32The priest who is anointed and ordained to succeed his father as the high priest shall make atonement.

He will put on the sacred linen garments

33 and make atonement for the Most Holy Place, the Tent of Meeting, and the altar, and for the priests and all the people of the assembly.

34This is to be a permanent statute for you, to make atonement once a year for the Israelites because of all their sins.”

The above verses in Leviticus seem to be stating that Aaron only demonstrated the Day of Atonement ritual in its inauguration, however, from that point forward, the anointed successor (Aarons's son) would put on the high priestly garments and perform the service!

So, based on the above premise, are we therefore to interpret:

  1. God is in fact the high priest
  2. God demonstrates the Atonement ritual to Jesus (the Son of God), who then takes on the High Priestly robes and performs the ritual in his Fathers place
  3. So when the apostle Paul states in Hebrews that Jesus has become an High Priest, I think that is simply referring to the same temporary assignment that the anointed successor of Aaron performed on the DOA...Aaron was still very much alive on the day. At some point in the future in the earthly model, of course, Aaron would die and be succeeded, however at this point it would seem that the son of the successor would then be the one to perform the ritual!

In light of the above, it's too difficult for me at this point to put all of this in a logical sequence. I simply do not have the theological skills or knowledge of the implications of the topic at this point to do that...so I will simply write thoughts below in the hope that others far wiser than I are able to use them to better makes sense of my question.

  • Abraham and Isaac...the father is to sacrifice the son

  • how do we explain the change from the tribe of Levi to the order of Melchizedek?

  • Melchizedek predates Aaron...therefore if he was a "priest" of the Most High God he must have understood the sanctuary services

  • Is Melchizzadek ever referred to in scripture as High Priest?

  • what are the implications for the real sanctuary and its services from which the earthly one is a copy?

  • I have added the following from a comment in an answer below..."In Matthew 1, the NT claims Jesus the Nazarene is a Davidic Kohen based only on the indirect genealogy through his adoption by Joseph"

The interesting thing about the lineage of Jesus, Mary was related to King David however my google searching results indicate that its debated whether or not her lineage is in fact the one that was being used by Luke!

When we consider Jesus adopted fathers lineage...Matthew and Luke seem to disagree... which appears to only confuse the lineage problem further!

  • what are the implications of Jesus being Josephs adopted son?

5 Answers 5


Your post is good and your thoughts are clear. What isn’t clear to me is why you feel that there is a need to reconcile Jesus as the High Priest according to Melchizedek with the type of the High Priest under the Law according to the Levitical priesthood.

The glory, scope and design of the New Covenant far exceeds the Old Covenant. We have a prophet LIKE unto Moses. We have a King from the line of David (David’s tomb was with them even on the day of Pentecost as Peter spoke) who is not dead but lives and whose Kingdom has no end. And we have a GREAT high priest after the order of Melchizedek (to whom Israel paid tithes by way of Abraham and the less was blessed by the greater) who offered atonement not within buildings made by human hands but at the right hand of God in the heavenlies in the permanent not temporary dwelling place of God.

Jerusalem below was in bondage with her children but the New Jerusalem, which is the mother of us all and above is free.

The law came by Moses but grace and truth by our Lord Jesus Christ.

On the original day of Pentecost Moses came down from Sinai with stone tablets. On that day about 3,000 died.

On the day of Pentecost following our Lord’s death and resurrection, he as high priest sent down the anointing like the precious ointment that ran down upon Aaron’s beard…the holy spirit…and about 3,000 were saved that day.

The nation of Israel with their ritual, traditions, holidays and observances were all designed to point to the greater realities and foreshadow the coming of our Lord.

But the new wine will not be held in the Old wine skins. Everything has been made new. 🙂


We learn in 2 Samuel 8:18 & more importantly Psalm 110:4 that דָוִ֖ד כֹּהֲנִ֥ים Davidic Kohanim (Sons of King David) - were born to become ‘righteous’ Priests like Shem (by administering justice and charity) & ‘Blessed’ with tithes like Avram (by victoriously restoring peace with help from YHVH) : “because [of] the words” (עַל־דִּ֜בְרָתִ֗י) “of Malkitzedeq מַלְכִּי־צֶֽדֶק” spoken in Genesis 14 verses 18-20.

In Matthew 1, the NT claims Jesus the Nazarene is a Davidic Kohen based only on the indirect genealogy through his adoption by Joseph.

Also the NT book of Hebrews chapter 7 verse 16 claims Davidic Kohanim are granted ζωῆς ἀκαταλύτου ‘endless life’, misunderstanding the Psalm 110 verse 4 : אַתָּה־כֹהֵ֥ן לְעוֹלָ֑ם “You [are] Priest Forever” was about David’s unending righteousness (on earth) as a servant of YHVH.

