Jesus’ Right to the Priesthood

26 Jun
Presentation in the Temple

from Google Images

In my previous study I looked at the ceremony of circumcision, which Jesus underwent when he was eight days old. The second ceremony which involved Jesus immediately after his birth was his presentation in the Temple, which was to occur when he was a month old (Numbers 18:16). The ceremony was important because Jesus was Mary’s firstborn, and every firstborn male that opened the womb was holy to the Lord and had to be redeemed for five shekels, because the Levites were chosen instead of them to be the priests of the Temple (Luke 2:22-23; cf. Exodus 13:2; Numbers 8:13-18; 3:48-51). However, it seems that when Jesus was presented before the Lord, he was not redeemed! That is, no sacrifice was offered according to the Law; therefore, he remained the Lord’s priest!

The Scriptures offer us a picture of what this means in the lives of Hannah and her child, Samuel (1Samuel 1:22-28). Neither did Hannah redeem Samuel, her firstborn. He was given to the Lord and did the work of a priest under Eli, the high priest, in the days when the judges ruled Israel, for he wore the priests ephod (1Samuel 2:18) and was considered a prophet of God (1Samuel 3:20; 2Chronicles 35:18)

Jesus was dedicated to the Lord in a similar fashion that Samuel was. The details are not the same, so a point-by-point comparison cannot be made. However, both Samuel and Jesus were not redeemed with the redemption money. Samuel was presented before the Lord after he was weaned (1Samuel 1:22), which may have taken a year or more, long after the month set in the Law (Numbers 8:16). Jesus was presented before the Lord 40 days after birth, which, if 30 days is required by the Law, he was 10 days overdue. If 40 days were fine according to the Law, why wasn’t the Law set for 40 days, because then the mother could be present at the ceremony? It seems both Mary and Hannah felt free to ignore the 30 day presentation requirement, since their babies were not to be redeemed. If they were not redeemed, then they were dedicated to the Lord for life, and their lives belonged to the Lord, and God could commission them as he saw fit. Samuel was a prophet / priest (1Samuel 3:20; 16:2), and Jesus was the Prophet that Moses said would come (Luke 4:24; 7:16; 24:19; John 6:14; cf. Deuteronomy 18:15).

Another point to consider is that, according to 1Samuel 2:30, God had rejected both Eli’s house and the house of his father, as far as the priesthood was concerned. It has been supposed that Ithamar is meant by Eli’s father, and his line was rejected and would be replaced by his elder brother’s line, namely that of Eleazar (Exodus 6:23). In fact, this did occur in the days of Solomon (1Kings 2:27) when the king cast out Abiathar of the line of Ithamar and kept Zadok of the line of Eleazar as the sole high priest. Nevertheless, 1Samuel 2:30 could not be referring to Ithamar. Rather the Scripture refers to Aaron the father of the Levitical priesthood, because 1Samuel 2:27-28 shows God appeared to Eli’s father in Egypt and chose him (i.e. Aaron) out of all the tribes of Israel to be his priest. Therefore, 1Samuel 2:35 is the rejection of the priesthood of Aaron. The rejection is played out in the lives of Abiathar and Zadok, the descendants of Ithamar and Eleazar (1Kings 2:27; cf. 1Chronicles 24:3), but the rejection of the whole Levitical priesthood is clearly indicated (1Samuel 2:27-28, 30).

Some have supposed that Samuel is meant as the faithful priest mentioned in 1Samule 2:35. Yet, while it is true that Samuel was a priest, and he was indeed faithful to the Lord his whole life, his sons were no more faithful to God than Eli’s sons were. Therefore, another priest must be indicated in the Scripture.

It is interesting that the only other time in Scripture that faithful priest (1Samuel 2:35) is mentioned is in Hebrews 2:17, where it refers to Jesus as the faithful High Priest. Since Jesus was the firstborn of Mary (Matthew 1:25; Luke 2:7) and the firstborn of God from the dead (Colossians 1:18), and his right to being priest predates the rights of the rejected Levitical priesthood, Hebrews 7:17-24 shows the fulfillment of 1Samuel 2:35.


Posted by on June 26, 2016 in Gospel of Luke


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4 responses to “Jesus’ Right to the Priesthood

  1. Return of Benjamin

    June 26, 2016 at 17:53

    And a second reply, after checking back to see if you’d already made this point: When Gabriel greets Mary, it was with the title, “O favored one.” “Favor” or “grace” in Hebrew is chen or chanan, from which we get Yochanan (“The Lord Has Favored”). The feminine of is channah / Hannah. It’s possible that he literally said, “Shalom, chanah (Hannah), the Lord is with you!” This would explain Mary’s confusion over the greeting, but it also further links Yeshua to Samuel thematically.

    • Eddie

      June 26, 2016 at 19:15

      I like the play on the word you make in Hebrew, and I didn’t know the feminine was chanah (Hannah). I like finding out things like this, and I may use it in a future blogpost. :-)

      I pointed to similarities between Mary and Hannah in several previous blogposts in this series. Thanks again for stopping by and offering your unique insight. Lord bless you Rabbi Mike in all you do.

  2. Return of Benjamin

    June 26, 2016 at 17:45

    Now that’s a fascinating idea. I’m not sure that you’re not reading too much into the text, but it’s a very rabbinic bit of midrash if I may say so. Shalom!

    • Eddie

      June 26, 2016 at 19:03

      Greetings Rabbi Mike, it always a pleasure to see you here. :-)

      I like kicking around ideas that seem supported by Scripture but aren’t specifically stated in stone (so to speak). I like the idea, and I don’t see Scripture denying the conclusion. It certainly sets an atmosphere for discussion.


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