|I. In the Old Testament.||Ranks and Grades (§ 1).||6. Perquisites.|
|1. Name and Conception.||Post-Exilic Arrangements (§ 2).||II. In the Christian Church.|
|2. History||4. Position and Duties.||Early and Patriotic Conceptions (§ 1).|
|Origins (§ 1).||Teaching Functions (§ 1).||The Medieval Church (§ 2).|
|To the Division of the Kingdom (§ 2).||Sacrificial and Other Functions (§ 2).||The Roman Doctrine (§ 3).|
|The Regal Period (§ 3).||5. Consecration, Manner of Life.||Anglican Conception (§ 4).|
|Exile to New-Testament Times (§ 4).||Consecration (§ 1).|
|3. Organisation.||Apparel; Manner of Life (§ 2).|
The usual designation of a priest in the Old Testament is kohen, which is reproduced in Aramaic, Phenician, and Ethiopian. The Arabic kahin signifies "seer," "truth-teller," showing a specialization of function. The etymology of the word is yet in doubt. The word kemarim, A. V., "chemarim" (Hoc. x. 5; Zeph. i. 4), is used only of idolatrous priests (II Kings xxiii. 5), while mal'ak, "messenger," is used of the priest only in a figurative sense (Mal. ii. 7; Eccles. v. 6). The Old Testament assumes a priesthood to be a universally established institution, making mention of Melchizedek (q.v.) and of an Egyptian priesthood (Gen. xli. 45, 50, etc.); Moses became the son-in-law of Jethro, a priest of Midian. The inferences that have been drawn from the relationship between Moses and Jethro (Ex. ii. 16, 21, iii. 1, iv. 18, xviii. 1-12) have not been entirely justified. While there may have been connections between the priesthood of Yahweh founded by Moses and the Midianitic-Kenitic priesthood of Jethro, these relationships were due to the long intercourse between the Israelites and the MidianitioKenitic tribes of the Sinai peninsula (see MOSES). The originality of Moses as the founder of the Iaraelitic priesthood and of the religion of Yahweh remains unquestionable. The individuality of the law for the priests delivered by Moses in the name of Yahweh must be considered the outcome of his own life's work; how many of the peculiarities were borrowed by him from the wider Semitic field is uncertain, especially since the age of various inscriptions bearing on the subject has not been fully determined (see HAMMURABI AND HIS CODE; HEXATEUCH). The priesthood of the Phenician Baal threatened under Jezebel to become established in Israel (I Kings xvi. 31-32). Priests of Baal existed in the northern kingdom (II Kings x. 19), and a priest of Baal in Jerusalem, named Mattban, is referred to in ,scripRef>II Kings xi. 18. The opponents of Elijah (q.v.) on Mt. Carmel are called prophets (see PROPHETS, PROPHECY) although they were undoubtedly priests.
Priestly individuals are to be found among the Israelitic tribes before the rise of the national priesthood. They are mentioned prior to the theophany on Sinai (Ex. xix. 22, 24). Aaron is called "the Levite" (that is "the priest" ) as early as Ex. iv. 14. According to the moat ancient tradition it was Moses who, above all, promulgated in priestly fashion from the oracular tent the decrees of God (Ex. xxxiii. 7 sqq.) and the divine legislation (Ex. xviii. 15 sqq.). He is regarded as the founder of the priesthood. The only two priestly clans which come into notice during the period of the judges go back to the family of Moses (cf. for Dan, Judges xviii. 30; and for Shiloh, I Sam. ii. 27-28, according to which God revealed himself in Egypt to the house of Eli and entrusted it with the priesthood). The form of Aaron rises in the old tradition and can not be otherwise disposed of. It is a capricious proceeding to interpret him as a mere personification of the ark of the covenant by a play on the word aron "ark" (E. Renan, Histoire du people d'Israel, i. 179, 5 vols., Paris, 1887-94; Eng. transl., Hist. of the People of Israel, London, 1888 sqq.). It is conceivable that the house of Eli originated with Moses, while the Zadokites were derived from Aaron. It is, however, more probable that the house of Eli went back to Aaron, through one of their ancestors, Phinehas, and lost first place in the genealogy when the legitimacy and higher dignity of the "sons of Zadok" were established as being of great antiquity.
