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Kohen ( he, כֹּהֵן' Cohen, "priest", pl. Cohanim, ' "priests") is the Hebrew word for "
priest A priest is a religious leader Clergy are formal leaders within established religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social w ...

priest
", used in reference to the
Aaron Aaron ''′aharon'', ar, هارون, Hārūn, Ancient Greek, Greek (Septuagint): wikt:Ἀαρών, Ἀαρών; often called Aaron the priest () and once Aaron the Levite () (Exodus 4:14)., group="note" ( or ; ''’Ahărōn'', Arabic: هار ...

Aaron
ic priesthood, also called Aaronides.
Levitical A Levite (or Levi) (, ) is a Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in ...
priests or ''kohanim'' are traditionally believed and halakhically required to be of direct
patrilineal descent Patrilineality, also known as the male line, the spear side or agnatic kinship, is a common kinship In anthropology, kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although ...
from the
biblical The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, ''tà biblía'', "the books") is a collection of religious texts or scriptures sacred to Christians, Jews, Samaritans, Rastafari and others. It appears in the form of an anthology, a compilat ...

biblical
Aaron Aaron ''′aharon'', ar, هارون, Hārūn, Ancient Greek, Greek (Septuagint): wikt:Ἀαρών, Ἀαρών; often called Aaron the priest () and once Aaron the Levite () (Exodus 4:14)., group="note" ( or ; ''’Ahărōn'', Arabic: هار ...

Aaron
(also ''Aharon''), brother of Moses. During the existence of the
Temple in Jerusalem Two ancient Israelite The Israelites (; he, בני ישראל ''Bnei Yisra'el'') were a confederation of Iron Age ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during th ...
, ''kohanim'' performed the daily and holiday ( Yom Tov) duties of sacrificial offerings. Today, ''kohanim'' retain a lesser though distinct status within
Rabbinic Rabbinic Judaism ( he, יהדות רבנית, Yahadut Rabanit), also called Rabbinism, Rabbinicism, or Judaism espoused by the Rabbanites, has been the mainstream form of Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, als ...
and
Karaite Judaism Karaite Judaism () or Karaism (, sometimes spelt Karaitism (; ; also spelt Qaraite Judaism, Qaraism or Qaraitism) is a Jewish religious movement Jewish religious movements, sometimes called "Religious denomination, denominations", include d ...
, and are bound by additional restrictions according to
Orthodox Judaism Orthodox Judaism is the collective term for the traditionalist branches of contemporary Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, ...
. In the
Samaritan Samaritans (; ; he, שומרונים, translit=Shomronim; ar, السامريون, translit=as-Sāmiriyyūn) or Samaritan people are members of an ethnoreligious group originating from the Israelites of historical History of ancient Israel a ...

Samaritan
community, the kohanim have remained the primary religious leaders. Ethiopian Jewish religious leaders are sometimes called ''
kahen Kahen ( gez, ካህን ''kahən'' "priest", plural ''kahənat'') is a religious role in Beta Israel second only to the monk or ''falasyan''. Their duty is to maintain and preserve the Haymanot among the people. This has become more difficult by ...
'', a form of the same word, but the position is not hereditary and their duties are more like those of
rabbi A rabbi () is a spiritual leader or religious teacher in Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civili ...

rabbi
s than kohanim in most Jewish communities.


Etymology

The word ''kohen'' originally derives from a
Semitic root The root (linguistics), roots of verbs and most nouns in the Semitic languages are characterized as a sequence of consonants or "wikt:radical, radicals" (hence the term consonantal root). Such abstract consonantal roots are used in the formation of ...
common at least to the
Central Semitic languages The Central Semitic languages are a proposed intermediate group of Semitic languages The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental co ...
; In the ancient polytheistic religion of
Phoenicia Phoenicia () was an ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – 3 ...
, the word for priest was ''khn'' (). The
cognate In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Itali ...
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
word ''kāhin'' means priest, or " soothsayer,
augur An augur was a priest and official in the classical Roman world. His main role was the practice of augury Augury is the practice from ancient Roman religion Religion in ancient Rome includes the ancestral ethnic religion In religiou ...

augur
". The
noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many l ...

noun
''kohen'' is used in the
Torah The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Heb ...

Torah
to refer to
priest A priest is a religious leader Clergy are formal leaders within established religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social w ...

priest
s, whether Jewish or pagan, such as the ''kohanim'' ("priests") of
Baal Baal (), properly Baal,; phn, , baʿl; hbo, , baʿal, ). was a title and honorific An honorific is a title that conveys esteem, courtesy, or respect for position or rank when used in addressing or referring to a person. Sometimes, the term " ...

Baal
( 2 Kings 10:19) or
Dagon Dagon ( he, דָּגוֹן, ''Dāgōn''), or more accurately Dagan, ( sux, 2= dda-gan, 𒀭𒁕𒃶; phn, 𐤃𐤂𐤍, Dāgān) was a god worshiped in ancient Syria The history of Syria covers events which occurred on the territory of the ...

Dagon
, although Christian priests are referred to in modern Hebrew by the term ''komer'' (). ''Kohanim'' can also refer to the Jewish nation as a whole, as in , where the whole of Israel is addressed as a "priestly kingdom and a holy nation". Translations in the paraphrase of the Aramaic
Targum A targum ( arc, תרגום 'interpretation, translation, version') was an originally spoken translation of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic la ...

Targum
ic interpretations include "friend" in
Targum Yonathan Targum Jonathan (), otherwise referred to as Targum Yonasan/Yonatan, is the official eastern (Babylon Babylon was the capital city of the ancient Babylonian empire, which itself is a term referring to either of two separate empires in the Mesopot ...
to 2 Kings 10:11, "master" in Targum to
Amos AMOS or Advanced Mortar System is a Finno-Swedish 120 mm automatic twin barrel A barrel or cask is a hollow cylindrical A cylinder (from ) has traditionally been a Solid geometry, three-dimensional solid, one of the most basic of ...
7:10, and "minister" in Mechilta to Parshah Jethro (Exodus 18:1–20:23). As a starkly different translation the title "worker" (Rashi on Exodus 29:30) and "servant" (Targum to
Jeremiah Jeremiah, Modern Modern may refer to: History *Modern history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human acti ...
48:7), have been offered as a translation as well.


