-of-families or minor royalty) gave a thousand bullocks and ten thousand sheep.

As they waited until the proper day to kill the Passover lamb, they removed every altar, pagan or otherwise, from everywhere in Jerusalem except the Temple. This must surely have included Ahaz' altar, but did not include his sundial. On the appointed day (the fourteenth day of the month) the priests killed the Passover lamb and began to serve it. Not everyone present was properly sanctified, but they ate the Passover anyway, and Hezekiah prayed for them all.

The congregation continued to celebrate the Passover for the required seven days. Then they decided to celebrate it for seven additional days.

Nationwide Reform

When these celebrations were ended, the people left the city on a campaign to remove every altar, every Asherah pole, and every high place.[8][12][13][11]

Hezekiah then re-established the incense-burning and other Levitical rotations, or "courses," and also reinstituted the tithe. In response, his people sent in offerings so generous that in four months' time they literally had heaps of farm produce and livestock too numerous to store. Azariah delivered an enthusiastic report that the priestly portion was so generous that the priests had ample surplus. (2_Chronicles 31:7-10 ) Hezekiah ordered the priests to build storehouses to keep everything. The tithes continued.

Invasion

During the invasion of Judah by Sennacherib, Azariah does not appear to have played any prominent role. The chief adviser to King Hezekiah was the prophet Isaiah. Azariah appears to have carried out his duties faithfully and without serious controversy.

Succession

Preceded by
Successor of::Urijah
Member of::High priest
Flourit::Teveth 3278 AMDied::3310 AM
Succeeded by
Succeeded by::Hoshea (high priest)

The Bible does not say for certain when Azariah died. But the Bible says that Manasseh, Hezekiah's successor, killed many innocent men (2_Kings 21:16 ) and also undid most of Hezekiah's reforms. Azariah might have been one of Manasseh's victims. The date of his death is estimated from the number and careers of his next three successors.

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References

  1. Josephus, Antiquities, 10.8.6.153
  2. Hirsch EG, "High priest," The Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906. Accessed January 2, 2009.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Authors unknown. "King Hezekiah - Biography." The Kings of Israel, hosted at http://www.geocities.com/ Accessed May 28, 2007.
  4. Authors unknown. "Hezekiah." Great Men of the Old Testament. Bethel Church of God, 2002. Accessed May 28, 2007.
  5. Authors unknown. "King Hezekiah." Hebrew University, Israel, 2002. Accessed May 28, 2007.
  6. Authors unknown. "King Hezekiah (further information)." Hebrew University, Israel, 2002. Accessed May 28, 2007.
  7. 7.0 7.1 George Konig, Hezekiah, or Ezekias, King of Judah, AboutBibleProphecy.com, 2007. Accessed May 28, 2007.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'HEZEKIAH (2)'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915. Accessed May 28, 2007.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Klein, Ralph W., Hezekiah in Chronicles and Kings (Isaiah), a synopsis, ed. 2000, 2003
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Kachelman, John L., Jr. "Hezekiah: Portrait of a Good Man." ChristianLibrary.org, 1999. Accessed May 28, 2007.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Authors unknown. "Hezekiah's Profile." Biblical Profiles. Accessed May 30, 2007.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Aust, Jerold, Profiles in Faith: Hezekiah, United Church of God, 2007. Accessed May 30, 2007.
  13. Authors unknown. "Entry for Hezekiah." WebBible Encyclopedia. Accessed May 30, 2007.