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High Priest ( he, כהן גדול ''
Kohen Kohen ( he, כֹּהֵן' Cohen, "priest", pl. Cohanim, ' "priests") is the Hebrew word for "priest A priest is a religious leader authorized to perform the Sacred rite, sacred rituals of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent be ...
Gadol''; with definite article ''ha'kohen ha'gadol'', ''the'' high Priest;
Aramaic Aramaic (Classical Syriac The Syriac language (; syc, / '), also known as Syriac Aramaic (''Syrian Aramaic'', ''Syro-Aramaic'') and Classical Syriac (in its literary and liturgical form), is an Aramaic Aramaic (Classical Syriac ...
''Kahana Rabba'') was the title of the chief religious official of
Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. It has its roots as an organized religion ...
from the early post- Exilic times until the destruction of the
Second Temple The Second Temple (, ), also known in its later years as Herod's Temple, was the reconstructed Jewish holy temple that stood on the Temple Mount The Temple Mount (Hebrew language, Hebrew: , ; "Mount of the House f God, i.e. the Temple in ...

Second Temple
in Jerusalem in 70 CE. Previously, in the
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 the history of ancient Israe ...
religion including the time of the kingdoms of
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a ...
and
Judah Judah may refer to: Historical ethnic, political and geographic terms The name was passed on, successively, from the biblical figure of Judah, to the Israelite tribe; its territorial allotment and the Israelite kingdom emerging from it, with the ...
, other terms were used to designate the leading priests; however, as long as a king was in place, the supreme ecclesiastical authority lay with him. The official introduction of the term "high priest" went hand in hand with a greatly enhanced ritual and political significance bestowed upon the chief priest in the post-Exilic period, certainly from 411 BCE onward, after the religious transformations brought about by the Babylonian captivity and due to the lack of a Jewish king and kingdom. The high priests belonged to the Jewish priestly families that trace their paternal line back to
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 first high priest of Israel in the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites ...

Hebrew Bible
and elder brother of
Moses Moses he, מֹשֶׁה, ''Mōše''; also known as Moshe Rabbenu ( he, מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ "Moshe our Teacher"); syr, ܡܘܫܐ, ''Mūše''; ar, موسى '; el, Mωϋσῆς, ' () is considered the most important prophet in Judais ...

Moses
, through
Zadok Zadok (or Zadok HaKohen, also spelled Ṣadok, Ṣadoc, Zadoq, Tzadok, or Tsadoq; he, צָדוֹק הַכֹּהֵן, meaning "Righteous, Justified") was a Kohen (priest), biblically recorded to be a descendant from Eleazar the son of Aaron (). He ...

Zadok
, a leading priest at the time of
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 ...

David
and
Solomon Solomon (; he, , ), ''Šlēmūn''; : سُلَيْمَان ', also : ' or '; el, Σολομών ''Solomōn''; : Salomon) also called Jedidiah (, ), was, according to the and Christian , a fabulously wealthy and wise monarch of the who suc ...

Solomon
. This tradition came to an end in the 2nd century BCE during the rule of the , when the position was occupied by other priestly families unrelated to Zadok.


Predecessors of Aaron

Even though
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
was the first high priest mentioned in the
Book of Exodus The Book of Exodus is the second book of the Torah and of the Old Testament. Starting with the deliverance of Moses by Pharaoh's daughter (Exodus), Pharaoh's daughter, it recounts the revelation at the Burning bush where he was called by Yahweh ...
,
Louis Ginzberg Rabbi A rabbi is a spiritual leader or religious teacher in Judaism. One becomes a rabbi by being ordained by another rabbi, following a course of study of Jewish texts such as the Talmud. The basic form of the rabbi developed in the Phar ...
in ''
Legends of the Jews ''The Legends of the Jews'' is a chronological compilation of aggadah Aggadah ( he, אַגָּדָה or ; Jewish Babylonian Aramaic אַגָּדְתָא; "tales, fairytale, lore") is the non-legalistic pardes (Jewish exegesis), exegesis which a ...
'' noted that in legends the first man that assumed the title of high priest of God is
Enoch Enoch may refer to: Biblical occurrences *Enoch (ancestor of Noah), son of Jared, father of Methusaleh, great-grandfather of Noah, subject of the deuterocanonical Book of Enoch * Enoch (son of Cain) *Hanoch (Enoch), son of Reuben (son of Jacob), ...
, who was succeeded by
Methuselah Methuselah () ( he, מְתוּשֶׁלַח ''Məṯūšélaḥ'', in pausa ''Məṯūšā́laḥ'', "Man of the javelin" or "Death of Sword"; gr, Μαθουσάλας ''Mathousalas'') was a Patriarchs (Bible), biblical patriarch and a figure ...

