Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Judges in 2nd Temple Judaism

Last July 13th, I asked who appointed the Judges in 2nd Temple Judaism. I noted that both Micah and Jesus criticized the judges. Yesterday gospel reading on the Unjust Judge and Persistent Widow reminded me to return to this question of who appointed the judges.

In the time of the Second Temple, the High Priest was not only the religious leader of Israel and of the Temple, he came to be considered the head of the theocracy and the official representative of the nation to its Persian and later to its Roman rulers. G. Alon, The Jews In Their Land In The Talmudic Age, translated and edited by G. Levi, (Cambridge, Mass. 1989), 45. I suspected that the HP and the temple establishment appointed the judges but I am only guessing.

Since then, I have read a number of books on the legal system of Second Temple Judaism including the Criminal Jurisprudence of the Jews by Samuel Mendelsohn and Introduction to Jewish Law of the Second Commonwealth by Ze'ev W. Falk. I plan to read several others.

In 63 BCE, the Romans under Pompey took control of the region. The High Priest was authorized to serve as prostates tou etnou, head of the people, on behalf of the Roman government. This limited authority included judicial autonomy. In fact from the time of Persians to the destruction of the Temple, the conquerors confirmed the right of the Jews to live according to the laws of their ancestors. This limited autonomy included the power to appoint Jewish judges to try cases giving effect to the laws of Torah.

Copyrighted 2007


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