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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
But since the law must have universal application, the views of the individual scribe could not be taken as a standard; hence, the several disciples of the law must frequently meet for discussion, and the opinion of the majority then prevailed. To these meetings the youth interested in the study would be invited, that they might memorize the formulas agreed upon and might clear up the points upon which they were uncertain by asking questions of the recognized doctors (Luke 2:46 ).
Such centers of legal lore, of course, would seldom be found in rural communities; the authorities would naturally gather in large centers of population, especially - until 70
The second function of the lawyers was that of teachers. The renowned rabbis always sought to gather a company of pupils about them whose business it was to repeat the teachers' law formulas until they had "passed into their flesh and blood." For the purposes of such instruction as well as for the discussion of the teachers and the students, there were special schoolhouses, which are often mentioned in connection with the synagogues as places of special merit and privilege. In Jerusalem, these law schools were conducted in the temple - probably in the hall dedicated to this special purpose (Matthew 21:23; Matthew 26:55; Mark 14:49; Luke 2:46; Luke 20:1; Luke 21:37; John 18:20 ). The students during the lectures sat on the floor, the teacher on a raised platform, hence, the expression "sitting at the feet of" (Acts 22:3; Luke 2:46 ). Finally, the lawyers were called upon to decide cases in court or to act as advisers of the court. Before the destruction of Jerusalem, technical knowledge of the law was not a condition of eligibility to the office of judge. Anyone who could command the confidence of his fellow-citizens might be elected to the position, and many of the rural courts undoubtedly were conducted, as among us, by men of sterling quality but of limited knowledge. Naturally such men would avail themselves of the legal advice of any "doctor" who might be within reach, especially inasmuch as the latter was obliged to give his services gratuitously. And in the more dignified courts of large municipalities; it was a standing custom to have a company of scholars present to discuss and decide any new law points that might arise. Of course, frequently, these men were elected to the office of judge, so that practically the entire system of jurisprudence was in their hands.
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Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Lawyer'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/l/lawyer.html. 1915.