|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
An eminence, natural or artificial, where worship by sacrifice or offerings was made (1 Kings 13:32; 2 Kings 17:29). The first altar after the Flood was built on a mountain (Genesis 8:20). Abraham also built an altar on a mountain (12:7, 8). It was on a mountain in Gilead that Laban and Jacob offered sacrifices (31:54). After the Israelites entered the Promised Land they were strictly enjoined to overthrow the high places of the Canaanites (Exodus 34:13; Deuteronomy 7:5; 12:2, 3), and they were forbidden to worship the Lord on high places (Deuteronomy 12:11-14), and were enjoined to use but one altar for sacrifices (Leviticus 17:3, 4; Deuteronomy 12; 16:21). The injunction against high places was, however, very imperfectly obeyed, and we find again and again mention made of them (2 Kings 14:4; 15:4, 35:2 Chronicles 15:17, etc.).
Aaron was the first who was solemnly set apart to this office (Exodus 29:7; 30:23; Leviticus 8:12). He wore a peculiar dress, which on his death passed to his successor in office (Exodus 29:29, 30). Besides those garments which he wore in common with all priests, there were four that were peculiar to himself as high priest:
(1.) The "robe" of the ephod, all of blue, of "woven work," worn immediately under the ephod. It was without seam or sleeves. The hem or skirt was ornamented with pomegranates and golden bells, seventy-two of each in alternate order. The sounding of the bells intimated to the people in the outer court the time when the high priest entered into the holy place to burn incense before the Lord (Exodus 28).
(2.) The "ephod" consisted of two parts, one of which covered the back and the other the breast, which were united by the "curious girdle." It was made of fine twined linen, and ornamented with gold and purple. Each of the shoulder-straps was adorned with a precious stone, on which the names of the twelve tribes were engraved. This was the high priest's distinctive vestment (1 Samuel 2:28; 14:3; 21:9; 23:6, 9; 30:7).
(3.) The "breastplate of judgment" (Exodus 28:6-12, 25-28; 39:2-7) of "cunning work." It was a piece of cloth doubled, of one span square. It bore twelve precious stones, set in four rows of three in a row, which constituted the Urim and Thummim (q.v.). These stones had the names of the twelve tribes engraved on them. When the high priest, clothed with the ephod and the breastplate, inquired of the Lord, answers were given in some mysterious way by the Urim and Thummim (1 Samuel 14:3, 18, 19; 23:2, 4, 9, 11, 12; 28:6; 2 Samuel 5:23).
(4.) The "mitre," or upper turban, a twisted band of eight yards of fine linen coiled into a cap, with a gold plate in front, engraved with "Holiness to the Lord," fastened to it by a ribbon of blue.
To the high priest alone it was permitted to enter the holy of holies, which he did only once a year, on the great Day of Atonement, for "the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest" (Hebrews 9; 10). Wearing his gorgeous priestly vestments, he entered the temple before all the people, and then, laying them aside and assuming only his linen garments in secret, he entered the holy of holies alone, and made expiation, sprinkling the blood of the sin offering on the mercy seat, and offering up incense. Then resuming his splendid robes, he reappeared before the people (Leviticus 16). Thus the wearing of these robes came to be identified with the Day of Atonement.
The office, dress, and ministration of the high priest were typical of the priesthood of our Lord (Hebrews 4:14; 7:25; 9:12, etc.).
It is supposed that there were in all eighty-three high priests, beginning with Aaron (B.C. 1657) and ending with Phannias (A.D. 70). At its first institution the office of high priest was held for life (but Comp. 1 Kings 2:27), and was hereditary in the family of Aaron (Numbers 3:10). The office continued in the line of Eleazar, Aaron's eldest son, for two hundred and ninety-six years, when it passed to Eli, the first of the line of Ithamar, who was the fourth son of Aaron. In this line it continued to Abiathar, whom Solomon deposed, and appointed Zadok, of the family of Eleazar, in his stead (1 Kings 2:35), in which it remained till the time of the Captivity. After the Return, Joshua, the son of Josedek, of the family of Eleazar, was appointed to this office. After him the succession was changed from time to time under priestly or political influences.
Noah Webster's Dictionary
1. (superl.) Elevated.
2. (superl.) Elevated above any starting point of measurement, as a line, or surface; having altitude; lifted up; raised or extended in the direction of the zenith; lofty; tall; as, a high mountain, tower, tree; the sun is high.
3. (superl.) Regarded as raised up or elevated; distinguished; remarkable; conspicuous; superior; -- used indefinitely or relatively, and often in figurative senses, which are understood from the connection
4. (superl.) Elevated in character or quality, whether moral or intellectual; preeminent; honorable; as, high aims, or motives.
