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A. M. 2888. A. C. 1116; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 4301. A. C. 1110. I SAM. I. TO THE END. must allow, that if in any case, what they call a finesse flying from his country, enlisting men, and putting himin policy were allowable, it was in this of David's, when self in a condition of defence, would, even under our mild he had unhappily brought himself into these circumstances. government, be looked upon as seditious and rebellious
It may seem a little strange, perhaps, that David, who proceedings. And therefore we may suppose, that David in these and several other grosser instances, could not himself might not have so favourable an opinion of the but be culpable in the eyes of God, should nevertheless course of life he was compelled at that time to follow; be styled in Scripture, the man after his own heart;' might think that he gave some umbrage to Saul's jeabut, whoever observes the occasion of that expression, lousy, and suspicion of him; and might thereupon be will find that it ought to be taken in a comparative sense more inclinable to excuse the violence of his persecuonly, and in derogation indeed to Saul, whose trans- tion, and to make no other use of the advantages he had gression, in sparing Amalek, the prophet Samuel was against him, than to demonstrate his own innocence, and then reproving ; that in executing his decrees upon the the groundlessness of the other's suspicions; for such idolatrous nations round about him, David would be seems to be the sense of his own words : 5. Wherefore more punctual, and not so remiss as Saul had been; and doth my lord thus pursue after his servant ? For, what in this respect would conform to the divine will, or be have I done, or what evil is in my hand ? Wherefore the man after God's own heart. This seems to be the hearest thou men's words, saying, David seeketh thy hurt? primary sense of the words, though the common solution, Behold this day thine eyes have seen how the Lord hath viz, that though David was a great and grievous sinner, delivered thee into mine hand in the cave, but mine eye yet the severity of his repentance cleared him in the spared thee; therefore cursed be they before the Lord, sight of God, and made an amends for the enormity of who make this difference betwixt us ; for they have bis transgressions, be not much amiss.
driven me out this day from abiding in the inheritance It cannot, however, with justice be said, that David of the Lord.' For herein he not only pleads his own was any ways culpable in sparing the life of Saul, innocence, and good intentions towards the king, but, in even when Providence seems to have put it in his hand. some measure, excuses the king's conduct towards him, This trial God made of bis virtue and clemency; and a as being under the influence of evil counsellors, who glorious conquest it was, not only to overcome his own both imposed upon the king's credulity, and compelled resentiments, which were justly enough founded against him to such a method of life as was far from being agreeSaul, but the arguments and instigations likewise of those able to his interest or inclination. about him : ? · Behold the day, of which the Lord said Upon many accounts, therefore, it was an act of his unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine great and generous soul, for David to spare the life of hand, that thou mayest do to him, as it shall seem good his severest enemy. But though we cannot, in like manunto thee. God had delivered him into his hand, indeed ; | ner, justify his indignation against Nabal, and the oath but had given him no order, or permission to slay Saul, which he swore to destroy his whole family; yet some· He had promised him the kingdom likewise, but would thing may be offered in excuse of it, if we attend a little by no means allow him to ascend the throne by blood. to what occasioned it, and the too common effect which His title to the succession was real and incontestable, but such treatment, as Nabal's was, is apt to have upon such not allowed to be put in force, or himself to attempt, by spirits as we may suppose David's to have been. David ways of violence, the possession of the crown, as long as while he continued in the wilderness of Paran, had given Saul was permitted by God to reign, and recognised as his men charge, not only to do no injury to Nabal's sovereign by the people. David, as yet, being only a shepherds and herdsmen, but even to protect and assist private man,
