Jesus Sentenced by the High Priest Caiphas in the Great Sanhedrin – Project Gutenberg
The Trial of Yehoshua (Jesus) before the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem
Looking at the Death of Yehoshua (Jesus) from the Perspective of First Century Judaism
By Robert Mock M.D.
April (Passover) 2007
Edited and Posted March 30, 2010
NOTE BY THE ARTIST
The outward ceremonial of the hastily convoked and Irregular tribunal before which Jesus underwent the mockery of a trial was similar to that of the ancient Sanhedrim. The members sat on a semi-circular divan, the president in the centre, and a scribe at each extremity, who recorded the evidence and the decisions of the court. It may be noted, that while laws had been carefully formulated for the conduct of such trials, almost every one of them was flagrantly violated on the present occasion in order to ensure a pre-arranged condemnation.
For example, these rules provided that witnesses should be summoned, and that an advocate should plead on behalf of the accused; and they forbade that criminal trials should be conducted at night, that condemnation should be pronounced on the day of trial or on a holy day; and, if the crime were capital, that execution should follow on the day of sentence. – Project Gutenberg of the Royal Scottish Academy
Rambam ends the section of Mishne Torah on Din Rodef with the Mishnah Sages’ celebrated saying:
“Whoever ends a single life in Israel, it is as though he destroyed the whole world:
Whoever saves a single life in Israel, it is as though he created the whole world”.
Concerning one particular life in Israel, the “as though” can be left out.
“Dangerous Halakhah” by Haim Cohen
Seventy one august members of the Great Sanhedrin sat in council in the stately and revered Council Room of Hewn Stones. This revered institution called the Sanhedrin had a venerable and hallowed history from great antiquity. This was the institution that was felt to have been formed by Moses at Sinai:
Numbers 11:16 – “Assemble for Me (Espah-li) seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the people’s elders and officers, and you shall take them to the Tent of the Meeting, and they shall stand there with you.”
Later we find historical traces of the Sanhedrin in the tribunal formed by King Jehoshaphat:
II Chronicles 19:8 – “Moreover in Jerusalem, for the judgment of the Lord and for the controversies, Jehoshaphat appointed some of the Levites and priests, and some of the chief fathers of Israel, when they returned to Jerusalem.”
When the era of the prophets was over and the era of the scribes began in the days of Esdras (Ezra the Scribe) and Nehemiah, we find the Court of the Nobles and Chiefs and Ancients (Nehemiah 2:16; 4:8, 13; 5:7; 7:5; Ezra 5:5, 9; 6:7, 14; 10:8). The first undisputed mention of the Jewish Sanhedrin came during the reign of Antiochus III the Great (223-187 BCE) (Josephus, Flavius, Antiquities of the Jews, XII.iii.3i).
During the Grecian era, a large measure of self government of given to the Jews in their civil and religious administration. Here the high priests and their gerousia (Council of Elders) held power until after the Hasmonean rebellion against Antiochus Epiphanes IV’s desecration of the temple, both the royal and the priestly powers came to be invested in the hands of the Hasmonean rulers of the Dynasty of the Maccabean princes. The authority of the Sanhedrin diminished but with the Pharisees they came to be known as the “House of Justice of the Hasmoneans” (Talmud: Aboda zara 36b, Sanhedrin 82a)
It took a coup d’etat by the Maccabean prince, John Hyrcanus I (135-105 BCE), the 50th high priest, who became king (129 BCE) as well as high priest when the “Sadducean Sanhedrin” was born (Josephus, Antiquities, XVI, xi, 1; Sanhedrin 52b; Megillat Taanith, 10) This Sanhedrin controlled by the Sadducees rather than the Pharisees continued through the reigns of John Hyrcanus I’s sons, Aristobulus I (105-104 BCE), the 51st high priest, and Alexander Jannaeus (104-76 BCE), the 52nd high priest.
It was the Pharisee reaction to the strife between the sons of Alexander Jannaeus; Hyrcanus II, the 53rd high priest (76-67 BCE for the 1st time and 63-49 BCE for the 2nd time) and Aristobulus II, the 54th high priest (67-63 BCE for the 1st time) that brought in the fateful intervention by Rome where the power of the Sanhedrin was almost fatally destroyed. The Roman Proconsul Gabinius created smaller Sanhedrins in Gadara, Jericho, Amathonte, and Sapphora in 57 BCE. The Council of the Elders in Jerusalem was limited to the city and its local district.
The fate would again change when Hyrcanus II was appointed Ethnarch of the Jews (47 BCE) and the Sanhedrin was restored in all of the land of Israel. The power of the Sanhedrin quickly made a fateful decision by passing judgment upon the Herod, the son of Antipater with charges of cruelty in the government (Josephus, Antiquities, XI, ix, 4).
