5 occurrences in 5 dictionaries

Reference: High Priest


Aaron was the first who was solemnly set apart to this office (Ex 29:7; 30:23; Le 8:12). He wore a peculiar dress, which on his death passed to his successor in office (Ex 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 (Ex 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 (1Sa 2:28; 14:3; 9'>21:9; 23:6,9; 30:7).

(3.) The "breastplate of judgment" (Ex 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 (4/3'>1Sa 14:3,18-19; 23:2,4,9,11-12; 28:6; 2Sa 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" (Heb 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 (Le 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 (Heb 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. 1Ki 2:27), and was hereditary in the family of Aaron (Nu 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 (1Ki 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.

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In Hebrew "THE priest," and in books after the Pentateuch "the great priest," "the head priest," or "chief priest" (2Ki 25:18). In Le 4:3 and elsewhere "the priest that is anointed," for he alone of the priests was anointed on the head in consecration, "the crown of the anointing oil of his God" Le 21:12), i.e. the holy oil was poured on his head like a crown (Ex 29:7), a uniquely-compounded ointment (Ex 30:22-33) which it was death to imitate or to put upon a stranger. Certain priests, "apothecaries", manufactured it (Ne 3:8); this oil was wanting in the second temple. The anointing of the ordinary priests was limited to sprinkling their garments with the anointing oil (Ex 28:41 ff; Ex 29:21; Le 8:30), which does not sanction the Jewish tradition that the oil was smeared on the forehead of the ordinary priests with the finger.

The high priest's special designation, "the priest that is anointed" (Le 4:3), implies a marked distinction between his anointing and theirs, besides what was common to both, namely, the "sprinkling." Love is compared to it, streaming down from Aaron's head upon his beard, then to his skirts (Ps 132:2). Christ, the antitypical High Priest, was anointed with the fullness of the Spirit (Da 9:24; Ac 10:38; Joh 3:34); from Him the Spirit in measure streams on His members who touch by faith the hem of His garment (Mt 9:20; Joh 1:16). Besides the girdle common to all the priests the high priest wore also the curious girdle of the ephod. Of eight articles of priestly dress the coat or tunic, girdle, breeches, and bonnet or turban belonged also to the common priests; the breast-plate, ephod with the curious girdle, mitre (instead of the ordinary priest's turban) and robe of the ephod were peculiar to the high priest.

The breast-plate (choshen, "ornament," literally) was two spans' long by one broad, but doubled it became a square, fastened by rings and chains of gold to the two onyx stones on the shoulders, and beneath with two other rings and a lace of blue to two rings in the ephod above the curious girdle. On it were the 12 stones in four rows, with the 12 tribes engraven in the order of the encampment; just as the names of the 12 tribes were on the 12 pearl gates, and in the 12 foundations (of precious stones) of the New Jerusalem wall the names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb. He represented the whole chosen nation as "a kingdom of priests" (Ex 19:6). In other nations the priesthood was dissevered from every other class, but in Israel Levi held the priesthood rightfully belonging to all, and only delegated to one tribe and family as representing the whole; as Nu 8:10 proves.

This trust was delegated to Levi only until all the children of God could exercise it suitably. Christianity restores the suspended relation of God's people as all king-priests unto God (1Pe 2:9; Re 1:6). In the Jewish church there was a delegation of the priesthood to one tribe and family; not so in the Christian church, which unites under the antitypical Melchizedek the kingdom and priesthood which were distinct in Israel. United to Messiah, the spiritual Israel the church shall form one grand heavenly king-priesthood as literal Israel shall be the earthly king-priesthood among the nations (Isa 61:6; 66:21). Christian ministers as distinct from laymen are never called in New Testament hiereis, "sacerdotal priests," as the Jewish priests were. The high priest alone entered the holy of holies once a year; but we have "boldness to enter" it through the rent veil of Christ's flesh continually (Heb 10:19-20).

He alone consulted God by the mysterious Urim and Thummim; we have truly our fellowship with the Father of lights (1Jo 1:3; 2:20; Jas 1:17-18), having our "unction from the Holy One" and knowing all things. The high priest's death prefigured Christ's who sets the bloodstained captive free (Nu 35:25). The first separation of Aaron to the priesthood, which previously belonged to the firstborn, occurs in Exodus 28, after the directions for the tabernacle and its furniture. Previously Moses bidding him lay up the pot of manna before the Lord implied that the ark would, when made, be under his charge. His being taken up with Nadab and Abihu to see the glory of the God of Israel foreshadowed his hereditary priesthood; also 21'>Ex 27:21,9,21. Josephus, Septuagint, and Scripture favor the view that the 12 breast-plate stones were the Urim and Thummim.

