Report of Caiaphas To The Sanhedrim Concerning The Execution Of Jesus
Records of the Jerusalem Sanhedrim, By Eliezer Hiran, B. 24.Taken in Constantinople, Oct. 16, 1883.
"Caiaphas, Priest of the Most High God, to the Masters of Israel, greeting: In obedience to your demands for a reason for my action in the case of Jesus of Nazareth, and in defense of my conduct, I beg leave to submit the following for your consideration: I would assure you that it was not on account of personal malice, envy, or hate, that existed in my own nature, nor for the want of a willingness upon my part to con- form to the Jewish law in its strictest sense. I had but very little personal knowledge of the Nazarene. The most I knew of this man was from outside sources. Nor was it because he claimed to be King of the Jews, nor because he said he was the Son of God - I would that he were - nor because he prophesied or ignored the holy temple. No, nor all of these combined. There is a cause, and a more weighty matter, back of all these things that controlled my action in the matter. Therefore, I hope you will investigate strictly on legal principles the reasons that I may give.
"In order that you may be able to see and weigh the question fully, and remember the responsibility that rests upon me according to the laws of our nation, I will ask you to go back with me to the chronicles of our history as a commonwealth. First, our faith is pledged to one living and true God, this God being indescribable, un- changeable, incomprehensible, and, of course, unnamable. But yet in our daily communions with, and our applications to Him, He has been pleased to give us His name, or His several names, according to His relations to us, and they are found nowhere, only in the ark of His holy temple - there where He presents to us His strength and power. He calls himself Eloi, which means almighty in strength; that He can do what He will without effort; that He does the greatest thing as easy as He does the least. This makes him different from all beings. In His holy ark He records Himself Elaah - existence without beginning, and no contingency as to His end. Again, He writes Himself Hhelejon - unchangeable; that is, nothing but His own will can change Him. Again He records His name Jah - knowledge that comprehends without being comprehended. Again He is written Adonai - full and free, and freely full. Combining the several names we have - Jehovah - the Hebrew God. A man never can go wrong while he can pronounce this name in its comprehensive sense. This is where the Zealots, the Sadducees, the Essenes had their origin, and it is the want of being able to pronounce this name in its comprehensive sense that causes so much dissension among us Jews. Jesus could pronounce this name, but he stole it out of the temple, as I am credit- ably informed.
"But the object in calling your attention to pronouncing this name, with all its bearings, may be seen if we turn to the third book of Leviticus, section 10, wherein is the special order made by our God to Moses, that we should offer the bullock, the ram, the flour and oil, and the people should fast seven days, and this should be kaphar, or atonement for the sins of all the people. Now, unless Moses was deceived, he has deceived us, or Jesus of Nazareth is a false teacher; for all he teaches is metanoeite, metanoeite, as though a man's being sorry for a crime would make restitution to the offended party. A man might repent every so much, but what good would that do toward healing the man he had injured? None in the least. This mode of making atonement was ordained of God and revealed to Moses; but if man has nothing to do but repent, the disease carries its own remedy with it. So a man can sin as often as he may wish to. Look at the first book, section 3: 'And God sad to Abraham, by his own mouth, that each and all that were circumcised by the cutting of the prepuce should be saved.' This should be the seal of the covenant. Now, if this is not true, God must go against His own contract, violate His own promises, as well as deceive the faith and cheat the obedience of His own children. This is all so, if Jesus' teaching be true, for he set up table (baptism) as the seal of God. I refer you to section 10, division first, where God said to Moses that He had changed the laws, converted the elements for the protection of His people, and with His own arm had delivered them out of a strong compact! and that they might remember, and that the generation to be born, might remember and never forget to trust in Him when in danger, He said that once every year we should roast a kid or lamb, and eat it with unleavened bread, and this should be the sign that we would trust in Him in all times of danger. Now Jesus teaches that common bread and wine are to be used instead thereof a thing unheard of. And not only so, something that is altogether repugnant to God, and something that fosters drunkenness, and is well qualified to excite men's passions. And oh, ye Masters of Israel, but think