5. (superl.) Exalted in social standing or general estimation, or in rank, reputation, office, and the like; dignified; as, she was welcomed in the highest circles.
6. (superl.) of noble birth; illustrious; as, of high family.
7. (superl.) of great strength, force, importance, and the like; strong; mighty; powerful; violent; sometimes, triumphant; victorious; majestic, etc.; as, a high wind; high passions.
8. (superl.) Very abstract; difficult to comprehend or surmount; grand; noble.
9. (superl.) Costly; dear in price; extravagant; as, to hold goods at a high price.
10. (superl.) Arrogant; lofty; boastful; proud; ostentatious; -- used in a bad sense.
11. (superl.) Possessing a characteristic quality in a supreme or superior degree; as, high (i. e., intense) heat; high (i. e., full or quite) noon; high (i. e., rich or spicy) seasoning; high (i. e., complete) pleasure; high (i. e., deep or vivid) color; high (i. e., extensive, thorough) scholarship, etc.
12. (superl.) Strong-scented; slightly tainted; as, epicures do not cook game before it is high.
13. (superl.) Acute or sharp; -- opposed to grave or low; as, a high note.
14. (superl.) Made with a high position of some part of the tongue in relation to the palate.
15. (adv.) In a high manner; in a high place; to a great altitude; to a great degree; largely; in a superior manner; eminently; powerfully.
16. (n.) An elevated place; a superior region; a height; the sky; heaven.
17. (n.) People of rank or high station; as, high and low.
18. (n.) The highest card dealt or drawn.
19. (v. i.) To rise; as, the sun highest.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
BREASTPLATE OF THE HIGH PRIEST
prest: The Hebrew word choshen, rendered in the King James Version "breastplate," means really a "pouch" or "bag." The references to it are found exclusively in the Priestly Code (Exodus 25:7; Exodus 28; Exodus 28 29:5; Exodus 28 35:9, 27 Leviticus 8:8). The descriptions of its composition and particularly the directions with regard to wearing it are exceedingly obscure. According to Ezra 2:63 and Nehemiah 7:65 the Urim and Thummim, which were called in the priestly pouch, were lost during the Babylonian exile. The actual pouch was a "span in length and a span in breadth," i.e. about 9 inch square. It was made, like the ephod, of "gold, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen" (Exodus 28:15 f). In it were twelve precious stones, in rows of four, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Apparently the pouch had two rings (perhaps four) through which passed two gold chains by which it was fastened to the ephod supplied for the purpose with ouches or clasps. The pouch was worn by the high priest over his heart when he entered the "holy place" "for a memorial before Yahweh." The presence of the high priest, the representative of the people, with the names of the separate tribes on his person, brought each tribe before the notice of Yahweh and thereby directed His attention to them. The full designation was choshen mishpaT, "pouch of judgment" or "decision." It was the distinctive symbol of the priest in his capacity as the giver of oracles. As already suggested the priestly pouch contained the Urim and Thummim which were probably precious stones used as lots in giving decisions. In all probability the restored text of 1 Samuel 14:41 preserves the true custom. On one side stood Saul and Jonathan, and the people on the other side. If the result was Urim, Saul and Jonathan would be the guilty parties. If the result was Thummim, the guilt would fasten on the people.
Is found in Genesis 29:7 as a rendering of the Hebrew yom agadhol, literally, "great day." The Hebrew means the day at its height, broad daylight as contrasted with the time for getting the cattle to their sheds for the night (compare French grand jour). In John 19:31, "highday" renders megale hemera, literally, "great day," and refers to the Passover Sabbath-and therefore a Sabbath of special sanctity.
(1) "High place" is the normal translation of bamah, a word that means simply "elevation" (Jeremiah 26:18 Ezekiel 36:2, etc.; compare the use in Job 9:8 of the waves of the sea. For the plural as a proper noun see BAMOTH). In the King James Version of Ezekiel 16:24, 25, 31, 39, "high places" is the translation of ramah (the Revised Version (British and American) "lofty places"), a common word (see RAMAH) of exactly the same meaning, indistinguishable from bamah in 16:16. In three of these verses of Ezekiel (16:24, 31, 39) ramah is paralleled by gabh, which again has precisely the same sense ("eminent place" in the King James Version, the English Revised Version), and the "vaulted place" of the American Standard Revised Version (English Revised Version margin) is in disregard of Hebrew parallelism. In particular, the high places are places of worship, specifically of idolatrous worship. So the title was transferred from the elevation to the sanctuary on the elevation (1 Kings 11:7; 1 Kings 14:23; compare the burning of the "high place" in 2 Kings 23:15), and so came to be used of any idolatrous shrine, whether constructed on an elevation or not (note how in 2 Kings 16:4 2 Chronicles 28:4 the "high places" are distinguished from the "hills"). So the "high places" in the cities (2 Kings 17:9 2 Chronicles 21:11 (Septuagint)) could have stood anywhere, while in Ezekiel 16:16 a portable structure seems to be in point.
