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CHAP. II.: Shewing what Commonwealth Israel was. - James Harrington, The Oceana and Other Works 
The Oceana and Other Works of James Harrington, with an Account of His Life by John Toland (London: Becket and Cadell, 1771).
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Shewing what Commonwealth Israel was.
Sect. 1. Division of the children of Israel; first genealogical.ALL political methods that are collective of the people, must necessarily begin with a distribution or division of the people.
For the division of the people of Israel, it was first genealogical, and then local.Exod. 1.Now these are the names (of the ancestors of the tribes, or) of the children of Israel which came into Egypt, every man and his houshold came withJacob:Gen. 41. 50, 51, 52.Reuben, Simeon, Levi,andJudah, Issachar, Zebulun,andBenjamin, Dan,andNaphtali, Gad,andAsher. These being eleven in number, were the sons of Jacob, who had also one more, namely Joseph.And toJosephwere born two sons before the years of famin came, whichAsenah,the daughter ofPotipherahpriest of On, bore to him. AndJosephcall’d the name of the first-bornManasseh—and the name of the second call’d heEphraim. Which two (tho but grandchildren) were adopted by Jacob for his sons, in these words:Gen. 48. 16.Let my name be nam’d on them; and the name of my fathersAbrahamandIsaac;and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth. From which addition to the former came the tribes of Israel, genealogically reckon’d, to be in number thirteen. In the genealogical distribution of the tribes there were also observ’d certain ranks, qualitys, or degrees, as appears by the poll made of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai, and in the tabernacle of the congregation by Moses.Num. 1. These degrees were of two sorts: first, phylarchs, or princes of tribes; and secondly, patriarchs, or princes of familys: all hereditary honors, and pertaining to the firstborn of the tribe or of the family respectively. That this poll be more perfectly understood, will be useful: for which cause I shall be somwhat more particular. First, for the phylarchs, or princes of the tribes; and then for the patriarchs, or princes of familys. To begin with the princes of the tribes.
Sect. 2. Num. 1. 17, 18.MOSES andAaron—assembl’d the congregation (or political convention of the people) together on the first day of the second month,after their familys, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upwards, by the poll.Of the princes of tribes; or the musterroll in Sinai. Where every phylarch or prince of a tribe, with the number of men at the age mention’d and upward, throout his tribe, are listed much after this manner:
Sect. 3. The Levits call, order, or tribe.ALL the firstborn, says God, are mine. In which words is imply’d that the priesthood, or right of preaching, instructing, or administring divine things, belong’d, as it were, of natural right, to fathers of familys, or the firstborn; till the Lord took the Levits from among the children of Israel, instead of the firstborn.Num. 3. 12, 13. These being thus taken, were set apart, and so listed by themselves to omit their several familys, functions, and orders in the service of the tabernacle, and afterwards of the temple, which would require a volum) much after this manner:
Of the tribe of Levi, Aaron high priest. The number of all the males of this tribe, from a month old and upwards, twenty and two thousand.v. 39. The manner how God took the Levits, is thus express’d: Thou shalt bring the Levits before the tabernacle of the congregation,Num. 8. 9, 10, 11, 12.and thou shalt gather the whole assembly together — and the children of Israel (after the manner that the Levits lay their hands upon the bullocks, or sacrifice) shall put their hands upon the Levits, in token that they are sacrific’d or separated by the free suffrage of the people to the Lord.1 Chr. 25. For lest the suffrage of the people be thought hereby to have bin excluded, so Davidand the captains of the host or army (which army was the representative of the people) separated to the service som of the sons ofAsaph,ofHeman,and ofJeduthun — who shall prophesy with harps. But of the congregations of the people more in due place.