Biblical origins

The status of kohen was conferred on
Aaron Aaron ''′aharon'', ar, هارون, Hārūn, Ancient Greek, Greek (Septuagint): wikt:Ἀαρών, Ἀαρών; often called Aaron the priest () and once Aaron the Levite () (Exodus 4:14)., group="note" ( or ; ''’Ahărōn'', Arabic: هار ...

Aaron
, the brother of Moses, and his sons as an everlasting
covenant Covenant may refer to: Religion * Covenant (religion) In religion, a covenant is a formal alliance or agreement made by God with a religious community or with humanity in general. The concept, central to the Abrahamic religions The Abraha ...
or a covenant of salt. During the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness and until the
Holy Temple The Temple in Jerusalem was any of a series of structures which were located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. These successive temples stood at this location and func ...
was built in
Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس, ', , (combining the Biblical and common usage Arabic names); grc, Ἱερουσαλήμ/Ἰεροσόλυμα, Hierousalḗm/Hierosóluma; hy, Երուսաղեմ, Erusał ...

Jerusalem
, the priests performed their priestly service in the portable
Tabernacle According to the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah, the Nevi'im, and the Ketuvim. These texts are almost exclus ...
. (, , , ) Their duties involved offering the daily and
Jewish holiday Jewish holidays, also known as Jewish festivals or ''Yamim Tovim'' ( he, ימים טובים, , Good Days, or singular , in transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script Script may refer to: Writ ...
sacrifices Sacrifice is the offering of food, objects or the lives of animals or humans to a higher purpose, in particular divine beings, as an act of propitiation or worship. Evidence of ritual animal sacrifice has been seen at least ancient Hebrew and ...
, and blessing the people in a
Priestly Blessing The Priestly Blessing or priestly benediction, ( he, ברכת כהנים; Transliteration, translit. ''birkat kohanim''), also known in rabbinic literature as raising of the hands (Hebrew ''nesiat kapayim'') or rising to the platform (Hebrew ''al ...
, later also known as ''Nesiat Kapayim'' ("Raising of the hands"). In a broader sense, since Aaron was a descendant of the
Tribe of Levi According to the Bible, the Tribe of Levi is one of the tribes of Israel The Twelve Tribes of Israel ( he, שבטי ישראל, translit=Shivtei Yisrael, lit=Tribes of Israel) are, according to Judeo-Christian texts, the descendants of the Biblica ...

Tribe of Levi
, priests are sometimes included in the term ''
Levite A Levite (or Levi) (, ) is a Jewish male who claims Patrilineality, patrilineal descent from the Tribe of Levi. The Tribe of Levi descended from Levi, the third son of Jacob (Bible), Jacob and Leah. The surname ''Halevi'', which consists of the ...
s'', by direct patrilineal descent. However, not all Levites are priests. When the Temple existed, most sacrifices and offerings could only be conducted by priests. Non-priest Levites (i.e. all those who descended from
Levi Levi (; ) was, according to the Book of Genesis The Book of Genesis,, "''Bərēšīṯ''", "In hebeginning" the first book of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection o ...

Levi
, the son of Jacob, but not from Aaron) performed a variety of other Temple roles, including ritual slaughter of animals, song service by use of voice and musical instruments, and various tasks in assisting the priests in performing their service.


Torah law

The Torah mentions
Melchizedek In the Bible, Melchizedek (, he, מַלְכִּי־צֶדֶק, , "king of righteousness" or "my king is righteousness"; am, መልከ ጼዴቅ, ; hy, Մելքիսեդեք, ) also transliterated Melchisedech or Malki Tzedek, was the king of S ...

Melchizedek
king of Salem, identified by
Rashi Shlomo Yitzchaki ( he, רבי שלמה יצחקי; la, Salomon Isaacides; french: Salomon de Troyes, 22 February 1040 – 13 July 1105), today generally known by the acronym Rashi (see below), was a medieval French rabbi A rabbi is a spi ...
as being
Shem Shem (; he, שֵׁם ''Šēm''; ar, سام, Sām ''Sḗm''; Ge'ez: ሴም, ''Sēm'') was one of the sons of Noah The Generations of Noah or Table of Nations, broadly referred to as ''Origines Gentium'', is a genealogy of the sons of No ...
the son of
Noah In the traditions of Abrahamic religions, Noah ''Nukh''; am, ኖህ, ''Noḥ''; ar, نُوح '; grc, Νῶε ''Nôe'' () features as the tenth and last of the Antediluvian , pre-Flood Patriarchs (Bible), patriarchs. His story appears in the ...

Noah
, as a priest (kohen) to El Elyon (the supreme God) (). The second is Potiphera, priest of Heliopolis, then Jethro, priest of Midian, both
pagan Paganism (from classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, includ ...

pagan
priests of their era. When
Esau Esau ''Ēsaû''; la, Hesau, Esau; ar, عِيسَوْ ''‘Īsaw''; meaning "hairy"Easton, M. ''Illustrated Bible Dictionary'', (, , 2006, p. 236 or "rough".Mandel, D. ''The Ultimate Who's Who in the Bible'', (.), 2007, p. 175 is the elder son o ...

Esau
sold the birthright of the first born to
Jacob Jacob (; ; ar, يَعْقُوب, Yaʿqūb; gr, Ἰακώβ, Iakṓb), later given the name Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State ...

Jacob
, Rashi explains that the priesthood was sold along with it, because by right the priesthood belongs to the first-born. Israel was supposed to become "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" , but when Israel (except the Tribe of Levi) sinned in the incident of the
golden calf According to the Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common s ...
, Moses broke the tablets containing the commandments , and then returned up the mountain after making two new tablets to receive commandments which would form the basis of the lesser law which Israel would now have to follow. The lesser priesthood was given to the Tribe of Levi, which had not been tainted by this incident Moses received the priesthood under the hand of his father-in-law, Jethro, after which he spoke to the Lord via the
burning bush The burning bush is an object described by as being located on Mount Horeb Mount Horeb (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. ...
. As a prophet, (one who speaks with God) he held this higher office within the priesthood. Aaron was ordained as the High Priest of the lesser priesthood or Aaronic Priesthood; which includes the Levitical; to parallel the lesser law the
Israelites The Israelites (; ) were a confederation of Iron Age ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during the history of ancient Israel and Judah, tribal and monarchic peri ...

