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The Talmud, by Joseph Barclay, [1878], at

p. 366


The Synedrion (συνέδριον) called in Aramaic Sanhedrin, was the Supreme Court of the Jewish nation. It is invested with an awful interest, as having been the tribunal, which deliberately rejected the Messiahship and Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ,—a decision to which the Jewish people have adhered up to the present time. As its name implies, it was a kind of senate, established during the Greek occupation of Palestine, which preceded the Maccabæan period, and is not, f as the Jews think, a continuation of the seventy elders appointed by Moses. It seems to be mentioned in 2 Mac. i. 10; iv. 44; xi. 27; under the name of the Council (ἡ γερουσία). To speak accurately, there were three Sanhedrins—two smaller, and one great one. The two smaller ones seem to have served as standing committees of the general body. The chief president was called "Prince," and the vice president "Father of the House of Judgment." When priests, elders, and scribes are mentioned together, the Great Sanhedrin is meant. The Rabbis say that to be an ordinary member of the Sanhedrin, a man must have been wise, handsome, aristocratic, old, a magician, and able to speak seventy languages, that the Sanhedrin might not need an interpreter. It is said to have had ten "flittings"—from the chamber in the temple to the shops in the outer court; from the shops in the outer court to Jerusalem; from Jerusalem to Jabneh; from Jabneh to Osha; from Osha to Shepharaam; from Shepharaam to Bethshaaraim; from Bethshaaraim to Sepphoris; from Sepphoris to Tiberias. To make up the number ten, it is said to have flitted backward and forward twice between Osha and Jabneh. These flittings began forty years before the destruction of the Temple.

The Presidents are stated to have been,


Simon the Just,

Antigonus of Socho (the Master of Sadoc),

Joseph, son of Joezer; P. Joseph, son of Jochanan. V. P.

Joshua, son of Perachiah, fled to Alexandria, from Alexander Janneus.

Judah, son of Tabbai, P. Simon, son of Shetach. V. P.; they were remarkable for hanging eighty witches in one day.

Shemaiah, P. Abtalion, V. P., descendants of Sennacharib; supposed to be the Sameas and Pollio of Josephus.

Hillel P. Shammai, V. P. Hillel was likened to Moses. At forty years of age he came to Jerusalem; forty years he studied the law; forty years he was president.

Simeon, son of Hillel, supposed to be the one who took our Saviour in his arms.

Gamaliel, son of Simeon (teacher of St. Paul). When he died the honour of the law and purity died also.

p. 367

Simeon, his son (slain in Jerusalem).

Jochanan, son of Zaccai.

Gamaliel of Jabneh, son of Simeon.

Simeon, son of Gamaliel (first patriarch of Tiberias).

Judah, son of Simeon.

Gamaliel, son of Judah.

Gamaliel of Jabneh is said to have been deposed for a time from the presidency, and afterwards restored with Rabbi Eliezer, the son of Azariah, as joint president. The reason of his deposition is said to have been his want of judgment in dealing with Rabbi Joshua, who said that "prayer is a thing arbitrary," while he taught it to be "a bounden duty." Whereupon he made the Rabbi stand while he expounded the law. The congregation resented this as a sign of pride and passion, and elected Eliezer who was but sixteen years old but very grave. Rabbi Akiba was offended that he himself was not chosen, and said, "it is not because he is more learned, but because he is of nobler birth—happy is he who has ancestors to privilege him—happy is the man who has a nail to hang on." "And what was the nail of Rabbi Eliezer, the son of Azariah?" "He was tenth from Ezra."

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