A “Peristyle” house was popular in the Roman era. These houses would have an outer entrance and then you would walk through a hall. You could go right or left into other areas of the house. If you went straight ahead you would come to a courtyard with columns. Only one of these “peristyle” houses have been found in Jerusalem so far, and it is the one near the Burnt House. It is believed that the Peristyle House with the adjoining this “Burnt House” was the home of Caiaphas (Katros). The house of Caiaphas described in the Scriptures matches this house and it is in the area where Caiaphas lived.
How close to the Peristyle House to the Palatial Mansion? It is right next door and you could throw a rock to it. So, the bigger Palatial Mansion probably belonged to Annas and the Peristyle House belonged to Caiaphas. Both of these houses are in the Priestly Quarter of Jerusalem in the first century. The reception room in the Palatial Mansion is where they brought Yeshua for his trial, at least at first. He was later led away to the house of Caiaphas (Matt 26.57). The courtyard of the Peristyle House was where Peter was warming himself by the fire and where he denied him. Let’s cover another aspect of the plot to kill Yeshua (Matt 26.4). They assembled and waited in the courtyard of Caiaphas, in what we call the Peristyle House.
The make-up of the Sanhedrin was diverse and from different “parties” depending on their strength. The Mishneh Torah by Maimonides says that only priests, Levites and scholars who can marry the daughter of a priest were eligible to be on the Sanhedrin. Priests and Levites always had to be part of the Sanhedrin, based on Deut 17.8-13. However, others could also be involved. The High Priest will always be a part of the Sanhedrin, just as the king during the kingdom days was the head (Nasi) of the Sanhedrin. He couldn’t vote or be charged with anything (immunity). A minor Sanhedrin (a court of 23 judges) would hold sessions from from the morning Tamid to the sixth hour of the day. The Sanhedrin Gedolah (71 judges) had sessions from the morning Tamid to the afternoon Tamid. On Sabbaths, festival eves and festivals, they would not hold sessions. You needed a quorum of twenty-three judges with strict rules. We will come back to where they could meet.
We know Priests and Levites will be there, but we don’t know what the breakdown was. It fluctuated, but we know from about the time Yeshua was born until after Yeshua, the majority membership was Sadducees. Not all priests were Sadducees, but many were. There are two other groups that will be important for us to know, and these were Pharisees, divided into two main groups called Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai. We have recorded in the Talmud over three hundred disagreements between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai. When Yeshua was arguing with the Pharisees, he was engaged in the classic arguments that existed between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai. In most cases, Yeshua sided with Beit Hillel, There was not only disagreement between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai, but Hillel was the Nasi (president/spokesman) of the Sanhedrin. The Av Beit Din (vice-president) was a man named Menachem from Beit Hillel during the early days of Hillel’s tenure as Nasi.
There will be a meeting that is recorded in the Tamud and other writings that will take place at the home of a Zealot. This meeting was called to help heal some of the disagreements between Beit Hillel and Shammai. This meeting comes about, but some members of Beit Shammai killed some of the members of Beit Hillel. As a result, Menachem resigned and Shammai begins to fill the office of Av Beit Din of the Sanhedrin and he remains till 30 AD, the year Yeshua died. Yeshua and Shammai knew of each other. We will have much more on this meeting later.
In Matt 26.3, it says the “elders of the people” and it usually means members of the Sanhedrin. However, the trial of Yeshua will not be an official function of the Sanhedrin like most people think. It was done in the private home of Annas and Caiaphas, and not where the Sanhedrin met. They were not allowed to meet in homes, but at certain places. It was done at night and not during the normal hours of the Sanhedrin. They had specified times to meet. So, what we have is this. Yeshua has enemies and he has been “burning the ears” of Beit Shammai for a long time. He also was against the High Priestly families who were corrupt, like the families of Annas and Caiaphas. What we have being called together for the trial of Yeshua is a “kangaroo court” but it is not the Sanhedrin.