When Herod the Great was established in power by the Caesar of Rome in 37 BCE, he repaid this insult by the judges who passed judgment against him in the Sanhedrin and killed forty-five of the Sanhedrin judges along with the High Priest Antigonas (40-37 BCE), the 55th high priest in that same year (Ibid, XV, I, 2). The Sanhedrin was restored, but this time under the total power of Herod the Great. When Herod died in the fall of 4 BCE, the jurisdiction of the Assembly of Elders in the Great Sanhedrin was reduced to Judea, Samaria, and Idumea, under the “Ethnarchy” that was allotted to Archelaus.
Then came the deposition of the Ethnarch of the Jews and the annexation of Judea by Rome into a province of Syria in 6 CE. The office of the high priest and the Sanhedrin, came under the control of the Procurator of Judea, yet remained as the supreme authority of the Jewish people. Only in the case of capital sentences of death would the Sanhedrin need to receive confirmation from the Roman Governor before they could carry out the execution. (Matthew 26:57; March 14:55; 15:1; Luke 22:66; John 11:47; Acts 4:15; 5:21; 6:12; 22:30; 23:1; 24:20; Josephus, Antiquities XX, ix, 1; Bell. Jud. II, 15:6; Vita 12, 13, 38, 49, 70).
In the final days before the fall of Jerusalem, the Roman governors, Albinus and Gessius Flores particularly goaded the Jewish people into rebellion. It was the Sanhedrin that organized the first armed rebellion only to be taken over by the Zealots and the famed Assembly of the Elders passed into history. Though a nominal Sanhedrin was resurrected in Jamnia and later Tiberias after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple of Herod, the Beth-Din (Great Sanhedrin) in the deploring words of the Jewish writers ceased to exist. (Sota. Ix, end; Echa Rabbathi on Lam., v, 15).
According to the Mishnic Tractate that described the measurements of the temple called the Massecheth Middoth, we find that the Council of Hewn Stones was the council room to the further east of the temple on the south side of the temple courtyard where the altar of burnt offering was located. Looking out of the council room, the Sanhedrin could see the temple to their left. As stated in Perek V:
TheSanhedrin – Friends of the Sanhedrin
Massecheth Middoth in Perek V:4 – “Those on the south: the wood-chamber, the chamber of the captivity, the chamber of "hewn stones”. The wood-chamber--said Rabbi Eliezer, the son of Jacob: "I have forgotten for what it served." Abba Shall said: It was the chamber of the high-priest, and it lay behind the other two, and a roof was extended over the three (they had one common roof). The chamber of the captivity: a well was there which they of the captivity had digged, and a wheel was placed upon it, and thence they provided water for the whole court.
The chamber of "hewn stones": there the great Sanhedrim of Israel sat, and judged the priesthood. And the priest in whom was found disqualification was clothed in black, and veiled in black, and went out, and had to go. And if there was not found in him disqualification, he was dressed in white, and veiled in white; he went in and served with his brethren the priests. And they made a feast-day, because there was not found disqualification in the seed of Aaron the priest, and thus spake they: "Blessed be God, blessed be He, that there has not been found disqualification in the seed of Aaron, and blessed be He Who has chosen Aaron and his sons, to stand to serve before the face of the Lord in the Most Holy House."
Let us examine this august chamber a little more in the writings of Alfred Edersheim,, “The Temple: Its Ministry and Service”:
Alfred Edersheim (The Chambers) – “The account which Jewish tradition gives of these gates and chambers around the Court of the Priests is somewhat conflicting, perhaps because the same chambers and gates may have borne different names. It may, however, be thus summarised.
Entering the Great Court by the Nicanor Gate, there was at the right hand the Chamber of Phinehas with its 96 receptacles for priests' vestments, and at the left the place where the high-priest's daily meat-offering was prepared, and where every morning before daybreak all the ministering priests met, after their inspection of the Temple and before being told off to duty.
Along the southern side of the court were the Water-gate, through which at the Feast of Tabernacles the pitcher with water was brought from the Pool of Siloam, with a chamber above it, called Abtinas, where the priests kept guard at night; then the Gate of the Firstlings, through which the firstlings fit to be offered were brought; and the Wood-gate, through which the altar-wood was carried. Alongside these gates were Gazith, the hall of square polished stones, where the Sanhedrim sat; the chamber Golah, for the water apparatus which emptied and filled the laver; and the wood-chamber.
Above and beyond it were the apartments of the high-priest and the council-chamber of the 'honourable councillors,' or priestly council for affairs strictly connected with the Temple. On the northern side of the Priests' Court were the Gate Nitzutz (Spark Gate), with a guard-chamber above for the priests, the Gate of Sacrifices, and the Gate of the Beth-Moked.
Alongside these gates were the chamber for salting the sacrifices; that for salting the skins (named Parvah from its builder), with bathrooms for the high-priest above it; and finally the Beth-Moked with its apartments. The two largest of these buildings--the council-chamber of the Sanhedrim at the south-eastern, * and the Beth-Moked at the north-western angle of the court--were partly built into the court and partly out on 'the terrace…'
The most prominent object in the Court of the Priests was the immense altar of unhewn stones, a square of not less than 48 feet, and, inclusive of 'the horns,' 15 feet high. They were 'whitened' twice a year. Once in seven years the high-priest was to inspect the Most Holy Place, through an opening made from the room above. If repairs were required, the workmen were let down through the ceiling in a sort of cage, so as not to see anything but what they were to work at.”