Israelites
would now have to follow due to the Golden Calf incident and the subsequent revised covenant. . Moses is referred to as a priest in
Psalms The Book of Psalms ( or ; he, תְּהִלִּים, , lit. "praises"), commonly referred to simply as Psalms, the Psalter or "the Psalms", is the first book of the ("Writings"), the third section of the Tanakh The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh ...

Psalms
99:6, this refers to his being a prophet, which is an office within the higher Priesthood. Aaron received the priesthood along with his children and any descendants that would be born subsequently. However, his grandson
Phinehas According to the Hebrew Bible, Phinehas or Phineas (; , ''Finees'', ) was a Kohen, priest during the Israelites’ The Exodus, Exodus journey. The grandson of Aaron and son of Eleazar, the High Priests (), he distinguished himself as a youth at ...
had already been born, and did not receive the priesthood until he killed the prince of the
Tribe of Simeon According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Simeon (; ) was one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, twelve tribes of Israel. The Book of Judges locates its territory inside the boundaries of the Tribe of Judah. It is usually counted as one of the ten l ...

Tribe of Simeon
and the princess of the
Midianite Midian (; he, מִדְיָן ''Mīḏəyān'' ; ar, مَدْيَن, Madyan; grc-gre, Μαδιάμ, ''Madiam'') is a geographical place mentioned in the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; : , or ), is the of scriptures, including ...
s (). Thereafter, this lesser priesthood has remained with the descendants of Aaron.


Vestments

The
Torah The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Heb ...

Torah
provides for specific vestments to be worn by the priests when they are ministering in the
Tabernacle According to the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah, the Nevi'im, and the Ketuvim. These texts are almost exclus ...

Tabernacle
: "And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for dignity and for beauty" (). These garments are described in detail in , and . The high priest wore eight holy garments (''bigdei kodesh''). Of these, four were of the same type worn by all priests, and four were unique to the Kohen Gadol. Those vestments which were common to all priests, were: *
Priestly undergarments The priestly undergarments ( hbo, מִכְנְסֵי־בָד ''miḵnəsē-ḇāḏ'') were "linen Linen () is a textile A textile is a flexible material made by creating an interlocking network of yarns or thread (yarn), threads, whi ...
(Hebrew ''michnasayim'') (breeches):
linen Linen () is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant. Linen is very strong, absorbent, and dries faster than cotton. Because of these properties, linen is comfortable to wear in hot weather and is valued for use in garments. It also h ...

linen
pants reaching from the waist to the knees "to cover their nakedness" () *
Priestly tunic The priestly tunic ( he, כֻּתֹּנֶת ''kutonet'') was as an undergarment or shirt worn by the High Priest and priests when they served in the Tabernacle and the Temple in Jerusalem.Theological Dictionary of Rabbinic Judaism: Part Three P ...
(Hebrew ''ketonet'') (
tunic A tunic is a garment File:KangaSiyu1.jpg, A kanga (African garment), kanga, worn throughout the African Great Lakes region Clothing (also known as clothes, apparel, and attire) are items worn on the body. Typically, clothing is made of fabr ...
): made of pure linen, covering the entire body from the neck to the feet, with sleeves reaching to the wrists. That of the high priest was embroidered (); those of the priests were plain (). *
Priestly sash Hebrew Bible The priestly sash or girdle (Hebrew ''avnet'') was part of the ritual garments worn by the High Priest (Judaism), Jewish and kohen, priests of ancient Israel whenever they served in the Tabernacle or the Temple in Jerusalem. The ...
(Hebrew ''avnet'') (sash): that of the high priest was of fine linen with "
embroidered work
embroidered work
" in blue and purple and scarlet (, ); those worn by the priests were of white, twined linen. *
Priestly turban in his Golden Garments wearing the mitre on his head. The priest on one knee beside him is wearing the conical ''migbahat''. Image:LEV 8- High priest in robes and breastplate.jpg, Another view of the ''mitznefet''. The priestly mitre or turban ...
(Hebrew ''mitznefet''): that of the high priest was much larger than that of the priests and wound so that it formed a broad, flat-topped turban; that for priests was wound so that it formed a cone-shaped turban, called a ''migbahat''. The vestments that were unique to the high priest were: * Priestly robe (''me'il'') ("robe of the ephod"): a sleeveless, blue robe, the lower hem of which was fringed with small golden bells alternating with
pomegranate The pomegranate (''Punica granatum'') is a fruit In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who speci ...

pomegranate
-shaped tassels in blue, purple, and scarlet—
tekhelet ''Tekhelet'' ( he, תְּכֵלֶת; alternate spellings include ''tekheleth'', ''t'chelet'', ''techelet'' and ''techeiles'') is a "blue-violet", "blue", or "turquoise" dye highly prized by ancient Mediterranean civilizations and mentioned 49 time ...
, ''argaman'' (purple), '' tolaat shani''. *
Ephod wearing the sacred vestments. The ephod is depicted here in yellow. An ephod ( he, אֵפוֹד ''’êp̄ōḏ''; or ) was an artifact and an object to be revered in ancient Israelite The Israelites (; he, בני ישראל ''Bnei Yisra' ...
: a richly embroidered vest or apron with two
onyx Onyx primarily refers to the parallel banded variety of the silicate mineral Silicate minerals are rock-forming mineral In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "dis ...

onyx
engraved gem An engraved gem, frequently referred to as an intaglio, is a small and usually semi-precious A gemstone (also called a fine gem, jewel, precious stone, or semi-precious stone) is a piece of mineral In geology Geology (from the Ancien ...
stones on the shoulders, on which were engraved the names of the tribes of Israel *
Priestly breastplate The priestly breastplate ( he, חֹשֶׁן ''ẖošen'') was a sacred breastplate worn by the High Priest of the Israelites, according to the Book of Exodus The Book of Exodus is the second book of the Torah and of the Old Testament. Starti ...
(Hebrew ''hoshen''): with twelve gems, each engraved with the name of one of the tribes; a pouch in which he probably carried the
Urim and Thummim In the , the Urim and the Thummim ( he, הָאוּרִים וְהַתֻּמִּים, : ''ha-Urim veha-Tummim'' : ''hāʾÛrîm wəhatTummîm''; meaning uncertain, possibly "Lights and Perfections") are elements of the ', the breastplate ...
. It was fastened to the Ephod * On the front of the turban was a golden plate inscribed with the words: "Holiness unto
YHWH The Tetragrammaton (; ), or Tetragram, is the four-letter Hebrew language, Hebrew word (transliterated as YHWH), the name of the national god of Israel. The four letters, read from right to left, are ''yodh'', ''he (letter), he'', ''waw (let ...

