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High priest (Hebrew: כהן גדול kohen gadol; with definite article הַכֹּהֵן הַגָּדוֹל ha'kohen ha'gadol, the high priest; Aramaic kahana rabba) was the title of the chief religious official of Judaism from the early post-Exilic times until the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE. Previously, in the Israelite religion including the time of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, other terms were used to designate the leading priests; however, as long as a king was in place, the supreme ecclesiastical authority lay with him. The official introduction of the term "high priest" went hand in hand with a greatly enhanced ritual and political significance bestowed upon the chief priest in the post-Exilic period, certainly from 411 BCE onward, after the religious transformations brought about by the Babylonian captivity and due to the lack of a Jewish king and kingdom.
The high priests belonged to the Jewish priestly families that trace their paternal line back to Aaron, the first high priest of Israel in the Hebrew Bible and elder brother of Moses, through Zadok, a leading priest at the time of David and Solomon. This tradition came to an end in the 2nd century BCE during the rule of the Hasmoneans, when the position was occupied by other priestly families unrelated to Zadok.