Jewish Priests

Throughout human history in all places, people have had a sense of their own sin. Nearly all religions have priests or other similar religious figures to try to mediate or intercede through God on the behalf of the people. The Hebrews of course had their priests. The patriarchs acted as priests by offering sacrifices. By the time of Moses, the priesthood was formally organized with three ranks, the high priests, priests and Levites, all members of the tribe of Levi.

The priests were the descendants of Levi through Aaron and had charge of the services and sacrifices in the Temple. The Levites were the descendants of Levi through Gerson, Caath, and Merari and were assistants to the priests, and acted also as porters, musicians, judges and genealogists. Wherever Jesus looked there were priests. On the day of the temple cleansing, 20,000 of them were registered in the Temple and got their living from it. The place swarmed with men in ceremonial costume - Levites with pointed caps and large pockets in which they carried the books of the Law; Pharisees with their broad phylacteries and deep white fringes on purple gowns; solemn Essenes in white robes.

The Maccabean House, or Hasmoneans, were awarded the High Priesthood of Israel. Before the exile the revenues of the priests would appear to have been at once slender and uncertain, and to have been derived exclusively from the fraction which fell to their share of the offerings made to Jehovah. But with the return from the captivity these increased to an enormous extent, and this was due to the increase of political power which the new order of things put into the hands of the priesthood.
[289, 324, 325, 304, 377, 415]

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