YHWH
" attached to the mitznefet. The high priest, like all priests, would minister barefoot when he was serving in the Temple. Like all of the priests, he had to immerse himself in the
ritual bath Ritual purification is the ritual prescribed by a religion by which a person is considered to be free of ''uncleanliness'', especially prior to the worship of a deity, and ritual purity is a state of ritual cleanliness. Ritual purification may a ...
before vesting and wash his hands and his feet before performing any sacred act. The
Talmud The Talmud (; he, תַּלְמוּד ''Tálmūḏ'') is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (''halakha'') and Jewish theology. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the ...

Talmud
teaches that neither the kohanim nor the Kohen Gadol were fit to minister unless they wore their priestly vestments: "While they are clothed in the priestly garments, they are clothed in the priesthood; but when they are not wearing the garments, the priesthood is not upon them" (B.Zevachim 17:B). It is further taught that just as the
sacrifices Sacrifice is the offering of food, objects or the lives of animals or humans to a higher purpose, in particular divine beings, as an act of propitiation or worship. Evidence of ritual animal sacrifice has been seen at least ancient Hebrew and ...
facilitate an
atonement Atonement (also atoning, to atone) is the concept of a person taking action to correct previous wrongdoing on their part, either through direct action to undo the consequences of that act, equivalent action to do good for others, or some other e ...
for
sin In a religious Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, beliefs, worldviews, religious text, texts, shrine, sanctified places, prophecy, prophecies, ...

sin
, so do the priestly garments (B.Zevachim 88b). The high priest had two sets of holy garments: the "golden garments" detailed above, and a set of white "linen garments" (''bigdei ha-bad'') which he wore only on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) (). On that day, he would change his holy garments four times, beginning in the golden garments but changing into the Linen Garments for the two moments when he would enter the
Holy of Holies#REDIRECT Holy of Holies The Holy of Holies ( Tiberian Hebrew: ''Qṓḏeš HaQŏḏāšîm'') or HaDvir ( he, הדְּבִיר, lt. " heSanctuary") is a term in the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical ...

Holy of Holies
(the first time to offer the blood of atonement and the incense, and the second time to retrieve the censer), and then change back again into the golden garments after each time. He would immerse in the ritual bath before each change of garments, washing his hands and his feet after removing the garments and again before putting the other set on. The linen garments were only four in number, those corresponding to the garments worn by all priests (undergarments, tunic, sash and turban), but made only of white linen, with no embroidery. They could be worn only once, new sets being made each year.


High Priest

In every generation when the Temple was standing, one kohen would be singled out to perform the functions of the High Priest (Hebrew ''kohen gadol''). His primary task was the
Day of Atonement Yom Kippur (; he, יוֹם כִּיפּוּר, , or ), also known as the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year in Judaism Judaism ( he, יהדות, ''Yahadut''; originally from Hebrew , ''Yehudah'', "Kingdom of Judah, Judah", ...
service. Another unique task of the high priest was the offering of a daily meal sacrifice; he also held the prerogative to supersede any priest and offer any offering he chose. Although the
Torah The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Heb ...

Torah
retains a procedure to select a High Priest when needed, in the absence of the Temple in Jerusalem, there is no High Priest in Judaism today.


Twenty-four kohanic divisions

King David David (; ) (traditional spelling), , ''Dāwūd''; grc-koi, Δαυΐδ, Dauíd; la, Davidus, David; gez , ዳዊት, ''Dawit''; xcl, Դաւիթ, ''Dawitʿ''; cu, Давíдъ, ''Davidŭ''; possibly meaning "beloved one". is described in th ...

King David
assigned each of the 24 priestly clans by lot to a weekly watch (Heb. משמרת, ''mishmeret'') during which its members were responsible for maintaining the schedule of offerings at the Temple in Jerusalem, in accordance with . Prior to that time, the priestly courses numbered a mere eight. This newly instated a cycle of priestly courses, or
priestly divisions The priestly divisions or sacerdotal courses ( he, מִשְׁמָר ''mishmar'') are the groups into which Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are members of an ethnoreligious group and ...
, which repeated itself roughly twice each year. When the
First First or 1st is the ordinal form of the number one (#1). First or 1st may also refer to: *World record A world record is usually the best global and most important performance that is ever recorded and officially verified in a specific skill ...

First
and
Second The second (symbol: s, also abbreviated: sec) is the base unit of time Time is the continued sequence of existence and event (philosophy), events that occurs in an apparently irreversible process, irreversible succession from the past, th ...

Second
Temples were built, the priests of Aaron's lineage assumed these roles in the Temple in Jerusalem. Each of the 24 groups consisted of six priestly families, with each of the six serving one day of the week. On the
Sabbath In Abrahamic religions The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of -originated s that claim descent from the of the ancient and the worship of the . The Abrahamic ...

Sabbath
day, all six worked in tandem. According to later rabbinical interpretation, these 24 groups changed every Sabbath at the completion of the
MussafMussaf (also spelled Musaf) is an additional Jewish services, service that is recited on Shabbat, Jewish holidays, Yom Tov, Chol Hamoed, and Rosh Chodesh. The service, which is traditionally combined with the Shacharit in synagogues, is considered to ...
service.. However, on the biblical festivals all 24 were present in the Temple for duty. According to the Jerusalem Talmud (Ta‘anith 4:2 / 20a): "Four wards came up out of exile: Yedaiah, Harim, Pašḥūr and Immer. The prophets among them had made a stipulation with them, namely, that even if Jehoiariv should come up out of exile, the officiating ward that serves in the Temple at that time should not be rejected on his account, but rather, he is to become secondary unto them."


Destruction of the Second Temple

Following the Temple's destruction at the end of the
First Jewish–Roman War The First Jewish–Roman War (66–73 CE), sometimes called the Great Jewish Revolt ( he, המרד הגדול '), or The Jewish War, was the first of three major rebellions by the Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Isra ...
and the displacement to the
Galilee Galilee (; he, הַגָּלִיל, ha-galil; ar, الجليل, al-jalīl) is a region located in northern Israel and southern Lebanon. Galilee traditionally refers to the mountainous part, divided into Upper Galilee (, ; , ) and Lower Galil ...

