כֵּיצַד הָעֵדִים נַעֲשִׂים זוֹמְמִין, מְעִידִין אָנוּ בְאִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי שֶׁהוּא בֶן גְּרוּשָׁה אוֹ בֶן חֲלוּצָה, אֵין אוֹמְרִים יֵעָשֶׂה זֶה בֶן גְּרוּשָׁה אוֹ בֶן חֲלוּצָה תַחְתָּיו, אֶלָּא לוֹקֶה אַרְבָּעִים. מְעִידִין אָנוּ בְאִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי שֶׁהוּא חַיָּב לִגְלוֹת, אֵין אוֹמְרִים יִגְלֶה זֶה תַחְתָּיו, אֶלָּא לוֹקֶה אַרְבָּעִים. מְעִידִין אָנוּ בְאִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי שֶׁגֵּרַשׁ אֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ וְלֹא נָתַן לָהּ כְּתֻבָּתָהּ, וַהֲלֹא בֵּין הַיּוֹם וּבֵין לְמָחָר סוֹפוֹ לִתֵּן לָהּ כְּתֻבָּתָהּ, אוֹמְדִין כַּמָּה אָדָם רוֹצֶה לִתֵּן בִּכְתֻבָּתָהּ שֶׁל זוֹ, שֶׁאִם נִתְאַלְמְנָה אוֹ נִתְגָּרְשָׁה, וְאִם מֵתָה יִירָשֶׁנָּה בַעְלָהּ. מְעִידִין אָנוּ בְאִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי שֶׁהוּא חַיָּב לַחֲבֵרוֹ אֶלֶף זוּז עַל מְנָת לִתְּנָן לוֹ מִכָּאן וְעַד שְׁלשִׁים יוֹם, וְהוּא אוֹמֵר מִכָּאן וְעַד עֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים, אוֹמְדִין כַּמָּה אָדָם רוֹצֶה לִתֵּן וְיִהְיוּ בְיָדוֹ אֶלֶף זוּז, בֵּין נוֹתְנָן מִכָּאן וְעַד שְׁלשִׁים יוֹם, בֵּין נוֹתְנָן מִכָּאן וְעַד עֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים: How are witnesses rendered conspiring witnesses? This applies in a case where two witnesses came before the court and said: We testify with regard to so-and-so, who is a priest, that he is the son of a divorced woman or the son of a ḥalutza, a yevama who performed the rite of ḥalitza to free herself from the levirate bond. Those testimonies render him a ḥalal (see Leviticus 21:6–7), one disqualified from the priesthood due to flawed lineage. If a second set of witnesses testifies in court and renders the first set conspiring witnesses, one does not say with regard to each of the conspiring witnesses: This witness shall be rendered the son of a divorced woman or the son of a ḥalutza in his stead. Rather, he receives forty lashes as punishment for his false testimony. Likewise, in a case where two witnesses came before the court and said: We testify with regard to so-and-so that he is liable to be exiled to a city of refuge for unwittingly killing another (see Numbers 35:11), and a second set of witnesses testifies in court and renders the first set conspiring witnesses, one does not say with regard to each of the conspiring witnesses: This witness shall be exiled in his stead. Rather, he receives forty lashes. In the case of witnesses who said: We testify with regard to a man called so-and-so that he divorced his wife and did not give her payment of her marriage contract, and they were then rendered conspiring witnesses, the question arises with regard to the manner in which the sum of their payment is calculated. It is not possible to render the witnesses liable to pay the entire sum of the marriage contract, as they can claim: But isn’t it so that either today or tomorrow, i.e., at some point in the future, he may divorce his wife or die and ultimately he will be liable to give her payment of her marriage contract? That being the case, the witnesses did not conspire to render him liable to pay a sum that he would otherwise not be liable to pay. The sum of their payment is calculated as follows: The court assesses how much money another person would be willing to give in order to purchase the rights to this woman’s marriage contract, cognizant of the uncertainty that if she was widowed or divorced the purchaser will receive payment of the marriage contract but if she dies, her husband will inherit from her, and the one who purchased her marriage contract will receive nothing. In the case of witnesses who said: We testify with regard to a man called so-and-so that he owes another person one thousand dinars that he borrowed on the condition that he is to give the money back to him from now until thirty days have passed, and the borrower says that he borrowed that sum but it was on the condition that he is to give the money back to him from now until ten years have passed, and they were rendered conspiring witnesses, here too, it is not possible to render the witnesses liable to pay the entire sum. Rather, the court estimates how much money a person would be willing to give so that he would keep a loan of one thousand dinars in his possession, and one calculates the difference between that sum in a situation where he would be required to give the money back from now until thirty days have passed, and that same sum in a situation where he would be required to give the money back from now until ten years have passed. That difference is the sum that the testimony of the conspiring witnesses sought to have the borrower lose; therefore, it is the sum that they must pay.
