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§ 298. on The Division of the spoils. 371
age, laid up' provisions for the use of the soldiers against a time of war, in the cities called store-cities, ni-zo ong, 2 Chron. 17: 17. 32: 28. - Hired soldiers, (probably in imitation of the Phenicians, Ezek. 27: 11,) are mentioned in 2 Sam. 10; 6, and also in 2 Chron. 25: 6–9; but such participated in the spoils, as well as others, for the money paid appears not to have been paid to the soldiers themselves, but to the king or prince, of whom they were hired. The soldiers under the Persian monarchy received a regular stipend, but they had a portion also in the spoils, which was an additional reward. The Maccabees, in imitation of the Greeks, allowed wages to their soldiers, 1 Macc. 14:32. Hence, it is not at all surprising, that we find the wages of a soldier frequently mentioned in the New Testament, and sometimes tropically, Luke 3: 14. Rom. 6: 23. 1 Cor. 9: 7. 2 Cor. 11:8. 2 Tim. 2:4. The spoils consisted not only of property in goods, but of men, women, and children; all of whom, if they had been the inhabitants of cities, that were taken by assault, were sold into slavery, Gen. 14:11, 12. The Hebrew soldiers were at liberty, (Num. 31: 48–54,) to appropriate to themselves whatever spoils they might win, with the exception of flocks and men. Articles of great value were sometimes claimed by the leader of the expedition, Jud. 8:24, 25; a practice, which David himself imitated, and by means of which, he was enabled to collect the treasures, which were subsequently employed in the erection of the Temple, 2 Sam. 8: 11, 12. 12:30, 2 Chron. 28:14–19. When the spoil was divided, the flocks and the captives were assembled together, and when they had been numbered, were divided into two parts, one of which was given to the soldiers, who had remained at home, and who were obliged to give the fiftieth part of it to the Levites; the other half was given to the soldiers, who had been actually engaged, and who on their part, were obliged to give only the five hundreth part to the priests. Compare Genesis 14:20. The division of the property taken among the soldiers was equal, whether they had been in battle, or merely guarded the encampment, and baggage, 1 Sam. 30 : 20–25. In order to render the distribution equal, the flocks, catile, and prisoners appear to have been publickly sold, and a distribution made of the money.
372 § 299. spoils TAKEN FRoM THE Egyptians.
In case, however, the city was so unfortunate, as to be subjected to the nor or the curse, the soldiers were not at liberty to take possession of the spoils, which it offered, and every thing, generally speaking, was destroyed, Deut. 2: 34, 3: 7. Num. 21:9. Lev. 27:28. Josh. 6: 24–26. 8:26–28. 10: 28–30. 11:11.
§ 299. Respecting the Spoils, which The HEBREws Took Away FRom THE EGYPTIANs.
It was a principle among nations anciently, that a people, after the commencment of a war, could fairly make plunder of the property, which had been deposited or left among them in any way whatever, previously to the war's breaking out. In accordance with this right, the precious vases and garments, &c. which were borrowed by the Hebrews from the Egyptians, as mentioned in Exodus 3:22. 11:2, became, when Pharaoh commenced war upon them by pursuing with his army, legal spoil.
An objection to this view of the subject arises from the fact, that God himself commanded the Hebrews through Moses, to borrow the articles, and that the Egyptians evidently lent them with the expectation of their being returned, and would not otherwise have done it. But it is, nevertheless, the fact likewise, that the Hebrews had as much expectation of returning said articles, as the Egyptians had, that they would; for it is altogether out of the question to suppose, that they had any knowledge of the communications, which, in Exodus 3:22, passed between God and Moses on the subject. The transaction was clearly an event in divine Providence, for the propriety of which infinite wisdom is a sufficient guarantee, which was designed to place those articles in the hands of the Hebrews, as a compensation, (and certainly not too large a one,) for the houses, which they left. Supposing it, then, to be the case, that they were borrowed with the expectation of being returned, no blame certainly can be attached to the Hebrews for the detention of them, since they were driven away by such a decided and sudden act of hostility, that it was not in their power to do otherwise.
The word by: literally to plunder or rob, which in Exodus 3: 22, is used in reference to this subject, appears to be employed tropically, and out of its usual signification.
§ 300, or cess ATIONs From ARMs. 373
Note. [The above section is rather unskilfully abridged in the original, so much so, that it would be difficult for a person, from a literal translation of it, as it there stands, to obtain any thing like an adequate idea of our author's opinions on the subject in question. Something, therefore, has been added to it, from the original German, and from Michaelis, who is there referred to by Dr Jahn, as his authority on this subject. For a full and ingenious discussion of it, the reader would do well to consult Smith's Translation of the CoMMENTARIEs on THE LAws of Moses, Vol. III. Art. 179.]
§ 300. PERIODs, when THERE was ACESSATION FROM HosTILITIEs.
It was anciently the practice among the Arabs, who, it may be observed, inherited a near relationship to the Hebrews, to consider four months of the year sacred; during which they made it a point of duty to abstain from the exercise of arms. A practice of a similar nature appears to have prevailed among the Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites, and likewise among other nations.
Perhaps this practice will enable us to explain, how it happened, that the Hebrew territories remained free from invasions, while all the adult males three times every year went to the Tabernacle or the Temple, without leaving in their cities and villages any guard to protect them from foreign incursions, and that there appears in no instances to have been any hostile attack made upon them at such times. It is true, that we find in Exodus 34:24, that security from hostile invasions was promised to the Hebrews, when they had occasion, on the return of their solemn festivals, to appear in the presence of the Lord; but it is, nevertheless, clear, that a promise of this kind could not have been fulfilled to a people, who thus lived in the heart of unfriendly nations, except by the intervention of constant miracles; unless there had been a practice of the kind here mentioned, which caused among them during certain periods a suspension of the arts of War. The same remark might have been made in respect to the sabbath, if it had been the fact, that the ancient Hebrews reckoned the use of arms, among those labours, which were interdicted on that day; but their extreme scrupulosity in this respect, and 374 § 300. of cessation FRom arms.
their determination to adhere to the letter of the Law do not appear to have existed, till after the Captivity. Indeed even at this period, they soon had occasion to perceive, that to defend themselves against the insults of their enemies might be justly done, even on the sabbath, 1 Macc. 3:39–42; but the restrictions, notwithstanding this, which they continued to impose upon themselves, occasioned inconveniences, of which we have no examples in the earlier periods of their history.