Judicial Law


The ruling official recognized by the Hebrews as a nation was the chief magistrate, but he stood as Yahweh’s vicegerent, and therefore combined various authorities in his person. We must distinguish the functions of the chief magistrate (1) under the republic, (2) under the constitutional monarchy, and (3) under the senatorial oligarchy after the Babylonian captivity. Moses was the first chief magistrate under the republic; after him, Joshua, and the other judges. Under the constitutional monarchy, it was the king whose government was limited, for he was to be elected by the people; must be a native Hebrew; must not keep a large cavalry; must not support a harem; must not multiply riches; must be a defender of the national religion; must be guided by law, not whim; must be gracious and condescending to the people (De 17:15-20). After the Babylonian captivity, the senatorial oligarchy combined ecclesiastical and state authority, later sharing it with the Roman government.

See also SANHEDRIN.

Frank E. Hirsch