By Garry Knighton
Church of Christ/North  - Shreveport, La.

 
THE HIGH PRIEST

   INTRODUCTION:

       A.  The priesthood is an interesting study.  A study of the High Priest is
             especially interesting.

       B.  The institution of the High Priesthood - Temples, rituals, priest and High
             Priest existed long before the Law of Moses.

            1.  Egypt - the High Priest of Amon and Thebes stood next to the king in
                 power.

            2.  Moses' father-in-law was a priest of Midian, possibly even the High
                 Priest.

       C.  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.

   I.  THE FAMILY.

       A.  Aaron (Moses' brother) was the first High Priest.

            1.  Exodus 31:10.

            2.  The office was hereditary to the family of Aaron.

                 a.  Exodus 29:9, 29-30.

                       1)  Aaron was succeeded by his son, Eleazar - Numbers 20:28;
                             Deuteronomy 10:6.

                       2)  Eleazar was succeeded by his son, Phinehas.

                            a)  Numbers 25:10-13 - the succession was fixed.

                            b)  Three times spoken of as the "great priest" - Lev. 21:10;
                                  Num. 35:25, 28.

  II.  THE CONSECRATION.

       A.  Recorded in Exodus 29:29ff.

            1.  Seven days of special solemnities.

            2.  Special washing and anointing - Psalm 133:2.

            3.  Must wear the Holy Garments - Lev. 21:10.

            4.  Must offer a bullock each day for a personal sin offering for atonement.

                 a.  The altar must be cleansed, atoned for and anointed - Lev. 6:24.

 III.  THE DRESS.

       A.  EPHOD.

            1.  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.

       B.  The BAND - (or girdle) - Exodus 28:8.

            1.  This was a wide sash made of the same material as the ephod, and
                  used to bind the ephod around the waist.

       C.  The BREAST PLATE - Exodus 28:15-30.

            1.  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.

       D.  The ROBE OF THE EPHOD - Exodus 28:31-35.

            1.  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.

       E.  The MITRE - (or turban) - Exodus 28:36-38.

            1.  This was the priest's head-dress.  Upon its front was attached a golden
                 plate inscribed "HOLY TO JEHOVAH".

       F.  The COAT - Exodus 28:39.

            1.  This seems to have been a white linen undergarment of the priest.

            2.  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)

  IV.  THE DUTIES OF THE HIGH PRIEST.

       A.  Enter the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement - Lev. 16:3, 15, 33-34.

       B.  Officiate at the ceremony of the two goats - Exodus 30:10; Lev. 16:8-10.

            1.  One sent to the wilderness of Azazel.

            2.  One slain to make atonement for the sanctuary.

       C.  He alone could make atonement for the sins of the people and his house -
             Lev. 4:3f; 9:8f; Num. 15:25.

       D.  Must offer the regular meal offering - Lev. 6:14-15.

       E.  He must share with the priest in caring for the lamp that burned
             continually - Exodus 27:21.

       F.  He must assist in arranging the shewbread - Exodus 25:30.

       G.  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.

       H.  He alone could consult the Urim and Thummin before Jehovah, and
             according to his decision Israel must obey - Numbers 27:21.

   V.  SPECIAL REGULATIONS OF THE HIGH PRIEST.

       A.  Must be free from bodily defect - Lev. 21:16-23.

       B.  Must marry only a virgin of Israel - Lev. 21:14.

       C.  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.

       E.  Could not let his hair grow long or rend his clothing as a sign of mourning -
             Lev. 21:10.

       F.  If he should bring guilt upon the people he must present a special offering -
             Lev. 4:3ff.

       G.  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.

       H.  He must abstain from holy things during his uncleanness - Lev. 22:1-3;
             or if he should become leprous - v. 4-7.

       I.  He was to eat the prople's meat offering with the inferior priest in the Holy
           Place - Lev. 6:16.

       J.  He must assist in judging leprosy in the human body and garments -
            Lev. 13:2-59.

       K.  He must assist in judging legal questions - Deut. 17:12.

       L.  When there was no Divinely inspired leader, the High Priest was the chief
            ruler till the time of David and again after the captivity.

   CONCLUSION:

       A.  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.