See also Elder
The elders seemed to occupy a continuing place of importance throughout the history of Israel, from their sojourn in Egypt to the postexilic period when mention was made that they gave orders to assemble the people to deal with the question of foreign marriages (
Nothing is said about the organization of the councils of the elders of the tribes. Their number prob. depended on the size of the local community; there were seventy-seven at Succoth (
In the Mari archives of the 18th cent. b.c. down to the royal correspondence of the Sargon dynasty in the 8th, the elders appear as representatives of the people and defenders of their interests, but without administrative functions. In the Hitt. empire, the elders did control municipal affairs and settled local disputes in co-operation with the commander of the garrison. The Phoen. towns had their elders also, as non-Biblical documents attest for Byblos and Tyre.
It is difficult to determine if the officials, שָׂרִ֖ים, are equivalent to the elders. In
J. Pedersen, Israel, I-II (1926), see “elders” in Index; C. A. Simpson, The Early Traditions of Israel (1948), 227, 629, 630; M. Noth, The(1960), 108, 226; R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel (1961).