(2) The use of elevations for purposes of worship is so widespread as to be almost universal, and rests, probably, on motives so primitive as to evade formal analysis. If any reason is to be assigned, the best seems to be that to dwellers in hilly country the heaven appears to rest on the ridges and the sun to go forth from them-but such reasons are certainly insufficient to explain everything. Certain it is that Israel, no less than her neighbors, found special sanctity in the hills. Not only was' Sinai the "Mount of God," but a long list can be drawn up of peaks that have a special relation to Yahweh (see MOUNT, MOUNTAIN; and for the New Testament, compare Mark 9:2 Hebrews 12:18-24, etc.). And the choice of a hilltop for the Temple was based on considerations other than convenience and visibility. (But bamah is not used of the Temple Mount.)
Archaeological research, particularly at Petra and Gezer, aided by the Old Testament notices, enables us to reconstruct these sanctuaries with tolerable fullness. The cult was not limited to the summit of the hill but took place also on the slopes, and the objects of the cult might be scattered over a considerable area. The most sacred objects were the upright stone pillars (matstsebhah), which seem to have been indispensable. (Probably the simplest "high places" were only a single upright stone.) They were regarded as the habitation of the deity, but, none the less, were usually many in number (a fact that in no way need implicate a plurality of deities). At one time they were the only altars, and even at a later period, when the altar proper was used, libations were sometimes poured on the pillars directly. The altars were of various shapes, according to their purpose (incense, whole burnt offerings, etc.), but were always accompanied by one or more pillars. Saucer-shaped depressions, into which sacrifices could be poured, are a remnant of very primitive rites (to this day in Samaria the paschal lamb is cooked in a pit). The trees of the high place, especially the "terebinths" (oaks?), were sacred, and their number could be supplemented or their absence supplied by an artificial tree or pole ('asherah, the "grove" of the King James Version). (Of course the original meaning of the pillar and asherah was not always known to the worshipper.) An amusing feature of the discoveries is that these objects were often of minute size, so that the gods could be gratified at a minimum of expense to the worshipper. Images (ephods?; the teraphim were household objects, normally) are certain, but in Palestine no remnants exist (the little Bes and Astarte figures were not idols used in worship). Other necessary features of a high place of the larger size were ample provision of water for lustral purposes, kitchens where the sacrifices could be cooked (normally by boiling), and tables for the sacrificial feasts. Normally, also, the service went on in the open air, but slight shelters were provided frequently for some of the objects. If a regular priest was attached to the high place (not always the case), his dwelling must have been a feature, unless he lived in some nearby village. Huts for those practicing incubation (sleeping in the sanctuary to obtain revelations through dreams) seem not to have been uncommon. But formal temples were very rare and "houses of the high places" in 1 Kings 12:31; 1 Kings 13:32 2 Kings 17:29, 32; 2 Kings 23:19 may refer only to the slighter structures just mentioned (see the comm.). In any case, however, the boundaries of the sanctuary were marked out, generally by a low stone wall, and ablutions and removal of the sandals were necessary before the worshipper could enter.
For the ritual, of course, there was no uniform rule. The gods of the different localities were different, and in Palestine a more or less thorough rededication of the high places to Yahweh had taken place. So the service might be anything from the orderly worship of Yahweh under so thoroughly an accredited leader as Samuel (1 Samuel 9:11-24) to the wildest orgiastic rites. That the worship at many high places was intensely licentious is certain (but it must be emphasized against the statements of many writers that there is no evidence for a specific phallic cult, and that the explorations have revealed no unmistakable phallic emblems). The gruesome cemetery for newly born infants at Gezer is only one of the proofs of the prevalence of child-sacrifice, and the evidence for human sacrifice in other forms is unfortunately only too clear.
See GEZER, and illustration on p. 1224.
(1) The opposition to the high places had many motives. When used for the worship of other gods their objectionable character is obvious, but even the worship of Yahweh in the high places was intermixed with heathen practices (Hosea 4:14, etc.). In Amos 5:21-24, etc., sacrifice in the high places is denounced because it is regarded as a substitute for righteousness in exactly the same way that sacrifice in the Temple is denounced in Jeremiah 7:21-24. Or, sacrifice in the high places may be denounced under the best of conditions, because in violation of the law of the one sanctuary (2 Chronicles 33:17, etc.).
