Imatges de pÓgina


govern himself by it, without deviating from it to the
right or left; that injoin him to make choice of perfons
of wisdom and integrity to be judges over the people,
and fuch-like. So that they had no other enforcement
for the people's obedience and loyalty, than their free
promise and oath to them; whilft they were tied to their
juft and equitable government, not only by their oath,
but by the most strict and severe injunctions and threat-
nings from God.

HOWEVER, as they looked upon themselves as ac-
countable to GoD only for the breach of these laws, so no
kings were reftrained by them, but fuch as feared him :
as for the reft, it is plain from their hiftory, that they
made no fcruple of tranfgreffing them in inftances of the
highest nature; and that their power was fo great, that
none dared to controul them, or even reprove them,
except fuch prophets as were commiffioned by GOD for
fo doing. Their being anointed, at least in the begin-
ning (P), by fome celebrated prophets, and appointed fo-
vereigns of a nation, which the Scripture ftiles a royal
priesthood, gave them a full power, not only in matters

¶ Deut. xvii. 18, & feqq. vide & præc. negat. 221, & feqq. Deut. xvi. 18, & feqq. vide & præc. affirm. 96, & feqq. • Exod. xix. 6, & alib.

(P) The Talmudifts tell us, that the immediate heir of a king, who had been anointed, was himself proclaimed king, without unction, especially in the family of David; and that the ceremony was only used when a younger fon was preferred to the eldest, as in the cafe of Solomon (9). One thing is certain, that the cuftom of confecrating any thing to GOD, by this profufion of oil, is very antient, as appears from the inftance of Jacob's anointing the pillar of Bethel (10). How much earlier it began, and how

(9) 1 Kings i, pa.

introduced, is impoffible to
guess; but it is plain, that it
became in ufe, during the whole
Mofaic difpenfation, in the de-
dication both of men and things
to the immediate fervice of
GOD. Of the first kind, were
the kings, priefts, and prophets;
and, of the fecond, all the fa-
cred utenfils of the tabernacle:
all which are fuppofed, not
without good grounds, to have
been typical of CHRIST, who
is emphatically called the Mef-
fiah, or Anointed, and of the
fpiritual unction, under the

(10) Gen. xxviii. 18, & feqq.


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Purely civil and military, but in ecclefiaftical alfo (Q): and what profound refpect was paid to the regal dignity, appears both from the fubmiffive language with which they were addreffed, and the humble manner of approaching them; infomuch that even queens and prophets did proftrate themselves with their faces to the ground before them, as Nathan and Bathsheba did to David"; though there is no doubt, but his fon Solomon raifed the grandeur of the throne to a much greater height (R).


* Vide int. al. 1 Sam. xxv. 23, & feqq. & ver. 40, & feqq. 2 Sam. xiv. paff. xxiv. 3, & alib. ☐ 1 Kings i. 16, 23.

(Q) This is, indeed, denied by very many divines, who think, that they never exercifed any authority in the latter, as kings of Ifrael, but as prophets, and infpired perfons, such as were David and Solomon. But the contrary doth plainly appear from the reformations and regulations which Hezekiah, Jehoshaphat, Jofiah, and others made, who were neither prophets, nor infpired perfons. We have already taken notice, that they had power to confult the oracle of urim; and, indeed, they were commanded fo to do upon all emergencies, as well as the grand council or fanhedrin, over which they prefided, whenever they pleased to affift at it (10). Thus we find, that David, after he had been anointed king, even in Saul's time, did confult the divine oracle concerning the fuccefs of his undertaking (11). They had likewise an abfolute power of life and death; and though, according to the law

of Mofes, no man was to be capitally punished, till he had been convicted before proper judges, and upon the evidence of at least two or three witneffes; yet we meet with frequent inftances of perfons being put to death by the fole will of the prince. The fame may be prefumed to have been, with refpect to property, by the inftances of Mephibofheth and his fervant Ziba (12), and others of the like nature. From that of Naboth (13) we may likewife conclude, that, in some cafes, the eftates of persons condemned devolved to the king: but, from the laws lately mentioned againft oppreffing the subjects, it appears rather to have been a tyrannical ufurpation, than a command, or even permiffion, from GOD.

(R) The Jews affirm, that even the high-prieft was obliged to ftand before the king; whereas the latter only stood before the high-prieft, when he was confulting GOD by urim (14).

c. 2.

(10) Maim. balak melakim, c. Bafnag. ubi fup. (12) 2 Sam. xix. 29. =(14) Maim. ubi fup.

(11) 1 Sam. xxx. 7, & 8. Vide (13) 1 Kings xxi. páff.


Laws and cuftoms relating to judges, and courts of judicature.

Courts of WE need not speak hare of thofe judges, emphatically


fo called, who governed Ifrael



thefe,being appointed, from time to time, by GoD himself, we find, were intirely governed by his laws, and, in doubtful cafes, by his Spirit, with which they were endowed: they had the fupreme authority, during their life, and differed in nothing from kings but in title, pomp, and grandeur, and their dignity not being hereditary in all other cafes their power was the fame. They could make peace and war, fummon the tribes to arms, confult God by urim, and the like. It is faid, that they judged Ifrael, that the people repaired to them for judgment, and that they took yearly circuits through the land to adminifter ju

They add, that he alone was
allowed to fit in the court of
the temple, even in the most
facred part of it, namely,
that of the priests, provided
he was of the lineage of Da-
vid; whereas their fenators
were only allowed to fit in that
which belonged to the people
(15). The magnificence of
their dress did not a little con-
tribute to raise an awe in their
fubjects. It is true, that there
is nothing prescribed concern-
ing it, either in the Mofaic
law, or any other infpired
writer, and that we have no
clear description of it in the
facred books; but it is plain,
from Jehoshaphat's going to
fight against the Syrians in his
royal robes, whilft Abab changed
his own for a common drefs
(16), that there was a manifeft
difference between them, if

not in shape, at least in beauty and coftlinefs, fuch as jewels about their crown, the purple mantle, and the like. Jofephus tells us (17), that Solomon did ufually go clad in white; but this was a colour common both to the priests and nobles: fo that the difference must be in the richness, whether of the linen or filk of which they were made. However, as they were not tied, by the law, to any drefs, we need not doubt but they followed the fashions of other countries, and were more fumptuously clad upon fome particular occafions (18). The pfalmift has likewise given us a beautiful description of the drefs of queens (19), which was ftill richer than that of kings; but we shall not here inlarge upon it.

