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Shocking news: Jewish Sanhedrin appoints a High Priest


The Temple Mount Photo: Jordan Pickett/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Temple Mount Photo: Jordan Pickett/Flickr/Creative Commons

Breaking Israel News reports that Israel’s “Nascent Sanhedrin” has just appointed a high priest.

His name is Rabbi Baruch Kahane, a prominent Jewish scholar knowledgeable in Jewish sacrifices.

The announcement was a bit surprising considering there is no Jewish Temple. But a spokesperson for the ‘Nascent Sanhedrin’ explained that they wanted to have a High Priest in place in case there is a sudden change in policy on the Temple Mount.

The ‘Nascent Sanhedrin‘ also called the developing Sanhedrin was set up in Israel in 2004. It is considered a national court of Jewish Law. Over the last 500 years, there have been six failed attempts to establish a Sanhedrin. This is the most successful so far.

The major obstacle to constructing a Temple is that the Temple Mount with its Al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock is controlled by the Muslims.

Because of this, the Israeli government limits Jewish access to the site and forbids prayer on the Temple Mount. When Jews visit they are not allowed to pray including bowing their heads which could be construed as praying.

According to Rabbi Kahanne it is politics that is preventing sacrifices on the Temple Mount and since that could change suddenly, they are making advance preparations.

He added that if the government gave Jews full access, it would only take a week to train priests on how to perform the sacrifices and to put up a temporary structure to serve as a temple until a permanent one could be built.

The Temple Institute has already created the necessary temple utensils including a massive altar with a ramp leading up to its top. Built according to Biblical instruction, it was constructed so it could be easily dismantled and moved.

The Sanhedrin or council as it’s sometimes called is the Jewish court that played a critical role in Christ’s crucifixion. Initially set up in 200 BC, it was made up of the High Priest and 70 members that included elders and scribes and former High Priests.

In Jesus day, there were two major political organizations — the Sadducees and the Pharisees — represented on the Sanhedrin. The Sadducees were the majority on the Sanhedrin, but the Pharisees was the larger of the two organizations and had considerable sway.

When Christ raised Lazarus from the dead, the council was convened at the insistence of the Pharisees who wanted to discuss the incident (John 11:47-48).

Though the Sanhedrin was both a religious and criminal court, it did not have authority to execute a person in Jesus’ day. Only the Romans could do that.

We see a reference to this in John’s Gospel:

31 So Pilate said to them, “Take Him yourselves, and judge Him according to your law.” The Jews said to him, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death,” (John 18:31 NASV)

So when the Sanhedrin found Jesus guilty of blasphemy, which according to the council warranted the death penalty, it had to turn Christ over to the Romans for execution. Pilate initially found no fault with Jesus, but he went ahead with the execution to keep the peace.

Though the Sanhedrin played a major role in Christ’s execution, not all agreed with the council’s decision.

Two of its members — “Nicodemus” and “Joseph of Arimathea” — were both followers of Christ and played a key role at His crucifixion.

Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; (John 3:1 NASV)

In this brief description of Nicodemus we see that he was a pharisee and the phrase “ruler of the Jews”  indicates he was part of the Sanhedrin. He came to Jesus at night, probably to keep his visit secret.

Joseph Arimathea, a wealthy man, was also a follower of Jesus and part of the Sanhedrin. Mark refers to him as a prominent member of the Council:

42 When evening had already come, because it was the preparation day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. (Mark 15:42-43 NASV)

So when an important member of the Sanhedrin showed up asking Pilate for Jesus’ body after He died, Pilate agreed.

The Apostle John adds that Joseph of Arimathea was a secret follower of Christ (John 19:38). Perhaps unaware of his allegiance to Jesus, the Sanhedrin may have even given Joseph permission to dispose of Christ’s body.

Having received permission from Pilate, Joseph asked Nicodemus, a fellow-member of the Sanhedrin, to help take Christ’s body down from the cross (John 19:38-40).

In Rome’s eyes, this was simply two Jewish government officials disposing of a criminal’s body.

Joseph and Nicodemus bound Christ’s body in a linen cloth and spices that they had purchased and gave the Lord’s body to the disciples who buried him in the tomb supplied by Joseph of Arimathea.

This tomb fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy about Christ’s death:

His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. (Isaiah 53:9 NASV)

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