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by Wayne Blank
Jewish tradition holds that the Sanhedrin was established with the 70 elders that were appointed by God through Moses (Numbers 11:16), while the Israelites were on their Wilderness Journey between Egypt and the Promised Land, about two years after the Exodus (Numbers 10:11). There is no record that the council operated then as it did in apostolic times however. For this reason, some believe that the Sanhedrin actually began some time during the three or four centuries Between The Testaments, when the land of Israel was under the Syrian kings in the time of The Maccabees.
By the time of Jesus Christ, the Sanhedrin had great authority, while still under Roman rule (see Ancient Empires - Rome). The council consisted of 71 members, including both Pharisees and Sadducees, presided over by the chief priest.
The Sanhedrin were bitter opponents of Jesus Christ. They were responsible for His arrest, "trial," and death sentence (see The Fateful Night).
The council's opposition to the early Christian church was no less intense.
The greatest irony, and tragedy, of the Sanhedrin is that they were devout men who truly sought to obey God - but had become spiritually blinded by their own ambitions and traditions.
Fact Finder: What did Jesus Christ have to say about the religious leaders who opposed Him?