Six Illegal Trials

The prophecy of Isaiah, 53:8a, describes the Messiah as convicted and sentenced to death, in a callous rush to judgment. The details of these six trials that Jesus endured are overwhelming, compelling, and sufficiently detailed; so that the entire narrative of Jesus condemnation and crucifixion, are full proven by the thoroughness of testimony given to us by the New Testament writers.

Isaiah 53:8a He was taken from prison and from judgment

New Testament Fulfillment:

Matthew 26:47-50 And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him.” Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him. But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him.

A Calculated Rush to Judgment

The idea behind Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah; taken from prison, is that He will not be put into prison. From the Hebrew word: Niph`al, He was excluded from a fair trial.[1] This is language that indicates the unjust treatment that the Messiah will receive at the hands of evil men. Jesus was denied the equitable and due process of a fair trial; conducted in a proper manner, according to the rules of justice. He was taken from Judgment by unjust means, then put to death—without a valid legal procedure or a justifiable reason for His execution.

This portion of Isaiah’s prophecy deals with the unjust acts that condemned the Messiah to death. Jesus committed nothing worthy of death; in fact He had committed no crime that would even warrant His arrest. It is clear that the false charges, false witnesses, and the unjust arrest, were all orchestrated by satan in his attempt to destroy Jesus.

Unknown to anyone at the time, was that fact that the events which occurred the night of Jesus’ arrest, the illegal trials, and His subsequent death; were all a fulfillment of many Old Testament prophecies.

Although it was the action of evil men, directed by the work of satan; all of the events that led to Jesus’ death were under the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God. It was by Jesus’ crucifixion that God could secure the salvation of all people who would believe-in, and receive Him as their Savior.

Jesus is taken from the Praetorium at the Fortress Antonia, to Pontius Pilate.

There were three primary charges against Jesus. All of these were false:[2]

1. Jesus perverted the nation of Israel.
2. He opposed paying taxes to Caesar.
3. Jesus claimed to be a king, which was sedition and rebellion against Roman authority. This was the most serious crime that Jesus was accused of, as far as the Roman Government was concerned.

John 19:1-5 So then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him. And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe. Then they said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck Him with their hands. Pilate then went out again, and said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him.” Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, “Behold the Man!”

Upon Pilate’s examination of Jesus, he determined that He had committed no crime worthy of death. Instead, he orders Jesus to be scourged. See the chapter: Scourged

The purpose of the scourge was to exact a confession from the accused, before being put to death. Not that a confession would change the final disposition of the condemned, but for the purpose of setting an example for the crowd who were witnessing the judgment of a convicted criminal. If the condemned would confess their crimes early in the scourging, the Captain of the Roman guard might limit the number of lashes, slightly. Literally, everything that was committed against a criminal in punishment was for the purpose of preventing others from committing the same crime, themselves.

According to Eusebius, the Christians who were martyred at Smyrna in 155 A.D, had their bodies torn to ribbons with their inner muscles and veins exposed. In some cases, the intestines of those who were scourged would be in view.

“For they say that the bystanders were struck with amazement when they saw them lacerated with scourges even to the innermost veins and arteries, so that the hidden inward parts of the body, both their bowels and their members, were exposed to view…”[3]

The punishment of the guilty was intended to be the ultimate deterrent. A vividly bloodied criminal who was publicly put to death before crowds of people, might prevent others from going down the same path. Those who would see the sentence of death being carried out, might think again before committing the crime they were considering. It is certain that every person who watched a man die by crucifixion would leave the scene with a graphic reminder of what the consequences of disobeying the law would mean to them personally, should they commit the same act.

If the criminal should confess their crimes at the beginning of the lashes from the guard—throwing the whip to the criminal’s back, they might be spared further suffering or even death. Very often, the obstinate criminal who would not confess their crimes; would be forced to endure all 40 lashes upon their body and would perish as a result of the massive tissue damage and extreme blood loss.

