The High Priesthood 

Abed- El son of Matzliach
The current High Priest (Since 2013)- Abed- El son of Matzliach

“And take thou unto thee Aaron they brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he minister unto me in the priest’s office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazer and Ithamar, Aarons sons” (Ex.28:1)

  Aaron was given the High Priest-hood, the Kohein Gadol. When Aaron died his priesthood went to his oldest living son Eleazar (Nu. 20:24-29). Eleazar’s older brothers, Nadab and Abihu were dead at the time and had no descendants (Nu.3:4) leaving only Eleazar and Ithamar.  It was written that the high Priesthood’s office upon his death went to his son (Ex 29:29).  There-fore the priesthood went to Phinehas (Ex 6:25). Because of his zeal (Nu. 25:6-13) was given the High Priesthood. Phinehas was given a covenant of peace and his seed after him an everlasting priesthood.  In the last book of Joshua of the Bible is were it is to be found that Phinehas dies (Jos.24:33).

The Division of the Priesthood

The Late High Priest - Jacob son of Aaron
The Late High Priest – Jacob son of Aaron

  A brief review of the history of the Israelite tribes from the days of Joshua son of Nun onwards, as told in the Samaritan chronicles, and a comparison to the Jewish sources, will reveal that all points of controversy refer to Mount Gerizim. It was here that the high priests of the house of Phinehas, to whom the high priesthood was given, officiated for 260 years. The priesthood list corresponds, for the most part, to the biblical list of high priests of the house of Phinehas, quoted in Chronicles. According to the Samaritan chronicles, these were the days of grace, of the Shekhina. When Uzi son of Buki, one of the sons of Phinehas, is appointed high priest on Mount Gerizim, it is actually Eli the priest, a dominant, older man, who officiates as high priest. Eli, who refused to accept the authority of the younger Uzi, withdrew from Mount Gerizim to Shiloh and founded there a new religious center, where a part of the Israelite people began to worship. This severe division in the nation was used to good advantage by the Philistines, who destroyed the Shiloh temple, forty years after its foundation. The Bible glosses over the priesthood of the sons of Itamar and the causes that had led to their appointment. Jewish traditions associate the removal of the priest of the house of Phinehas with the incident of the daughter of Jephth,
or the incident of the concubine in Gibeah, and its hard bloody aftermath. Historian Josephus Flavius,

The Late High Priest - Aaron son of Ab Hisda
The Late High Priest – Aaron son of Ab Hisda

however, in his book, “The Antiquities of the Jews”, V:318 writes “Following Samson’s death, the Israelites were led by high priest Eli”. Ibid 361 – “Eli was the first ruler of the house of Itamar, the second house of the sons of Aaron, at first the priesthood was given to the house of Elazar…the latter handed it down to his son Phinehas, who handed it down to his son Abiezer (Abisha), who gave it to his son Buki, whose son Uzi received it from him, and afterwards the priesthood was given to Eli”. Josephus Flavius makes no attempt to explain the reasons for the removal of Phinehas’s family, the significance and centrality of the removal and its consequences. Samaritan history denotes that the period of grace and shekhina, (in Aramaic ‘Rehuta”) lasted 260 years, from the day the ark of the covenant was placed on mount Gerizim, to the foundation of the new Mishkan (tabernacle) in Shiloh, by Eli, when, in the words of the Bible, (Deuteronomy 25:17): “and I will hide my face from them”. This act of Eli’s led to the foundation of numerous religious centers throughout the nation, and in the words of the book of Judges: “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes”, (Judges 21). There is an article by the High Priest Jacob, son of Aaron in our articles section that discusses Eli. His work is ‘Mount Gerizim, the One True Sanctuary.’


The High Priesthood Today

The late High Priest (1998-1998) Yosef son of Ab Hisda.
The late High Priest (1998-1998) Yosef son of Ab Hisda.