Methuselah
, Lamech,
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
,
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 ...
,
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
,
Abraham Abraham, ''Ibrāhīm''; el, Ἀβραάμ, translit=Abraám, name=, group= (originally Abram) is the common patriarch of the Abrahamic religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In Judaism, he is the founding father of the covenan ...

Abraham
,
Isaac Isaac, ''Isaák''; ar, إسحٰق/إسحاق, ; am, ይስሐቅ is one of the three patriarchs The highest-ranking bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is gene ...

Isaac
and
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
.


Biblical narrative

Aaron, though he is but rarely called "the great priest", being generally simply designated as "''ha-kohen''" (the priest), was the first incumbent of the office, to which he was appointed by
God In monotheistic Monotheism is the belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the ...

God
(
Book of Exodus The Book of Exodus is the second book of the Torah and of the Old Testament. Starting with the deliverance of Moses by Pharaoh's daughter (Exodus), Pharaoh's daughter, it recounts the revelation at the Burning bush where he was called by Yahweh ...
; ).


Succession

The succession was to be through one of his sons, and was to remain in his own family (). If he had no son, the office devolved upon the brother next of age: such appears to have been the practice in the period. In the time of
Eli Eli most commonly refers to: * Eli (name) Eli as a name can have two different meanings, both originating in the Hebrew Bible. Eli can be a masculine given name of Hebrew language, Hebrew origin, from Biblical "ascent", spelled with the Hebrew ...
, however (), the office passed to the collateral branch of
Ithamar In the Torah, Ithamar () was the fourth (and the youngest) son of Aaron the High Priest."Ithamar", ''Encyclopaedia Biblica'' Following the construction of the Tabernacle, he was responsible for recording an inventory to ensure that the constructed ...
(see
Eleazar Eleazar (; ) or Elʽazar was a priest A priest is a religious leader authorized to perform the Sacred rite, sacred rituals of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and one or more deity, deities. They also have the au ...

Eleazar
). But
King Solomon of the King of the Romans (variant used in the early modern period) File:Nezahualpiltzintli.jpg, Aztec King Nezahualpiltzintli of Texcoco (altepetl), Texcoco King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female eq ...

King Solomon
is reported to have
deposed Deposition by political means concerns the removal of a politician or monarch.
ORB: The Online Reference for Medi ...
the high priest
Abiathar Abiathar ( ''’Evyatar'', "the father is great"), in the Hebrew Bible, is a son of Ahimelech or Ahijah, High Priest at Nob, the fourth in descent from Eli and the last of Eli's House to be a High Priest. Bible account Abiathar was the only ...
, and to have appointed
Zadok Zadok (or Zadok HaKohen, also spelled Ṣadok, Ṣadoc, Zadoq, Tzadok, or Tsadoq; he, צָדוֹק הַכֹּהֵן, meaning "Righteous, Justified") was a Kohen (priest), biblically recorded to be a descendant from Eleazar the son of Aaron (). He ...
, a descendant of Eleazar, in his stead (; ). After the
Exile To be in exile means to be forced away from one's home (i.e. village A village is a clustered human settlement In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scien ...
, the succession seems to have been, at first, in a direct line from father to son; but later the civil authorities arrogated to themselves the right of appointment.
Antiochus IV Epiphanes Antiochus IV Epiphanes (; grc, Ἀντίοχος ὁ Ἐπιφανής, ''Antíochos ho Epiphanḗs'', "God Manifest"; c. 215 BC – November/December 164 BC) was a Hellenistic The Hellenistic period spans the period of Mediterranean histo ...

