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ITHAMAR (Heb. אִיתָמָר; "father of Tamar"?), fourth and youngest son of *Aaron (Ex. 6:23; Num. 26:60; i Chron. 24:1). Another explanation is "Isle of Palms." Akkadian and Ugaritic ʾmr "see" could result in "He-is-Seen." At first Ithamar served as priest together with all three of his brothers (Ex. 28:1; Num. 3:2–3) while they were all alive, and after the death of *Nadab and *Abihu (Lev. 10:12; Num. 3:4; i Chron. 24:2) with *Eleazar, the other survivor and the designated successor to the high priesthood (Num. 20:28; cf. 25:13; et al.). During the wanderings in the wilderness Ithamar was assigned special duties as leader over all the Levites (Ex. 38:21) and as officer in charge of the *Gershonites (Num. 4:28) and Merarites (Num. 4:33; 7:8) in connection with the Tent of Meeting. The house of Eli apparently traced descent to Ithamar (cf. i Sam. 14:3; i Chron. 24:3; so Yal., Shofetim 68; Jos., Ant., 5:361.

[Nahum M. Sarna]

In the Aggadah

Ithamar was the third person in all Israel to be taught the Torah by Moses (i.e., after Aaron and Eleazar). He sat on Aaron's left while the rest of Israel received instruction (Er. 54b). Ithamar ultimately succeeded Eleazar as high priest (pdrk 37:134) and the office remained in his family for 42 years, until the death of the sons of Eli. God then promised that the post would return to the family of Eleazar through Zadok (a descendant of Phinehas; Yal., Shofetim, 68).


Westphal, in: zaw, 26 (1906), 222–5; Meek, in: ajsll, 45 (1929), 158–60, 165; Moehlenbrink, in: zaw, 52 (1934), 214–5, 217–9, 225; Meisler (Mazar), in: Leshonenu, 15 (1947), 40. in the aggadah: Ginzberg, Legends, 3 (1925), 134, 144; Y. Ḥasida, Ishei ha-Tanakh (1964), 61. add. bibliography: W. Propp, in: abd, 3:579–81.

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Ithamar (d. 655/64). Bishop of Rochester. Ithamar was a Kentishman and the first native bishop of the English church from c.644. Nothing else is known of him. It is remarkable that for 47 years after the coming of Augustine every bishop in England had been either Italian or Irish. His name may sound vaguely Germanic but is in fact biblical.

James Campbell

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