ith'-a-mar ('ithamar, "land" or "island of palms": Gesenius; or "father of Tamar," 'i, being perhaps for 'abhi: Cook in Encyclopedia Biblica--though both derivations are uncertain): The 4th son of Aaron (Ex 6:23; 28:1; 1Ch 6:3), Eleazar being the 3rd son, Nadab and Abihu the 1st and 2nd sons. While Nadab and Abihu were prematurely cut off for offering strange fire before the Lord (Le 10:1,2; Nu 3:4; 26:61), and Eleazar was appointed chief of the tribe of Levi (Ex 6:23,25) and ultimately succeeded Aaron (Ex 28:1), Ithamar was made the treasurer of the offerings for the Tabernacle (Ex 38:21), and superintendent of the Gershonites and Merarites in the service of the Tabernacle (Nu 4:28,33). In the time of Eli the high-priesthood had come to be in his family, but how, and whether before Eli's day or first in Eli's person, is not told and need not be conjectured. W. R. Smith in Encyclopedia Biblica (art. "Eli"), on the strength of 1Sa 2:27,28, holds that the priesthood was originally in Eli's line; but the words "the house of thy father" do not necessarily mean only the house of Ithamar, but may, and most probably do, refer to Aaron and his descendants, of whom Ithamar was one. Nor does the cutting off of Eli's family from the priesthood and the setting in their place of "a faithful priest," who should do everything according to Yahweh's will and walk before Yahweh's anointed forever, find its complete fulfillment in the deposition of Abiathar or Ahimelech, his son, and the installation of Zadok in the time of Solomon (1Ki 2:35; 1Ch 29:22; see ZADOK). A descendant of Ithamar, Daniel by name, is mentioned among the exiles who returned from Babylon (Ezr 8:2).

T. Whitelaw

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