(Hebrew: “priest”) Jewish priest descended from Zadok (a descendant of Aaron), priest at the First Temple of Jerusalem. The biblical priesthood was hereditary and male. Before King Josiah's reign (7th century BC), the high priest alone could enter the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur. Lower-ranking priests accompanied the army in war or administered the Temple. The priestly class was strongest during the period of the Second Temple and was curtailed after its destruction. The rabbinate has replaced the kohanim as authorities on the Law, but kohanim retain some privileges (except in Reform Judaism).

Variants of COHEN

cohen or kohen

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on cohen, visit

Seen & Heard

What made you look up cohen? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.