Shophet

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In Hebrew and several other Semitic languages, shopheṭ or shofeṭ (plural shophṭim or shofeṭim) literally means "Judge", from the verb "Š-P-Ṭ", "to pass judgment". Cognate titles exist in other Semitic cultures, notably Phoenicia.

Hebrew[edit]

In the Hebrew Bible, the shofṭim were chieftains who united various Israelite tribes in time of mutual danger to defeat foreign enemies. See Book of Judges for more details.

Punic[edit]

In the various independent city states constituting Phoenicia proper (the coasts of present-day Lebanon and southern Syria) and the Punic colonies on the Mediterranean Sea, a shofeṭ (in Punic, sufeṭ or suffeṭe) was a non-royal magistrate granted control over a city-state, sometimes functioning much in the same way as a Roman consul.

The term is mostly widely known from the suffetes of Carthage, a former Phoenician colony. Following the overthrow of its monarchy in the fifth century BC Carthage was ruled by a number of aristocratic councils presided over by two suffetes, who served in a similar capacity to Roman consuls.

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