Joshua the High Priest

Joshua from "Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum "

Joshua the High Priest (Hebrew name יהושע כהן גדול Yəshúa Hebrew pronunciation: [jeˈʃuăʕ]; Greek: Ἰησοῦς; Latin: Josue) was, according to the Bible the first person chosen to be the High Priest for the reconstruction of the Jewish Temple after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity (See Zechariah 6:9-14 in the Bible.) The name is also spelled 'Jeshua' in some English versions [1], and, as with the earlier Joshua, is transcribed 'Jesus' in the Septuagint.



Joshua son of Josedech served as High Priest ca.515-490 BCE in the common List of High Priests of Israel. This dating is based on the period of service age 25-50 (per Book of Numbers 8) not age 30-50 (per Numbers 4).

The biblical text credits Joshua among the leaders that inspired a momentum towards the reconstruction of the temple, in Ezra 5:2. Later 10:18 some of the his sons and nephews are found guilty of intermarriage.

Facts concerning the later part of Joshua's life are in part dependent upon whether Joshua was still alive at the time of his appearance in a vision by Zechariah. If the vision relates to Nehemiah's cleansing of the temple in Neh.13:28 then the engagement of Joshua's great-great-grandson to the daughter of Sanballat the Horonite would place Joshua in his late 90s if he were still alive.[2]

Appearance in Vision

In the Book of Zechariah 3:6-10 Zechariah the prophet experiences a vision given to him by an angel of the Lord in which the restoration and cleansing of Joshua’s priestly duties are affirmed. Included in the visions were requirements in which Joshua was expected to uphold. These included: (1) walk in the ways of God, (2) keeping the requirements (the law), (3) ruling God’s house, (4) take charge of my courts; by fulfilling these duties the angel in the Book of Zachariah granted access to the inner temple to Joshua and his fellow priest. The vision also functioned to purify Joshua and to sanctify him for the preparations of his priestly duties.

Alternatively, if Joshua had in fact died before the events of Nehemiah 13 then it is possible that the vision intended to depict a heavenly throneroom scene of Satan and the angel disputing over the soul of Joshua, and the intended target of the allegory is the then serving high priest, his grandson, Eliashib.[3]


In 1825, the traditional tomb of Joshua was reported to have been found at "one hour's distance from Baghdad."[4]

Notes & references

  1. ^ for example ESV
  2. ^ Carol L. Meyers Haggai, Zechariah 1-8 Vol.25B The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries 1987
  3. ^ Meyers, op.cit.
  4. ^ United Foreign Missionary Society (1825). American missionary register. J. & J. Harper. p. 280. Retrieved 4 October 2010. 

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