Within the context of Judaism prior to the birth of Christ, the Sanhedrin was a court of justice and at the same time a legislative body that passed laws. However, its main mission consisted of interpreting the laws with reference to the sacred book of the Jews, the Torah . The Hebrew term Sanhedrin literally means to sit together or council.
This institution represented the highest authority of the Jewish people in the time of Pontius Pilate during the administration of Rome in the territory of Judea. The Roman authorities limited the power of this body, so that certain convictions had to be upheld by the Roman governor.
The Sanhedrin consisted of seventy-one people, thus remembering the seventy elders who supported Moses and himself
Its members came from the priestly nobility and the most distinguished families (the high priests were Sadducees and the learned were Pharisees for the most part). This institution was formed in century V or IV a. C during Persian domination. It should be noted that the appointment of judges in the Hebrew tradition is mandated in the book of Exodus. This institution ceased to exist in the fourth century d. Ç.
In century I a. C Judea was ruled by Herod the Great, who decided to kill half the members of the Sanhedrin, as his representatives reminded them of the limits of the sovereign’s power (the Roman monarch imposed certain more submissive members and from then on this body weakened considerably) .
Jesus of Nazareth appeared before the council of Sanhedrin
The teachings of Jesus of Nazareth generated an intense debate among the Jews and, for this reason, he was brought before the court of Sanhedrin to explain his doctrine. The testimonies that were presented against Jesus were contradictory and for this reason the high priest (Caiaphas) asked Him if he was really the authentic Christ, the true Messiah. Jesus responded in the affirmative and such an answer was considered blasphemy.
Jesus’ meeting before the members of the Jewish Supreme Court was not a trial in the strict sense, but it is considered a key episode in understanding the charges that ultimately sentenced him to crucifixion. In this sense, he was accused of desecrating the Temple in Jerusalem and not complying with Jewish law. After a brief period of initial vacillation, the Roman governor in Judea (Pontius Pilate) accepted that Jesus be crucified.
In addition to the religious context of Judaism
The word Sanhedrin is also used in the context of politics to refer to small power groups that come together to make relevant decisions. In the political sphere, the Hebrew term is used to refer to a council of experts who have the ability to make important decisions.