Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

(e. g. Deborah) could, in so short a lapse of time, rouse the people to action, collect an army and lead it against the foe, otherwise than by that system of representation. The representatives of the people could be easily convened, or else informed by message (Judg. 7: 24), and animated to work for the common cause. These, again, by means of the heads of families standing under their jurisdiction, could speedily obtain from the masses whatever was further needed to cany their measures into execution. A remarkable instance in point is related in the 20th chapter of Judges. Though the nation was without a common chief magistrate, a war against the tribe of Benjamin was undertaken and carried through by all the other tribes in common. A disgraceful deed had been perpetrated within the jurisdiction of the tribe of Benjamin. But the latter was unwilling to deliver up the perpetrators of the foul act. The news of what had happened having been transmitted to every tribe, "all Israel went out, and the congregation was gathered together as one man, from Dan to Beersheba, unto Mizpeh; and the chiefs of all the people, all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of God, 400,000 men able to bear arms." The commentators infer from the last clause that all the 400,000 men were present in Mizpeh, at the very first assembly. But they do not take into consideration the difficulties underlying such an inference. For, as the person insulted was questioned in regard to the particulars; and as an embassy was then despatched to the tribe of Benjamin in order to effect a delivery of the criminals and peaceably to arrange the whole affair before the war was resolutely undertaken against the tribe itself (which, as a whole, had not participated in the outrage); the people would have acted devoid of all sense and prudence, in thus assembling all on a sudden, in such multitudes, at Mizpeh. As some time must have elapsed during the negotiations, it would surely have been impossible for them, even if their number had been less, to be maintained in that single city. We would hardly hesitate to assume that the statement relative to the number of warriors, refers to the body of able-bodied men (given in round numbers) then disposable; an arrny which could be raised, but was not yet present in person, it being only represented by the " chiefs of the people." If this were not the case, the special statement that all the heads were also present, would be wholly superfluous, this being a matter of course. At all events, the historian wishes to intimate that the preparatory deliberations were held by the heads1 of the people. In regard to the independent wars, undertaken by individual tribes, we are told at the very beginning of the book of Judges, 1: 3, 22 et al.3

§ 8. In the books of Samuel, again, wje find frequent mention of the general national assembly, e. g. " all the elders of Israel gathered themselves, and came to Samuel unto Ramah," to urge him to choose a king (1 Sam. 8: 4). This assembly of the elders is called "the people," in the verses following (7, 10), in the latter of which it is fetid that Samuel communicated the words of the Lord " to the people that asked of him a king;" comp. v. 19, 21. It is pretty evident that the "people" here mentioned cannot refer to the multitude of the assembled elders, but to the people of Israel proper, who were there represented by their heads. That the assembly was of this character, appears from the fact that Samuel, though reluctant, at last yields to its determined and energetic resolve (v. 19). Again, Samuel called "the people" together at Mizpeh (10: 17), in order to proceed to the actual election of a king. The summons reads thus: Present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and by your families, lit. "thousands" (v. 19); and

1 These are peculiarly designated by the term n'iSS {pinitdth, Judg. 20: 2).— literally "corners." This term probably, which occurs also 1 Sam. 14: 38 in a similar relation, is properly applied to a military character, denoting a leader: comp. the German FlUjelmann {leader of (he Jile, lit. " wing-man "). This would go still further to support what wc said above. The historian states the entire number of the force at disposal, at the same time remarking that their lenders who had undoubtedly been already at their head on other occasions, were present at the gathering. These, moreover, could give the best information in regard to the number of men ready to take up the sword.

2 According to 1 Chron. 5: 10 (comp. 18—22 and 4: 38—43) individual tribes, independently of all the others, waged wars, by means of which they enlarged their territories, even in the reign of Saul and Hezekiah.

Vol. XV. No. 60. 71

'• Samuel caused all the tribes of Israel to come near" (v. 30). No one, surely, will presume that the tribes were here gathered en masse; and yet it is perfectly manifest, from these quotations, that they were fully represented by delegates. After the first glorious exploit of Saul, Samuel convenes a great national assembly at Gilgal (11: 14 sq.), in order to exhort the people and confirm the royal dignity of Saul. Here, too, it is said: " Samuel spoke to all Israel" (12: 1); which, of course, is to be taken in the sense as restricted above.

