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American Tract Society Bible Dictionary


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Or BETHDIN, house of judgment, was a council of seventy senators among the Jews, usually with the addition of the high priest as president, who determined the most important affairs of the nation. It is first mentioned by Josephus in connection with the reign of John Hyrcanus II, B. C. 69, and is supposed to have originated after the second temple was built, during the cessation of the prophetic office, and in imitation of Moses' council of seventy elders, Numbers 11:16-24 . The room, in which they met, according to the rabbins, was a rotunda, half of which was built without the temple, that is, without the inner court of Israel, and half within, the latter part being that in which the judges sat. The Nasi, or president, who was generally the high-priest, sat on a throne at the end of the hall; the vice-president, or chief counselor, called Ab-bethdin, at his right hand; and the sub-deputy, or Hakam, at his left; the other senators being ranged in order on each side. Most of the members of this council were priests or Levites, though men in private stations of life were not excluded. See SADDUCEES .

The authority of the Sanhedrin was very extensive. It decided causes brought before it by appeal from inferior courts; and even the king, the high priest, and the prophets, were under its jurisdiction. The general affairs of the nation were also brought before this assembly, particularly whatever was in any way connected with religion or worship, Mark 14:55 15:1 Acts 4:7 5:41 6:12 . Jews in foreign cities appear to have been amenable to this court in matters of religion, Acts 9:2 . The right of judging in capital cases belonged to it, until this was taken away by the Romans a few years before the time of Christ, John 18:31 . The Sanhedrin was probably the "council" referred to by our Lord, Matthew 5:22 . There appears also to have been and inferior tribunal of seven members, in every town, for the adjudication of less important matters. Probably it is this tribunal that is called "the judgment" in Matthew 5:22 .

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of the topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859.

Bibliography Information
Rand, W. W. Entry for 'Sanhedrin'. American Tract Society Bible Dictionary. 1859.

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