The descendants of Eli retained their priestly office despite the loss of the ark (I Sam. iv. 11 sqq.) and the destruction of Shiloh that ensued probably at that time (Jer. vii. 12, 14). In the time of Saul, Ahia-Ahimelech, grandson of Phinehas, and Ahitub, was priest, carried the ephod, and inquired of Yahweh for Saul
Jeroboam, after the division of the kingdom, established an official worship at Bethel and Dan for the northern kingdom with priests who "did not belong to the Levites" (I Kings xii. 31-32, xiii. 33). As royal officials they shared the fate of the
Many priests must have returned after the exile (Ezra viii. 2, 24). In the first years after the exile the, priests seem to have sunk to a low spiritual and moral level (Zeph. iii. 4;
The historical data concerning the organization of the priesthood are scanty. it is probable that there were higher and low grades of temple attendants from the beginning. The Canaanites were probably employed in menial services about the sanctuary (Josephus, Ant., IX.,xxi. sqq.). Foreigners served in the temple up to the time of the exile, and formed racial associations and are called nethinim, "gifts," in the lists of the returned exiles. Toward the close of the regal period there was at the head of the Jerusalem priesthood a "high priest" and a "chief priest," and three doorkeepers (II Kings xxiii. 4, xxv. 18). All this is independent of the question of the relative rank of priests and Levites, which had become acute under the reform of Josiah. Deuteronomy distinguishes between regular priests in service and the solitary Levite in a country town, who occupied the position of a ger ("stranger," q.v.; see also PROSELYTE) and depended upon charity for his subsistence. The Levite had the right to act as priest at the central sanctuary, but it is uncertain what rank he would take there and whether he might remain permanently or must return to his home. This was a question which did not interest the Deuteronomist. During the exile, Ezekiel drafted his proposals for the reorganization of the temple service, among which was that the priests who had served idols on the high places were as a punishment to do the work formerly performed by the foreigners in the temple (Ezek. xliv. 10 sqq.). His program did not create the distinction between superior and inferior temple attendants, or between the aristocratic Zadokites and the humbler Levites of the country; but he established the terminology, and "Levites" was thenceforward the designation of the subordinate temple attendants. Developments, however, did not follow Ezekiel's ideals. The lists of the returned exiles show that those who could not give evidence of priestly descent were excluded from the temple service, that not a few must have attained the priesthood from families outside Jerusalem, and that the distinction between priests and Levites had been established in Palestine as well as in BabyIonia. In the priest code the Levites take a prominent position, but are subordinate to the priests. Theoretically they are the substitutes for the whole community in place of the first-born that belonged to Yahweh and as such are "given" to the priests (,scripRef>Num. iii. 9, viii. 19, xviii. 6). The older opposition between the priestly tribe of Levi and the other tribes appears in P, especially in Num. xvi. xvii. The proportion of priests and Levites given in P, one to 11,000, at no time corresponded in the remotest degree with the facts. P is the representation of an ideal theocracy such as was supposed actually to have existed in the time of Moses. Ezra's reform sought to realize a holy community in accordance with the ideas expressed in P.
A more elaborate distribution of the priests into classes gradually arose out of the preexilic organization into families. There were four classes or families on the return from the exile, those of Joshua (the high-priestly family), Immer, Pashur, and Harim (Ezra ii. 36-39). There was an attempt to connect the post-exilic with the preexilic families. According to rabbinical tradition the
The priesthood in Israel was held in high respect, although it never had the importance of the hierarchy in Egypt or BabyIonia' It was a sin to kill a priest even at the express command of a king (I Sam. xxii. 17; I Kings ii. 26). But excepting perhaps the house of Eli at Shiloh in the preexilic period the priests were in a state of dependence on private individuals (,scripRef>Judges xvii. 10 sqq.), tribes (,scripRef>Jude xviii. 19), or especially on the kings. Twice the Jerusalem priesthood interfered in politics (I Kings i.; II Kings xi.), but never dared to disregard the royal arrangements for the temple. The position of priests in the community is in no way to be compared with that of the prophets. They lacked organization and after the exile had little influence. Indeed, they were often opposed by the pious among the people, even before the times when Hellenism was influential. The law which gave them an important place in the post-exilic theocracy prevented their historical development, since the ideal which the law was intended to establish was past and fixed. The function of the priesthood according to the law was to mediate between God and the people. It received for God the sacrifices of the people; it imparted Gods blessing to the people. In the ancient period the chief duty of the priests was to learn the divine will or torah by means of the sacred lot (see EPHOD; LOT; and URIM AND THUMMIM). The torah included decisions on doubtful legal points, answers to questions of a ritualistic and ceremonial nature or those asked in important crises. The customary law that arose from the priest code shows that the old Israelitie torah was pervaded by an earnest moral spirit.