According to Ederseim, during the days of Yehoshua, the Sanhedrin changed the place of its sittings and deliberations in the Chamber of Hewn Stones and moved to another site on the east side of the temple court. The reason, in part he claims, was that “none other than a prince of the house of David might sit down within the sacred enclosure of the Priests' Court.” As such, the Council of the Sanhedrin would now be held in a place that would back up upon the “terrace”.
Yet, as the biblical testimony accounts and the Talmudic evidence hints that this move happened after the Passover death of Yehoshua. What we do know is that the earthquake in Jerusalem at the moment of Yehoshua’s death was of such catastrophic proportions that the lintel that held the curtain over the entry of the Most Holy Place collapsed along with the rending of the curtain veil. Does this give a hint that the Council of Hewn Stones was damaged beyond repair and that the Great Sanhedrin had to move to another and less auspicious location?
The High Priest Caiphas was cloistered in his private temple suite, the Parwah Chamber in the temple, where he was supposed to be in preparation for the upcoming High Sabbath of the Passover, a very special day in the Jewish festival year for it occurred only every seven years at the Jewish Sabbatical Week of Years. There the high priest was to be ascending his heart, mind and soul into the spiritual dimensions in preparation for the high ritual of the Pesach Lamb sacrifice. In less than nine hours, he would be slaying the very lamb that was to represent the divine emissary that was sent for the redemption (guela) of his people. This would then open the process of redemption for the salvation of the entire gentile world. The Maschiah ben Yosef (Messiah son of Joseph), the first of two Jewish messiahs was destined to die for His Jewish people. He was soon be sacrificed like and during the same hour as the Korban (Passover) Lamb.
The Hole in Ceiling where Yehoshua the Messiah was lowered into an underground Isolation Chamber and Surrounding Prisoner Cells where Yehoshua (Jesus) was interned before His Sanhedrin Trial – Photo by Robert Mock
Instead of setting the mood for the upcoming divine festival, Caiphas was seething in rage. The most potent threat to his illegitimate and despotic rule over the Jewish people was now in his custody, imprisoned in the dungeons below his own dwelling.
The Sanhedrin was assembled and a messenger was dispatched to the high priest Patriarch Ananus the Elder to send Yehoshua over to the Council of Hewn Stones for the formal investigation by the Sanhedrin.
Luke 22:66-67 (parts) - As soon as it was day, the elders of the people, both chief priests, and scribes, came together and led Him into their council, saying, ‘If You are the Christ, tell us’”
Never in Jewish history had a trial been so charged with conflicting testimony and emotions. Virulent hatred emanated from the temple leadership as this grand assembly went in session. The atmosphere was tense, threatening anyone to challenge the Sadducee’s pre-determined mission to finish their task in eliminating Yehoshua as a threat to their rule. As the sun rose in the eastern horizon, every elder and statesmen in that august assembly knew that to stand in defense of Yehoshua marked them individually and doomed their future.
History does attest that contrary to popular opinion that Yehoshua was only surrounded by enemies in the Sanhedrin, yet there is collaborating historical testimony to support otherwise. There truly were many in the Sanhedrin who sought Yehoshua’s complete extermination. The brilliant arguments of the defense never became part of the Christian canon. They were relegated by the Roman Christian Church to the non-sacred historical archives. This testimony would later reveal the vigorous defense that morning for Rabbi Yehoshua.
Jewish Messianic Tour Guide describing how Prisoners to Outstretched their Hands when Beaten and Tortured in Ananus and Caiphas Prison – Photo by Robert Mock
The “trial for life” of Yehoshua HaNotzri (Jesus the Nazarene) that morning of the Passover preparation day, was stormy and verbally violent as prosecution and defense were locked in a bitter struggle. There was unmitigated fury and prejudice on the side of the prosecution but they failed to find a charge in support of two witnesses.
Against the fury of the prosecution stood the granite like defense of courageous and uncompromising defenders of true Torah law. They knew that by their heroic acts of trying to save Yehoshua from the death warrant, they were also signing their own. There were only limited reasons why the Great Sanhedrin could convict one of their own Jewish brethren to die. These included, according to the Talmud, the following:
Mishnah Sanhedrin 7.4 – “These are they that are to be stoned: he that has connection (sexual relations) with his mother, his father's wife, his daughter-in-law, a male, or a beast, and the woman that suffers connection with a beast, and the blasphemer (of G-d) and the idolator, and he that offers any of his seed (sperm) to Molech, and he that has a familiar spirit and a soothsayer (diviner of dark forces), and he that profanes the Shabbath (Seventh-day Sabbath), and he that curses his father or his mother, and he that has a connection with a girl that is betrothed, and he that beguiles [others to commit idolatry], and he that leads (a whole town or nation) astray, and the sorcerer and a stubborn and rebellious son.”