Because Jesus had committed no crime and therefore had nothing to confess; each progressive lash laid upon his body became harder and tore deeper into His flesh. As no confession ever came from Jesus lips, he endured 39 of the 40 lashed prescribed. The Jews desiring to be seen as merciful, often ceased the lashing at 39 instead of the prescribed 40.

The Six Trials of Jesus

A record of antiquity that remains in the archives of the Jews today, is the arrest and trial of the zealot named Jesus of Nazareth. The Talmud repeatedly makes reference to Jesus, either directly, or by inference—through familiar facts that correspond to the New Testament Gospels. In the text of: “Revealed at Jerusalem,” there are various references to the arrest, condemnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Before Jesus was condemned to die on a Roman cross, He endured six trials; beginning shortly after His arrest at the Garden of Gethsemane, and continuing throughout that night. When we examine the procedures of these trials, we discover that very few, if any, of the required procedures that must be followed during a capital crime, were observed.

According to Daniel chapter 9, Jesus would be killed on April 14, 32 A.D., at 3:00 in the afternoon.[4] See the chapter: Arrival of the Messiah.

There were six trials that were conducted the night before Jesus was crucified. All of these proceedings were illegal: based upon the rule of law in effect at the time these events took place.

1. Before Annas (Matthew 18:12-14)
2. Before Caiaphas (Matthew 18:19-24)
3. Before the Sanhedrin (Matthew 27:1-2)
4. Before Pilate (Matthew 18:28-38)
5. Before Herod (Luke 23:6-11)
6. Before Pilate (Luke 18:39-19:16)

There have been many books written on this subject; and therefore, the number of possible laws that were violated by the Sanhedrin in condemning Jesus to death also varies from 8 to 21. In this chapter, I will examine just 12 points of the illegal indictment of Jesus, showing how the laws of the Sanhedrin were ignored, making it possible to put Jesus to death, quickly.[5]

Two Old Testament prophecies, which describe the Messiah as unjustly accused, and condemned by false testimony and improper procedure, are:

One: The Messiah will be arrested and confined by evil men who will commit unjust legal action against Him.

He was taken from prison and from judgment —Isaiah 53:8a[6]

Two: The Messiah’s trial will be unjust, with false testimony and improper procedure.

…And who will declare His generation? —Isaiah 53:8b[7]

Today in our courts of justice in America, a person is considered innocent until he is proven guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, from the beginning of the trial, the presumption of innocence must continue throughout the entire trial. According to the law, the accused is afforded a fair and just legal process whereby certain procedural rules must be followed. If any of these rules are violated, a legal indictment cannot be brought against the accused, and a trial may not proceed.

If reasonable doubt persists after the presentation of all of the evidence and all witnesses have testified, then the court must construe doubt in favor of the defendant and find them “not guilty.”

The Sanhedrin in Israel was the High Court of Justice for the Jews. The membership of this tribunal was said to be as many as 71 or a few as 23.[8] The minimum number that was permitted was 10.[9] Each member sat in judgement over each case that was brought before them for a decision.

Above the Sanhedrin itself was the “Great Sanhedrin.” Any case appealed to their judgement was without appeal upon their final decision. The Great Sanhedrin maintained the right of final judgement in all civil, criminal, political, social, and religious matters.

It Was To The Sanhedrin That Jesus Was Brought For Judgement.

The matter before the court was whether Jesus of Nazareth was culpable in the crime of blasphemy, which carried the penalty of death—should He be found guilty of committing this act.

The laws of Israel were formulated from the laws of Moses as well as the Talmud, which contained the traditions and the interpretations of the teachers of the law, the Rabbis.

Very few of the public were educated in the laws from the Talmud, as these many traditions of the elders were kept private between the members. The Talmud itself consisted of more than 400 volumes. In order to correctly interpret these many laws and traditions, expertise was required.

