Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tuesday 10: The Sanhedrin

Ten things about the Sanhedrin:

1. Several days ago I posted a wordless image depicting a dungeon hole located at the house of Caiaphus or Joseph, son of Caiaphus. He was the Roman appointed Jewish high priest at the time Jesus was arrested.

2.The Gospels of Matthew and John mention Caiaphus being involved in the trial of Jesus following the arrest of Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane.

3.The house of Caiaphus is where Jesus was taken after he was arrested by the temple guard and where he was accused of blasphemy. The Sanhedrin, which Caiaphus led, found Jesus guilty and he was then taken before Pontius Pilate.

4.Basically, the Sanhedrin was a group of Jewish leaders who held administrative and religious powers during the pre-A.D. period. The New Testament refers to the Sanhedrin as the council, but they had no real governing power. Refer to Matthew 26:59 and Mark 15:1.

5.Tradition states the Sanhedrin originated when God commanded Moses to gather seventy men…. Numbers 11:16. However, many scholars refer to the Persian period of Jewish history (538-333 B.C.) as its beginning. During the Persian period Jews had a modicum of self-government.

6.Initially, the Sanhedrin governed all of Israel. After Roman occupation the jurisdiction of the Sanhedrin was divided into five regions…the high council in Jerusalem was just one body of five.

7.The terms “chief priests”, “elders”, and “scribes” are used in the New Testament to describe the composition of the Sanhedrin.

8.The high priest during the time of Jesus’ arrest was Caiaphus. He had a powerful father-in-law named Annas who had also served as high priest. The high priest was a hereditary office, but from time to time political events could change the succession. Chief priests were usually from a leading Sadducee family that might hold various offices within the temple.

9.The elders were well known laymen who were linked with the temple in some way while scribes were professional lawyers or interpreters of Scripture. They were largely Pharisees. This group enjoyed widespread public support. This meant that although Pharisees were a minority during New Testament times, they had a large share in determining the decisions of the Sanhedrin.

1o. The meeting of the Sanhedrin in connection with the trial of Jesus violated many of the guidelines under which the body normally functioned. The Mishnah prescribed that capital trials to be held during the daytime. A verdict of guilty could not be pronounced until the following day. Capital trials were prohibited on Sabbath eve or the eve of a feast day. The marathon effort to try, convict, and execute Jesus would not qualify as a legitimate trial under recorded provisions for Sanhedrin conduct.

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