Thursday, July 09, 2009

Pinchas: An Eternal Covenant of Kehunah

At the beginning of Pinchas:
יא פִּינְחָס בֶּן-אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן-אַהֲרֹן הַכֹּהֵן, הֵשִׁיב אֶת-חֲמָתִי מֵעַל בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, בְּקַנְאוֹ אֶת-קִנְאָתִי, בְּתוֹכָם; וְלֹא-כִלִּיתִי אֶת-בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, בְּקִנְאָתִי. 11 'Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned My wrath away from the children of Israel, in that he was very jealous for My sake among them, so that I consumed not the children of Israel in My jealousy.
יב לָכֵן, אֱמֹר: הִנְנִי נֹתֵן לוֹ אֶת-בְּרִיתִי, שָׁלוֹם. 12 Wherefore say: Behold, I give unto him My covenant of peace;
יג וְהָיְתָה לּוֹ וּלְזַרְעוֹ אַחֲרָיו, בְּרִית כְּהֻנַּת עוֹלָם--תַּחַת, אֲשֶׁר קִנֵּא לֵאלֹהָיו, וַיְכַפֵּר, עַל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. 13 and it shall be unto him, and to his seed after him, the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was jealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel.'
Rashi explains:
an eternal covenant of kehunah Although the kehunah had already been given to Aaron’s descendants, it had been given only to Aaron and his sons who were anointed with him, and to their children whom they would beget after their anointment. Phinehas, however, who was born before that and had never been anointed, had not been included in the kehunah until now. And so, we learn in [Tractate] Zevachim [101b],“Phinehas was not made a kohen until he killed Zimri.”
Thus, due to a technicality, Pinchas had missed out on his chance to become a kohen and this was now rectified. It is clever, and works out, but does not really seem to be peshat.

Shadal endorses as peshat the position of Ibn Ezra and Ralbag, that this was the High Priesthood, Kehunah Gedolah specifically, that was dynastic:

ברית כהונת עולם : לפי הפשט הכוונה כדעת ראב"ע ורלב"ג שהכהנים הגדולים יהיו מזרעו, ועיין רלב"ג

Let us follow Shadal's instructions, and see what Ralbag says inside. Ralbag writes:
אֶת-בְּרִיתִי, שָׁלוֹם -- the intent is that just as he placed peace between Israel and Hashem, so too he will have a covenant of peace.

וְהָיְתָה לּוֹ וּלְזַרְעוֹ אַחֲרָיו, בְּרִית כְּהֻנַּת עוֹלָם -- the intent is that the priesthood will not cease from him and his descendants ever. And this blessing is to protect his descendants always, for without this there would not be in this a blessing. For all those who come from the seed of Aharon are kohanim!

And it is possible that this is referring to the High Priesthood -- and this is the more correct {explanation}.

And He said to him that "there would be to him," {and not just his children} to promise him that he would not die before Eleazar his father, such that he would be the Kohen Gadol after his father. "And his children after him" would be Kohanim Gedolim, such that this priesthood would not cease from them.

And behold, we know that Pinchas was the Kohen Gadol, and that of his descendants, there were many Kohanim Gedolim, as is explained in sefer Divrei Hayamim. And one should not doubt regarding this based on that which we find that there were Kohanim Gedolim of the sons of Itamar {and thus not from Eleazar, and thus not from Pinchas}. For these general, comprehensive designations throughout time have in them, of necessity, a condition. And therefore it is possible that this designation went away for some cause when the condition failed. Just as some of the kingship was diverted from the seed of Shlomo son of David when the condition failed.

תַּחַת, אֲשֶׁר קִנֵּא לֵאלֹהָיו, וַיְכַפֵּר, עַל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל -- the intent is to say that that because he was zealous for his God and thus protected Israel from destruction, he will have a covenant of peace, and because he atoned for the children of Israel, it was given to him and to his descendants to atone for the children of Israel. And therefore, He granted him the High Priesthood, for the Kohen Gadol atones for the children of Israel one time each year, as it explained in parashat Acharei Mot.
While we are at it, we may as well look at Ibn Ezra, who is shorter in his commentary:
כה, יב]
את בריתי שלום -
טעמו: את בריתי ברית שלום, כמו: כסאך אלהים ורבים כן.
והטעם: שלא יגור מאחי זמרי כי הוא נשיא בית אב, ושכרו שתהיה לו ולזרעו אחריו ברית כהונת עולם ונצח, כי הכהנים הגדולים היו מבני פינחס.
ויתכן שהיו בנים אחרים לאלעזר

"My covenant, peace" -- its intent is "my covenant, a covenant of peace, just like כסאך אלהים and many such." And the meaning is that he should not fear from the brothers of Zimri, for he {=Zimri} was the prince of a paterfamilias, and his reward was that there would be to him and to his descendants after him an eternal and continuous covenant of priesthood, for the Kohanim Gedolim were from the sons of Pinchas. And it is possible that there were other sons to Eleazar.
The point of this last statement is perhaps to explain how there was specific choosing of the High Priesthood, since after all Eleazar was already the kohen gadol, such that Pinchas would be expected anyway to succeed his father, as Eleazar succeeded Aharon.