Sect. 4. The military orders.The hereditary right more specially belonging to the phylarchs, or princes of the tribes, consisted (as that of the kings of Lacedemon, of Athens, and of Rome) in the leading of the armys of the commonwealth; which was distributed to them in this manner.Grot. ad Num. 10. The twelve tribes were divided into four brigades, every brigade consisting of three tribes. The leading of the first brigade pertain’d to Judah, who in his standard bore a lion. The leading of the second brigade belong’d to Reuben, who in his standard bore a man. The leading of the third brigade belong’d to Ephraim, who in his standard bore an ox. The leading of the fourth brigade belong’d to Dan, who in his standard bore an eagle. These four by the text are term’d standards of the camp, which were as the Roman eagles.Num. 10. 14, 18, 22, 23. Furthermore, as the subdivisions of the Roman legions had their proper insigns, so had the tribes here, which had not the leading of a brigade of the camp. The insigns of these tribes were call’d staves: as the staff of the children of Issachar, the staff of the tribe of Zebulun, which follow’d the standard of Judah: the staff of the tribe of Simeon, the staff of the tribe of Gad, which follow’d the standard of Reuben: the staff of the tribe of Manasseh, the staff of the tribe of Benjamin, which follow’d the standard of Ephraim: the staff of the tribe of Asher, the staff of the tribe of Naphtali, which follow’d the standard of Dan. All which insigns or staves in our English translation are render’d hosts, or armys.
Num. 3.In the midst of these four squadrons or brigades stood the tabernacle, with the Levits divided, and distributed by their distinct familys to the several uses and carriages of the same, and lodg’d upon the four quarters.
When the ark set forward, or the camp remov’d, these words were with solemnity pronounc’d by the general, or by the high priest; Rise up Lord, and let thy enemys be scatter’d, and let them that hate thee fly before thee.Num. 10. 35
Of the martial disciplin in which the youth in Israel were educated to these ends, there was certainly more than is remaining in story. But that their popular assemblys were all held in military order and disciplin, and that the deserters of the militia were anathematiz’d, confiscated, or put to the sword, will in due time be made sufficiently apparent. For the present, you have the Israelitish musterroll, being of a like nature with that of Athens call’d lexiarcha, and that in Rome call’d census. Nor has any commonwealth bin well order’d in its militia, which has not bin diligent in the institution and preservation of the like military rolls or registers. Hitherto of the phylarchs, or princes of the tribes; the next rank or quality in this government was that of the patriarchs or princes of familys.
Sect. 5. The patriarchs, chief of the fathers, or princes of families; with a catalog of the same.The word family in many places of Scripture, is not to be taken for a single houshold; but as we take the word in heraldry, that is, for a lineage or kindred. The patriarchs in Israel, taken in this sense, were such as, till of late years in Scotland, were they that could lead the whole name or kindred, and be follow’d by them The familys in Israel of this kind, that were greatest about the plantation of the commonwealth, were of Reuben, the Henochits, the Phalluits, the Hesronits, and the Charmits.
Num. 26.Of Simeon, the Namuelits, the Jamnits, the Jachenits, the Zanits, and the Shaulits.
Of Gad, the Zephronits, the Haggits, the Shunits, the Oznits, the Erits, the Arodits, and the Arelits.
Of Judah, the Shelanits, the Pharzits, the Zarhits, the Hesronits, and the Hamulits.
Of Issachar, the Tholaits, the Punits, the Shuhits, and the Shimranits.
Of Zabulun, the Sardits, the Elonits, and the Jahleelits.
Of Manasseh, the Machirits, the Galeadits, the Jeezrits, the Helekits, the Asrielits, the Sechemits, the Shemidaits, and the Hepherits.
Of Ephraim, the Shuthalaits, the Bachtits, the Tahanits, and the Eranits.
Of Benjamin, the Belaits, the Ashbelits, the Ahiramits, the Shuphamits, the Huphamits, the Ardits, the Heredits, and the Naamits.
Of Dan, the Suhamits.
Of Asher, the Jimnits, the Jessuits, the Briits, the Heberits, and the Melchielits.
Of Naphtali, the Jazrielits, the Gunits, the Jeserits, and the Shillemits.
Of Levi, the Gersonits, the Caharits, and the Merarits. The heads of these were such as are call’d patriarchs, princes, heads of familys, or chief of the fathers.
Familys, tho far less subject than in other governments to decay or increase, might at divers times be different in Israel; as after Benjamin was destroy’d, or after David had rais’d his own and many other: but thus were the familys at this time sixty; the tribes being, as was shewn before, thirteen.
