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kill any one unawares: However, we find but fix appointed in scripture for that purpose (x). There was nothing certainly more becoming the wisdom of God than to chuse cities of refuge out of those that belonged to the priests and Levites, who were to be the dispensers of the divine mercy. This was very ill observed by the priest and Levite, of whom we read in the gospel (y); who were so far from being inclined to pity an unhappy person that might have chanced undesignedly to kill another, that they would not vouchsafe fo much as the least assistance to a poor traveller, that had been beat and wounded by thieves to that degree, as to be left half dead (2). Besides, it would not have been at all proper, that a person guilty of murder, even unawares, should have fled into a city inhabited by common people, because this would have set an ill example; and some relation of the deceased might have been found there, who would have avenged his death. Moreover, the cities of the Levites being God's inheritance, they must consequently have been inviolable sanctuaries. The magistrates and officers belonging to the land of Israel, took a particular care to keep the roads that led to them very large, and in good repair; as free as pollible from any ditch or rising ground that could any way retard the flight of the murderer. When he was come to any one of them, the judges proceeded to examine, whether the murder had been committed designedly, or not: If designedly, he was condemned to die; but if by chance, he remained in fanctuary till the death of the high-priest, when he was delivered. It appears from scripture, that before these cities had the privilege of sanctuary, the person guilty of manslaughter fled for refuge to the altar (a).
.: Of the Courts of Judicature among the Jews. "A s the councils or courts of the Jews (a) partly consisted of prielis
A and Levites, the judges and officers belonging to them may therefore very properly be ranked among their boly perfons, as upon the account of their oifice they actually were. It is not consistent with our present design, or intended brevity, to trace up the very first beginning and origin of these courts; we shall therefore give only such an account of them, as is neceflary for the illuftrating the New Testament. Neither shall we say any thing of the seventy judges appointed by Moses (b); nor even of the great fynagogue, which consisted of an hundred and twenty persons, and was instituted, as the Jews pretend, by Ezra, for the reîtoring of the church and religion (c).
(x) Deut. iv. 41. Joh. xxi. 17. (y) Luke x. (z) Ver. 30. (a) Exod. xxii. 14. 1 Kings ii. 28. (a) Deut. xvii. 12. 2 Chron, xix. 8. (1) Exod. xviii. 21, 22. Deut. xvi. 18. (c) See Dr. Prideaux's connect. P. I. B, V. under the year 446.
and twented in ever by the jenance of tao an
The Jews had three councils or courts of justice: 1. The court of twenty-three. There was one of these in every city, which had an hundred and twenty inhabitants. They took cognizance of capital causes, excepting such as were to be tried by the Janbedrim. 2. The court of three, which was instituted in every place, where there were less than an hundred and twenty persons. This determined only common matters between man and man. There is no mention of either of these tribunals in the scripture, or Josephus. Lastly, they. had the great council or fanhedrim, otherwise called the house of judga. ment. There seems to be some traces of this last tribunal
p in the book of Numbers (d), wherein it is said, that God appointed seventy elders to aslift Moses in deciding controversies; and aiso in other places of holy fcripture (e). But some learned authors are of opinion, that the tribunal of elders, mentioned in the several places here referred to, was not the same as afterwards took the name of fauhedriin (f), because there is not the least mention of it in the Old Teitament on see veral occasions, wherein it must naturally have acted or interposed, had it been in being. Besides, the absolute authority which the kings of Israel took upon themselves, was inconsistent with that which the fanhedrim must have been invested with, as being the fupreme tribunal of the nation. For these and other reasons, the fore-mentioned authors have thought proper to fix the beginning of it to the time when the Macca-. bees or Asmonæans took upon themselves the administration of the go-, vernment, under the title of high-priests, and afterwards of kings, that is ever since the persecution of Antiochus. However it be, it is certain that the fanhedrim was in being in our Saviour's time, since it is often spoke of in the gospels (g) and Acts of the Apostles, and since Jesus, CHRIST himself was arraigned and condemned by it. It subsisted till the destruction of Jerusalem, but its authority was almost reduced to nothing, from the time that the Jewish nation became subject to the Roman Empire (b).
This afsembly consisted of seventy-one or seventy-two persons, over whom were two presidents, the chief whereof was generally the high-prieit ; though it was not necessary he should always be fo, as we have before observed. The other was a grave and fober per-. lon, of an illustrious family, that was named the Ab, or father of the council.
