The Bible is not just a random book of laws, it’s a collection of scrolls that document a particular group of people’s lives, religion and culture. Within the collection of scrolls we call the Bible; it has an in-depth government structure. The biblical government dealt with implementing a heavenly law not like our modern governments that implement men’s laws instead. The Highest God chose people to enforce his laws, ordinances, and commandments. The priest, judges and officers were ordained to take up this important task. I call it the heavenly council that makes up the foundation of the Biblical Civil Laws.
In this article I will describe each group’s role in Biblical culture according to the text. The bible establishes first a priesthood, second the judges and lastly officers. Men played a more dominant role than women in these positions. Since women in particular are designated to birthing and raising children, they were not always noticed in these positions of authority. Women had more value as judges and queens rather than as priest and officers.
The first order of heavenly/ biblical government starts with the priest. The priestly Levites executed the first order of authority, acting as a mediator between mankind and The Highest God. In order to fulfill this role properly they had to be perfect in every way; physically, mentally and spiritually all of the time. If they failed, they either died or suffered from position banishment. The job of the mediator was serious and extremely important. They were the only ones holy enough to make atonements for Israel and other groups of people for repentance and salvation. They knew The Highest God more than anyone else.
There were three prominent priests of the Old Testament who pioneered the existence of the Biblical Law. First was Melchizedek, Jethro and Moses. The order of Melchizedek is the first priesthood, established by The Highest God to bless Abram. Surprisingly the term “Melchizedek” means king and “Salem” is an early word for Jerusalem Genesis 14:18-20 At the time this king and priest of a land known as early Jerusalem was a foreshadowing of the priesthood, kingship, and salvation that would eventually come through Abraham’s descendants.
The First Three Priest.
Jethro was a priest of Midian close to the Mountain of The Highest God. Scripture doesn’t explain how Jethro and Melchizedek became priests. However, from observing the definitions of the words used to name the land they lived on, leads me to believe that The Highest God ordains priests. The presence of The Highest God filled the air and moved the souls of these men to holiness. Around this time Moses finds himself speaking with The Highest God, through the famous burning bush, near Jethro’s flock (Exodus 3:1-4). Later on, we see Moses, from the tribe of Levi is anointed a high priest of Israel. Moses first major mediator between mankind and the highest God. Although these three priests were significant, they were not perfect. Their role as priest was a foreshadowing of the true high priest to come, Christ, after the order of Melchizedek.
Judges Ordained by The High Priest.
The order of the judges is different from the priest in which they did not need any divine anointing or come from the tribe of Levites (Exodus 18:13-26). They were born from each tribe, holy and designated to execute punishments accordingly. Judges are an extension of the priest, who taught the law, enforced it and gave proper judgment depending on circumstances. Their job was specifically important to the nation because they knew the minute technicalities of the law. Although the priests were the mediators, the judges deemed who was worthy of mediation. And though the priest gave the final word on who is guilty and what punishment is needed, the judge executed those punishments. Judges had strong minds that did not have sympathy for any particular person.
The judges were individual people that gradually appeared to the Israelites in times of exile and war.. Samson and Deborah both well judged isreal well as our most well known biblical judges They were typically righteous warriors who saved Israel from the hostility of other nations. Judges and priest had similar jobs. They had divine insight as well but their primary job is making Israel choose their path, destroy the sinner and give everyone direction for a better life. Unlike the priests who were speaking directly to The Highest God, the Judges knew that they were prophesied to do a certain task for.
Most people don’t know much about this group of biblical law enforcers, the officers (Deuteronomy 16:18). They were a lot like the judges however they were the first line of defense in the society of Israel. If there was an issue in the streets of Israel, they handled it first. If Israel was on the brink of war, they were summoned first. Officers of Israel were men who came from every tribe. Officers, also known as men of war and numbered in the thousands. All nations had officers but Israel’s officers were powerful, always carrying a sword or two on their side. Sometimes the bible refers to these men as chiefs, leaders and men of valor. 1 Chronicles 28:1, Song of Solomon 3:7-8, 1 kings 11:28, 2 Chronicles 14:8.
Moses also established the order of officers. Scripture doesn’t give us much description of their role in society other than their dominant military affiliation. Nonetheless, they are prime protectors for the righteous against the wicked rather than law enforcers.
Royalty was also established in which men and women played a role in. In my next post I will explain the powers of the royal court under the subsection of the civil laws of the bible. Thus far we know that The Highest God ordains priests then Judges, and officers. All three forms of leadership and law enforcement provides Israelite society with structure and protection. Our society has a similar structure of authority however it differs in the way that there is no strong religious foundation in the law. Because of this our laws are always changing for the worse and sometimes for the best. Modern societies’ governments have much more detailed structure than the biblical style.