In the more ancient period the assistance of the priests at sacrifice was not required (see SACRIFICE), only later did the services of priests at the sacrifices become customary, and, finally, mercenary. The duties of the priest at the sacrifice may be learned from the priest code, where ancient custom and later practise are described together. The sacrificial animal was slaughtered by him who brought the sacrifice, both in the early period and according to P. Ezekiel would assign the work to the Levites (Ezek. xliv. 11); according to the Chronicles (II Chron. xxx. 16, xxxv. 11) they took part only at great festivals as assistants of the priests. The priests themselves in later times acted as slaughterers at ordinary sacrifices (,scripRef>II Chron. xxix. 24, 34). The priests removed the ashes, maintained the fire, took care of tabernacle, temple furnishings, and appurtenances (Lev. vi. 2 sqq., xxiv. 8; Ex. xxvii. 21, xxx. 7-8; Num. iv. 8 sqq.). It was their duty to examine those who were obliged to remove from the camp and to bring the sacrifice of purification for them (Lev. xiii.xiv.), to deal with the woman suspected of adultery, to reconsecrate the Nazarite whose oath had been violated, and at the close of the consecration period to bring the sacrifice (
The priesthood in ancient Israel passed, as a rule, by inheritance, although sometimes those not of priestly families were consecrated. Even those of priestly family were obliged to pass through a solemn ordination ceremonial (Ex. xxix. 1-37, xl. 12-15; Lev. viii.), consisting of: (1) an act of purification and atonement. The priest was washed and a sin-offering was brought for him. (2) An act of investiture and the bringing of a burnt-offering. (3) An act of consecration consisting of (a) anointing with oil, (b) the application of the blood of the ram to the lobe of the right ear, the right thumb, and right great-toe; part of the rest being sprinkled around the altar, and part of it left standing in a vessel upon the altar; (c) the sprinkling with blood and oil, the remainder of the blood and oil being mixed and sprinkled on the person and dress of the priest. Following this threefold consecration came a third sacrificial act, the offering of the ram of consecration, with the accompanying division of the flesh among those whose perquisite it was. The entire proceeding represents the transference to the priest of the authority of presenting the sacrifice to God and of receiving in its place the priestly portion.
The ordinary priest was required to wear during the performance of his duties: (1) linen trousers that reached from the hips to the ankles; (2) a
The rules for purification laid down for the people in general were more strict as applied to the priests. They were not to arouse the suspicion of adherence to other divinities by any peculiarities in method of wearing the hair or by using heathen rites of mourning, were to avoid defilement from the dead, excepting for father, mother, son, daughter, brother, unmarried sister, and wife. The priest's marriage was restricted in certain respects-he might not marry a woman of immoral character, a sickly or a divorced woman, or a widow, unless perhaps her former husband had been a priest. Adultery by a priest's daughter was punishable with death by fire. Especial strictness in observing the rules of purification was required during the period of actual service-perfect continence, abstinence from wine, and washing before the beginning of the service, and the sacred dress was not to be worn at any other time (Lev. x.; Ezek. xliv. 17 sqq., xxiv. 44).
