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Annas [also Ananus[1] or Ananias[2]], son of Seth (23/22 BC–66 AD), was appointed by the Roman legate Quirinius as the first High Priest of the newly formed Roman province of Iudaea in 6 AD; just after the Romans had deposed Archelaus, Ethnarch of Judaea, thereby putting Judaea directly under Roman rule.

Annas officially served as High Priest for ten years (6–15 AD), when at the age of 36 he was deposed by the procurator Gratus 'for imposing and executing capital sentences which had been forbidden by the imperial government.'[3] Yet while having been officially removed from office, he remained as one of the nation's most influential political and social individuals, aided greatly by the use of his five sons and his son-in-law as puppet High Priests[4] until his assassination in 66 AD for advocating peace with Rome.[2]

Annas appears in the Gospels and Passion plays as a high priest before whom Jesus is brought for judgment, prior to being brought before Pontius Pilate.


The Sacerdotal Family

  • Annas ben Seth (6–15)

References in the Mosaic Law to "the death of the high priest" (Num 35:25, 28) suggest that the high-priesthood was ordinarily held for life. Perhaps for this reason, Annas was still called "high priest" even after his dismissal, along with Caiaphas (Luke 3:2). He also may have been acting as president of the Sanhedrin, or a coadjutor of the high priest.

In the New Testament

Luke 3:2 indicates a joint high priesthood "of Annas and Caiaphas" when the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.

Although Annas is not mentioned by name in the plot to kill Lazarus, there may be a concealed message in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus pointing at Annas and his sons. If it is considered that rich man dressed in purple and fine linen (cf. Exodus 28:8) represents Caiaphas, as figurehead of the Sadducees, then Annas is intended by the "father" in Luke 16:27, and the "five brothers" Luke 16:28 are Annas' five sons. In support of this is the coincidence that the father and five brothers who will not be convinced even if the parable Lazarus is raised from the dead (Luke 16:31) predict the actuality that Caiaphas, Annas, and the five sons of Annas did not in fact believe and plotted to have the real Lazarus killed when he was raised (John 12:10).

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