Imatges de pÓgina

fticef; but whether this was done by way of appeal from the judgment of inferior courts, as the dernier resort, or by way of confulting them in doubtful cafes, is not eafy to determine (R).

BUT, befides thefe, Mofes, and, after him, those who were at the head of the Ifraelitish commonwealth, were commanded to appoint a number of judges and magistrates in all cities, to adminifter juftice to the people in every tribe. These were to be men of wisdom and probity, well versed in the law of Mofes, free from covetousness and partiality, fuch as would protect the innocent, the fatherlefs and widow, the helpless and ftranger, and punish the guilty and wrong-doer 8. We find, likewife, feveral denunciations against those who should suffer themfelves to be bribed to act contrary to the ftrict laws of juftice; but as they were appointed by the kings, fo did their virtue rise and fall, according to the goodness or wickedness of these. We may fay more: Samuel was himself a most upright judge; and yet his two fons, who acted under him, proved moft unrighteous. David was likewife a pious monarch; and yet, had there not crept a great

f Vid. Judges iv. 5. 1 Sam. iii. 20. iv. 1. vii. 15, & feq. & alib. 8 Exod. xxiii. 8, & feq. Deut. xvi. 18, & feq. xvii. 2, & feq. xix. paff. xxiv. 16, & feq. xxv. 1, & feq. & alib. pass, Ezek. xliv. 24. præc. affirm. 97. 100.

(R) The latter, however, feems most probable, from the command of Mofes, that In all doubtful cafes, whether criminal or civil, wherein the inferior judges could not eafily determine, they should apply themselves to the priests, and to the judge or head of the people then in being, to whofe judgment they should fubmit,under pain of death (59). The Jews, indeed, pretend, that this application was to be made to the great council, or fanhedrin(60), which they pretend to have fubfifted ever fince the time of Mofes. But we shall fhew in

the fequel, that the council, which Mofes appointed, lasted only during the lives of those elders; and that this fanhedrin was a new institution,of a much later date. So that, in all doubtful and disputed cafes, no perfons could be more proper to be applied to, than thefe judges, who were indued both with the fpirit of GOD, and the fupreme authority; fince even this latter was thought fufficient afterwards,in the time of their kings; as appears, from very many inftances, especially thofe quoted in the margin (61).

(61) 2 Sam.


(59) Deut. xvii. 8, & feq.

(60) Præc. affirm. 3.

xiv. pass. 1 Kings iii. 16, & feq. 2 Kings viii. 3,& alib. pass.


deal of corruption into the courts of judicature, his fon Abfalom could have had no pretence for wifhing that he had been a judge, that he might do juftice to every one that applied to him h.

THESE Courts were held at the gates of the cities, and became, in time, very confiderable; but how they were kept, or how many judges belonged to each, whether their power was equal, or fome fubordinate to others, cannot be gathered from Scripture (S). In the flourishing reigns of David and Solomon they increased very muchi; and, in process of time, became fo corrupted, that the prophets were obliged, from time to time, to exclaim against them. One of them, having been fent to Jehoshaphat, to denounce God's heavy judgment againft Ifrael for those abuses, wrought fo upon that good king, that he immediately fet about making a thorough reformation, appointing new judges in every walled city, fome of whom were of the tribe of Levi, and charging them, in the moft preffing terms, to be more watchful and upright than their predeceffors: he likewife appointed two tribunals for the city of Jerufalem, the one confifting, chiefly, of priests and Levites, for matters of religion; and the other, which was moftly made up of the heads of families, for matters of ftate. In this condition they are supposed to have continued till the captivity, 'bating that, as the princes became more and more wicked, fo did the judges under them, till GOD was provoked to drive them out of the land. This is all we can fay, upon that article, with any tolerable cer

1 Vid. 1 Chron. xxiii. & feq.

h 2 Sam. xv. 2, & feq. paff.