During the height of the verbal battle, the prosecution began to waver. With Yehoshua now standing in their midst, the flaming barbs of antagonism and hatred were repelled not by the response of that lone rabbi but by his champions in defense who responded with rapier darts of brilliant retort. They were resolute, brave and fearless in their stance that anything less than full acquittal was to denounce the whole foundation of Torah law.
The defense of Rabbi Yehoshua’s messiahship was brilliant. As one historian proclaimed it was “a classic in legal annals.” The proof of its brilliance was that the final vote that came was its acquittal of Yehoshua. As the ebb and flow went back and forth between the fomenting bigotry on the part of the brilliant attorneys for the Sadducee ruling families and the Shammaite Pharisaic prosecution against the vigorous defenders, the tempestuous storm thrown back by the defense that stood firm that the foundations of true Torah law would come down in history as a travesty in Jewish jurisprudence if Yehoshua was given a guilty verdict.
We read the testimony of Mark, who wrote of this trial in the Council of Hewn Stones.
Mark 14:55-60 – “Now the chief priests and all the council sought testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none. For many bore false witness against Him, but their testimonies did not agree. Then some rose up and bore false witness against Him, saying, ‘We heard Him say, “I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.” But not even then did their testimony agree.”
And then the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, saying, ‘Do you answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?’ But He kept silent and answered nothing.”
According to Adin Steinsaltz, in the “Essential Talmud”, it is highly illegal to induce the accused to testify against himself.
Steinsaltz – “The basic assumption in halakhah is that a man
does not belong only to himself; just as he has no right to cause
physical harm to others, so he has no right to inflict injury on himself. This is why
it was determined that the confession of the defendant had no legal consideration. This rule, which has its own formal
substantiation, served courts for centuries as a powerful weapon against
attempts to extract confession by force or persuasion.
Not only can no man be forced to incriminate himself through his
own testimony, but self-incrimination has no significance and is unacceptable as evidence in court. (Adin
Steinsaltz, The Essential Talmud, pp. 167-168).
The High Priest Joseph Caiphas suddenly left his seat of justice and then threw caution to the winds. He watched the failing prosecution that was about to expose his covert and illegal mission to destroy Rabbi Yehoshua. He then did a most extraordinary thing. Caiphas left his dias (throne) and took the prosecution into his own hands. He cast aside both the Council of the prosecution and the Council of the defense. He stepped towards the Nazarene and with piercing eyes and a voice that was vindictive and forceful, as Caiphas lashed out in his cross examination against the Galilean rabbi.
In contrast to the darkened countenance of Caiphas, Yehoshua stood in raptured silence. He sought no defense nor even to oppose the swirling vengeance that sought to pierce the veil of the Jewish Tzaddik that He was. No matter what the outcome between this furious struggle between light and darkness, He knew that he was destined to die. Then Caiphas forced Yehoshua to testify under oath.
Matthew 26:63-67 – “Then the high priest answered and said to Him, ‘I put You under oath by the living God; Tell us if You are the Christ (Messiah)!”
In the Hebrew Matthews, we suddenly come upon a marked distinction in the testimony between the Greek and the Hebrew versions.
Greek Matthew 26:64 – “Jesus said to him, ‘It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Hebrew Matthew 26:64 – “Jesus answered him; ‘You said it; but again I say to you, you have yet to see the Son of God sitting at the right of the power of God coming on the clouds of heaven.’”
The gasping breath of the entire Sanhedrin was suspended in mid-air. They waited in suspenseful expectation yet fearful that the ceiling of this hallowed chamber would be torn apart in expectation as the heavens opened up with the testimony of the Divine to the words just spoken. Moments passed. The air was seeping away from their lungs and suddenly they heard the sound of tearing.
The purple mantel of the high priest worn as a sign of the distinction of his high office was torn as a gesture of his mourning. Soon other tearing was heard, but the sound was not universal. The High Priest Caiphas then cried out:
Matthew 26:65 (parts) – “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! What do you think?”
It was a moment of high drama but Caiphas’ proclamation that there was no need for any witnesses in essence invalidated the trial of the Great Sanhedrin.
– “Capital punishment in rabbinic law, or indeed any other punishment,
must not be inflicted, except by the verdict of a regularly
constituted court (Lesser Sanhedrin) of three
and twenty qualified members (Sanh. 1:1; Sifre, Num. 160), and except on
the most trustworthy and convincing testimony of at least two
qualified eye-witnesses to the crime...who must depose that the culprit
had been forewarned as to the criminality and the consequences of his
5:1 140b et seq.)
Jewish Encyclopedia, Capital Punishment, p. 556)
While the sacred canon of the Brit Hadassah (New Testament) does not give a full account of the entire trial in the Chamber of Hewn Stones, the Gospel of Nicodemus and other apocryphal testimonies do indicate that the defense for Yehoshua was vigorous and effective.
When the vote was cast, the defense was triumphant. Out of the seventy one Sanhedrin members, forty voted that all charges against Yehoshua be dismissed. The death of Yehoshua could not be by stoning, according to the dictates of the Torah. It appeared that justice had prevailed. A silence of relief passed over many in the Sanhedrin. For others, the hatred in their hearts was about to erupt with fury of greater intensity.