had no authority to wage war against Saul; them, in case they were invaded by any of the neighand though it be allowable for any one to defend him- bouring Arabians ; and now that their master was shearself against any unjust aggressor, and to repel force by ing his sheep, which was always a festival season, not far force, yet this must be done only in order to secure his from the place where David was encamped, to show him own life, and not to take away that of his adversary; for the greater respect, he sent no less than ten young men what the apostle says of judging, or censuring, is much of his company to make his compliments to him, and, in more forcible in the matter of killing : 4 Who art thou the most civil manner, to request something of him, as it that judgest another man's servant? To his own master was the custom to be generous and liberal at such a time he standeth, or falleth ; for there is one lawgiver, who as that, for the relief of himself and his followers in this is able to save, and to destroy: who art thou then that form : 6 • Peace be to thee,' as the young men's instrucjudgest another ?' And these rules, which ought to be tions were,' and peace be to thine house, and peace be observed by private persons, are much more extensive unto all thou hast.' Peace, in the sacred language, comwhen they relate to a prince and his subject. The sub-prehends all manner of blessings, both spiritual and ject is obliged in duty, even though he be innocent, to temporal; and therefore a higher compliment, as he bear patiently the ill-treatment of his prince. David, say, or a more affectionate salutation, could not have no doubt, was conscious of his own integrity; but were been devised : ' And now I have heard that thou hast it not for the preceding promises of God in his favour, shearers, and thy shepherds, which were with us, we hurt, and the orders which, from time to time, he received them not, neither was there ought missing unto them, all from the high priest's oracle, it would not have been so the while that they were in Carmel :' a sufficient argueasy a matter to justify some part of his conduct. His ment, one would think, to engage Nabal’s grateful acA. M. 2888. A. C. 1116; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 4301, A. C. 1110. I SAM. I. TO THE END. want of the common necessaries of life not to take by a man of a lofty spirit ; but all put together, could hardly violence what they could not be hindered from. Such fail of inflaming his mind to such a degree, as to make men claim a kind of license to do injuries with impunity ; him lose the government of his passions, and fall into the and therefore it ought to be deemed a great favour, when most vindictive rage, which is generally. more observthey do them not. David and his men, however, are so able in military men, whose courage and spirits run high, far from magnifying their services to Nabal, that they and being too much accustomed to blood and slaughter, only say, '“they did them no hurt ;' whereas his own even in lawful wars, have not that dread and abborrence servants acknowledge, that they were a defence, of cruel and outrageous executions, as the rest of manand a wall to them both by night and by day, all the kind have, who live more retired and peaceable lives. while that they were with them keeping sheep.' Upon It was to the sudden transport of David's passion this presumption, the matter of their request was, then, and perhaps that exasperated by the instigations of
knowledgment : because it certainly was a matter of 1 ] Sam, xiii. 14. and xv. 28. 21 Sam. xxiv. 4. no small courtesy, for a body of men in arms, and in • Calmet's Commentary on 1 Sam. xxiv. 4. * Rom. xiv. 4. and Jam. iv. 12.
' 1 Sam, xxiv, 9, 10.
6 1 Sam. xxv, &c.
Let the young men find favour in thine eyes, (for we his own men, that we are to impute his vow, and design come in a good day;) give, I pray thee, whatsoever of destroying Nabal’s family : and though in this we cometh unto thine hand unto thy servants, and thy son cannot commend him, yet certainly there is something David.' Words can hardly be invented more full of re- praiseworthy in his speedy reconciliation upon Abispect and humility ; à for le pays a deference to Nabal, gail's first address and application to him, in the room of either upon the account of his seniority, or descent from her husband : 6^ Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, which the same tribe, and desires no rarities, no delicates, but sent thee this day to me; and blessed be thy advice, and any thing that first came to hand, and what he could most blessed be thou, which hast kept me this day from coming conveniently spare.
