Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Need for Local and Federal Institutions to Settle Disputes





The thing I envy most about the advanced political culture of ancient Judaism is the mechanisms in place for conflict resolution.  We see a perfectly functioning appellate system in Acts 15 for example.  But the problem with using Acts 15 as a political model is that we no longer have Apostles who met personally with Yeshua or who were closely related to Him.

So what models do we use?

The ancient Jewish model was constantly evolving.  But it appears that around the 1st Century C.E. that local communities would have had something similar to the following:

On the local level..

BET KNESSET:  "Since kehillot were invariably small, the assembly of the entire local community was able to function--and usually did so--through the single bet knesset.  Thus, plenary sessions of the entire local community (which could also be attended by women and children who were residents) possessed authority to confirm the apppointment of the rav of the community, to act as the board of appeals, and to elect a board of zekenim (elders--usually ten in number)...Elections were frequent..." (Elazar, Jewish Polity, pg. 156)

ZEKENIM:  "Executive authority was entrusted to the board of zekenim..." (ibid).

BET DIN:  Usually three elected judges.

YESHIVA:  The local or regional school.

On the federal level...

VA'ADIM (Congress):  This is merely one type of federal institution.  "It was designed to act as a periodic regional assembly of permanently  constituted kehillot, all of whom would benefit from the better management of their political affairs, both internal and external."  "...a va'ad was designed to act as a periodic assembly of representatives of permanently constituted kehillot on a confederated basis."

All of these institutions worked together symbiotically.  There's so much we can learn from ancient Judaism.  It's my hope that One Law communities eventually employ these institutions so that we can separate ourselves from corrupt, secular political institutions (such as those that allow same-sex marriage and no-fault divorce).

All teaching institutions should be accountable through local communities ideally.  We need to make it difficult for rogue teachers and institutions to lead so many Messianics astray.



NOTES:

Came across this interesting quote earlier this morning:

"The decree cited by Josephus of the boule and demos of Sardis, where a Jewish community thrived for centuries, including meeting houses, may be the best available indication of the full sociopolitical dimensions of such Jewish 'congregations:'

'that as their laws and freedom have been restored to them by the Roman Senate and people, they may, in accordance with their accepted customs, come together and have a community life (synagontai kai politeuontai, where the connotation is almost 'civil life') and adjudicate suits among themselves, and that a place be given them in which they may gather togethers with their wives and children and offer their ancestral prayers and sacrifices to God....(Ant. 14.260)'

While appreciating the special significance of the 'ancestral prayers and sacrifices to God' here, we can discern also the sociopolitical dimensions of such Jewish congregations which (again in Sardis):

'from earliest times...had an association of their own (synodos idia) in accordance with their native laws and their own place, in which they decide their affairs and controversies with one another. (Ant. 14.235)'," Kee & Cohick, Evolution of the Synagogue, pg. 51.

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