once. Jesus calls himself the Son of God; claims to have been born of almah (the Hebrew word for virgin); that he and his Father are one - they are equal. These things will establish the following conclusions: If he is right, his Father is false. If they are one, then their teachings would be one; and if his teachings are true, God's must be wrong, or there are not those perfection's in Him that we learn in pronouncing His holy name. By tolerating the teachings of Jesus, we say to the Romans that all of our former teachings are false; that the Hebrew's God is not to be trusted; that He is weak, wanting in forethought; that He is vacillating and not to be trusted, much less to be honored and obeyed. Thus the world will lose confidence in our God, and confidence in us as a religious people. This is impregnating the whole atmosphere with moral pollution. It does not only cut off, but blocks the way of all Jews from heaven; and not only this, it excludes our hope in the salvation of our forefathers, who have obeyed God in His ordinances, believed in His promises, and shouted in the triumphs of a holy life for fourteen hundred years. He entirely ignores God's holy temple - the house God had built by our forefathers under His own supervision, where He pro- mised to dwell with His children, to hear their prayers, and to be pleased with their sacrifices. This temple is the bond of the Jews, Here all men can come and be blessed. It is the earthly home of the souls of men - the place where men may hide from the . storms of sin and persecution. This temple is where the foolish may learn wisdom, the place where the naked soul can be clothed, and where the hungry may be fed. This the grandest gift of our Father. Jesus completely ignores this temple; says the priests have made it a den of thieves; and sets up a sneer, and even scoffs at its sacred ordinances, and with a sort of selfish triumph says it shall be destroyed; and from his manner of saying it, I have no doubt he would be glad to see it quickly done. But what would be the condition of our people if this temple was removed? What would be the use of the priesthood if the temple was destroyed? Where would we find an answer by Urim and Thummim? How would the soul of man be purified, if the holy Bathkole, the Euroch of God, should depart? There in that sacred temple of God he has been burning to the consuming of sin and the purifying of the heart since our return from bondage in Babylon. My argument is, if this temple is destroyed, or even forsaken by the Jews, we as a nation are utterly ruined. We might as well put our necks under the feet of idolatry and give up all hope.
"One more subject I place before my Masters of Israel. Is it compatible with our religion, or is it consistent with philosophy, or admitted in His holy Word, that there can be more gods than one? When we pronounce El Laah Shaddiai- helyon Adonai (which is Jehovah), there can be but one living God. By reference to section 6, No. four, He says by mouth of Moses, when he was all aglow with the glory of God - and remember He speaks either by mouth or quill; it is He that speaks, and not man - He says, 'The Lord your God is one God; there can be but one, I AM, and have been with you; I brought you up; I delivered you out of a strong compact; I delivered you out of their hand and kept you dry, while your enemies were drowned in the sea. I will not forsake you. I promised your father I would not. But if you forsake Me, then desolation will come upon you, and have you in swift destruction.' In section 5, three and four of David's Song of Joy: 'I am God alone. If I turn to the right or to the left, if I go down into the depths of the sea, or into the center of the ' earth, or over the heavens, I should find no companion.' In section 3 He says: 'I am God alone, and alone I am God; beside Me there is no help for man or angels.' Then in section 13, this command has been given: "Thou shall pay to the Lord thy God once a year a half-shekel of silver, that thou and thy children, and all the strangers that are within thy gate, may know that there is no God beside Me, on whom they may call in time of danger.' Now, having all these commands and teachings from the very lips of God himself before my eyes, and being held responsible for the soundness of our doctrine and the proper inculcation of the same among the people of the Jews, what was I to do? Could I stand as the priest of the Most High God and see your blessed religion perverted by an impostor? Could I stand and see the holy temple of our God deserted and forsaken? Could I stand and see all the holy ordinances, which had been appointed by our God for securing salvation to Israel, perverted by an impostor? All the blessed doctrines that were appointed for the government and instruction of the priesthood, thence to be imparted to the youth of our land, set aside, and that by one that could show no authority-, only the authority of John the Baptist, who could give no authority only the one who sent him to baptize, and