In Hebrew and several other Semitic languages, shophet or shofet (plural shophtim or shofetim) literally means "Judge", from the verb "Š-P-T", "to pass judgment". Cognate titles exist in other Semitic cultures, notably Phoenicia.
In the various independent city states constituting Phoenicia proper (the coasts of present-day Lebanon and Syria) and its "Punic" Mediterranean colonies, a shofet (in Punic, suffet or suffete) 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 5th century BC, Carthage was ruled by a number of aristocratic councils presided over by two suffetes, who served in similar capacity to Roman consuls.
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