This historic vote was quickly routed. Caiphas played his final trump card that the Sanhedrin had no jurisdiction to stop. Caiphas demanded that Yehoshua be tried before the Roman Prosecutor Pontius Pilate and the Roman Provincial Council on charges of treason against the Caesar of Rome for the proclamation that He was the King of the Jews. The high priest desired to stone Yehoshua to death as a lesson for others not to follow in His pathway. Yet, Caiphas was unwilling to give away this cherished desire to mete out his own justice and allow Rome to torture this Galilean rabbi with the cruelest of punishments; the crucifixion of the cross.
The Great Sanhedrin would not pass the sentence of judgment. In spite of their own personal convictions, the rule of Torah law must prevail. There were many accusers and accusations but there was no trustworthy and convincing testimony of at least two qualified eye-witnesses. It appeared that the Galilean Rabbi and Messianic Prince of David was about to be set free, unless, in spite of the preferences of the High Priests, Ananias and Caiphas, and their influence over the Roman Procurator Pontius Pilate, could they ask for Roman justice to prevail? It was a consideration but it also was a great breech of Torah law.
According to the Talmud, if Yehoshua had been sentence to death, He would have been stoned to death, as did occur about six years later to Stephen, one of His dedicated and faithful deacons who was ministering to the growing number of gentiles associated with the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia, according to the Noahide Laws of the Israelites.
After the building of the Temples of Jerusalem, this stoning to death was modified by throwing the live defendant that had just been sentenced to its sudden death in the Valley of the Kidron below.
It was the School of Law, at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, that outlined the Oral Torah commands written in the Talmud on how to properly conduct the sentence of death by stoning and hanging. Let us read.
Mishnah Sanhedrin 6.1-4 – “1. When sentence has been passed, they take him forth to stone him. The place of stoning was outside the court, as it is written, Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp. One stands at the door of the court with a towel in his hand, and another, mounted on a horse, far away from him [but where he is able] to see him. If one (in court) said, "I have somewhat to argue in favor of his acquittal," that man waves the towel and the horse runs and stops him (the stoner). Even if he himself said, "I have somewhat to argue in favor of my acquittal," they must bring him back, be it four times or five, provided that there is any substance in his words.
If they found him innocent, they set him free; otherwise he goes forth to be stoned. A herald goes out before him [announcing], "Such-a-one, the son of such-a-one, is going forth to be stoned for that he committed such or such an offense. Such-a-one and such-a-one are witnesses against him. If any man knoweth anything in favor of his acquittal, come let him plead it."
2. When he was about ten cubits from the place of stoning they used to say to him, "Make your confession," for such is the way of them that have been condemned to death to make confession, for every one that makes his confession has a share in the world to come. For so we have found it with Achan. Joshua said to him, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and make confession unto him, and tell me now what you have done; hide it not from me. And Achan answered Joshua and said, Of a truth I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done. Whence do we learn that his confession made atonement for him?
It is written, And Joshua said, Why have you troubled us? The Lord shall trouble thee this day--this day you shall be troubled, but in the world to come you shall not be troubled. If he knows not how to make his confession they say to him, "Say, May my death be an atonement for all my sins." R. Judah says: If he knew that he was condemned because of false testimony he should say, "Let my death be an atonement for all my sins excepting this sin." They said to him: If so, every one would speak after this fashion to show his innocence."
3. When he was four cubits from the place of stoning, they stripped off his clothes. A man is kept covered in front and a woman both in front and behind. So R. Judah. But the Sages say: a man is stoned naked but a woman is not stoned naked.
4. The place of stoning was twice the height of a man. One of the witnesses knocked him down on his loins; if he turned over on his heart the witness turned him over again on his loins. If he straightaway died that sufficed; but if not, the second took the stone and dropped it on his heart. If he straightaway died, that sufficed; but if not, he was stoned by all Israel, for it is written, The hand of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death and afterward all the hand of all the people.
All that have been stoned must be hanged. So R. Eliezer. But the Sages say: None is hanged save the blasphemer and the idolater. A man is hanged with his face to the people and a woman with her face to the gallows. So R. Eliezer. But the Sages say: A man is hanged but a woman is not hanged. R. Eliezer said to them: Did not Simeon ben Shetah hang women in Ashkelon? They answered: He hanged eighty women, whereas two ought not to be judged in one day.
How did they hang a man? They put a beam into the ground and a piece of wood juttted from it. The two hands were brought together and it was hanged. R. Jose says: The beam was made to lean against a wall and one hanged the corpse thereon as butchers do. And they let it down at once: if it remained there overnight a negative command is thereby transgressed, for it is written, His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shall surely bury him the same day; for he that is hanged is a curse against God; as if to say, Why was this one hanged? Because he blessed the Name, and the Name of Heaven was found profaned.”