to shed blood, and from avenging myself with mine owa Nabal, as we just now hinted, was of the same tribe hand.'” In a word, the resolution against Nabal, as with David, and could not therefore be supposed igno- one elegantly expresses it, was the resolution of a morrant either of his exploits in defence of his country, or tal, not to say a military man, too much injured and of the true cause of Saul's indignation against him: provoked, and urged by necessity and self-preservation : and yet, observe the rudeness and insolence of his the change and the thanksgiving, upon being averted answer to such a civil message and humble request : from evil, were the sentiments of an hero and a saint.' 3“Who is David, and who is the son of Jesse ? There The Jews indeed, as we quoted the objection from are many servants now-a-days, that break every man Josephus, give us an high commendation of Saul, and from his master. Shall I take the provisions I have seem to prefer him before David himself, in regard to made, for my shearers, and give them unto men, whom the magnanimity of his death. But it is much to be I know not whence they are ? Nothing certainly could questioned, whether self-murder, which was certainly be more provoking than such an answer as this. The Saul's case, be an act of magnanimity or not. For becharging David with being a vagabond, and rebel to his sides that the laws of all nations have condemned it, as prince, was a reproach insufferable to a man of a liberal abhorrent to the dictates of nature and reason, of selfspirit, who knew himself innocent: and therefore no love and self-preservation, the wisest of the heathen wonder that David, upon the report of the messengers, world ever looked upon it as an instance of madness who were themselves brought under the same predica- and brutality, and with great wisdom have concluded, ment, and therefore had no reason to alleviate matters, that such an action is so far from savouring of true courwas resolved, in his passion, to be revenged upon Nabal. age and generosity, that « it is the sure effect of a weak For * there were four things in the matter before us that and pusillanimous temper of mind ; since true greatness seem to have inflamed his resentment, and put him upon of soul as they justly argue, consists in supporting the this sanguinary design. 1st, The want which both he evils of adversity, and not in shifting them oft, which is and his companions, at present laboured under, but a mark of a poor impatient spirit, sinking under the comhoped to have relieved out of the abundance of a wealthy mon calamities of life, and not knowing how to bear the man, who might easily have done it without hurting him blows of bad fortune. 8• Draw thy sword, and thrust self. 2dly, the deception he was under, in finding no me through therewith, lest the uncircumcised come and compensation made him, for the care which he and his mock, or abuse me,' was the request which Saul made people had taken of Nabal's cattle, though perhaps he to his armour-bearer, and shows that it was not bravery had given them his word and assurance that something and courage, but the fear of insults, and a conscious of this kind would be done. 3dly, The resentment which easily rises in the breast of any generous man, when, 2 Sam. xxv. 32, 33. ' Life of King David. • 1 Sam. Ixxi. 4. instead of thanks, and a grateful acknowledgment, he that is not reckoned a true greatness of soul when any one, in
a By the proper understanding of the right rules of reason, meets with contumely and opprobrious language. And not being able to endure the calamities of life, undertakes to end Athly, The vexation which an innocent man, conscious of them by laying violent hands on himself; for it is rather a dishis own merits, and the services he had done his king and play of weakness of mind when a man cannot endure either the country, must necessarily feel, when he perceives him- oppressive slavery of his own body, or the sneer of a dastardiy self vilified and treated as a scoundrel. Fugitive and to belong to him who would rather fight than fly from the struggle
world, and surely greater magnanimity must deservedly be said slave are imputations of the grossest nature ; and when of a calamitous life.--- Aug. de Civit. Dei, b. 1. c. 22. And to retorted by an ungrateful person upon his guardian and the same purpose is that in an heathen author: 'It is an easy benefactor, are provocations past bearing.
matter to despise a life of adversity; he is the true hero who cua
be miserable.'—Martial, Epig. Any one of these things singly was enough to irritate 6 How much nobler was that resolution of Darius, who, find"1 Sam. xxv, 16.
ing himself betrayed, and that he was either to be murdered by * Patrick's and Calmet's Commentaries. his own subjects, or delivered into the hands of Alexander, would 3] Sam. xxv. 10, 11. 4 Le Clerc's Comment, in locum. not however be his own executioner. I had rather,' says be, The Life of King David.
. die by another's guilt, than my own.'—Curtius, b. 5.
