The Administration of Justice
Exodus 23:6-8
You shall not wrest the judgment of your poor in his cause.…

There was a close connection between the civil and the military constitution of the Hebrews. The same men who were captains of thousands and captains of hundreds in war were magistrates in time of peace. In every Oriental state the point of greatest weakness is the administration of justice. Those who have lived long in the East testify that there is no such thing as justice; that no cadi, sitting in the place of judgment, ever pretends to such exceptional virtue as to be above receiving bribes. The utmost that can be expected is the hypocrisy which is the homage of vice to virtue; and even this is seldom rendered, for where bribery is universal no one is constrained by shame to conceal it. Against this terrible demoralization no rock can stand but that of the Divine authority. In the administration of justice a theocracy is an ideal government, for it is Divinity enthroned on earth as in heaven; and no other form of government enforces justice in a manner so absolute and peremptory. In the eyes of the Hebrew lawgiver, the civil tribunal was as sacred as the Holy of Holies. The office of the judge was as truly authorized and his duty as solemnly enjoined as that of the priest. "The judgment is God's," said Moses; and he who gave a false judgment disregarded the authority of Him whose nature is justice and truth. The judgment-seat was a holy place, which no private malice might profane. Evidence was received with religious care. Oaths were administered to give solemnity to the testimony (Leviticus 5:1). Then the judge, standing in the place of God, was to pronounce equitably, whatever might be the rank of the contending parties (Deuteronomy 1:17). He recognized no distinctions; all were alike to him. The judge was to know no difference. He was not to be biased even by sympathy for the poor (Exodus 23:3; Leviticus 19:15). Magistrates were not allowed to accept a gift, for fear of bribery.

(H. M. Field, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause.

WEB: "You shall not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits.

Duties of Judges
Top of Page
Top of Page