he could not tell who he was, nor whence he came? Hence you see the responsible position that I as the high priest of God and of the Jewish Church occupied. According to our laws I was made responsible, and stood between my God and my people, to protect them in doctrine and government. I refer you to the capitulation made by the Sanhedrim and August Caesar, in the holy Tosephta of the Talmud's. We submitted to taxation by the Romans, and the Romans are to protect our holy religion from foreign foes, in order that the holy temple or any of its sacred ordinances should never be molested, nor the holy city, Jerusalem, be polluted by Roman idolatry. Now the insinuating plan adopted by Jesus was well qualified to deceive the common people. It had already led many to forsake the temple, and hold her ordinances in derision, as well as to neglect the teachings of the priest or to pay the tithes for their supplies. He had already inculcated into the Jewish mind his pernicious ways of being saved to that extend that the Jewish cause was almost lost. There are two reasons for this: First, the people to whom he preached were an ignorant set, and knew but very little about doctrine of any kind. They are a restless sort of men, who always finding fault and wanting something new, and never associate with the more enlightened part of the community in order to learn. Another reason of his having many followers, his doctrines are congenial to unsanctified flesh. They are so suited to human nature that they require no sacrifices; they need not go to the temple to worship God; they need not fast, and the can, when and where they please; they need pay no tithes to keep up the temple or the priesthood, but every man can be his own priest and worship God as he chooses. All this is so compatible with human nature that, although he has not been preaching over three years, he has more followers today than Abraham has, and they have become perfectly hostile towards the Jews that are faithful to their God; and, if it had not been for the Roman soldiers on the day of his execution we would have had one of the bloodiest insurrections ever known to the Jewish commonwealth. I am told that there-was never seen such a concourse of people assembled at Jerusalem as at the cross. One of my guards informs me that there were several hundred thousand, and, although there were two others crucified at the same time, Jesus was the great center of attraction. They would call out, 'Who is this Jesus of Nazareth? What is his crime?' Some of his friends would cry out, 'Nothing!' He is being executed because he was a friend to the poor.' 'Take him down! Take him down,! they would cry out, and the soldiers would have to use their spears to keep them back. But when he yielded up the ghost he proved to all that he was hypostatical (that is, a human body), and the lodi curios had come from the iclandic covenant, and his trinitatis unitas was all a sham, for how could this unpronounced name suffer to be captured by men, or die, unless he is the one that is to die for the many? And if so, I was only accomplishing God's holy purpose, which exonerates me from guilt.
"But it seems to me a necessity that he should be removed, That this may be evident to your minds, I ask you to contrast our present condition with the past. Jesus of Nazareth spent two years in Egypt under the instruction of Rabbi Joshua, and learned the art of thaumaturgy to perfection, as has never been taught in any of the schools of necromancy among the heathen. If the healing miracles of Jesus are true, as they must be (for they are so acknowledged by his foes as well as his friends), he must have learned it from Horus and Serapis, as practiced by those heathen priests. He came back to Palestine as a physician, and was by nature an enthusiast as well as Hebrew patriarch, and when John's preaching excited idealistic minds, Jesus also went to that teacher, and was inspired by him to inculcate and promulgate his doctrines. Notwithstanding his youth and inexperience, Jesus started out as a public orator and teacher with the doctrines of John, and in that capacity referred exclusively to his authority, as every public teacher in these days has to be ordained by some acknowledged authority. As long as John was at large, Jesus in the capacity of an itinerant teacher and physician roused the people of Galilee to Metanolo (repentance of sin), to bring about a restoration of the kingdom of heaven. He met with the same opposition that John did from those who would not admit that they were more sinful that their progenitors were, or that asceticism was the proper means for the restoration of the kingdom of heaven. But he met with the same success among the lower classes, such as foreign harlots, Sodomites, publicans, and other Roman agents, but the intelligent portion remained cold and unmoved by his enthusiasm. The cures which he performed appeared miraculous to his followers, but most ridiculous to the intelligent Jews and the men of sober and reflective minds.
