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$ 219. Form of government a Mixed one. 201
received their oath from the comitia, acting in the name of the peo-
§ 219. Form of Government A Mixed one.
When we remember, that God was expressly chosen the king of the people, and that He enacted laws and decided litigated points of importance, Num. 17: 1–11. 27:1–11. 36: 1–10; when we remember also, that He answered and solved questions proposed, Num. 15:32–41. Josh. 7: 16–22. Judg. 1: 1, 2, 20:18, 27, 28. 1 Sam. 14: 37. 23: 9–12. 30: 8. 2 Sam. 2: 1; that He threatened punishment and that, in some instances, He actually inflicted it upon the hardened and impenitent, Num. 11: 33–35. 12. 1—15. 16. 1–50. Lev. 26: 3–46. Deut. xxvi. xxx; when, finally, we take into account, that He promised prophets, who were to be, as it were his ambassadors, Deut. xviii. and afterwards sent them according to his promise, and that, in order to preserve the true religion, He governed the whole people by a striking and peculiar providence, we are at liberty to say, that God was in fact the monarch of the people, and that the government was a theocracy. And indeed it is worthy of remark, that a form of government, in some degree theocratical in its nature, was well suited to the character of that distant age. The countries, that border262 § 219. form of GoverNMENT A Mixed one.
ed on Palestine, had their tutelar deities; and there existed among them nearly the same connexion between religion and the civil government, which there existed among the Hebrews. There was this difference, however, in the two cases. The protection, which the false deities were supposed to afford to the nations in the vicinity of Palestine, was altogether a deception; while the protection, which the true God threw around the children of Israel, was a reality and a truth. There was likewise this further point of difference, that while among the former, religion was supposed to be the prop of the state; it was a fact, that among the Hebrews the state was designed to be the supporter and preserver of religion. But although the government of the Jews was a theocracy, it was not destitute of the usual forms, which exist in civil governments among men. God, it is true, was the king, and the high priest, if we may be allowed so to speak, was his minister of state; but still the political affairs were in a great measure under the disposal of the elders, princes, etc. It was to them that Moses gave the divine commands; determined expressly their powers; and submitted their requests to the decision of God, Num. 14: 5. 16:4, et seq. 27: 5. 36: 5, 6. It was in reference to the great power possessed by these men, who formed the legislative assembly of the nation, that Josephus pronounced the government to be aristocratical. But from the circumstance, that the people possessed so much influence, as to render it necessary to submit laws to them for their ratification, and that they even took it upon themselves sometimes to propose laws or to resist those, which were enacted ; from the circumstance also, that the legislature of the nation had not the power of laying taxes, and that the civil code was regulated and enforced by God himself, independently of the legislature, Lowman and John David Michaelis are in favour of considering the Hebrew government a democracy. In support of their opinion such passages are examined, as the following, Exod. 19:7, 8, 24; 3–8, comp. Deut. 29: 9–14. Josh, 9: 18, 19. 23:1, et seq. 24: 2, et seq. 1 Sam. 10; 24. 11: 14, 15. Num. 27: 1–8. 36: 1–9. The truth seems to lie between these two opinions. The Hebrew government, putting out of view its theocratical features, was of a mixed form, in some respects approaching to a democracy, in others assuming more of an aristocratical character.
§ 220. RULER or The Israelitish community. 263
§ 220. The Ruler of the Israelitish CoMMUnity.
From what has been said, it is clear, THAT THE RULER, The suPREME HEAD of the politicAL community IN QUEstion was God, who, with the design of promoting the good of his subjects, condescended to exhibit his visible presence in the tabernacle, wherever it travelled, and wherever it dwelt.
PART sustAINED BY Moses.
If, in reference to the assertion, that God was the ruler of the Jewish state, it should be inquired what the part was, sustained by Moses, the answer is, that God was the ruler, the people were his subjects, and Moses was the mediator or internuncio between them. But the title most appropriate to Moses, and most descriptive of the part he sustained, is that of Legislator of the Israelites and their Deliverer from the Egyptians. It is clear, however, that a man may originate laws and may be the meritorious leader of an emigratory expedition, without being in the proper sense of the word, the ruler of a people. Accordingly Moses had no successor in those employments, in which he was himself especially occupied, for the Israelites were no longer oppressed with Egyptian bondage, and those laws were already introduced, which were immediately necessary for the well-being of the people. It was on this ground, viz. that the employments, in which he was especially engaged, were of a peculiar nature, and having been accomplished while he was living, ceased when he was dead, that the council of seventy elders, who were assigned him to assist him in the discharge of his oppressive duties, no longer had an existence after his deCease.
