The Berean Expositor
Volume 45 - Page 51 of 251
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The Sanhedrin.
pp. 229 - 232
The word "sanhedrin" (or "sanhedrim") does not occur in the A.V., the Greek
sunhedrion being consistently translated "council". In the LXX, the word is used in a
general way of any session or assembly of persons deliberating or adjudicating. An
example of this latter usage is found in Prov. 22: 10:
"Cast out a pestilent person from the council, and strife shall go out with him; for
when he sits in the council he dishonours all" (LXX).
In the N.T the word is used more specifically, referring to (a) the smaller tribunal or
"council" which existed in every Jewish town in which a synagogue was to be found, its
function being to judge less important cases, and (b) the Sanhedrin, the great "council"
which met in the Temple at Jerusalem, and had supreme authority in Israel (but of course
subject, at the time of Christ, to the Roman procurator).
The former usage is found in Matt. 10: 17 and Mark 13: 9, where the word is in the
plural form:
"But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils."
"But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the
synagogues ye shall be beaten."
Most occurrences however, refer to the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem, sometimes designated
"The Grand Sanhedrin" by authorities.
The word sunhedrion, from sun together and hedra a seat, means literally, "a sitting
Origin of the Sanhedrin.
Jewish tradition traces the origin of the Sanhedrin to Numb. 11: 16, 17:
"The Lord said unto Moses, Gather unto Me seventy men of the elders of Israel . . . . .
bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee
. . . . . and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they
shall bear the burden of the people with thee."
The Sanhedrin at the time of the Lord's sojourn on earth was similarly constituted,
being made up of seventy members (priests, Levites, scribes and notable members of
high priestly families) plus the president (the High Priest). This body sat in the Temple
It is outside the scope of this article to trace the possible history of this body from
Moses to Christ, but it may be observed that Ezekiel was given a vision of such a
company (in connection with Israel's idolatry), and an assembly which bestowed upon