In the first institution of the tribes of Rome, that is, Ramnenses, Titienses, and the Luceri, they were also genealogical, but long it held not so; genealogical divisions in a commonwealth being for the most part of greater danger than use; but whether genealogys be observ’d or not, the local way of division is of absolute necessity.
Sect. 6. Of the lot or ballot of Israel.To insert the geography of the Israelitish tribes, would be as burdensom both to the reader and my self, as needless to either. But the manner how the tribes became local, was thro the distribution of the land of Canaan by lot, and intailing the lands so distributed upon the proprietors and their heads for ever, without power of alienation, in any such manner as to deprive their posterity. The lot or ballot in Israel was specially of three uses; one for election of magistrats, another for the discovery of som secret malefactor, and a third for the division of lands. To which three heads I hope to reduce the whole history of their government: and this work once perform’d, it will be easy to represent the commonwealth in its political method.
To begin with the election of magistrats, it was perform’d somtimes by the lot, without suffrage; and somtimes by the ballot, that is, by a mixture of lot and suffrage. For the clearer discovery of the order in elections, I must invert the order of the magistrats elected, and begin with the king; then procede to the judg, and com last of all to the sanhedrim, and the inferior courts.
The instruments us’d upon these occasions, were first lots, som blanks and som prizes; then urns (that is, pots) into which these lots were cast, and out of which they were afterwards drawn, or given forth; by what officers, or with what farther solemnity, dos not appear.
Sect. 7. Manner of electing the king.When the people would needs have a king, Samuel, being their judg, did that, tho against his will, which nevertheless was no more than his duty: that is, first, hearken’d to the voice of the people; or obey’d their vote. Secondly, call’d the people together to the Lord to Mizpeh.1 Sam. 8. 7, 22. The political assembly, or congregation of the people of Israel was call’d ecclesia dei, the congregation of the Lord,1 Sam. 10. 17. as it ought to have bin exprest in the trial of Benjamin, and is in som places by our translation:Judg. 20. as where an eunuch (or one unfit for marriage with a daughter of Israel,Deut. 23. which capacity was necessary to the being inrol’d of a tribe) a bastard (as dishonorable) an Ammonite or Moabite (as descended of perfidious nations) shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord: that is, shall not have right of suffrage with the people of Israel.For the assembly of the congregation at Mizpeh, see Judg. 10. 17. & 11. 11. & 20. 1. & 21. 1. So Samuel, by calling the congregation of the Lord, or the people together to the Lord in Mizpeh (the place, before the taking of Jerusalem, where they always held their parlaments or political assemblys) did the office of the like magistrats in commonwealths. The people being thus assembl’d (for to be brief, I must procede with conjectures,1 Sam. 7. 6, 16. which at first sight will seem bolder than really they are) Samuel causing the urns to be set forth, pronounc’d the solemn form of words in use upon the like occasion, which were these:1 Sam. 10. 19.Present your selves before the Lord by your tribes, and by your thousands. The political assemblys of the children of Israel were held, or gather’d (as we say) with drums beating, and colors flying; and if it were an extraordinary congregation, that is, a congregation consisting of the whole people, as this, and that for the trial of Benjamin, the princes of the tribes with their staves, and the standards of the camp (in the order shewn) led up the people to the urns, or ballots.The military order of political congregations in Israel see Chap. 3. Wherfore upon these words of Samuel, the princes march’d in their known disciplin to the urns. The urns were two: in the one were twelve lots inscrib’d with the names of the twelve tribes; in the other were also twelve other lots, wherof eleven were blanks, and the twelfth inscrib’d with som word. What the Israelitish word was, dos not appear; the Roman word upon the like occasion was prerogative: wherfore seeing that which is lost must have bin of a like nature, we may, for discourse sake, presume it to have bin the same in Israel as in Rome.Ver. 20. The prerogative tribe. And whenSamuelhad caus’d all the tribes of Israel to com near, the tribe ofBenjaminwas taken: that is, the name of this tribe being drawn out of the one urn, to it was drawn the word prerogative out of the other urn; which being don, the urns were chang’d, or at least the lots. And wheras in the enumeration of the patriarchs, I shew’d by a catalog of their names, that the whole tribe of Benjamin consisted of seven familys; seven names by that account should have bin cast into the one urn, and as many lots into the other; one of them being inscrib’d with the word prerogative, and the other six being blanks.Judg. 20. 2. But both the names, and the number of familys at this ballot, are most likely to have bin quite otherwise than in the catalog; because since that time the tribe of Benjamin had in the far greater part bin destroy’d, and piec’d up again out of a remnant: so for the number of the familys, or the names of them, I can say nothing. But the urns being thus prepar’d, came Benjamin, as now the prerogative tribe, to the urns by familys. And whenSamuelhad caus’d the tribe ofBenjaminto com near by their familys, the family ofMatri (which is a new one) was taken: that is, lighting, in the manner shewn, upon the prize, became the prerogative family. This don, the lots were again chang’d, and so many others as there were housholds in the family of Matri (for so you will find it in the trial of Achan) were cast into the urns.Josh. 7. 14, I[Editor: illegible character] 17, 18. Thus the houshold of Kish coming to be the prerogative houshold, and so many lots as there were men of that houshold, being cast into the urns, wherof the prize was inscrib’d king, came the houshold of Kish, man by man, and Saul the son of Kish was taken.