מְעִידִין אָנוּ בְאִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי שֶׁחַיָּב לַחֲבֵרוֹ מָאתַיִם זוּז, וְנִמְצְאוּ זוֹמְמִין, לוֹקִין וּמְשַׁלְּמִין, שֶׁלֹּא הַשֵּׁם הַמְבִיאוֹ לִידֵי מַכּוֹת, מְבִיאוֹ לִידֵי תַשְׁלוּמִין, דִּבְרֵי רַבִּי מֵאִיר. וַחֲכָמִים אוֹמְרִים, כָּל הַמְשַׁלֵּם אֵינוֹ לוֹקֶה: If witnesses said: We testify with regard to a man called so-and-so that he is liable to pay another person two hundred dinars, and they were found to be conspiring witnesses, they are flogged, and they pay the money they sought to render him liable to pay. Why do they receive two punishments? It is due to the fact that the source that brings them to liability to receive lashes is not the source that brings them to liability for payment; this is the statement of Rabbi Meir. And the Rabbis say: Anyone who pays as punishment for a transgression is not flogged for that same transgression.
מְעִידִין אָנוּ בְאִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי שֶׁהוּא חַיָּב מַלְקוּת אַרְבָּעִים, וְנִמְצְאוּ זוֹמְמִין, לוֹקִין שְׁמֹנִים, מִשּׁוּם לֹא תַעֲנֶה בְרֵעֲךָ עֵד שָׁקֶר (שמות כ), וּמִשּׁוּם וַעֲשִׂיתֶם לוֹ כַּאֲשֶׁר זָמַם (דברים יט), דִּבְרֵי רַבִּי מֵאִיר. וַחֲכָמִים אוֹמְרִים, אֵינָן לוֹקִין אֶלָּא אַרְבָּעִים. מְשַׁלְּשִׁין בְּמָמוֹן וְאֵין מְשַׁלְּשִׁין בְּמַכּוֹת. כֵּיצַד, הֱעִידוּהוּ שֶׁהוּא חַיָּב לַחֲבֵרוֹ מָאתַיִם זוּז, וְנִמְצְאוּ זוֹמְמִין, מְשַׁלְּשִׁין בֵּינֵיהֶם. אֲבָל אִם הֱעִידוּהוּ שֶׁהוּא חַיָּב מַלְקוּת אַרְבָּעִים, וְנִמְצְאוּ זוֹמְמִין, כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד לוֹקֶה אַרְבָּעִים: Likewise, if witnesses said: We testify with regard to a man called so-and-so that he is liable to receive forty lashes, and they were discovered to be conspiring witnesses, they are flogged with eighty lashes; one set of lashes due to violation of the prohibition: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:13), and one set of lashes due to the verse: “And you shall do to him as he conspired” (Deuteronomy 19:19), which is the punishment for conspiring witnesses; this is the statement of Rabbi Meir. And the Rabbis say: They are flogged with only forty lashes, due to the verse “And you shall do to him as he conspired.” When punishing conspiring witnesses based on the verse: “As he conspired to do to his brother” (Deuteronomy 19:19), one divides the punishment of money among them, but one does not divide the punishment of lashes among them; each receives thirty-nine lashes. The mishna elaborates: How so? If the witnesses testified about someone that he owes another person two hundred dinars and they were then found to be conspiring witnesses, the witnesses divide the sum among themselves and pay a total of two hundred dinars. But if they testified about someone that he was liable to receive forty lashes and they were then found to be conspiring witnesses, each and every one of the witnesses receives forty lashes.
