Modern priesthood: more like Kohanim, Gershonites, Merarites, or Kohathites?


In the Old Testament, the descendents of Levi were divided into four branches with separate religious duties.

First, the Kohanim (descendents of Aaron), who were the “priests” who could work in the tabernacle (later, temple). They conducted the sacrificial offeerings

Second, the Gershonites, who tended to the curtains and drapery in the tabernacle.

Third, the Merarites, who tended to the structural support of the tabernacle.

Fourth, the Kohathites, who took care of the vessels in the sanctuary and other objects, such as the Ark of the Covenant, Menorah, and Table of Shewbread.

Notable “Kohanim” in the Bible were Aaron and Samuel (of 1 and 2 Samuel, who conducted sacrifices at Shiloh).

I’m curious about whether Catholic priests are more like the Kohanim, or since Christ is the true high priest (according to Hebrews), are our priests an entirely new office? There certainly are parallels between the duties of our priests and those of the Old Testament. Every mass participates in the paschal mystery. Also, priests assign a penance, which follows the Old Testament law for assignment of penitential duties by a priest in the OT.

Any help here? References that would be useful to read for the OT roots of the current priesthood? Thanks!!!


Catholic priests are more like Melchizadek. “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizadek.”

Melchizadek was both king of Jerusalem (then called just “Salem”) and priest of God.

David claimed authority to act as a priest, dancing before the Ark and so forth, by virtue of the Melchizadek priesthood of the King of Jerusalem.

Jesus’ priesthood also stood on these grounds, as a Son of David and as a King of Jerusalem (and king of everyplace else, too).

Catholic priests draw their authority from Jesus’ ordination of the Apostles, who ordained the line of bishops, who ordain the priests using part of their authority.

So literally, a Catholic priest is a priest because he is a member of the order of Melchizadek.




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