I’d like to understand if the people hearing Jesus talk in the parable of the persistent widow would have understood the judge to be a Roman official, and if the judge would have expected to be treated in some divine way.
I recall learning about this kind of societal structure in the 1st century Roman Empire when I was taking a scripture class a few years ago. But, when I do any kind of searches on the internet, I can’t find something that either confirms or denies this structure.
What I understood was that the head of the Roman government, the emperor, was thought to be a god. And, he would expect to be treated as such. Then, those reporting to him would also be a god, but a lesser god. And so it went on down the line.
Here’s the text of the parable of the persistent widow for context.
Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.’” The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
I ask this because I think it would draw a stronger contrast between the good nature of God and the bad nature of the judge. Jesus is saying here that if even this person who has serious problems can give something good to the helpless widow, then how much more so can God give something good to those who are helpless.