A System of Justice

Aug 16, 2015

שֹׁפְטִים וְשֹׁטְרִים תִּתֶּן־לְךָ בְּכָל־שְׁעָרֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לְךָ לִשְׁבָטֶיךָ וְשָׁפְטוּ אֶת־הָעָם מִשְׁפַּט־צֶדֶק׃

You shall appoint magistrates and officials for your tribes, in all the settlements that Hashem your God is giving you, and they shall govern the people with due justice.

Deuteronomy 16:18

וְכָל־הָעָם יִשְׁמְעוּ וְיִרָאוּ וְלֹא יְזִידוּן עוֹד׃

all the people will hear and be afraid and will not act presumptuously again.

Deuteronomy 17:13

Moses instructs the people to set up a court system with judges and officers. He exhorts the judges and officers to serve the people honestly and not let their judgment be clouded by bribery or the power of the people involved.


Moses reiterates the injunction against idolatry, this time singling out Ashera trees and pillars as forbidden forms of worship, and tells the people not to sacrifice any blemished animal to God.


Returning to the topic of the justice system, Moses tells the people if any of their number transgresses God’s laws against foreign worship, they should be brought before the court, tried and killed. Two witnesses are required for capital cases.


Any case too complex should be brought before a higher court, all the way up to the Levites who will clarify God’s will. Moses tells the people they should listen to the teachings of the Levites, and any who disregard them, or the judgment of the judges, shall be put to death.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think reminders not to commit idolatry are intermingled with instructions regarding the establishment of a legal system?

Spread the love