|Noah Webster's Dictionary|
1. (a.) Pertaining or appropriate to courts of justice, or to a judge; practiced or conformed to in the administration of justice; sanctioned or ordered by a court; as, judicial power; judicial proceedings; a judicial sale.
2. (a.) Fitted or apt for judging or deciding; as, a judicial mind.
3. (a.) Belonging to the judiciary, as distinguished from legislative, administrative, or executive. See Executive.
4. (a.) Judicious.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
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 Exodus 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 (Joshua 8:33 Judges 8:3 1 Kings 21:8);
(2) to codify ancient custom, and
(3) to place the administration of justice on an organized basis.
It is significant that in one of the oldest documents in the Pentateuch-namely, in the Book of the Covenant (Exodus 20:20-23:33)-the miscarriage of justice was of such frequent occurrence as to require special mention (23:1-3, 6-8). In fact the Old Testament abounds with allusions to the corruption and venality of the magisterial bench (Deuteronomy 16:19 Leviticus 19:15 Amos 5:12 Micah 3:11; Micah 7:3; Isaiah 1:23; Isaiah 5:23 Zephaniah 3:3 Psalm 15:5 Proverbs 17:23). According to the Book of the Covenant (Exodus 23:8) `a bribe blindeth the eyes of the open-eyed.' This descriptive phrase indicates a prolific cause of the miscarriage of justice-an exceedingly common thing in the East, in the present no less than in the past. The prohibition in Exodus 23:3, "Neither shalt thou favor a poor man in his cause," is rather remarkable and many scholars are of opinion that "a great man" should be read for "a poor man" as, according to 23:6 the King James Version, the common fault was "wresting the judgment of the poor." The rich alone could offer a satisfactory bribe. But it should be pointed out that Leviticus 19:15 legislates in view of both tendencies-"respecting the person of the poor:" and "honoring the person of the mighty." Sympathy with the poor no less than a bribe from the well-to-do might affect the judgment of the bench. Deuteronomy 16:19 reproduces the words of the Book of the Covenant with a slight alteration-namely, "eyes of the wise" for "eyes of the open-eyed" ("them that have sight"). Both phrases vividly bring out the baneful effect of bribery-a magistrate otherwise upright and honest-open-eyed and wise-may be unconsciously yet effectively influenced in his judicial decisions by a gift sufficiently large. A similar phrase is found in the story of Abraham's life (Genesis 20:16). A gift of a thousand shekels to Abraham was intended to be a "covering of the eyes" for Sarah, i.e. compensation or reparation for the wrong which had been done. For a gift of such magnitude she ought to wink at the injury. Job 9:24 declares in his bitterness that God "covereth the faces of the judges"-inflicts judicial blindness on them so that justice in this world is out of the question. Judicial corruption was the burden of the prophets' preaching-"judges loved bribes, and followed after rewards," with the result that "the fatherless" and "the widow" were helpless to have their grievances redressed (Isaiah 1:23). A satisfactory reward would always secure the acquittal of the offender (Isaiah 5:23). Micah combines judges, priests and prophets under a similar charge; they are all guilty of gross venality (Isaiah 3:11). Proverbs 17:23 defines the wicked person as one who is always prepared to take a "bribe out of the bosom, to pervert the ways of justice"; on the other hand the good man is he who will not take a reward against the innocent (Psalm 15:5) or "shaketh his hands from taking a bribe" (Isaiah 33:15). In regard to Yahweh alone is absolute incorruptibility affirmed-he "regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward" (Deuteronomy 10:17).