Galilee
of the bulk of the remaining Jewish population in
Judea Judea or Judaea ( or ; from he, יהודה, Standard Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Standard (flag), a type of flag used for personal identification Norm, convention or requirement * Standard (metrolog ...

Judea
at the end of the
Bar Kokhba revolt The Bar Kokhba revolt ( he, מֶרֶד בַּר כּוֹכְבָא, links=no; ''Mered Bar Kokhba'') was a rebellion of the Jews of the , led by , against the . Fought circa 132–136 CE, it was the last of three major , so it is also known as T ...
, Jewish tradition in the
Talmud The Talmud (; he, תַּלְמוּד ''Tálmūḏ'') is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (''halakha'') and Jewish theology. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the ...

Talmud
and poems from the period record that the descendants of each priestly watch established a separate residential seat in towns and villages of the Galilee, and maintained this residential pattern for at least several centuries in anticipation of the reconstruction of the Temple and reinstitution of the cycle of priestly courses. Specifically, this kohanic settlement region stretched from the
Beit Netofa Valley The Beit Netofa Valley ( he, בקעת בית נטופה) is a valley in the Lower Galilee region of Israel, midway between Tiberias and Haifa. Covering 46 km2, it is the largest valley in the mountainous part of the Galilee and one of the large ...
, through the
Nazareth Nazareth ( ; ar, النَّاصِرَة, ''an-Nāṣira''; he, נָצְרַת, ''Nāṣəraṯ''; arc, ܢܨܪܬ, ''Naṣrath'') is the largest city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human ...

Nazareth
region to
Arbel Arbel ( he, אַרְבֵּל) is a moshav A moshav ( he, מוֹשָׁב, plural ', lit. ''settlement, village'') is a type of Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל; ar, إِسْرَائِيل), officially known as the State of I ...

Arbel
and the vicinity of
Tiberias Tiberias ( ; he, טְבֶרְיָה, ; ar, طبريا, Ṭabariyyā) is an Israeli city on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Established around 20 Common Era, CE, it was named in honour of the List of Roman emperors, second emperor of the ...

Tiberias
. In subsequent years, there was a custom of publicly recalling every
Shabbat Shabbat (, , or ; he, שַׁבָּת, Šabat, , ) or the Sabbath, also called Shabbos ( yi, שבת) by , is 's day of rest on the seventh day of the —i.e., . On this day, religious remember the biblical stories describing the and the redem ...

Shabbat
in the synagogues the courses of the priests, a practice that reinforced the prestige of the priests' lineage. Professor Yosef Tobi, describing a stone inscription found in Yemen and which contains a partial list of the names (in Hebrew) of the twenty-four priestly courses and their places of residence, writes: "As for the probable strong spiritual attachment held by the Jews of Ḥimyar for the Land of Israel, this is also attested to by an inscription bearing the names of the ''miśmarōṯ'' (priestly wards), which was initially discovered in September 1970 by W. Müller and then, independently, by P. Grjaznevitch within a mosque in Bayt al-Ḥāḍir, a village situated near Tan‘im, east of Ṣanʻā’. This inscription has been published by several European scholars, but the seminal study was carried out by Ephraim Urbach, E.E. Urbach (1973), one of the most important scholars of rabbinic literature in the previous generation. The priestly wards were seen as one of the most distinctive elements in the collective memory of the Jewish people as a nation during the period of Roman and Byzantine rule in the Land of Israel following the destruction of the Second Temple, insofar as they came to symbolize Jewish worship within the Land." It is now uncertain when this stone inscription was first engraved, but certainly it dates back to a time near the Second Temple’s destruction. The complete list of sacerdotal names would normally have included twenty-four priestly wards. However, today, the stone inscription contains only a partial list of their names, with their former places of residence – beginning from the fourth ward, and ending with the fourteenth ward. This was because the stone had been partially broken away, as also part of which was hidden underground. This is the longest roster of names of this kind ever discovered unto this day:


Mishnah and Talmud


Qualifications and disqualifications

Although kohanim may assume their duties once they reached physical maturity, the fraternity of kohanim generally would not allow young kohanim to begin service until they reached the age of twenty, and some opinions state that this age was thirty. There was no mandatory retirement age. Only when a kohen became physically infirm could he no longer serve. A kohen may become disqualified from performing his service for a host of reasons, including, but not limited to, Tumah, marital defilements, and physical blemishes. Of importance is that the kohen is never permanently disqualified from service but is permitted to return to his normal duties once the disqualification ceases.


Twenty-four kohanic gifts

The kohanim were compensated for their service to the nation and in the Temple through the twenty-four kohanic gifts. Of these 24 gifts, 10 are listed as to be given even outside the land of Israel. An example of the gifts given to the kohen in the Jewish diaspora are most notably the five shekels of the ''pidyon haben'' ceremony, and the giving of the foreleg, cheeks and abomasum from each Kosher-slaughtered animal.


Torah instruction

Torah verses and rabbinical commentary to the Tanakh imply that the kohen has a unique leadership role amongst the nation of Israel. In addition to the well-known role of the kohen to officiate in the sacrificial activity in the Temple (the Korbanot), the kohen is presumed to have the responsibility of being knowledgeable in the laws and nuances of the Torah and to be able to give accurate instruction in those laws to the Jewish people. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch explains this responsibility as not being the exclusive Torah instructors, but working in tandem with the rabbinic leaders of the era, while other rabbinic greats – notably the Chasam Sofer and Maharitz Chayes – acknowledged a unique assignment of torah instruction to the descendants of Aaron.


Modern application

After the destruction of the Second Temple and the suspension of sacrificial offerings, the formal role of priests in sacrificial services came to an end temporarily (until the rebuilding of the temple once more). Kohanim, however, retain a formal and public ceremonial role in synagogue prayer services. Kohanim also have a limited number of other special duties and privileges in Jewish religious practice. These special roles have been maintained in
Orthodox Judaism Orthodox Judaism is the collective term for the traditionalist branches of contemporary Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, ...
, and sometimes in Conservative Judaism. Reform Judaism does not afford any special status or recognition to kohanim.