”At Night Jesus Abode on the Mount of Olives” – Project Gutenberg
Artist Note - As we ascend towards sunset the slopes of Olivet, and pause to gaze on the scenes beneath, the panorama of the city presented to view is in its leading features essentially similar to that upon which the eyes of Jesus rested, when "at night he went out, and abode in the mount that is called the Mount of Olives" Yonder stands a temple within that sacred enclosure which, for well-nigh three thousand years, save for the period during which, "the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet stood in the Holy place," has been dedicated to the worship of Jehovah. The citadel of Jerusalem breaks the skyline where stood the tower of Hippicus, and to the left, against the setting sun, the cypresses in a monastery garden mark the spot once covered by the gardens of the palace of Herod. Siloam stands as of old on the hither side, overlooking the valleys of Hinnom and Kidron; while to-day, as in former times, the olive yards beneath and the trees around, might well give the name which it bears to the hill on which we stand.
The Babylonian Talmud was written almost 300 years after the death of the Jewish rabbi, and Prince of David, Jesus the Nazarene when the following account was written reputed to be the same Yeshua (Jesus) of Passover fame. It appeared that it was much safer, in spite of the historical testimony to bring the Roman government in as the enforcer of justice. Yet in recent years, with the Pageant Plays being enacted in Europe and America with Roman justice in all its brutality, we have witnessed anti-Semitism escalated with greater drama and intensity.
When Mel Gibson released the overwhelmingly brutal depiction of “The Passion of The Christ”, it gave due notice that there was a vast difference between Roman justice and Jewish justice. Dying on the Roman cross, preceded by flogging until the body was pulverized was brutality in its fullest extent. According to the Jewish scholars on Torah law, in the ancient days, stoning was a remarkably quick death. Death by being thrown over the temple wall to the Kidron Valley below was even swifter than any form of justice in ancient history. Let look at these passages in their legal understanding and reality.
Sanhedrin 43a – “On the eve of Passover Jesus was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, "He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Anyone who can say anything in his favor let him come forward and plead on his behalf."
But since nothing was brought forward in his favor, he was hanged on the eve of Passover. Ulla retorted: Do you suppose he was one for whom a defense could be made? Was he not a mesith (enticer), concerning whom Scripture says, "Neither shall thou spare nor shall thou conceal him?" With Jesus, however, it was different, for he was connected with the government.”
Thirty two years later, in 62 CE, James the Just, the brother of Jesus was also stoned for the sentence of blasphemy against G-d, yet when he did not die, he was bludgeoned with a fuller’s club, and then thrown over the wall of the Temple of Herod. Jewish justice, given to James the Just, even when it did not go as planned was more swift and humane than the Roman justice his brother Yehoshua was purported to have received.
Yaakov (James) as the Messiah’s oldest brother was the Nasi or the Prince of David ruler over the Jewish Nazarene Ecclesia. His death was instigated by the High Priest Ananias the Younger, the son of High Priest Ananias the Elder, the person most responsible for the death of Yehoshua HaMaschiah (Jesus the Messiah). It gave notice that the delicate balance between Roman brutal justice and Jewish justice was a pendulum that rarely in history was kept delicately balanced. Unfortunately, when the pendulum swung either way, the anti-Semitic acts were always focused against the Jewish people. Why?
Rarely in history has the ruler been punished for the harsh justice in whom he meted out to others, except in Jewish history. The Jews have always had to represent a higher standard of justice than the rest of the world. We see that today with the Zionist State of Israel with all its imperfections as being the only sovereign state in the world constantly harassed and blamed by the United Nations while the most brutal of dictators remain unnoticed by international public opinion. This is because the rest of the world acknowledges without admission that the G-d of Israel is the One and only Supreme G-d that sets the standard of justice for all mankind. The court of world opinion may also desire to deflect blame away from them and cast that blame upon G-d’s visible “chosen people” yet it still acknowledges that the G-d of Israel is the only source of morality and setting the standard of justice for all mankind.
The resultant effect, the Jewish people have always wrongfully been blamed for the death of their Messiah when they had no power to save Him or to kill Him. The death of Yehoshua HaMaschiah (Jesus the Messiah) was at the hands of “The Jews” who were the Sadducean High Priests Ananias the Elder and his son-in-law, the High Priest Caiphas.
The death of James the Just, the brother of Jesus (Yehoshua) was at the hands of the Sadducean High Priest Ananias the Younger the son of the Patriarch of the House of Hanan, the High Priest Ananias the Elder. In all, the flagrant casting of blame has been upon the Jewish people, not the rulers, throughout history. It has cost them much pain, grief and suffering with many needless deaths and abhorrent brutalities, plus segregation and seclusion from participation in civilized cultural life at the expense of being very costly to the Jewish psyche.
These same types of charges have been thrown against modern Anglo-Americans for the responsibility for Black slavery in 19th century America, when America today has been traditionally one of the most homogeneous and color-blinded social cultures in history. Even today, Middle Easterners want to blame all Americans for the highly divisive War in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet the American public has been highly divided and powerless to change the course of what the globalist contenders for world dominion are driving all nations towards; a One World Order.
