« AnteriorContinuar »
tion of the temple, which is recorded in 1 Kings viii. 22— 53, and 2 Chron. vi. 12–42. And there too, in after times, stood the king's pillar, as it is called in 2 Kings xi. 14; xxü. 3; and 2 Chron. xxii. 13; where the kings on particular occasions took their station. Such were the objects immediately above and before the gate: the only other objects on that side which are mentioned, are the Levites' ward and the Chamber of Phineas on the right (marked No. 1. in Plate II.); and that of the pastry-man, on the left as you enter the Court (marked No. 2.) The Chamber of Phineas was the wardrobe for the priests, whence they received their vestments when they entered on office, or required new ones; and into which they returned the old, to be unravelled for wicks to the lamps at the feast of tabernacles. It was called by that name in honour of one Phineas, who had been remarkably faithful in his office. The pastry-man's chamber was the place where they prepared the daily meat offering of the high priest, in offering of which he was distinguished from the other priests. And we may remark, before leaving this side of the Court, that here commonly stood the stationary men, who represented the Israelites in their attendance on the service, and of whom we shall speak more particularly in a subsequent part of this work.
But let us now turn to the south wall of the Court of Israel, and examine the objects worthy of attention on that side. The first, in the south-east corner, was the building called Gezith (799,) where the Sanhedrin so long sat. It was built by Simeon ben Shetah, vice-president of the Sanhedrin, in the time of Hyrcanus Jannæus, one of the Asmonæan princes. Its name denotes that it was built of stone neatly polished; for so the word is used in Exod. xx. 25; 1 Kings v. 17; and several other
a 2 Chron. xxxiv. 31; Ezek. xlvi. 2-8. 12.
; places : and it was said to be half holy and half common, meaning that it stood half within the Court of Israel, and half without it, in the wall and Sacred Fence, with a door entering into either place, and a dividing wall between them. That half which entered from the Sacred Fence, (and which is marked No. 3. in Plate II.) was the place where the Sanhedrin sat; for it was one of their traditions that none might sit within the verge of the Court of Israel, but the kings of the house of David. And it was by this door from the Sacred Fence that the criminals entered to be judged: but there was a door on the other side into the Court of Israel, for the use of the Sanhedrin. The other half of the chamber Gezith, (marked No. 4. in Plate II.) was entered from the Court of Israel, and was the place where the priests cast their lots for the daily service, and offered up certain prayers to the God of Israel, which will afterwards be more particularly noticed.
But we cannot leave the chamber, where the great council of the nation sat, without attending a little to its history. It consisted of seventy-one members, answering to Moses and the seventy elders, whom he chose, when God, in the wilderness, first appointed it. These members were composed of priests, Levites, and Israelites; or, as they are called in the New Testament, chief priests, scribes, and elders: the first, meaning the heads of the twenty-four courses, which were appointed by David," and revived after the captivity by Ezra, making one-third of the whole number; the second, were transcribers and teachers of the law; and the third, were the heads of the tribes of Israel,-making between them the other two-thirds. The qualifications for office are said to have been the following :-They were to have wisdom, integrity, the fear of God, love of truth and impartiality; were to be learned in arts and languages; skilled in physic, arithmetic, astronomy, and astrology; able to judge in cases of magic, sorcery, and idolatry; without any bodily blemish; aged, but not too old, lest they might be unable to endure the fatigues of office; and fathers, that they might be acquainted with tenderness and compassion.
2 Numb. xi. 16, 17.
1 Cbron. xxiv. 1,
Their manner of sitting was this :—The most eminent person among them for worth and wisdom was chosen Nasi, (X**, Neshia) that is, prince, or president. Whilst the king, therefore, had the charge of the army and of war, and the high priest of the Divine worship, it was the president's duty to be the repository of tradition. He resolved cases of conscience, and taught the oral law, which Moses was said to have entrusted to the seventy elders. Esdras, or Ezra, is considered as the institutor of this office, and to have settled it in David's family. Hillel, who came from Babylon in the reign of Herod, thirty years before Christ, exercised it with great honour. Nor did the destruction of Jerusalem occasion its abolition, for it continued under the title of patriarch, or chief of the captivity for many ages after.“ The second in dignity was the vice-president, or 79702 2x, Ab-bith-din, the father of the house of judgment. He sat on the right hand of the president, but on a lower seat (which may serve to illustrate the phrase in Matt. xxvi. 64. of sitting on the right hand of power :) and the rest of the Sanhedrin took their places according to the date of their election, on either hand of these, and on a level with the vice-president, in the form of a semicircle. The high priest was not a constituent member of this
Court, unless elected for his personal merit; and the king had no vote, lest his presence might prevent liberty of speech, and influence decisions. Within the semicircle were two seats for the 997717010, Superu ediinim, or scribes of judgment; that on the right, was for him who registered the votes of acquittal ; and that on the left, for him who marked the sentences of condemnation. Before them, at some distance, and lower down, sat those wise men, out of whose number the vacancies in the Sanhedrin were to be supplied, which was commonly done by lots and the laying on of hands, as Moses did to Joshua; or by pronouncing, in the presence of three judges at least, the following words: “ Thou art associated with us, and power is given thee to judge of penalties.". The hours of attendance were commonly from the end of the morning till the beginning of the evening service: yet sometimes the urgency of business forced them to break through this rule, and to continue their session even until night, that the matter might be finished before they arose. For, according to their traditions, they might not enter upon a new cause during the night season; but the regulation was violated in the case of Jesus Christ, whom they judged by night.
The causes that came before them were commonly those of the greatest magnitude; as, when a sentence of life or death passed by the inferior judicatories, was to be confirmed;" or when a whole tribe, or a high priest, or a king of the house of David had offended. They had also the power of determining in certain cases of peace and war, for they divided their wars into two kindsthose that were commanded, like the wars against the Canaanites and Amalekites, and against the invaders or oppressors of Israel, in which the king, of his own ac
· Godwin's Moses and Aaron, book v. chap. 5, 6.
• Joseph. War, ii. 20.
cord, might engage without consulting them; and those which were permitted, like a war for security or enlargement of territory, which could not be entered into without their consent. The Sanhedrin also determined concerning any enlargement of Jerusalem, repairs of the temple, constitutions of the inferior courts, or hard cases in the law and traditions. And it was their province, likewise, to review the proceedings of the inferior courts which came before them, either by complaint or appeal. For there were Courts of three which met in a chamber near the synagogue, for determining about money, debts, contracts, &c. : and Courts of twenty-three (Josephus says seven,") in cities, where there were one hundred and twenty families at least, which sat in a chamber at the gate, and had power in causes both civil and criminal, either in the first instance, or when referred to them by the Council of three. Thus the powers of the Sanhedrin were two-fold : they were both a radical court, and a court of review; they could both take up causes of the greatest magnitude, and review the proceedings of inferior courts.
The dress in which the accused appeared (Josephus tells us) was, a black or mourning garment, with dishevelled hair, in order to excite compassion. And the capital punishments which were inflicted on them, if found guilty, were the four following: viz. slaying with the sword, strangling, burning, and stoning. Those who were slain with the sword, were commonly beheaded. He who was sentenced to be strangled, was set up to the knees in a dunghill, where two persons placed a towel about his neck, and put an end to his life by drawing it at either end. The criminals condemned to be burned,
* Owen on the Hebrews, vol. i. Exercit. xii, Basnage's Hist. of the Jews, book i, chap. 4. b War, ii, 20.
Antiq. xiv. 9.