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Urijah (Hebrew: אוריה, ʼŪriyāh; "Name means::flame of YHWH") (ca. Born::3229 AM–fl. Flourit::3262 AMDied::Teveth 3278 AM) was the twenty-second high priest of Israel and arguably the least faithful high priest since Eli. He is remembered chiefly for subordinating the worship of God to the worship of pagan gods and idols at the command of his king, Jehoahaz I.

Flavius Josephus[1] and the Seder 'Olam Zuṭa[2] both call him "Uriah," a variation on this name. The Hebrew spelling is probably identical.


son of::Zechariah II
brother of::Abi
father of::Azariah III
ancestor of::Hilkiah

Urijah's father was Zechariah II, and his sister was Abi, who had married Prince Ahaz when he was eleven years old and she was probably thirteen. Hence Urijah was brother-in-law to the king. He was not the first high priest in such a position; his grandfather Azariah II had been brother-in-law to King Uzziah. But whereas his grandfather had willingly confronted his king when he committed a sacrilegious act, Urijah would actively cooperate with Ahaz.

Urijah had a son, Azariah III, who would prove a much better high priest than he.


Urijah is best remembered for an act of faithlessness that recalls the decision by Aaron to fabricate the golden calf when the people of Israel asked him to. King Ahaz traveled to Damascus for a conference with King Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria, with whom he had made an alliance. While the king was away, he sent to Urijah the plans and model of a magnificent altar he had seen in Damascus, and instructed Urijah to copy it. This Urijah did. The Bible does not give the plans for this altar (2_Kings 16:10-11 ). When Ahaz returned, he performed almost all his sacrifices on this altar, and removed the proper bronze altar to a less prominent location (2_Kings 16:12-16 ).

Ahaz did not stop with the making of this altar. He removed some metal from the lampstands and even removed the twelve bronze oxen that supported the cast metal sea. He did all this at the command of Tiglath-Pileser (2_Kings 16:17-18 ). Finally he closed the doors of the Temple of Jerusalem so that it would not be used (2_Chronicles 28:24 ).


The state visit of Ahaz to Damascus took place early in Ahaz' reign and late in the reign of King Pekah. Therefore Urijah must have become high priest on or near the year of Ahaz' accession. On the other hand, the Bible says that Azariah III was in office in the first regnal year of Hezekiah (2_Chronicles 31:10 ). Thus Urijah must have been dead by then.

Preceded by
Successor of::Zechariah II
Member of::High priest
Flourit::3262 AMDied::Teveth 3278 AM
Succeeded by
Succeeded by::Azariah III
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  1. Josephus, Antiquities,
  2. Hirsch EG, "High priest," The Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906. Accessed January 2, 2009.