Annas the son of Sethi, appointed high priest by Quirinius in a.d. 6 or 7, retained office till he was deposed by Valerius Gratus in a.d. 15 (Jos. Ant. XVIII. ii. 1, 2). Josephus tells us that he was regarded as the most fortunate of men, for he had live sons who all held the office of high priest (Ant. XX. ix. 1). From the Fourth Gospel we learn that Joseph Caiaphas, the high priest at the date of the Crucifixion, was a son-in-law of Annas (Jn 18:13). His removal from office in a.d. 15 did not by any means diminish his influence. Being extremely wealthy, he was able to exert the powers of high priest long after he was deposed.
His wealth and that of his sons was acquired by the institution of the ‘booths or bazaars of the sons of Annas,’ which enjoyed the monopoly for the sale of all kinds of sacrificial requirements. These booths were situated either in the temple court (Keim, Jesus of Nazara, v. 116; Edersheim, LT iii. 5) or on the Mount of Olives (J. Derenbourg, Essai sur l’histoire … de la Palestine, 1867, p. 465). The words of Jesus regarding the unholy traffic (Mt 21:13, Lk 19:46) aroused the hostility of the priestly party and led to His arrest and examination by Annas (Jn 18:13–24). The Talmud accuses the sons of Annas of ‘serpentlike hissings’ (or whisperings [Pes. 57a]).
Probably the meaning is that they exerted private influence on the judges and perverted justice for their own ends. Their attitude towards Jesus and the apostles as revealed in the NT seems to bear out this interpretation. Although, as we have seen, Annas was deposed from the high-priestly office in a.d. 15, he retains the title all through the NT.
Both Josephus and the writers of the NT uniformly give the title ‘high priest’ not only to the actual occupant of the office at the time, but to all his predecessors who were still alive, as well as to all the more influential members of the families from which the high priests were selected. The phrase in Lk 3:2 ‘in the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas’ is unique, and may be accounted for by the fact that the combination had become so familiar in connexion with the history of the Crucifixion that St. Luke couples the two together here (Ewald, Hl, vol. vi.  p. 430, n. 3).
The important and influential position held by Annas even after his deposition is proved by the fact that it was to him that Jesus was first sent before He appeared at the more formal tribunal of the Sanhedrin (Jn 18:13). The interview with Annas (Jn 18:19–23) determined the fate of the prisoner, and probably Annas was the chief instigator in compassing the death. In Ac 4:6 Annas again appears as the head of the party who tried the apostles and enjoined them to keep silent about the Resurrection.
- F. Boyd.
LT Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Edersheim).