Tractate Sanhedrin, Herbert Danby tr. , at sacred-texts.com
M.I. 6. The Great Sanhedrin consisted of seventy-one members, and the Lesser of twenty-three. Whence do we know that the Great Sanhedrin should consist of seventy-one? It is written: 4 GATHER UNTO ME SEVENTY MEN OF THE ELDERS OF ISRAEL. These with Moses make
M.seventy-one. R. Jehuda holds that there should be seventy only. And whence do we know that the Lesser Sanhedrin should consist of twenty-three? It is written: 1 AND THE CONGREGATION SHALL JUDGE; also, 2 AND THE CONGREGATION SHALL DELIVER; one congregation judges and one congregation delivers. Hence we have twenty. How do we know that a congregation was made up of ten? It is written: 3 How LONG SHALL I ENDURE THIS EVIL CONGREGATION?--that is the twelve spies, excluding Joshua and Caleb. And whence do we get the additional three? From the meaning of the passage: 4 THOU SHALT NOT FOLLOW AFTER THE MANY TO DO EVIL, from which it is to be understood that one must be with them for good. If so, why is it said: AFTER MANY TO CHANGE JUDGMENT? To change to good is not the same as to change to evil, since the former requires but a majority of one, whereas the latter requires two. 5 And since the court must not be divisible equally they add one more. Hence we have twenty-three. How many should there be in a city to make it eligible for a Sanhedrin? A hundred and twenty families. R. Nehemia 6 says: Two hundred and thirty, to enable the number twenty-three to correspond with the heads of groups of ten families.
Rabbi says: The additional three is adduced from the meaning of the passage: THOU SHALT NOT FOLLOW AFTER THE MANY TO DO EVIL, from which it is to be understood that one must be with them for good. If so, why is it said: AFTER MANY TO CHANGE JUDGMENT? To change to good is not the same as to change to evil, since the former requires a majority of one, whereas the latter requires two. And since the court must not be divisible equally, they add one more. Hence we have twenty-three.
8. R. Jose 1 the Galilaean says: 2 THOU SHALT NOT REFRAIN 3 IN A LEGAL CASE FROM MAKING A DECISION means: Make the court able to form a definite decision.
Another explanation: THOU SHALT NOT REFRAIN IN A LEGAL CASE FROM MAKING A DECISION; therefore Scripture adds one more to the court to form
9. R. Jehuda says: The (greater) Sanhedrin is of seventy only, since Moses was included in the number of the elders. It was replied: The court may not be of an even number.
Thus also used R. Jehuda to say: Every city in which are three rows of twenty-three, and officers of the judges, and the accuser and the witnesses, and their refuters and the refuters of their refuters, is fitted to have a Sanhedrin. R. Nehemia says: There must be two hundred and thirty in all. And the Halaka is according to him. 2 Rabbi says: Two hundred and seventy.
10. The Sanhedrin can practise both within and without the land of Israel. It is written: 3 AND THESE THINGS SHALL BE TO YOU FOR A STATUTE OF JUDGMENT UNTO YOU THROUGHOUT YOUR GENERATIONS IN ALL YOUR DWELLINGS; that is, both within and without the land. If this is so, why is it written: JUDGES AND OFFICERS SHALT THOU MAKE THEE IN ALL THY GATES? 4 Within the land of Israel they make them in every city; but outside the land, they make them in every province. R. Shimeon, the son of Gamaliel, says: ACCORDING TO THY TRIBES, AND THEY SHALL JUDGE, 5 ordains that each tribe shall be self-governing.
11. R. Dostai, 6 the son of Jehuda, says: Those guilty of death who have fled from the land of Israel
42:4 Numb. II. 16.
43:1 Numb. 35. 24.
43:2 Numb. 35. 25.
43:3 Numb. 14. 27.
43:4 Exod. 23. 2.
43:5 Light is thrown on this in M. 4. I.
43:6 R. Nehemia was one of the later pupils of R. Akiba.
44:1 A distinguished contemporary of R. Akiba, and, it is said, the only one who ever successfully opposed him. See for such a clash of opinions, T. xiv. 6.
44:2 Exod. 23. 2.
44:3 R. V. has "neither shalt thou speak in a cause to turn aside." The word here rendered "speak" has in later Hebrew, in the piel conjugation, the meaning given by R. Jose.
45:1 Instead of its usual meaning--"the many," it is here regarded as the plural of Rabbi--"my master."
45:2 See Exod. 18. 21. The least of the judges appointed were rulers over ten. Therefore for a council of twenty-three there must be a population of not less than two hundred and thirty.
45:3 Numb. 35. 29.
45:4 Deut. 16. 18.
45:5 Deut. 16. 18.
45:6 R. Dostai b. Jehuda belonged to the latter end of the second century. He was possibly a pupil of R. Shimeon b. Jochai.