Synagogue ''aliyah''

Every Monday, Thursday and
Shabbat Shabbat (, , or ; he, שַׁבָּת, Šabat, , ) or the Sabbath, also called Shabbos ( yi, שבת) by , is 's day of rest on the seventh day of the —i.e., . On this day, religious remember the biblical stories describing the and the redem ...

Shabbat
in Orthodox synagogues (and many Conservative ones as well), a portion from the Torah is read aloud in the original Hebrew language, Hebrew in front of the congregation. On weekdays, this reading is divided into three; it is customary to call a kohen for the first reading (''aliyah''), a Levite for the second reading, and an "''Israelite''" (non-kohen or non-levi) to the third reading. On Shabbat, the reading is divided into seven portions; a kohen is called for the first ''aliyah'', a levite to the second, and "''Israelites''" for the rest. If a kohen is not present, it is customary in many communities for a Levite to take the first ''aliyah'' "''bimkom kohen''" (in the place of a kohen) and an Israelite the second and succeeding ones. This custom is not required by halakha (Jewish law), however (and some opinions discourage it), and Israelites may be called up for all aliyot. If there is no Levite, the kohen is called for the second aliyah as well. In the late 12th and early 13th century, Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg ruled that, in a community consisting entirely of kohanim, the prohibition on calling kohanim for anything but the first two and ''maftir'' ''aliyot'' creates a deadlock situation which should be resolved by calling women to the Torah for all the intermediate ''aliyot''. The Conservative Judaism, Conservative Rabbinical Assembly's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS), consistent with the Conservative movement's general view of the role of kohanim, has ruled that the practice of calling a kohen to the first aliyah represents a custom rather than a law, and that accordingly, a Conservative rabbi is not obligated to follow it. As such, in some Conservative synagogues, this practice is not followed. Priests (and in their absence, occasionally Levites) are also the first offered the opportunity to lead the communal grace after meals. Unlike the general rule for aliyot, this offer may be declined. There are other rules regarding the honoring of kohanim, even in the absence of the Temple, but generally these are waived (if they are even offered) by the kohen.


Priestly blessing

The kohanim participating in an Orthodox and some other styles of traditional Jewish prayer service also deliver the priestly blessing, during the repetition of the ''Shemoneh Esrei''. They perform this service by standing and facing the crowd in the front of the congregation, with their arms held outwards and their hands and fingers in a specific formation, with a Jewish prayer shawl or Talit covering their heads and outstretched hands so that their fingers cannot be seen. Kohanim living in Israel and many Sephardic Jews living in areas outside Israel deliver the priestly blessing daily; Ashkenazi Jews living outside Israel deliver it only on Jewish holidays.


Pidyon Haben (Redemption of the firstborn)

Outside the synagogue, the kohen leads the ''Pidyon Haben'' ceremony. This symbolic Redemption of the first-born son is based on the Torah commandment, "and you shall redeem all the firstborn of man among your sons".


Effects on marital status

Orthodox Judaism Orthodox Judaism is the collective term for the traditionalist branches of contemporary Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, ...
recognizes the rules regulating marriage for Jews of priestly stock as being in full force. Rabbinic courts will uphold the laws and will not officiate in a marriage that involves a man who is a kohen and a Jewish woman who is divorced from an earlier marriage. Areas where Orthodox approaches may create different results include situations where a woman has been raped, kidnapped or held hostage, descendants of converts whose Judaism status turned out to be subject to doubt, ambiguous prior dating histories, and other potentially ambiguous or difficult situations. A priest of Aaron's lineage (i.e. kohen) is forbidden by the Mosaic Law (Torah) to marry a divorced woman even if she were a native Israelite. Likewise, a male descendant from Aaron's line is prohibited to marry a Jewish woman who has had intercourse with a non-Jew, whether she had been raped or she had willfully done so. So, too, he cannot marry a Jewish woman whose birth was by a father who is a kohen but who violated one of these prohibitions. If he went ahead and did one of these three things, his male issue born from such union is no longer a priest (i.e. kohen), but rather becomes a ''Ḥallal'' (Lev. 21:7, 14) - a term designating one who is no longer a priest, but profaned. A priest must maintain an untainted lineage, and his mother must be of Jewish birth. If he married a non-Jewish woman from the gentile nations, his children are no longer priests, but gentiles. Had a priest of Aaron's lineage transgressed this prohibition and married a divorced woman, and they had children together, all of his female issue - whether his, or his sons, or his grandchildren - would be prohibited from marrying into the priestly stock for all generations. Rape poses an especially poignant problem. The pain experienced by the families of kohanim who were required to divorce their wives as the result of the rapes accompanying the capture of Jerusalem is alluded to in this Mishnah:
If a woman were imprisoned by non-Jews concerning money affairs, she is permitted to her husband, but if for some capital offense, she is forbidden to her husband. If a town were overcome by besieging troops, all women of priestly stock found in it are ineligible [to be married to priests or to remain married to priests], but if they had witnesses, even a slave, or even a bondswoman, these may be believed. But no man may be believed for himself. Rabbi Zechariah ben Hakatsab said, "By this Temple, her hand did not stir from my hand from the time the non-Jews entered Jerusalem until they went out." They said to him: No man may give evidence of himself.


Israel

The Israeli rabbinate will not perform a marriage halakhically forbidden to a kohen. For example, a kohen cannot legally marry a divorced or converted woman in the State of Israel, although a foreign marriage would be recognized.


Conservative Jewish view

Conservative Judaism has issued an emergency ''takanah'' (rabbinical edict) temporarily suspending the application of the rules in their entirety, on the grounds that the high intermarriage rate threatens the survival of Judaism, and hence that any marriage between Jews is welcomed. The ''takanah'' declares that the offspring of such marriages are to be regarded as kohanim. The movement allows a kohen to marry a convert or divorcee for these reasons: * Since the Temple in Jerusalem is no longer extant and ''korbanot'' should not be restored, kohanim are no longer able to perform Temple services in a state of ritual purity. * Because the intermarriage crisis among American Jewry is an extreme situation, the Conservative movement feels it must support the decision of two Jews to marry. Kohanim to this day maintain the general prohibition of not being exposed to the dead (within the same room, at a cemetery, and elsewhere).


