Brother of Moses and Miriam, of the tribe of Levi. Over the centuries Aaron's status in Israel's memory was allowed to grow. In the earliest tradition, Aaron must put into words what is the will of God (Exod. 4:16) but he has no priestly functions. The account of Aaron collecting gold rings to be melted down in fire (Exod. 32:24) seems to reflect what happened at the northern sanctuaries, with calves of gold, established by Jeroboam (1 Kgs. 12:28) in 922 BCE. In both passages idolatrous calf worship indicates independence of leadership (cf. Exod. 24:14). But usually Aaron is subordinate to Moses: the uplifted hands of Moses brought victory over the Amalekites, and the role of Aaron (and Hur) was merely to hold Moses' hands up when he got tired. In the probably post-exilic (i.e. compiled after 500 BCE) source P, Aaron becomes the ancestor of the Jerusalem priesthood who sacrifice and bless and exercise supreme authority (Num. 27:21—Eleazar is a son of Aaron, 1 Chron. 24:1) and officiates on the Day of Atonement [[➝ Atonement, Day of, atonement]] (Lev. 16:32–4). Finally, in the tradition, Aaron is exalted above Moses (Ecclus.=Sir. 45:20), which reflects the post-exilic situation of the division of a priesthood among twenty-four families who each performed Temple duty for a week; sixteen families claimed descent from Zadok (Eleazar's elder son) and eight from Ithamar (1 Chron. 24:1–19) John the Baptist was said to be from a family of priests (Luke 1:5).

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