Biblical Tribal Prophecy in Action
The Pharisees as recorded in Josephus and the New Testament overlapped the Sages of the Mishna and Talmud. They included converts and the descendants of converts such as Shemayah, Avtalion, Rabbi Iser, Rabbi Meri, Rabbi Hayhey, Rabbi Bagbag, Rabbi Akiva, Rabbi Mair, etc. They also included descendants of David from Judah such as the House of Rabbi, Rabbi Hillel, and others. Representatives of all Israelite Tribes were to be found among them.
The Tribe of Levi probably had a higher representation than its relative numbers in the general population. The Tribe of Levi is comprised of Cohens (Priests, descendants of Aharon brother of Moses) and other Levites. There is a tradition that even in Talmudic times most legal decisions emanated from Levi.
This still holds today.
The Rabbi from Lemberg, "Rabbi Joseph Shaul Ha-Levi Nathanson (1808-1875), ("Shaylot ve-Rsehuvot, Shoal ve-Mashiv," Hakdoma) attributed most important decisive Halachic rulings in this present age to the Tribe of Levi.
The Priests (Cohens) and Levites had oriignally served as attendants at the Temple nad Instructors of the Hebrew People. They became in the courseo f History those Rabbis who made nearly all the legal decisions! The Cohanim were descendants of Aharon brother of Moses. They were part of the Tribe of Levi. The Cohanim were the Priests who offered up the sacrifices. The Tribe of Levi was divided between Cohens (descendants of Aharon brother of Moses) and other Levis. The Torah was given in writing. Most of what is needed to be known as to how the commandments were to be kept is not written. The Torah made allowance for this. Local judges were placed over the people.Exodus (NASB) 18: 25 Moses chose able men out of all Israel and made them heads over the people, leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens. 26 They judged the people at all times; the difficult dispute they would bring to Moses, but every minor dispute they themselves would judge. This was to become a permanent injunction: Deuteronomy (NASB)16: 18 You shall appoint for yourself judges and officers in all your towns which the LORD your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment.
Later they were commanded to set up a Sanhedrin of 70 elders, or 71 counting Moses. This was to be the supreme adjudicating body.Numbers 11: 16 The LORD therefore said to Moses, ‘Gather for Me seventy men from the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and their officers and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. 17 Then I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the spirit which is upon you, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you will not bear it all alone.
This principle was to exist for eternity:
Deuteronomy (NASB) 17: 8 If any case is too difficult for you to decide, between one kind of homicide or another, between one kind of lawsuit or another, and between one kind of assault or another, being cases of dispute in your courts, then you shall arise and go up to the place which the LORD your God chooses. 9 So you shall come to the Levitical priest or the judge who is in office in those days, and you shall inquire of them and they will declare to you the verdict in the case. 10 You shall do according to the terms of the verdict which they declare to you from that place which the LORD chooses; and you shall be careful to observe according to all that they teach you. 11 According to the terms of the law which they teach you, and according to the verdict which they tell you, you shall do; you shall not turn aside from the word which they declare to you, to the right or the left. 12 The man who acts presumptuously by not listening to the priest who stands there to serve the LORD your God, nor to the judge, that man shall die; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel. 13 Then all the people will hear and be afraid, and will not act presumptuously again.
