:"Suffete redirects here"In Hebrew and several other Semitic languages, shofet (plural shoftim) literally means "Judge", from the verb "Š-P-T", "to pass judgment". Cognate titles exist in other Semitic cultures, notably Phoenicia.


In ancient Israel, the shoftim were chieftains who united various Israelite tribes in time of mutual danger to defeat foreign enemies. See Book of Judges for more details.


In the various independent city states constituting Phoenicia proper (coasts of present Lebanon and Syria) and its "Punic" Mediterranean colonies a shofet (in Punic, "suffet" or "suffete") was a non-royal magistrate granted control over a city-state, sometimes functioning much in the same way as a Roman dictator. Fact|date=June 2007

Following the overthrow of its monarchy in the 400s BC, Carthage, a former colony but the only Phoenician state that had kept full control over its own colonies and thus build up the only 'empire' (but republican and depending on mercenaries) able to threaten Rome's hegemony, was ruled by a number of aristocratic councils presided over colleagially by two suffetes, who served in similar capacity to Roman consuls.

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