In the New King James Version of Matt 26.57, there is a sub-heading. Now, these sun-headings were never a part of Scripture. The sub-headings come from the Publisher of the version. This sub-heading says “Jesus before the Sanhedrin.” So, when people teach about the Sanhedrin 2000 years later, many believe the Sanhedrin killed Yeshua according to their Bible, but they really didn’t (The New American Standard Bible does not say this). Gamaliel (Paul’s teacher) was the Nasi of the Sanhedrin, starting in 20 AD. He was from Beit Hillel and Hillel’s grandson. We read about when he advised to wait and see about this messianic movement about Yeshua. If it is not from God, it will fall way. If it is from God, then to resist it would mean they were fighting against God. For the most part, Beit Hillel followed that advice. Paul will come from Beit Hillel, but by the time he came along much had happened. We will cover Paul and his relationship with believers in other teachings on the Torah and New Testament Foundations.
When people teach about the trial of Yeshua, much of the information we are bringing out is not taught, or even known by them. What do we know so far, based on Matt 26.1-4? We have the Palatial Mansion, the Peristyle House and the Burnt House right next to each other in the area where the priests lived in Jerusalem. The Peristyle House is believed to be the house of Caiaphas (Katros) and the Palatial Mansion is believed to be the house of Annas (Chanan). The Peristyle House meets the description in Scripture because Caiaphas had a “peristyle” house because it had an open courtyard with columns around it and it was the only one ever found in Jerusalem. They believe these Herodian Houses were used by high ranking priests, based on decor and quality, and whoever loved there was wealthy. Immersion baths called “mikva’ot” were also prevalent in these houses.
The Peristyle House extended out over the Burnt House where they found a weight with “Bar Katros” on it, the name of Caiaphas. David Flusser has already established that the name “Katros” or “Kathros” is Caiaphas. That name is right below the name “Chanan” in a passage from the Talmud, Pesachim 57a, where it says, “Woe is me on account of the House of Boethus, woe is me on account of their rods. Woe is me through the House of Chanan (Annas) through their calumnies. Woe is me through the House of Katros (Caiaphas) and through their pens. Woe is me on account of the House of Ishmael Ben Piakhi and their fists, for they were all High Priests, their sons were the Treasurers, their son-in law were the chamberlains (trustees), and their servants would beat us with rods.”
This passage is also in the Tosefta, Menachot 13.21. They (Annas and Caiaphas) are meeting in Matt 26.1-4 to plot against Yeshua, and they are in the house of Caiaphas, the Peristyle House that was found (26.3). There was Annas, Caiaphas, high Temple officials related to his family (based on the Talmud, Pesachim 57a; Tosefta, Menachot 13.21) and there were “elders” from the Sanhedrin, probably from Beit Shammai because Yeshua has been hammering them for a long time, and then some Sadducees, and possibly some Zealots. We will see why these groups were in alliance later in this teaching.
As we have mentioned before, Matt 26.57 says in a sub-heading in the New King James Version, “Jesus before the Sanhedrin.” This cannot be the Sanhedrin because the Mishnah has a section called “Sanhedrin” and in it we are given all the rules concerning when and where they can meet. For instance, the Sanhedrin Gedolah (Great Sanhedrin) can only meet during daylight hours, and only in the Lishkat Ha Gazit (Chamber of Hewn Stone), between the hours of 9 am to 3 pm. This court consisted of 71 judges. The Sanhedrin Kattanah (minor Sanhedrin) could go two hours longer. They met right outside the Eastern Gate to the Ezrat Nashim (Court off the Women), and this court consisted of 23 judges. The Beit Din Gedolah (the Great Beit Din) had 3 judges, and it met at the southern steps of the Temple. The actual building where they met has been found. At the trial of Yeshua, they met in the dark (Matt 26.34).
In Part 3, we will pick up here. By the time we get done with this study on the Pharisees, Sadducees and Yeshua, you will see many passages in the New Testament in a new and better light.