Answers were given by Jehovah to the high priest (Joh 11:51) while wearing them and the ephod (4/3'>1Sa 14:3,18-19; 23:2,4,9,11-12; 28:6; 2Sa 5:23; Jg 20:28). "Judgment" was the breast-plate's chief significance (Ex 28:30), "Aaron shall bear the judgment of ... Israel upon his heart before the Lord continually," namely, the judicial sentence of justification, often represented by a particular kind of robe (Isa 61:10; 62:8). So the white linen robe expresses the righteousness or justification of the saints (Re 3:4-5; 19:14). Joshua the high priest represented the nation on its trial before God, at first in filthy garments to represent its guilt, Satan accusing; then by Messiah's intercession justified; therefore the filthy garments are removed and a change of raiment is given and a fair mitre put on his head (Zechariah 3).

Thus "the breast-plate of righteousness" or "judgment" symbolizes Israel's 12 tribes accepted on the ground of the high priest's sacrificial intercession before God (Nu 23:21). Thummim expresses perfections, Urim lights. Israel's perfect justification in "the Lord her righteousness" and her consequent ultimate prosperity are thus symbolized (Isa 60:1; 62:1-2). Levi the priest tribe is called "God's holy one," privileged to bear the Urim and Thummim because of proved faithfulness (De 33:8). Israel's justification in the person of her high priest is the ground of her receiving through him communications of God's will. Her children's being "taught of Jehovah" is so connected with "His laying her stones with fair colors" (Isa 54:11-17). S. Clark (Speaker's Commentary) thinks that some means of casting lots were kept in the bag formed by the doubled fold of the choshen or breast-plate, and that these were the Urim and Thummim: Ex 28:15-30,"thou shalt put in the breast-plate of judgment the Urim and Thummim."

But this passage suits at least as well the view that the Urim and Thummim were the 12 precious stones put into the piece of cunning (skilled weaver's) work, and representing Israel "perfected" and "shining with light" because justified before God, as the view that they were some distinct means of lot casting, inside the fold of the choshen. (See URIM AND THUMMIM.) The ephod consisted of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn and "fine twined linen," wrought in "work of the skilled weaver"; the high priest's distinctive vestment (1Sa 2:28; 14:3; 9'>21:9; 23:6,9; 30:7) to which "the breast-plate of judgment" was attached (Ex 28:6-12,25-28; 39:2-7). It consisted of a back piece and a front piece joined by shoulder straps; Ex 28:28 translated "two rings of gold shalt thou make, and put them on the two shoulder pieces of the ephod, low down in the front of it, near the joining, above the band for fastening it" (Speaker's Commentary).

Below the arms the two pieces were kept in place by a band attached to one of the pieces ("the curious girdle of the ephod"), "of the same work, of one piece with it" (Ex 39:8). Two onyx stones, each inscribed with the names of six tribes, clasped together on the shoulders the back and front pieces. An ordinary linen ephod was worn by other priests (1Sa 22:18); by Samuel, only a Levite (2Sa 2:18); and by David (2Sa 6:14). The robe of the ephod (meiyl). A simple, sky-blue frock, without seam or sleeves, drawn over the head, visible above and below the ephod, the elaborate texture of which it set off as a ground work; translated Ex 28:32, "its opening for the head shall be in the middle of it," a round hole not connected with any slit before or behind. The skirt was ornamented with pomegranates of blue, purple, and scarlet, a small golden bell being attached between each two of the pomegranates (Ex 28:33-35).