If I recall correctly (and I could be conflating them with the Samaritans}, this competition for the Kehuna Gedolah was a point of contention between the Tzedukim and Pharisees. Tzadok, of the Sadducees, was descended from Pinchas, who had been promised this Brit Kehunat Olam:
כט וּבְנֵי עַמְרָם, אַהֲרֹן וּמֹשֶׁה וּמִרְיָם; {ס} וּבְנֵי אַהֲרֹן--נָדָב וַאֲבִיהוּא, אֶלְעָזָר וְאִיתָמָר. 29 And the children of Amram: Aaron, and Moses, and Miriam. {S} And the sons of Aaron: Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.
ל אֶלְעָזָר הוֹלִיד אֶת-פִּינְחָס, פִּינְחָס הֹלִיד אֶת-אֲבִישׁוּעַ. 30 Eleazar begot Phinehas, Phinehas begot Abishua;
לא וַאֲבִישׁוּעַ הוֹלִיד אֶת-בֻּקִּי, וּבֻקִּי הוֹלִיד אֶת-עֻזִּי. 31 and Abishua begot Bukki, and Bukki begot Uzzi;
לב וְעֻזִּי הוֹלִיד אֶת-זְרַחְיָה, וּזְרַחְיָה הוֹלִיד אֶת-מְרָיוֹת. 32 and Uzzi begot Zerahiah, and Zerahiah begot Meraioth;
לג מְרָיוֹת הוֹלִיד אֶת-אֲמַרְיָה, וַאֲמַרְיָה הוֹלִיד אֶת-אֲחִיטוּב. 33 Meraioth begot Amariah, and Amariah begot Ahitub;
לד וַאֲחִיטוּב הוֹלִיד אֶת-צָדוֹק, וְצָדוֹק הוֹלִיד אֶת-אֲחִימָעַץ. 34 and Ahitub begot Zadok, and Zadok begot Ahimaaz;
לה וַאֲחִימַעַץ הוֹלִיד אֶת-עֲזַרְיָה, וַעֲזַרְיָה הוֹלִיד אֶת-יוֹחָנָן. 35 and Ahimaaz begot Azariah, and Azariah begot Johanan;
לו וְיוֹחָנָן, הוֹלִיד אֶת-עֲזַרְיָה; הוּא, אֲשֶׁר כִּהֵן, בַּבַּיִת, אֲשֶׁר-בָּנָה שְׁלֹמֹה בִּירוּשָׁלִָם. 36 and Johanan begot Azariah--he it is that executed the priest's office in the house that Solomon built in Jerusalem--
לז וַיּוֹלֶד עֲזַרְיָה, אֶת-אֲמַרְיָה; וַאֲמַרְיָה, הוֹלִיד אֶת-אֲחִיטוּב. 37 and Azariah begot Amariah, and Amariah begot Ahitub;
לח וַאֲחִיטוּב הוֹלִיד אֶת-צָדוֹק, וְצָדוֹק הוֹלִיד אֶת-שַׁלּוּם. 38 and Ahitub begot Zadok, and Zadok begot Shallum;
לט וְשַׁלּוּם הוֹלִיד אֶת-חִלְקִיָּה, וְחִלְקִיָּה הוֹלִיד אֶת-עֲזַרְיָה. 39 and Shallum begot Hilkiah, and Hilkiah begot Azariah;
מ וַעֲזַרְיָה הוֹלִיד אֶת-שְׂרָיָה, וּשְׂרָיָה הוֹלִיד אֶת-יְהוֹצָדָק. 40 and Azariah begot Seraiah, and Seraiah begot Jehozadak;
מא וִיהוֹצָדָק הָלַךְ--בְּהַגְלוֹת יְהוָה, אֶת-יְהוּדָה וִירוּשָׁלִָם: בְּיַד, נְבֻכַדְנֶאצַּר. {פ} 41 and Jehozadak went into captivity, when the LORD carried away Judah and Jerusalem by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar. {P}
Yehotzadok was the last kohen gadol to serve in the Bayis Rishon. And as we see in Zecharya (6:11), his son, Yehoshua ben Yehotzadak was the first kohen gadol to serve in the Bayis Sheni. In Yechezkel 44:15, we see this promise for the future {though this could conceivably be about Bayis Sheni rather than Shlishi}:
טו וְהַכֹּהֲנִים הַלְוִיִּם בְּנֵי צָדוֹק, אֲשֶׁר שָׁמְרוּ אֶת-מִשְׁמֶרֶת מִקְדָּשִׁי בִּתְעוֹת בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵעָלַי--הֵמָּה יִקְרְבוּ אֵלַי, לְשָׁרְתֵנִי; וְעָמְדוּ לְפָנַי, לְהַקְרִיב לִי חֵלֶב וָדָם--נְאֻם, אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה. 15 But the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of My sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from Me, they shall come near to Me to minister unto Me; and they shall stand before Me to offer unto Me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord GOD;
טז הֵמָּה יָבֹאוּ אֶל-מִקְדָּשִׁי, וְהֵמָּה יִקְרְבוּ אֶל-שֻׁלְחָנִי--לְשָׁרְתֵנִי; וְשָׁמְרוּ, אֶת-מִשְׁמַרְתִּי. 16 they shall enter into My sanctuary, and they shall come near to My table, to minister unto Me, and they shall keep My charge.

