« AnteriorContinua »
cases, particular tribes acted as distinct and independent republics, not only when there was neither king nor judge, but even in the times of the kings. In Josh. xvii. 14–18. Judg. iv. 10. and Judg. xviii. xix. xx. we read of wars which were carried on by particular tribes. But the most remarkable example perhaps is in 1 Chron. v. 18–23. where the two tribes and a half beyond Jordan,—even during the reign of Saul, carried on a very important war by themselves; in which, indeed, the rest of the people of Israel took so little share, that Samuel has not so much as noticed it in Saul's history, though it was a far more splendid event, than all his military achievements put together. In 1 Chron. iv. 41–43. we read, in like manner, of wars carried on by the single tribe of Simeon, in the *†† Hezekiah. * e authority of the judges was not inferior to that, which was afterwards exercised by the kings: it extended to peace and war. They decided causes without appeal; but they had no power to enact new laws, nor to impose new burthens upon the people. They were protectors of the laws, defenders of religion, and avengers of crimes, particularly of idolatry, which was high treason against Jehovah their Sovereign. Further, these judges were without pomp or splendour, and destitute of guards, train, or equipage: unless indeed their own wealth might enable them to make an appearance suitable to their dignity. eir income or revenue arose solely from presents. This form of administration subsisted from Joshua to Saul, during a period of about 339 years. IV. At length the Israelites, weary of having God for their king, and provoked by the misconduct of the sons of the judge and prophet Samuel, who in his old age had associated them with himself for the administration of affairs, desired a king to be set over them, to judge them like all the nations (1 Sam. viii. 5.), thus undesignedly fulfilling the designs of the Almighty, who had ordained that in the fulness of time the Messiah should be born of a royal house. Such a change in their government Moses foresaw, and accordingly prescribed certain laws for the direction of their future sovereigns. (Deut. xvii. 14–20.) The right of choice was left to the people, but with this limitation, that they must never elect a foreigner. This was a patriotic law, but it did not apply to the case of the nation being at any time subjected, by force of arms, to a foreign prince; though the Pharisees afterwards so explained it. Further, the Israelites were on no account to appoint any one as their king, who was not chosen by God; but this did not extend to their electing every individual king: for, so long as the reigning family did not violate the fundamental laws of the theocracy, they would continue to possess the throne, but if they tyrannised, they would forfeit it. With regard to the external qualifications which the Jews seem to have demanded in their kings;–comeliness of person, and tallness of stature seem to have been the principal requisites. Thus, although Saul was constituted King of Israel by the special appointment of God, yet
it appears to have been no inconsiderable circumstance in the eyes of the people, that he was a choice young man and goodly, and that there was not, among the children of Israel, a goodlier person than her from the shoulders and upwards he was higher than any of the people. (1 Sam. ix. 2.) And therefore Samuel said to the people, when he presented Saul to them: See ye him whom the LoRD }; thosen that there is none like him among all the people. (1 Sam. x. 24.) Hence, also, David is said to have been ruddy, withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. (1 Sam. xvi. 12.) The people of the East seem to have had a regard to these personal qualities in the election of their kings, in addition to those of strength, courage, and fortitude of mind; and it was such a king as their neighbours had, whom the Israelites desired. The kings were prohibited from multiplying horses; nor were they allowed to take many wives. No law of Moses, however, was less observed than this. They were likewise forbidden to collect great quantities of gold and silver; lest they should have in their hands the means of making themselves rich. In order that they might not be ignorant of religion and of the laws of the Israelites, they were enjoined to have by them a copy of the law, carefully taken from the Levitical exemplars, and to read in it daily.” From 1 Sam. x. 25. compared with 2 Sam. v. 3. 1 Kings xii. 22–24. and 2 Kings xi. 17, it appears that the Israelitish kings were by no means possessed of unlimited power, but were restricted by a solemn stipulation; although they on some occasions evinced a disposition leaning towards despotism. (1 Sam. xi. 5–7. and xxii. 17, 18.) They had, however, the right of making war and peace, as well as the power of life and death; and could on particular occasions put triminals to death, without the formalities of justice (2 Sam. i. 5–15. iv. 9–12.): but, in general they administered justice; sometimes in a summary way by themselves where the case o clear, as David did (see 2 Sam. xii. 1–5. xiv. 4–11; and 1 Kings ii. 5–9.), er by judges duly constituted to hear and determine causes in the king's name. (1 Chron. xxiii. 4, xxvi. 29–32). Michaelis thinks it probable that there were superior courts established at Jerusalem, in which David's sons presided, and that Psal. cxxii. 5. is an allusion to them; but no mention is made of a supreme tribunal in that city earlier than the reign of Jehoshaphat. (2 Chron. xix. 8–11.) Although the kings enjoyed the privilege of granting pardons to offenders at their pleasure without consulting any person; and in ecclesiastical affairs exercised great power, sometimes deposing or condemning to death even the high priest himself (1 Sam. xxii. 17, 18. 1 Kings ii. 26, 27.), and at other times reforming gross abuses in religion, of
