Sepphoris Aerial ViewThe various locations of the Sanhedrin are linked with the verse in Genesis which locates the tribe of Zebulun by the seashore. Genesis Rabbah, a midrash on Genesis edited in the fifth century C.E., locates the resting place of the Sanhedrin in Zebulun’s territory in Sepphoris but was also aware that it later moved to Tiberias.

“‘Zebulun shall dwell by the seashore’ (Gen. 49:13) in his commerce, and Issachar in his Torah. Together they are in partnership in this world and the next.2 Another interpretation: “Zebulun by the seashore,” why did Jacob first bless Zebulun and only afterwards Issachar? Was not Issachar older and thus worthy of being blessed first? Rather [God] foresaw that the Temple would be destroyed and the Sanhedrin would be uprooted from the tribe of Judah and would be relocated in that of Zebulun. At first when the Sanhedrin was exiled, it resided in Yavneh, and from Yavneh to Usha, and from Usha to Shefar’am and from Shefar’am to Beth She’arim, and from Beth She’arim to Sepphoris, and Sepphoris was located in the portion of Zebulun.3 Only afterward did it move to Tiberias.”

1 Trans. L.I. Levine, The Rabbinic Class of Roman Palestine in Late Antiquity, p.80.

2 The tribe of Zebulun will provide financial support so that the tribe of Issachar can devote itself fully to the study of the Torah.

3 All these towns are located in the Galilee.