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The literal meaning of Sanhedrin is “sitting together” or assembly. Sanhedrin was established after the Babylonian exile with religious, civil, and criminal jurisdiction over the Israelites. Each city in the ancient land of Israel had a Sanhedrin comprising twenty-three rabbis.

The Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, comprising seventy-one judges headed by the Hight Priest, was the supreme council and tribunal. It also functioned as the Supreme Court, taking appeals referred by lesser Sanhedrin. When the Bible used the term “Sanhedrin,” that was referring to the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. This Sanhedrin met every day except for festivals and the sabbath day in the Hall of Hewn Stones in the Temple. When the Romans came to power over the Jews, they restricted Sanhedrin’s authority.


The judicial system of the lesser Sanhedrin in the cities and the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem were the governance structure of the Jews that functioned well. However, they failed in accepting the Messiah and persecuted him and the church. If selfish motives creep into our minds, we also might become corrupt and do injustice to others. Let our prejudice and self-interests do not harm others and hinder our eternal salvation.

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