Antiochus IV Epiphanes
for instance, deposed
Onias IIIOnias III ( he, חוֹנִיּוֹ ''Ḥōniyyō''), son of Simon II, was High PriestThe term “high priest” usually refers either to an individual who holds the office of ruler-priest A priest is a religious leader authorized to perform ...
in favor of
Jason Jason ( ; ) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek ...
, who was followed by
Menelaus In Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the Ancient Greece, ancient Greeks, and a genre of Ancient Greek folklore. These stories concern the Cosmogony, origin and Cosmology#Metaphysical cosmology, nature of ...
.
Herod the Great Herod I (; ; grc-gre, ; c. 72 – 4 or 1 BCE), also known as Herod the Great, was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romu ...
nominated no less than six high priests; , two. The Roman legate
Quirinius Publius Sulpicius Quirinius (c. 51 BC – AD 21), also translated as Cyrenius, was a Roman aristocrat. After the banishment of the ethnarch Herod Archelaus from the tetrarchy of Judea in AD 6, Quirinius was appointed legate governor of Syr ...
and his successors exercised the right of appointment, as did
Agrippa I Herod Agrippa, also known as Herod II or Agrippa I (; 11 BC – AD 44), was a Herodian Dynasty, King of Judea from AD 41 to 44 and of Philip's tetrarchy from 39. He was the last ruler with the royal title reigning over Judea (Roman province), J ...

Agrippa I
,
Herod of Chalcis Herod of Chalcis (d. 48-49 CE), also known as Herod V, listed by the ''Jewish Encyclopedia'' as Herod II, was a son of Aristobulus IV, and the grandson of Herod the Great, Roman client king of Judea, Judaea. He was the brother of Herod Agrippa I ...
, and
Agrippa II Herod Agrippa II (; AD 27/28 – or 100), officially named Marcus Julius Agrippa and sometimes shortened to Agrippa, was the last ruler from the Herodian dynasty #REDIRECT Herodian dynasty #REDIRECT Herodian dynasty#REDIRECT Herodian dynasty ...

Agrippa II
. Even the people occasionally elected candidates to the office. The high priests before the Exile were, it seems, appointed for life; in fact, from Aaron to the Captivity the number of the high priests was not greater than during the sixty years preceding the fall of the
Second Temple The Second Temple (, ), also known in its later years as Herod's Temple, was the reconstructed Jewish holy temple that stood on the Temple Mount The Temple Mount (Hebrew language, Hebrew: , ; "Mount of the House f God, i.e. the Temple in ...

Second Temple
.


Age and qualifications

The age of eligibility for the office is not fixed in the
Law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its bounda ...

Law
; but according to rabbinical tradition it was twenty. Aristobulus, however, was only seventeen when appointed by Herod; but the son of
Onias IIIOnias III ( he, חוֹנִיּוֹ ''Ḥōniyyō''), son of Simon II, was High PriestThe term “high priest” usually refers either to an individual who holds the office of ruler-priest A priest is a religious leader authorized to perform ...
was too young (νηπιος) to succeed his father. The age a Levite entered the priesthood was 30 years of age (
Numbers A number is a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual language of mathematics, an ''object'' is anything that has been (or could be) formally defined, and with which one may do deduc ...
). Legitimacy of birth was essential; hence the care in the keeping of the
genealogical Genealogy (from el, γενεαλογία ' "the making of a pedigree") is the study of families, family history, and the tracing of their lineages. Genealogists use oral interviews, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to ob ...
records and the distrust of one whose mother had been captured in war. The high priest had to abstain from ritual defilement. He may marry only an
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 the history of ancient Israe ...
virgin (). In this restriction is extended to all
kohanim Kohen ( he, כֹּהֵן' Cohen, "priest", pl. Cohanim, ' "priests") is the Hebrew word for "priest", used in reference to the Aaronic Priest#Judaism, priesthood, also called Aaronides. Levite, Levitical priests or ''kohanim'' are traditional ...

kohanim
(priests), an exception being made in favor of the
widow A widow is a woman whose spouse A religious marriage. A spouse is a significant other Significant other (SO) is colloquially used as a term for a person's partner in an intimate relationship An intimate relationship is an interpersona ...
of a priest (see
Levirate marriage #REDIRECT Levirate marriage #REDIRECT Levirate marriage Levirate marriage is a type of marriage in which the brother of a deceased man is obliged to marry his brother's widow. Levirate marriage has been practiced by societies with a strong clan ...
). According to he was not permitted to come in contact with the bodies of the dead, not even for his parents (regular priests could become unclean for the death of an immediate relative) ; and he was not permitted, as a sign of mourning, to leave his hair disheveled, to expose it, or to rend his garments ( et seq.). According to Josephus, birth on foreign soil was not a disqualification; but the disqualifications of et seq. applied to the high priest as well as to other priests.


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 "" 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 spec ...

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 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'el'') were a confederation of Iron Age ancient Semitic-speaking peo ...
: 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.