Sect. 8. That miraculous designation of magistrats in a commonwealth, was never understood to exclude the free suffrage of the people in their election.We find it recorded by Livy, of Tarquinius Priscus, and of Servius Tullius, that before either of them was king, the one had his hat taken off, and carry’d up by an eagle; the other had a flame resting upon his forehead, by which it was firmly believ’d, that each of them was design’d of the Gods to be king: yet was this never so understood by themselves, or any other, as to exclude the right of popular suffrage in their election, by which Priscus reign’d; or to create an opinion that any man ought to be king of Rome, whom the people had not first commanded to reign over them, to whose election therfore Servius, tho in possession of the throne, thought it his best way to refer himself. Far be it from me to compare prodigys among Heathens, to miracles in the church: but each people had of each a like opinion. Both Israel and the Heathens began their popular assemblys with sacrifice.1 Chron. 29. 21, 22. In order to the election of Solomon, the representative of Israel sacrific’d sacrifices to the Lord—even a thousand bullocks, a thousand rams, and a thousand lambs, with their drink-offerings, and sacrifices in abundance, for all Israel. And when they had thus don, what magistrats soever the Israelits, or the Heathens elected, they always understood to be elected by God. The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing therof is of the Lord.Prov. 10. 33. And indeed, wheras in this manner they made Solomon king, and Zadoc to be priest, if we will hold otherwise, we must think that neither the king nor the priest was elected by God. A man that is elected to som great office, by a king rightly qualify’d, must have little religion, or hold himself to be rais’d up by God. Why then should it be otherwise, when a magistrat is elected by a people rightly qualify’d? or what consequence is there in saying, that Saul was anointed by Samuel before he was elected by the people, or that God rais’d them up judges; therfore neither Saul nor the judges were elected by the people? that God elected the kings in Israel, is certain; and that the people no less for that did also elect the kings, is as certain.Deut. 17. 15.One from among thy brethren shalt thou (that is, thou the people of Israel) set king over thee. That God rais’d up judges in Israel, is certain; and that the people no less for that, did also elect the judges, is as certain.Judg. 10. 17. When the children of Ammon made war against Israel, Israel assembl d themselves together,Judg. 11. 5. 11.and incamp’d in Mizpeh, whence the elders of Gilead went to fetchJephtaout of the land of Tob.—ThenJephtawent with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and captain over them: andJephtautter’d all his words before the Lord in Mizpeh. But that Solomon was elected by the lot, I do not affirm; it being most probable, that it was by suffrage only, David proposing, and the people resolving. Nor whether Jephta was elected by suffrage, or by the ballot, is it material; however, that the ordinary magistrats were elected by the ballot, I little doubt.
