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, gather the elders of Israel together [the mature teachers and tribal leaders], and say to them, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared to me, saying, I have surely visited you and seen that which is done to you in Egypt;
And [the elders] shall believe and obey your voice; and you shall go, you and the elders of Israel, to the king of Egypt and you shall say to him, The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us; and now let us go, we beseech you, three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.
And you shall eat it thus: [as fully prepared for a journey] your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord's Passover.
And the Lord said to Moses, Pass on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand the rod with which you smote the river [Nile], and go.
And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices [to offer] to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses' father-in-law before God.
So Moses called for the elders of the people and told them all these words which the Lord commanded him.
God said to Moses, Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu [Aaron's sons], and seventy of Israel's elders, and worship at a distance.
And upon the nobles of the Israelites He laid not His hand [to conceal Himself from them, to rebuke their daring, or to harm them]; but they saw [the manifestation of the presence of] God, and ate and drank.
And the Lord said to Moses, Gather for Me seventy men of the elders of Israel whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; and bring them to the Tent of Meeting and let them stand there with you.
And Moab said to the elders of Midian, Now will this multitude lick up all that is round about us, as the ox licks up the grass of the field. So Balak son of Zippor, the king of the Moabites at that time,
And when you heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you came near me, all the heads of your tribes and your elders;
You shall appoint judges and officers in all your towns which the Lord your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment.
Then the elders of his own city shall send for him and fetch him from there and give him over to the avenger of blood, so that he may die.
Then your elders and judges shall come forth and measure the distance to the cities around him who is slain.
Then the father of the young woman, and her mother, shall get and bring out the tokens of her virginity to the elders of the city at the gate.
And if the man does not want to take his brother's wife, then let his brother's wife go up to the gate to the elders, and say, My husband's brother refuses to continue his brother's name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of my husband's brother.
And Moses with the elders of Israel commanded the people, Keep all the commandments with which I charge you today.
Gather to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears and call heaven and earth to witness against them.
So our elders and all the residents of our country said to us, Take provisions for the journey and go to meet [the Israelites] and say to them, We are your servants; and now make a covenant with us.
And he caught a young man of Succoth and inquired of him, and [the youth] wrote down for him [the names of] the officials of Succoth and its elders, seventy-seven men.
And Boaz took ten men of the elders of the city and said, Sit down here. And they sat down.
And Boaz said to the elders and to all the people, You are witnesses this day that I have bought all that was Elimelech's and all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's from the hand of Naomi.
When the troops had come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Why has the Lord smitten us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord here from Shiloh, that He may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies.
All the elders of Israel assembled and came to Samuel at Ramah
That we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.
Saul said, I have sinned; yet honor me now, I pray you, before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return 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 chiefs of the fathers' houses of the Israelites, before the king in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Zion, the City of David.
Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land and said, Notice now and see how this man is seeking our destruction. He sent to me for my wives, my children, my silver, and my gold, and I did not refuse him.
Ahab had seventy [grandsons] in Samaria. So Jehu wrote letters and sent them from Jezreel to the rulers of Samaria, to the elders, and to those who brought up Ahab's [grandsons], saying,
King Josiah sent and gathered to him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem.
Then we asked those elders, Who authorized you to build this house and restore these walls?
Leave the work on this house of God alone; let the governor and the elders of the Jews build this house of God on its site.
And that whoever did not come within three days, by order of the officials and the elders, all his property should be forfeited and he himself banned from the assembly of the exiles.
Let our officials stand for the whole assembly; let all in our cities who have foreign wives come by appointment, and with each group the elders of that city and its judges, until the fierce wrath of our God over this matter is turned away from us.
To bind his princes at his pleasure and teach his elders wisdom.
Let them exalt Him also in the congregation of the people and praise Him in the company of the elders.
Her husband is known in the [city's] gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.
And righteousness shall be the girdle of His waist and faithfulness the girdle of His loins.
Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the rest of the elders in exile and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon.
And in the sixth year [of the capitivity of King Jehoiachin], in the sixth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I sat in my house [a captive of the Babylonians] with the elders of Judah sitting before me, the hand of the Lord God fell there upon me.
Then came certain of the elders of Israel to me and sat before me.
In the seventh year, in the fifth [month], on the tenth [day] of the month [after the beginning of the Babylonian captivity, which was to last seventy years], certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the Lord and sat down before me [Ezekiel, in Babylonia].
The old men of Gebal [a city north of Sidon] and its skilled and wise men in you were your calkers; all the ships of the sea with their mariners were in you to deal in your merchandise and trading.
Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land in the house of the Lord, your God, and cry to the Lord [in penitent pleadings].
Gather the people, sanctify the congregation; assemble the elderly people, gather the children and the nursing infants; let the bridegroom [who is legally exempt from attending] go forth from his chamber and the bride out of her closet. [None is exempt from the humiliation.]