The income of the priest consisted of his portion from sacrifices, other religious assessments, and income from private sources. The priest who officiated at a sacrifice received a share of the common sacrificial meal (I Sam. ii. 13 sqq.) The consecrated bread usually fell to him (I Sam. xxi. 5, 7); and to him, in general, everything fell that had once been hallowed and excluded from profane use, in so far as it was not eaten at the common sacrificial meal, or, because of high sanctity, destroyed. In the period of the kings the priests received money given as trespass and sinofferings (II Kings xii. 16). According to D the tribe of Levi received all the burnt-offerings of Yahweh (Deut. xxiii. 1). The intensification of ritualistic zeal, as witnessed by the prophets, redounded to the advantage of the priests. According to P the priest received the hide from the burntoffering and all the sin and guilt offerings for individual Israelites. The sin and guilt-offerings brought for the people as a whole and for the high-priest were burned outside the camp (Ex. xxix. 14; Lev. iv. 21). Of all sacrifices such as peace offerings the priest received the breast and the right thigh, and a cake as a by-gift. Of the meat-offering he received all that was not cast into the altar-fire as heave-offering; as also the showbread, the meat of lambs brought at Pentecost, and definite impost on the sacrifices of the Nazarites (Lev. vii. 31 sqq., ii. 3, 10; Num. vi. 20). All firstlings of the flocks were brought as solemn sacrifices to God and the priest received his share (
The Tithe (q.v.), perhaps originally and even in D identical with the first-fruits, was to be eaten as a sacrificial meal at the central sanctuary (Deut. xiv. 22 aqq.). It might be converted into money but was to be used only in the form of a sacrificial meal, at which the Levite must not be forgotten. At the end of three years the whole tithe was to be made over to the poor of the locality, including again the Ixvite. In P the tithe is a fixed tribute to the Levites, who in turn have to give a tenth to the priests (Num. xviii. 21, 25 sqq., 30). This legislalation was never carried out in practise. The highpriestly families, even under the regime of the law, monopolized the tithe, while the lower priests suffered privation (Josephus, Ant., XX., viii. 8, ix. 2). The prescriptions of P and D were so combined by the pious Jew that he offered the tithe of Num. xvi i ii - 21 as a "first tithe," that of Deut. xiv. 22-27 as a "second," and that of Deut. xiv. 28-29 as a "third" (Tob. i. 7-8; Josephus, Ant., IV., viii. 2'1,). A considerable part of the income of the priests was derived from ownership of real estate. Instances of individual priests owning land may be found in I Kings ii. 26; Jer. xxxii. 7 sqq., xxxvii. 12; Ezek. xlv. 1 sqq., xlviii. 10 sqq. Many priests as well as Levites in the first years after the exile must have supported themselves from the products of the land near Jerusalem. In Josh. xxi. and I Chron. vi. 39 sqq., thirteen of the forty-eight Levite cities, all lying near Jerusalem, are apportioned to the priests. The apportionment never actually took place, but the texts indicate how the subject was considered.
1. Early and Patristic Conceptions.
Offerings and priests are essential factors in all pre-Christian religions, the one as means of securing the divine favor, the other as mediators between suppliants and the deity by presenting the offerings of the former to the latter. It was a striking characteristic
The medieval Church accepted this conception without question. From it or in connection with it theologians (e.g., Peter Lombard; cf. the " Sentences," iv. dist. 24J) developed the doctrine of the sacrifice of the mass (see MASS, I). The authorities on church polity made it the basis of the exclusive right of the hierarchy and especially of the bishop of Rome to govern the Church. Thomas Aquinas remembered the universal priesthood; but he drew from it only the conclusion that all the faithful as priests bring spiritual offerings to God, not the inference that they have no need of human mediators (Summa, iii., quest. 82, art. 1; cf. iii. quest. 26, art. 1, Sup. iii. quest. 37, art. 2). If the mass was a sacrifice, the celebrant must be regarded as a priest in the fullest sense. So the universal priesthood was lost sight of until it was revived by the Reformation. Then it appeared as the necessary consequence of the very fact of Christianity. The entire conception of sacrifice was rejected, and with it went all danger of a return of the thoughts which had grown from it.
