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date: 17 January 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter provides an overview of the major ritual, liturgical, and ideological traditions that developed among Aaronide priests and Levites in the era following the return from Babylon, with special emphasis on the Persian period (538–332 bce). Though these traditions are set in place in the Jerusalem cultic world that obtained under the influence of Persian imperialism, they possess origins that may be traced back to the exilic and even pre-exilic periods among different priestly/sacral groups from different corners of the Israelite and Judahite population(s). Under Persia, however, the various earlier praxes and perspectives were systematized by the priests claiming descent from Aaron and the Levite groups who held secondary ranks beneath them in the temple hierarchy. Despite this hierarchy, many of the traditions cultivated by the Levites were fashioned as responses to the dominant traditions—both ritual and textual—fostered and practiced by the Aaronides. The biblical record preserves legal, prophetic, hymnic, and other textual witnesses to the diversity of views and attitudes vis-à-vis the cult that characterized Aaronide and Levite function and social location in the Persian period.

Keywords: Aaronides, Levites, cult, temple, text, scribes, sacrifice, prayer, wisdom

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