In traditional thought, Shimon haTzadik is widely considered the most famous and righteous of all Jewish high priests.I’d like to explore a few issues surrounding Shimon.
Shimon had a famous run-in with Greek emperor Alexander the Great:
Shimon HaTzaddik took Alexander the Great on a tour of the Temple. Alexander, very impressed, requested that a marble image of himself be placed in the Temple. Shimon demurred, saying that it was forbidden for the Jews to have images, and certainly not in the Temple. He suggested an alternative way of memorializing the occasion of the Emperor’s visit to the Holy City of the Jews. That would be that all male babies born that year would receive the name “Alexander.” The Emperor liked the idea, and that is how the name “Alexander” became part of the set of names conferred upon Jewish male babies.
Here are religious Jews worshipping at the tomb of Shimon haTzadik in East Jerusalem:
According to traditional thought, there were lots of miraculous events surrounding Shimon haTzadik’s ministry.
Shimon haTzadik, from Wikipedia:
During Simeon’s administration seven miracles are said to have taken place. A blessing rested (1) on the offering of the first fruits, (2) on the two sacrificial loaves, and (3) on the loaves of showbread, in that, although each priest received a portion no larger than an olive, he ate and was satiated without even consuming the whole of it; (4) the lot cast for God (see Lev. xvi.8) always came into the right hand; (5) the red thread around the neck of the goat or ram invariably became white on the Day of Atonement; (6) the light in the Temple never failed; and (7) the fire on the altar required but little wood to keep it burning (Yoma 39b; Men. 109b; Yer. Yoma vi.3).
Here is a curious story about Shimon haTzadik:
Simeon is said to have held office for forty years (Yoma 9a; Yer. Yoma i.1, v.2; Lev. R. xxi). On a certain Day of Atonement he came from the Holy of Holies in a melancholy mood, and when asked the reason, he replied that on every Day of Atonement a figure clothed in white had ushered him into the Holy of Holies and then had escorted him out. This time, however, the apparition had been clothed in black and had conducted him in, but had not led him out—a sign that that year was to be his last. He is said to have died seven days later (Yoma 39b; Tosef., Soṭah, xv; Yer. Yoma v.1).
According to the well-known inter-testamental Jewish writer Jesus Ben Sira:
After Simeon’s death men ceased to utter the Tetragrammaton aloud (Yoma 30b; Tosef, Soṭah, xiii.).
That’s a lot to take in, on one read. Read it again, just to make sure you get it.
Now let’s take a step back and summarise.
Apparently, when Shimon haTzadik was carrying out he had a vision of a man clothed in white, who led him into the Holy of Holies.
Shimon haTzadik was the High Priest, Israel’s intermediary between God and man, giving to God Temple sacrifices, offerings, prayers and praise, on behalf of the Jewish people. If anyone should feel like he has a pro-active role in Israel’s religious life, it would be Shimon.
But in Shimon’s visions, he is passively led into the Holy of Holies. In his mind, at least, Shimon does not actively enter into the innermost sanctuary of his own accord. He is invited in by someone else, like a guest.
Who is this figure between Shimon haTzadik and God? Shimon may have been making it up, dreaming or hallucinating, but he may have seen an angel, or he may have seen Moshiach himself. It’s hard to say anything conclusively.
What’s interesting, is that after Shimon’s death, Jews stopped saying God’s name. That is,
The greatest Jewish high priest in Israel’s history died, and people dared not speak God’s holy name, yud-hey-vav-hey.
If this is true with the death of Shimon haTzadik, how much more is this true with Yeshua haMoshiach?
The greatest Jewish high priest in Israel’s history died, and people dare not speak God’s holy name, Yeshua.