The Sanhedrin would consider the accusation of Blasphemy, while the criminal indictment against the government of Rome was for treason. In order for a trial to be proper, an indictment must be formalized in the correct manner. Four rules must be followed:[10]

1. Certainty in the indictment
2. Publicity in the discussion
3. Full freedom granted to the accused
4. Assurance against all danger of errors of testimony

As we review just twelve points of the indictment, we will see clearly that many of the laws set forth by the Sanhedrin, were violated, therefore, Jesus should have been released immediately.

First Illegal Procedure

No part of the proceeding could occur during the evening.[11]

This became a huge problem for the court that was to hear the trial of Jesus, because He was arrested and tried at night, which was illegal. By this fact alone, the entire case against Jesus should have been thrown out due to illegal procedure.

“A capital offense must be tried during the day and suspended at night.”[12] -Mishna.

“Criminal cases can be acted upon by the various courts during the daytime only.”[13] -Mendelsohn

Second Illegal Procedure

When Jesus was brought before Caiaphas, He was judged by a solitary agent. This was illegal according to the Mishna.

“Be not a sole judge, for their is no sold judge but One”.[14]

A further definition of this fact: Caiaphas, as the High Priest, was not allowed to examine anyone who has been accused of a capital crime—by himself. He must be accompanied by other members of the Grand Sanhedrin.

“An accused man must never be subjected to private or secret examination, let in his perplexity, he furnish damaging testimony against himself.”[15]

Jesus was questioned privately before His trial even began. The Apostle John records the fact that the High Priest questioned Jesus about the details of His crimes before the trial began. This was illegal.

The high priest then asked Jesus about His disciples and His doctrine. —John 18:19

Third Illegal Procedure

In the case of Jesus being accused of Blasphemy, the Sanhedrin originated the charges against Him. According to Jewish law, this is not allowed:

“The Sanhedrin could not originate charges; it could only investigate those brought before it”[16]

According to the law, the basis for all charges against an accused comes from the testimony of at least two witnesses. Unless these witnesses agreed in their testimony and were willing to testify publicly, no indictment could be formulated, and no charges made.

“The only prosecutors were the witnesses in the crime. The witnesses constituted the charge. There was no formal indictment until these witnesses spoke in the public assembly. When they spoke, and the evidence of two agreed together, it formed the legal charge, libel, or indictment.” [17]

The form of indictment made against Jesus was illegal because it did not meet any of the requirements set forth by the law. The indictment must define the specific acts that were committed in the crime. None of these requirements were met in Jesus’ case.

Fourth Illegal Procedure

According to the Talmud, no session of any court could transpire before the morning offering. In the case of Jesus; the Sanhedrin convened before the morning offering, making the proceedings illegal.

“The Sanhedrin was to set from the close of the morning sacrifice to the time of the evening sacrifice.” [18] -Mendelsohn

“No session of the court could take place before the offering of the morning sacrifice.”[19] -M.M. Lemann

“The morning sacrifice is offered at the dawn of day. The Sanhedrin is not to assembly until the hour after that time.”[20] -The Mishna

Fifth Illegal Procedure

Jewish law required that no legal proceeding should be conducted on the day before the Sabbath; the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread, or the eve of Passover. Jesus’ trial was conducted in violation of all three of these laws.

“Court must not be held on the Sabbath, or any holy day.”[21] -Betza

“They shall not judge on the eve of the Sabbath, nor on that of any festival”[22] -The Mishna

“No court of justice in Israel was permitted to hold sessions on the Sabbath or any of the seven Biblical holidays. In cases of capital crime, no trial could be commenced on Friday or the day previous to any holiday, because it was not lawful either to adjourn such cases longer than over night, or to continue them on the Sabbath or holiday.”[23] -Rabbi Wise

Sixth Illegal Procedure

The entire trial of Jesus for a capital crime, which resulted in His death by crucifixion; took just 24 hours. Beginning with three illegal trials at night before Annas, Caiaphas, and the Sanhedrin, and continuing with the trial before Pilate that took place early in the morning; no allowance was made for Jesus to be represented by a lawyer. There was also no notification made to any of His friends who could have testified in His favor.