A. M. 2888. A. C. 1116; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A, M. 4301. A. C. 1110. 1 SAM. I. TO THE END. inability to bear them with a becoming superiority of act, and consequently cannot be his guilt; yet we have mind, that made him shun the storm, when he saw it ap- no reason to presume, that the case is not so with those, proaching, by withdrawing from the stage of life. who, out of pride, or haughtiness, fear of miseries to
Saul's case indeed was very dolorous ; but he had not come, or impatience under present sufferings, distrust of therefore any authority to destroy himself. His life was God's providence, or despair of his mercy, lay violent a sacred depositum of God's, and not to be taken away bands upon themselves ; because the act was both volwithout invading his right, and violating his laws at the untary and vicious, and not to be amended by repentsame time. For whatever some may think of the silence ance: but without limiting thy goodness, O Lord, unto of the Scripture concerning self-murder, there is no thy mercy we commit their souls ! question to be made, but that it is included in the sixth Thus we have endeavoured to satisfy most of the pocommandment, under which Saul then lived. * The pular objections which have been raised against several commandment forbids murder in general; and it is cer- facts, occurring in the first book of Samuel ; and for the tainly as much murder, to kill ourselves, as to kill ano- farther confirmation thereof, we shall only instance in ther man; and the reason which the Scripture gives, one or two ancient traditions among the heathens, which why we are not allowed to do it, in both cases, is the in all probability derived their original from this part of same, because ?« in the image of God, made he man.' sacred history. The Scythians, upon their return out of For if I must not shed the blood of another, because he Egypt, passing through the country of the Philistines, is made in the image of God; I must not shed the blood of robbed the temple of Venus at Askalon, and for their mine own self, because I also am a man, and made in the punishment (as "Herodotus tells us) they, and their posimage of God, as well as he. The reason therefore why terity, were for a long while afflicted with emerods. we have not more frequent prohibitions against this sin Whereupon the learned Prideaux remarks, that the Phiis plainly this, ' that whatever sins or offences God, as a listines had till then preserved the memory of what they lawgiver, prohibits, he prohibits with a penalty, that is, had formerly suffered on account of the ark of God. The he affixes such a punishment to such a crime, and he Athenians when the mysteries of Bacchus were brought who commits the crime, is to undergo the punishment in out of Bæotia, baving not received them with all the this world, whether it be restitution, loss of limb, or loss pomp and solemnity that the god expected, were smitten of life itself. But now this can never happen in the 'with a disease in their secret parts, which resembled case of self-murder, because self-murder prevents all the malady of the people of Ashdod, and so did their punishment, the man being dead, before any cognizance cure too ; for having consulted the oracle, they were incan be taken of his offence, and therefore prevents all formed, that the way to get rid of their plague, was to laws concerning it; and can, consequently, only be in- offer unto Bacchus golden figures of the part wherein cluded under general commands, and forbidden as a sin, they were afflicted. The Grecians, at the taking of whereof God alone can take cognizance in the world to Troy, discovered an ark dedicated to Bacchus; and
when Eurypilus, as Pausanias 8 tells us, adventured to Since, upon the whole then, Saul may be said to have open it, he found therein the image of the god, but was died in an act of cowardice, and in the violation of immediately deprived of his senses for daring to look God's law, whereof he had no space to repent, it has into it; which seems to be a plain transcript from the been a matter of some inquiry, what we are to think of irreverence and fate of the Bethshemites.
9 Clemens his salvation. The Scripture indeed tells us, that * « Saul Alexandrinus has observed, that the fable of Æacus's died for his transgression, which he committed against praying for rain in a great drought, and when Greece the Lord, and also for asking counsel of one who had a was sadly distressed for want of corn, was borrowed familiar spirit, to inquire of it, and inquired not of the from that part of Samuel's history, where he is said to Lord; and therefore the Lord slew him.' But it is have called down thunder and rain, in the time of doing a manifest violence to the sense of these words, wheat harvest, when the sky was all serene and clear : to apply them as some have done, to his final perdition, and therefore we need less wonder at the story bewhen they plainly relate to no more than his temporal tween Saul and the witch of Endor, when we read of death. The dangerous and destructive nature of self-Circe, Medea, Erichtho, Manto, Antonoe, and several murder is, that it inakes repentance, the only revealed other women, who, in the heathen world, became famous condition of man's salvation, impossible ; but then we for their necromancy, and of the many votaries that reare to know, that in that inexhaustible fountain of good. sorted to them; when we find Statius introducing Tireness, there may be some uncovenanted mercy, some so- sias, as raising altars, making libations, and offering vereign and prerogative grace, that may make favour- sacrifices, a with solemn invocations to the infernal gods; able allowances for the distraction of men's thoughts or and Homer himself, spending a great part of 10 one book passions, the violence of their fears or troubles, or the of his poem, in representing Ulysses as invocating the over-bearing weight of any other temptation.
