IIRC, God commanded Moses to ordain Joshuah, so the latter hadn't had to pass any exams. The next 20 generations were all [considered] prophets, so I guess they had divine revelations also.

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The Talmud mentioned Semichah in many places, but I don't recall any preceding test or close examination.

What about the following generations from Ezrah to the Talmudic Rabbis, those who weren't blessed with divine insight, how did they decide if a pupil was worthy of the Semichah?

  • 1
    Presumably just by knowing them well. Tests became necessary when people wanted semicha from Rabbis they did not personally know.
    – N.T.
    Sep 12 at 4:41

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