“A criminal case resulting in the acquittal of the accused may terminate the same day on which it began. But if a sentence of death is to be pronounced, it cannot be conducted before the following day.”[24] -Mishna

According to Jewish law, Jesus could be accused on the first day; but if He should be found guilty and condemned to death, He could not be executed until the following day. The leaders of Israel wanted a quick trial and execution of Jesus, before any of His disciples, friends, or followers had a chance to defend Him and thereby delay or remove the chance of His conviction and execution.

Seventh Illegal Procedure

An interesting requirement of the Sanhedrin was that at least one judge, out of the minimum required of at lest 10,[25] had to stand to defend the accused. If all of the judges voted unanimously to condemn Jesus, the law stated that they must grant an acquittal of all charges.

“A simultaneous and unanimous verdict of guilt rendered on the day of the trial has the effect of an acquittal.” [26] -Mendelsohn

“If none of the judges defend the culprit, i.e. all pronounce him guilty, having no defender in the court, the verdict guilty was invalid and the sentence of death could not be executed.”[27] -Rabbi Wise

Eighth Illegal Procedure

According to the law, the accused cannot be compelled to incriminate himself.

Today in the United States, a person accused of a crime is protected from self-incrimination by the 5th amendment to the constitution. A similar law was in existence at the time that the High Priest questioned Jesus. It was illegal to compel Jesus to incriminate Himself. The Jews violated this law and then convicted Him because He would not answer.

“No one can bring an accusation against himself. Should a man make confession of guilt before a legally constituted tribunal, such confession is not to be said against him unless properly attested by two witnesses.”[28] -Maimonides

“No attempt can be made to lead a man on to self-incrimination. Moreover, a voluntary confession on his part is not admitted in evidence, and therefore, not competent to convict him, unless a legal number of witnesses minutely corroborate his self-accusation.”[29] -Mendelsohn

It has been my personal opinion that when Jesus refused to answer the High Priest and Pilate, He had done so because He was representing you and I at the trial for our sins. Because we are guilty and can offer no defense for our actions, Jesus said nothing. As we examine Jesus’ silence from a legal standpoint, we may also conjecture that Jesus did not answer the High Priest because He was aware of the law that He was not required to answer to incriminate Himself.

And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, saying, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” —Mark 14:60

Isaiah 53:7 predicts that the Messiah will remain silent before His accusers.

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth… —Isaiah 53:7

The High Priest continues to press Jesus for an answer. Whatever Jesus said from that point, should have been inadmissible because the very judge who was to impartially examine the evidence, had-himself; pressured Jesus to answer him.

But He kept silent and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” —Mark 14:61-62

The Sanhedrin eventually condemns Jesus to death on evidence that was obtained illegally and therefore inadmissible.

Jesus was originally charged with sedition (treason) before the Roman government. This charge was later found unsubstantiated by Pilate.

Then the whole multitude of them arose and led Him to Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King. —Luke 23:1-12

The Jews then changed their indictment to Blasphemy, seeking to convict Jesus based on their own laws. The problem with this change of venue for the Sanhedrin, resided in the fact that the Roman government had taken away the right of the Jews to condemn a man to death by their own laws. In reality, all of the laws of the Sanhedrin were null and void from a true legal perspective, based on the loss of their authority being a conquered nation. See the chapter: Shiloh

Though the Sanhedrin had no real authority, and Caiaphas had sought diligently to force Jesus to incriminate Himself illegally, the procedure continued.

Now the chief priests and all the council sought testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none. For many bore false witness against Him, but their testimonies did not agree. Then some rose up and bore false witness against Him, saying, “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.’ ” But not even then did their testimony agree. —Mark 14:55-59

Ninth Illegal Procedure

At least two witnesses were required—who both agreed in their testimony, before a person could be convicted of a capital crime.