According to 2 Sam. 2: 4, " the men of Judah" came to anoint David king.. Again (2 Sam. 3: 21), Abner says to David: "I will arise and go, and gather all Israel, that they may make a league with thee." There is no doubt that here, too, reference is had only to the representatives of a single tribe, as well as to those of the whole people. These representatives alone Abner could volunteer to assemble, knowing that, if he could persuade the chief men of Israel, he would, to a certainty, obtain the consent of all the rest. In 2 Sam. 5: 1, we are told that "all the tribes of Israel c;une to David unto Hebron," to pay him homage as their king; instead of which it reads (v. 3), " all the elders of Israel came to the king unto Hebron; and he made a league with them; and they anointed David king over Israel. ** All the tribes," therefore, signifies no more nor less than the tribes represented by their elders. When, after the rebellion of Absalom, the representatives of the people assembled to do homage anew to David, a strife ensued between the men of Israel and the men of Judah (2 Sam. 19:43,44). Whereupon Slicba, a Benjamitc, cries out: "Every man to his tents, O Israel (20:1)." The disastrous results involved in this cull, in so far as it was obeyed, arose from the very fact that the representatives alone of the people were here assembled. If they dispersed before the intended homage was effected, the whole people would, as a natural consequence, revolt from the king. Were we to presume that great multitudes had flocked together from all parts to this assembly, their protracted meeting would, on the contrary, have been more dangerous than their dispersion. Again, when David resolved to trans

port the ark of the covenant (1 Chr. 13: 1), we are informed that he consulted with the princes of thousands and hun

I dreds, and with all the leaders. Here, then, the permanent existence of those ancient institutions (Ex. 18: 25) is indi

1 rated. Those who were thus convoked for consultation, are called "the whole congregation of Israel" (1 Chr. 13: 2). The address of David is particularly interesting on this occasion; it was as follows: "If it seem good to you, and us of the Lord our God, let us send abroad to the rest of our brethren in all the land of Israel, and with them also to the priests and Levites, in the cities of their suburbs, that they may gather themselves unto us." By the " rest of our brethren," is undoubtedly meant the other leaders of the people. Solomon, also, orders " all the elders of Israel, all the heads of

f their tribes and princes of families," to convene at Jerusalem, for the purpose of transferring the ark of the covenant (1 K. 8: 1). The persons thus assembled are then spoken of as "every man of Israel" (v. 2); and, again, as " all the elders of Israel" (v. 3). In the 29th chapter of 1 Chron., «the princes of fathers and the princes of the tribes of Israel, of thousands and hundreds, and the princes in the service of the king" (v. 6), who brought donations for the building of the temple, are designated the "congregation " (Kahal), v. 1; in v. 9, however, "the (represented) people." The donations, therefore, were probably presented in the name of the people; the contributions of the "princes of fathers" being left to or imposed on each individual house of fathers, in proportion to their respective means.

§ 9. On the accession of Rehoboam to the throne "all Israel," of their own impulse as it seems, went to Shechem for the purpose of obtaining an alleviation of the burdens imposed on them by Solomon (1 K. 12: 1 seq.). The insolent answer which the king returned to " the people " (v. 13), called out the following expression (v. 16) from "all Israel:" "We have no part in David; to your tents, O Israel!" With these words every connection between the tribes of Israel and the young king was forever severed. "All Israel," however, heard that Jeroboam had returned; and they send thither and call him to the congregation (Edah), and install him king over all Israel." Here it is clearly seen that "congregation " signifies the assembly of representatives; and that in the person of these, all Israel were present Other instances, showing what influence on the royal succession the people had in expressing their will, through their representatives, no doubt, may be found (2 K. 21: 24, 23, 30. 2 Chr. 23: 20, 21. 26: 1, 2. 36: 1).

During the captivity, also, we find reference made to the representative system. Thus, Jeremiah addressed a message to the elders (Jer. 29:1). Zerubabel was accompanied by the heads of families (Ezra 4: 2, 3. Comp. 6: 7).

Finally, as late even as the time of the Maccabees, mention is made of the supreme head together with the elders (1 Mace. 12:6,35). There is no doubt, moreover, that the Sanhedrim of subsequent times was founded on that patriarchal constitution so peculiar to the Hebrews.1 The influence of that council was, indeed, suppressed by many a king; but it could never be wholly extinguished: we find it from time to time, especially on all important occasions (when alone it is noticed), stand out in all its potent vigor. It was this dedemocratic element, too, which acted as a mighty support to the prophets, ever favoring and protecting their freedom of speech; Comp. 1 K. 18: 19. Jer.26: 16—19.

§ 10. Though all these data, drawn from the history of the Hebrews, do not properly come within the scope of the Mosaic Law, still our brief consideration of them here, which might be even more amplified, will not, we trust, be deemed superfluous. For the events themselves, and the expressions employed in this description of them, aftbrd an excellent commentary to that which, judged by the light of

'In regard to the circumstance that the Sanhedrim of seventy-one men formed an immediate continuation of the Senate of seventy elders instituted by Moses, as is asserted by the Rabbins, Scripture itself furnishes no definite data. In one instance alone — in a prophetic vision of E/ekiel 8: 11, 12 — mention is made of " seventy men of the elders of Israel;" these being represented, however, as worshipping idols. However, it is very likely that the Institution of the Saahivirim, even as respects its external form, was founded on a more ancient one.— Comp. Talmud Sanhedr. I. 6.

« AnteriorContinuar »