  The leadership of the Priesthood that consists of the three heads of its three branches: the High Priest Levi b. Abisha, Deputy High Priest Shalom b. Amram (now current High Priest and the Priest Aaron b. Ab-Hisda. The senior priesthood is not only the senior authority in religious matters, but also the largest family in the community. Therefore, Yiftach, Yaakob, Yakkir, Tabia, Ovadiah, Yefet, Asher (Wassef), Asher Suhale), Aaron, Pinhas, Mushi and Abisha all agree on a religious consensus within the priestly family first, and then the High Priest is the final arbiter. ) The late High Priest before Levi b. Abisha, Yossef b. Av-Hisda Haabtaai (died May 23, 2001), a direct descendant, generation no. 124, to Itamar the son of priest Aharon the brother of Moshe, served a full 11 yearss. The High Priest Yossef began to serve in this duty on 26th of Jan. 1987, the same day when the previous High Priest Yaakov B. Azi son of the High Priest Yaakov Haabtaai was brought to his final resting place. He was chosen by heaven because he being the oldest priest among the priesthood family. He was the 16th priest, eight according to this principle, since 1624 – the year when the High Priest the Rabban Shelmaya b. Pinchas died in Shechem, the last descendant of the high priesthood family, sons of Pinehas, grandson of Aharon, who was promised – he, Pinehas and all his descendants – the high priesthood, as a circumcision. The last descendant did not produce a son. So then the high priesthood of the sons of Pinehas was transfered to the priestly family, the sons of Itamar, son of Aharon  – and by this changing itself the principle – of the son inheriting the high priesthood from his father – was changed (a custom which was firm and abiding since arriving to Israel with Yehoshoo`a Bin Noon, through 112 generations) to the principle of “the eldest priest of the Ithamar family”, which the Samaritans have became accustomed to for the last 16 generations, since the second quarter of the 17th century. The Samaritan sages were very consistent in using this principle, in order to prevent leaving the selection of the high priest, to human hands. Today There are three priestly families, the house of Pinhas (Pinhas son of Yitschak son of Shalma who is Mentioned above) , house of Amram (son of Shalma)  and house of Yacob (Son of Aaron son of Shalma). The current High Priest is Abed-el ( Servant  of  God)  is the 133th High Priest since Priest Elazar b. Aharon.  He took over the High Priesthood office after the funeral of the late High Priest Aaron son of Ab Hisada  (blessed be he).


The role of the High Priest

The functions of the High Priest are:

1. He is the one and the only the supreme arbiter of Halacha Issues
2. To stand in the head of all the religious ceremonies
3. To Confirm all the Marriage and divorce constructs in the community
4. To Calculate and Publish the “Truma” – the yearly calendar 
5. To Confirm joining of any outside party to the community
6. To confirm the cantors and the slaughterers of the community
7. To represent the community


Past High Priests: (Since 1624)

  • 1624-1650  Tsedaka son of  Tabya
  • 1650-1694  Yitzhaq son of  Tsedaka
  • 1694-1732  Abraham son of  Yitzhaq
  • 1732-1752  Tabia son of Yiszhaq
  • 1752-1787  Levi  son of  Avraham
  • 1787-1855  Shalma son of  Tabia
  • 1855-1874  Amram son of  Shalma
  • 1874-1916  Yaacov  son of Aaharon
  • 1916-1932  Yitzhaq son of  Amram
  • 1933-1943  Matzliach son of  Phinhas
  • 1943-1961  Abrisha son of  Phinhas
  • 1961-1980  Amram son of  Yitzhaq
  • 1980-1982  Asher son of Matzliach
  • 1982-1984  Phinhas son of  Matzliach
  • 1984-1987  Yaacov son of  Yaacov
  • 1987-1998  Yosseph son of  Ab-Hisda
  • 1998- 2001 Levi  son of Abisha
  • 2001-2004  Shalom son of Amram
  • 2004-2010  Elazar  son of Tsedaka
  • 2010-2013  Aaron son of Ab Hisda
  • 2013-         Abed El son of Matzliach