אֵין הָעֵדִים נַעֲשִׂים זוֹמְמִין עַד שֶׁיָּזוֹמוּ אֶת עַצְמָן. כֵּיצַד, אָמְרוּ מְעִידִין אָנוּ בְאִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי שֶׁהָרַג אֶת הַנֶּפֶשׁ, אָמְרוּ לָהֶן הֵיאַךְ אַתֶּם מְעִידִין, שֶׁהֲרֵי נֶהֱרָג זֶה אוֹ הַהוֹרֵג הָיָה עִמָּנוּ אוֹתוֹ הַיּוֹם בְּמָקוֹם פְּלוֹנִי, אֵין אֵלּוּ זוֹמְמִין. אֲבָל אָמְרוּ לָהֶם הֵיאַךְ אַתֶּם מְעִידִין, שֶׁהֲרֵי אַתֶּם הֱיִיתֶם עִמָּנוּ אוֹתוֹ הַיּוֹם בְּמָקוֹם פְּלוֹנִי, הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ זוֹמְמִין, וְנֶהֱרָגִין עַל פִּיהֶם: Witnesses are not rendered conspiring witnesses until the witnesses who come to render them conspiring impeach the witnesses themselves and not merely their testimony. How so? A set of witnesses said: We testify with regard to a man called so-and-so that he killed a person, and they attested to the precise time and place that the murder took place. Then, a second set of witnesses came to court and said to them: How can you testify about this event? This person who was killed, or this person who killed, was with us, i.e., with the second set of witnesses, on that day in such and such place, which is not the location identified by the first set of witnesses. In that case, although the second set of witnesses contradicted the testimony of the first set, these first witnesses are not rendered conspiring witnesses. But if the second set of witnesses came to court and said to them: How can you testify about that event? You were with us on that day in such and such place. In this case, these first witnesses are rendered conspiring witnesses, and are executed on the basis of their, i.e., the second set’s, testimony.
בָּאוּ אֲחֵרִים וְהִזִּימוּם, בָּאוּ אֲחֵרִים וְהִזִּימוּם, אֲפִלּוּ מֵאָה, כֻּלָּם יֵהָרֵגוּ. רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר, אִסְטָסִית הִיא זוֹ, וְאֵינָהּ נֶהֱרֶגֶת אֶלָּא כַת הָרִאשׁוֹנָה בִלְבָד: If other witnesses, i.e., a third set, came and corroborated the testimony of the first set of witnesses, and the second set of witnesses testified that this third set of witnesses were also with them elsewhere that day and rendered them conspiring witnesses, and similarly, if yet other witnesses, i.e., a fourth set, came and corroborated the testimony of the first set of witnesses and the second set rendered them conspiring witnesses, even if one hundred sets of witnesses were all rendered conspiring witnesses by the same second set of witnesses, all of them are executed on the basis of their testimony, as the authority of two witnesses is equivalent to the authority of numerous witnesses. Rabbi Yehuda says: This situation where a set of witnesses renders all the others conspiring witnesses is a conspiracy [istatit], as there is room for suspicion that they simply decided to impeach all witnesses who offer that testimony, and it is only the first set alone that is executed.
אֵין הָעֵדִים זוֹמְמִין נֶהֱרָגִין, עַד שֶׁיִּגָּמֵר הַדִּין, שֶׁהֲרֵי הַצְּדוֹקִין אוֹמְרִים, עַד שֶׁיֵּהָרֵג, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר נֶפֶשׁ תַּחַת נָפֶשׁ. אָמְרוּ לָהֶם חֲכָמִים, וַהֲלֹא כְבָר נֶאֱמַר (דברים יט) וַעֲשִׂיתֶם לוֹ כַּאֲשֶׁר זָמַם לַעֲשׂוֹת לְאָחִיו, וַהֲרֵי אָחִיו קַיָּם. וְאִם כֵּן לָמָּה נֶאֱמַר נֶפֶשׁ תַּחַת נָפֶשׁ, יָכוֹל מִשָּׁעָה שֶׁקִּבְּלוּ עֵדוּתָן יֵהָרֵגוּ, תַּלְמוּד לוֹמַר, נֶפֶשׁ תַּחַת נָפֶשׁ, הָא אֵינָן נֶהֱרָגִין עַד שֶׁיִּגָּמֵר הַדִּין: The conspiring witnesses are executed only if they are rendered conspiring witnesses after the verdict of the accused is concluded. This is in contrast to the opinion of the Sadducees, as the Sadducees say: Conspiring witnesses are executed only if they are rendered conspiring witnesses after the accused is killed on the basis of their testimony, as it is stated: “A life for a life” (Exodus 21:23; see Deuteronomy 19:21). The Rabbis said to the Sadducees: But wasn’t it already stated: “And you shall do to him as he conspired to do to his brother” (Deuteronomy 19:19), and this latter verse indicates that his accused brother is alive? And if so, why is it stated: “A life for a life”? One might have thought that if they are rendered conspiring witnesses from the moment the judges accepted their testimony in court, they will be executed, even though no verdict was concluded. Therefore, the verse states: “A life for a life,” teaching that they are executed only if they are rendered conspiring witnesses after the verdict of the accused will be concluded, from the moment that the court is on the verge of taking his life.