PART sustained by Joshua.
If the same question should be put in respect to Joshua, that was supposed in regard to Moses, the answer would be, that he was not properly the successor of Moses, and that, so far from being the ruler of the state, he was designated by the ruler to sustain the subordinate office of military Leader of the Israelites in their 264 § 221. THE THEocracy.
conquest of the land of Canaan. Consequently, having been designated to a particular object, and having accomplished that object, it was not necessary, when he died, that he should have a successor, nor was this the case.
PART sustained BY THE JUDGEs.
But, although the Hebrew state was so constituted, that beside God, the 'invisible king, and his visible servant, the high priest, there was no other general ruler of the commonwealth, yet it is well known, that there were rulers of a high rank, appointed at various times, called topio, a word, which not only signifies a judge in the usual sense of the term, but any governor, or administrator of public affairs, comp. 1 Sam. 8:20. Is. 11:4, 1 K. 3:9. The power lodged in these rulers, who are commonly called judges in the scriptures, seems to have been in some respects paramount to that of the general comitia of the nation, and we find, that they declared war, led armies, concluded peace, and that this was not the whole, if indeed it was the most important part of their duties. For many of the judges, for instance Jair, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, Eli, and Samuel, ruled the nation in peace. They might appropriately enough be called the supreme executive, exercising all the rights of sovereignty, with the exception of enacting laws, and imposing taxes. They were honoured, but they bore no external badges of distinction; they were distinguished, but they enjoyed no special privileges themselves, and communicated none to their posterity. They subserved the public good without emolument, that the state might be prosperous, that religion might be preserved, AND THAT God Alone Might Be King IN IsrAEL. It ought to be observed, however, that not all of the judges ruled the whole nation. Some of them presided over only a few separate tribes.
§ 221. The Theocracy.
God, in the character of king, had governed the Israelites for sixteen ages. He ruled them on the terms, which he himself, through the agency of Moses, had proposed to them, viz. that if they observed their allegiance to Him, they should be prosperous; if not, § 221. The theocracy. 265
adversity and misery would be the consequence, Exod. 19: 4, 5. 23: 20–33. Lev. 26: 3–46. Deut. xxviii—xxx. We may learn from the whole book of Judges, and from the first eight chapters of Samuel, how exactly the result, from the days of Joshua down to the time of Samuel, agreed with these conditions. In the time of Samuel, the government, in point of form, was changed into a monarchy. The election of king, however, was committed to God, who chose one by lot. So that God was still the ruler, and the king the vicegerent. The terms of the government, as respected God, were the same as before, and the same duties and principles were inculcated on the Israelites, as had been originally, 1 Sam. 8: 7. 10:17–23. 12: 14, 15, 20–22, 24, 25. In consequence of the fact, that Saul did not choose at all times to obey the commands of God, the kingdom was taken from him and given to another, 1 Sam. 13: 5–14. 15:1–31. David, through the agency of Samuel, was selected by Jehovah for king, who thus gave a proof, that he still retained, and was disposed to exercise the right of appointing the ruler under him, 1 Sam. 16:1–3. David was first made king over Judah, but as he received his appointment from God, and acted under his authority, the ‘other eleven tribes submitted to him, 2 Sam. 5: 1–3. comp. 1 Chron. 28: 4–6. David expressly acknowledged God, as the sovereign, and as having a right to appoint the immediate ruler of the people, 1 Chron. 28:7–10; he religiously obeyed His statutes, the people adhered firmly to God, and his reign was prosperous. The paramount authority of God, as the king of the nation, and his right to appoint one, who should act in the capacity of his vicegerent, are expressly recognized in the books of Kings and Chronicles, but dissensions and tumults, notwithstanding, arose upon the death of Solomon. The priciples, recognized in Kings and Chronicles, are repeated in the Psalms and the Prophets. And all these books inculcate faith towards God, and obedience, and the keeping of his commandments, and threaten, unless his commands are kept, and faith and obedience exercised, the infliction of those punishments, and that captivity, which are mentioned by Moses, Deut. 28:49, 63–65. 29: 17–27. But the same prophets, who predicted the miseries of the Captivity, promised also a return, a greater constancy in religion, tranquillity and prosperity, a once more independent theocracy, the propagation of the knowledge of the true God