“One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.”[30]

The Sanhedrin was not able to find the two who were required to convict Jesus. Without credible testimony from at least two witnesses who agreed, there was no basis for a trial or a conviction.

Psalms 27:12, predicts that the Messiah will be convicted by false testimony:

Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries; For false witnesses have risen against me, And such as breathe out violence. —Psalms 27:12

The Trial Of Jesus Before Pilate

Jesus is returned to Pilate who asks the leaders of the Sanhedrin to define what their accusations were.

Pilate then went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?” They answered and said to him, “If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.” —John 18:29-30

Pilate requested a specific charge that they had brought against Jesus. They were reluctant to answer, knowing that any violation against their laws would require Jesus to be tried under the Sanhedrin; which had no authority to execute Jesus. Not having found any witnesses nor credible evidence to convict Jesus, the Jews were hoping that a conviction could be found under Roman law.

Then Pilate said to them, “You take Him and judge Him according to your law.” Therefore the Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death…” —John 18:31

Because the Roman government had taken away the right of the Jews to put a man to death, they were now faced with a new dilemma: How could they legally put Jesus to death? Pilate, learning that the Jews believed Jesus to be so dangerous that He was worthy of death, seeks to question Jesus further.

Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?” —John 18:33-35

Pilate was not specific in His question, whether he wanted to know personally if Jesus was the promised Messiah, or if he was asking if Jesus’ purpose was to set up His kingdom at that time. Jesus gives an answer that would satisfy both questions.

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” —John 18:36

In other words: “I am not here to overthrow the Roman government, as you can tell from those who follow me. They have not risen up to defend me; therefore, I am no threat to Rome.”

Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” —John 18:37

Pilate now understands that Jesus is no threat, and this was his only concern. Pilate views Jesus as simply a harmless religious philosopher.

Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.” —John 18:38

In desperation, the leaders of the Sanhedrin turn to their last hope of killing Jesus; to a well known tradition of the Roman government: the release a prisoner on Passover. To Pilate’s surprise, the Jews do not cry out for Jesus, whom the Procurator clearly believes is harmless. The Jews demand the release of Barabbas, who is a genuine threat to Rome, and to crucify Jesus.

“But you have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover. Do you therefore want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” Then they all cried again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber. —John 18:39-40

The trial of Jesus before the Roman government should have been over at this point. Pilate had already pronounced: “I find no fault in Him at all.”

Pilate had conducted the trial before the Roman government correctly. He had acted as judge, heard the accusation against Jesus, examined Him and found Him innocent of the charges. Pilate attempted to acquit Jesus, but the Jews would not stand for this decision.

Why Pilate Conceded The Jews’ Demands:

Pilate’s reluctance to upset the Sanhedrin may have come from a previous event, in which he had been reproached and rebuked by the Emperor, after he had irritated the Jews—by placing gold shields in Herod’s Jerusalem palace, to honor Tiberius Caesar. Pilate did this, knowing that it would anger the Jews; and they responded by a great protest. Pilate would not remove the shields, so the leadership in Israel petitioned the emperor Tiberius with their grievances. Philo, a Jewish Philosopher from Alexandria, describes this event.

“Tiberius wrote to Pilate with a host of reproaches and rebukes for his audacious violation of precedent and bade him at once take down the shields and have them transferred from the capital to Caesarea.”[31]

Philo writes that Pilate became fearful that should he not remove the shields from Herod’s palace, the Jews would take further action:

“If they actually sent an embassy they would also expose the rest of his (PIlate’s) conduct as governor by stating in full the briberies, the insults, the robberies, the outrages and wanton injuries, the executions without trial constantly repeated, the ceaseless and supremely grievous cruelty”[32]

As the Jews object to Pilate’s unwillingness to condemn Jesus, he did not want to irritate the Jews once again and risk the Roman Emperor taking further action to remove Pilate from his rule. For this reason, Pilate may have assented to the demands of the leaders of the Sanhedrin—to ensure Jesus’ death.

