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List of High Priests of Israel

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List of High Priests of Israel

This page gives one list of the High Priests of Ancient Israel up to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD. Because of a lack of historical data, this list is incomplete and there may be gaps.


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.

From the Exodus to Solomon's Temple

The following section is based on information found in the various books of the Bible, including the genealogies given in First Book of Chronicles and the Book of Ezra, the works of Josephus and the early-medieval Seder 'Olam Zutta.

  • Aaron
  • Eleazar, son of Aaron (Numbers 20:28)
  • Phinehas, son of Eleazar
  • Abishua, son of Phinehas
  • The Samaritans insert Shesha as the son of Abishua and father of Bukki.
  • Bukki, son of Abishua
  • Uzzi, son of Bukki
  • Though Phinehas and his descendants are not directly attested as high priests, this portion of the genealogy given in 1 Chronicles 5:30-41 is assumed by other sources (including Josephus and Seder 'Olam Zutta), to give the succession of the office from father to son. At some time, the office was transferred from descendants of Eleazar to those of his brother Itamar. The first known and most notable high priest of Itamar's line was Eli, a contemporary of Samuel.

  • Eli, descendant of Ithamar, son of Aaron
  • Ahitub, son of Phinehas and grandson of Eli
  • Ahijah, son of Ahitub
  • Ahimelech, son of Ahijah (or brother of Ahijah and son of Ahitub)
  • Abiathar, son of Ahimelech
  • Abiathar was removed from the high priesthood for conspiring against King Solomon, and was replaced by Zadok, son of Ahitub, who oversaw the construction of the First Temple. According to the genealogies given in 1 Chronicles 5:30-34, Zadok was a descendant of Uzzi (through Zerahiah, Meraioth, Amariah and Ahitub) and thus belonged to the line of Eleazar.

    First Temple period

    From Solomon's time until the captivity, the High Priests officiated in Temple of Jerusalem. Information about who served in that office diverges between the Bible, Josephus and the Seder 'Olam Zuta. While Josephus and Seder 'Olam Zuta each mention 18 high priests, the genealogy given 1 Chronicles 5:34-41 gives twelve names, culminating in the last high priest Seriah, father of Jehozadak. However, it is unclear whether all those mentioned in the genealogy between Zadok and Jehozadak were high priests and whether high priests mentioned elsewhere (such as Jehoiada and Jehoiarib) are simply omitted or did not belong to the male line in this genealogy.

    Some name Jehozadak, son of Seriah, as a high priest prior to being sent to captivity in Babylonia, based on the biblical references to "Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest". According to Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaqi), this is a misreading of the phrase, as "the high priest" does not refer to Jehozadak, who was exiled to Babylon without having served as high priest, but to his son Joshua, who ascended from Babylon at the end of the exile.

    After the Babylonian Exile

  • Joshua, son of Jehozadak, c. 515-490 BC, after the restoration of the Temple
  • Joiakim, son of Joshua, c. 490-470 BC
  • Eliashib, son of Joiakim, c. 470-433 BC
  • Joiada, son of Eliashib, c. 433-410 BC
    (A son married a daughter of Sanballat the Horonite for which he was driven out of the Temple by Nehemiah)
  • Johanan, son of Joiada, c. 410-371 BC
  • Jaddua, son of Johanan, c. 371-320 BC, during the reign of Alexander the Great. Some have identified him as Simeon the Just.
  • 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.

