Judicial System 61

and upon your brethren: this do, and ye shall not be guilty.

And, behold, Amariah the chief priest is over you in all matters of Jehovah; and Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the ruler of the house of Judah, in all the king's matters; also the Levites shall be officers before you. Deal courageously, and Jehovah be with the good."

Appointment of vice judges.

(E) Ex. 2414

A full judicial system is now in force.

(D) Dt. 19*M

"One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth; at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall a matter be established.

If an unrighteous witness rise up against any man to testify against him of wrong-doing, then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before Jehovah before the priests and the judges, that shall be in those days:

And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and behold, if the witness be a false witness, and have testified falsely against his brother, then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to do unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee."

Submission of cases.

(0) Ex. 22 s-9

Moses was the earliest judge.

(E) Ex. 18**

In small matters the priests were the judges.

(E) Ex. 1822 The system of judges still in force at the time of Ezra.

Ezr. 725 1014 "And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God that is in thine hand, appoint magistrates and judges, who may judge all the people that are beyond the River, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye him that knoweth them not." The King as judge.

At first the King heard only appeals. Afterward all important matters.

1 K. 39

"Give thy servant therefore an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and evil; for who is able to judge this thy great people?"

1 K. 77

"And he made a porch of the throne where he was to judge, even the porch of judgment: and it was covered with cedar from floor to floor."

2 K. 15 5
IS. 8s
2 S. 144
Am. 23
Hos. 77
Ps. 210

All ordinary cases of dispute were submitted to the judges for decision.

(D) Dt. 25"

Exceptional cases were taken to the sanctuary, when the decisions were "decisions of Jehovah."

(C) Ex. 216 22 7-8
The following special cases are noted.
Charges of unchastity against wife.

(D) Dt. 22 *n
(P) Nu. 5 »«

Where a person was accused of false witness.

(D) Dt. 19 1719
Where a man was found slain in a field.

(D) Dt. 2119
Judges must judge righteously.

(C) Ex. 23" "Thou shalt not wrest the justice due to thy poor in his cause.

Courts 63

Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked.

And thou shalt take no bribe: for a bribe blindeth them that have sight, and perverteth the words of the righteous."

(H) Lev. 19 15 24 s2
(D) Dt. 161820
25 L a

16. 17.

(D) 2725 These constant injunctions reveal the existence in Jewish society of both rich and poor, and the necessity of giving religious sanction to commands to render exact justice between the two classes. They are like a flashlight into ancient Jewish life, revealing clearly the division of society into classes and the difficulty then as now, of obtaining justice.



Originally in Eastern lands there was no seperate Judiciary as in modern times. Those who decided disputes in fact exercised both judicial and legislative functions.

There soon arose the necessity to set apart certain persons whose sole duty was to determine causes in dispute. Later the division of function proceeded until civil suits were in general decided by judges, ethical questions by the prophets, ritual by the priests.

Courts were usually held at the city gates. (D) Dt. 2119 2215 25 7

"Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place."

Am. 512- 15-
Zech. 816

Sometimes in the Porch of Judgment.

1 K. 77 "And he made the porch of the throne where he was to judge, even the porch of judgment; and it was covered with cedar from floor to floor." Origin of the Supreme Court. (E) Ex. 18 ".



1. Court Procedure.

Parties brought their complaints to the judges after notice to the opposite party. Usually the statements of the parties were oral. Sometimes the complaint was written.

Job. 3135

"Oh, that I had one to hear me! (Lo, here is my signature, let the Almighty answer me), and that I had the indictment which mine adversary hath written."

Judgment could be rendered on confession. (P) Nu. 5 * 7

"Speak unto the children of Israel, When a man or woman shall commit any sin that men commit, so as to trespass against Jehovah, and that soul shall be guilty: then he shall confess his sin which he has done: and he shall make restitution for his guilt in full, and add unto it the fifth part thereof, and give it unto him in respect of whom he hath been guilty."

Otherwise witnesses were heard. The litigants brought their own witnesses.

In some cases a sort of trial by jury was had.


Contempt of court punished.

(C) Ex. 22 28

(D) Dt. 17 l2- a

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"And the man that doeth presumptuously, in not hearkening unto the priest that standeth to minister there before Jehovah thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die; and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel.

And all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously."

In cases of manslaughter there was a preliminary trial, similar to preliminary trials upon information in our modern practice, to determine probable guilt.

Jos. 20*

"And he shall flee unto one of those cities, and shall stand at the entrance of the gate of the city, and declare his cause in the ears of the elders of that city; and they shall take him into the city unto them, and give him a place, that he may dwell among them."

Final trial was had and judgment rendered by the "Congregation."

Jos. 20 1 6

"And if the avenger of blood pursue after him, then they shall not deliver up the man-slayer into his hand; because he smote his neighbor unawares and hated him not beforetime.

And he shall dwell in that city, until he stand before the congregation for judgment, until the death of the high priest that shall be in those days: then shall the man-slayer return, and come unto his own city, and unto his own house, unto the city from whence he fled."

In modern practice when a man is arrested charged with a crime he must be taken forthwith before a Magistrate, usually a Justice of the Peace, for a preliminary trial. At this hearing he is entitled to counsel, as he is at all subsequent stages of the case. If the Magistrate finds no probable guilt the party is discharged. But if probable guilt is shown he is bound over to await the action of the next Grand Jury. There must be an indictment found before he can be tried. This method

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