What roles would a re-established Sanhedrin perform in the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, and what functions would such a body perform in regulating worship? Would such a body be necessary today? Undoubtedly fulfill the regulatory needs of today as they did in the past, what authority did they have?


                                                                                         A Quick History


            What was the Sanhedrin? The Sanhedrin was a body of scholars that regulated both religious and civil courts in ancient Israel. These functions were divided into the Great Sanhedrin which oversaw religious regulations, and the lesser Sanhedrin which regulated civil affairs. Most likely there was one body which oversaw both functions originally. The ideal number of members is set at 71, fewer members having made up the membership in times past.

            Over the years various writers have described the body in different ways showing that it differed in function as needs arose and political leaders permitted. For an example: Napoleon appointed a 71 member “French Sanhedrin” to oversee relations between the French government and the Jewish population. Until recently, the body has been all but a dim memory.


            Although the term “Sanhedrin” applies primarily to the body sitting from the Roman occupation of the Holy Land until about four hundred years after the destruction of the Temple, the concept traces back to the appointment of judges under Moses (Numbers 11:16 “[Yahweh] answered Moses, ‘Assemble seventy elders from Israel, men known to you as elders and officers in the community; bring them to me at the Tent of the Presence, and there let them take their stand with you.”.) These seventy elders, plus Moses, is the reason given for there being 71 members. Jewish scholars  state that Moses’ laying on of hands upon Yahshua the son of Nun was the beginning of the Sanhedrin. Such notables such as Yahshua, Ezra and Nehemiah are believed to have been ordained into the Sanhedrin. That secular authorities have had their influence is not denied; Jehoshaphat’s appointment of Levites, priests and heads of fathers houses to hold court (2 Chronicles 19:8 “In Jerusalem Jehoshaphat appointed some of the Levites and Priests and some heads of families by paternal descent in Israel to administer the law of [Yahweh] and to arbitrate in lawsuits among the inhabitants of the city,”) is an example. The Talmud states that King Saul was the president (Nassi) and his son Jonathan was vice president (Av Beis Din) during King Saul’s reign.


            Upon their return from Babylonian captivity, it was determined that there was a need for a Great Assembly (Knesset HaGadolah). This Sanhedrin consisted of many of the prophets of that time. Their undertaking of translating the Tanach into Aramaic was, and is, the authoritative version; it being “sealed” so that nothing can be added to nor deleted from it. Their ordinances, some of which can be read in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, set the various methods of worship we see to this day. The prayers, methods of prayer, times of prayer, and many aspects of everyday life were hammered out over the years by the Sanhedrin Sages.


            It was during the Second Temple period that the power of leadership was divided into two separate entities. This was due to politics being used for monetary gain, the Sages of the time feeling it wise to dilute the power so that no one person could be influenced in such a way as to corrupt the entire system. The office of Av Beis Din was given authority over halachic matters, while the political power resided in the office of the Nassi. Everything from bribery to murder was employed by both Jewish and the various Gentile occupying authorities; transforming the Sanhedrin into a theater of conflict between the Sadducees and Pharisees. The Pharisees were eventually ousted from the Sanhedrin but retained power and influence among the people.


            Where did the Sanhedrin officially meet at this time? It was in a building supposed to be on the North wall of the Temple, half of the building outside the Sanctuary and the other half extending into the Sanctuary. The reasoning was that the members of the Sanhedrin were not permitted within the Temple itself, and yet they had to be accessible to the priests at times when the priests were not permitted to leave the confines of the Temple. It was only in this chamber that they could render decisions on capital offenses; until 28 C.E. when they gave over such authority to the Romans.


            The year 425 C.E. is the date given for the abolition of the Sanhedrin, it having fallen into great disfavor with the Roman authorities. Later attempts to re-establish it lead to necessary changes in how the Sanhedrin was to be formed and function. An example is the matter of ordination “semicha.” Originally the ordination of leadership was to have been an unbroken line originating from the installation of Yahshua ben Nun by Moses. This obviously could no long be claimed due to the centuries long prohibition by the Romans lasting from 425 to about 1180 C.E. The Rambam (1135-1204 C.E.) taught in Hilchos Sanhedrin 4:11,12 that a person could be ordained as leader of the Sanhedrin by consensus of all the Chachomin in Eretz Yisrael, and that person could then ordain others, and so forth.


            Post World War 2 has seen the re-emergence of the attempt to reconvene the Sanhedrin. Rabbi Moshe Halberstam became the first person ordained (samukh) under this understanding. Rabbi Dov Levanoni, along with several rabbis held a ceremony in October 2004 in which they claim to have re-established the Sanhedrin.

            Although not recognized as an official, legal body by the Israeli government, the body has been consulted in secular court and has had input about the Bible and Scriptures in the curriculum via discussion with the Ministry of Education. This body is active in the Temple Mount Movement, a movement trying to prepare for the rebuilding of the Temple on the original site.



