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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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Question 3.7:
What is the Great Assembly (Anshe Knessest HaGedolah)?

Answer:

According to traditional Jewish historiography, this was an assembly of 120 rabbis that ruled in the period after the time of the prophets up to the time of the development of rabbinic Judaism in 70 CE. They bridge a period of about 2 centuries. The tradition teaches that they redacted the books of Ezekiel, the twelve minor prophets (The Trei Asar), and the books of Daniel and Esther. They also composed the Shemonah Esrah, the standing prayer (Amidah) of 18, later 19, prayers that is still recited by Jews today. They canonized the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible). Most importantly, they enacted a democratization of Jewish education, making the Torah the possession of all, instead of just the priestly class.

Historically, the Great Assembly described in Nehemiah 8-10 was a public assembly of Jews who returned to Israel after the exile in Babylonia. In this gathering the leaders and people of Israel rededicated themselves to the Torah as their inheritance and code of law.


The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

[Got Questions?]Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to questions@scjfaq.org. The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at maintainer@scjfaq.org.

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© (c) 1993-2002 Daniel P. Faigin <maintainer@scjfaq.org>