ḤEVER HA-YEHUDIM (Heb. חֶבֶר הַיְּהוּרִים), a name which appears on Hasmonean coins, indicating some kind of ruling body. It is found particularly in the combination "High priest and Ḥever ha-Yehudim"; on the coins of the high priest Johanan (either Hyrcanus I or II) is found "Johanan high priest and head of the Ḥever ha-Yehudim." Scholars dispute the nature of this body. Some regard it as a council associated with the ruler, composed of aristocrats, priests, and scholars; at a later period it was known as the sanhedrin , its origin being in the gerusia, known to have existed before the Hasmonean period. Others take the phrase to refer to the nation as a whole, which on the coins is thus associated with the ruler. They compare the Ḥever ha-Yehudim to the Great Assembly which was convened to endorse the establishment of Hasmonean rule in the time of Simeon the Hasmonean (142 B.C.E.; I Macc. 14:25–49). Still others regard the name as a translation of some Greek term like κοινὸν τῶν Ἰουδαίων ("The Commonwealth of the Jews"). No such body, however, is known to have existed. It is worthy of note that Ḥever ha-Yehudim does not appear on those coins of Alexander Yannai (104–76 B.C.E.) on which he bears the title of king. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Schuerer, Gesch, 2 (19074), 454f., 468–72; Klausner, Bayit Sheni, 3 (19502), 96–100; D. Sperber, in: PEQ, 100 (1965), 85–93. (Uriel Rappaport)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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