Thursday, January 14, 2016

Zerubbabel's crown?

FROM This Day, January 13, In Jewish History by Mitchell A. Levin (Cleveland Jewish News). The first item:
519 BCE: Darius had “a crown made for Zerubbabel out of gold sent by Jews in Babylon.”
Evidently a reference to Zechariah 6:9-14:
9 And the word of the Lord came to me: 10 “Take from the exiles Heldai, Tobi′jah, and Jedai′ah, who have arrived from Babylon; and go the same day to the house of Josi′ah, the son of Zephani′ah. 11 Take from them silver and gold, and make a crown,[c] and set it upon the head of Joshua, the son of Jehoz′adak, the high priest; 12 and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall grow up in his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord. 13 It is he who shall build the temple of the Lord, and shall bear royal honor, and shall sit and rule upon his throne. And there shall be a priest by his throne, and peaceful understanding shall be between them both.”’ 14 And the crown[d] shall be in the temple of the Lord as a reminder to Heldai,[e] Tobi′jah, Jedai′ah, and Josi′ah[f] the son of Zephani′ah. (RSV)
The Hebrew text as it stands says that Joshua (the high priest, not the much earlier successor to Moses) is the one who is crowned, but the text seems to be in disarray. The two references to "crown" actually say "crowns" in Hebrew. The most likely explanation in my opinion is that the passage originally referred to the crowning of both Zerubbabel (as Davidic king) and Joshua (as Aaronid high priest). But something went wrong with Zerubbabel's career and he disappeared early on. As a result, his name was deleted from the passage. So, yes, it probably originally involved a crown for Zerubbabel.

This crown came from gold brought by Babylonian exiles, although there is no reference to the involvement of Darius.

The passage is not dated. I don't know where the dating to 13 January (i.e., 3 Shevat) comes from. Perhaps there was a rabbinic passage that filled out such details?