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Bible Dictionaries

People's Dictionary of the Bible

High Priest

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High Priest. The head of the Jewish priesthood. Leviticus 21:10. Aaron was the first to hold the office, Exodus 28:1, and his descendants filled it after him. Eleazar was his immediate successor, Numbers 3:32; Numbers 20:28; Deuteronomy 10:6, and the priesthood remained in his family till Eli, 1 Chronicles 24:3; 1 Chronicles 24:6, who was of the house of Ithamar. The office of the high priest was originally held for life. This rule was disregarded by Solomon, who appointed Zadok and deposed Abiathar, 1 Kings 2:35, because he had espoused the cause of Adonijah. 1 Kings 1:7; 1 Kings 1:25. In the years succeeding the close of the canon the office became a tool in the hands of the rulers of the land. Herod particularly and his successors disregarded the tradition of the Jews on this point. This people, who held the office so sacred, now often begged their rulers to remove the incumbents, who were parasites of the throne. Herod appointed no less than five high priests himself, and one of them, Simon, as the price of his daughter in marriage. We consequently read in the New Testament of several high priests living at the same time, and Annas and Caiaphas are particularly mentioned. Luke 3:2. The services of consecration were prolonged, lasting seven days, Exodus 29:35, and elaborate. They consisted of sacrifices, Exodus 29:1-46; of anointing with oil, Exodus 29:7; Exodus 30:22-33; Leviticus 21:10, and of putting on of garments. Exodus 29:5-6; Exodus 29:8-9. The dress of the high priest was much more costly and magnificent than that of the inferior order of priests. It is described Exodus 39:1-9. The high priest's most solemn, peculiar, and exclusive duty was to officiate in the most holy place on the great day of atonement. Hebrews 9:7; Hebrews 9:25. See Atonement, Day of. In Leviticus 16:1-34 we have a full account of this most interesting service and the imposing ceremonies which preceded it. The high priest might at any time perform the duties assigned to the ordinary priests. He was in general the overseer of the temple, 2 Kings 12:10, and at the time of our Lord presided over the Sanhedrin. Acts 5:17; John 18:13-14, etc. Jesus is the great High Priest who once for all sprinkled with his own blood the threshold of the holy of holies (heaven), where he ever liveth to make intercession for us. Hebrews 4:14; Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 9:12, etc.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'High Priest'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. 1893.

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