ju-dish’-al, joo-dish’-al: Among the ancient Israelites in the pre-Canaanite period disputes within the family or clan or tribe would be settled by the natural head of the family or clan or tribe. According to Ex 18 Moses, as the leader of the tribes, settled all disputes. But he was compelled to appoint a body of magistrates--heads of families--to act in conjunction with himself, and under his judicial oversight. These magistrates settled ordinary disputes while he reserved for himself the more difficult cases. After the conquest of Canaan, the conditions of life became so complex, and questions of a difficult nature so constantly arose, that steps were taken
(1) to appoint official judges--elders of the city (Jos 8:33; Jud 8:3; 1Ki 21:8);
(2) to codify ancient custom, and
(3) to place the administration of justice on an organized basis.