By Robert Gordon Canning
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37:5, 16; Num. 3:26). Aristeas seems to focus on the arresting appearance of the curtain’s movements: as in the previous paragraphs, he wishes his readers to be fully aware of the impressive external appearance of the Temple. 87 The altar of burnt offering (thusiastêrion) is very sketchily described, in contrast with the notice in Hecataeus (198). The author seems more interested in the ramp which led up to it. Exod. 20:26 forbids anyone to ascend to the altar by steps lest they display their nakedness, a concern addressed also in Exod.
Equally the Chronicler’s note that sacrifice was accompanied by the Levites’ psalms and the sound of trumpets (2 Chr. 29:27), which most likely reflects the actual ritual practice of early Second Temple times, is cast aside; and Aristeas stands alone as witness to a wordless, soundless liturgy. Even so, the writer repeats his stress on the immensity of the business in hand: 700 priests and crowds of sacrificers make not a sound! A possible explanation for this fantastic statement is found at the end of the paragraph: Aristeas evidently believes that complete silence is the only appropriate manner of approach to ‘the great Godhead’ in the Temple ritual.
None the less, since the matter is so finely balanced, it is appropriate to record datings of the fragments given by three representative scholars who regard them as spurious. Thus, with regard to the 19 HECATAEUS OF ABDERA fragments translated here, Wacholder8 suggests that their author was a Jew, probably a priest of Jerusalem, writing around 300 BC. 10 TRANSLATION OF FRAGMENTS OF HECATAEUS OF ABDERA PRESERVED BY JOSEPHUS, CONTRA APIONEM I. 187; 197–199 187 Of these, he (Hecataeus) says, there was one Ezekias a high priest of the Jews, a man about sixty-six years of age, great in esteem among his fellow countrymen and not unintelligent of soul; he was still competent in speech, and in matters of business he was skilled more than any other.