עַל פִּי שְׁנַיִם עֵדִים אוֹ שְׁלשָׁה עֵדִים יוּמַת הַמֵּת (שם יז), אִם מִתְקַיֶּמֶת הָעֵדוּת בִּשְׁנַיִם, לָמָּה פָרַט הַכָּתוּב בִּשְׁלשָׁה, אֶלָּא לְהַקִּישׁ שְׁלשָׁה לִשְׁנַיִם, מַה שְּׁלשָׁה מַזִּימִין אֶת הַשְּׁנַיִם, אַף הַשְּׁנַיִם יָזוֹמּוֹ אֶת הַשְּׁלשָׁה. וּמִנַּיִן אֲפִלּוּ מֵאָה, תַּלְמוּד לוֹמַר, עֵדִים. רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן אוֹמֵר, מַה שְּׁנַיִם אֵינָן נֶהֱרָגִין עַד שֶׁיְּהוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם זוֹמְמִין, אַף שְׁלשָׁה אֵינָן נֶהֱרָגִין עַד שֶׁיִּהְיוּ שְׁלָשְׁתָּן זוֹמְמִין. וּמִנַּיִן אֲפִלּוּ מֵאָה, תַּלְמוּד לוֹמַר, עֵדִים. רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא אוֹמֵר, לֹא בָא הַשְּׁלִישִׁי אֶלָּא לְהַחְמִיר עָלָיו וְלַעֲשׂוֹת דִּינוֹ כַיּוֹצֵא בָאֵלּוּ. וְאִם כֵּן עָנַשׁ הַכָּתוּב לַנִּטְפָּל לְעוֹבְרֵי עֲבֵרָה כְעוֹבְרֵי עֲבֵרָה, עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה יְשַׁלֵּם שָׂכָר לַנִּטְפָּל לְעוֹשֵׂי מִצְוָה כְעוֹשֵׂי מִצְוָה: It is written: “At the mouth of two witnesses or three witnesses shall he who is to die be executed” (Deuteronomy 17:6). The question is: If the testimony is valid with two witnesses, why did the verse specify that it is valid with three? Rather, it is to juxtapose and liken three to two: Just as three witnesses can render the two witnesses conspiring witnesses, so too, the two witnesses can render the three wit-nesses conspiring witnesses. And from where is it derived that two witnesses can render even one hundred witnesses conspiring witnesses? It is derived from a verse, as the verse states: “Three witnesses.” Since the verse is obviously discussing witnesses, the term witnesses is superfluous, as it could have stated: Two or three. The term “witnesses” teaches that two witnesses can render a set of witnesses conspiring witnesses irrespective of their number. Rabbi Shimon says that three witnesses are mentioned in the verse in order to teach: Just as two witnesses who testified that a person is liable to be executed are not killed for this testimony unless both of them are found to be conspiring witnesses, so too, three witnesses who testified together are not killed unless all three of them are found to be conspiring witnesses. And from where is it derived that the same halakha applies even to one hundred witnesses? It is derived from a verse, as the verse states: “Three witnesses.” The superfluous term “witnesses” teaches that the status of all witnesses who come to court as a single set of witnesses is that of one testimony with regard to this halakha. Rabbi Akiva says: The third witness mentioned in this verse does not come for the judges to be lenient concerning him; rather, its mention comes for the judges to be stringent concerning him and to render his halakhic status like that of these two witnesses who testified with him. One could claim that since the testimony of the third witness is superfluous, as the testimony of the other two witnesses sufficed, the third witness and any other witnesses beyond the first two should be exempt. Therefore, the verse teaches that since he testified with them and was rendered a conspiring witness with them, he too is executed. One can learn a moral from this halakha: And if the verse punished one who associates with transgressors with a punishment like the one received by the transgressors, even though his role in the transgression is ancillary, all the more so will God pay a reward to one who associates with those who perform a mitzva like the reward of those who perform the mitzva themselves, even though his role in performing the mitzva is ancillary.
