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Tractate Sanhedrin, Herbert Danby tr. [1919], at

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The Arrangement of the Court, and the Method adopted for adding to the Number of the Judges.

M.IV. 3. The Sanhedrin sat in the form of a semi-circle so that they might all see each other; and two judges’ clerks stood in front, one on the right and one on the left, taking down the evidence for the prosecution and the defence. R. Jehuda holds that there were three: one taking down evidence for the prosecution, the second for the defence, and the third taking down both. Before them sat three rows of disciples, each knowing his own place. If it became necessary to appoint another judge, he was appointed from the front row, while one from the second row took his place, and one from the third row that of the second. And for the third row one of the assembled audience was chosen. He did not sit in the place just vacated, but in a place for which he was suited.

T. VII. 8. When the "Prince" 1 enters, all the people stand, and do not sit until he bids them do so. When the "father of the court" 1 enters, they stand up on either side to make a passage for him, until he has come in and taken his place. When a member of the court enters, one after another stands up to make room for him until he has come in and taken his place. When the services of the children and disciples of the members of the court are required,

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they pass over the heads of the assembled people. And although they say that it is not praiseworthy in a disciple of the wise to come in late, he may yet go out if necessity demand it, and come in again and take his place.

9. The children and disciples of the members of the court, if they can understand the proceedings, turn their faces to their fathers; if not, they turn their faces towards the assembled people. R. Eleazar, the son of R. Zadok, says: "Also at a feast, children are placed by the side of their fathers."

10. When a member of the court comes in, his opinion is not asked until he has had time to make up his mind. Similarly a disciple should not be asked his opinion as soon as he comes in. If, on his entering, he finds the court occupied in some legal discussion, he may not break in upon their talk until he has sat down and discovered what is the subject with which they are occupied. If he should do so, it is of such a one that it is said: "There are seven marks of the clod, and seven of the wise man," 1 etc.

11. Seven rules of interpretation did the elder Hillel 2 expound before the elders of Bethyra: the argument a fortiori, the analogy of expressions, the

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generalization from one instance, the generalization from two instances, universal and particular terms, analogy drawn from another passage, and the conclusion to be drawn from the context. These seven rules did the elder Hillel expound before the elders of Bethyra.

VIII. 1. Every Sanhedrin in which are two members competent to speak, and all to comprehend, is worthy of being a Sanhedrin. If there are three, it is an average assembly; if four, a wise one.

The Sanhedrin was arranged in the form of a semicircle, so that they might all see each other. The Prince sat in the middle with the elders on his right and left. R. Eleazar, the son of Zadok, said: "When Rabban Gamaliel 1 sat in Jabne, my father and another sat on his right, and the other elders on his left." And why does one sit in accordance with age on the right? Because of the reverence due to age.

2. There were three rows of disciples sitting in front of them: the most important first, the second in importance next, and the third in the last row. After this there was no fixed order, except that each should be placed four cubits away from his fellow.

The officers of the court, the defendant, the witnesses and their refuters, and the refuters of their refuters, used to stand within the front row, near the people. And it was always easy to know which was the defendant, since he was always stationed next to the chief witness.


75:1 Except for the isolated passage, Hagiga 2. 2, there is no mention in the Mishnah of these two, the Nasi and Ab beth din. They probably did not exist till the Jabne period, i.e. after the destruction of Jerusalem.

76:1 Pirke Aboth, V. 10. The quotation continues: "The wise man speaks not before one who is greater than he in wisdom, and does not interrupt the words of his companion."

76:2 The great Jewish teacher of the period immediately preceding the birth of Jesus, and the first of the great family which included the two Gamaliels. His life is estimated to have covered the period 70 B.C. to 10 A.D. He was a pupil of Shemaiah and Abtalion, and with Shammai formed the fifth of the Zugoth. (See Pirke Aboth, I. 1 ff.) Nothing definite is known of the Elders (or Sons) of Bethyra who are here spoken of in the text. They appear to have been a body of teachers who were overshadowed by Hillel's greater learning, and who, as a result, ceded their position of leadership to him. The exposition of his "seven rules of interpretation" seems to have constituted part of his armoury in this conflict. His seven rules were afterwards increased to thirteen by R, Ishmael b. Shamua at the end of the first century A.D. (See Singer, Authorised Daily Jewish Prayer Book, p. 13.)

77:1 Rabban Gamaliel (the Second), was grandson of the Gamaliel referred to in Acts v. 34. He succeeded Jochanan b. Zakkai as President of the Jabne Sanhedrin, and aimed at a policy of interpretation which should reconcile the opposing Schools of Hillel and Shammai. He was a powerful influence in the community which centred at Jabne, and seems to have been the first to whom the title Nasi, "Prince," was applied. He died shortly before the revolt of 135 A.D.

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