Consecration

The ceremonial of consecration, extending through an entire week (-; ), included certain rites which all priests were required to undergo: purification; 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 ...
; the "filling" of the hands; the smearing with blood. But Aaron the high priest was anointed with sacred oil, hence the title of the "anointed priest"; other passages have it that all priests were anointed (, ; , ; ). The first consecration was performed by Moses; 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
does not state who consecrated subsequent high priests. states emphatically that every new high priest shall be anointed; and et seq. commands that the official garments worn by his predecessor shall be worn by the new incumbent while he is anointed and during the seven days of his consecration (comp. ;
Psalm 133 Psalm 133 is the 133rd psalm of the Book of Psalms, beginning in English in the King James Version: "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity". The Book of Psalms is part of the Ketuvim, third section of the ...
:2).


Sanctity and functions

The distinguished rank of the high priest is apparent from the fact that his sins are regarded as belonging also to the people (Lev. iv. 3, 22). He was entrusted with the stewardship of the Urim and Thummim (Num. xxvii. 20 et seq.). On
Yom Kippur Yom Kippur (; he, יוֹם כִּיפּוּר, Yōm Kīpūr, , ; plural , ) is the holiest day of the year in Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semi ...
he alone entered 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
, to make atonement for his house and for the people (). He alone could offer the sacrifices for the sins of the priests, or of the people, or of himself (); and only he could officiate at the sacrifices following his own or another priest's consecration (). He also offered a meal-offering every morning and evening for himself and the whole body of the priesthood (, though the wording of the law is not altogether definite). Other information concerning his functions is not given. Though other priests would serve only when it was their week on rotation and on feast days (and even then their function was decided by lot), he was privileged to take part at his own pleasure in any of the priestly rites at any time.
Josephus Flavius Josephus (; grc-gre, Ἰώσηπος, ; 37 – 100) was a first-century Roman Jews, Romano-Jewish historian and military leader, best known for ''The Jewish War'', who was born in Jerusalem—then part of Judea (Roman province), Roman ...

Josephus
contends that the high priest almost invariably participated in the ceremonies on
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
, the
New Moon In astronomy Astronomy (from el, ἀστρονομία, literally meaning the science that studies the laws of the stars) is a natural science that studies astronomical object, celestial objects and celestial event, phenomena. It uses ...

New Moon
, and the
festivals A festival is an event ordinarily celebrated by a community and centering on some characteristic aspect of that community and its religion or cultures. It is often marked as a local or national holiday, mela, or Muslim holidays, eid. A festival ...
. This may also be inferred from the glowing description given in the
Wisdom of Sirach The Book of Sirach, also called the Wisdom of Sirach or simply Sirach (), and also known as the Book of Ecclesiasticus (; abbreviated Ecclus.) or Ben Sira, is a Jewish work originally in Hebrew of ethical teachings, from approximately 200 to 175 ...
i. of the high priest's appearance at the
altar An altar is a structure upon which offerings such as sacrifice Sacrifice is the offering of material possessions or the lives of animals or humans to a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phe ...

altar
.


In rabbinical literature

The high priest is the chief of all the priests; he should be anointed and invested with the pontifical garments; but if the sacred oil were not obtainable, investiture with the additional garments (see
Biblical Data 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 compilati ...
, above) is regarded as sufficient. A high priest so invested is known as ''merubbeh begadim.'' This investiture consists of arraying him in the eight pieces of dress and in removing them again on eight successive days, though (the anointing and) the investiture on the first day suffices to qualify him for the functions of the office. The only distinction between the "anointed" and the "invested" high priest is that the former offers the bull for an unintentional transgression.Hor. 11b


Powers

The Great
Sanhedrin The Sanhedrin (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and th ...