מַה שְּׁנַיִם נִמְצָא אַחַד מֵהֶן קָרוֹב אוֹ פָסוּל עֵדוּתָן בְּטֵלָה, אַף שְׁלשָׁה נִמְצָא אֶחָד מֵהֶן קָרוֹב אוֹ פָסוּל, עֵדוּתָן בְּטֵלָה. מִנַּיִן אֲפִלּוּ מֵאָה, תַּלְמוּד לוֹמַר, עֵדִים. אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹסֵי, בַּמֶּה דְבָרִים אֲמוּרִים, בְּדִינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת. אֲבָל בְּדִינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת, תִּתְקַיֵּם הָעֵדוּת בַּשְּׁאָר. רַבִּי אוֹמֵר, אֶחָד דִּינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת וְאֶחָד דִּינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת. בִּזְמַן שֶׁהִתְרוּ בָהֶן, אֲבָל בִּזְמַן שֶׁלֹּא הִתְרוּ בָהֶן, מַה יַּעֲשׂוּ שְׁנֵי אַחִין שֶׁרָאוּ בְאֶחָד שֶׁהָרַג אֶת הַנָּפֶשׁ: The mishna cites another derivation based on the juxtaposition of two to three: And just as with regard to two witnesses, if one of them is found to be a relative or is otherwise disqualified, their entire testimony is voided, as it is no longer the testimony of two witnesses, so too, with regard to three witnesses who came to testify as one set, if one of them is found to be a relative or is otherwise disqualified, their entire testimony is voided, even though two valid witnesses remain. From where is it derived that the same halakha applies even in the case of one hundred witnesses? It is derived from a verse, as the verse states: “Witnesses.” Rabbi Yosei says: In what case is this statement, that if one of the three witnesses is disqualified the entire testimony is voided, said? It is said with regard to cases of capital law, which are adjudicated stringently. But with regard to cases of monetary law, which are adjudicated more leniently, even if one of the witnesses is disqualified, the testimony will be validated with the testimony of the rest of the witnesses, and if it is sufficient the case can be adjudicated on that basis. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi disagrees and says: If one of the three witnesses is disqualified the entire testimony is voided in both cases of monetary law and cases of capital law. And when does one disqualified witness void the entire testimony? Only when the witnesses forewarned them before they performed the transgression, thereby demonstrating their desire to fill the role of witnesses in that case. But when they did not forewarn them, what shall two brothers do in a case where they, together with others, saw someone who killed a person? Will the murderer escape punishment because two relatives happened to be there at the time of the murder and their presence voids the entire testimony? No, the testimony is voided by the presence of relatives or disqualified witnesses only when their intent was to testify. If that was not their intent, they do not void the testimony.