Sect. 9. Election of senators, and judges of inferior courts.The ordinary magistrats of this commonwealth (as shall hereafter be more fully open’d) were the sanhedrim, or the seventy elders; and the inferior courts or judges, in the gates of the citys. For the institution and election of these, Moses propos’d to the people, or the congregation of the Lord, in this manner:Deut. 1. 13.Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes (ϗ ϰαταϛήσω) and I will make (or constitute) them rulers over you. Where, by the way, lest Moses in these words be thought to assume power, Solon, says Aristotle (δημοϰρατίαν ϰαταϛησαι) made, or constituted the popular government of Athens. In which he implys, not that Solon was a king, or had soverain power, but that he was a lawgiver, and had authority to propose to the people. Nor is there more in the words of Moses; upon whose proposition, say Jewish writers, each of the twelve tribes, by free suffrages, elected six competitors, and wrote their names in scrols, which they deliver’d to Moses. Moses having thus presented to him by the twelve tribes seventy and two competitors for seventy magistracys, had by consequence two more competitors, than were capable of the preferment to which they were elected by the people: wherfore Moses took two urns, into the one he cast the seventy-two names presented by the people; into the other, seventy-two lots, wherof two were blanks, the rest inscrib’d with the word elder. This don, he call’d the competitors to the urn, where the seventy, to whose names came forth the prizes, went up to the tabernacle, the session-house being there provided:See Num. 11. 26. and the two that drew the blanks, namely Eldad and Medad, tho of them that were elected and written by the tribes, went not up to the tabernacle, but remain’d in the camp, as not having attain’d to magistracy. Thus, if this place in Scripture can admit of no other interpretation, so much as I have cited out of the Talmud (tho otherwise, for the most part, but a fabulous and indigested heap) must needs be good and valid. In this manner, one or more senators happening to dy, it was easy for each tribe, chusing one or more competitors accordingly out of themselves, to decide at the urn which competitors so chosen, should be the magistrat, without partiality, or cause of feud; which, if a man considers this constitution, was not perhaps so readily to be don otherwise. The like, no doubt, was done for the inferior courts, except that such elections (the commonwealth being once settl’d) were more particular, and perform’d by that tribe only in whose gates that court was sitting.
Sect. 10. The story of the sanhedrim, and of the inferior courts, as to their first institution.The 1st institution of these courts came to pass in the manner following: before the people were under orders, the whole judicature lay upon the shoulders of Moses, who being overburden’d, was advised by Jethro.AndMoseshearken’d to the voice of his father in-law—and chose (after the manner shewn) able men out of all Israel,Exod. 18. 24, 25.and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fiftys, and rulers of tens. The number of which rulers, compar’d with the number of the people, as in the muster roll at Sinai, must in all have amounted to about six thousand. These thus instituted, while Israel was an army, came to be the same when the army was a commonwealth:Deut. 16. 18. wherof it is said, Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates which the Lord thy God gives thee, throout thy tribes; and they shall judg the people with just judgment. Each of these courts, by the practice of the Jewish commonwealth, consisted of twenty-three elders. But Jethro, in his advice to Moses, adds concerning these judicatorys, this caution:Exod. 18. 22.Let them judg the people at all seasons; and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring to thee, but every small matter they shall judg: so shall it be easier for thy self, and they shall bear the burden with thee. Which nevertheless follow’d not according to Jethro’s promise, the appeals being such to Moses that he gos with this complaint to God:Num. 11, 14, 16.I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me. Wherupon the Lord said toMoses,Gather to me seventy men, of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them to the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand with thee—(but crowns will have no rivals) and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not alone.Ver. 24. But a monarch is one that must be alone. AndMoseswent out, and told the people the words of the Lord (which a monarch needed not to have don) and gather’d the seventy men of the elders of the people; the manner wherof is already shewn. Jethro, being a Heathen, informs Moses of the orders of his own commonwealth, which also was Heathenish. Yet in Scripture is both Jethro join’d with Moses, and the commonwealth of Midian with the commonwealth of Israel. How then coms it to be irreverned, or atheistical, as som say, in politicians (and while political discourses cannot otherwise be manag’d) to compare, tho but by way of illustration, other legislators, or politicians, as Lycurgus, Solon, with Moses; or other commonwealths, as Rome, and Venice, with that of Israel? but the authors of such objections had better have minded, that the burden wherof Moses here complain’d, could in no manner be that of ordinary judicature, of which he was eas’d before by the advice of Jethro; and therfore must have bin that of appeals only: so either the sanhedrim bore no burden at all with Moses, or they bore that of appeals with him. And if so, how say they that there lay an appeal from the seventy elders to Moses?
Sect. 11. Lot, order, or inquisition by lot.But I said the lot was of use also toward the discovery of conceal’d malefactors. Of this we have an example in the detection of Achan. The words of the law, wherby the fact of Achan was criminal, are these: If thou shalt bear say in one of thy citys,Deut. 13, 12, &c.which the Lord thy God has given thee to dwell therin, saying, Certain men,the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other Gods, which you have not known: then shalt thou inquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you, thou shalt surely smile the inhabitants of that city with the edg of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therin, and the cattel therof with the edg of the sword. And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street therof, and shalt burn with fire the city, and all the spoil therof, every whit, for the Lord thy God: and it shall be a heap for ever, it shall not be built again, and there shall cleave nought of the accurs’d thing to thy hand. Among the citys that were given by God to Israel, was Jericho. Now tho against this city, before it was taken, Joshua had solemnly and publicly denounc’d the anathema, or curses contain’d in the foregoing law; and after the taking of it, had, in all appearance, executed upon it the whole of the anathema so pronounc’d:Josh. 6. 17. yet thro subsequent losses before the city of Ai, being sore afflicted, he enter’d into suspicion, that there might have bin some failure in the performance of the law.Josh. 7. 6. Wherupon he rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the Lord, till the eventide, he and the elders (or sanhedrim of Israel) and put dust on their heads. The sanhedrim, in difficult cases of the law, inquir’d of God by Urim; and the sanhedrim, or the people, in cases of high concernment to the state, as in the war against Benjamin, inquir’d of the ark. When God was inquir’d of by Urim, he gave his oracle by the shining of certain stones or jewels in the breastplate of the high priest. When he was inquir’d of by the ark, he gave his oracle vocally from the mercy seat, which was plac’d upon the ark of the covenant. Whence he who sat between the cherubims thus answer’d Joshua:Josh. 7. 10.Get thee up; wherfore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel has finn’d—they have even taken of the accurs’d thing.Josh. 7. 17.Joshua thus inform’d of the crime, but not so particularly of the malefactor as to know where to charge it, calls the whole people to the urns; in one of which it may be thought that there were eleven white stones, or lots, with one black one; and in the other the twelve names of tho tribes. So Israel coming first by tribes to the urns, the tribe ofJudahwas taken; that is, this tribe lighting upon the black lot, was denoted for the guilty tribe: which consisting (as appear’d by the catalog) of five familys, wherof the Zarhits were one, came next by familys to the urn; wherin there might be four white lots, and one black one, by which the Zarhits were taken. In like manner came the family of the Zarhits by housholds, and the household of Zabdi was taken: last of all came the houshold of Zabdi man by man, and Achan was taken. This kind of inquisition was perform’d with such religion and solemnity, that a man thus taken, if he had any guilt, could have no face to conceal it; or, if there were any witnesses of his crime, they could not any longer dissemble it: and whether he were convicted by testimony, or by his own confession (as now Achan) he was put to death.1 Sam. 14. The like proceding, in part, is imply’d to have bin in the case of Jonathan; tho in this, by agreement therupon between Saul and the people, it should seem as if but two lots were put into the urn, wherof Saul and Jonathan, on the one part, drew the black: or the prince of the tribe of Judah drawing for the whole people, on the other part, drew the white one; and that the same being put into the urn again, to decide it between Saul and Jonathan, Jonathan drew the black: wherupon, he being question’d, confess’d the fact; and, but that the people rescu’d him from Saul, had bin put to death.
Sect. 12. Distribution of lands, and Agrarian laws in Israel.To conclude with the use of the lot, in the division of the land of Canaan. This (as implying the foundation or balance of the government) ought to have bin the first in order, but happens here to com last; because these orders were instituted in the wilderness, and so before the people had any lands to divide. Nevertheless, this also was propos’d by Moses, and resolv’d by the people:Josh. 14. 2.by lot was their inheritance, as the Lord commandedMoses; and now coms (as it was, or should have bin put in execution by Joshua) to be consider’d.