(2) In 1 Samuel, sacrifice outside of Jerusalem is treated as an entirely normal thing, and Samuel presides in one such case (1 Samuel 9:11-24). In 1 Kings the practice of using high places is treated as legitimate before the construction of the Temple (1 Kings 3:2-4), but after that it is condemned unequivocally. The primal sin of Northern Israel was the establishment of high places (1 Kings 12:31-33; 1 Kings 13:2, 33 f), and their continuance was a chief cause of the evils that came to pass (2 Kings 17:10 f), while worship in them was a characteristic of the mongrel throng that repopulated Samaria (2 Kings 17:32). So Judah sinned in building high places (1 Kings 14:23), but the editor of Kings notes with obvious regret that even the pious kings (Asa, 1 Kings 15:14; Jehoshaphat, 22:43; Jehoash, 2 Kings 12:3; Amaziah, 14:4; Azariah, 15:4; Jotham, 15:35) did not put them away; i.e. the editor of Kings has about the point of view of Deuteronomy 12:8-11, according to which sacrifice was not to be restricted to Jerusalem until the country should be at peace, but afterward the restriction should be absolute. The practice had been of such long standing that Hezekiah's destruction of the high places (2 Kings 18:4) could be cited by Rabshakeh as an act of apostasy from Yahweh (2 Kings 18:22 2 Chronicles 32:12 Isaiah 36:7). Under Manasseh they were rebuilt, in connection with other idolatrous practices (2 Kings 21:3-9). This act determined the final punishment of the nation (21:10-15), and the root-and-branch reformation of Josiah (2 Kings 23) came too late. The attitude of the editor of Chronicles is still more condemnatory. He explains the sacrifice at Gibeon as justified by the presence of the Tabernacle (1 Chronicles 16:39; 1 Chronicles 21:29 2 Chronicles 1:3, 13), states that God-fearing northerners avoided the high places (2 Chronicles 11:16; compare 1 Kings 19:10, 14), and (against Kings) credits Asa (2 Chronicles 14:3, 5) and Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 17:6) with their removal. (This last notice is also in contradiction with 2 Chronicles 20:33, but 16:17a is probably meant to refer to the Northern Kingdom, despite 16:17b.) On the other hand, the construction of high places is added to the sins of Jehoram (2 Chronicles 21:11) and of Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:4, 5).
(3) Among the prophets, Elijah felt the destruction of the many altars of God as a terrible grief (1 Kings 19:10, 14). Amos and Hosea each mention the high places by name only once (Amos 7:9 Hosea 10:8), but both prophets have only denunciation for the sacrificial practices of the Northern Kingdom. That, however, these sacrifices were offered in the wrong place is not said. Isaiah has nothing to say about the high places, except in 36:7, while Micah 1:5 equates the sins of Jerusalem with those of the high places (if the text is right), but promises the exaltation of Jerusalem (4:1). In the references in Jeremiah 7:31; Jeremiah 19:5; Jeremiah 32:35 Ezekiel 6:3, 1; Ezekiel 16:16; Ezekiel 20:29; Ezekiel 43:7, idolatry or abominable practices are in point (so probably in Jeremiah 17:3, while Jeremiah 48:35 and Isaiah 16:12 refer to non-Israelites).
(4) The interpretation of the above data and their historical import depend on the critical position taken as to the general history of Israel's religion.
See ISRAEL, RELIGION OF; CRITICISM; DEUTERONOMY, etc.
See , especially, IDOLATRY, and also ALTAR; ASHERAH, etc. For the archaeological literature, see PALESTINE.
Burton Scott Easton
The translation of hupselos, "high," "lofty," "elevated" (Romans 12:16, "Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate," the King James Version margin "be contented with mean things," the Revised Version (British and American) "Set not your mind on high things, but condescend to (margin "Greek: be carried away with") things (margin "them") that are lowly"); high things are proud things, things regarded by the world as high.
High thing is hupsoma, "a high place," "elevation," etc. (2 Corinthians 10:5, "casting down every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God," "like a lofty tower or fortress built up proudly by the enemy"). In APC Judith 10:8; 13:4, hupsoma is rendered "exaltation."
W. L. Walker
PLACE, BROAD; HIGH
See CITY, II, 3, 2; HIGH PLACE; OPEN PLACE.
(ha-kohen, ho hiereus; ha-kohen ha-mashiach, ho hiereus ho christos; ha-kohen ha-gadhol, ho hiereus ho megas; kohen ha-ro'sh, ho hiereus hegoumenos; New Testament archiereus):
I. INSTITUTION OF THE HIGH-PRIESTHOOD
1. The Family
2. The Consecration
3. The Dress
4. The Duties of High-Priesthood
5. Special Regulations
6. The Emoluments
7. Importance of the Office
II. HISTORY OF THE HIGH-PRIESTHOOD IN ISRAEL
1. In the Old Testament
2. In the New Testament
I. Institution of the High-Priesthood.
Temples with an elaborate ritual, a priesthood and a high priest were familiar to Moses. For a millennium or two before his time these had flourished in Egypt. Each temple had its priest or priests, the larger temples and centers having a high priest. For centuries the high priest of Amon at Thebes stood next to the king in power and influence. Many other high-priesthoods of less importance existed. Moses' father-in-law was priest of Midian, doubtless the chief or high priest. In founding a nation and establishing an ecclesiastical system, nothing would be more natural and proper for him than to institute a priestly system with a high priest at the head. The records give a fairly full account of the institution of the high-priesthood.
