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JESHUA (Heb. יְהוֹשֻׁעַ ,יְשׁוּע), high priest, son of Jehozadak (Jozadak; Ezra 3:2; 10:18) and a grandson of Seraiah the last high priest in the First Temple (I Chron. 5:40). Together with *Zerubbabel, Jeshua organized the return to Zion (Ezra 2:2; Neh. 7:7) and was active in the rebuilding of the Temple and the state. He headed the priestly family of Jedaiah which returned to Judah, and it was thereafter known by his name (Ezra 2:36; 10:18). He and Zerubbabel established the order of sacrifices and planned the reconstruction of the Temple. They rejected the offer of the Samaritans to help in the labor, and when, after an interval of years, at the beginning of the reign of Darius I, *Haggai and *Zechariah aroused the people to renewed labor, they again headed the project. Jeshua's importance in this "condominium," or "diarchy," is a change from the pre-exilic situation in which the priesthood was subservient to royalty, and is approved by the contemporary prophets. Haggai almost always joins Jeshua's name to that of Zerubbabel (1:1, 14; 2:2, 4), and he is the central figure in Zechariah's earlier visions (Zech. 3–6). These visions, most of which, despite various interpretations, are obscure, in the main defy interpretation; Jeshua and his men are considered "men who are a token" (Zech. 3:8). In one vision, Satan stands at Jeshua's right, and the angel of the Lord rebukes him: "May the Lord who chose Jerusalem rebuke you! Why, this is a brand plucked out of the fire." (Jeshua's grandfather Seraiah was killed by Nebuchadnezzar and his children barely escaped; Zech. 3:2) The angel then commands those in attendance to dress Jeshua in robes and to place a pure miter on his head, symbolic of cleansing from sin – evidently the "iniquity of the land" (Zech. 3:9) – in line with the concept of the righteous being prosecuted for the sins of the generation. (The Talmud (Sanh. 93a) says this refers to the sin of intermarriage – Ezra 10:18 – but this was in a later generation.) Jeshua and Zerubbabel are called "the two sons of pure oil (yiẓhar) who wait upon the Lord of all the land" (Zech. 4:14). In Zechariah the prophet takes silver and gold brought by the exiles and has it made into crowns, one of them for Jeshua (Zech. 6:9ff.). These crowns were later kept in the Temple (Mid. 3:5). The form Jeshua, as opposed to the earlier Joshua, underlies the Greek that produced English "Jesus."


T. Eshkenazi, in: ABD, 3:769–71; T. Eshkanazi, in: R. Albertz and B. Becking (eds.), Yahwism after the Exile (2002), 1–17. (See also Bibliography in *Haggai.)

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.