Old age is generally held in honour and the aged in society are to be respected. Because of the wisdom associated with their advancing years elders had an important role of authority and guidance in Israelite society and the NT speaks of the leadership of elders within the church.
Elders in IsraelIsrael’s elders were probably the heads of families, qualified to lead by virtue of age and experience:Ex 3:16-18; Ex 4:29-31; Ex 19:7 Nu 11:25 The number of elders is reduced to 70 who are anointed by the Spirit for leadership alongside Moses. Town elders were responsible for apprehending murderers and settling matrimonial disputes:Dt 19:11-12; Dt 22:15-18; Dt 25:7 2Sa 5:3 Israel’s elders accept David as king; Mt 26:57 pp Mk 14:53 Jewish elders were among those who tried Jesus Christ. By NT times they had become involved with religious as well as civil affairs and their title related more to their role than to age.
God as one “advanced in years”Da 7:9This description of God as the “Ancient of Days” implies that he possesses the respectability, authority and wisdom to judge that accompanies age. It also points to his eternity. See alsoDa 7:13,22; Rev 1:14
Dictionary of Bible Themes Scripture index copyright Martin H. Manser, 2009. As Editor, Martin Manser wishes to thank all those who compiled or edited the NIV Thematic Study Bible, on which this work is based.
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