These Zadok Levitical priests had a look and life style that set them apart. They were not to shave their heads, but they had to trim their hair. They were not allowed to drink wine when they were in the inner court. They could not marry a widow or a divorced woman. However, there was an exception for the widow of a priest. They could only marry a virgin in good standing from the house of Israel.
The idol worshiping Levites would be appointed to various menial tasks, so that they would be like Temple servants, rather than ministers. Yahweh, via Ezekiel, listed all the things that they could not do. They could not come near to Yahweh to serve him as a priest. They would not be allowed near any of the sacred holy offerings. They had to bear their shame. They had to suffer the consequences of their abominable actions. However, Yahweh was not going to destroy them. They were to be in charge of all the Temple chores, everything that had to be done around the Temple. They were to become second-class Levite priests or Temple servants.
It is interesting to note that this section on Aaron is much longer than the section about Moses, due to Sirach’s emphasis on the Levitical priests and their role. The Levitical priests were considered the direct descendants of Aaron, who was the brother of Moses. He, also like Moses, was a holy man that God exalted. However, there is a greater emphasis on the fact that Aaron belonged to the tribe of Levi. Although both Moses and Aaron were brothers, there was very little mention about Moses being of the tribe of Levi. Aaron was considered a priest, but Moses was not. The Lord then made an everlasting covenant with Aaron as he received the priesthood of the people, which Moses did not receive.
Yahweh then somehow makes David a priest also. The allusion here is to Melchizedeck, the ancient priest and king at the time of Abraham. This King Melchizedek of Salem, as found in Genesis, chapter 14, offered a sacrifice of bread and wine for Abraham. Here there is an order of Melchizedek, which will become an important Christian emphasis within the Roman Catholic concept of the priesthood. This same phrase was repeated in the New Testament Epistle to the Hebrews, chapter 5.
Psalm 110 is a short psalm of David, where Yahweh speaks directly to the king. This psalm has had a Christian messianic interpretation as the king is also a priest and a judge. Certain verses were often repeated in the New Testament writings. Yahweh says to the lord or king to sit at his right hand. Yahweh was going to make his enemies into his footstool.
“In those days, Mattathias son of John, son of Simeon, a priest of the family of Joarib, moved from Jerusalem. He settled in Modein. He had five sons, John surnamed Gaddi, Simon called Thassi, Judas called Maccabeus, Eleazar called Avaran, and Jonathan called Apphus. He saw the blasphemies being committed in Judah and Jerusalem.”
This Mattathias was the son of John and grandson of Simeon, the Hasmonean, from a priestly family. He moved his family from Jerusalem to Modein, about 17 miles northwest of Jerusalem, but there is no date for this migration except the vague ‘in those days.’ His 5 sons were 1) John, 2) Simon, 3) Judas, 4) Eleazar, and 5) Jonathan. He had seen the blasphemies committed against Judah and Jerusalem. This is the introduction to the Maccabees family, although only 1 in the family used the name of Maccabeus.
“In the fourth year of the reign of Ptolemy and Cleopatra, Dositheus, who said that he was a priest and a Levite, and his son Ptolemy brought to Egypt the preceding Letter about Purim, which they said was authentic. It had been translated by Lysimachus son of Ptolemy, one of the residents of Jerusalem.”
In a curious note, this book or a letter about Purim was brought to Egypt. The time frame is very clear, during the reign of Ptolemy. However, the question is which Ptolemy? The original Ptolemy was a Macedonian guard of Alexander the Great who was the governor of Egypt in 323 BCE. He later declared himself king and thus established a Ptolemaic dynasty that lasted until 47 BCE. There were a number of kings and queens named Ptolemy and Cleopatra. The first mention of them would be Ptolemy V and Cleopatra I from (202-181 BCE). This would put this translation around the year 198 BCE, right in the middle of the Greek Septuagint work from around 250-132 BCE. We do not know anything about Dositheus but he may have been a Jewish Levite priest. There are 3 or 4 famous people with the name of Lysimachus in Egypt. If it was the son of one of the Ptolemy kings, he might have died around 181 BCE, as the brother of Ptolemy V, it would be a good fit for this translation.