It is certain by the account given in the gospels, that Pilate did not, himself—want to condemn Jesus—believing Him to be innocent; and perhaps true to Jesus’ claims, Pilate might have imagined that Jesus was who He claimed to be. Even Pilate’s wife had experienced a dream in which she believed that Jesus was innocent. She had apparently shared this dream with her husband, while he sat in judgement over Jesus.

While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him.” —Matthew 27:19

It is interesting that in the prophecy given by Zechariah, he predicted that three “shepherds” would be dismissed in one month in Jerusalem, as a result of their actions against the Messiah.[33]

I dismissed the three shepherds in one month. My soul loathed them, and their soul also abhorred me. —Zechariah 11:8

Caiaphas (Matt. 26:57-68)
And those who had laid hold of Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. —Matthew 26:57

Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none. —Matthew 26:59-60

Pontius Pilate (Matt. 27:11-31)
Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly. —Matthew 27:13-14

While Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him.” —Matthew 27:19

Then Pilate released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified. —Matthew 27:26

Herod (Luke 23:7-11)
When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked if the Jesus were a Galilean. And as soon as he knew that Jesus belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time. —Luke 23:6-7

Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate. —Luke 23:11

As a result of Jesus being brought before these three evil rulers, God holds them accountable for their actions that led to the death of the Messiah. Although there was no real credible evidence against Jesus that should have warranted His death by crucifixion, these three “shepherds” refused to defend Jesus or even call for a proper trial to be conducted.

Zechariah’s prophecy describes three leaders of Israel would be “dismissed” as a result of their harsh treatment of the Messiah.

Caiaphas was dismissed by the Syrian governor Lucius Vitellius, who was appointed by the Roman Government just a few years after Jesus died and rose from the dead.[34]

Pilate killed himself when he was banished from his job because of his corruption in overseeing Israel.[35]

Herod was removed by the Romans and exiled until he died.[36]

When these three condemned Jesus and did nothing to save His life; they all had their own careers and lives prematurely ended by God. This, in fulfillment of the word of God through the prophet Zechariah.

Tenth Illegal Procedure

The Sanhedrin was restricted by law as to the location where a person, who had been found guilty of a capital crime, could be sentenced to death. By allowing Pilate to order their requested sentence of death at the pavement of the Romans, this was illegal according to the Talmud.

“After leaving the hall Gazith no sentence of death can be passed upon anyone whatsoever”[37] -Talmud

“A sentence of death can be pronounced only so long as the Sanhedrin holds it’s sessions in the appointed place”[38] -Maimonides

According to the law, when there was a capital case before the Sanhedrin, they were required to pass the sentence of death, from the Temple, at the hall of “Hewn Stone.” It was illegal to sentence anyone to death from any other location.

Eleventh Illegal Procedure

The members of the Sanhedrin were clearly prejudiced against Jesus before the trial began. He had publicly exposed their hypocrisy before the people and discredited them as men seeking His death—in order to protect their positions of authority and desire for financial gain.

One of the most scathing accusations by Jesus against the scribes and the Pharisees, was the declaration that they were false teachers; who led the people away from God. On the outside, these men appeared perfect; while on the inside, their hearts served only their own personal agenda. Jesus’ entire indictment against the scribes and Pharisees is included in the text from Matthew 23:13-39.

Jesus Pronounces Eight “Woes” Upon The Religious Leaders Of Israel.

Matthew 23:13-39

1. Verse 13: Preventing people from finding salvation by false teaching.
2. Verse 14: Taking advantage of helpless people and pretending to be holy.
3. Verse 15: Leading people into damnation by failing to give them the truth.
4. Verses 16-22: Misleading by religious ritual, instead of simple worship of God.
5. Verses 23-24: Following the letter of the Law, without understanding the purpose of the law: Mercy, Justice, Faith.
6. Verses 25-26: Appearing externally righteous, while internally having a heart that is evil and corrupt.
7. Verses 27 and 28: Again, appearing to be good outwardly; while inside the heart, they were full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
8. Verses 29-37: Honoring the prophets of old by monuments, while killing them when they brought charges against the sins of their religious leaders.