Outside of casting a presidential ballot every four years, by far a majority of all Americans were not publically or morally involved. So also the acts of the Temple leadership against the Galilean rabbi also outraged a majority of the Jewish peasants who were 90% of the Jewish population and the mercantile class of Jews who privately or publically supported the gentle and courageous rabbi that spent his career healing the sick, casting out demons, and bringing healing messages to the populous. It was He that politically cleansed the temple of the moneychangers of economic corruption by making the temple a “house of prayer” instead of a “den of thieves”.
The charges of deicide against the Jewish Sadducee high priestly family of the House of Hanan perpetuated the charges against the Jewish rabbi by urging Him to be crucified, or hanged. Depending on which translation Hebrew or Greek is used, the “wrongful death” the peasant’s and the merchant’s own Jewish Messiah became a national travesty for all Jews.
The charges against the Jewish people rather than against the Jewish temple leadership will end up in the future reversing and placing the Divine Justice against those who have been casting the blame over the past 20 centuries. This “teaching of contempt” by putting the Jewish people as permanently accursed has legitimized modern day violence against Jews and in every historical era of history prior to this day. Our day of reckoning will wait the Divine’s wrathful justice on that Great Day of Judgment.
With these thoughts in consideration, we again look at the Talmudic passages that Jewish sages over the years have sought to censure and hide from being revealed in the editions of the Talmud. We must see them instead as legal documents spelling out legal Torah rulings of due process in reference to capital crimes. Honest scholarship would suggest that the Jewish sages followed legal due process as provided in Torah law and would be abhorrent to turn their judicial system over to Rome no less than allowing gentiles to roam the halls and Jewish courts of the Temple precincts freely.
As Jewish law is interpreted and used to provide application as it is applied historically to their day so also it become highly doubtful that they would have allowed Roman law to be used in any form of capital punishment. It does seem reasonable that the punishment would have been delayed preferably until after festival season and a 40 day provision was provided to delay formal punishment to allow for additional extenuating evidence that could be presented to the Sanhedrin in defense of the accused. Yet, in this circumstance, according to some scholars, the 40 day provision was waived because this was seen as an extreme case of “seducing the population and leading Israel into apostasy. On the other hand, it may have been provided for Yahshua’s defense because the Messiah did have close ties with the Roman government.
Historically this fact is true, for Yehoshua was a Prince of David, well known in Roman and Jewish aristocratic culture. His paternal grandfather Prince Jacob ben Mattan was a former Prince of Israel, appointed by Herod the Great and sent as his emissary to take troops to Egypt to assist Octavian, the future Caesar Augustus, in this bid for the throne of Rome against Mark Antony and Cleopatra of Egypt. His maternal great grandmother, Queen Alexandra II was a Hasmonean queen, who was the last Maccabee ruler of Israel in 49 BCE.
While Yehoshua’s mother, the Davidian Princess Miriam is the most revered mother in the world; His maternal grandfather was Prince Alexander II Helios, the heir to the Hasmonean throne of Judea, known as “Heli” in the genealogies of Jesus (Yehoshua) in the Gospel of the Nazarene Physician Luke. Maybe the most important of all, Yehoshua’s maternal great-grandfather was the former High Priest of Israel Yehoshua III.
Of a different relevance, his maternal uncle, the Prince of David Joseph of Arimathea, was rich and powerful as a Roman Decurion mining-magnate in Cornwall England, He was a member of the Roman Provincial counsel, and also a highly regarded Jewish elder that sat on the hereditary seat of King David in the Great Sanhedrin. With this in mind, and knowing the “blood feud” against the family of Yehoshua came directly from the most powerful Sadducee high priestly family in Judea; the House of Hanan whose Patriarch was the High Priest Ananias. It was this family that sought to exterminate and annihilate the Davidian Messiah called Yehoshua, yet gives us pause with the probing question. Was a warrant truly out for the arrest of Yehoshua and for anyone to come to His defense, for forty days before he arrived in Jerusalem for the Passover festivities in the Sabbatical high year of 30 CE?
It is interesting that a Jewish legal treatise three hundred years later still suggests the rabbinic willingness to accept responsibility for the execution of the Jewish Messiah called Yehoshua (Jesus). They did not make any effort to implicate the Romans and Roman justice.
It does make us wonder was it the apostate Roman Christian Church who rewrote the Early Nazarene history and willfully took on the mantle to accuse Rome publically even after 300 years when the Roman Catholic Church under Constantine the Great had taken over not just global spiritual power but also global political and temporal power? Was this act to enhance the fear of the Roman Catholics in order to keep them in power throughout the Dark Ages?
Were the Jewish rabbis willing, even with their brutal truthfulness willing to acknowledge that a Jewish court within a Jewish land truly did, at least in principle, executed one of their own? Did they also present an unvarnished history suggesting that the court of the High Priest Caiphas willfully executed one their own sons, in the hopes that that their nation might be saved, only to realize that they were violating a Torah provision that by executing one of their own the whole world might be destroyed?
We must also accept that the death of Yehoshua the Jewish Messiah does not appear to be a miscalculated event. Even Yehoshua freely defended that He was here on a divine mission, and here only at the behest of His Father in heaven. If we could only understand the mysteries of the Divine, maybe we would see that the Eternal One involved the entire World of the Divine on both sides of the inter-dimensional veil.