Most of the members of this assembly were priests and Levites; but any other Israelite might be admitted into it, provided he was of a good and honest family, and unblameable in his life and conversation. Their manner of fitting was in a semicircle. At the two extremities there were
(d) Num, xi. 16. ..) Deut. xxvii. 1. xxxi. 3. Josh. xxiv. 1. 31. Judges ii. 7. 2 Chron, xix. 8. Ezek, viii. I!.
(f) The term Sanhedrini, was formed.froin the Greek govédzsoy, which fignifies an afsembly of people sitting
(8) Matth. v. 21. Mark xiii. 9. xiv. 55. xv. I.. (6) Joseph. Antiq. I. xiv. 10. 17.
from thered of these matdeath. And the their nation is
two registers, who took down the votes. All matters of importance, whether ecclesiastical or civil, were brought before this tribunal ; such, for instance, wherein a whole tribe was concerned; or those that related to war, to the priests, the prophets and teachers, and even to the kings. It is an opinion generally received among the Rabbins, that about forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem, their nation had been deprived of the power of life and death. And the greatest part of authors, that have treated of these matters, do affert, that this privilege was taken from them ever since Judea was made a province of the Roman empire, that is, after the banishing of Archelaus. They ground their opinion on these words of the Jews to Pilate: It is not lasuful for us to put any mea to death (i). But whoever considers the state of the Jewish nation, and the authority of the Sanhedrim at that time, will find much reason to doubt, whether the Jews had then loft that right. So that another sense is to be put upon this passage, than what at first sight it seems to import, as is observed in the note on that place. 1. From these words of Pilate to the Jews, Take ye hiin, and judge him according to your law (2), it may justly be inferred, that they could dispose of the life of Jeius Christ, there being no manner of ground for supposing this saying of Pilate's to be an irony. 2. Pilate found himself at a loss how to pass sentence of death upon a person in whom he found no fault at all, elpecially with respect to the Romans; and that in a case he had no notion of. It was not the custom of the Romans to deprive any country of its ancient laws and privileges, when they reduced it to a province. And Josephus tells (1) us, that the Roman fenate and emperors gave the Jews full liberty of enjoying their's, as before. If so, it is probable that they would have deprived them of one of the chiefest, the power of condemning a blafphemer or transgressor of the law to death? 3. There are some instances which undeniably prove, that the Jews had stül the power of life and death. In the fifth chapter of the Acts we see their great council consulting how they might put the Apostles to death; and perhaps they would have put their wicked purposes in execution, had they not been dissuaded from it by Gamaliel (m). The stoning of St. Stephen was nothing like those riotous and disorderly proceedings, which the Jews were wont to call judgments of zeal, as fome writers have imagined. All is done here in a regular and legal manner, though with a great deal of rage and fierceness. St. Stephen is brought before the council or Sanhedrim (*). False witnesses are set up to accuse him of blafphemy (n). He makes a long fpeech to vindicate himself (C); but not being after all thought innocent, he is condemned to be stoned, according to the law. And lastly, his execution is performed according to all the rules observed upon the like occasion. The witnetes, according to custom, cast the first stones at him, and lay their garments at Saul's feet (P). That the Jews had still power of life and death, is
(i) John xviii. 31. (k) John xviii. 31. Sce Bynæus de Morte Christi, l. 3. (1) Joseph. contra Appion. p. 1065. Et de Bello Jud. 1. i. chap. 17. (m) Aas v. 33. 34. *) Deut. xvii. 7. (n) Acts vi. 11. -(0) Acts vii.
(P) Acts xxii, 20.
