(On another occasion) two other witnesses came and said: We saw the moon on its proper day, but could not see it on the next evening. R. Gamaliel accepted their testimony, but R. Dosa b. Harkenas said: They are false witnesses; for how can they testify of a woman being delivered (on a certain day) when on the next day she appears to be pregnant? Then R. Yehoshua said to him: I approve your opinion. Upon this R. Gamaliel sent him (R. Yehoshua) word, saying: "I order thee to appear before me on the Day of Atonement, according to your computation, with your staff and with money." R. Akiva went to him and found him grieving. He then said to him: I can prove that all which R. Gamaliel has done is proper, for it is said: "These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which ye shall proclaim," either at their proper time, or not at their proper time, only their convocations are to be considered as holy festivals. When he (R. Yehoshua) came to R. Dosa b. Harkhinas, the latter told him: "If we are to reinvestigate the decisions of the Beth Din of R. Gamaliel, we must also reinvestigate the decisions of all the tribunals of justice which have existed from the time of Moses till the present day; for it is said [Ex. xxiv. 9] Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy elders went up (to the Mount)." Why were not the names of the elders also specified? To teach us that every three men in Israel that form a Beth Din are to be respected in an equal degree with the Beth Din of Moses.
The rabbis taught: The reason that the names of those elders are not mentioned, is, in order that one should not say: Is So-and-so like Moses and Aaron? Is So-and-so like Nadabh and Abihu? Is So-and-so like Eldad and Medad? (And how do we know that one should not ask thus?) Because, it is written [i Sam. xii. 6]: "And Samuel said unto the people the Lord that appointed Moses and Aaron "and in the same connection it is written [ibid. 11]: "And the Lord sent Yerubaal and Bedan and Yiftach and Shmuel." [Yerubaal is Gideon; and why is he named Yerubaal? Because he strove against Baal. Bedan is Samson; and why is he named Bedan? Because he came from Dan. Yitfach means just what it is (i.e., he had no surname or attribute).] And it is also written [Ps. xcix. 6]: "Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among those who called upon his name." The sacred text regards the three common people equal with the three noblest, to teach us that Yerubaal was in his generation like Moses in his; Bedan in his generation was like Aaron in his; Yiftach in his generation was like Samuel in his generation. From all this one must learn that if even the commonest of the commoners is appointed leader by a community, he must be considered as the noblest of the nobility, for it is said [Deut.
xvii. 9]: "And thou shalt come unto the priests, the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in his days." (Why does the passage say "in those days"?) Can you imagine that one could go to a judge who was not in his days? (Surely not! But by these words Scripture teaches us that a judge is to be held "in his days" equal in authority with the greatest of his predecessors.) We find a similar teaching in Eccles. vii. 10: "Say not thou that the former days were better than these!