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Bible Dictionaries

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary


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A principle of righteousness and equity, controlling our conduct, and securing a due regard to all the rights of others-their persons, property, character, and interests. It has to do, not with pecuniary transactions alone, but with all our intercourse with society. It forms a chief element of the character approved in God's word; and a truly just man has but to "love mercy, and walk humbly with God," to fulfil all righteousness. Justice in magistrates, rulers, and judges, must be fearless and impartial, and all its decisions such as will bear revision before the court of heaven, Deuteronomy 1:16,17 2 Samuel 23:3 2 Chronicles 19:6-10 . Judgement is peculiarly the prerogative of God, and every earthly tribunal lies under the shadow of the "great white throne." A just judgment is the voice of God; and hence an unjust one is doubly hateful in his sight.

THE JUSTICE OF GOD is that essential and infinite attribute which makes his nature and his ways the perfect embodiment of equity, and constitutes him the model and the guardian of equity throughout the universe, Deuteronomy 32:4 Psalm 89:14 . The justice of God could not leave the world without laws, and cannot fail to vindicate them by executing their penalties; and as all mankind perpetually break them, every human soul is under condemnation, and must perish, unless spared through the accepted ransom, the blood of Christ.

THE ADMINSITRATION OF JUSTICE among the Hebrews, was characterized by simplicity and promptitude. In early times the patriarch of each family was its judge, Genesis 38:24 . Afterwards, in the absence of more formal courts, the elders of a household, tribe, or city, were its judges by natural right. In the wilderness, Moses organized for the Jews a regular system of judges, some having jurisdiction over ten families, others over fifty, one hundred, or one thousand. The difficult cases were referred to Moses, and he often sought divine direction concerning them, Exodus 18:21-26 Leviticus 24:12 . These judges were perhaps the "princes of the congregation," and the chiefs of the families and tribes of whom we afterwards read, Numbers 27:3 . In the land of Canaan, local magistrates were appointed for every city and village; and these were instructed to cooperate with the priests, as being all together under the theocracy, the actual government of Jehovah, the supreme Judge of Israel, Deuteronomy 16:18 17:8-10 19:17 21:16 . Their informal courts were held in the gate of the city, as the most public and convenient place, Deuteronomy 21:9 22:15 25:7; and in the same place contracts were ratified, Ruth 4:1,9 Jeremiah 32:7-15 . Deborah the prophetess judged Israel beneath a palm-tree, Judges 4:5 . Samuel established virtually a circuit court, 1 Samuel 7:16 8:1; and among the kings, Jehoshaphat made special provision for the faithful administration of justice, 2 Chronicles 19:1-11 . The kings themselves were supreme judges, with almost unlimited powers, 1 Samuel 22:16 2 Samuel 4:9,10 1 Kings 22:26 . They were expected, however, to see that justice was everywhere done, and seem to have been accessible to all who were wronged. Frequent complaints are on record in the sacred books of the maladministration of judges, of bribery and perjury, 1 Samuel 8:3 1 Kings 21:8-14 Isaiah 1:23 10:1 Micah 3:11 7:3 .

There was no class among the Jews exactly corresponding to our lawyers. The accuser and the accused stood side by side before the judge, with their witnesses, and pleaded their own cause. The accuser is named in several places, Satan, that is, the adversary, Psalm 109:6 Zechariah 3:1-3 . No one could be condemned without the concurring testimony of at least two witnesses, Numbers 35:30; and these failing, he was obliged to make oath of his innocence, Exodus 22:11 Hebrews 6:16 . The sentence of the judge was instantly executed; and in certain cases the witnesses cast the first stone, Deuteronomy 17:5,7 25:2 Joshua 7:24 1 Samuel 22:18 1 Kings 2:24 Proverbs 16:14 . The same frightful celerity still marks the administration of justice in the East. The application of torture to extract evidence is only once mentioned, and that under the authority of Rome, Acts 22:24 . See SANHEDRIM and SYNAGOGUE .

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of the topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859.

Bibliography Information
Rand, W. W. Entry for 'Justice'. American Tract Society Bible Dictionary. 1859.

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