ONE OF THE PERSISTENT PROBLEMS OF SOCIETY IS FOR AN ACCUSED MAN AND AN accuser to secure justice. This is one of the gravest issues of our time and becomes more complex and more difficult of solution as society develops. Ancient Israel early developed a simple system designed for the securing of justice. The Elohist's story of Moses, which is the most psychologically brilliant and most adequate of all the early traditions of which Moses is the center, sets the beginnings of it at Kadesh. Moses is pictured as sitting to judge the people from morning until evening. When a matter of dispute arises among the people whom he has led as far as the wilderness, the parties concerned come to Moses, who judges between man and man and informs them of the divine laws. Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, seeing how wearing this is both upon the long waiting line of people and upon Moses, encourages him to appoint able and responsible men who cannot be bribed and organize them in a system of judicial administration. Moses places officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens, who will at set times judge the ordinary matters, but those that cannot so easily be settled, the difficult disputes, are to be brought to him. In such cases he is to be the mediator of the divine decision. Says Jethro:
Be thou for the people to Godward,
And bring thou the causes unto God. ( Exod. 18:19.)
Driver is right in maintaining that there is here a kernel of historicity which sets us at the beginnings of those precedents which are the origins of Israelite law. And it is clearly understood that some cases can be settled only by some one who is recognized as mediating the incisive truth and judgment of God.
The Deuteronomic law recognizes this same distinction. In the historical introduction to the Deuteronomic Code it is stated that when a dispute is too difficult for the appointed judges, the matter must be brought unto God: "The cause that is too hard for you, ye shall bring unto me, and I will hear it" (1:17b), that is, it shall be brought to the sanctuary, which in the Deuteronomist's thought was the Jerusalem Temple.
The Code of the Covenant, which was probably contemporary with Solomon in date, provides that in any trespass against another's property where the placing of the guilt is uncertain, the cause of both accuser and accused shall come before God, and he whom God condemns must make double restitution ( Exod. 22:9). This means that the decision must be made and the sentence given at the sanctuary with the presiding priest acting as judge.
The fact that such matters were to be decided and judgment given at the Temple is implied in the prayer of the dedication of the Temple by King Solo