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BIFFERENT FORMs of Government FROM THE PATRIARCHAI, TIMEs to THE BABYLoNIAN CAPtivity.
I. Patriarchal Government.—II. Government under Moses—a Theocracy;—its nature and design.-1. Notice of the heads or princes of tribes and families.—2. Of the Jethronian Prefects or Judges appointed by Moses.—3. Of the Senate or Council of Sevent 4ssessors—4. Scribes.—III. Government of the Judges.—IV. Regal Government instituted;—the Functions and Privileges of the Kings;–Inauguration of the Kings;–Scriptural Allusions to the Courts of Sovereigns and Princes explained.—V. Revenues of the Kings of Israel–VI. Magistrates under the Monarchy.—VII. Officers of the Palace.—VIII. The Royal Harem.—IX. Promulgation of Laws-X, Schism between the twelve tribes;–the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah founded;—their Duration and End.
I. OF the forms of Government which obtained among mankind from the earliest ages to the time of Moses, we have but little information communicated in the Scriptures. The simplicity of manners which then prevailed would render any complicated form of government unnecessary; and accordingly we find that the patriarchs exercised the chief power and command over their families, children, and domestics, without being responsible to any superior authority. Such was the government of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. So long as they resided in the land of Canaan, they were subject to no foreign power, but tended their flocks and herds wherever they ehose to go (Gen. xiii. 6–12.), and vindicated their wrongs by arms whensoever they had sustained any injury. (Gen. xiv.). They treated with the petty kings who reigned in different parts of Palestime as their equals in dignity, and concluded treaties with them in their own right. (Gen. xiv. 13. 18–24. xxi. 22–32. xxvi. 16. 27–33. xxxi. 44–54.) The patriarchal power was a sovereign dominion: so that parents may be considered as the first kings, and children the first subjects. They had the power of disinheriting their children (Gen. xlix. 3, 4. 1 Chron. v. 1.), and also of punishing them with death (Gen. xxxviii. 24.), or of dismissing them from home without assigning any rea
.), as well as in the New (Matt. xxi. 9, 10. Mark xi. 9, 10. Luke 35–38.); in which last-cited passages the Jews, by welcoming Saviour in the same manner as their kings were formerly inaugud, manifestly acknowledged him to be the Messiah whom they cted. Lastly, after entering the city, the kings seated themselves n the throne, and received the congratulations of their subjects. Kings i. 35, 47, 48. xi. 19, 20.) On the inauguration of Saul, ever, when there was neither sceptre, diadem, nor throne, these monies were not observed. After the establishment of royalty ong the Jews, it appears to have been a maxim in their law, that king's person was inviolable, even though he might be tyrannical unjust (1 Sam. xxiv. 5–8); a maxim which is necessary not to the security of the king, but also to the welfare of the subOn this principle, the Amalekite, who told David the improe and untrue story of his having put the mortally wounded Saul oath, that he might not fall into the hands of the Philistines, was, ly on this his own statement, ordered by David to be instantly ched, because he had laid his hand on the Lord's olnointed. m. i. 14. chief distinctions of majesty mentioned in Scripture, were the Apparel, the crown, the throne, and the sceptre. The Royal was splendid (Matt. vi. 29.), and the retinue of the soves both numerous and magnificent. (1 Kings iv. 1–24.) pparel of the Jewish monarchs was different from that of sons, is evident from Ahab's changing his apparel before in battle, and from Jehoshaphat's retaining his. (1 Kings is most probable, after the example of other oriental at their garments were made of purple and fine white 15-): in after times, it appears from Luke xvi. 19. wreat were clad in purple and fine linen: and this ount for Pilate's soldiers clothing Christ with d for Herod the tetrarch, with his men of ous, most probably a white robe (Luke clothing him as a king. Further, d with gold, silver, and precious ). Their arms were decorated of the Persian sovereigns are equally magnificent. The led in 1 Kings x. 18–20. sovereign of Persia was | Sir Gore Ouseley, ore painted dragons ls; and was also to have been son. (Gen. xxi. 14.) Further, the patriarchs could pronounce a solemn blessing or curse upon their children, which at that time was regarded as a high privilege and of great consequence. Thus Noah cursed his son Canaan (Gen. ix. 25.); Isaac blessed Jacob (Gen. xxvii. 28, 29. 33.); and Jacob blessed his sons. (Gen. xlix.) On the decease of the father, the eldest son by a natural right of succession inherited the paternal power and dominion, which in those days was one of the rights of primogeniture. To this right the sacerdotal dignity, in the first ages, seems to have been annexed ; so that the heads of families not only possessed a secular power, but also officiated as priests in the families to which they belonged. (Gen. viii. 20. xii. 7, 8.xxxv. 1–3.) Although the sons of Jacob exercised, each, the supreme power in his own family, during their father's life (Gen. xxxviii. 