(15) Maimon balak beth babkir.
2. viii. c. 2.
(18) Vid. 1 Sam.

(16) 1 Kings xxii. go. (17) Ant. xxviii. 8. 1 Kings xxii. 10. 30. Joseph. ant, l. vi, c. 10, & alib. Rafc, & al. (19) Pfal. xlv.

fticef; but whether this was done by way of appeal from the judgment of inferior courts, as the dernier resort, or by way of confulting them in doubtful cafes, is not eafy to determine (R).

BUT, befides thefe, Mofes, and, after him, those who were at the head of the Ifraelitish commonwealth, were commanded to appoint a number of judges and magistrates in all cities, to adminifter juftice to the people in every tribe. These were to be men of wisdom and probity, well versed in the law of Mofes, free from covetousness and partiality, fuch as would protect the innocent, the fatherlefs and widow, the helpless and ftranger, and punish the guilty and wrong-doer 8. We find, likewife, feveral denunciations against those who should suffer themfelves to be bribed to act contrary to the ftrict laws of juftice; but as they were appointed by the kings, fo did their virtue rise and fall, according to the goodness or wickedness of these. We may fay more: Samuel was himself a most upright judge; and yet his two fons, who acted under him, proved moft unrighteous. David was likewife a pious monarch; and yet, had there not crept a great

f Vid. Judges iv. 5. 1 Sam. iii. 20. iv. 1. vii. 15, & feq. & alib. 8 Exod. xxiii. 8, & feq. Deut. xvi. 18, & feq. xvii. 2, & feq. xix. paff. xxiv. 16, & feq. xxv. 1, & feq. & alib. pass, Ezek. xliv. 24. præc. affirm. 97. 100.

(R) The latter, however, feems most probable, from the command of Mofes, that In all doubtful cafes, whether criminal or civil, wherein the inferior judges could not eafily determine, they should apply themselves to the priests, and to the judge or head of the people then in being, to whofe judgment they should fubmit,under pain of death (59). The Jews, indeed, pretend, that this application was to be made to the great council, or fanhedrin(60), which they pretend to have fubfifted ever fince the time of Mofes. But we shall fhew in

the fequel, that the council, which Mofes appointed, lasted only during the lives of those elders; and that this fanhedrin was a new institution,of a much later date. So that, in all doubtful and disputed cafes, no perfons could be more proper to be applied to, than thefe judges, who were indued both with the fpirit of GOD, and the fupreme authority; fince even this latter was thought fufficient afterwards,in the time of their kings; as appears, from very many inftances, especially thofe quoted in the margin (61).

(61) 2 Sam.


(59) Deut. xvii. 8, & feq.

(60) Præc. affirm. 3.

xiv. pass. 1 Kings iii. 16, & feq. 2 Kings viii. 3,& alib. pass.


deal of corruption into the courts of judicature, his fon Abfalom could have had no pretence for wifhing that he had been a judge, that he might do juftice to every one that applied to him h.

THESE Courts were held at the gates of the cities, and became, in time, very confiderable; but how they were kept, or how many judges belonged to each, whether their power was equal, or fome fubordinate to others, cannot be gathered from Scripture (S). In the flourishing reigns of David and Solomon they increased very muchi; and, in process of time, became fo corrupted, that the prophets were obliged, from time to time, to exclaim against them. One of them, having been fent to Jehoshaphat, to denounce God's heavy judgment againft Ifrael for those abuses, wrought fo upon that good king, that he immediately fet about making a thorough reformation, appointing new judges in every walled city, fome of whom were of the tribe of Levi, and charging them, in the moft preffing terms, to be more watchful and upright than their predeceffors: he likewife appointed two tribunals for the city of Jerufalem, the one confifting, chiefly, of priests and Levites, for matters of religion; and the other, which was moftly made up of the heads of families, for matters of ftate. In this condition they are supposed to have continued till the captivity, 'bating that, as the princes became more and more wicked, fo did the judges under them, till GOD was provoked to drive them out of the land. This is all we can fay, upon that article, with any tolerable cer

1 Vid. 1 Chron. xxiii. & feq.

h 2 Sam. xv. 2, & feq. paff.

(S) We read, indeed, that Mofes,during their abode in the wilderness,appointed rulers over thousands, over hundreds, fifties, and tens (62); and these were, in all likelihood, fubordinate to one another: but how far this model was followed, when they came into the land of Canaan, doth not appear. However, we may suppose,that thefe courts confifted, at first, but of very few perfons; and

(62) Exod. xviii. 24, & feq.

that every thing was transacted in them with the utmost plainnefs and fimplicity: neither were there many kinds of offices or dignities, fince we read but of four forts of officers,even in Joshua's time; namely, the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers (63). It is impoffible to determine what their officers were; only the last are fupposed to have been a kind of beadles, or executioners.

(63) Job. xxiv. 1.


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