1. The Family:
Aaron, the brother of Moses, was chosen first to fill the office. He was called "the priest" (ha-kohen) (Exodus 31:10). As the office was to be hereditary and to be preserved in perpetuity in the family of Aaron (Exodus 29:9, 29), he is succeeded by his son Eleazar (Numbers 20:28 Deuteronomy 10:6), and he in turn by his son Phinehas (Numbers 25:11). In his time the succession was fixed (Numbers 25:12, 13). In Leviticus 4:3, 5, 16; Leviticus 6:22 he is called "the anointed priest." Three times in the Pentateuch he is spoken of as "great priest" or "high priest" (Leviticus 21:10 Numbers 35:25, 28). The first of these passages identifies him with the anointed priest.
2. The Consecration:
The ceremonies by which he was installed in his office are recorded in Exodus 29:29;. Seven days of special solemnities were spent. The first consecration was by Moses; it is not said who performed the others. There was special washing and anointing with oil (Psalm 133:2). Each new high priest must wear the holy garments, as well as be specially anointed (Leviticus 21:10). Every day a bullock for a sin offering must be offered for atonement; the altar also must be cleansed, atoned for, and anointed, the high priest offering a sacrifice or minchah for himself (Leviticus 6:24).
3. The Dress:
Besides the regularly prescribed dress of the priests, the high priest must wear the robe of the ephod, the ephod, the breastplate and the mitre or head-dress (Leviticus 8:7-9). The robe of the ephod seems to have been a sleeveless tunic, made of blue, fringed with alternate bells and pomegranates (Exodus 28:31-35; Exodus 39:22-26). The ephod seemed to be a variegated dress of the four colors of the sanctuary, blue, purple, scarlet and fine linen interwoven with gold (Exodus 28:6-8; Exodus 39:2-5). This distinguishing ephod of the high priest was fastened at the shoulders by two clasps of shoham stone, upon each of which was engraved the names of six tribes of Israel (Exodus 28:9-14; Exodus 39:6, 7). Over the ephod and upon his breast he wore the breastplate, a four-cornered choshen suspended by little chains. Set in this in four rows were twelve precious stones, having engraved upon them the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. This breastplate must have contained a pocket of some kind inside, for in it were deposited the Urim and Thummim, which seemed to be tangible objects of some kind (Exodus 28:15-30; Exodus 39:8-21). The mitre or head-dress was of fine linen, the plate of the crown of pure gold, and inscribed upon it the words, "Holy to Yahweh" (Exodus 28:36-38; Exodus 39:30, 31). When entering the Holy of Holies he must be dressed wholly in linen, but in his ordinary duties in the dress of the priests; only when acting as high priest he must wear his special robes.
4. The Duties of the High-Priesthood:
In addition to his regular duties as a priest, the high priest was to enter the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:3, 15, 33, 34). He must also officiate at the ceremony of the two goats, when one is sent into the wilderness to Azazel, and the other slain to make atonement for the sanctuary (Exodus 30:10 Leviticus 16:8-10). He alone could make atonement for the sins of the people, the priests and his own house (Leviticus 4:3; 9:8 ; 16:6 Numbers 15:25). He must offer the regular meal offering (Leviticus 6:14, 15). He must share with the priests in the caring for the lamp that burned continually (Exodus 27:21), He must assist in arranging the shewbread (Exodus 25:30). When he carried the breastplate with the names of the tribes inscribed thereon he acted as mediator between Israel and God (Exodus 28:29). He alone could consult the Urim and Thummim before Yahweh, and according to his decision Israel must obey (Numbers 27:21).
5. Special Regulations:
An office so important required certain special regulations. He must be free from every bodily defect (Leviticus 21:16-23). He must marry only a virgin of Israel, not a widow, nor a divorced woman, nor a profane one (Leviticus 21:14). He must not observe the external signs of mourning for any person, and not leave the sanctuary when news came of the death of even a father or mother (Leviticus 21:10-12). He must not defile himself by contact with any dead body, even father or mother (Leviticus 21:11); and is forbidden to let his hair grow long or rend his clothes as a sign of mourning (Leviticus 21:10). If he should bring guilt upon the people, he must present a special offering (Leviticus 4:3). Sins affecting the priesthood in general must be expiated by the other priests as well as himself (Numbers 18:1). He must eat nothing that died of itself or was torn by beasts (Leviticus 22:8). He must wash his feet and hands when he went to the tabernacle of the congregation and when he came near to the altar to minister (Exodus 30:19-21). At first Aaron was to burn incense on the golden altar every morning when he dressed the lamps and every evening when he lighted them (Exodus 27:21), but in later times the common priests performed this duty. He must abstain from holy things during his uncleanness (Leviticus 22:1-3), or if he should become leprous (Leviticus 22:4, 7). He was to eat the people's meat offering with the inferior priests in the holy place (Leviticus 6:16). He must assist in judging the leprosy in the human body and garments (Leviticus 13:2-59), and in adjudicating legal questions (Deuteronomy 17:12). When there was no divinely-inspired leader, the high priest was the chief ruler till the time of David and again after the captivity.
