What is a High priest?
, the head of the Jewish priesthood, Lev 21:10. Aaron was the first to hold the office, Ex 28:1, and his descendants filled it after him. Eleazar was his immediate successor, Num 3:32; Num 20:28; Deut 10:6, and the priesthood remained in his family till Eli, 1 Chr 24:3, 1 Chr 24:6, who was of the house of Ithamar. The office of the high priest was originally held for life. This rule was disregarded by Solomon, who appointed Zadok and deposed Abiathar, 1 Kgs 2:35, because he had espoused the cause of Adonijah, 1 Kgs 1:7, 1 Kgs 1:25. In the years succeeding the close of the canon the office became a tool in the hands of the rulers of the land. Herod particularly and his successors disregarded the tradition of the Jews on this point. This people, who held the ofiice so sacred, now often begged their rulers to remove the incumbents, who were parasites of the throne. Herod appointed no less than five high priests himself, and one of them, Simon, as the price of his daughter in marriage. We consequently read in the N.T. of several high priests living at the same time, and Annas and Caiaphas are particularly mentioned, Luke 3:2. The services of consecration were prolonged, lasting 7 days, Ex 29:35. and elaborate. They consisted of sacrifices, Ex 29; of anointing with oil, Ex 29:7; Ex 30:22-33; Lev 21:10; and of putting on of garments, Ex 29:5-6, Ex 29:8-9. The dress of the high priest was much more costly and magnificent than that of the inferior order of priests. It is described Ex 39:1-9. In the cut are seen the robe and ephod, the latter of which is outermost of all, and is curiously wrought with gold wire and blue, purple, and scarlet thread. Upon either shoulder is seen an onyx-stone, on each of which were engraved the names of six of the tribes of Israel. The breastplate is also seen, with a wrought chain of High Priest. Priest. gold attached to each corner, and passing under the arms and over the shoulder. See Breastplate. The mitre, or head-dress, is formed of eight yards of fine linen, in circular folds, and inscribed in front, upon a plate of pure gold, Holiness to the Lord. The fringe or hem of the robe, and the bells suspended from it, are also seen. The dress of the high priest on the day of expiation was very plain and simple, consisting only of plain linen, with a sash or girdle. Hence these were called by the Jews the priest's "white garments," etc.; the former, "garments of gold." Functions. -- The high priest's most solemn, peculiar, and exclusive duty was to offciate in the most holy place on the great day of atonement, Heb 9:7, Heb 9:25. See Atonement, Day of. In Lev 16 we have a full account of this most interesting service and the imposing ceremonies which preceded it. The high priest might at any time perform the duties assigned to the ordinary priests. He was in general the overseer of the temple, 2 Kgs 12:10, and at the time of our Lord presided over the Sanhedrin. Acts 5:17; John 18:13-14, etc. Jesus is the great High Priest, who once for all sprinkled with his own blood the threshold of the holy of holies (heaven), where he ever liveth to make intercession for us. Heb 4:14; Neh 7:25; Heb 9:12, etc.
Bibliography Information Schaff, Philip, Dr. "Biblical Definition for 'high priest' in Schaffs Bible Dictionary". bible-history.com - Schaff's