There are 2 thoughts on “Tamid: Zacharias and the Second Temple”.

  1. There is an incorrect premise on which some of the article is based. We, as Latter-Day Saints, should seek and embrace truth; so here is some truth I have to share with anybody who is willing to learn it.

    The article says, “Unfortunately, most Church members have little, if any, idea how the Jewish priesthood functioned during the first Christian century.” Leviticus 23 and 1 Chronicles 24 tell a pretty clear story about the annual calendar instated shortly after Israel’s Exodus from Egypt. Through various apostasies and captivities, Israel had to be reminded about what was revealed through Moses and how they should observe The Law. One of the reminders Nehemiah gives to Israel is that the High Priest must be present when tithes are collected and that the Levites were to “bring up the tithe of the tithes unto the house of our God, to the chambers, into the treasure house.” (Nehemiah 10:38) The Levites went to gather tithes once each year following the third harvest and the High Priest had to go with them to be present for the collection.
    This article states, “Because of the weekly and daily aspects of temple service, a priest like Zachariah would have had the opportunity to serve in the temple only once every 24 weeks, or approximately twice a year.” The erroneous assumption here is that because there is room within a year for two twenty-four week rotations, there must have been two cycles of 24 weeks each. However, there is only one twenty-four week cycle described in scripture that required somebody to serve in the High Priest’s stead, and that was from the day after The Great Day, when Sukkot ended, until the day before The Day of Selection, which would have been the 9th day of the year. This block of the calendar is exactly 168 days, or 24 weeks. Again, the only reason the 24 families of Aaron needed to fill in for the High Priest for one week each was because he was out collecting tithes during that time. The rest of the year his presence was required at the temple for the festival season.

    Zacharias was of the house of Abijah, which was 8th in rotation and therefore served during the eighth week after the end of Sukkot. This would have been sometime around early to mid December. That checks out, because John would have been born around the Feast of Trumpets nine months later (around late September/early October) and Christ would have followed about six months later (near late March/early April).

    Since the High Priest was not present at the temple, the following statement could not be true, either: “It is more likely that upon exiting the Holy Room, Zacharias would have been joined on the porch not only by the Director of the Daily Course, but also by the High Priest, the Deputy, and Director of the Weekly Course. These three priests would have walked up the steps after Zacharias had offered incense, in order to be ready for the next part of the tamid.”

    The article also suggests that Zacharias may not have been able to finish his duties: “Since Zacharias had already offered the incense before he was struck mute, his condition probably would not have invalidated that part of his service at the Inner Altar — but could he continue or was he prohibited? Of course, Luke’s account focused on Gabriel’s visitation, so it is silent about the rest, and we do not know whether Zacharias was allowed to continue. According to some sources, he was yet to play an additional public role in tamid. During the pronouncement of the priestly blessing on the temple steps, “the incensing priest, repeated in audible voice, followed by the others, the ‘priestly blessing.’”” We learn from Luke’s account that Zacharias did, in fact, finish his service in the temple. “23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.” (Luke 1:23) It is difficult to see how this was overlooked, since the previous verses were covered in detail.

    The rest of the article is very good, though. Feel free to email me for clarity on anything I mentioned.

  2. I am so glad to see this excellent article available on line. I have photocopies it many times to share with temple-going friends. Now I can simply send a link. It is an important article.

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