Bat kohen

''Kohen'' was a status that traditionally referred to men, passed from father to son, although there were situations where a ''bat kohen,'' daughter of a kohen, enjoyed some special status. For example, the first-born son of a bat ''kohen'', or the first-born son of a ''bat levi'' (the daughter of any levite) did not require the ritual of ''Pidyon HaBen.'' In addition, females, although they did not serve in the Tabernacle or the Temple, were permitted to eat or benefit from some of the 24 kohanic gifts. However, if a kohen's daughter married a man from outside the kohanic line, she was no longer permitted to benefit from the kohanic gifts. Conversely, the daughter of a non-kohen who married a kohen took on the same rights as an unmarried daughter of a kohen.


Modern times

Today, Orthodox and many Conservative rabbis maintain the position that only a man can act as a kohen, and that a daughter of a kohen is recognized as a ''bat kohen'' only in those very limited ways that have been identified in the past. Other Conservative rabbis, along with some Reform Judaism, Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism, Reconstructionist rabbis, are prepared to give equal kohen status to the daughter of a kohen. Orthodox Judaism maintains that the privileges and status of ''kohanim'' stem primarily from their offerings and activities in the Temple. Accordingly, in Orthodox Judaism only men can perform the
Priestly Blessing The Priestly Blessing or priestly benediction, ( he, ברכת כהנים; Transliteration, translit. ''birkat kohanim''), also known in rabbinic literature as raising of the hands (Hebrew ''nesiat kapayim'') or rising to the platform (Hebrew ''al ...
and receive the first ''aliyah'' during the public Torah reading, and women are generally not permitted to officiate in a ''Pidyon HaBen'' ceremony. However, the question of what acts (if any) a ''bat kohen'' can perform in an Orthodox context is a subject of current discussion and debate in some Orthodox circles. Some women's prayer groups that practice under the halakhic guidance of non-Orthodox rabbis, and which conduct Torah readings for women only, have adapted a custom of calling a ''bat kohen'' for the first ''aliyah'' and a ''Levite#Bat Levi, bat levi'' for the second. Conservative Judaism, consistent with its view that sacrifices in the Temple will not be restored and in light of many congregations' commitment to gender (but not caste) egalitarianism, interprets the Talmudic relevant passages to permit elimination of most distinctions between male and female ''kohanim'' in congregations that retain traditional tribal roles while modifying traditional gender roles. The Conservative movement bases this leniency on the view that the privileges of the kohen come not from offering Temple offerings but solely from lineal sanctity, and that ceremonies like the Priestly Blessing should evolve from their Temple-based origins. (The argument for women's involvement in the Priestly Blessing acknowledges that only male ''kohanim'' could perform this ritual in the days of the Temple, but that the ceremony is no longer rooted in Temple practice; its association with the Temple was by rabbinic decree; and rabbis therefore have the authority to permit the practice to evolve from its Temple-based roots). As a result, some Conservative synagogues permit a ''bat kohen'' to perform the Priestly Blessing and the Pidyon HaBen ceremony, and to receive the first ''aliyah'' during the Torah reading. The Conservative halakha committee in Israel has ruled that women do not receive such ''aliyot'' and cannot validly perform such functions (rabbi Robert Harris, 5748). Therefore, not all Conservative congregations or rabbis permit these roles for ''bnot kohanim'' (daughters of priests). Moreover, many egalitarian-oriented Conservative synagogues have abolished traditional tribal roles and do not perform ceremonies involving ''kohanim'' (such as the Priestly Blessing or calling a kohen to the first ''aliyah''), and many traditionalist Conservative synagogues have retained traditional gender roles and do not permit women to perform these roles at all. Because most Reform Judaism, Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism, Reconstructionist temples have abolished traditional tribal distinctions, roles, and identities on grounds of egalitarianism, a special status for a ''bat kohen'' has very little significance in these movements.


Genetic testing

Since the Y chromosome is inherited only from one's father (women have no Y chromosome), all direct male lineages share a common haplotype. Therefore, testing was done across sectors of the Jewish and non-Jewish population to see if there was any commonality among their Y chromosomes. The initial research by Hammer, Skorecki, et al. was based on a limited study of 188 subjects, which identified a narrow set of genetic markers found in slightly more than 50% of Jews with a tradition of priestly descent and approximately 5% of Jews who did not believe themselves to be kohanim. Over the succeeding decade, Hammer, Skorecki, and other researchers continued to collect genetic material from Jewish and non-Jewish populations around the world. The most recent results suggest that 46% of those who have a family tradition of Priestly descent belong to the Y-DNA haplogroup identified as Haplogroup J1 (Y-DNA), J-P58, and that at least two-thirds of that 46% have very similar Y-DNA sequences indicating comparatively recent common ancestry. A further 14% of kohanim were found to belong to another lineage, in haplogroup Haplogroup J2 (Y-DNA), J2a-M410. In contrast, the so-called Cohen Modal Haplotype (CMH), a characteristic Y chromosome haplotype earlier identified in a majority of men self-reporting as kohanim, is found in as much as 5% to 8% of Jews who have no family tradition of being kohanim, and only 1.5% were found to have the closest match to the most detailed sequence. Amongst non-Jews, the CMH can be found among non-Jewish Yemenites (>67.7%) and Jordanians (~7%), but none were found to most closely match the most detailed sequence.


