James Hastings Dictionary of the NT: Abijah

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James Hastings Dictionary of the NT: Abijah


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ABIJAH ( àַáִéָä , ἉâéÜ , ‘Jah is my father’: or more probably without the particularizing pronoun, ‘Jah is father’).—. Son of Rehoboam (Mat_1:7) by Maacah (2Ch_11:20—see art. ‘Maacah’ No. 3 in Hastings’ B [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] iii. 180). Abijah reigned over Judah from about b.c. 920, and the impressions made by him are given with some variety in 1Ki_15:3 and by a later tradition in 2Ch_13:4-22. His name is introduced by St. Matthew simply as a link in the pedigree, in which it is shown that Jesus was both of Jewish and of royal stock.

2. A descendant of Eleazar, son of Aaron. The name was attached to the eighth of the twenty-four courses into which the priests were alleged to have been divided by David (1Ch_24:10). Members of only four courses seem to have returned from the Captivity (Neh_7:39-42, Ezr_2:36-39; Ezr_10:18-22). According to Jerus. [Note: Jerusalem.] Talm. [Note: Talmud.] Taanith, iv. 68, these men were divided into twenty-four courses with a view to restore the ancient arrangement. The authority for this statement is not of the best kind; but the statement itself is substantially confirmed by Neh_12:1-7, where twenty-two groups are referred to (in Neh_12:12-21 the number has fallen to twenty-one, and two of the courses are grouped under a single representative), and by Ezr_8:2, where two other priestly families are mentioned. Slight changes were probably made in the classification during the process of the resettlement of the country; but by the time of the Chronicler the arrangement seems to have become fixed. The course of Abijah is not mentioned amongst those that returned from the Exile; but in one of the later rearrangements the name was attached to a course that afterwards included Zacharias (Luk_1:5). Each course was on duty for a week at a time, but all were expected to officiate as needed at the three great annual festivals. It is not possible with our present materials to determine exactly how the various services were divided amongst the members of a course, or at what times in the year Zacharias would be on duty. Nor does his inclusion in the course of Abijah carry with it lineal descent through that line from Aaron.

R. W. Moss.