Then assembled together the chief priests
About the same time, two days before the passover, that Jesus said these things to his disciples, as is plain from ( Mark 14:1 ) . By "the chief priests" are meant, either such who had been high priests, or such as were the heads of the twenty four courses of the priests; or rather, the principal men of the priesthood, who were chosen out of the rest, to be members of the great sanhedrim:
and the Scribes;
the doctors, of the law, who wrote out copies of the law for the people, and interpreted it to them in a literal way: this clause is left out in the Vulgate Latin, and in Munster's Hebrew Gospel, and in the Arabic and Ethiopic versions, and in the Alexandrian copy, and some others, but is retained in, the Syriac version; and no doubt, but these men had a place in this grand council:
and the elders of the people;
these were the civil magistrates; so that this assembly consisted both of ecclesiastics and laymen, as the sanhedrim did, of priests, Levites, and Israelites F20: these came
unto the palace of the high priest, who was called
his name was Joseph, but his surname Caiaphas; a word not of the same original with Cephas, as Camero thought; for these two words begin with different letters, nor are the rest the same. Now, though a king of Israel might not sit in the sanhedrim, yet an high priest might, provided he was sufficiently qualified with wisdom F21. The president of this grand council at this time, should be Rabban Gamaliel, Paul's master; unless it was Caiaphas, at whose house they were: how they came to meet at the high priest's palace, deserves inquiry; since their proper and usual place of meeting, was a chamber in the temple, called Gazith F23, or the paved chamber: now let it be observed, that according to the accounts the Jews themselves give, the sanhedrim removed from this chamber, forty years before the destruction of the temple F24; and which, as Dr. Lightfoot conjectures, was about a year and a half before the death of Christ; and as others say F25, four years; at least three years and a half before that time: but then, though the sanhedrim removed from the paved chamber, they met at Chanoth, "the sheds", which was a place within the bounds of the temple, in the mountain of the house; and the question still returns, how came it to pass they did not meet there? To me the reason seems to be, that they chose not to meet there, but at the high priest's palace, because of privacy, that it might not be known they were together, and about any affair of moment; and particularly this: the high priest's house was always in Jerusalem, and he never removed from thence; nor did he go from the temple thither only in the night, or an hour or two in the day; for he had an apartment in the temple, which was called the chamber of the high priest, where he was the whole day F26.
F20 Maimon. Hilch. Sanhedrin, c. 2. sect. 1.
F21 lb. sect. 4.
F23 Misn. Middot c. 5. sect. 3.
F24 T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 15. 1. Avoda Zara, fol. 8. 2. Sanhedrin, fol. 41. 1. Maimon. Hilch. Sanhedrin, c. 14. sect. 13. Juchasin, fol. 21. 1.
F25 Edzard. not. in Avoda Zara, c. 1. p. 236.
F26 Maimon. Cele Hamikdash, c. 5. sect. 7.