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Elders in the Old Testament
(319 words)

[German Version]

In Mesopotamia, the elders constituted a body of local authorities, as already in the Gilgamesh Epic (TUAT III, 658, 686; cf. 549ff.). The functions of city elders in the OT (ziqnê hā'îr) included ritual (1 Kgs 21), political (Judg 8; 1 Kgs 12; 2 Kgs 10), and legal (Deut 21:18ff.; Lam 5:14) tasks. In the Pentateuch, the elders of Israel participate in the theophany and covenant at Sinai (Exod 24), and are present at Aaron's first sacrifice (Lev 9:1). Deuteronomistic historiography marks transitions by the elders: Israel's apostasy begins …

Cite this page
Rüterswörden, Udo, “Elders in the Old Testament”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 23 July 2024 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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