We know Annas, High Priest of the Temple (6-15 AD), primarily from his confrontations with Jesus on the night of His capture and from the trials Apostles Peter and Paul recorded in Acts. Although the Bible does not tell us a great deal about Annas, extra-Biblical resources do.
Annas ben Seth (23/22 BC " 66 AD) was appointed as the first High Priest of the newly formed Roman province of Judea by Quirinius, the Roman legate of the province. Rome had just placed Judea under direct Roman rule. With this change, the position of High Priest became a patronage position, granted to someone of influence who also padded the Roman coffers.
Annas, Temple High Priest
Annas served officially in this position for 10 years, 6-15 AD. He was removed from his position by Gratus, Roman procurator, for imposing and executing capital sentences (Josephus) Under Roman law, Jews could not execute other Jews. This played an important role in the crucifixion of Jesus 15 years later.
Even after being deposed, Annas continued to be called high priest. He was able to get five of his sons and a son-in-law, Caiaphas, appointed as high priest to succeed him. As the patriarch of his family, Annas continued to exercise tremendous control over the position of high priest and within the Sanhedrin.
Annas and Caiaphas were Sadducees. The Sadducees were the leading business men in Jerusalem and leaned toward the Romans.
Annas and his family had a good business going in the Temple. Animals brought for sacrifice had to be perfect, without blemish. The priests had a solution. They sold sacrificial animals at inflated prices. To add insult to injury, they were unwilling to accept unclean foreign currency for these animals. So, they were also the money changers, exchanging the unclean money for Jewish shekels at exorbitant exchange rates. Annas and family were very wealthy.
When Jesus drove the money changes out of the Temple it was a direct attack on Anna's source of income. Jesus' quotation of Jewish law was a direct attack on Annas' authority. So, the disputes between Annas and Jesus quickly became very personal to the former high priest.
There is much speculation that Annas is the subject of the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 19-31). Annas had five sons and his son-in-law, Caiaphas, would have been dressed in fine clothes. Annas would have seen this as a direct attack on his faith.
After Jesus was taken captive in the Garden, he was taken directly to the house of the high priest. There, it was Annas, not Caiaphas who interrogated Him. In response to Annas' questions, Jesus stated that His ministry had been public and called for Annas to produce witnesses. As with our 5th Amendment here in the USA, Jewish law prohibited making an accused testify against himself. Annas' response was to strike Jesus before sending Him to Caiaphas and then to Pilate.
So, we see that Annas' hatred of Jesus was both highly personal and religious. He wanted Jesus dead. He got his wish.
Annas and member of his family presided over the trial of Peter and John at Pentecost. They intended to have the Apostles killed as well, but as we know, they were not successful. (Acts 4:5-22)
Annas was assassinated in 66 AD for advocating peace with Rome.
Annas, like Herod, was one of the really bad guys of the Bible.
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