ghost of this same Tiresias, and attending to the oracles But to determine this question more peremptorily, which proceeded from his mouth. These things had though it certainly be consonant to the mercy and good- their foundations in some early traditions, which at first ness of God, to think, that no man shall answer for any miscarriage which is wholly occasioned by the power of * B. 1. Connection of the Old and New Testament, part a disease, or the distraction of the brain, because what- 1. b. 1. p. 44. ? See Aristoph. Scholiast. in Acharn, act. 2. ever is committed, in such a case, is not the man's free
In Achaic. c. 19. p. 572. . Stromat. 6. Odyss. 11. a The words of his invocation are these; “ To him that knocks
unfold the silent dens, and from their abodes of gloom call forth Fleetwood against Self-murder, 'Gen. xi, 6, the aerial subjects of the cruel Persephone's murky realms, that • Fleetwood against Self-murder, * 1 Chron. x, 13, 14. the Stygian ferryman may return with a full cargo."
A. M. 2888. A. C. 1116; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 4301, A. C. 1110. I SAM. L. TO THE END. arose from the facts contained in the sacred writings, phets, whose mission was duly attested, and the people which are confessedly the most ancient records we have; were bound to hearken to their voice. In all these cases, and in this respect are an argument of their veracity, Jehovah appears as sovereign King, ruling his people since we find them alluded to by subsequent authors, who by his appointed ministers. had no regard to their authority.
A subordinate design of this constitution of the Hebrew government was, the prevention of intercourse between the Israelites and foreign nations. The preva
lence of the most abominable idolatry among those CHAP. III.-On the Jewish Theocracy. nations, and the facility with which the Israelites had,
on more than one occasion, adopted their idolatrous SUPPLEMENTAL BY THE EDITOR,
rites, during their sojourning in the wilderness, rendered It is of great importance to have a right understanding this seclusion necessary, in order to secure the fundaof the nature and design of that government under which mental principle of the Mosaic law above-mentioned ; the Israelites were placed on their departure from the and many of the peculiar laws will, on this principle, be land of Egypt. This has been called a Theocracy, that found both wisely and admirably adapted to secure this is, a government of which God is the immediate Head. design.* The persons to whom the administration of this govern
The form of the Hebrew republic was unquestionably ment was committed, were neither legislators nor sover
democratic. When Moses promulgated the laws, he eigns ; but merely officers who acted under the authority convened the whole congregation of Israel, to whom he of God, whose duty it was to see the laws which he had is repeatedly said to have spoken ; but as he could not enacted put in force.
