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Son of a Kohen Gadol

by josh October 29 2008
Ben Hakohen Hagadol (Son of the the High Priest)
Just before Yom Kippur, that holiest of days where we commemorate the special service done in the Temple by the Kohen Gadol, or high priest, came an October surprise that couldn’t be more apropos. Archaeologists working along the line of the proposed security fence say they've found a sarcophagus bearing the name Ben HaKohen HaGadol, or son of the high priest. Though they don't know the circumstances of the son's death or even his name, they surmise that it dates from the Second Temple period, specifically its waning days, when the Temple saw a number of (presumably snazzily dressed) Kohen Gadols come through its holy revolving doors. Via Haaretz:
"However, it should probably be identified with one of the priests that officiated there between the years 30 and 70 C.E.," the Authority said in a statement late on Monday Among the high priests who served during that period were Yosef Bar Kayafa, or Caiaphas, Theophilus (Yedidiya) Ben Hanan, Simon Ben Boethus, and Hanan Ben Hanan.
Some of the Gospels link Caiaphas to the arrest and trial of Jesus, after which he was handed over to Roman authorities and crucified.

The Authority said the fragment was believed to have originated in an estate outside Jerusalem which belonged to one of the high priests who served in the Temple. "One can assume that the son of the high priest passed away for some unknown reason at the time when his father still officiated as the high priest in Jerusalem," it said.

The location of the find is being kept a secret for security reasons, but it is in an area of Binyamin north of Jerusalem where many aristocratic Kohens, and Cohens, and Cohns, and even Cones lived. Not unlike the Beverly Hills of today.

Researchers actually found the sarcophagus fragment outside of the Kohen Gadol's estate, where they believe it was used in construction of a Muslim building built on top of second temple era homes about a thousand years ago. Archaeologists are doing extensive digs along the proposed route before construction can take place and have unearthed several other artifacts of houses public and private, pools and cisterns. Should they unearth an old security fence, then we'll know we're screwed.

Photos courtesy of Assaf Peretz and Shlomi Ammami, Archaeological Staff Officer of Judea and Samaria.

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