"This law was to be a standing trial of prince and people, whether they had trust and confidence in God their deliverer. See Bp. Sherlock's Discourses on rophecy, Disc. iv.; where he has excellently explained the reason and effect of the law, and the influence which the observance or neglect of it had in the affairs *#). h The above regulations concerning the Jewish monarchs are fully consid and illustrated jo. &. vol. i. pp. 283. y considere!,
which we have examples in the zealous conduct of Hezekiah and Josiah; yet this power was enjoyed by them not as absolute sovereigns in their own right. They were merely the viceroys of Jehovah, who was the sole legislator of Israel: and therefore as the kings could neither enact a new law nor repeal an old one, the government continued to be a theocracy, as well under their permanent administration, as we have seen that it was under the occasional administration of the judges. The only difference, that can be discovered between the two species of government, is that the conduct of the judges was generally directed by urim, and that of the kings, either by the inspiration of God vouchsafed to themselves, or by prophets raised up from time to time to reclaim them when deviating from their duty, as laid down by the law. The inauguration of the kings was performed with various ceremonies and with great pomp. The principal of these was anointing with holy oil (Psal. lxxxix. 20.), which was sometimes privately performed by a prophet (1 Sam. x. 1. xvi. 1–13. 1 Kings xix. 16. 2 Kings ir. 1–6.), and was a symbolical prediction that the person so anointed would ascend the throne; but, after the monarchy was established, this unction was performed by a priest (1 Kings i. 39.), at first in some public place (1 Kings i. 32—34.), and afterwards in the temple, the monarch elect being surrounded by his guards. (2 Kings xi. 11, 12. 2 Chron. xxiii.) It is probable also that he was at the same time girded with a sword. (Psalm xlv. 3.) After the king was anointed he was proclaimed by the sound of the trumpet. In this manner was Solomon proclaimed (1 Kings i. 34, * and o should seem) also the rebel Absalom. (2 Sam. xv. 10.) When ehovah proclaimed his law, and himself to be the King of Israel, the sound of the trumpet preceded with great vehemence. (Exod. xix. 16.) The knowledge of this circumstance will explain the many passages in the Psalms, in which God is said to have gone up with a shout; the Lord, with the sound of a trumpet; and the Israelites are called upon, with trumpets to make a joyful noise before the Lord the King. (See Psal. xlvii. 5. xcviii. 6. &c.) From this ceremony of anointing, kings are in the Scriptures frequently termed the anointed of the Lord and of the God of Jacob. (1 Sam. xxiv. 6. 10. xxvi. 9. 11. 16. 23. 2 Sam. xxiii. 1. Psal. ii. 2. lxxxix. 38. Habak, iii., 13.) A diadem or crown was also placed upon the sovereign's head and a sceptre put into his hand (Ezek. xxi. 26. Psal. xlv. 6. 2 Kings xi. 12.), after which he entered into a solemn covenant with his subjects that he would govern according to its conditions, and to the law of Moses. (2 Sam. v. 3. 1 Chron. xi. 3. 2 Kings xi. 12. 2 Chron. xxiii. 11. compare Deut. xvii. 18.) The nobles in their turn promised obedience, and appear to have confirmed this so with a kiss, either of the knees or feet. (Psal. ii. 12.) Loud acclamations accompanied with music then followed, after which the king entered the city. (1 Kings i. 39, 40.2 Kings xi. 12; 19.2 Chron. xxiii. 11.) To this practice there are numerous allusions both in the Old Testament (Psal. xlvii.2–9.xcvii. 1.xcix. 1.,
&c.), as well as in the New (Matt. xxi. 9, 10. Mark xi. 9, 10. Luke xix. 35–38); in which last-cited passages the Jews, by welcoming our Saviour in the same manner as their kings were formerly inaugurated, manifestly acknowledged him to be the Messiah whom they expected. Lastly, after entering the city, the kings seated themselves upon the throne, and received the congratulations of their subjects. (1 Kings i. 35, 47, 48. xi. 19, 20.) On the inauguration of Saul, however, when there was neither sceptre, diadem, nor throne, these ceremonies were not observed. After the establishment of royalty among the Jews, it appears to have been a maxim in their law, that the king's person was inviolable, even though he might be tyrannical and unjust (1 Sam. xxiv. 5–8); a maxim which is necessary not only to the security of the king, but also to the welfare of the subject. On this principle, the Amalekite, who told David the