Because of Jesus’ open indictment against the leaders of the Sanhedrin, they had become fearful that the people might remove them from their great positions of authority. These men had become rich because of their titles, as well as the achievement of great honor in the community. In this, we can see that the true motivation of the members of the Sanhedrin was to silence Jesus, in order to protect their careers, incomes, and status.

According to the laws of Israel, anyone who had a predisposition to this kind of prejudice should be recused from judgement against the one to whom they hold a particular bias.

“There must not be on the judicial bench either a relation, or a particular friend, or an enemy of either the accused or the accuser” [39] -Mendelsohn

Of course, none of these men removed themselves from judgement over Jesus, as the majority held a great vehemence towards Him. Though these men were clearly prejudiced against Jesus and were quite vindictive towards Him, they carried out their judgment and asked that He be put to death by crucifixion—the most brutal of all methods of death.

“Nor under any circumstances was a man known to be at enmity with the accused person permitted to occupy a position among his judges”[40] -Benny

The scriptures predicted that the Messiah would be hated for no just cause, even though He is dying for the sins of the world.

Those who hate me without a cause Are more than the hairs of my head; They are mighty who would destroy me, Being my enemies wrongfully; Though I have stolen nothing, I still must restore it.” —Psalms 69:4

Twelfth Illegal Procedure

The primary purpose of the law is to prove the innocence of the accused, not to search out a reason to convict. Jesus was not afforded the opportunity to prove His innocence by making a good defense. A legal defense was impossible for Jesus, because the Sanhedrin allowed Him no opportunity to have legal counsel represent Him during the trials.

“The primary object of the Hebrew judicial system was to render the conviction of an innocent person impossible. All the ingenuity of the Jewish legist was directed to the attainment of this end”[41] – Benny

Prejudicial Hatred Was The Real Reason Jesus Was Sentenced To Death:

The historical record is replete with testimony describing the moral depravity of the men who sat in judgement over Jesus. The indictments listed here against the illegal procedures that resulted in Jesus’ death on the cross, is sustained by the added weight of historians who have written on this subject.

The family of Caiaphas had been in power over the Sanhedrin for 1,500 years by the time that Jesus had come to Jerusalem. As a result, they had lost all morality in their judgment, and served only for power and financial gain.

“A few priestly, aristocratic, powerful, and vain families, who cared for neither the dignity nor the interest of the altar, quarreled with each other for this appointment.”[42] —Derembourg

Josephus, in his vast records of the Jews during this period of history, described the constant conflicts that occurred by these men of the Sanhedrin: fighting, the throwing of stones at each other, and immorality.

“They struggled together they did it by casting reproachful words against one another, and by throwing stones also. There was nobody to reprove them, but these disorders were done after a licentious manner, as if it had no government over it.” [43] —Flavius Josephus

The Talmud records the friction and difficulties of these men who oversaw the law in Israel during the period that Jesus was under their judgement.

“What a plague this is to the family; cursed by their hissing of vipers. They are high priests themselves, their sons are treasurers, their sons – in – law are commanders, and their servants strike the people with staves.” —Talmud

There are many hundreds of records from history which describe the despicable behavior of the members of this high counsel. It is no wonder that Jesus received the treatment that was perpetrated against Him. We might wonder why the Lord chose this period of history for His introduction to the world. It was no doubt for the very reasons that we have documented here in these twelve indictments. God, knowing the character of these men and that they would seek the death of the Messiah, chose these men to carry out their unjust actions—in fulfillment of the Hebrew prophecies of the Messiah.

We should understand that the Lord knows all things. He had chosen for His Son to die as the world’s sacrifice for sin—before anything in the universe had been created. He allowed the evil hearts of men, who were so corrupted in their power by the time that Jesus appeared before them; they were certain to put Him to death.

