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The specially designated officials who served in the Temple performing ritual functions and conducting the sacrificial services. The Hebrew word designates not only Jewish priests, but also those who served in temples dedicated to other gods (Gen 14:18; Gen 41:45; 2Kgs 10:19-20). The Jewish priesthood was limited by pentateuchal law to the Levites. In the time of Josiah, all the priests were brought to serve in the Jerusalem Temple, where worship was centralized. After the exile, during the Second Temple period, actual cultic functions were discharged by descendants of Aaron, while other Levites held subsidiary roles. It was at this time that the ranks of the priesthood swelled. During the Hellenistic period (ca. 333 BCE–70 CE), the priesthood dominated the nation. Priests were many in number and had a great deal of prestige. The head of the Temple, the high priest, was de facto the head of government of Judea. Chief among the duties of the priests was the performance of sacrifices. They were also in charge of the maintenance of the Temple, which included collection of tithes and other obligatory Temple donations. Christians transferred the role of the priest as mediator between God and humans onto Jesus, whom they saw as both God and man. He became eternal High Priest by God’s appointment (Heb 5:1-6) and supplanted the ancient sacrificial system by his own sacrifice (Heb 7:27-28; Heb 9:23-26).