"Jesus embraced the humanitarian doctrine of the Hillelites, presenting conspicuously the cosmopolitan spirit of Judaism, and he did it almost in the words of Hillel, who had taught it before. Their faith and doctrine being alike, it was not hard for him to create excitement, or to find plenty of followers. In addition to all this, he taught a system of low morals, and so void of all ritualistic ideas that it was easy for him to get any number of followers. He taught the people that there was but one living and true God, but he taught them that he was that God, and that his father was merged into himself, and could not manifest himself only through him, which theory would confute itself if they would only stop to reflect, for as he was hypostatical or corporeal, his assistance was cut off from all that was not immediately in his presence, which is altogether incompatible with the faith of the Jews. Right in the face of this doctrine he would teach that there was a special providence, as well as a general providence, as it there could be general providence without a God that could be present in all places at all times, as we learn in pronouncing His name. He taught that the dead will rise and live again in a future state of happiness or misery according as they have lived here. Therefore he taught future rewards and punishments; but he being present, how could he reward in the future? He taught the revelation and prophets, but contradicted all they teach- He taught the election of Israel by the Almighty, but ignored all the doctrines of Israel. He taught the eternity of God's laws, and promises in the super-importance of the humanitarian over the ritual laws and doctrines, but I do not think he wished to abolish the latter, or even the traditional laws, but merely to supersede them by a higher life, The natural result of all this was that he disregarded the laws of Levitical cleanness, which are considered so important by the Shammaites and Essenes, and also by the Hillelites. This is the point where division commenced, and the breach grew wider and wider until an insurrection must have been the result. He so far cut himself loose from the Jews that he ate with unclean sinners, publicans, and lepers, and permitted harlots to touch him, while his disciples went so far as to eat their meals without washing themselves. Furthermore, he looked upon the whole of the Levitical institutions, temples, sacrifices, and priesthood included, as no longer necessary and not worth the life of the animal, This was certainly the opinion of the Hillelites, Jesus, it seems, found in this Hillelite school a party furnished to hand, ready to take up with his heresy (and a large party they are, almost sufficient to divide the whole Jewish commonwealth). They taught the repentance of sin, the practice of benevolence and charity, the education of the young, and good-will toward mankind, as possessing much more moral worth than all the Levitical cleanness, or compliance with the whole moral law given to us by our God to govern us. His preaching was of the parabolic style. He would rely on a text of scripture, for he seemed to hold the scriptures in high veneration, so his preaching was on the midrash style of the scribes - a maxim expressed in the style of Solon or of Sirach's son. His great object was to come as near the Jewish theology as possible so as to destroy the Jews' entirely, and establish his own. Hence he resorted to the allegorical method of the Egyptian Hebrews, uttering many good and wise sayings, which were not new to the learned, but which were taken from the common wisdom of the country, which was known by all who were acquainted with the literature of the rabbis. But they were new to his class of hearers, who were. not accustomed to listen to the wise. He had no education, comparatively speaking. He was full of nervous excitement, all of which went to inspire his hearers with enthusiasm. He took but little care of his health or person; cared not for his own relatives. He traveled mostly on foot in the company of his disciples and some suspicious women, and lived on the charity of his friends. He seemed to take no notice of the political affairs of his country; would as soon be governed by one nation as another. In fact, it seemed if he had any preference it was for the Romans. It seems that he became so infatuated that he really thought he was the head of the kingdom of heaven. This manner of preaching, along with his presumption, aroused his enemies to a powerful pitch, and it was all I could do to keep the zealots from mobbing him in the temple. They had no confidence in a doctrine that set the Jewish laws at naught, and mocked the priesthood of God, and they with the Sadducees and scribes were not willing to submit to a man who acknowledged no authority higher than himself, and was seemingly endeavoring to overturn everything that they held more sacred and dearer than life. Jesus' mode and manner were well qualified to deceive the unsuspecting. 'Let us have all things in common,' said he, I and he that would be greatest among you will prove his greatness by rendering the greatest service to all, and if any of the higher powers compel thee to go a mile, let him that is compelled go ten miles.' This caused him to be attacked more in his policy than in his doctrine. The great question with us Jews was, here are the Romans upon us; how can we get rid of them?
