Justice and Righteousness in Israel and The Ancient Near East

Our first topic to be covered will be Justice and Righteousness in the Scriptures.

Lessons

Lesson One: “Justice and Righteousness”—משפט וצדקה

Length: 60 minutesAuthor: Rico Cortes

This is lesson one of Justice and Righteousness. The concept of social justice was expressed in Ancient Israel and in the Ancient Near East by means of a hendiadys. The most common word-pair to serve this function in the Bible is משפט וצדקה, “justice and righteousness”, or צדקה ומשפט, “righteousness and justice”. However, alongside this expression, we find צדק ומישור or צדק ומישרים, “righteousness and equity”, word-pairs which are found in poetic passages, and therefore appear primarily in parallelism (see Isa. 11:4, 33:15, 45:19; Ps. 9:9, 58:2, 98:9, and compare Prov. 1:3, 2:9). The word-pair צדק//משר is found in the list of gods from

Lesson Two: Justice and Righteousness as the Task of the King

Length: 60 minutesAuthor: Rico CortesComplexity: Standard

The establishment of a just society is the responsibility of the king. This can be seen in the following verses: in a passage juxtaposed to the announcement of David’s ascent to the throne, it is said that he “established justice and righteousness for all his people”...

Lesson Five: PRIVILEGES AND FREEDOMS FOR TEMPLE CITIES

Length: 120 minutesAuthor: Rico Cortes

From the earliest times, temple cities and temple holdings were granted exemptions from corvée, military service, and the like, because the imposition of taxes and conscription in such holy places was considered a violation of the rights of the citizens and the rights of the temple.

Lesson Six & Seven RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS OF ESTATES AND INDIVIDUALS,PROCLAMATIONS OF “FREEDOM” IN EGYPT, PERSIA AND GREECE

Length: 120 minutesAuthor: Rico Cortes

Rights and freedoms granted by the government were not limited to temple cities and temple estates; private estates were also granted such privileges. Thus in Elam, from the old-Babylonian period on, the mašûtum, an exemption to a private estate, was granted, e.g.:2 “The prince has granted a mašûtum, [the owner of the estate] shall not be taken on a campaign, he shall not dig [canals], and he shall not be drafted for military service”.

Lesson Nine: GOD WHO ESTABLISHES EQUITY (מישרים) AND PERFORMS RIGHTEOUS JUSTICE (משפט וצדקה)

Length: 130 minutesAuthor: Rico Cortes

Although there have been numerous studies of the concept of צדקה in the Bible, there has not yet been a separate monograph devoted to the subject of divine צדקה, an area deserving of consideration in its own right. F. Crüsemann attempted to elucidate this important subject and observed, quite rightly, that in order to understand the biblical passages concerning this subject, it is insufficient to define

Lesson Ten: JUSTICE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS AS THE TASK OF THE INDIVIDUAL

Length: 130 minutesAuthor: Rico Cortes

One cannot always determine whether a biblical passage which speaks of justice and righteousness applies to acts performed by the government (= monarchy) and its leaders, or whether the intention is of good deeds carried out by the individual. So, for example, the verse Genesis 18:19: “… that he may instruct his children and posterity to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice

Lesson Eleven: THE ISRAELITES AS SERVANTS OF YHWH, AND THE LAND OF ISRAEL AS THE LAND OF YHWH: ON THE NATURE OF THE JUDICIAL PATTERN

Length: 130 minutesAuthor: Rico Cortes

“For it is to Me that the Israelites are servants: they are My servants, whom I freed from the Land of Egypt” (Lev. 25:55)
From the examples cited in Chapters Four and Five we learned that the liberation of cities and their inhabitants from the yoke of foreigners and enslavers and their transformation into servants of God was an extremely widespread phenomenon in the Ancient Near East. This phenomenon was manifested both in the public realm (the freeing of entire cities and regions) and in the private realm

Overview Teaching of Righteousness and Justice

Length: 160 minutesAuthor: Rico CortesComplexity: Standard

*Article on the Anchor Bible Commentary*

The word ṣedeq-ṣĕdāqâ is used frequently in coordination with or in parallelism with mišpāṭ (order, ordinance, judgment, a regular way of doing something). The combination ṣedeq-ṣĕdāqâ and mišpāṭ is in essence a hendiadys describing that proper order in the life of the people that is put there and willed by God.