Justice, Administration of
Justice, Administration Of.
This seems to have been one of the first subjects which claimed the attention of the great lawgiver of the Hebrews. It appears from the advice of Jethro to Moses when "Israel was encamped at the Mount of God" (Ex 18:13-24). When Jethro had seen how constantly and laboriously Moses was occupied in "judging between one and another," he advised him to make some other provision in relation to the matter, and to restrict himself to the work which properly belonged to him, as the inspired teacher and leader of the people. This was accordingly done. A civil magistracy was created in a form adapted to the existing wants of the people, and by reference to the record we shall find how fully it covers every essential point in the case. The value of evidence in conducting trials; the principles upon which verdicts should be rendered, both in civil and criminal cases, together with the great institution of trial by jury, are all found in greater or less development in the statutes and ordinances given from God to the Hebrews.
Their courts of justice were of various grades, some known as high courts of appeal, and others so simple and multiplied as to carry the administration of justice to every man's door, and effectually to secure the parties against that ruinous evil, "the law's delay." "Judges and offices shalt thou make in all thy gates," was the command; and to what minute subdivision this creation of tribunals was carried out, we see in the ordinance directing that there should be "rulers over thousands, rulers over hundreds, rulers over fifties, and rulers over tens, who should judge the people at all seasons." The candidates for office were not to be selected from any one privileged class. They were taken" out of all the people." They were required to be well known for their intellectual and moral worth and their fitness for the station to which they were chosen. They were to be "able men, such as fear God; men of truth, hating covetousness;" "wise men, and understanding, and known among the tribes;" and these qualifications being not only all important, but all sufficient, none others were required.
With a judiciary constructed after this manner, justice could be administered promptly and freely; and, on the other hand, a remedy was provided against the evils of hasty decision, which could not fail in the end to discover and maintain the right of the case. And if "the best laws are those which are best administered," we shall find the ordinances given to the Hebrews for carrying the laws of the land into effect admirably adapted to their end, giving equal security to the poor and to the rich against violence and wrong. SEE JUDGE; SEE TRIAL. (E. de P.)