a farther Felix, Felidition, upooblafphem, which in
further evident from what St. Paul fays before the council of the Jews (9), that he persecuted the Christians unto death, and had received letters from the elders (or Sanhedrim) to bring them which were at Damascus bound unto Jerusalem to be punished. We do not find that the Roman magifrates were wont to trouble themselves with causes of this nature : Pilate avoided, as much as possible, condemning Jesus CHRIST, and was brought to it at last purely out of fear of drawing upon himself the emperor's difpleasure, because the Jews made treason their pretence of accusing him. The same thing is manifest from what Tertullus the orator of the Sanhedrim alledged against St. Paul, before Felix, procurator of Judea (r). We took Paul, faith he, and would have judged himn according to our law. But the chief captain Lysas came uporz 15, and with great violence took him away out of our hands. Which that officer urdoubtedly did, because to the charge of blafphemy and of profaning the temple, they joined that of feditiori, upon which last account he made his appearance before Felix, Feftus, and Agrippa. His appealing to the emperor is a farther proof that the Sanhedrim had the power of condemning him to death. We may pass the same judgment upon the motion Feftus made to him of going to Jerusalem, there to be judged (s), because the Sanhedrim could not exercise their jurisdiction any where else. From all the particulars we may juftly conclude, that the Jews had still the power of life and death; but that this privilege was confined to crimes committed against their law, and depended upon the governor's will and pleasure. Which is evident from the instance of the high-priest Ananus, who was deposed for having convened the Sanhedrim, and put St. James to death without the consent, and in the absence of Albinus, who succeeded Feftus in the government of Judea (t).
The judges of Israel were wont formerly to meet at the door of the tabernacle (11). Afterwards an apartment adjoining to the court of the priests was fet apart for that use (*). It was unlawful to judge capital causes out of that place. The Thalmudists relate, that about forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem, i. e. about the thirtieth of Christ, the Jewish Sanhedrim removed from that place into another, which was close to the Mount of the temple. The reason they give for it, is, that there were then such vast swarms of thieves and murderers in Judea, that it was impoflible to put them all to death; both because they were very numerous, and because they were often rescued out of the hands of justice by the people, or the Roman governors. So that the Sanhedrim thought fit to forsake that place, where the extreme iniquity of the times would not suffer them to mafiict due punishments on criminals; fancying themselves no longer bound to administer justice, if they forfook the place that was appointed for it. And perhaps when the Jews told Pilate that it was not lawful for them to put any man to death, they meant only, either that their power was considerably lessened in this respect,
(9) Ibid. ver. 4, s. (r) Acts xxiv. 6, 7. (s) Acts xxv. 9. (1) Joseph. Antig. 1. xx. 8.
(u) Numb. xi. 24. (*) It was called ihe chamber Gazith, or of freeitone.
the whole authority being lodged in the Roman governors (w); or else that they did not now afsemble in the place set apart for taking cognizance of capital crimes. The Sanhedrim was afterwards removed into the city, and from thence to several places out of Jerusalem. These frequent removals reduced, by degrees, its power and authority to nothing.
Before the birth of our Saviour, two very famous Rabbins had been presidents of the Sanhedrim, viz. Hillel and Schammai, who entertained very different notions upon several subjects, and particularly upon the point of divorce. This gave occasion to the question the Pharisees put to Jesus Christ upon that head (x). Before Schammai, Hillel had Menahem for his affociate in the prelidency of the Sanhedrim. But the latter forfook afterwards that honourable post, to join himself, with a great number of his disciples, to the party of Herod Antipas, who promoted the levying of taxes, for the use of the Roman emperors, with all his might. There, in all probability, are the Herodians, of whom men. tion is made in the gospel, as we have observed on Matth. xxii. 16. To Hillel succeeded Simeon his son, who is supposed to have been the same as took Jesus Christ up in his arms ( ), and publickly acknowledged him to be the Meffiah. If so, the Jewish Sanhedrim had for president a person that was entirely difposed to embrace Christianity. Gamaliel, the son and successor of Simeon; seems also not to have been far from the kingdom of heaven (3).
Of the Jewilh Prophets and Dolors.
foretel things to delivered, by miracles of their a
T HE business of the prophets was to reveal the will Of the prophets.
I of God to mankind, to teach and reprove, to foretel things to come, and, upon occasion, to confirm religion and the prophecies they delivered, by miracles, which were termed ligns, because they were plain and manisest proofs of their divine million. Jews and Christians unanimously agree, that Malachi was the last of the prophets properly so called. It is observable, that so long as there were prophets among the Jews, there arose no fects or herebes among them, though they often fell into id latry. The reason of it is, that the prophets learning God's will immediately from himielf, there was no medium; the people muft either obey the prophets, and receive their interpretations of the lat', or no longer acknowledge that God who inspired them. But when the law of God came to be explained by weak and fallible men, who feldom agreed in their opinions, several litis and religious parties unavoidably sprung up.
(74) 1of. Ant. xviii. 1. (3) Luke ii. 28.
(3) Matthi. xix. 3.