Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Uzziah the King-Priest

Currently I am slowly making my way through Margaret Barker's most recent book The Mother of the Lord Volume 1: The Lady in the Temple where she makes an interesting assertion which I wanted to note here.

In several of her books she argues that the ancient Israelite kings were also Melchizedek priests who were adherents of a more ancient tradition than the one that is dominantly portrayed in the Bible. Sometime in the 8th century BC a movement lead by a group scholars have named the "Deuteronomists" redacted the Hebrew Bible and "cleansed" the older tradition of elements they disagreed with. They emphasized the Mosaic tradition, were hostile to the monarchy and promoted the power of the Aaronic priesthood.

The King Uzziah Stricken with Leprosy, byRembrandt, 1635.
One of the kings of Judah during this time was named Uzziah (aka Azariah). 2 Chronicles 26 records that Uzziah clashed with the Aaronite priests (led by the high priest, also named Azariah) on one occasion when he entered the temple to offer incense.

Barker suggests that this clash had to do with the ongoing power struggle between the traditional Melchizedek priest-kings and their Aaronic priest rivals. This is what she says on page 90:

"Did the conflict with Azariah the priest mark the moment when the older royal priesthood lost its power to the rising influence of Deuteronomy, Moses and the Aaronites? Was this the moment when Wisdom and the older ways began to fade from Jerusalem and to be replaced by exclusive emphasis on the Law (Deut 4.6)?...

"According to the Chronicler, Uzziah entered the temple to burn incense and was pursued by Azariah the high priest and 80 warrior priests - 'men of valour' (2 Chron. 26.17). This was a major confrontation over the roles of the chief priests and the king, since Azariah claimed that only the sons of Aaron could burn incense (2 Chron. 26.18)."

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