Jesus' idea was to let the Romans alone; it matters not who rules and governs the nations; if they abuse us, love them in return, and they cannot be your enemies long; no man can continue to abuse another who returns injuries with love. Keep from them; pray in secret for the return of the kingdom of heaven and God's grace, and this will soon make all things right. 'Pay your taxes,' he would say to them; lit is only Caesar's money you pay, which is unlawful for you to have - unlawful on account of its idolatrous effigies. Again, he would say to his hearers, 'You cannot conquer the Romans; better convert them, and they are your enemies no longer. They already have your temple in their possession; their yoke is getting heavier every day, and the more you fight against them the more they will abuse you; therefore, your only chance is to love them, and try to make your yoke easy and your burden light by having them your friends. Indeed, the conduct of Jesus was so strange and incompatible with the interest of the Jews as a nation, that it seemed to me that he was a subject employed by the Romans to keep the Jews submissive and obedient to all their tyranny and abuse.'
"This policy was most powerfully attacked by the officiating priest, by the Shammaites and Zealots, and, in fact, the whole Jewish nation was becoming aroused to a war heat. The reprimands of Jesus were so severe against the rich and highly educated that they had turned against him, and brought all the power they had, both of their wealth and talent, so that I saw that a bloody insurrection was brewing fast.
The public mind of the Jews was becoming more and more divided and corrupt; heretical doctrines were being diffused all over the land; the temple was forsaken and the holy sacraments neglected; the people were divided into sects, and these breaches were like a rent in a garment - tearing wider apart continually. As it seemed to me, the whole of the Jewish theocracy was about to be blown away as a bubble on a breaker.
"As the Jews became more and more divided and confused, the tyranny of the Romans increased. All they wanted was an excuse to slaughter the Jews and confiscate their property. At this time both the doctrine and religion of the Jews was spreading rapidly all over Rome, which gave the Romans great alarm, Sejane undertook to have an ordinance passed in the Senate, abolishing the Jewish religion from Rome; and when he found it would cause an insurrection, they banished all the Jews from Rome, and back they came to Judea with all their idolatry and heresy, and many other corrupt principles from the Romans, which fitted them to join any party for profit. Up to this time the Roman governors had shown great kindness to the Jews. There never was a better man
than Hyrcan. The Jews enjoyed great peace during his administration. But Tiberias has turned against us; Pilate has removed the army from Caesarea to Jerusalem. I say, no nation with any self-respect, or one that had any energy left, would or could stand it without a struggle.
