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I encountered יהואחז כהן גדול in Seder Olam Zutta, chapter 5, but couldn't find further information about him. Who was he and are there any sources that give more information (i.e., biographical) about him?

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Short answer: Practically nothing.

Longer answer: A list of Kohanim Gedolim is also brought by Josephus in Antiquities 10:152-154. It has some similarities to the list in Seder Olam Zuta but is not a perfect match. The kohen during the period of יואחז/יהואחז is called Ios in this translation and Isus (Yehoshua?) in this translation. There was a Yehoshua Kohen Gadol listed in Seder Olam Zuta a few generations after Yoachaz (not Yeshua from the Second Temple period). But if this Ios is really Yoachaz, then according to Josephus, he was the son of the previous Kohen Gadol, Yoram, who was the son of the previous Kohen Gadol, Azaryah. Josephus doesn't explicitly say that Azarayah was the son of the previous Kohen Gadol, Achima'atz ben Tzadok, so it seems that during the time of Azaryah the kehunah gedolah was taken from the lineage of Tzadok and passed on to a different lineage for reasons unknown.1

In any case, basically nothing is known about most of these kohanim.2 Chiddushei Aggadot on Zevachim 101b states that he found a commentary by the Ra"sh that says that all of the kohanim gedolim were descendants of Pinchas. Whether the Ra"sh or the Maharsha were familiar with Seder Olam Zuta's list is unclear.

Final note: There are some disagreements on how to understand the list of kohanim in Seder Olam Zuta. Here's a useful PDF on the variant traditions and understandings.


1 It should be noted that multiple commentators think that all of Ezra's ancestors were kohanim gedolim. This has always baffled me because that is something that is never explicitly stated in Tanach.

2 I've seen it suggested that Uriyah from the time of Achaz is Uriyah Hakohen the witness from Yeshayahu's prophecy (8:2).

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  • So, would the earliest source that mentions יהואחז, the Kohen, be Josephus?
    – GGG
    Commented Dec 21, 2022 at 18:23
  • @GGG possibly but not for certain. Because it's not clear that he's referring to him, given that the name is in Greek. And variant manuscripts might have significantly different spellings.
    – Harel13
    Commented Dec 21, 2022 at 20:41

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