Monday, February 23, 2009

Supream Courts: Dt 17:8-10

"If any case is too difficult for you to decide, between one kind of homicide or another, between one kind of lawsuit or another, and between one kind of assault or another, being cases of dispute in your courts, then you shall arise and go up to the place which the Lord your God chooses. So you shall come to the Levitical priest or the judge who is in office in those days, and you shall inquire of them and they will declare to you the verdict in the case. You shall do according to the terms of the verdict which they declare to you from that place which the Lord chooses; and you shall be careful to observe according to all that they teach you." (Deuteronomy 17:8-10)
While in every city judges and officials were to be established for the dispensing of justice, God also provided for the appeal of difficult cases to higher courts. The appeal to a higher court was not to provide the condemned with a second chance at acquittal, but rather to provide an appeal relating to the execution, interpretation, and application of the law. In this passage difficult cases were appealed to those vested with greater wisdom than may have been common among the lower judges and courts. Specifically, those whom had a more accurate understanding of God's law, His intentions behind the law, and His will in applying the law. The same is true in our day. Often laws are passed by legislatures that are vague, ill conceived, of poorly defined as to how they may apply in different circumstances. For this reason we have higher courts that can provide further interpretation and proper application of the law as it may be applied to some difficult circumstances and/or to situations not previously envisioned by the legislature. What is also of note here are the types of cases that are enumerated in this scripture.

Homicide or literally blood or bloodshed. Of key concern is the proper distinction "between blood and blood" (Darby) or the delineation between different degrees or murder, manslaughter, or wrongful deaths. "But if he pushed him suddenly without enmity, or threw something at him without lying in wait... then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and the blood avenger according to these ordinances." (Numbers 35:22, 24)

Lawsuit or literally plea or judgment. These cases refer to the oppression and denial of rights to one citizen, or class of citizens, by another. "I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor." (Psalms 140:12 KJV)

Assault or literally stroke, plague, or wound. These cases would include actions that lead to a personal loss by the victim. For example, slanderous accusations that would injure the reputation, standing, and stature of an individual. It could also relate to cases of personal injury. "A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away." (Proverbs 6:33 KJV)

Dispute or literally a contest. These cases would involve any kind of dispute arising out of a disagreement between two parties. These types of cases seek a judgement between two opposing parties as to which is in the right and which is in the wrong. "He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him." (Proverbs 18:17 KJV)

David Robison

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