The High Priest

The High Priest was the head of the Levitical priesthood and from the time of Moses was anointed with the holy oil and consecrated. The levitical priesthood, with the high priest at its head, presided over the Temple and distributed the money. The high priest was also head of the Jewish nation, in him were joined the supreme religious and civil authority. This was in theory; in practice, especially at the time of Jesus, the actual power of the high priest was not that great. He was almost always chosen from among certain particularly influential sacerdotal families which formed a privileged and aristocratic group within the sacerdotal class.

The high priest was chosen for life and in ancient times it had been the exception when he was deposed, but from the time of Herod the Great, the exception became the rule and a high priest rarely died in office. Once elected, the high priest was the chief minister of public worship and head of all the services in the Temple. With regards to civil matters the high priest functioned principally as head of the Sanhedrin, the presidency of which was automatically his. But here especially his actual power dwindled under Herod the Great.

The Lord Jesus is now our High Priest. "Wherefore in all things," writes Paul, "It behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." "Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus." "Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
[324, Hebrews 2, 3, 4]

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