possibly be heard by six hundred thousand men, we It is evident that the fundamental principle of the must conclude that he only addressed a certain number Mosaic law was the maintenance of one true God, and of persons, who were deputed to represent the rest of the the prevention, or rather proscription, of polytheism and Israelites. By comparing Deut. xxix. 9. with Joshua idolatry. The covenant of Jehovah with the Hebrew xxiii. 2. it appears that these representatives were the people, and their oath by which they bound their allegi- heads of tribes, of families, and judges, and officers. ance to Jehovah their God and King, was, that they
All the various branches of Abraham's descendants, should receive and obey the laws which he should like the ancient Germans, or the Scottish clans, kept appoint as their supreme Governor, with a particular together in a body according to their tribes and families ; engagement to keep themselves from the idolatry of the each tribe forming a lesser commonwealth, with its pecunations around them. In keeping this allegiance to liar interests, and all of them at last uniting into one Jehovah, as their immediate and supreme Lord, they great republic. The same arrangement, it is well known, were to expect the blessings of God's immediate and obtained among the Israelites, who appear to have been particular protection, in the security of their liberty, divided into twelve great tribes, previously to their peace, and prosperity, against all attempts of their departure from Egypt. By Moses, however, they were idolatrous neighbours; but if they should break their subdivided into certain great families, which are called allegiance to Jehovah, or forsake his covenant, by going families by way of distinction : each of whom, again, had and serving other gods, then they should forfeit these their heads, which are sometimes called, heads of houses blessings of God's protection. In this constitution, it of fathers, and sometimes simply heads. These are likewill be observed, that it is enforced chiefly by temporal wise the same persons, who in Josh. xxiii. 2. and xxiv. I. sanctions, and with singular wisdom, for temporal bless- are called elders. It does not appear in what manner these ings and evils were at that time the common and prevail- heads or elders of families were chosen, when any of ing incitements to idolatry; but by thus taking them into them died. The princes or heads of tribes did not the Hebrew constitution, as rewards to obedience and cease with the monarchy; for it is evident that they subpunishments for disobedience, they became motives to sisted in the time of David ; ' and they must have continuance in the true religion, instead of encourage- proved a powerful restraint upon the power of the ments to idolatry: ?
king. In the theocracy of the Hebrews, the laws were given
It will now be readily conceived how the Israelitish to them by God, through the mediation of Moses, and state might have subsisted not only without a king, but they were to be of perpetual force and obligation, so even occasionally without that magistrate who was called long as their policy subsisted. The judges by whom a judge. Every tribe had always its own chief magisthese laws were administered, were represented as holy trate, who may not inaptly be compared to the lords persons, and as sitting in the place of God.” These
lieutenants of our British counties : subordinate to them, judges were usually taken from the tribe of Levi, and again, were the heads of families, who may be reprethe chief expounder of the law was the high priest. In sented as their depute-lieutenants, and if there were no difficult cases of law, however, relating both to govern- general ruler of the whole people, yet there were twelve ment and war, God was to be consulted by Urim and smaller commonwealths, who in certain cases united Thummim; and in matters which concerned the welfare together, and whose general convention would take of the state, God frequently made known his will by pro- measures for their common interest. In many cases par
ticular tribes acted as distinct and independent republics, Deut. xix. 25–27.
not only when there was neither king nor judge, but even ? Lowman on the Civil Constitution of the Hebrews; Dr Graves's Lectures on the Pentateuch, v. 2. pp. 141 -185.
• Micharlis's Commentaries, &c, vol. ). Deut. i. 17; xix. 7.
si Chr. xvii, 16–22.
A. M. 2888. A. C. 1116; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 4301. A. C. 1110. I SAM. i. TO THE END. during the times of the kings. Instances of wars being private virtue, as well as public services to the state, carried on by one or more particular tribes, both before rewarded even in this world. No other government, at and after the establishment of the regal government, may least since the earliest ages, has been, or indeed could be seen in Josb. xvii. 15–17. Judg. iv. 11, and xviii- be, administered in this manner, for no government adxx. 1 Chron. iv. 18—23. It appears from 1 Chron. xxiii. ministered by mere man can either punish or reward 11. that a certain number of persons was necessary to con- any thing but overt acts ; nor do ordinary civil governstitute a family, and to empower such a family to have a ments concern themselves with the practice of religious representative head: for it is there said, that the four duties or private virtues, farther than those duties and sons of Shimei had not a numerous progeny, and were virtues affect the peace of society. Without taking therefore reckoned only as one family. Hence we may cognizance of these things, however, the civil constituexplain why, according to Micah v. 1. Bethlehem may tion of the Israelites would not have answered the purhave been too small to be reckoned among the families pose for which that people was separated from the rest of Judah. It is impossible to ascertain, at this distance of the world ; for their minds in general were too groof time, what number of individuals was requisite to velling to have been restrained from the universal proconstitute a house or family.'
