Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sanhedrin Court of Ancient Israel

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                    

Israel was created as a kingdom when Saul  born in 11th century BCE from the tribe of Benjamin and was made its first king.  King David was the 2nd king and ruled from 1010 BCE to 970 BCE.  His son, King Solomon was the 3rd king who ruled from 961 BCE to 920 BCE.  When Solomon died, problems started with a revolt led by Jeroboam against Rehoboam, Solomon' son and successor in 933 BCE.  The seceding tribes were led by Ephraim.  The other tribes were Manasseh, Issachar, Zebulun, Naphtali, Asher, Dan, and Reuben and Gad and part of Manasseh. So the next king of Israel was Jeroboam from 933 to 912 BCE.  Hoshea was the last from 730 to 721 BCE.
                                King Solomon
Judah was created out of the southern part of Israel in the revolt.  Rehoboam was king and ruled from 933 to 917 BCE.  Their last king was Zedekiah from 597 to 586 BCE.

By the time the Romans occupied Judah, they came along and set up their own choices for rulers, like Herod,  who was the son of Antipater, the Idumean by his Nabatean wife, Cypros.  .
The Sanhedrin was an assembly of 71 ordained scholars who acted as both Supreme Court and legislature.  The head was the Nasi, usually a descendant of Hillel.  He was a scholar in the 1st century BCE and founder of a school called the House of Hillel and was an ancestor of a dynasty of patriarchs who held office until the 5th century.  He was born in Babylonia but had come back to live in Judah and earned a small living by doing manual labor while studying with famous teachers such as Shemaiah and Avtalyon.  He was appointed president of the Sanhedrin and worked with his friend but ideological opponent, Shammai. Shammai was concerned about the Romans occupying their country so set up many rules to keep the Jews from mixing with them as they were heathens.  His name Shammai is possibly identical with the Pharisee Sameas who rallied the Sanhedrin against Herod's attempt at intimidation in 47 BCE.    They were the last of the pairs (Zugot) of scholars.  He was noted for his humility and leniency.  Legal issues usually were solved by Hillel.  He is credited with writing the Golden Rule:  Don't do to others what you would  not want done to you.  How many countries of today had a supreme court of 71 judges before the 1st century?  Israel of today carries on with a supreme legal court system.

The New Standard Jewish Enyclopedia 

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