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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.


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.


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.