Court, Judicial

Court, Judicial.

Among the Jews, besides the Sanhedrim (q.v.) or great "council" (q.v.), there were lesser courts (συνέδρια, Mt 10:17; Mr 13:9), of which there were two at Jerusalem, and one in each town of Palestine. The constitution of these courts is a doubtful point. According to Talmudical writers, the number of judges was twenty-three in places where there was a population of 120, and three where the population fell below that number (Mishna, Sanhedr. 1:6). Josephus, however, gives a different account; he states (Ant. 4:8, 14) that the court, as constituted by Moses (De 16:18), consisted of seven judges, each of whom had two Levites as assessors; accordingly, in the reform which he carried out in Galilee, he appointed seven judges for the trial of minor offenses (War, 2:20, 5). The statement of Josephus is generally accepted as correct; but it should be noticed that these courts were not always in existence. They may have been instituted by himself on what he conceived to be the true Mosaic model; a supposition which is rendered probable by his farther institution of a council of Seventy, which served as a court for capital offenses, altogether independent of the Sanhedrim at Jerusalem (Life, 14; War, 2:20, 5). The existence of local courts, however constituted, is clearly implied in the passages quoted from the N.T.; and perhaps the judgment (Mt 5:21) applies to them. SEE MARKET. Under the Roman government there was a provincial court (συμβούλιον, Ac 25:12), a kind of jury or privy council, consisting of a certain number of assessors (consiliarii, Sueton. Tib. 33, 55), who assisted the procurators in the administration of justice and other public matters. SEE JUDGE.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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