The Ein Sof, the Hidden and Unseen One G-d of Israel chose also to manifested a part of Himself in three dimensional human life, and called this manifested reality, Messiah. The Messiah was able to provoke the agents of evil, even though they were the “chosen” and “covenanted ones” leaders of Judea in order to make their evil inclinations transparent. Evil had to be seen, even in the House of the Lord in its stark and brutal reality. Such highly interactive relations between the Divine and His chosen ones also made transparent the seditious plots that were weaving in and out of Roman society.
Caiphas knew that Pontius Pilate was a weak man. He also knew that he was a “bought man” for his “Swiss bank” accounts were filled with gold from his father-in-law Ananus the Elder. Bribery and graft would seal the final conviction of Yehoshua. It would not be a Roman conviction but a Jewish conviction of justice outside the jurisdiction of the Great Sanhedrin that Rome permitted by its Procurator washing his hands of responsibility. This played beautifully into the hands of the High Priests and the agents of the House of Ananus and the Shammaite Pharisees and gave them what they wanted; the death of Yehoshua ha Notzri ben Yosef (Jesus the Nazarene son of Joseph) by Jewish justice.
What we know today, and what the High Priest Caiphas probably also knew then, was that the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate was involved in a seditious plot to assassinate the Emperor of Rome, Claudius Caesar. Not only was the governor a “bought man” but also now he could be easily blackmailed. If we could read between the lines concerning the intricate historical flow of Jewish history by Josephus, our eyes would truly be opened to see the true evil that flowed in and out of the Palace of the High Priest. The skill of Ananus the father-in-law was quite adept at manipulating the Roman governors, for they were sitting on the most lucrative governor’s position in the entire Roman Empire. As has been suggested in the past, did Caiphas or Ananus trade intelligence secrets with Pilate over this seditious plot in order to gain Roman tacit approval to allow the high priests to complete their murderous plot to execute Yehoshua ben Yosef, the messianic rabbi of Galilee?
What was known, the temple tax and the income from the sale of the sheep and doves that were funneled into the private coffers of the House of Ananus went to pay the ultimate death sentence for the emissary sent by the God of Israel to bring salvation and redemption to the Jews and to all mankind.
The final verdict was still not in. Yehoshua would soon head to the Roman Praetorium where Pontius Pilate, the Procurator, would have a hearing to determine if Yehoshua should stand trial. The results that happened takes a strange twist in the Hebrew Matthews that shatters many of the preconceptions about how Yehoshua died on that Passover preparation day in the year of 30 CE.
Go to Part Five - “The Chief Priests and Elders that Presided in the Sanhedrin Trial”
To be Completed in the Future
Index for “Looking at the Death of Yehoshua (Jesus) from the
Perspective of First Century Judaism”
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Go to Part Six –
Index for “The Divine Mission to Bring the “Good News” to the Gentiles”
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Letter of Rabbi Jacob Emden concerning Jesus the Nazarene -
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Go to Part Five –
Index for “The Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia of Jerusalem”
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Go to Part Two
Go to Part Three
Go to Part Four
Go to Part Five
Go to Part Six
Go to Part Seven
Go to Part Eight
Go to Part Nine
Go to Part Ten
Go to Part Eleven
Go to Part Twelve
Go to Part Thirteen
Go to Part Fourteen
Go to Part Fifteen
Go to Part Sixteen
Go to Part Seventeen
Go to Part Eighteen
Go to Part Nineteen
Go to Part Twenty
Index for “Spring Jewish Festivals – Passover and Pentecost”
“Looking at the Death of Yahshua (Jesus) from the Perspective of First Century Judaism”
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Go to Part Five -
“Catastrophes and the Time of the End”
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Go to Part Three -
“Looking backwards to the Redemption during the Exodus – Looking forward to the Restoration by the Messiah”
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Go to Part Two -
When does the First Month of Nissan (Aviv) Begin?
The Epic Drama on the Passion of The Christ
Message from BibleSearchers
BibleSearchers scans the world for information that has relevance on the time of the end. It is our prayer that this will allow the believers in the Almighty One of Israel to “watch and be ready”. Our readiness has nothing to do trying to halt the progression of evil on our planet earth. In our readiness, we seek to be prepared for the coming of the Messiah of Israel so that goodness and evil will be manifested in its fullest. Our preparation is a pathway of spiritual readiness for a world of peace. Our defender is the Lord of hosts. The time of the end suggests that the Eternal One of Israel’s intent is to close out this chapter of earth’s history so that the perpetrators of evil, those that seek power, greed and control, will be eliminated from this planet earth. The wars of the heavens are being played out on this planet earth and humans will live through it to testify of the might, power, justice and the love of the God of Israel. In a world of corruption and disinformation, we cannot always know what the historical truth is and who is promoting evil or mis-information. We cannot guarantee our sources but we will always seek to portray trends that can be validated in the Torah and the testimony of the prophets of the Old and the New Testament.
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