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Sanhedrin

Definition of Sanhedrin

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Illustration in 1883 encyclopedia of the ancient Jewish Sanhedrin council (from Greek synedrion, synhedrion)
Public Domain/People's Cyclopedia of Universal Knowledge (1883)

Definition: The Sanhedrin was the supreme council, or court, in ancient Israel.

The Sanhedrin was comprised of 70 men, plus the high priest, who served as its president. The members came from the chief priests, scribes and elders, but there is no record on how they were chosen.

During the time of the Roman governors, such as Pontius Pilate, the Sanhedrin had jurisdiction only over the province of Judea. The Sanhedrin had its own police force which could arrest people, as they did Jesus Christ. While the Sanhedrin heard both civil and criminal cases and could impose the death penalty, in New Testament times it did not have the authority to execute convicted criminals. That power was reserved to the Romans, which explains why Jesus was crucified—a Roman punishment—rather than stoned, according to Mosaic law.

The Sanhedrin was abolished with the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D.

Pronunciation: SAN hee drin

Example:

The Sanhedrin accused Jesus of blasphemy.

(The information in this article is compiled and summarized from The New Compact Bible Dictionary, edited by T. Alton Bryant.)

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