                                                What Decisions Were Made?


            The quick answer would be “just about anything civil or religious.” Ideally the Sanhedrin was comprised of the High Priest and Levites (Deut. 17:9 “There you must go to the Levitical priests or to the judge then in office; seek their guidance, and they will pronounce the sentence.”); however it is valid without even one in the membership.


            One decision that affected everyone in Israel then, and all who hold to recognizing the beginnings of months (and thereby observance of the Holy Seasons) by a visible New Moon today, was ‘Is today the day of the New Moon?’ There is controversy and indecision in some circles today due to there being no recognized governing body over such issues in Israel today. While it is true that the law will go forth from Zion in the future, (Isaiah 2:3 “For instruction issues from Zion, and out of Jerusalem comes the word of [Yahweh]”; Micah 4:2 “For instruction issues from Zion, and out of Jerusalem comes the word of [Yahweh]”) was it necessary that the New Moon be seen in Jerusalem? The answer is, no! If weather conditions were unfavorable in Jerusalem, there were already “spotters” on the dominant heights who would report the sighting to Jerusalem. Nowhere can I find that the New Moon HAD to be sighted in Jerusalem, or even the immediate environs for that matter. The New Moon would then be sanctified by authority of the Sanhedrin and the decision signaled via trumpets, signal fires, etc. (of course woe-be-it to anyone who made a false report.)


                                    Relevance for Today?


            In order for a rebuilt Temple to be valid there will have to be a recognized body of scholars to confirm that all is in accordance with Torah directives. Confirmation of a High Priest, his assistants, all implements and all proceedings will also have to pass muster before they can officially function. This body of scholars will, by definition, be the Sanhedrin. No Sanhedrin, no valid Temple.


        The Messiah, as a king, must be recognized by a duly ordained Sanhedrin!


            It is a given, by the observant, that the Messiah, as a king, must be recognized by a duly ordained Sanhedrin. It is they who will investigate any Messianic claims and it is they who will either reject or accept the claimant. It was the Sanhedrin under Caiaphas who rejected Yahshua; and it will be the re-newed Sanhedrin who will accept the person claiming Messianic/Davidic authority in the coming rebuilt Temple: the one often referred to by non-Jews as “The anti-Messiah.”





            A re-newed Sanhedrin is a necessity for Judaism and it’s adherents to function in the near future, if not already. We are now well past the start-up stage for such a body to come to the forefront, there already being such an organization in Eretz Ysrael today. This body only needs to fill the necessary membership needs and to be openly consulted for enforced rulings. It is already active in the Temple Mount Movement and is being consulted in civil cases.


            One such function which can occur without a Temple being built is the sanctification of New Moons. With today’s technology observations can be gathered from sights scattered throughout the globe, the observers interviewed and pictures sent in near-live time. An observer in Alaska can send a picture and be questioned as he is seeing the New Moon, and a decision rendered by the Sanhedrin within seconds.


            Rebuilding of the Temple is once again gaining momentum. A recognized body must be available to sanctify the Red Heifer (for cleansing) and the building sight. Once the Temple has been rebuilt and is functioning the way will be cleared for the ordination of a king-messiah and rulership to be implemented. For the Jews this will be a time of great rejoicing; for others a time of great trepidation.

            At long last even this Sanhedrin and their king-messiah will be overthrown by the true Messiah. He will rule and finally establish what we could call the true Sanhedrin (Revelation 20: 4-6 “ Then I saw thrones, and upon them sat those to whom judgment was committed. I could see the souls of those who had been beheaded for the sake of [Yahweh’s] word and their testimony to [Yahshua], those who had not worshipped the beast and its image or received its mark on forehead or hand. These came to life again and reigned with [the Messiah] for a thousand years, though the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were over. This is the first resurrection. Happy indeed, and one of [Yahweh’s] own people, is the man who shares in this first resurrection! Upon such the second death has no claim; but they shall be priests of [Yahweh] and of [the Messiah], and shall reign with him for the thousand years.”)




Yours in Messiah, 

Finnegan AKA The Mick








Bible quotes from “The New English Bible” [Sacred Names inserted by author]




Excerpt from Handbook of Jewish Thought by Rabbi Kaplan




Unger’s Bible Dictionary



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JEWISH SANHEDRIN RE-ESTABLISHED  -  On October 13, the Sanhedrin, the highest tribunal of the Jewish state and religion, was re-inaugurated by a group of rabbis in Tiberias after 1,600 years of absence. According to Jewish sources, last notice of the Sanhedrin dates around 425 A.D., also in the city of Tiberias. After that, it ceased to exist (Israel National News online edition, October 13, 2004).