(S) We read, indeed, that Mofes,during their abode in the wilderness,appointed rulers over thousands, over hundreds, fifties, and tens (62); and these were, in all likelihood, fubordinate to one another: but how far this model was followed, when they came into the land of Canaan, doth not appear. However, we may suppose,that thefe courts confifted, at first, but of very few perfons; and

(62) Exod. xviii. 24, & feq.

that every thing was transacted in them with the utmost plainnefs and fimplicity: neither were there many kinds of offices or dignities, fince we read but of four forts of officers,even in Joshua's time; namely, the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers (63). It is impoffible to determine what their officers were; only the last are fupposed to have been a kind of beadles, or executioners.

(63) Job. xxiv. 1.


tainty (T); and thus much we know concerning those tribunals, that they took cognizance of all civil and criminal cafes,

(T) As for what Jofephus and the Talmudifts add concerning magiftrates, and their courts, as their accounts differ from one another, and as we are not fure, but even the former doth rather describe them as they were after, than before the captivity; we fhall chufe to fubjoin them, in as few words

as we can.

If a man was condemned to death, he was to be immediately led to execution: a crier was to go before him, and proclaim the crime he was to die for; to the end that, if any person knew any thing that could clear him of it, he might be brought back to the judges, and have a fecond, and, if occafion offered, a third hearing. The fame indulgence was to be allowed him if he complained of being unjuftly condemned,whilft he went to the place of execution; in which cafe, he was to chufe two wife men to plead for him, and, if poffible, to obtain a reverfion of the fentence: but if in neither cafe he could prove himself innocent, he was then to be forthwith executed by the witneffes: for it is here to be obferved, that, if the crime was fuch as deferved hanging, the criminal was first to be stoned to death, and then hanged. But, before execution, he was to be exhorted to confefs his crime, and to pray that his death might atone both for it, and for all his other fins; which if he did, they gave him then a dofe of wine mixed with myrrh, or frankincenfe, to ftupefy him; after which, he was put to death. If he was to be hanged after it, as in cafes of idolatry, blafphemy, and the like, they ftayed till about an hour before funfet, and then tied his hands behind him, and hoisted him up till juft before funfet, at which time he was taken down, and both the halter and the gallows,

Befides the grand council of feventy, mentioned above, to which, they pretend, all other tribunals, throughout the land, were fubordinate; the Talmudifts tell us, there were two other courts, one confifting of three, and the other of threeand-twenty judges; and thefe, they fay, were to be in every city and town that had 120 inhabitants, according to fome; or families, according to others. The first of these courts were only chosen pro re nata, one by each party, and the third by the other two their cognizance extended no farther than to small matters, fuch as fervants wages, petty larcenies, reftitution, and the like: neither could they inflict a heavier punishment than whipping. That of twenty-three was allowed to judge of all capital caufes, and to condemn criminals to death: and if there arofe any difference in their judgment, it was carried by the majority; for which reason, they fay, their number was to be odd: but in cafes of moment,

and of a dubious nature, the
was to be confulted.


cafes, even where the offence was of a religious natur fuch as idolatry, blafphemy, witchcraft, facrilege, and t lik

or tree, were buried with him (65). They except, however, out of the cognizance of these courts of twenty-three, all cafes, whether criminal or civil, which related to the highprieft, to a whole tribe, and to falfe prophets; which, they pretend, were only to be tried by the grand council (66). To this a learned author thinks that expoftulation of Chrift to allude (67), O Jerufalem! thou that killeft the prophets (68). We own, indeed, this to have been the cafe of the fanhedrin, in our Saviour's time, and even fome time before, but not before the captivity; but how,or by what court or judges, these extraordinary cafes were to be tried, is impoffible to fay; unlefs we fuppofe,that it was done by a general affembly of the whole nation, or, at leaft, of the heads of them; as we find it in feveral inftances (69).

