HASMONEAN BET DIN (Heb. בֵּית דִּין שֶׁל חַשְׁמוֹנָאִים); according to a talmudic source (Sanh. 82a; Av. Zar. 36b) "the court of the Hasmoneans decreed that an Israelite who had intercourse with a heathen woman is liable to punishment on account of נשג״א" (NShGA), a mnemonic designating four counts of liability: נִדָּה (niddah; "a menstruating woman"), שִׁפְחָה (shifhah; "a maidservant"), גּוֹיָה (goyah; "a gentile"), and אֵשֶׁת אִישׁ (eshet ish; "a married woman"). A second tradition in the Talmud has Z instead of A, designating zonah, "harlot." There is no further mention of this Hasmonean court, and it has therefore been suggested, that the reference is to a temporary court set up early in the Hasmonean revolt, to fill the void created by the death of the religious leaders of the period. If this is so, it would appear that this court was responsible for the ruling that defensive battle is permissible on the Sabbath (I Macc. 2:39–41). However, it is more likely that the court was created after the establishment of Hasmonean rule in Palestine following the early successes of Judah and his brothers. Derenbourg claims that the court existed toward the end of the second century B.C.E., during the reign of Simeon and the first years of john hyrcanus . He further suggests that Hyrcanus changed the name of the court from Bet Din shel Hashmona'im to sanhedrin during the last years of his rule, following the schism with the Pharisees. Other scholars tend to identify the Hasmonean court with the "sons of the Hasmoneans" mentioned in the Mishnah (Mid. 1:6; in Yoma 16a, Av. Zar. 52b the reading is "house of Hasmoneans") as having "hidden away the stones of the altar which the Greek kings had defiled," but there is insufficient proof of this. Likewise, there is no reason to identify, as does I.H. Weiss, the Hasmonean bet din with the "Great Synagogue" of priests and elders that officially appointed Simeon high priest and leader of the nation (I Macc. 14:28; see asaramel ). The most likely solution of the problem is that the Hasmonean court "was the private council of the Hasmoneans at the peak of their power." If this is so, the Hasmonean court was established by John Hyrcanus toward the end of his reign, or by his son Alexander Yannai during his struggle against his Pharisaic enemies. This court may have been responsible for the harsh treatment of the Pharisaic rebels. It was composed of Sadducean followers of the Hasmonean king (cf. Jos., Ant., 13:408ff., which relates how the Pharisees avenged their martyrs in the days of Queen Alexandra). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Derenbourg, Hist, 84ff.; Weiss, Dor, 1 (19044), 102f.; Frankel, Mishnah, 43. (Isaiah Gafni)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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