A bit of History

The idea of a Jewish tribunal originated with Jethro, who advised Moses, his son-in-law, to choose a group of elderly men to help him judge the people (Ex 18:17-26). It was officially founded when God ordered Moses to choose 70 men from Israel (Num 11:16) and bring them before the Tabernacle (a tent pre-figuring the Temple), where they would receive enlightenment to judge the people who violated Jewish law. This tribunal became known as Sanhedrin, derivate from the Greek word sunedrion , literally, "sitting together."

Historically speaking, this tribunal had little influence until the Jewish exile under the Persians, when it started to effectively judge the difficult questions of the Jewish people. This court of 71 counted 70 of the more important members of the Jewish families, both priests and lay people, plus the high-priest (F. Vigouroux, Dictionnaire de la Bible, entry Sanhedrin, vol. V, cols. 1459-1462).

The tribunal had a varied importance in the Old Covenant. At the time of Our Lord, the Sanhedrin of Jerusalem was effectively the nation’s Supreme Court of Justice. It rejected Our Lord and His doctrine, and condemned Him to death (Math 27:1,2). With this it assumed a great part of the responsibility for the crime of Deicide.

After this crime and the corresponding chastisements – the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD by Titus and the destruction of the Jewish nation in 130 AD by Adrian – the Sanhedrin disappeared. It was said that it was reconstituted at Jabné, but that tribunal issued only theoretical decisions, and could not be called the effective continuation of the old Sanhedrin (F. Vigouroux, ibid). I could not find historical data tracing its move from Jabné to Tiberias in the 5th century, where Jews say it definitively ceased to exist.

The new Sanhedrin

The ceremony that took place in Israel on October 13, 2004 brought together 71 rabbis. One of the leaders of the initiative to revive the Sanhedrin is rabbi Yeshai Baavad. He said that the 71 rabbis "from across the spectrum received the special ordination, in accordance with Maimonides' rulings, over the past several months." Rabbi Baavad explained the aim of the reconstituted body:

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Rabbi Israel Ariel, founder of the Temple Institute, inspects a menorah prepared for the new Temple.
"The goal is to have one rabbinic body in Jerusalem that will convene monthly and issue rulings on central issues. This is the need of the generation and of the hour" (Israel National News, ibid).
Rabbi Israel Ariel, who heads the Temple institute in Jerusalem, is one of the participating rabbis. He explained some of the reasons they decided to make this attempt to reconvene the Sanhedrin:
"Whether this will be the actual Sanhedrin that we await, is a question of time - just like the establishment of the State. We rejoiced in it, but we are still awaiting something much more ideal. It's a process. Today's ceremony is really the continuation of the renewal of the ordination process in Israel …..

"Our talmudic sages describe the ten stages of exile of the Sanhedrin from Jerusalem to other locations, until it ended in Tiberias - and this is the place where it was foretold that it would be renewed, and from here it will be relocated to Jerusalem" (Ibid.).
Rabbi Meir Halevi, one of the 71 members, told Israel National Radio’s weekend edition the juridical background of the plan:
bv060_YosefElyashiv _ Hatzolah.jpg - 33978 Bytes

Josef Elyashiv, supposed successor to Moses, was the one who made a special ordination of the 70 rabbis so they could be part of the new Sanhedrin.

Probably he is also the present day Jewish high priest, even if the news doesn't report it.

“There is a special commandment, not connected to time, but tied to our presence in Israel, to establish a Sanhedrin …. The Rambam [12th-century rabbi Maimonides] describes the process exactly in the Mishna Torah. When he wrote it, there was no Sanhedrin, and he therefore outlines the steps necessary to establish one. When there is a majority of rabbis in Israel who authorize one person to be an authority, he can then reestablish the Sanhedrin” (Israel National News, online edition, December 9, 2004).
There are two men behind the re-establishment of the Sanhedrin: Ovadiah Josef and Josef Elyashiv. The former is a chief rabbi of the Sefardi Jews and the latter a chief rabbi of the Ashkenazi Jews. Elyashiv is considered the spiritual heir of Moses, able to ordain the 70 others.

The rabbis behind the Sanhedrin’s reconstitution claim that, like the State of Israel, the new Sanhedrin is a work-in-progress. They see it as an institution that, once established, will reach the stature and authority that it once had.

Halevi explained how the new Sanhedrin wanted to strengthen as an institution:
“The first members [of the new Sanhedrin] requested that their names not be published, so as to allow it to grow without public criticism of individuals. We want to give it time to develop and strengthen the institution, giving a chance for more rabbis to join.”
He added that each of the current members of the Sanhedrin had agreed to be a conditional member until more knowledgeable rabbis would enter the ranks and take his place (Israel National News, December 9, 2004).

For More Information On The Sanhedrin:

The Re-established
Jewish Sanhedrin





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