The NT adoption of Jesus the Nazarene by Joseph into the Davidic line asserts in Hebrews 7:16 that Jesus’ unending descendants (on earth) would be considered priests like King David. - If Jesus the Nazarene ever had children to continue his adopted Davidic line.

  • 1
    oh wow, i love this comment in the above answer "Jesus the Nazarene is Davidic Kohen based only on the indirect genealogy through his adoption by Joseph". That is brilliant, i had not even thought about this...i will edit and add this to the question!
    – Adam
    Commented Jan 9, 2022 at 6:20

Jesus was not only descended from the kings of Israel, but also from the priests of Israel. According to the geneology of Matthew chapter 1, Jesus was a descendent of King David and therefore a descendent of the kingly line, but few realize that he was also a descendent of the priestly line as well. There was in the days of Herod, king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abijah: and he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth (Luke 1:5). Elisabeth was the cousin of Mary, Jesus’ mother. While Jesus is descended from the Kingly line through his father, he is also descended from the priestly line through his mother.

This is quoted from the ancient Hebrew research center.


How does one reconcile Jesus, as the anointed successor (a priest), with his post cross High Priestly role when reading Leviticus 16:32&33

By acknowledging that Jesus is not an anointed successor as described in Leviticus because we are under a completely different covenant...

I'll just let the Hebrew writer explain as he seems to directly address your question:

11 Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. 13 For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.
15 This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is witnessed of him,
“You are a priest forever,
after the order of Melchizedek.”
18 For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.
-Hebrews 7:11-19

I would recommend reading Hebrews 4-10 to better understand the point that is being made about Jesus as High Priest, but to answer your question, we're necessarily under a whole different covenant and therefore the rules are different.

Now, the Hebrew writer isn't making this up, but Jesus himself acknowledges that he was instituting a new covenant with his blood saying

20 ...“This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood." -Luke 22:20

Now what may through some off is what is found in Leviticus 16:34 that says:

34 And this shall be a statute forever [עוֹלָם ‘ôlâm] for you, that atonement may be made for the people of Israel once in the year because of all their sins.” And Aaron did as the Lord commanded Moses. -Leviticus 16:34

Now the word ‘ôlâm is very often translated as forever or eternity, but it doesn't necessarily mean that. From Strong's Exhaustive Concordance:

h5769. עוֹלָם ‘ôlâm; or עֹלָם ‘olam; from 5956;
properly, concealed, i.e. the vanishing point; generally, 
time out of mind (past or future), i.e. (practically) eternity...

1. long duration, antiquity, futurity, for ever, ever, everlasting,
   evermore, perpetual, old, ancient, world    
   A. ancient time, long time (of past) 
   B. (of future)   
       1. for ever, always
       2. continuous existence, perpetual
       3. everlasting, indefinite or unending future, eternity

Notice that while olam often practically means everlasting or eternity, it can also mean perpetual or into the vanishing or indefinite future.

Considering what the New Testament says about the completion of the Old Covenant and introduction of the New, I think ‘olam in the context of the Old Covenant, like we find in Leviticus 16:34, should be more conservatively translated as indefinite future, or perpetual, as eventually, the covenant was always going to come to an end through the activity of God - either through the blood/death of Christ or the passing away of Heaven and Earth.


In God's eyes, John the Baptist was the legitimate high priest and the ones in Jerusalem were all usurpers. Luke tells us that in chapter one of his gospel.

Just as Moses (a shadow of Christ) passed his priestly authority onto Aaron, the first Levitical priest, John as the last Levitical priest passed his authority onto Jesus. And the change of the priesthood was authorized by God himself.

6 And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water. 9 And he put the mitre upon his head; also upon the mitre, even upon his forefront, did he put the golden plate, the holy crown [holy to JHVH]; as the LORD commanded Moses. 12 And he poured of the anointing oil upon Aaron's head, and anointed him, to sanctify him. (Leviticus 8)

13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. 16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3)

23 And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, (Luke3)

God already foretold the end of Levitical priesthood in 1 Samuel 2.

27 And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh's house? 28 And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer upon mine altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? and did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel? 29 Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people? 30 Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. 31 Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father's house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house. 32 And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever. 33 And the man of thine, whom I shall not cut off from mine altar, shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart: and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age. 34 And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them. 35 And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever. 36 And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left in thine house shall come and crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and shall say, Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priests' offices, that I may eat a piece of bread.

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