  • Onias I, son of Jaddua, c. 320-280 BC
  • Simon I, son of Onias, c. 280-260 BC Josephus identified him as Simeon the Just
  • Eleazar, son of Onias, c. 260-245 BC
  • Manasseh, son of Jaddua, c. 245-240 BC
  • Onias II, son of Simon, c. 240-218 BC
  • Simon II, son of Onias, 218-185 BC
  • Onias III, son of Simon, 185-175 BC, murdered 170 BC
  • Jason, son of Simon, 175-172 BC
  • Menelaus, 172-162 BC
  • Onias IV, son of Onias III, fled to Egypt and built a Jewish Temple at Leontopolis (closed in 66 AD)
  • Alcimus, 162-159 BC
  • Inter-Sacerdotium: It is unknown who held the position of High Priest of Jerusalem between Alcimus' death and the accession of Jonathan. Josephus, in Jewish Antiquities XX.10, relates that the office was vacant for seven years, but this is highly unlikely, if not impossible. In religious terms, the High Priest was a necessary part of the rites on the Day of Atonement, a day that could have not been allowed to pass uncelebrated for so long so soon after the restoration of the Temple service. Politically, Israel's overlords probably would not have allowed a power vacuum to last that length of time.

    In another passage (XII.10 §6, XII.11 §2) Josephus suggests that Judas Maccabeus, the brother of Jonathan, held the office for three years, succeeding Alcimus. However, Judas actually predeceased Alcimus by one year. The nature of Jonathan's accession to the high priesthood makes it unlikely that Judas held that office during the inter-sacerdotium. The Jewish Encyclopedia tries to harmonise the contradictions found in Josephus by supposing that Judas held the office "immediately after the consecration of the Temple (165-162), that is, before the election of Alcimus"

    It has been argued that the founder of the Qumran community, the Teacher of Righteousness (Moreh Zedek), was High Priest (but not necessarily the sole occupant) during the inter-sacerdotium and was driven off by Jonathan.

    Hasmonean dynasty

  • Jonathan Apphus, 153-143 BC
  • Simeon Tassi, brother of Jonathan Apphus, 142-134 BC
  • John Hyrcanus I, son of Simeon Tassi, 134-104 BC
  • Aristobulus I, son of John Hyrcanus, 104-103 BC
  • Alexander Jannaeus, son of John Hyrcanus, 103-76 BC
  • John Hyrcanus II, son of Alexander Jannaeus, 76-66 BC
  • Aristobulus II, son of Alexander Jannaeus, 66-63 BC
  • John Hyrcanus II (restored), 63-40 BC
  • Antigonus, son of Aristobulus II, 40-37 BC
  • Herodian-Roman period

  • Ananelus, 37-36 BC
  • Aristobulus III, paternal grandson of Aristobulus, 36 BC
    He was the last of the Hasmoneans; II and brother of Herod's wife Mariamne I (second wife of Herod).
  • Ananelus (restored), 36-30 BC
  • Joshua ben Fabus, 30-23 BC
  • Simon ben Boethus, 23-5 BC (his daughter Mariamne II was third wife of Herod the Great)
  • Matthias ben Theophilus, 5-4 BC
  • Joazar ben Boethus, 4 BC
  • Eleazar ben Boethus, 4-3 BC
  • Joshua ben Sie, 3 BC - ?
  • Joazar ben Boethus (restored), ? - 6 AD
  • Ananus ben Seth, 6-15
  • Ishmael ben Fabus, 15-16
  • Eleazar ben Ananus, 16-17
  • Simon ben Camithus, 17-18
  • Joseph Caiaphas, 18-36 (son-in-law of the high priest Ananus ben Seth)
  • Jonathan ben Ananus, 36-37
  • Theophilus ben Ananus, 37-41
  • Simon Cantatheras ben Boethus, 41-43
  • Matthias ben Ananus, 43
  • Elioneus ben Simon Cantatheras, 43-44
  • Jonathan ben Ananus, 44 (restored)
  • Josephus ben Camydus, 44-46
  • Ananias ben Nebedeus, 46-58
  • Jonathan, 58
  • Ishmael ben Fabus, 58-62 (restored?)
  • Joseph Cabi ben Simon, 62-63
  • Ananus ben Ananus, 63
  • Joshua ben Damneus, 63
  • Joshua ben Gamla, 63-64 (his wife Martha belonged to family of Boethus)
  • Mattathias ben Theophilus, 65-66
  • Phannias ben Samuel, 67-70
  • References

    List of High Priests of Israel Wikipedia