The Roman Church adheres to the medieval doctrine. To be sure its catechism (De ord. sacr., §§ 505-506, p. 613, ed. Danz) speaks of a twofold priesthood-an "inner" and an "outer," the former common to all, the latter the prerogative of a class set apart for their appropriate service. But how strongly the emphasis falls on the latter appears from the unreserved judgment of the Council of Trent (session xxiii., De sacr. ord., chap. iv.): "If any one affirm that all Christians indiscriminately are priests of the New Testament or that they are all mutually endowed with an equal spiritual power, he clearly does nothing but confound the ecclesiastical hierarchy, which is an army set in array." The ecclesiastical priesthood follows from the New-Testament sacrifice, and the Scriptures and church tradition agree that it was instituted by the Lord and that its "power of consecrating, offering, and administering his body and blood, as also of forgiving and of retaining sins," was delivered to the apostles and their successors (I.e., chap. i.; cf. canon i.). The priestly order was always entered by means of an act of benediction, which was conceived as a sacrament as early as Augustine (Contra epist. Parmeniani, ii. 24, 28, 29). Peter Lombard ("Sentences," iv., dist. 24) repeats the thoughts of Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas (Summa, iii., Sup. quest. 34-40) develops them but slightly. The scholastic doctrine is summed up in the bull Exultate Deo of Eugenius IV. On these old foundations the antiProtestant doctrine is built up in the authoritative writings of the Roman Church. It is said: "As Christ was sent by the Father and the apostles by Christ, so to-day priests are sent, with the same power which clothed Christ and the apostles, for the perfection of the faithful and the upbuilding of the body of Christ. No one can assume this honor
It is to be noted as an evidence of the determination to continue the ministry as it had come down through the ages from the primitive Church, that, while throwing off corruption and exaggerations concerning the priestly office, the reformed Church of England deliberately refused to substitute "presbyter" for "priest" in the Book of Common Prayer, and retained sacerdotes as the designation of the clergy in the authorized Latin version of the Thirty-nine Articles (art. XXXII.). Controversy concerning priesthood chiefly gathers round two points: (1) the offering which priests present, (2) the mediatorial position which they occupy. (1) While repudiating any material sacrifice in the Christian Church (save in the most subordinate sense), or any renewal of our Lord's sacrificial death, Anglican divines have maintained in the eucharist a continual commemoration, according to Christ's institution, of that one perfect oblation, and the application of its virtue to us, as in the peace-offering, by partaking of the consecrated elements. Showing Christ's obedience unto death (the essence of his sacrifice), we are taught, according to St. Paul, to offer likewise ourselves, as members of his mystical body-our souls and bodies-a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice to God. This is the sacrificial side of the Eucharist in the Anglican liturgy, and according to her representative divines. This is a priestly act of the whole body under Christ, the high priest of our profession, led by the Church's appointed representatives in the official priesthood. The priest acts not as substitute for the people, but as their leader. Without such a duly appointed leader there can be no celebration of the Eucharist; while he is not to perform the service without a congregation (cf. D. Waterland, A Review of the Doctrines of the Eucharist, chap. xii., in Works, vol. vii., 11 vols., Oxford, 1823-28; J. Bramhall, Consecration of Protestant Bishops Vindicated, chap. xi., and Protestants' Ordination Defended,: in vols. iii. and v. of his Works, 2 vols., Oxford, 1842-45; Answer of the Archbishops of England to the Apostolic Letter of Pope Leo XIII. on English Ordinations, pp. 18, 19, 37, London, 1897). (2) The priesthood is not a caste separate or separable from the Church; it is the divinely ordained organ through which the body executes ministerial functions. In public prayer as in the Eucharist the priest is the leader of the congregation. In private ministrations likewise, it is his office to lead persons to God, aiding them, where need requires, in their penitence and confession, and then, as one authorized to plead in the Church's name, invoking upon them God's blessing, or (where he judges it to be applicable) his absolution.
