The tragedy of Calvary: or the minute details of Christ's life from Palm Sunday morning till the resurrection and ascension taken prophecy, history, revelations and ancient writings by Meagher, Jas. L. (James Luke), 1848-1920
|The High Priest’s Garments|
Aaron, the first high priest, was chosen by God ; the office descended to his sons, and with few exceptions they were holy men before the rise of Pharisaism,—after the prophets had ceased to instruct. The office was for life and belonged to the family, but the decay of true religion, and the political troubles of later times, made it a matter of political cabal, crime and robbery. The Talmud says, (Talmud. Jer. loma I.) " In the first Temple the high priest served, the son succeeding the father, and they were eighteen in number. But in the second Temple, they got the high-priesthood for money, and there are those who say they destroyed each other by witchcraft, so that some reckon eighty high priests during that period, others eighty-one, eighty-two, eighty-three, eighty-four, and even eighty-five." The Romans appointed whom they wished and deprived them of the office at will.
Writing about the emperor Tiberius, Josephus says : 1 " He was now the third emperor. And he sent Valerius Gratus to be procurator of Judea, and to succeed Annius Rufus. This man deprived Ananus of the high-priest hood, and appointed Ismael, the son of Phabi, to the high priesthood. He also deprived him in a little while, and or dained Eleazar the son of Annas, who had been high priest before, to be high priest, which office, when he had held for a year, Gratus deprived him of it, and gave the high-priesthood to Simon, the son of Camithus, and when he had possessed that dignity no longer than a year, Joseph Caiphas was made his successor. When Gratus had done these things he went back to Rome, after he had tarried in Judea eleven years, when Pontius Pilate came as his successor."
These men, Annas, Caiphas and Pilate were the wretches,who condemned Christ to death. We can see to what a degradation the office of high priest of Jehovah had fallen. The office was very much sought, and was generally obtained by treachery, diplomacy, " wire-pulling," and the basest crimes.
When entering the Temple, the high priest was accompanied by three priests, one on each side, and one behind him. He had charge of the whole service, and could officiate at any function. He had his own private chambers in the Temple, which he occupied during the day, retiring to his home only at night. But he was obliged to live in the Holy City, and Annas and Caiphas lived on Sion, the site of their houses being shown to this day, churches being built over their sites. Great wealth found its way into high priests' pockets. If they were poor at their election, a fund was created for them, and a percentage of the sale of animals for the sacrifices, and of the money-changers was given them.
1 Josephus, Antiq.. B. xviii.. C. xi., n. 2