See PRIEST; PRIESTHOOD.
6. The Emoluments:
The emoluments were not much greater than those of the priests in general. He received no more inheritance among the tribes than any other Levite, but he and his family were maintained upon certain fees, dues and perquisites which they enjoyed from the common fund. In Numbers 18:28 the priests were to receive a tithe of the tithe paid in to the Levites. Josephus says this was a common fund (Ant., IV, iv, 4), but the high priest was probably charged with the duty of distributing it. In general the family of the high priest was well-to-do, and in the later period became very wealthy. The high priest and his family were among the richest people of the land in the time of Christ, making enormous profits out of the sacrifices and temple business.
7. Importance of the Office:
The importance of the high priest's office was manifest from the first. The high priest Eleazar is named in the first rank with Joshua, the prince of the tribes and successor of Moses (Numbers 34:17 Joshua 14:1). He with others officiated in the distribution of the spoils of the Midianites (Numbers 31:21, 26). His sins were regarded as belonging to the people (Leviticus 4:3, 12). He acted with Moses in important matters (Numbers 26:1; Numbers 31:29). The whole congregation must go or come according to his word (Numbers 27:20). His death was a national event, for then the manslayer was free to leave the City of Refuge (Numbers 35:25, 28). He had no secular authority, but was regarded generally as the leading religious authority. Later, he became also the leading secular as well as religious authority.
II. History of the High-Priesthood in Israel.
1. In the Old Testament:
In general the present writer accepts the historical records of the Old Testament as true and rejects the critical views of a fictitious or falsified history. Such views have only subjective reasons to support them and are based upon a naturalistic evolutionary view of the development of Israel's religion. As Moses was the founder of the high-priesthood in Israel he anticipated a perpetuation of the office throughout the history (Deuteronomy 26:3). The high priest appears frequently. Eleazar officiated with Joshua in the division of the land among the twelve tribes (Joshua 14:1). The law of the manslayer shows that he was an important personage in the life of Israel (Joshua 20:6). He seemed to have the power to distribute the offices of the priests to those whom he would, and poor priests would appeal to him for positions (1 Samuel 2:36). The office seems to have remained in the family of Eleazar until the days of Eli, when, because of the wickedness of his sons, the family was destroyed and the position passed into the family of Ithamar (1 Samuel 2:31-36). A descendant of that family officiated at Nob in the times of Saul, whose name was Ahimelech (1 Samuel 21:2; 1 Samuel 22:11). His son, Abiathar, escaped from the slaughter, and later seems to have succeeded his father and to have been chief priest throughout David's reign (1 Samuel 22:20-23; 1 Samuel 23:9; 1 Samuel 30:7). Zadok seems to have had almost equal privilege (2 Samuel 8:17 1 Chronicles 18:16; 1 Chronicles 24:6 almost certainly by copyist's error, transpose Abiathar and Ahimelech; Mark 2:26 may be based on this reading. See ABIATHAR, etc.). Because he joined the party of Adonijah rather than that of Solomon, Abiathar was deposed and banished to Anathoth, where he spent the rest of his days (1 Kings 2:26, 27). Zadok was put in his place (1 Kings 2:35). He seems to have been a descendant of Eleazar. Under Jehoshaphat, Amariah was high priest (2 Chronicles 19:11) and was the leading authority in all religious matters. In the time of Athaliah, during the minority of Joash and almost his entire reign Jehoiada was high priest and chief adviser. He seems to have been the most influential man in the kingdom for more than half a century (2 Kings 11:4; 11:2-16 2 Chronicles 24 passim). Azariah officiated in the days of Uzziah and Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 26:20; 2 Chronicles 31:10); Urijah in the reign of Ahaz (2 Kings 16:10-16), and the latter priest seems to have been a friend of Isaiah (Isaiah 8:2). Hilkiah held the office in the days of Josiah when the Book of the Law was discovered (2 Kings 22:4; 2 Kings 23:4 2 Chronicles 34:9); Zephaniah in the time of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 29:25 f); Seraiah in the days of Zedekiah, who was put to death at Riblah by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 25:18 Jeremiah 52:24). At the time, mention is made of a priest of the second rank (2 Kings 23:4; 2 Kings 25:18) and Zephaniah fills that office (Jeremiah 52:24). It is doubtful whether this is the same Zephaniah mentioned in Jeremiah 29:25. This "second priest" was doubtless a deputy, appointed to take the high priest's place in case anything should prevent his performing the duties of the office. Lists of high priests are given in 1 Chronicles 6:1-15; 1 Chronicles 6:50-53. The first of these gives the line from Levi to Jehozadak who was carried away in the captivity under Nebuchadnezzar. The second traces the line from Aaron to Ahimaaz, and is identical so far with the first list.