1. Their Organization:
At the advice of Jethro, Moses appointed judges (shopheTim, Exodus 18). In Egypt it appears that the Hebrews did not have their own judges, which, of course, was a source of many wrongs. Leaving Egypt, Moses took the judicial functions upon himself, but it was impossible that he should be equal to the task of administering justice to two and one-half million people; hence, he proceeded to organize a system of jurisprudence. He appointed judges over tens, fifties, hundreds, thousands-in all 78,600 judges. This system was adequate for the occasion, and these courts respectively corresponded practically to our Justices of the Peace, Mayor's Court, District Court, Circuit Court. Finally, there was a Supreme Court under Moses and his successors. These courts, though graded, did not afford an opportunity of appeal. The lower courts turned their difficult cases over to the next higher. If the case was simple, the judge over tens would take it, but if the question was too intricate for him, he would refer it to the next higher court, and so on until it finally reached Moses. There were certain kinds of questions which the tens, fifties, and hundreds would not take at all, and the people understood it and would bring them to the higher courts for original jurisdiction. When any court decided it, that was the end of that case, for it could not be appealed (Exodus 18:25, 26). On taking possession in Palestine, the judges were to be appointed for every city and vicinity (Deuteronomy 16:18), thus giving to all Israel a speedy and cheap method of adjudication. Though not so prescribed by the constitution, the judges at length were generally chosen from among the Levites, as the learned class. The office was elective. Josephus states this plainly, and various passages of the Scriptures express it positively by inference (see Deuteronomy 1:13). Jephthah's election by vote of the people is clearly set forth (Judges 11:5-11).
2. Character of the Judges:
Among the Hebrews, the law was held very sacred; for God Himself had given it. Hence, those who administered the law were God's special representatives, and their person was held correspondingly sacred. These circumstances placed upon them the duty of administering justice without respect to persons (Deuteronomy 1:17; Deuteronomy 16:18). They were to be guided by the inalienable rights granted to every citizen by the Hebrew constitution:
(1) No man was to be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law (Numbers 35:9-34).
(2) Two or three witnesses were required to convict anyone of crime (Deuteronomy 17:6; Deuteronomy 19:2-13).
(3) Punishment for crime was not to be transferred or entailed (Deuteronomy 24:16).
(4) A man's home was inviolate (Deuteronomy 24:10, 11).
(5) One held to bondage but having acquired liberty through his own effort should be protected (Deuteronomy 23:15, 16).
(6) One's homestead was inalienable (Leviticus 25:23-28, 34).
(7) Slavery could not be made perpetual without the person's own consent (Exodus 21:2-6).
3. Their Work:
Gradually a legal profession developed among the Hebrews, the members of which were designated as "Lawyers" or "Scribes" also known as "Doctors of the Law" (Luke 2:46). Their business was threefold:
(1) to study and interpret the law;
(2) to instruct the Hebrew youth in the law; and
(3) to decide questions of the law. The first two they did as scholars and teachers; the last either as judges or as advisers in some court, as, for instance, the Senate of Jerusalem or some inferior tribunal. No code can go into such details as to eliminate the necessity of subsequent legislation, and this usually, to a great extent, takes the form of judicial decisions founded on the code, rather than of separate enactment; and so it was among the Hebrews. The provisions of their code were for the most part quite general, thus affording large scope for casuistic interpretation. Regarding the points not explicitly covered by the written law, a substitute must be found either in the form of established custom or in the form of an inference drawn from the statute.
As a result of the industry with which this line of legal development was pursued during the centuries immediately preceding our era, Hebrew law became a most complicated science. For the disputed points, the judgments of the individual lawyers could not be taken as the standard; hence, the several disciples of the law must frequently meet for a discussion, and the opinion of the majority then prevailed. These were the meetings of the "Doctors." Whenever a case arose concerning which there had been no clear legal decision, the question was referred to the nearest lawyer; by him, to the nearest company of lawyers, perhaps the Sanhedrin, and the resultant decision was henceforth authority.
Before the destruction of Jerusalem technical knowledge of the law was not a condition of eligibility to the office of judge. Anyone who could command the confidence of his fellow-citizens might be elected, and many of the rural courts undoubtedly were conducted, as among us, by men of sterling quality, but limited knowledge. Such men would avail themselves of the legal advice of any "doctor" who might be within reach; and in the more dignified courts of a large municipality it was a standing custom to have a company of lawyers present to discuss and decide any new law points that might arise. Of course, frequently these men were themselves elected to the office of judge, so that practically the entire system of jurisprudence was in their hands.