The bells' sound heard from within the veil by those outside assured them that the high priest,

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It is remarkable that this title occurs but seldom in the O.T. Le 21:10; Nu 35:25; Jos 20:6; 2Ki 12:10; 2Ch 24:11, etc. Aaron was constantly called 'the priest;' but as his sons were also called priests, he was necessarily the 'chief' and would correspond to what is called high priest in the N.T. His office is summed up in few words: he "is ordained for men in things pertaining to God" that he might offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. He stood for the people to God: he offered up the sacrifices which put the people in relation with God (Lev. 9), also those on the day of atonement (Lev. 16), and he blessed them as from God. He, as taken from among men, was one who could have compassion on, or forbearance toward, the ignorant and the erring; for that he himself was compassed with infirmity. Heb 5:1-2. Aaron did not take the honour upon himself, nor did Christ. Heb 5:4-5. Having accomplished redemption by the offering of Himself, He passed through the heavens and sat down on the right hand of God. He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities, having been Himself tempted as we are, apart from sin. He ever lives to make intercession for us, He is also the minister of the sanctuary

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High priest.

The first distinct separation of Aaron to the office of the priesthood, which previously belonged to the first-born was that recorded

Ex 28:1

... We find from the very first the following characteristic attributes of Aaron and the high priests his successors, as distinguished from the other priests: Aaron alone was anointed,

Le 8:12

whence one of the distinctive epithets of the high priest was "the anointed priest."

Le 4:3,5,16; 21:10


Nu 35:25

The anointing of the sons of Aaron, i.e. the common priests seems to have been confined to sprinkling their garments with the anointing oil.

Ex 29:21; 28:41

etc. The high priest had a peculiar dress, which passed to his successor at his death. This dress consisted of eight parts: (a) The breastplate, or, as it is further named, vs.

Ex 28:15,29-30

the breastplate of judgment. The breastplate was originally two spans long and one span broad, but when doubled it was square, the shape in which it was worn. On it were the twelve precious stones, set in four rows, three in a row, thus corresponding to the twelve tribes--each stone having the name of one of the children of Israel engraved upon it. (b) The ephod. This consisted of two parts, of which one covered the back and the other the front, i.e. the breast and upper part of the body. These parts were clasped together on the shoulder with two large onyx stones, each having engraved on it six of the names of the tribes of Israel. They were further united by a "curious girdle" of gold blue purple, scarlet and fine twined linen round the waist. [EPHOD; GIRDLE]

See Ephod (2)

See Girdle

(c) The robe of the ephod. This was of inferior material to the ephod itself being all of blue, ver. 31, which implied its being only of "woven work." ch.

Ex 39:22

It was worn immediately under the ephod, and was longer than it. The skirt of this robe had a remarkable trimming of pomegranates in blue, red and crimson, with a bell of gold between each pomegranate alternately. The bells were to give a sound when the high priest went in and came out of the holy place. (d) The mitre or upper turbin, with its gold plate, engraved with "Holiness to the Lord," fastened to it by a ribbon of blue. (e) The broidered coat was a tunic or long skirt of linen with a tessellated or diaper pattern, like the setting of stone. (f) The girdle, also of linen, was wound round the body several times from the breast downward, and the ends hung down to the ankles. (g) The breeches or drawers, of linen, covered the loins and thighs; and (h) The bonnet was a turban of linen, partially covering the head, but not in the form of a cone like that of the high priest when the mitre was added to it. These last four were common to all priests. The high priest alone was permitted to enter the holy of holies, which he did once a year, on the great day of atonement, when he sprinkled the blood of the sin offering on the mercy seat, and burnt incense within the veil

Le 16:1

... The manslayer might not leave the city of refuge during the lifetime of the existing high priest. It was also forbidden to the high priest to follow a funeral, or rend his clothes for the dead. It does not appear by whose authority the high priests were appointed to their office before there were kings of Israel. After this the office seems to have been used for political rather than religious purposes. Though at first chosen for life, we find that Solomon deposed Abiathar,

1Ki 2:35

and that Herod appointed a number of high priests, which may account for there being at least two living in Christ's time, Annas and Caiaphas.

Lu 3:2

The usual are for entering upon the functions of the priesthood, according to

2Ch 31:17

is considered to have been 20 years, though a priest or high priest was not actually incapacitated if he had attained to puberty. Again, according to

Le 21:17-21

no one that had a blemish could officiate at the altar. The theological view of the high priesthood does not fall within the scope of this work. It must suffice therefore to indicate that such a view would embrace the consideration of the office, dress, functions and ministrations of the high priest considered as typical of the priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and as setting forth under shadows the truths which are openly taught under the gospel. This had been done to a great extent in the Epistle to the Hebrews. It would also embrace all the moral and spiritual teaching supposed to be intended by such symbols.

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