This Yehoshua ben Yehotzadak had children who intermarried. These are the begadim Tzoim in Zecharia 3:

א וַיַּרְאֵנִי, אֶת-יְהוֹשֻׁעַ הַכֹּהֵן הַגָּדוֹל, עֹמֵד, לִפְנֵי מַלְאַךְ ה; וְהַשָּׂטָן עֹמֵד עַל-יְמִינוֹ, לְשִׂטְנוֹ. 1 And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.
ב וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל-הַשָּׂטָן, יִגְעַר יְהוָה בְּךָ הַשָּׂטָן, וְיִגְעַר ה בְּךָ, הַבֹּחֵר בִּירוּשָׁלִָם; הֲלוֹא זֶה אוּד, מֻצָּל מֵאֵשׁ. 2 And the LORD said unto Satan: 'The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan, yea, the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee; is not this man a brand plucked out of the fire?'
ג וִיהוֹשֻׁעַ, הָיָה לָבֻשׁ בְּגָדִים צוֹאִים; וְעֹמֵד, לִפְנֵי הַמַּלְאָךְ. 3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.
ד וַיַּעַן וַיֹּאמֶר, אֶל-הָעֹמְדִים לְפָנָיו לֵאמֹר, הָסִירוּ הַבְּגָדִים הַצֹּאִים, מֵעָלָיו; וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו, רְאֵה הֶעֱבַרְתִּי מֵעָלֶיךָ עֲו‍ֹנֶךָ, וְהַלְבֵּשׁ אֹתְךָ, מַחֲלָצוֹת. 4 And he answered and spoke unto those that stood before him, saying: 'Take the filthy garments from off him.' And unto him he said: 'Behold, I cause thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with robes.'

See Rashi's commentary. Should that suffice to annul the condition?

But anyway, we have seen Kohanim Gedolim from Itamar. Eli was descended from Itamar, and he was kohen gadol before the first Beis Hamikdash.

I don't know that there is any basis for their tradition, but the following is an account of a Samaritan tradition, explaining how they split off from the Israelites:
In Judaism and Samaritanism, a high priest is called a Kohen Gadol. The office is no longer filled in mainstream Judaism while there is no functioning Temple, thus only the Samaritans have a High Priest {According to Samaritan sources a civil War broke out between the Sons of Itamar {Eli (Bible)} and the Sons of Phineas-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 Priests line of the sons of Phineas 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 from 1613 to 2004-the 131st High priest of the Samaritans is Elazar ben Tsedaka ben Yitzhaq}


William Dwek said...

1. The Dweks from Aleppo, Syria, are the only family of the true Cohanim.

We are the only true descendants of Aharon HaCohen, the Cohen HaGadol.

2. The surname of Aharon HaCohen was not “Aharon Rappaport” or “Aharon Kahaneman” or “Aharon Kleiman”. Nor did we receive the Torah from “Moshe Rappaport” or, “Moshe Kahaneman” or, “Moshe Kleiman”.

Anyone who has taken on the surname, “Cohen” is clearly identifiable as a fraud, a liar and an imposter of the true Cohanim, going right back into his family history – right back to his original ancestor who LIED, and said he was a Cohen when he was not.

Anyone called, “Mr. Cohen or Rabbi Cohen” is definitely NOT a Cohen. Someone who calls himself, “Mr. Cohen or Rabbi Cohen” is effectively calling himself, “Mr. Torah!”

The Cohanim are part of the Torah – but they are not called, “Mr. Torah.” It is preposterous for a man to call himself, “Mr. Torah!” If someone makes you a cup of coffee, or sells some bread to you, will you say, “Thank you Mr. CoffeeMaker!” or, “Thank you Mr. Baker?!” The coffeemaker and the baker have a Family Name.

Similarly with the true Cohanim. And that family name is, “DWEK.”

William Dwek said...

And, we are the only true descendants of Pinhas ben Elazar ben Aharon HaCohen.

It was the great act of Pinhas, who stopped the plague in Am Yisrael, when he struck the spear into Cozbi and Zimri. 24,000 died in a plague from the sins of idolatry and immorality with the Midianite women.

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting post. The Allepo community is composed of a significantly higher percentage of kohanim than most.

Separately, genetic studies have shown that a substantial subset of present-day individuals who identify themselves as kohanim (i.e. through tradition)are of a different genetic haplotype than the "majority". Secular DNA genealogy experts have posited that there was a separate "tribe" or "family" of kohanim. This suggests an acceptance of such by klal--preposterous. More likely that individuals claimed kohen status over the generations, either mistakenly or not.


Anonymous said...

I would add one thing. The surnames Cohen, Kahane, Kahn, etc. evolved from the designation HaKohen. This designation had relevance to the community in which each kohen lived. It is a modern appellation, as are all surnames. As such it may not reflect hubris at all.



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