There could have been no place for the functions of the high priest during the captivity, but the family line was preserved and Joshua the son of Jehozadak was among those who first returned (Ezra 3:2). From this time the high priest becomes more prominent. The monarchy is gone, the civil authority is in the hands of the Persians, the Jews are no longer independent, and hence, the chief power tends to center in the high-priesthood. Joshua appears to stand equal with Zerubbabel (Haggai 1:1, 12, 14; Haggai 2:2, 4 Zechariah 3:1, 8; Zechariah 4:14; Zechariah 6:11-13).
He is distinctly known as high priest (ha-kohen ha-gadhol). He takes a leading part in establishing the ecclesiastico-civil system, particularly the building of the temple. In the vision of Zechariah (Zechariah 3:1-5) Satan accuses the high priest who is here the representative proper of the nation. The consummation of the Messianic age cannot be completed without the cooperation of the high priest who is crowned with Zerubbabel, and sits with him on the throne (Zechariah 6:13). The prophet also describes Joshua and his friends as "men of the sign," alluding to the coming Messiah under whom the sin of the land was to be taken away in one day (Zechariah 3:9 f). The promise is made to Joshua that if he will walk in Yahweh's ways and keep His house, he shall judge Yahweh's house, i.e. Israel, keep His court and have a place to walk among those who stand before Yahweh (Zechariah 3:7). He is anointed equally with the prince of the royal line, for the two sons of oil (Zechariah 4:14) almost certainly refer to the royal Zerubbabel and priestly Joshua who are to be joint inspirers of Israel in rebuilding the temple.
This exaltation of the high priest is very different from the state of things pictured by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 40, 41, 42). In that picture no place is left for a high priest; the prince seemed to be the chief personage in the ecclesiastical system. Ezekiel's vision was ideal, the actual restoration was very different, and the institutions and conditions of the past were carried out rather than the visions of the prophet. In the time of Nehemiah, Eliashib was high priest (Nehemiah 3:1, 20). For abusing his office by using a temple chamber in the interests of his family he was reprimanded (Nehemiah 13:4-9). The list of high priests from Jeshua to Jaddua is given in Nehemiah 12:10. According to Josephus (Ant., XI, viii, 5) Jaddua was priest at the time of Alexander the Great (332 B.C.), but it is practically certain that it was Jaddua's grandson, Simon, who was then priest (see W.J. Beecher, Reasonable Biblical Criticism, chapter xviii). Thus is preserved the unbroken line from Aaron to Jaddua, the office still being hereditary. No essential change can be found since the days of Ezra. The Book of Chronicles, compiled some time during this period, uses the three names, ha-kohen, ha-kohen ha-ro'sh, ha-kohen ha-gadhol. The word naghidh ("prince") is also used, and he is called "the ruler of the house of God" (1 Chronicles 9:11). This seems to imply considerable power invested in him. Usually the Chronicler in both books of Chronicles and Nehemiah uses the term "the priest."
The line of Eleazar doubtless continued until the time of the Maccabees, when a decided change took place. The Syrian Antiochus deposed Onias III and put his brother Jason in his place (174 B.C.), who was soon displaced by Menelaus. About 153 B.C. Jonathan the Hasmonean was appointed by King Alexander, and thus the high-priesthood passed to the priestly family of Joiarib (1 Maccabees 10:18-21). Whether the family of Joiarib was a branch of the Zadokites or not cannot be determined. After the appointment of Jonathan, the office became hereditary in the Hasmonean line, and continued thus until the time of Herod the Great. The latter set up and deposed high priests at his pleasure. The Romans did the same, and changed so frequently that the position became almost an annual appointment. Though many changes were thus made, the high priest was always chosen from certain priestly families. From this group of deposed priests arose a class known as "chief priests." The anointing prescribed in the law of Moses was not always carried out in later times, and in fact was generally omitted. The Mishna speaks of high priests who were installed in office simply by clothing them with their special robes (Schurer, II, i, p. 217, note 24).