Sanhedrin
alone had the right to appoint, or confirm the appointment of, the high priest. His consecration might take place only in the day-time. Two high priests must not be appointed together. Every high priest had a "mishneh" (a second) called the
Segan Two out of three most prominent Segans are noted on the Talmud and on Josephus Flavius' work: Hanina Segan ha-Kohanim, and Eleazar ben Hananiah ben Hezekiah, Eleazar ben Hanania (son of Hananiah b. Hezekiah b. Garon who served as High Priest). Se ...
, or " memunneh", to stand at his right; another assistant was the "
CatholicosCatholicos, plural Catholicoi, is a title used for the head of certain churches in some Eastern Christian traditions. The title implies autocephaly and in some cases it is the title of the head of an autonomous church. The word comes from ancient ...
" ("Yad", l.c. 16–17). The right of succession was in the direct, or, the direct failing, the collateral, line, provided the conditions concerning physical fitness were fulfilled (ib. 20; Ket. 103b; Sifra, Ḳedoshim). For offenses which entailed flagellation, the high priest could be sentenced by a court of three; after submitting to the penalty he could resume his office ("Yad", l.c. 22). The high priest was expected to be superior to all other priests in physique, in wisdom, in dignity, and in material wealth; if he was poor his brother priests contributed to make him rich (Yoma 18a; "Yad", l.c. v. 1); but none of these conditions was indispensable. The high priest was required to be mindful of his honor. He might not mingle with the common people, nor permit himself to be seen disrobed, or in a public bath, etc.; but he might invite others to bathe with him (Tosef., Sanh. iv.; "Yad", l.c. v. 3). He might not participate in a public banquet, but he might pay a visit of consolation to mourners, though even then his dignity was guarded by prescribed etiquette (Sanh. 18–19; "Yad", l.c. v. 4).


Restrictions

The high priest might not follow the bier of one in his own family who had died, nor leave the Temple or his house during the time of mourning. The people visited him to offer consolation; in receiving them, the
Segan Two out of three most prominent Segans are noted on the Talmud and on Josephus Flavius' work: Hanina Segan ha-Kohanim, and Eleazar ben Hananiah ben Hezekiah, Eleazar ben Hanania (son of Hananiah b. Hezekiah b. Garon who served as High Priest). Se ...
was at his right, the next in rank and the people at his left. The people said: "We are thy atonement." He answered: "Be ye blessed from heaven" ("Yad", l.c. v. 5; and Mishneh Kesef, ad loc.). During the offering of consolation he sat on a stool, the people on the floor; he rent his garments, not from above, but from below, near the feet, the penalty for rending them from above being flagellation (Semag, Lawin, 61-62). He could not permit his hair to be disheveled, nor could he cut it ("Yad", l.c. v. 6). He had one house attached to the Temple (Mid. 71b), and another in the city of Jerusalem. His honor required that he should spend most of his time in the Sanctuary ("Yad", l.c. v. 7). The high priest was subject to the jurisdiction of the courts, but if accused of a crime entailing capital punishment he was tried by the Great Sanhedrin; he could, however, refuse to give testimony (Sanh. 18). The high priest must be married, and "should only marry a virgin"; to guard against contingencies it was proposed to hold a second wife in readiness immediately before 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", ...
(Yoma i. 1); but
polygamy Polygamy (from Greek language, Late Greek , ''polygamía'', "state of marriage to many spouses") is the practice of marriage, marrying multiple spouses. When a man is married to more than one wife at the same time, sociologists call this poly ...
on his part was not encouraged ( = "one wife"; Yoma 13a; "Yad", l.c. v. 10). He could give the "
halizah ''Halizah'' (or ''chalitzah''; he, חליצה) is, under the biblical The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Bi ...
", and it could be given to his widow, as she also was subject to the Levirate; his divorced wife could marry again (l.c.; Sanh. 18). When entering the Temple ("Hekal") he was supported to the curtain by three men (Tamid 67a; this may perhaps have reference to his entering the Holy of Holies; but see "Yad", l.c. v. 11, and the Mishneh Kesef ad loc.). He could take part in the service whenever he desired ("Yad", l.c. v. 12; Yoma i. 2; Tamid 67b; see Rashi ad loc.). On the Day of Atonement only he wore white garments, while on other occasions he wore his golden vestments (Yoma 60a; comp. 68b, ). The seven days preceding the Day of Atonement were devoted to preparing for his high function, precautions being taken to prevent any accident that might render him Levitically impure (Yoma i. 1 et seq.). The ceremonial for that day is described in detail in Mishnah Yoma (see also Haneberg, "Die Religiösen Alterthümer der Bibel", pp. 659–671, Munich, 1869). For other regulations concerning the high priest see "Yad", Biat ha-Miḳdash, ii. 1, 8; for details in regard to the vestments see "Yad", Kele ha-Miḳdash, viii. 2-4, 5 (in reference to soiled vestments: the white could be worn only once); l.c. vii. 1 ("ẓiẓ"), vii. 3 ("me'il"), vii. 6 ("ḥoshen"), vii. 9 (ephod), ix. Josephus enumerates only fifty-two pontificates under the Second Temple, omitting the second appointments of
Hyrcanus II John Hyrcanus II (, ''Yohanan Hurqanos'') (died 30 BCE), a member of the Hasmonean dynasty, was for a long time the Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO; ) is an i ...