Cohen (and its variations) as a surname

The status of kohen in Judaism has no necessary relationship to a person's surname. Although descendants of kohanim often bear surnames that reflect their genealogy, there are many families with the surname Cohen (or any number of variations) who are not kohanim nor even Jewish. Conversely, there are many kohanim who do not have Cohen as a surname. There are numerous variations to the spelling of the surname Cohen. These are often corrupted by translation or transliteration into or from other languages, as exemplified below (not a complete list). * English language, English: ''Cohen, Cowen, Cowan, Cahn, Kahn, Cahan, Carne, Cohn, Cone, Conn, Conway, Cohan, Cohaner, Cahanman, Chaplan, Keohan, Kaplan, Katz (name), Katz'' (a Hebrew abbreviation for ''kohen zedek'' (כהן צדק) "righteous priest"), ''HaCohen'' (Cohan is also an Irish surname and Conway is also a surname of Welsh origin) * German language, German: Kohn, Cohn, Kogen, Korn, Prohn, Prohen, Kuhn, Kahn, Cahn, Kane, Kaner, Konel, Cön/Coen, Jachmann, Jachmann-Kohn, Jachkone, Kogenmann, Kogenman, Kogner, Kogener, Kagen, Cohner, Kohner, Kahnmann, Kahaneman, Cahnmann, Korenfeld * Romanization of Armenian, Armenian: Kohanian, Kohanyan * Basque language, Basque: Apeztegui ("priestly house"), Apéstegui, Apesteguia, Apaestegui, Aphesteguy * Dutch language, Dutch: Cohen, Käin, Kohn, Kon, Cogen * French language, French: Cahen, Cohen, Caen, Cahun, Chon, Kahane * Georgian language, Georgian: Koenishvili * Romanization of Greek, Greek: Koen, Kots, Kotais, Kotatis, Kothanis (see Romaniote Jews) *Somali language, Somali: Kaahin * Hungarian language, Hungarian: Kohn, Kohen, Korn, Korenfeld, Káhán, Konel * Italian language, Italian: Coen, Cohen, Prohen, Sacerdote ("priest"), Sacerdoti, Sacerdoti Coen, Rappaport (and variants) * Serbian language, Serbian: Koen, Kon, Kojen * Romanization of Persian, Persian: Kohan, Kahen, Kohanzâd, Kohanchi, Kohani, Kohanqâdoš, Kohanteb * Polish language, Polish: Kon, Kochan, Jach, Kaplan (disambiguation), Kaplan, Kaplin, Kaplon * Portuguese language, Portuguese: Cão, Cunha, Coutinho, Correia, Coelho * Romanian language, Romanian: Cozer * Russian language, Russian: Kogan, Kogen, Kogon, Kogensohn, Kagan, Kaganovich, Kaganovsky, Kokhen (Kochen), Kazhdan/Kazdan/Kasdan (in Hebrew, this name is spelled "kaf-shin-daled-nun" and is an acronym for "Kohanei Shluchei DeShmaya Ninhu," which is Aramaic for "priests are the messengers of heaven") * Spanish language, Spanish: Coen, Cohen, Koen, Cannoh, Canno, Canoh, Coy, Cano (disambiguation), Cano, Cao, Corena, Correa * Turkish language, Turkish: Kohen, Köhen, Akohen, Erkohen, Kohener, Özsezikli, Duek, Dovek, Kan * Romanization of Arabic, Arabic: al-Kohen, al-Kahen, al-Kahin, Tawil, Tabili, Taguili * Romanization of Hebrew, Ancient/Modern Hebrew: Kohen, HaKohen, ben-Kohen, bar-Kohen, Koheni, Kahana, Kohanim, Kohen-Tzedek/Kohen-Tzadik (Katz (disambiguation), Katz) * Others: Maze, Mazo, Mazer (acronym of the Hebrew phrase ''mi zera Aharon,'' meaning "from [the] seed [of] Aaron [the Kohen/Priest]"), Azoulai (acronym of the Hebrew phrase ''ishah zonah ve'challelah lo yikachu,'' meaning "a foreign [non-Israelite woman] or divorced [Israelite woman] shall not he [a Kohen] take": prohibition binding on kohanim), Kahane In contemporary Israel, "Moshe Cohen" is the equivalent of "John Smith" in English-speaking countries – i.e., proverbially the most common of names.


Seder

One common interpretation of the practice of having three pieces of matzah on a Seder plate is that they represent "Kohen, Levi and Yisrael" (i.e., the priests, the tribe of Levi, and all other Jewish people).


Outside Judaism

According to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, either "literal descendants of Aaron", or worthy Priesthood of Melchizedek, Melchizedek priesthood holders have the legal right to constitute the Presiding Bishop (LDS Church), Presiding Bishopric under the authority of the First Presidency (LDS Church), First Presidency (). To date, all men who have served on the Presiding Bishopric have been Melchizedek priesthood holders, and none have been publicly identified as descendants of Aaron. See also Mormonism and Judaism.


References in popular culture

The positioning of the kohen's hands during the
Priestly Blessing The Priestly Blessing or priestly benediction, ( he, ברכת כהנים; Transliteration, translit. ''birkat kohanim''), also known in rabbinic literature as raising of the hands (Hebrew ''nesiat kapayim'') or rising to the platform (Hebrew ''al ...
was Leonard Nimoy's inspiration for Spock, Mr. Spock's Vulcan salute in the Star Trek: The Original Series, original Star Trek television series. Nimoy, raised an Orthodox Jew (but not a kohen), used the salute when saying "Live long and prosper." The Priestly Blessing was used by Leonard Cohen in his farewell blessing during "Whither Thou Goest", the closing song on his concerts. Leonard Cohen himself was from a kohen family. He also used the drawing of the Priestly Blessing as one of his logos.


See also

* Descent from antiquity * Family history * Jewish surname * Jewish view of marriage * The mitzvah of sanctifying the Kohen * Presumption of priestly descent * ''Sayyid'', a similar title for descendants of Mohammad in Islam * Wicked Priest


Footnotes


Bibliography

* Isaac Klein ''A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice'', p. 387–388. (Conservative Judaism, Conservative view prior to ''takkanah'' on kohen marriages.) * Isaac Klein ''Responsa and Halakhic Studies'', p. 22–26. (Conservative Judaism, Conservative view prior to ''takkanah'' on kohen marriages.) * K. Skorecki, S. Selig, S. Blazer, R. Bradman, N. Bradman, P. J. Waburton, M. Ismajlowicz, M. F. Hammer (1997). Y Chromosomes of Jewish Priests. ''Nature'' 385, 32. (Available online
DOI




* ''Proceedings of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, CJLS: 1927–1970'', volume III, United Synagogue Book Service. (Conservative Judaism, Conservative) * ''Mishnayoth:Seder Nashim.'' Translated and Annotated by Philip Blackman. Judaica Press Ltd., 2000. pp. 134–135


External links


Kehuna.org, the kohen's contemporary online resourceGenetic Genealogy: Aaron and the Cohen Model HaplotypeThe Laws of Birchat Kohanim – the Priestly Blessing
Chabad.org
Holy Matrimony? All about the kohen or Jewish priest's prohibitions in marriage.The Cohen-Levi Family HeritageKohanim center and network Europe
{{Authority control Priesthood (Judaism), Aaron Descent from antiquity Jewish religious occupations Jewish sacrificial law Kohenitic surnames Levites