God controls all of the events of history. It is by His determined purpose and the counsel of His will that every event of the world takes their rightful place. It was the plan of God to send us a Savior who would be brutally put to death on a Roman cross. Many of the prophecies of the Old Testament describe the events that surrounded Jesus’ illegal trials and condemnation to death through crucifixion, by these evil men. God knew what would happen, and He placed Jesus on the earth at this specific moment in history; to accomplish the fulfillment of these many prophecies of the Messiah.


[1] Strong’s #1504. Gazar, cut down (1), cut off (6), decree (1), decreed (1), divide (2), divided (1), slice off (1).
[2] Ibid.
[3] Eusebius, Church History, Chapter 15. Under Verus, Polycarp with Others suffered Martyrdom at Smyrna, section 4
[4] The Prophecies of the Messiah, 2015, by Robert Clifton Robinson, Prophecy 309
[5] The idea and source material for the Illegal trials of Jesus came from netbiblestudy.com, the author is not know as it is not specified on the article: http://www.netbiblestudy.com/00_cartimages/illegaltrialofjesus.pdf
[6] The Prophecies of the Messiah, 2015, by Robert Clifton Robinson, prophecy 236
[7] Ibid, prophecy, 237
[8] The Mishnah (Sanhedrin 1:1
[9] Because of the ten spies who came back with a bad report. Numbers 13:32 And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out
[10] Salvador in, “Institutions de Moise” p.365
[11] Dupin in, “Jesus Devant Caiphe et Pilate.”
[12] Mishna in “Sanhedrin” Vol.1
[13] Mendelsohn in “Criminal Jurisprudence of Ancient Hebrews” p. 112
[14] Mishna, in “Pirke Aboth” IV 8
[15] Salvado in, “Institutions de Moise” pp. 365-366
[16] Edersheim in, “Life and times of Jesus the Messiah” Vol. I. p.309
[17] Mendelsohn in “The Criminal Jurisprudence of the Ancient Hebrews,” p.110
[18] Talmud, Jerus, Sanhedrin – Vol. I, p. 19
[19] M.M. Lemann in “Jesus Before the Sanhedrin.” p. 109
[20] Mishna, in “Talmud, of the Perpetual Sacrifice.” Chapter III
[21] Betza, chapter Vol. II
[22] Mishna, Sanhedrin IV. 1
[23] Rabbi Wise in “Martyrdom of Jesus” p.67
[24] Mishna in “Sanhedrin” IV. 1.
[25] The Mishnah (Sanhedrin 1:1
[26] Mendelsohn in”Criminal Juris- prudence of the Ancient Hebrews” p. 141
[27] Rabbi Wise in “Martyrdom of Jesus” p. 74
[28] Maimonides in “Sanhedrin” IV p.2
[29] Mendelsohn in “Criminal Jurisprudence of the Ancient Hebrews” p.133
[30] Deuteronomy 19:15
[31] Philo, On The Embassy of Gauis Book XXXVIII 299–305
[32] Ibid, Philo.
[33] Isaiah 42:28, Cyrus
[34] Antiquitates Judaicae 18.95-97 Bond, Caiaphas, p. 86.
[35] Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiae ii: 7
[36] Josephus, Antiquities 18.240–252, War 2.181–183. For the date, see Schürer 352–353 n. 42
[37] Talmud, Idolatry, Chapter 1, Vol.8
[38] Maimonides in “Sanhedrin” XIV
[39] Mendelsohn in “Criminal Jurisprudence of the Ancient Hebrews” p. 108
[40] Benny in “Criminal Code of the Jesus” p. 37
[41] Benny in “Criminal Code of the Jews” p. 56
[42] M. Hartwig Derembourg, 1844-1908, wrote extensively on Jewish law.
[43] Josephus, Antiquities 18.240–252, War 2.181–183. For the date, see Schürer 352–353 n. 42