Insulting God’s High Priest

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Recent research has shown that Sadducees, not Pharisees, were responsible for the death of Jesus. An incident recounted in the Book of Acts provides a glimpse of the Sadducean high priests’ corrupt behavior. Little wonder the Sadducees were despised by the common people.

In this series Professor Shmuel Safrai introduces readers to several prominent priests—descendants of Aaron, the brother of Moses—who play a role in the New Testament. To read more articles in the New Testament Priests series, click here.

In Acts 21:27 and following, we see Paul once again at the forefront of a commotion sparked by his messianic activity and close association with Gentiles. Jews from the province of Asia had publicly accused Paul of maligning the Jewish people, the Torah and the Temple. Specifically, they charged that Paul had brought Greeks into the restricted inner courts of the Temple, thus defiling it. The accusations incited the people, and a reckless mob set upon the man from Tarsus.

News of the uproar quickly reached the Roman commander, who straightway assembled a band of soldiers and ran to the scene to disperse the crowd. At the bottom of the pile, the commander found Paul, whom he secured with chains. In a vain effort to get the facts about what had transpired, the commander turned to the people, but they proved so unruly his only recourse was to take Paul into custody.

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This article originally appeared in issue 55 of the Jerusalem Perspective magazine. Click on the image above to view a PDF of the original magazine article.

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  • Shmuel Safrai [1919-2003]

    Shmuel Safrai [1919-2003]

    Professor and Rabbi Shmuel Safrai died on July 16, 2003. He was buried the following day in a section of Jerusalem's Har ha-Menuhot Cemetery reserved for faculty of the Hebrew University. His grave is only a few feet from the grave of his close friend…
    [Read more about author]

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