We shall, however, conclude this note with an account of the form of the court of the twenty-three judges, according to the Jewish doctors; because it had a near resemblance, not only to that of the fanhedrin, but, alfo, to thofe of other polite nations. They fat in the form of an halfmoon; in the centre of it was the prefident, whom they call NW, nafi, or prince; having the N,

ab beth din, or father of Senate, at his right-hand: t reft fat on each fide, accordi to their feniority, or merit. each end was a clerk, or fecr tary, who took the depofitio in writing; fome add a thir whose office was, to gather th votes of the court: at the fee of the judges fat their disciple: in three rows, or forms, whof business was, to observe every thing that was faid or done; and these were chofen to fucceed those on the bench, either at their death, or when they became unqualified by old age, or any other impediment. The accufed perfon was placed upon an eminent place in the court, that he might be easily seen by all; and the witnesses flood fronting him; these were to be diligently examined, and their character inquired into; and, if any flaw was found in it, they were fet afide: but if any was found to have given falfe evidence, the talion law was his portion (70); that is, he was condemned to the fame punifhment as his evidence would have brought upon the innocent. that is, the officers, or executioners, were alfo to attend the court conftantly, with rods, and leathern fcourges,in their hands, to execute the fentence of the judges: the accufed perfon was

,Joterim סופרים The

(65) Vid. præc. aff. 97, 98, & feq. ad 111.


(66) Vid. Mishnak, D, c. I. (67) Cun. rep. Heb. l.i. c. 12. (68) Luke xiii. 34. (69) Vid. Joh. xxii. 11,& feq. Judg. xx. 1,& feq. xxi. pa. Vid. & Min. ubi fup. Maimen in loc. & alb. Mof. Kotz, Selden de fynedr. Goodwin's Mof. & Aar. l. v. c. 3, & feq. Lamy, Čalm, differt. fur la polise des Hebreux, & al. (70) Deut. xix. 18, 19.


like for which reafon the priests and Levites were appointed to affift, if not to prefide in them. The next in authority to the magiftrates, were natural parents; and these were to be honoured and obeyed in a moft particular manner (U). St. Paul obferves, that this is the first command


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m Exod. xx. 12.

likewife allowed a counsellor to plead for him, who was called

by, babal-rib, the mafter of the process; and he stood on his right-hand, and pleaded for him. Many expreffions there are, in the pfalms, in the prophets, and other places of the Old Testament, that feem fo plainly to allude to one or other of thefe judicial forms,as make it more than probable,that they were in ufe long before the captivity. After a full hearing,the votes were gathered and examined; and,according to them, the perfon was either abfolved, or condemned, in words to this purpose: Thou, Simeon, art innocent; thou, Judah, art guilty: and if the latter, and his crime was capital, he was immediately put into the executioner's hands, and led to execution but if the crime was such as only deserved whipping, it was forthwith performed, before the whole court (73).

(U) The Talmudifts observe, that the law lays a greater ftrefs upon honouring our parents, than upon honouring God; because we are only injoined to honour the latter with our fubftance (74); whereas we are

Deut. v. 16, & alib.

bound to honour the former, whether we have any fubftance or not; and to work, in order to be able to maintain them (75). This is a duty to which the Egyptians feem to have been ftrangers, if what Herodotus fays of them be true, that the fons were not bound to maintain their parents, unless they were willing; but that the daughters were obliged to it,whether willing or not (76). It likewise excelled that of the Perfians, Greeks, Romans, and other polite people, in that it included both parents; whereas these only, or, at moft, principally, the father. This appears by the Perfian law mentioned by Ariftotle, by the Roman digests, and inftitutions mentioned by Epictetus, Simplicius, Philo de legatione, and others (77). We' fhall obferve farther, that the words of the promise annexed to this command run thus in the original: That they may prolong thy days, and fo on. From which the generality of Jewish interpreters conclude the word they to relate to the father and mother fo honoured; namely, that they might prolong, by their prayers and blef

(73) Vid. de bis Mifbn. tract. fanbedr. citat. Vid. & præc. affirm. fup citat. Simeon. Vid. præc. affirm. 112, & 113. Carlet, barm. of N. and P. laws, c. 6.


c. 5. Maim. M. Kotz, & al. fup.
(74) Prov. iii. 9.
(75) Rab.
(76) Herodot. l. ii. c. 25. Vid.
(77) Idem ibid.



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