improbable and untrue story of his having put the mortally wounded Saul to death, that he might not fall into the hands of the Philistines, was, merely on this his own statement, ordered by David to be instantly despatched, because he had laid his hand on the Lord's Anointed. (2 Sam. i. 14.) The chief distinctions of majesty mentioned in Scripture, were the Royal Apparel, the crown, the throne, and the sceptre. The Royal dpparel, was splendid (Matt. vi. 29.), and the retinue of the sovereigns was both numerous and magnificent. (1 Kings iv. 1–24.) That the apparel of the Jewish monarchs was different from that of all other persons, is evident from Ahab's changing his apparel before he engaged in battle, and from Jehoshaphat's retaining his. (1 Kings xxii. 30.) It is most probable, after the example of other oriental sovereigns, that their garments were made of purple and fine white linen (Esth. viii. 15.): in after times, it appears from Luke xvi. 19. that the rich and great were clad in purple and fine linen: and this circumstance may account for Pilate's soldiers clothing Christ with purple (Mark xv. 17.), and for Herod the tetrarch, with his men of war, arraying him in a gorgeous, most probably a white robe (Luke xxiii. o thereby in derision clothing him as a king. . Further, their Crowns or diadems glittered with gold, silver, and precious stones. (2 Sam. xii. 30. Zech. vi. 11.) Their arms were decorated with bracelets (2 Sam. i. 10.) as those of the Persian sovereigns are to this day; and their thrones were equally magnificent. The Throne of Solomon is particularly described in 1 Kings x. 18–20. Similar to this was the throne on which the sovereign of Persia was seated to receive his late Majesty's ambassador, Sir Gore Ouseley, Bart. It was ascended by steps, on which were painted dragons (that of Solomon was decorated with carved lions; and was also overlaid with fine gold).” The Royal Sceptre seems to have been Various at different times. That of Saul was a javelin or spear (I Sam. xviii. 10. xxii. 6), as Justin informs us was antiently the practice among the early Greek sovereigns.” Sometimes the sceptre
was a walking-stick, cut from the branches of trees, decorated with gold or studded with golden nails. Such sceptres were carried by judges, and by such a sceptre Homer introduces Achilles as swearing," and to a sceptre of this description the prophet Ezekiel unquestionably alludes. (xix. 11.) In time of peace, as well as of war, it was customary to have watchmen set on high places, wherever the king was, in order to prevent him from being surprised. Thus David, at Jerusalem, was informed by the watchman of the approach of the messengers, who brought him tidings of Absalom's defeat. (2 Sam. xviii. 24–27.) And Jehoram king of Israel, who had an army lying before RamothGilead, kept a watchman on the tower of Jezreel where he was, who spied the company of Jehu as he came, and accordingly announced it to the king. (2 k; ix. 17. 20.) It is well known that the tables of the modern oriental sovereigns are characterised by luxurious profusion; and vast numbers are fed from the royal kitchen. This fact serves to account for the apparently immense quantity of provisions stated in 1 Kings iv. 22, 23. 28. to have been consumed by the household of Solomon, whose vessels were for the most part of massive gold (1 Kings x. 21.), and which were furnished throughout the year from the twelve provinces into which he divided his dominions. A similar custom obtains in Persia to this day.” Splendid banquets were given by the kings (Dan. v. 1. Matt. xxii. 1. Mark vi. 21.); but it does not appear that women were admitted to them, except in Persia, when the queen was present until the men few warm with wine. (Dan. v. 2, 3.23. Esther i. 11. v. 4. 8. vii. 1.") Numerous are the allusions in the sacred writings to the courts of princes, and to the regal state which they antiently enjoyed. The eastern monarchs were ever distinguished for studiously keeping up the majesty of royalty, and thus inspiring their subjects with the most reverential awe. They were difficult of access,” very rarely showing themselves to their people, and lived in the depths of their vast palaces, surrounded with every possible luxury, and gratifying every desire as it arose. In these kingdoms of slaves it was accounted the summit of human grandeur and felicity to be admitted into that splendid circle which surrounded the person of their sovereign; whence the expression of seeing God (Matt. v. 8.) is to be explained of the enjoyment of the highest possible happiness, namely, his favour and protection, especially in the life to come. And as only a select few in the oriental courts were permitted to behold the face of the monarch, it is in reference to this custom that the angel Gabriel replied to Zechariah (who hesitated to believe his annunciation of the Baptist's birth), that he was Gabriel that stood in the
1 Iliad, lib. i. v. 234–239. * Morier's Second Journey, p. 274.
* This is confirmed by Herodotus, lib. v. c. 18.
4 ..". Persians it was death to enter the royal presence without being *lled for, Esther iv. 11. Herodotus (book i. c. 99.) states Deioces the Mede to have been the first who instituted this ordinance.