24.), yet the latter appears to have retained some authority over them. (Gen. xlii. 1–4.37, 38. xliii. 1–13. l. 15–17.) Afterwards, however, as the posterity of Jacob increased, in Egypt, it became necessary to have magistrates or governors, invested with more extensive authority; these are termed Elders (Exod. iii. 16.), being probably chosen on account of their age and wisdom. The Shoterim or “officers of the children of Israel” (Exod. v. 14, 15. 19.), have been conjectured to be a kind of magistrates elected by them: but, from the context of the sacred historian, they rather appear to have been appointed by the Egyptians, and placed over the Israelites in order to oversee their labour. II. On the departure of the Israelites from the land of their opressors, under the guidance of Moses, Jehovah was pleased to institute a new form of government, which has been rightly termed a Theocracy; the supreme legislative power being exclusively vested in God or in his oracle, who alone could enact or repeal laws. The Hebrew government appears not only designed to subserve the common and general ends of all good governments;–viz. the protection of the property, liberty, safety, and peace of the several members of the community (in which the true happiness and prosperity of states will always consist); but also to set apart the Hebrews or Israelites as a holy people to Jehovah, and a kingdom of priests. For thus Moses is directed to tell the children of Israel, Y. have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore if ye will hear my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine, and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and an holy nation. (Exod. xix. 3, 4, 5, 6.) We learn what this covenant was in a further account of it... Ye stand this day all of you before the Lord your God, your ins of your tribes, your elders and your officers, and all the men % Israel; that you of enter into covenant with the Lord thy God, and into his oath which the Lord thy God maketh with thee this day; that he may establish thee to day for a people unto himself, and that he may be unto thee a God, as he hath said unto thee, and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and to Jacob : for ye know, adds Moses, how we have dwelt in the land of Egypt, and how we came through the nations which ye passed by; and ye have seen their abominations and their idols, wood and stone, silver and gold, which were among them, lest there should be among you, man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the Lord our. God to go and serve the Gods of these nations. (Deut. xix. 10–18.) From these passages, it is evident that the fundamental principle of the Mosaic Law was the maintenance of one true God, and the revention, or rather the proscription, of polytheism and idolatry. he covenant of Jehovah with the Hebrew people, and their oath by which they bound their allegiance to Jehovah, their God and King, was, that they should receive and obey the laws which he should appoint as their supreme governor, with a particular engagement to keep themselves from the idolatry of the nations round about them, whether the idolatry they had seen while they dwelt in the land of Egypt, or that which they had observed in the nations by which they passed into the promised land. In keeping this allegiance to Jehovah, as their immediate and supreme Lord, they were to expect the blessings of God's immediate and particular protection in the security of their liberty, peace, and prosperity, against all attempts of their idolatrous neighbours; but if they should break their allegiance to Jehovah, or forsake the covenant of Jehovah, by going and serving other gods, and worshipping them, then they should forfeit these blessings of God’s protection, and the anger of Jehovah should be kindled against the land, to bring upon it all, the curses that are written in the book of Deuteronomy. (xix. 25–27.) The substance then of this solemn transaction between God and the Israelites (which may be called the original contract of the Hebrew government) was this:–If the Hebrews would voluntarily consent to receive Jehovah their lord and king, to keep his covenant and laws, to honour and worship him as the one true God, in opposition to all idolatry; then, though God as sovereign of the world rules over all the nations of the earth, and all nations are under the general care of his providence, he would govern the Hebrew nation by peculiar laws of his particular appointment, and bless it with a more immediate and particular protection; he would secure to them the invaluable privileges of the true religion, together with liberty, peace, and prosperity, as a favoured people above all other nations." This constitution, it will be observed, is enforced chiefly by temporal sanctions, and with singular wisdom, for temporal blessings and evils were at that time the common and prevailing incitements to idolatry; but by thus taking them into the Hebrew constitution, as rewards to obedience and punishments for disobedience, they became motives to continuance in the true religion, instead of encouragements to idolatry.”