Hyrcanus II
, Hananeel, and Joazar.


Post-Exilic conditions

After the Babylonian Exile, Joshua appears vested with the prominence that the Priestly source (P) ascribes to the high priest (Zech. iii.; Hag. vi. 13). The post-exilic high priests traced their pedigree back to Zadok, appointed as chief priest at Jerusalem by Solomon (I Kings ii. 35), and Zadok was held to be a descendant of Eleazar, the son of Aaron (II Chron. v. 34). Immediately after the return from the Captivity, as is clearly to be inferred from Book of Zechariah, Zechariah and Book of Haggai, Haggai, political authority was not vested in the high priest. Political (Messianic) sovereignty was represented by, or attributed to, a member of the royal house, while religious affairs were reserved to the high-priesthood, represented in the Book of Zechariah by Joshua. But in the course of time, as the Jewish messianism, Messianic hope, or even the hope of autonomy under foreign (Persian, Greece, Greek, Egyptian, or Seleucid, Syrian) suzerainty became weaker, the high priest also became a political chief of the congregation, as much, perhaps, through the consideration shown him by the suzerain powers and their viceroys as through the effect of the increasingly thorough acceptance of the Levitical code by pious Judeans. The rigorists received Alcimus, the high priest, with confidence because he was "a priest of the seed of Aaron." (I Macc. vii. 14)


Political aspects

The assumption of the princely authority by the Maccabees, Maccabean high priests (the Hasmoneans) was merely the final link in this development, which, beginning with the death of Zerubbabel, was to combine the two ideals, the Messiah, politico-Messianic and the religio-Levitical, in one office. But after the brief heyday of national independence had come to an inglorious close, the high-priesthood changed again in character, insofar as it ceased to be a hereditary and a life office. High priests were appointed and removed with great frequency (see above). This may account for the otherwise strange use of the title in the plural (ἀρχιερεῖς) in the New Testament and in Josephus ("Vita", § 38; "B. J." ii. 12, § 6; iv. 3, §§ 7, 9; iv. 4, § 3). The deposed high priests seem to have retained the title, and to have continued to exercise certain functions; the ministration on the Day of Atonement, however, may have been reserved for the actual incumbent. This, however, is not clear; Hor. iii. 1–4 mentions as distinctive the exclusive sacrifice of a bull by the high priest on the Day of Atonement and the tenth of the ephah (that is, the twelve "ḥallot"; comp. Meg. i. 9; Macc. ii. 6). But even in the latest periods the office was restricted to a few families of great distinction (probably the ''bene kohanim gedolim'', "[members of] high-priestly families"; Ket. xiii. 1-2; Oh. xvii. 5; comp. Josephus, "B. J." vi. 2, § 2; see Schürer, "Gesch." 3d ed., ii. 222). 001


Connection with Sanhedrin

The high priest was the presiding officer of the Sanhedrin. This view conflicts with the later Jewish tradition according to which the Pharisee ''tannaim'' (the ''Zugot'') at the head of the ''yeshivot'' presided over the great Sanhedrin also (Ḥag. ii. 2). However, a careful reading of the sources ("Ant." xx. 10; "Contra Ap." ii., § 22; comp. "Ant." iv. 8, § 14; xiv. 9, §§ 3–5 [Hyrcanus II. as president]; xx. 9, § 1 [Ananus]), as well as the fact that in the post-Maccabean period the high priest was looked upon as exercising in all things, political, legal, and sacerdotal, the supreme authority, shows it to be almost certain that the presidency of the Sanhedrin was vested in the high priest (see Isidore Loeb in "R. E. J." 1889, xix. 188–201; Jelski, "Die Innere Einrichtung des Grossen Synhedrions", pp. 22–28, according to whom the ''Nasi (Hebrew title), Nasi'' was the high priest, while the ''Beth din#Officers of a beth din, Av Beth Din'' was a Pharisaic ''tanna'').


See also

* List of High Priests of Israel * Samaritan High Priest


Notes


References

*


External links


The Mysterious White Garments of Yom Kippur
{{High Priests of Judaism Ancient Jewish history Hebrew Bible words and phrases High Priests of Israel, Jewish sacrificial law Orthodox rabbinic roles and titles Religious leadership roles Book of Exodus Establishments in the Achaemenid Empire