Rabban Gamaliel sends Messages fixing the Calendar to the Jews far and near
THE fixing of the calendar, of the new moons, holidays, leap years, the times for the delivery of the tithes, and so forth, was of such importance to the religious and national life of ancient Israel that this task was entrusted to the highest legal and judicial authority, the Sanhedrin, with the Nasi or patriarch at its head. The calendar once fixed, letters had to be sent by messengers to all important Jewish centres in order to make known the decisions of the Sanhedrin to the Jewish world. The Talmud has preserved three specimens of such letters from the days preceding the destruction of the Temple. Their author was Rabban Gamaliel I, the grandson of Hillel and teacher of Saul of Tarsus. He became head of the Sanhedrin in the first half of the first century C.E. To this activity refers apparently also the passage of the Talmud where it is described how he dictated the letters to the scribe: ' Rabbi Judah said that he and Rabban Gamaliel sat together with the Elders on the terrace of the temple mount, and Johanan the scribe sat before them and Rabban Gamaliel said to him: "Write to our brethren in [so-and-so] as follows." '
'We let you know hereby'
[ Jerusalem, first half of the 1st century C.E.]
Rabban Gamaliel I to the brethren in the upper South and to the brethren in the flat South:
The same to the brethren in Upper Galilee and in Lower Galilee: