and grandsons of the twelve sons of Jacob, and were next to the princes of the tribes in rank and importance(). These seem to have had a superintending, but not a judiciary, power (a). It is supposed that these "heads of families," or "chiefs of the fathers of Israel," preserved their authority during the Babylonian captivity, when the dispersion of the people into so many different parts of that empire naturally increased their importance; and we find them afterwards very active in assisting Ezra and Nehemiah in the settlement of the people in Judæa. These families were again subdivided into "households (b); so that there evidently appears to have been a regular subordination established in their civil and religious polity, all the degrees of which were alike subject to a code of divine laws, and to the especial government of "God their King."

When it is said in the book of Judges, "at that time there was no king in Israel (c)," we are to understand, there was no chief ruler or magistrate, like Moses or Joshua; there was indeed a high priest (d), and there were also


(z) Josh. c. 21. v. I. Numb. c. 26.

(a) 2 Chr. c. 19. v.8.
(b) Josh. c. 7. v. .14
(c) c. 21. v. 25.

1 Chron. c. 8. v. 28.

Ezra, c. I. v. 5.

and 16. I Sam. c. 10. v. 20.
(d) Judges, c. 20. v. 28.

elders (e); but there was not then a sufficient power lodged in any one person to control and keep the people in order, by punishing public offences and private wrongs, so that " every man did that which was right in his own eyes." The great council had hitherto acted as assistants to Moses and Joshua, and probably was not yet considered as designed to be the supreme authority under God their King. We have indeed reason to suppose that the general depravity which prevailed in the nation, after the death of the generation contemporary with Joshua (f), had tainted the council itself, and had deprived its members of the gift of inspiration, with which the elders had been favoured on its first establishment (g); and from the address of Abimelech to the people (h), and from some other passages, we may even suppose that the institution itself was perverted, for the council seems to have been then made up wholly of the family of Gideon, instead of the representatives of the twelve tribes, and members chosen according to the directions originally given. The people themselves appear to have been very sensible of the miseries arising from such a state of anarchy; for when God was pleased to raise up Judges to deliver

(e) Judges, c. 21. v. 16.
(g) Numb. c. II. v. 16-30.

(f) Judges, c. 2. v. 7-13. (h) Judges, c. 9. v. 2.

deliver them from the power of the neighbouring nations, to which they were subjected as punishments for their wickedness, we find them desirous of making them kings (i) to secure a succession of chief civil magistrates as well as military leaders. As the functions of all ordinary magistrates among the Romans were superseded by the authority of a dictator, so were all Hebrew magistrates subject to the control of a judge, who was specially appointed by God (k); and in the time of the Jewish kings this whole system of administrative justice was frequently interrupted; but it cannot escape the observation of the attentive reader of the Jewish history, that the periods most marked by violence and crimes were precisely those, when these constituted authorities were from various causes suffered to sink into inaction. We find, however, that Jehosaphat was anxious to revive the power of the inferior courts of judicature (1), and the council seems to have possessed great influence in the time of Jeremiah (m). After the return from the Babylonian captivity, when "the people were settled as of old (n)," the supreme

(i) Judges, c.8. v. 22 & 23. c. 9. v.2. 6–57. c. 10. II. (k) 1 Sam. c. 7. v. 16.

(1) 2 Chr. c. 19. v. 5 and 6, &c.

(m) Jer. c. 36, 37, and 38.

(n) Isaiah, c. I. v. 26.


Ezra, c. 7. v. 25. c. 10.

supreme power was again lodged in the great council or sanhedrim, which, as we have seen, continued to exercise its judicial office, till the national polity was totally destroyed by the Romans.

THE land of Canaan, so named from Canaan, the son of Ham, whose posterity possessed this land as well as Egypt or Mizraim, lies in the western part of Asia, between latitude 31° and 34°. Its boundaries were, to the north, Cole-Syria; to the west, the Mediterranean Sea; to the east, Arabia Deserta; and to the south and southwest, Arabia Petræa and Egypt. Its extent was about 200 miles from north to south (that is from Dan to Beersheba) and its breadth about 100. It was divided into two unequal parts, of which the western was considerably the greater, by the river Jordan, which rises in the mountains of Hermon, (a branch of the mountains of Libanus,) and running south through the lake of Gennesareth, or "the Sea of Tiberias or Galilee," after a course of 150 miles loses itself in the Lacus Asphaltitis, or the Dead Sea. This last lake, or sea, was also called "the Sea of the Plain," and occupies the place where Sodom and Gomorrha formerly stood. The country to the east of the Jordan,


was given, as has been related, to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh. The kingdom of Moab lay to the south of Reuben; the kingdom of Ammon to the east of Gad; and the mountains of Hermon bounded Manasseh to the north-east, beyond which lay Trachonitis and Ituræa. West of the Jordan, to the north, were placed Naphtali, on the river, and Asser, which bordered on Phoenicia and the Mediterranean. Zabulon and Issachar had inland districts; but the other half tribe of Manasseh and Ephraim reached from the sea to the river. Dan (upon the coast) and Benjamin were south of Ephraim, and north of Simeon and Judah. The country allotted to Simeon bordered upon the Mediterranean, and extended to Egypt; but the Philistines, who inhabited the coast, were never entirely driven out of their possessions. The country of Judah bordered upon the Dead Sea, which separated it from the kingdom of Moab, (for both Simeon and Judah lay considerably more south than the tribe of Reuben) and adjoined the mountainous country of Idumæa, or Edom, and Arabia Petræa, to the south. Jerusalem, or Hierosolyma, the capital, supposed to have been the Salem of Melchisedek, stood partly in the territory of Benjamin, but was allotted to Judah," the chief among the tribes of Israel." VOL. I. After


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