The Great Sanhedrin Sits in Judgment on Jesus
During the time of Jesus, the Great Sanhedrin (which comes from a Greek word meaning sitting together, or council) met daily in Jerusalem to consider the violations of Jewish law that took place in all the Jewish communities in the known world at that time.
The council was made up of 71 men, all of whom were the fathers of families, whether they were priests, elders, scribes, Pharisees, or Sadducees. To belong to the Great Sanhedrin, they all must have served in lower Jewish courts before their terms of office in the Great Sanhedrin.
The elders gathered in a semicircle on pillows and carpets on the floor to decide whether people had violated Jewish law, and if they were found guilty, what their punishments should be.
They could order people to be whipped or scourged, but their verdicts of death could be carried out only by stoning, burning, beheading, or strangling.
Even though they found Jesus guilty of blasphemy on Holy Thursday, he had to be crucified by the Romans, because the Sanhedrin could not execute anyone in that fashion.
The Sanhedrin did order that Stephen be put to death by stoning, and Peter, John, and Paul were brought before the council because of their preaching about Jesus.
Nicodemus, one of Jesus' early visitors, was a member of the Sanhedrin.
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