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הכהנים הגדולים במשכן ובבתי המקדש - High Priests of Ancient Israel

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Line of the High Priests of Israel

The High Priests, like all Levitical priests, belonged to the Aaronic line. The Bible mentions the majority of high priests before the captivity, but does not give a complete list of office holders. Lists would be based on various historical sources. In several periods of gentile rule, high priests were appointed and removed by kings. Still, most high priests came from the Aaronic line. One exception is Menelaus, who may not have been from the Tribe of Levi at all, but from the Tribe of Benjamin.


Old Testament

High Priests of the Tabernacle (From the Sini Desert to the Land of Israel) up to the First Temple in Jerusalem

Sources for the following: (a) Old Testament. - (b) Josephus - (c) Seder Olam Zuta

From Solomon to the Babylonian Capitivity (c.832-586 BCE). With Zadok the line of Eleazar reappears

Destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE (Babylonian Exile).

After the Babylonian Exile to the Hasmonean

The five descendants of Joshua are mentioned in Nehemiah, chapter 12, 10f. The chronology given above, based on Josephus, however is not undisputed, with some alternatively placing Jaddua during the time of Darius II and some supposing one more Johanan and one more Jaddua in the following time, the latter Jaddua being contemporary of Alexander the Great. Apocrypha

Inter-Sacerdotium: It is unknown who held the position of High Priest of Jerusalem between Alcimus' death and the accession of Jonathan. It is unlikely that the position was vacant!

Hasmonean dynasty

From Herod to the Destruction of the Temple. According to Josephus ("Antiquities")

(Under Herod)

(Under Archeiaus)

(Under Quirinius)

(Under Valorius Gratus)

(Under Vitellius)

(Under Agrippa)

(Under Herod of Chalcis)

(Under Agrippa ll)

Destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans: in 70 CE.

Thirty-one pontificates served in the Tabernacle (from the Sini Desert and Canaan) and in the First Temple in Jerusalem (Israel and Judea Kingdoms). Josephus enumerates fifty-two pontificates under the Second Temple in Jerusalem - total of eighty-three High Priests.