The rudimentary form of government which prevailed amongst the Hebrews in primitive times grew out of family life. As the father is head of the household, so the chiefs of the principal families ruled the clan and the tribe, their authority being ill-defined, and, like that of an Arab sheik, depending on the consent of the governed. In our earliest documents the 'elders of Israel' are the men of position and influence, who represent the community in both religious and civil affairs (Ex 3:16,18; 12:11; 17:5 f., Ex 18:12; 19:7; Nu 11:16; De 5:23; 27:1; 31:28): the 'elders' of Ex 24:1 are the 'nobles' of Ex 24:11. Josephus sums up correctly when he makes Moses declare: 'Aristocracy
"Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, 'The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, "I am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you in Egypt.
"They will pay heed to what you say; and you with the elders of Israel will come to the king of Egypt and you will say to him, 'The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us So now, please, let us go a three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.'
'Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste--it is the LORD'S Passover.
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go.
Then Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses' father-in-law before God.
So Moses came and called the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which the LORD had commanded him.
Then He said to Moses, "Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu and seventy of the elders of Israel, and you shall worship at a distance.
Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they saw God, and they ate and drank.
The LORD therefore said to Moses, "Gather for Me seventy men from the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and their officers and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you.
Moab said to the elders of Midian, "Now this horde will lick up all that is around us, as the ox licks up the grass of the field." And Balak the son of Zippor was king of Moab at that time.
"And when you heard the voice from the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes and your elders.
"You shall appoint for yourself judges and officers in all your towns which the LORD your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment.
then the elders of his city shall send and take him from there and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die.
then your elders and your judges shall go out and measure the distance to the cities which are around the slain one.
then the girl's father and her mother shall take and bring out the evidence of the girl's virginity to the elders of the city at the gate.
"But if the man does not desire to take his brother's wife, then his brother's wife shall go up to the gate to the elders and say, 'My husband's brother refuses to establish a name for his brother in Israel; he is not willing to perform the duty of a husband's brother to me.'
Then Moses and the elders of Israel charged the people, saying, "Keep all the commandments which I command you today.
"Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak these words in their hearing and call the heavens and the earth to witness against them.
"So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying, 'Take provisions in your hand for the journey, and go to meet them and say to them, "We are your servants; now then, make a covenant with us."'
And he captured a youth from Succoth and questioned him. Then the youth wrote down for him the princes of Succoth and its elders, seventy-seven men.
He took ten men of the elders of the city and said, "Sit down here." So they sat down.
Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, "You are witnesses today that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon.
When the people came into the camp, the elders of Israel said, "Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us take to ourselves from Shiloh the ark of the covenant of the LORD, that it may come among us and deliver us from the power of our enemies."
Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah;
that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles."
Then he said, "I have sinned; but please honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and go back with me, that I may worship the LORD your God."
Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the fathers' households of the sons of Israel, to King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD from the city of David, which is Zion.
Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land and said, "Please observe and see how this man is looking for trouble; for he sent to me for my wives and my children and my silver and my gold, and I did not refuse him."
Now Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. And Jehu wrote letters and sent them to Samaria, to the rulers of Jezreel, the elders, and to the guardians of the children of Ahab, saying,
Then the king sent, and they gathered to him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem.
"Then we asked those elders and said to them thus, 'Who issued you a decree to rebuild this temple and to finish this structure?'
"Leave this work on the house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews rebuild this house of God on its site.
and that whoever would not come within three days, according to the counsel of the leaders and the elders, all his possessions should be forfeited and he himself excluded from the assembly of the exiles.
"Let our leaders represent the whole assembly and let all those in our cities who have married foreign wives come at appointed times, together with the elders and judges of each city, until the fierce anger of our God on account of this matter is turned away from us."
To imprison his princes at will, That he might teach his elders wisdom.
Let them extol Him also in the congregation of the people, And praise Him at the seat of the elders.
Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land.
Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins, And faithfulness the belt about His waist.
Now these are the words of the letter which Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the rest of the elders of the exile, the priests, the prophets and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.
It came about in the sixth year, on the fifth day of the sixth month, as I was sitting in my house with the elders of Judah sitting before me, that the hand of the Lord GOD fell on me there.
Then some elders of Israel came to me and sat down before me.
Now in the seventh year, in the fifth month, on the tenth of the month, certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the LORD, and sat before me.
"The elders of Gebal and her wise men were with you repairing your seams; All the ships of the sea and their sailors were with you in order to deal in your merchandise.
Consecrate a fast, Proclaim a solemn assembly; Gather the elders And all the inhabitants of the land To the house of the LORD your God, And cry out to the LORD.
Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, Assemble the elders, Gather the children and the nursing infants Let the bridegroom come out of his room And the bride out of her bridal chamber.