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[147] Now the people were come to that degree of meanness and fear, and these robbers to that degree of madness, that these last took upon them to appoint high priests. 1 So when they had disannulled the succession, according to those families out of which the high priests used to be made, they ordained certain unknown and ignoble persons for that office, that they might have their assistance in their wicked undertakings; for such as obtained this highest of all honors, without any desert, were forced to comply with those that bestowed it on them. They also set the principal men at variance one with another, by several sorts of contrivances and tricks, and gained the opportunity of doing what they pleased, by the mutual quarrels of those who might have obstructed their measures; till at length, when they were satiated with the unjust actions they had done towards men, they transferred their contumelious behavior to God himself, and came into the sanctuary with polluted feet.

1 Here we may discover the utter disgrace and ruin of the high priesthood among the Jews, when undeserving, ignoble, and vile persons were advanced to that holy office by the seditious; which sort of high priests, as Josephus well remarks here, were thereupon obliged to comply with and assist those that advanced them in their impious practices. The names of these high priests, or rather ridiculous and profane persons, were Jesus the son of Damneus, Jesus the son of Gamaliel, Matthias the son of Theophilus, and that prodigious ignoramus Phannias, the son of Samuel; all whom we shall meet with in Josephus's future history of this war; nor do we meet with any other so much as pretended high priest after Phannias, till Jerusalem was taken and destroyed.

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