2. In the New Testament:
In New Testament times the high priest was the chief civil and ecclesiastical dignitary among the Jews. He was chairman of the Sanhedrin, and head of the political relations with the Roman government. It is not clear just how far he participated in the ceremonies of the temple. No doubt he alone entered the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement, and also offered the daily offerings during that week. What other part he took in the work was according to his pleasure. Josephus says that he officiated at the Sabbath, the New Moon and yearly festivals. The daily minchah (Leviticus 6:12) which he was required to offer was not always offered by the high priest in person, but he was required to defray the expense of it. This was a duty which, according to Ezekiel's vision, was to be performed by the prince. The Jews had many contentions with the Romans as to who should keep the garments of the high priest. When Jerusalem fell into the hands of the Romans, the robe of state also fell into their hands.
In the time of Christ, Annas and Caiaphas were high priests (Luke 3:2), though, as appears later in the Gospel, Caiaphas alone acted as such. Annas had probably been deposed, yet retained much of his influence among the priestly families. For particulars see ANNAS; CAIAPHAS; JESUS CHRIST. These two were also the chief conspirators against Jesus. As president of the council Caiaphas deliberately advised them to put Jesus to death to save the nation (John 11:51). He was also chairman of the council which tried and condemned Jesus (Matthew 26:57, 58, 63, 65 Mark 14:53, 60, 61, 63 Luke 22:54 John 18:12-14, 19, 24, 28). They were also leaders in the persecution of the apostles and disciples after Pentecost (Acts 4:6; Acts 5:17, 21); Saul sought letters from the high priest to Damascus to give him authority to bring any Christians he might find there bound to Jerusalem (Acts 9:2). He presided at the council which tried Paul (Acts 22:5; Acts 23:4).
See PAUL, THE APOSTLE.
In the Epistle to the Hebrews the doctrine of the priesthood of Jesus is fully and carefully elaborated. Jesus is here called the great High Priest, as well as priest. The opening words of the Epistle contain the essential thought: "when he had made purification of sins" (1:3). The title of high priest is first introduced in 2:17, "a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God"; also in 3:1, "the Apostle and High Priest of our confession." Having thus fairly introduced his great theme, the writer strikes the keynote of his great argument: "Having then a great high priest," etc. (4:14, 15). From 4:14 to 7:28 the argument deals with the high-priestly work of Jesus. His qualifications are not only those which distinguish all priesthood, but they are also unique. He is named after the order of Melchizedek. The general qualifications are:
(1) He is appointed by God to His office (5:1).
(2) He is well fitted for the office by His experiences and participation in human temptations (5:2-6; 2:18).
(3) He undergoes a divine preparation (5:8, 9).
The special qualifications of His priesthood are: It is after the order of Melchiezedek (5:10). This is an eternal one (6:20); royal or kingly (7:1-3); independent of birth or family (7:3); it is timeless (7:8); superior to that of Levi (7:4-10); new and different from that of Aaron (7:11, 12). It is also indissoluble (7:16); immutable (7:21); inviolable (7:24). Thus, with all these general and special qualifications, He is completely fitted for His work (7:26). That work consists in offering up Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the people (7:27); entering within the veil as a forerunner (6:20); presenting the sacrificial blood in heaven itself (8:3; 9:7, 24); thus obtaining eternal redemption (9:12); ratifying the new covenant (9:15-22). The result of this high-priestly work is a cleansing from all sin (9:23); a possibility of full consecration to God and His service (10:10); an ultimate perfection (10:14); and full access to the throne of grace (10:21, 22).
See CHRIST, OFFICES OF; PRIEST; PRIESTHOOD IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.
Articles on the priesthood in general, with references to the high priest in HDB, HCG, EB, Jew Encyclopedia, Kitto, Smith, Fallows, Schaff-Herzog, etc.; no article on "High Priest" only. For the history, Breasted, History of Egypt; Schurer, History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, II, i, 207-99; Josephus, Ant, XV, XVIII, XX. For works on the priesthood from the radical viewpoint, see Graf, S.I. Curtiss, Jost, Graetz, Kautzsch, Budde, Baentsch, Benzinger, Buchler, Meyer, Wellhausen. For a more moderate position see Baudissin, Die Geschichte des alttestamentlichen Priesterthums untersucht. For a more conservative position see A. Van Hoonacker, Le sacerdoce levitique dans la loi et dans l'histoire des Hebreux. On the high-priesthood subsequent to the return from Babylon, see B. Pick, Lutheran Church Review, 1898, I, 127-41; II, 370-74; III, 555-56; IV, 655-64; and the commentaries on the passages cited.
James Josiah Reeve
See PRIEST, HIGH.
See GOD, NAMES OF.
MOST HIGH, MOST HOLY
See GOD, NAMES OF.
High (4559 Occurrences)
High occurs 4559 times in 12 translations.
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