[b-hebrew] To Harold: Tanach book order - different in Christian Bibles

Harold Holmyard hholmyard at ont.com
Fri Sep 1 18:02:41 EDT 2006

Dear Shoshanna,

>So was the Sanhedrin not the Supreme court?  Presided over by judges 
>and wise men and even sometimes prophets?

HH: Yes, in its time, the Sanhedrin functioned as the supreme court. 
Peter has already mentioned that there is no indication of a Sanhedrin 
through the historical books. We cannot just assume it existed. Moses 
appointed elders to assist him because he felt overwhelmed:

Num. 11:14 I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is 
too heavy for me.
Num. 11:15 And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of 
hand, if I have found favour in thy sight; and let me not see my 
Num. 11:16 And the LORD said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of 
the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, 
and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the 
congregation, that they may stand there with thee.
Num. 11:17 And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will 
take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and 
they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it 
not thyself alone.

HH: This was not necessarily an enduring institution. God did not 
necessarily put His Spirit on any others later. These men were to help 
Moses. Of course the tribal elders were always important. They appear 
often in the historical narratives. The governmental structure in Israel 
changed drastically quite a number of times. There is no hint of a 
Sanhedrin during the period of the Judges, unless you want to identify 
the elders of the assembly with the Sanhedrin:

Judg. 21:16 And the elders of the assembly said, “With the women of 
Benjamin destroyed, how shall we provide wives for the men who are left?

HH: These seem to be the tribal elders gathered in a crisis. Later there 
are kings, who appoint people to chief offices. The king himself becomes 
the last court of appeal. Still there are tribal elders, but we do not 
see them functioning as a Sanhedrin.

HH: The main point is that Scripture says nothing about anybody 
qualifying prophets, who obtained their authority directly from God. 
They usually spoke to criticize authority and so had to be outside the 
authority structure to some degree, not completely dependent on it.

Harold Holmyard

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