Thus in the ministration of the sacraments the priest acts as the representative of the Church, as well as of the Lord the head of the Church. Sacraments are an approach in an appointed way to God. Their administration is al«ays accompanied by prayer, calling forth the gift that God has promised. The Anglican conception of the office of Priesthood is clearly shown in the ordinal. (1) No one is suffered to act as a priest without ordination by a bishop, through whom the ministerial commission is transmitted. (2) In this ordination the Holy Ghost is solemnly invoked, and prayers are offered for the candidate, and he is then by the. imposition of hands empowered to execute the office of a priest in the Church of God, and is bidden to be a faith ful dispenser of the Word of God and of his holy sacraments.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: On L.: A fairly good guide
to the literature is indicated in the bibliographies under HIGH PRIEST; LEVI, LEVITES, the reference in which to the literature on the Hexateuch is important; of especial value are the works of Kuenen, Curtiss, Greets, Baudissin, Van Hoonacker, Carpenter and Harford-Battersby, Schürer, and the articles in the Bible dictionaries there mentioned, to which add Vigouroux, Dictionnaire, part xxxii., cols. 640-660. The subject is treated in the works on Jewish antiquities-
Ewald, Germ., pp. 345 sqq., 3d -ed., Götingen, 1866, Eng. transl., pp. 260 sqq·, Boston, 1876;
Bensinger, Archäologie, pp. 342 sqq and
Nowack, Archäologie, vol. ii. Consult further:
K. C. W. F. Bähr, Syvmbolik des mosaisehen Cultus, Heidelberg, 1839;
Küper, Das Priestertum des alter Bundes, Berlin, 1868;
Oort, in ThT, 1884, 289 sqq.;
H. Vogelstein, Der Kampf zwischen Priestern und Leviten seit den Tagen de Ezechiels, Stettin, 1889;
B. Bantseh, Das Heiligkeitsgesetz, pp. 142 sqq., Erfurt, 1893;
A. Baehler, Die Priester und der Cultus im letzten. Jahrzehnt des jerusalemischm Tempels. Vienna,
E. Meyer, Entstehung des Judentums, pp. 188 sqq., Halle, 1898;
F. von Hummelauer, Dos vormosaische Priestertum in Israel, Freiburg, 1899;
A. Edersheim, The Temple; its Ministry and Services at the Time of Jesus Christ, London, 1900;
W. Kelly, The Priesthood. An Exposition of Lev. viii.-xv., ib. 1902;
W. Rosenau, Jewish Ceremonial Institutions and Customs, Baltimore, 1903;
W. R. Harper, Constructive Studies in the priestly Element in the O. T., 2d ed., Chicago 1905;
G Laudtman The Origin of Priesthood, Ekenas, 1905;
C. F. Kent, Student's Old Testament. vol. iv., New York, 1907.
For the idea of the priesthood in the Christian Church
consult: Chrysostom's "Six Books on the Priesthood,"
in Eng. transl. in NPNP, 1 ser., ix. 33-83, and also translated by B. H. Cowper, London, 1808;
Bingham, Origines, i. 72 sqq. 219 sqq;
Sermon on the Keys in the Catechism Set forth by Archbishop Cranmer, 1548;
R. Hooker, Ecclesiastical Polity, V., lxxvii. 1-8, in Works, 3 vols., Oxford, 1841;
W. Howitt, Hist. of Priestcraft, London, new ed., 1848;
G. Hiekes, Treatises on Christian Priesthood, republished in Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology, 3 vols., Oxford, 1847-48;
T. T. Carter, The Doctrine of the Priesthood of the Church of England, London, new ed., 1883;
E. Mellor Priesthood in the Light of the New Testament, ib. 1876 (Congregational Lecture);
H. E. Manning, The Eternal Priesthood, ib. 1883;
H. C. Lea, A Sketch of sacerdotal Celibacy, Bston, 1884;
Saserdoce (pseudonym), The Ancient Fathers on the Priesthood in the Church, London, 1891;
E. Denney, Anglican Orders and Jurisdiction, New York, 1894;
N. Dimoek, The Christian Doctrine o Sacerdotium, London, 1897 memorial ed., 1910;
R. C. Moberly, Ministerial Priesthood, chap. vii., ib.1897;
C. Gore, The Church and the Ministry, ib. 1899;
W. Sanday, The Conception of Priesthood in the Early Church and in the Church of England, ib. 1899;
idem, Different Conceptions of Priesthood and SacrifIce, ib. 1900;
R. Poncet, Lee Privies des clerce au moyen-doe, Paris, 1901;
J. Wordsworth, The Ministry of Grace Studies in Early Church History, London, 1901;
T. M. Lindsay The Church and the Ministry in the Early Centuries, ib. 1902; the Encyclical of Leo XIII.
on Anglican Orders is in Eng tranal. in The Great Encyclical Orders of Pope Leo XIII., with preface by J. J. Wynne, New York, 1903;
H. Bruders, Die Verfasaung der Ruche van stem ersten Jahrhundert, Mains, 1904;
H. Evans The Price of Priestcraft, London, 1904;
C. Androutsos, The Validity of English Ordinations from an Orthodox Catholic Point of View, ib., 1910;
Schaff, Christian Church, ii. 123 131, iii. 238 sqq., DCA, ii. 1698-1708.
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