pensity to polytheism and idolatry which then prevailed, The judges who were appointed by Moses, had also by any thing but immediate rewards for duties performed, a right by virtue of their office, to be present in the con- and immediate punishment for impiety and vice. gregation, or convention of the state. After the depar- That this theocratic government continued until the ture of the Israelites from Egypt, Moses, for some time, elevation of Saul to the throne is unquestionable. From was their sole judge. Jethro, his father-in-law, observ- the death of Joshua to that period, the highest pering that the daily duties of this office were too heavy manent officer in the state as well as in the church was for him, suggested to him the institution of judges, or evidently the high priest : and this was the natural conrulers of tens, of fifties, of hundreds, and of thousands, sequence of God himself being the supreme civil goverwho determined every affair of little importance among nor of the nation. Occasional magistrates were indeed themselves, but brought the hard causes to Moses.? of raised up from time to time under the denomination of the judges of tens, therefore, there must have been sixty judges ; but from their history it appears that their ofthousand ; of the judges of fifties, twelve thousand; office was rather military than civil; that most of them the judges of hundreds, six thousand; and of the judges were employed in leading armies to battle against the of thousands, six hundred. These judges seem to have oppressors of their country rather than in dispensing been a sort of justices of the peace in several divisions, justice to the people ; that they were raised up by an probably taken from the military division of a host into immediate impulse from heaven, and not by the choice of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens; this was a model the nation ; and that when they were not themselves proper for them as an army marching, and not unsuit- supernaturally enlightened by the Spirit of God, they able to their settlement as tribes and families, in a sort were to undertake nothing of importance, either in peace of counties, hundreds, and tithings.
or in war, but by the direction of the high priest, after After the Hebrews were established in the land of he had consulted God for them by Urim. Canaan, Moses ordained that judges should be appointed Such was the theocratic government of Israel in the in every city, and it should seem that they were chosen time of the judges ; but when, toward the end of Samuel's by the people. In succeeding ages these judicial of- administration, the people mutinously demanded a king fices were filled by the Levites, most probably because to reign over them, and God directed the prophet to they were the persons best skilled in the law of the comply with their request, the general opinion till very Hebrews.
lately, was, and perhaps still is, that the government of During the sojourning of the Israelites in the wilder- Israel ceased to be theocratic, and became such a monness, Moses established a council or senate of seventy, archy as other civil governments which are administered to assist bim in the government of the people. The by one man. Such indeed they wished it to be; for Jewish rabbinical writers, who have exercised their in- their demand was to “have a king over them, that they genuity in conjecturing why the number was limited to also might be like the nations ;" and in this sense their seventy, have pretended that this was a permanent and demand was understood both by God and by the prophet. supreme court of judicature ; but as the sacred writers. They have not rejected thee, said the Lord to Samuel, are totally silent concerning such a tribunal, we are but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over authorized to conclude that it was only a temporary them; and had their demand been granted to the utinstitution. After their return from the Babylonish most extent of their wishes, they would very quickly captivity, it is well known that the Jews did appoint a have proceeded to abrogate the law, and to reject JeSanhedrim or council of seventy at Jerusalem, in imita- hovah as their only God. tion of that which Moses had instituted. In the New The magistrate called a king in those days and Testament, very frequent mention is made of this su- countries around them, was supreme and absolute. His preme tribunal, of which an account will be found in a edicts were laws, which he could enforce, suspend, or subsequent part of this work.
abrogate, at his pleasure ; but such authority never was Thus, the form of the Jewish government was, as Jo- possessed by Saul, by David, or by any other king, sephus very properly terms it, a theocracy, under which either of Israel or of Judah. All writers on politics sins as well as crimes were punished, and piety and have agreed, indeed all men capable of reflection must
agree, that in every government there is necessarily a 'Michael Commentary, vol. 1. p. 244. • Exod. xvii, 14, 26. power, from which the constitution has provided no • Deut. xvi, 18.
appeal, and which may therefore be termed absolute,