The priesthood is an interesting study. A study of the High Priest is especially interesting.
The institution of the High Priesthood - Temples, rituals, priest and High Priest existed
long before the Law of Moses.
Egypt - the High Priest of Amon and Thebes stood next to the king in power.
Moses' father-in-law was a priest of Midian, possibly even the High Priest.
In this study we will look at the High Priesthood of Israel and try to understand more
about this position and its work within the Aaronic Priesthood of Israel.
Aaron (Moses' brother) was the first High Priest.
The office was hereditary to the family of Aaron.
Exodus 29:9, 29-30.
Aaron was succeeded by his son, Eleazar - Numbers 20:28; Deuteronomy 10:6.
Eleazar was succeeded by his son, Phinehas.
Numbers 25:10-13 - the succession was fixed.
Three times spoken of as the "great priest" - Lev. 21:10; Num. 35:25, 28.
Recorded in Exodus 29:29ff.
Seven days of special solemnities.
Special washing and anointing - Psalm 133:2.
Must wear the Holy Garments - Lev. 21:10.
Must offer a bullock each day for a personal sin offering for atonement.
The altar must be cleansed, atoned for and anointed - Lev. 6:24.
This was somewhat of a double apron, having a back as well as a front. It was made of
beautiful material. The two sections were joined at the top of the shoulders by onyx
stones inscribed with the names of the tribes of Israel.
The BAND - (or girdle) - Exodus 28:8.
This was a wide sash made of the same material as the ephod, and used to bind the ephod
around the waist.
The BREAST PLATE - Exodus 28:15-30.
Four rows of three gems were set upon a beautiful cloth backing. Each gem was incised
with the name of one of the twelve tribes. Golden chains and rings held the breastplate
upon the ephod.
The ROBE OF THE EPHOD - Exodus 28:31-35.
This was a blue garment worn underneath the ephod. Apparently it was like a sleeveless
dress, and had alternating golden bells, and purple, blue and scarlet pomegranates hanging
about the bottom of the skirt.
The MITRE - (or turban) - Exodus 28:36-38.
This was the priest's head-dress. Upon its front was attached a golden plate inscribed
"HOLY TO JEHOVAH".
The COAT - Exodus 28:39.
This seems to have been a white linen undergarment of the priest.
Besides the dress garments of the high Priest, Aaron and his sons had white linen coats,
headbands, girdles and breeches to be worn in their routine work. (Exodus:28:40-43)
THE DUTIES OF THE HIGH PRIEST.
Enter the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement - Lev. 16:3, 15, 33-34.
Officiate at the ceremony of the two goats - Exodus 30:10; Lev. 16:8-10.
One sent to the wilderness of Azazel.
One slain to make atonement for the sanctuary.
He alone could make atonement for the sins of the people and his house - Lev. 4:3f; 9:8f; Num. 15:25.
Must offer the regular meal offering - Lev. 6:14-15.
He must share with the priest in caring for the lamp that burned continually - Exodus 27:21.
He must assist in arranging the shewbread - Exodus 25:30.
When he carried the breastplate with the names of the tribes of Israel inscribed on them,
he acted as mediator between Israel and God - Exodus 28:29.
He alone could consult the Urim and Thummin before Jehovah, and according to his decision
Israel must obey - Numbers 27:21.
SPECIAL REGULATIONS OF THE HIGH PRIEST.
Must be free from bodily defect - Lev. 21:16-23.
Must marry only a virgin of Israel - Lev. 21:14.
Must not observe the external signs of mourning for any person and could not leave the
sanctuary when news came of the death of even his mother or father - Lev. 21:10-12.
Could not let his hair grow long or rend his clothing as a sign of mourning - Lev. 21:10.
If he should bring guilt upon the people he must present a special offering - Lev. 4:3ff.
He must wash his feet and hands when he went to the tabernacle of the congregation and
when he came near to the altar to minister - Ex. 30:19-21.
He must abstain from holy things during his uncleanness - Lev. 22:1-3; or if he should
become leprous - v. 4-7.
He was to eat the prople's meat offering with the inferior priest in the Holy Place - Lev. 6:16.
He must assist in judging leprosy in the human body and garments - Lev. 13:2-59.
He must assist in judging legal questions - Deut. 17:12.
When there was no Divinely inspired leader, the High Priest was the chief ruler till the
time of David and again after the captivity.
There are many other facets of the High Priest, his character, his work, his office
and regulations that would delight a student of the Word. These are given to whet the
appetite for future study.