Economic judgment

Economic judgment April 13, 2012

Leviticus 19:35 interestingly links justice with proper measurements and balances. “You shall do no injustice in judgment” ( lo-ta’asu ‘avel bammishpat ), the verse begins. This repeats exactly the opening of 19:15. 19:15 goes on to warn about favoritism in court: “You shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly. 19:35, after the same opening clause, turns to economic matters: “You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measurement of weight or capacity,” and the next verse specifically commands Israelite merchants to maintain just balances and weight and measures.

The linkage between the two verses suggests an analogy between passing judgment in court and evaluating the weights and measures. Deciding on prices is an act of judgment, mishpat . The merchant is a kind of judge, and his evaluations are public acts analogous to the public decisions of a court. Court and market are both to be ruled by justice.


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