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 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.