Jewish Internal Rule
The Hasmonaean rulers combined the role of kingship with that of the high priest. This was also the case before this rule under the Persians and Alexander the Great. This figure was the most important ruler of the entire Jewish people until the end of the Hasmonaeans and the imposition of Herod the Idumaean as king of the Jews. Herod took political power away from the high priests and actually appointed the high priests himself.
Successors to Herod saw no reason to change the status quo and hence a succession of high priests followed who were evidently pawns in the hands of their political kings. The prefecture of the Romans also continued to maintain the status quo. Nevertheless, this role of high priest continued to be very powerful largely because of the enormous religious clout this figure commanded, but also because of the enormous wealth he controlled since the keys to the temple vaults were in his hands.
The high priest was the head of a general council of religious officials called the Sanhedrin which consisted of three groups: members of the high-priestly family, lay elders and scribes who were religious and legal experts. The post of the high priest was often filled by people from wealthy Sadducean families, who were often known to give bribes to the Roman prefects to secure their position. Their main aim, apart from being a religious one is to keep the Jewish people under control.
They were very unpopular among the people as they were often seen as collaborators. At the same time, the people resented their wealth. They were allowed to arrest Jews who were deemed to be breaking the law. They could pass sentences but were not really allowed to carry them out but to hand over offenders to the Romans. This further decreased their popularity among the people.