Principles Of Female Ordination In The Old Testament -- By: Christina Campbell

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 07:2 (Spring 1993)
Article: Principles Of Female Ordination In The Old Testament
Author: Christina Campbell


Principles Of Female Ordination In The Old Testament

Christina Campbell

Originally from Britain where she was active in Men, Women, and God, CBE member Christina Campbell is a pastor’s wife and teacher of the deaf.

Origin Of The Office Of Judge

Where did judges like Deborah come from? We read in Acts 13:20-21 that the Israelites settled in Canaan and “After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. Then the people asked for a king....”

The first mention of such a judge we find in Exodus 18:13ff: “The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people…” Moses explained his actions to Jethro, his father-in-law: “the people come to me to seek God’s will. Whenever they have a dispute it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and laws.” Jethro could see that this was an impossible task for one man and advised Moses to appoint subordinate judges to help him. The qualifications for such judges are similar to the qualifications required of New Testament elders today —well taught, capable, God-fearing, trustworthy, haters of dishonest gain (Judges 18:20-21). Jethro’s advice continued: “Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter because they will share it with you.” Moses listened.

Like other societies of the day, the Israelites already had ancestral heads of families called elders, and it was from these that Moses chose seventy judges with the requisite qualifications. God acknowledged these judges by putting his Spirit on them (Num 11:16-17). The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, in its section on bishops, says about them that “The chief function of the elders was to study and teach the law, and apply it against offenders” (p.618). Moses continued to be the chief judge and from then on there was: “the judge who is in office” (Deut 17:9), who functioned as chief judge and leader of the people.

Unfortunately, Israel forgot God after the death of Joshua’s generation and became prey to her heathen enemies. In spite of her unfaithfulness, God was merciful when Israel repented. We are told: “Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived” (Judges 2:18).

Some of the judges were military leaders, such as Gideon and Samso...

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