4. Limitations under Roman Rule:
Though Judea at this time was a subject commonwealth, yet the Sanhedrin, which was the body of supreme legislative and judicial authority, exercised autonomous authority to such an extent that it not only administered civil cases in accordance with Jewish law-for without such a right a Jewish court would be impossible-but it also took part to a great extent in the punishment of crime. It exercised an independent police power, hence, could send out its own officers to make arrests (Matthew 26:47 Mark 14:43 Acts 4:3; Acts 5:17, 18). In cases that did not involve capital punishment, its judgments were final and untrammeled (Acts 4:2-23; Acts 5:21-40). Only in capital punishment cases must the consent of the procurator be secured, which is not only clearly stated in John 18:31, but is also evident in the entire course of Christ's trial, as reported by the Synoptic Gospels. In granting or withholding his consent in such cases, the procurator could follow his pleasure absolutely, applying either the Jewish or Roman law, as his guide. In one class of cases the right to inflict capital punishment even on Roman citizens was granted the Sanhedrin, namely, when a non-Jewish person overstepped the bounds and entered the interior holy place of the temple. Even in this case the consent of the procurator must be secured, but it appears that the Roman rulers were inclined to let the law take its course against such wanton outrage of the Jews' feelings. Criminal cases not involving capital punishment need not be referred to the procurator.
5. Time and Place of Sessions:
The city in which the Sanhedrin met was Jerusalem. To determine the particular building, and the spot on which the building stood, is interesting to the archaeologist, not to the student of law. The local courts usually held their sessions on the second and fifth day (Monday and Thursday) of the week, but we do not know whether the same custom was observed by the Great Sanhedrin. On feast days no court was held, much less on the Sabbath. Since the death penalty was not to be pronounced until the day after the trial, such cases were avoided also on the day preceding a Sabbath or other sacred day. The emphasis placed on this observance may be seen from the edicts issued by Augustus, absolving the Jews from the duty of attending court on the Sabbath.
SeeDOCTOR; LAWYER; SANHEDRIN; SCRIBES.
Frank E. Hirsch
joo-dish'-al: This was the form of Divine law which, under the dominion of God, as the Supreme Magistrate, directed the policy of the Jewish nation, and hence, was binding only on them, not on other peoples. The position of Yahweh, as the Supreme Ruler, was made legally binding by a formal election on the part of the national assembly (Exodus 19:3-8); and that there might be no question about the matter, after the death of Moses, Joshua, in accordance with instructions received by his great predecessor in the office of federal judge, in the public assembly caused the contract to be renewed in connection with most solemn exercises (Joshua 8:30-35). No legal contract was ever entered into with more formality and with a clearer understanding of the terms by the several parties than was the contract which made it binding on the Hebrews permanently to recognize Yahweh as the Supreme Ruler (Exodus 24:3-8). He was to be acknowledged as the Founder of the nation (Exodus 20:2); Sovereign, Ruler, and Judge (Exodus 20:2-6); and in these capacities was to be the object of love, reverential fear and worship, service, and absolute obedience. Flagrant disregard of their obligations to Him manifested in idolatry or blasphemy was regarded as high treason, and like high treason in all nations and history was punishable by death (Exodus 20:3-5, 7; Exodus 22:20 Leviticus 24:16 Deuteronomy 17:2-5). The will of Yahweh in critical cases was to be ascertained through special means (Numbers 9:8 Judges 1:1, 2; Judges 20:18, 23, 28 1 Samuel 10:22).
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 (Deuteronomy 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
See BLINDNESS, JUDICIAL.
See COURTS, JUDICIAL.
Judicial (2 Occurrences)
Job 31:11 For it 'is' a wicked thing, and a judicial iniquity; (YLT)
Job 31:28 It also 'is' a judicial iniquity, For I had lied to God above. (YLT)