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date: 28 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter examines the Old Testament evidence concerning the nature of the trial procedure in ancient Israel. Although the evidence is limited in comparison with the abundance of material available in the ancient Near East, the laws in the Pentateuch and the narratives in the Old Testament do provide indirect evidence for the way in which the judicial system operated in Israel and Judah. The elders played a prominent role in trials at a local level, and it is probable that the main qualification for eldership was possession of landed property. Appeal against arbitrary decisions by the local assemblies could be made directly to the king, though, in practice, this responsibility was probably delegated to his officials. In cases where there were no witnesses present the matter could be directed to God for a verdict by means of a “trial by ordeal.”

Keywords: Adultery, blood vengeance, corruption, elders, evidence, homicide, Jubilee Year, judicial procedure, oath, trial (by ordeal)

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