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High Priest

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High Priest of R'hllor

The age of eligibility for the office is not fixed in the Law ; but according to rabbinical tradition it was twenty. Legitimacy of birth was essential; hence the care in the keeping of the genealogical records [10] and the distrust of one whose mother had been captured in war. He may marry only an Israelite virgin — In Ezekiel this restriction is extended to all kohanim priests , an exception being made in favor of the widow of a priest see Levirate marriage.

According to Josephus, [12] birth on foreign soil was not a disqualification; but the disqualifications of Leviticus et seq. The Torah provides for specific vestments to be worn by the priests when they are ministering in the Tabernacle : "And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for dignity and for beauty" Exodus These garments are described in detail in Exodus 28 , Exodus 39 and Leviticus 8. The high priest wore eight holy garments bigdei kodesh. Of these, four were of the same type worn by all priests and four were unique to the Kohen Gadol.

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The high priest, like all priests, would minister barefoot when he was serving in the Temple. Like all of the priests, he had to immerse himself in the ritual bath before vesting and wash his hands and his feet before performing any sacred act. The Talmud teaches that neither the kohanim nor the Kohen Gadol were fit to minister unless they wore their priestly vestments: "While they are clothed in the priestly garments, they are clothed in the priesthood; but when they are not wearing the garments, the priesthood is not upon them" B. Zevachim B.

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It is further taught that just as the sacrifices facilitate an atonement for sin , so do the priestly garments B. Zevachim 88b.

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The high priest had two sets of holy garments: the "golden garments" detailed above, and a set of white "linen garments" bigdei ha-bad which he wore only on the Day of Atonement Yom Kippur Leviticus On that day, he would change his holy garments four times, beginning in the golden garments but changing into the Linen Garments for the two moments when he would enter the Holy of Holies the first time to offer the blood of atonement and the incense, and the second time to retrieve the censer , and then change back again into the golden garments [ citation needed ] after each time.

He would immerse in the ritual bath before each change of garments, washing his hands and his feet after removing the garments and again before putting the other set on. The linen garments were only four in number, those corresponding to the garments worn by all priests undergarments, tunic, sash and turban , but made only of white linen, with no embroidery. They could be worn only once, new sets being made each year. The ceremonial of consecration, extending through an entire week Exodus 28 - 29 ; Leviticus 8 , included certain rites which all priests were required to undergo: purification; the sacrifices ; the "filling" of the hands; the smearing with blood.

But Aaron the high priest was anointed with sacred oil , hence the title of the "anointed priest"; other passages have it that all priests were anointed Exodus , ; Leviticus , ; Numbers The first consecration was performed by Moses; the Torah does not state who consecrated subsequent high priests. Leviticus states emphatically that every new high priest shall be anointed; and Exodus et seq. Numbers ; Psalm The distinguished rank of the high priest is apparent from the fact that his sins are regarded as belonging also to the people Lev. He was entrusted with the stewardship of the Urim and Thummim Num.

On Yom Kippur he alone entered the Holy of Holies , to make atonement for his house and for the people Leviticus He alone could offer the sacrifices for the sins of the priests, or of the people, or of himself Leviticus 4 ; and only he could officiate at the sacrifices following his own or another priest's consecration Leviticus 9.

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  6. He also offered a meal-offering every morning and evening for himself and the whole body of the priesthood Leviticus , though the wording of the law is not altogether definite. Other information concerning his functions is not given. Though other priests would serve only when it was their week on rotation and on feast days and even then their function was decided by lot , he was privileged to take part at his own pleasure in any of the priestly rites at any time.

    Josephus contends that the high priest almost invariably participated in the ceremonies on Shabbat , the New Moon , and the festivals. The high priest is the chief of all the priests; he should be anointed and invested with the pontifical garments; but if the sacred oil were not obtainable, [15] investiture with the additional garments see Biblical Data , above is regarded as sufficient.

    This investiture consists of arraying him in the eight pieces of dress and in removing them again on eight successive days, though the anointing and the investiture on the first day suffices to qualify him for the functions of the office. The Great Sanhedrin alone had the right to appoint, or confirm the appointment of, the high priest. His consecration might take place only in the day-time. Two high priests must not be appointed together. Every high priest had a "mishneh" a second called the Segan , or " memunneh ", to stand at his right; another assistant was the " Catholicos " "Yad", l.

    The right of succession was in the direct, or, the direct failing, the collateral, line, provided the conditions concerning physical fitness were fulfilled ib. For offenses which entailed flagellation, the high priest could be sentenced by a court of three; after submitting to the penalty he could resume his office "Yad", l. The high priest was expected to be superior to all other priests in physique, in wisdom, in dignity, and in material wealth; if he was poor his brother priests contributed to make him rich Yoma 18a; "Yad", l.

    The high priest was required to be mindful of his honor.

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    He might not mingle with the common people, nor permit himself to be seen disrobed, or in a public bath, etc. He might not participate in a public banquet, but he might pay a visit of consolation to mourners, though even then his dignity was guarded by prescribed etiquette Sanh. The high priest might not follow the bier of one in his own family who had died, nor leave the Temple or his house during the time of mourning. The people visited him to offer consolation; in receiving them, the Segan was at his right, the next in rank and the people at his left. The people said: "We are thy atonement.

    During the offering of consolation he sat on a stool, the people on the floor; he rent his garments, not from above, but from below, near the feet, the penalty for rending them from above being flagellation Semag, Lawin, He could not permit his hair to be disheveled, nor could he cut it "Yad", l. He had one house attached to the Temple Mid. His honor required that he should spend most of his time in the Sanctuary "Yad", l. The high priest was subject to the jurisdiction of the courts, but if accused of a crime entailing capital punishment he was tried by the Great Sanhedrin; he could, however, refuse to give testimony Sanh.

    The high priest must be married, and "should only marry a virgin"; to guard against contingencies it was proposed to hold a second wife in readiness immediately before the Day of Atonement Yoma i. He could give the " halizah ", and it could be given to his widow, as she also was subject to the Levirate; his divorced wife could marry again l.

    When entering the Temple "Hekal" he was supported to the curtain by three men Tamid 67a; this may perhaps have reference to his entering the Holy of Holies; but see "Yad", l. He could take part in the service whenever he desired "Yad", l.

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    On the Day of Atonement only he wore white garments, while on other occasions he wore his golden vestments Yoma 60a; comp. The seven days preceding the Day of Atonement were devoted to preparing for his high function, precautions being taken to prevent any accident that might render him Levitically impure Yoma i. Josephus enumerates only fifty-two pontificates under the Second Temple, omitting the second appointments of Hyrcanus II , Hananeel , and Joazar.

    After the Babylonian Exile , Joshua appears vested with the prominence that the Priestly source P ascribes to the high priest Zech. The post-exilic high priests traced their pedigree back to Zadok, appointed as chief priest at Jerusalem by Solomon I Kings ii. Immediately after the return from the Captivity, as is clearly to be inferred from Zechariah and Haggai , political authority was not vested in the high priest.