The Hall of Hewn Stones (Hebrew: לשכת הגזית Lishkat haGazit) was the meeting place of the Sanhedrin during the Second Temple period (6th century BCE – 1st century CE). The Talmud deduces that it was built into the north wall of the Temple in Jerusalem, half inside the sanctuary and half outside, with doors providing access both to the temple and to the outside. The name presumably arises to distinguish it from the buildings in the temple complex used for ritual purposes, which had to be constructed of unhewn stones. (The Torah prohibits the use of hewn stones or those touched by iron for the altar per Ex 20:22, Deut 27:6. Various reasons have been given for the prohibition, among them: the purpose of the Temple is peace, while iron implements are used in war; the Temple lengthens human life while iron shortens it; the hewing of stones is an invitation to carving images in them, violating the prohibition against idolatry; and the sword references the earthly power of Esau, not the spiritual power of Jacob/Israel.)

« Back to Glossary Index