Zechariah’s turn to burn incense (Lk 1:9-1:9)

“Zechariah

Was chosen by lot,

According to the custom

Of the priesthood.

He was to enter

The sanctuary

Of the Lord

To burn incense.”

                                                                     

κατὰ τὸ ἔθος τῆς ἱερατείας ἔλαχε τοῦ θυμιᾶσαι εἰσελθὼν εἰς τὸν ναὸν τοῦ Κυρίου,

 

Luke pointed out that not only was his group of priests on duty, Zechariah was also chosen by lot (ἔλαχε), as was the priestly custom (κατὰ τὸ ἔθος τῆς ἱερατείας), to enter the sanctuary of the Lord (εἰσελθὼν εἰς τὸν ναὸν τοῦ Κυρίου) to burn incense (τοῦ θυμιᾶσαι).  Apparently, as mentioned elsewhere, choosing by lot or chance was a fairly common way to make decisions, since God would guide the choice.  This Levite priestly custom meant that Zechariah got to enter the holy of holies, the inner sanctuary of the Temple, where he would burn incense, a big honor.

The stone with an inscription (Zech 3:9-3:10)

“‘I will engrave

Its inscription.

On the stone

That I have set

Before Joshua,

On a single stone

With seven facets.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘I will remove

The guilt of this land

In a single day.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘On that day,

You shall invite each other

To come

Under your vine,

Under your fig tree.’”

Yahweh was going to set up a stone with a single inscription on it but with 7 facets or 7 eyes.  Was this the priesthood of the new Temple?  Yahweh was going to take away the guilt of their land in a single day.  On that day, everyone would sit around talking to their friends and neighbors under their cultivated vines and fig trees.

The priesthood of the Levitical Aaron (Sir 45:6-45:7)

“The Lord exalted Aaron,

The brother of Moses.

He was a holy man

Like Moses.

He was of the tribe of Levi.

The Lord made

An everlasting covenant

With him.

He gave him

The priesthood of the people.”

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.