The highest judicial tribunal among the Jews. It consisted of seventy-two persons besides the High Priest. It is supposed to have originated with Moses, who instituted a Council of Seventy on the occasion of a rebellion of the Israelites in the wilderness. The room in which the Sanhedrim met was a rotunda, half of which was built without the Temple and half within, the latter part being that in which the judges sat. The Nasi, or Prince, who was generally the High Priest, sat on a throne at the end of the hall; his Deputy, called Ab-beth-din, at his right hand; and the Subdeputy, or Chaean, at his left; the other senators being ranged in order on each side. Most of the members of this Couneil were Priests or Levites, though men in private stations of life were not excluded.
According to the English system of the Royal Arch, a Chapter of Royal Arch Masons represents the Sanhedrim, and therefore it is a rule that it shall never consist of more than seventy-two members, although a smaller number is competent to transact any business. This theory is an erroneous one, for in the time of Zerubbabel there was no Sanhadrim, that tribunal having been first established after the Macedonian conquest. The place in the Temple where the Sanhedrim met was called Gabbatha, or the Pavement; it was a room whose floor was formed of ornamental square Stones, and it is from this that the Masonic idea has probably arisen that the floor of the Lodge is a tessellated or mosaic pavement.
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