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authority, and that the reigns of princes that were too young have been most unfortunate : which explains what the Wise Man says, Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child. And it is this woe that God threatens the Jews with, when He tells them by Isaiah, that He will give them children for princes. In reality youth has neither patience nor foresight, is an enemy to all rule, and seeks nothing but pleasure and variety.
As soon as the Hebrews began to be formed into a people, they were governed by old men : when Moses returned into Egypt to promise them that God would set them at liberty, he assembled the elders together, and performed the miracles which were the proof of his mission before them. All the elders of Israel came to the feast that he made for Jethro his father-in-law. When God thought fit to give counsel to relieve him in governing that great people, Gather unto me, said he, seventy men of the elders of Israel whom thou knowest, to be the elders of the people, and officers over them. So that they had already authority, before the law was given, and the state had taken its form. In the whole Scripture afterwards, as often as mention is made of assemblies and public affairs, the elders are put in the first place, and sometimes named alone.
• Eccles. X. 16.
* Isaiah iii. 4. Europe wells knows how miserably the affairs of a nation are conducted, where the helm of the state is con. fided to the hands of a rash young man. • Exod. iv. 29.
Exod. xviii. 12. * This is a proof that the power, which we before mentioned to be given by Jacob to the heads of tribes, took place immediately upon his death. From that time all applications and messages are not to the people, but to the elders of Israel; Exod. iii. 16. xii. 21. The command of God, sent to the house
Thence comes the expression in the Psalms, exhorting to praise God in the congregation of the people, and in the seat of the elders, that is, the public council. These are the two parts that composed all the antient commonwealths; the assembly (which the Greeks call Ecclesia, exmanoia, and the Latins Concio) and the senate. The name of elder, apeo Butecos, became afterwards a title of dignity; and from this Greek word is derived the Latin name presbyter; and from the Latin word senior, elder, comes the name of seigneur, or lord." We may judge of the age required by the Hebrews before a man was reckoned an elder by those being called young men whose advice Rehoboam followed ;' for it is said, they had been educated with him; from which it may be concluded, they were about his age, who was then forty-one."
of Jacob, and the children of Israel in Egypt, was delivered by Moses to the elders of the people, Exod. xix. 3,7. Bishop Sherlock's third dissertation, p. 304, 305. Whether the number of these elders, who made up the Sanhedrim, was just seventy, or seventy-two, it is allowed it was first formed out of Jacob's children, who went into Egypt; and that it always represented the twelve tribes. See Mald. on Luc. xii. 1. Grot. in loc. and on Namb. xii. 1. and Selden, de Syned. lib. 11. c. iv. 8.-E. F.
# It is sometimes curious to remark the progress of corruption in a word, TpET EUTEpos, presbyter, antient French prestre, modern French pretre, and English priest. So Kuple oixos, Kuriou oikos, the house of the LORD, contracted into Kupio1%, Ku. rioik, Scottish kirk, and English church. ? 1 Kings xii. 8.
2 Chron. xii. 13.
Their Administration of Justice.
JUSTICE was administered by two sorts of officers, Shophetim and Shoterim, established in every city by the command which God gave by Moses. It is certain the word shophetim signifies judges. As to shoterim, it is differently translated by the Vulgate :" but the Jewish tradition explains it of ministers of justice, as sheriffs, serjeants, or their guards, and other officers. These posts were given to the Levites, and there were six thousand of them in David's time. Such were the judges that Jehoshaphat restored in each city, and to whom he gave such good instructions ;a the Scripture adds, that he settled at Jerusalem a company of Levites, priests, and heads of families, to be judges in great causes.' It was the council of seventy elders, erected in the time of Moses, over which the high-priest presided, and where all
2 Deut. xvi. 18.
שפטים ושטרים תתן לך
Judges and officers shalt thou make unto thee. See the note at the end of this chapter.
Magistri, masters; præfecti, prefects ; duces, leaders or captains ; præcones, heralds. Josh. iii. 2. • 1 Chron. xxiii. 4.
2 Chron. xix. 5, 6, 7. • Ibid. v.8.
Deut. xvii. 8.
questions were decided that were too hard to be determined by the judges of smaller cities. The tradition of the Jews is, that these judges of particular cities were twenty-three in number ; that they were all to meet to judge in capital cases ; and that three were sufficient for causes relating to pecuniary matters, and such as were of little consequence. The chief judge was the king, according to the saying of the people to Samuel, Give us a king to judge us."
The place where the judges kept their court was the gate of the city; for as all the Israelites were husbandmen, who went out in the morning to their work, and came not in again till night, the city-gate was the place where most people met. We must not wonder that they wrought in the fields, and abode in the cities. They were not such as the chief cities of our provinces, which can hardly be maintained by the produce of twenty or thirty leagues round them. They were only the habitations of as many labourers, as were necessary to cultivate the ground nearest hand. Whence it came, that the land being full of inhabitants, their cities were very numerous.
The tribe of Judah only reckoned a hundred and fifteen to their share,' when they took possession of it, besides those that were built afterwards; and each city had villages dependent upon it.
They must certainly then be small, and very near one another, like common towns, well built and walled in, having, in other respects, every thing that is to be found in the country. The public place for doing business among
3 Sanhedr. c. i. s. 6,
&c. Josh. xv. 21, &c.
i Sam. viii. 5.
the Greeks and Romans was the market-place, or exchange, for the same reason, because they were all merchants. In our ancestors' time the vassals of each lord met in the court of his castle, and thence comes the expression the courts of princes. As princes live more retired in the east, affairs are transacted at the gate of their seraglio; and this custom of making one's court at the palace gate has been practised ever since the times of the antient kings of Persia, as we see by several passages in the book of Esther."
The gate of the city was the place for doing all public and private business ever since the times of the Patriarchs. Abraham purchased his burying place in the presence of all those that entered into the gate of the city of Hebron.' When Hamor and his son Sichem, who ran away with Dinah, purposed to make an alliance with the Israelites, it was at the city-gates that they spake of it to the people. We see the manner of these public acts, with all the particulars, in the story of Ruth." Boaz, designing to marry her, was to have another person's right in her, who was a nearer relation, given up to him. For this purpose, he sits at the gate of Bethlehem ; and, seeing this kinsman pass by, he
* Esther ii. 19. iii. 2, 3. * Ibid. xxxiv. 20.
'Gen. xxiii. 10, 18. Ruth iv.