The above passage is very important for an understanding of this matter. In case of doubt you go to the chosen place. The Cohen or the Levi or the Judge who will be in those days will tell you how to apply the Law. You are obligated to obey even if you disagree. In verse 17:9 the words translated above as "the Levitical priest" in Hebrew are "Ha-Cohanim Ha-Leviim" meaning "HaCohanim and/or Haleviim." It is implied there will be Cohens and Levis there. It does not have to be like that. In principle, any qualified Judge from any of the other Tribes would suffice, i.e. "the judge who is in office in those days" (17:9). This principle and institution was to continue forever. After the destruction of the Temple and elimination of the Sanhedrin the task of the Sanhedrin was fulfilled though a consensus of leading Sages throughout the Jewish people. Without a central body, with no combined rule, under the aegis of numerous Gentiles who were often antagonistic and were constantly at war with each other the Jews maintained a consensus. This is a proof of Judaism. The Law was kept and developed and evolved along closely parallel lines throughout the Jewish Diaspora! And how was it kept? It was kept through the decisions of leading Rabbinical decision makers. And who were they? In principle they could have been anyone. Any Jew who observed the commandments, studied well and knew the source material could make decisions in principle. In practice an overwhelming proportion of the decision makers were from the Tribe of Levi, Cohens or Levis! The Biblical verse had indicated that such would be the case: The Cohen or the Levi or the Judge who will be in those days will tell you how to apply the Law (Deuteronomy 17:9). This is a known phenomenon. Others have written about it in the past. The Rabbi from Lemberg, "Rabbi Joseph Shaul Ha-Levi Nathanson (1808-1875), ("Shaylot ve-Rsehuvot, Shoal ve-Mashiv," Hakdoma) discusses the subject attributing most important decisive Halachic rulings in this present age to the Tribe of Levi.
This in effect is PROOF OF THE BIBLE!
Scripture (Deuteronomy 17: 8-12) tells us that if we are not sure what the Law is then we should go to the the Cohen (Priest), Levite, or the judge "who is in office in those days." In Hebrew the expression is "Ha-Cohanim Ha-Leviim" meaning "the Cohans and/or the Levites, " followed by the Judge. The passage may be read as assuming that two-thirds of the relevant authorities might be Cohens or Levites! Throughout History an overwhelming proportion of Rabbis who make new legal decisions or adjudicate in difficult cases have been Cohens or Levites!
No-one decides this. Most are not aware of it. It does not have to be that way. Levites and Cohens are not overwhelmingly dominant in the Rabbinical Profession. When it comes to making decisions however they are the ones who very often do so! How did the Bible know that this would be the case?
Jewish legal scholar who determines the position of Halakha Posek... is the term in Jewish law for a "decisor", a legal scholar who determines the position of halakha , the Jewish religious laws derived from the written and Oral Torah in cases of Jewish law where previous authorities are inconclusive, or in those situations where no clear halakhic precedent exists. The decision of a posek is known as a psak din or psak halakha ("ruling of law"...) or simply a "psak". In Hebrew, is the root implying to "stop" or "cease"... the posek finalizes the process of legal debate. Piskei din are generally recorded in the responsa literature..... In formulating a ruling, a posek will base the psak din on a careful analysis of the relevant underlying legal principles , as well as a careful study of the application of these principles. A posek must therefore be thoroughly versed in rabbinic literature , from the Babylonian Talmud , through the major medieval codifications of the Law and up to recent decisions. ...
For examples of Rabbinical Decision-Makers (Poskim) who were Levis we went to Wikipedia:
Pre-20th century. They who were Levis have (L) beside their name.
Yoel Sirkis (1561–1640), Bach [has well-known descendants through his daughter who are Levis].
David HaLevi Segal (1586–1667), Turei Zahav (L)
Sabbatai ha-Kohen (1621–1662), Shach (L)
Avraham Gombiner (c.1633–c.1683), Magen Avraham (L)
Yechezkel Landau (1713–1793), Noda Bihudah (L)
Vilna Gaon (1720–1797),
Shneur Zalman of Liadi (1745–1812), Shulchan Aruch HaRav
Avraham Danzig (1748–1820), Chayei Adam,
Moses Sofer (1762–1839), Chasam Sofer [Maternal grandfather a Cohen -]
Menachem Mendel Schneersohn (1789–1866), Tzemach Tzedek.
Shlomo Ganzfried (1804–1886), Kitzur Shulchan Aruch.
Yitzchak Elchanan Spektor (1817–1896) [cf. Jacob ha-Levi Lipschitz, Spektor's secretary for twenty-six years].
Wikipedia has listed above 12 great Rabbis as being the main Poskim (Rabbinical legal decision-makers) of the pre-20th century. Four of them were Levis, 3 of them were not, and 3 we still have not clarified.
We are still going though the lists of the other Poskim and expect to find similar results.