הָיוּ שְׁנַיִם רוֹאִין אוֹתוֹ מֵחַלּוֹן זֶה וּשְׁנַיִם רוֹאִין אוֹתוֹ מֵחַלּוֹן זֶה וְאֶחָד מַתְרֶה בוֹ בָּאֶמְצַע, בִּזְמַן שֶׁמִּקְצָתָן רוֹאִין אֵלּוּ אֶת אֵלּוּ, הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ עֵדוּת אַחַת. וְאִם לָאו, הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ שְׁתֵּי עֵדֻיּוֹת. לְפִיכָךְ אִם נִמְצֵאת אַחַת מֵהֶן זוֹמֶמֶת, הוּא וָהֵן נֶהֱרָגִין וְהַשְּׁנִיָּה פְּטוּרָה. רַבִּי יוֹסֵי אוֹמֵר, לְעוֹלָם אֵין נֶהֱרָגִין עַד שֶׁיְּהוּ פִּי שְׁנֵי עֵדָיו מַתְרִין בּוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יז) עַל פִּי שְׁנַיִם עֵדִים. דָּבָר אַחֵר, עַל פִּי שְׁנַיִם עֵדִים, שֶׁלֹּא תְהֵא סַנְהֶדְרִין שׁוֹמַעַת מִפִּי הַתֻּרְגְּמָן: In a case where there were two witnesses observing an individual violating a capital transgression from this window in a house, and two observing him from that window in a house, and one person was forewarning the transgressor in the middle between the two sets of witnesses, the halakha depends on the circumstances. In a situation where some of the witnesses observing from the two windows see each other, the testimony of all these witnesses constitutes one testimony, but if they do not see each other, the testimony of these witnesses constitutes two independent testimonies. Therefore, as two independent sets of witnesses, if one of the sets was found to be a set of conspiring witnesses, while the testimony of the other set remained valid, both he, the one accused of violating the capital transgression, and they, the conspiring witnesses, are executed, and the second set, whose testimony remained valid, is exempt. Rabbi Yosei says: Transgressors are never executed unless his two witnesses are the ones forewarning him, as it is stated: “At the mouth of two witnesses…he who is to be put to death shall die” (Deuteronomy 17:6), from which it is derived that it is from the mouths of the two witnesses that the accused must be forewarned, and forewarning issued by someone else is insufficient. Alternatively, from the phrase “at the mouth of two witnesses” one derives that the judges must hear the testimony directly from the witnesses, and the Sanhedrin will not hear testimony from the mouth of an interpreter.
מִי שֶׁנִּגְמַר דִּינוֹ וּבָרַח וּבָא לִפְנֵי אוֹתוֹ בֵית דִּין, אֵין סוֹתְרִים אֶת דִּינוֹ. כָּל מָקוֹם שֶׁיַּעַמְדוּ שְׁנַיִם וְיֹאמְרוּ, מְעִידִין אָנוּ בְאִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי שֶׁנִּגְמַר דִּינוֹ בְּבֵית דִּינוֹ שֶׁל פְּלוֹנִי, וּפְלוֹנִי וּפְלוֹנִי עֵדָיו, הֲרֵי זֶה יֵהָרֵג. סַנְהֶדְרִין נוֹהֶגֶת בָּאָרֶץ וּבְחוּצָה לָאָרֶץ. סַנְהֶדְרִין הַהוֹרֶגֶת אֶחָד בְּשָׁבוּעַ נִקְרֵאת חָבְלָנִית. רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן עֲזַרְיָה אוֹמֵר, אֶחָד לְשִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה. רַבִּי טַרְפוֹן וְרַבִּי עֲקִיבָא אוֹמְרִים, אִלּוּ הָיִינוּ בַסַּנְהֶדְרִין לֹא נֶהֱרַג אָדָם מֵעוֹלָם. רַבָּן שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן גַּמְלִיאֵל אוֹמֵר, אַף הֵן מַרְבִּין שׁוֹפְכֵי דָמִים בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל: This mishna continues to discuss the matter of testimony in the case of one who is liable to be executed. Concerning one whose verdict was delivered and he was sentenced to death and he fled, and he then came before the same court that sentenced him, they do not overturn his verdict and retry him. Rather, the court administers the previous verdict. Consequently, in any place where two witnesses will stand and say: We testify with regard to a man called so-and-so that his verdict was delivered and he was sentenced to death in the court of so-and-so, and so-and-so and so-and-so were his witnesses, that person shall be executed on the basis of that testimony. The mishna continues: The mitzva to establish a Sanhedrin with the authority to administer capital punishments is in effect both in Eretz Yisrael and outside Eretz Yisrael. A Sanhedrin that executes a transgressor once in seven years is characterized as a destructive tribunal. Since the Sanhedrin would subject the testimony to exacting scrutiny, it was extremely rare for a defendant to be executed. Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya says: This categorization applies to a Sanhedrin that executes a transgressor once in seventy years. Rabbi Tarfon and Rabbi Akiva say: If we had been members of the Sanhedrin, we would have conducted trials in a manner whereby no person would have ever been executed. Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says: In adopting that approach, they too would increase the number of murderers among the Jewish people. The death penalty would lose its deterrent value, as all potential murderers would know that no one is ever executed.