Elder in the Old Testament
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The Resemblance Between the Old Testament and the New.
... most uncomfortably at home amidst the threats and alarms of his elder brother, and ...
David, let us learn that the holy fathers under the Old Testament were not ...
/.../the institutes of the christian religion/chapter 10 the resemblance between.htm

Ruth the Gleaner.
Children of the Old Testament. <. ... They both wept, and Orpah, the elder, kissed
Naomi and went away; but Ruth clung to her and refused to go. ...
/.../anonymous/children of the old testament/ruth the gleaner.htm

Joseph and his Brethren.
Mother Stories from the Old Testament. <. ... The history of Joseph teaches
us this truth. Joseph had one younger and ten elder brothers. ...
/.../anonymous/mother stories from the old testament/joseph and his brethren.htm

... In October 1796 Mr. A. Johnstone, thirty years elder in Lady Yester's congregation,
beside the University ... BENGALI"New Testament; Old Testament in 1802-9.1811 ...
//christianbookshelf.org/smith/the life of william carey/footnotes.htm

Privilege and Experience
... here we have a revelation of the father's love far more wonderful, in what he says
to the elder son ... That was the privilege of God's people in Old Testament times ...
/.../murray/the deeper christian life/ii privilege and experience.htm

Both Covenants were Prefigured in Abraham, and in the Labour of ...
... might be born; and also, in like manner, him who was the elder, as being ... 1) They
who speak as if the Mosaic system covered the whole Old Testament darken the ...
/.../irenaeus/against heresies/chapter xxv both covenants were prefigured.htm

Two Famous Versions of the Scriptures
... Only a few of the elder Jews could read Hebrew, and their children could not ...
/.../duff/the bible in its making/chapter vii two famous versions.htm

Christ and his Cross the Centre of the Universe
... gospel minus the thing that, in the Old Testament and in ... their sakes only, for the
New Testament commits itself ... The elder brethren in the Father's house do not ...
/.../expositions of holy scripture ephesians peter/christ and his cross the.htm

Secret Study of the Holy Scriptures.
... See too Professor Leathes' Witness of the Old Testament to Christ ... in the field of
the New Testament for the ... therefore need, even more than our elder brethren of ...
/.../moule/to my younger brethren/chapter iii secret study of.htm

Mothers, Daughters, and Wives in Israel
... Even in the Old Testament a distinction is made between betrothal and marriage ... and
a second daughter could claim a portion equal to that of her elder sister, or ...
/.../edersheim/sketches of jewish social life/chapter 9 mothers daughters and.htm

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Elder in the Old Testament


el'-der, (zaqen):

Among primitive peoples authority seems naturally to be invested in those who by virtue of greater age and, consequently, experience are best fitted to govern thus Iliad iii0.149. Later the idea of age became merged in that of dignity (Il. ii.404, ii0.57; Odyssey ii.14). In like manner the word patres came to be used among the Romans (Cic. Rep. 2, 8, 14). So also among the Germans authority was entrusted to those who were older; compare Tacitus Agricola. The same is true among the Arabians to the present day, the sheik being always a man of age as well as of authority.

From the first the Hebrews held this view of government, although the term "elder" came later to be used of the idea of the authority for which, at first, age was regarded necessary. Thus the office appears in both the Jahwist, J (9th century B.C.) (Exodus 3:16; Exodus 12:21; Exodus 24:1, of the elders of the Hebrews; and of the Egyptians, Genesis 50:7); and Elohist (E) (8th century B.C.) (Exodus 17:5; Exodus 18:12; Exodus 19:7 (the second Deuteronomist (D2)); Joshua 24:31, elders of Israel, or of the people. Compare the principle of selection of heads of tens, fifties, etc., Exodus 18:13, seventy being selected from a previous body of elders); compare Jahwist(J)-Elohist(E) (Numbers 11:16, 24). Seventy are also mentioned in Exodus 24:1, while in Judges 8:14 seventy-seven are mentioned, although this might be taken to include seven princes. Probably the number was not uniform.

Elder as a title continues to have place down through the times of the Judges (Judges 8:16; Judges 2:7); compare Ruth 4:2 into the kingdom. Saul asked to be honored before the elders (1 Samuel 15:30); the elders of Bethlehem appeared before Samuel (1 Samuel 16:4); the elders appeared before David in Hebron (2 Samuel 17:15 1 Chronicles 11:3); elders took part in the temple procession of Solomon (1 Kings 8:3 2 Chronicles 5:4). They continued through the Persian period Ezra 5:5, 9; Ezra 6:7, 14; 10:8, 14 Joel 1:14 margin and the Maccabean period APC Judith 6:16; 7:23; 8:10; 10:06; 13:12; 1Maccabees 12:35, while the New Testament presbuteros, Matthew 16:21; Matthew 26:47, 57 Mark 8:31 Luke 9:22 Acts 4:5, 23 makes frequent mention of the office.

The elders served as local magistrates, in bringing murderers to trial (Deuteronomy 19:12; Deuteronomy 21:1 Joshua 20:4), punishing a disobedient son (Deuteronomy 21:19), inflicting penalty for slander (Deuteronomy 22:15), for noncompliance with the Levirate marriage law (Deuteronomy 25:7), enforcing the Law (Deuteronomy 27:1), conducting the service in expiation of unwitting violation of the Law (Leviticus 4:13).

In certain passages different classes of officers are mentioned as "judges and officers" (Deuteronomy 16:18), "elders" and "officers" (Deuteronomy 31:28), "heads, tribes, elders officers" (Deuteronomy 29:10 Hebrew 9). It is probable that both classes were selected from among the elders, and that to one class was assigned the work of judging, and that the "officers" exercised executive functions (Schurer). In entirely Jewish communities the same men would be both officers of the community and elders of the synagogue. In this case the same men would have jurisdiction over civil and religious matters.


Schurer, GJV3, section 23, especially 175 Eng. edition, II, i, 149; Benzinger, H A2, 51; Deissmann, Bibelstudien, 153 (sv..); BDB, 278 (.); Preuschen, Griechisch-Deutsches Handworterbuch, under the word, 958.

W. N. Stearns



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