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Hezekiah, The High Priest

(4th Century B.C.E.)

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HEZEKIAH, THE HIGH PRIEST (fourth century B.C.E.), one of the most important Jewish personalities to emigrate to Egypt after Ptolemy I's victory in the battle near Gaza in 311 B.C.E. He is mentioned by Hecataeus of Abdera (Jos., Apion, 1:187–9) under the name Ezekias as "a man of about 66 years of age, highly esteemed by his countrymen, intellectual, and moreover, an able speaker and unsurpassed as a man of business." Hezekiah assembled his friends and tried to convince them of the advantages of emigration to Egypt, "for he had in writing the conditions attaching to their settlement and political status." Scholars have tended to doubt the accuracy of this passage, because the high priest at this time was Onias, and there was none by the name of Hezekiah. However the term αρχιερένς applied to Hezekiah does not necessarily signify high priest; it can mean a priest of high standing (ibid., 1:186–9). In 1931 a coin of the fourth century B.C.E. was discovered in the Beth-Zur excavations which bears the names of Hezekiah and perhaps Jehohan (an?). Albright identifies the latter with Onias the high priest. In his opinion, the coin belongs to Hezekiah, who was an important priest during this period and served as treasurer.

Sources:V. Tcherikover, Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews (1959), 56ff., 273, 300, 425ff. n. 46; H. Willrich, Juden und Griechen (1895), 31ff.; Albright, in: BASOR, 43 (1931); R. Sellers, Citadel of Beth-Zur (1933), 73–74, no. 9; A. Reifenberg, Ancient Jewish Coins (1947), 9; Schalit, in: Sefer Yohanan Lewy (1949), 263 n. 2.

[Isaiah Gafni /Edna Elazary]

Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.


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