"Now, the preaching of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth had brought all these things upon us- When Herod Antipas captured John, it quieted matters in Galilee, so that they had peace until Jesus started it up afresh, I had issued orders to Jesus to desist from preaching, unless he taught as the Jews taught. He sent me the impertinent word that his doctrine was not of this world, but had reference to the world to come; when he was all the time doing all he could to destroy the peace and harmony of this world. Now, according to our law in the Saphra, by Jose B. Talmud, it devolves on me to see that the people have sound doctrine taught them. Hence it is my duty to to examine all the midrashim, or sermons, of all the preaching priests, and if anyone teach the people wrongly, or if his conduct is not in correspondence with his profession, to cause him to desist; or if any disregard the holy laws of ablution, or in any way defile himself, or if he shall be guilty of misconduct in any way, either in manner of life or doctrine, to adjudge such an one, and pronounce sentence for his crime upon him. This I did upon Jesus of Nazareth, to save the Church from heresy, and to save the cause of the Jewish commonwealth from final ruin. But understand that I did not act rashly nor illegally, as I am accused I only passed sentence under the protest and order of the whole court belonging to the high priest, containing twelve members, or elders, and priests. Thus you will see it was not my voluntary act, but was a legal one and in accordance with law. After I examined Jesus on the various charges, he said in the presence of all the court that each and all of them were true. I then reasoned with him, and asked him, if the court of the high priestwould forgive him of these charges would he desist from these things in all time to come. He answered most emphatically and positively he would not. Under these circumstances I was compelled, according to our law, to sentence him to die; for if he continued to promulgate his pernicious heresies the Jews, as a nation, must perish with their religion. And, as you find in the Toseppta, that the nation has always the right of self-preservation, and as we had conceded the right to the Romans of executing our criminal laws, it became my painful duty to send him to Pontius Pilate, with the following charges:
"'Caiaphas, High Priest of the Most High God, to Pontius Pilate, Governor of the Roman Province: "Jesus of Nazareth is thus charged by the High Court of the Jews:
"'First, with teaching the doctrine that there are more gods than one, which is contrary to the teachings of the Jewish law, which he most positively refuses to desist from in the presence of this court.
"'Second, he teaches that he is a God, which is contrary to the Jewish law, and he is visible and comprehensible; and, after being asked to desist by this court, he most positively affirms that he is the Son of God."
"'Third, he teaches and affirms that the Bath kole (Holy Spirit) cannot come until he goes away, which is contrary to the teachings of the Jews; because it was He that brooded over the waters, and has been in the habitual light of the world ever since; from all of which he refuses to desist.
He teaches baptism as the seal of God, instead of circumcision, which was established by the decrees of God with Abraham as a seal of the Jews; and when abjured to desist by this court declared he would not.
"'He teaches asceticism as the means of salvation, contrary to the Jewish custom; and affirmed in the presence of this court he would not desist.
"'He'-teaches that the Levitical ablution is of no service, while we hold that the outward washing is the sign of inward purity; and when abjured to desist he emphatically refused.
"'He has abrogated the ordinance given by God to Moses of the pascal supper, wherein we should roast a lamb and eat it with unleavened bread; but Jesus has introduced a custom altogether different - without any authority. He has introduced common bread and wine, which are not only forbidden, but are well qualified to excite men's passions and make them forget God rather than to remember and trust Him, this feast having been introduced that we should remember to trust Him in the hours of trouble.
When asked why he did this, all he would say was: "Hitherto I work, and my Father works."
"He has abrogated the-priesthood, and set the temple at naught, which is the very life's blood of the Jewish faith.
"'Were it not that God our Father has given us these holy ordinances we would not be so tenacious of them. We know they are the pillars upon which the Jewish theocracy is built, and that we cannot live without them. Although Jesus of Nazareth has been abjured time and again to stop teaching these ways of death, he has as often declared he would not; therefore it devolves on me as the proper and the only officer to pronounce sentence upon him.'
"These charges were written by my scribe, and sent with the officers to Pilate for his consent. Of course, I did not expect him to execute him as he did, but it seems that the mob was so great that Pilate never received them. I expected Pilate to send Jesus back to me, so that I could send him to you for your approval; and if so, then I would proceed to try him with Urim and Thummim, with the regular lactees on guard, as our law requires; but it seems that Pilate thirsted for his blood. Like all guilty tyrants, he was afraid of his own shadow, and wished to destroy everything that threatened his power.
"With these reasons for my actions, I submit the case which I am sure will be considered favorably by my Masters of Israel."