It may be true, that the Roman people were the wisest that have bin; and it is true, that they only of a people, did labor to introduce Agrarian laws, tho without effect; otherwise, levelling was never introduc’d, but by the wisdom and providence of som great man, as a Moses, a Joshua, or a Lycurgus; or by som accident, or accidents, bringing a nobility to ruin, as the laws of Henry VII. and the ways of Henry VIII. in England.
Num. 1. 46.Between the muster roll in Sinai, wherby the men of military age, as was shewn, amounted to six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty,Num. 26. 51. in the twelve tribes, and the law for the division of the land of Canaan, there happen’d a plague, by which the number of the people, upon a new poll, came but to six hundred and one thousand seven hundred and thirty. Upon this poll was the law made which runs thus:V. 53, 54, 55, 56.To these the land shall be divided for an inheritance, according to the number of names. To many thou shalt give the more inheritance, and to fewer thou shalt give the less inheritance: to every one shall his inheritance be given, according to those that were number’d of him. Notwithstanding, the land shall be divided by lot: according to the names of the tribes of their fathers, they shall inherit; according to the lot shall the possession therof be divided to many and few. This law, in another place, is repeated thus:Num. 33. 54.You shall divide the land by lot, for an inheritance among your familys; and to many ye shall give the more inheritance, and to the fewer ye shall give the less inheritance: every man’s inheritance shall be in the place where his lot falls, according to the tribes of your fathers ye shall inherit.
In the making of these lots consideration was as well had of the goodness of the land, as of the measure. Now supposing this law to have bin in the whole and methodically executed, the Canaanits must first have bin totally rooted out of the land of Canaan; which land, in that case (as som affirm) would have afforded to this commonwealth a root or balance, consisting of three millions of acres.Hecateus apud Joseph. cont. Ap. These, reckoning the whole people in the twelve tribes, at six hundred and two thousand (which is more than upon the latter poll they came to) would have afforded to every man four acres; to every one of the patriarehs (upon the poll of the foregoing catalog, where they are sixty) four thousand acres; to every one of the princes of the tribes fourteen thousand acres; to the Levitical citys (being forty-eight, each with its suburbs, of four thousand cubits diameter) one hundred thousand acres; and yet for extraordinary donations, as to Joshua and Caleb (of which kind there were but few) som eighty thousand acres might remain. Now it is true, four acres to a man may seem but a small lot; yet the Roman people, under Romulus, and long after, had but two. And it may very well be, that one acre in Canaan was worth two in Italy, especially about Rome; and four in England, tho of the best sort: and if so it were that four acres in Palestin were worth sixteen of our best, such a lot, at our account, might be worth about thirty or forty pounds a year; which, for a popular share, holding that rate thro the whole body of a people, was a large proportion. By this estimat, or what possibly could be allow’d to the princes of the tribes and of the familys, their share came not to a sixth of the whole: so the rest remaining to the people, the balance of this government must have bin purely popular. It is true, that in the whole this law of Moses for the division of the land was never executed: but that in the parts som such course was taken, is plain; for example, in the division to seven tribes, where Joshua proposes to the people in this manner:Josh. 18. 4.Give out from among you three men for each tribe—and they shall go thro the land and describe it. The people having resolv’d accordingly, these went, and pass’d thro the land, and describ’d it by citys into seven parts in a book, and came again toJoshuato the host at Shiloh. And Joshuacast lots for them in Shiloh, before the Lord: and thereJoshuadivided the land to the children of Israel according to their divisions. It were absurd to think that this lot determin’d of proportions; for so a mean man might have com to be richer than the prince of his tribe: but the proportions allotted to tribes being stated, tho at first but by guess, and entred into the lot book of the surveyors (who, says Josephus, were most expert in geometry) the princes came first to the urns, wherof the one contain’d the names of the tribes that were to draw, the other the names of those parcels of land that were to be drawn, first to a whole tribe. Thus the name of a tribe, for example Benjamin, being drawn out of one urn, to that name a parcel was drawn out of the other urn; for example, the country lying between Jericho and Bethaven. This being don, and the prince of the tribe having chosen in what one place he would take his stated and agreed proportion, whether of fourteen thousand acres, or the like, the rest of the country was subdivided in the lot book, according to the number of familys in the tribe of this prince; and the parcels subdivided being cast into the one urn, the names of the patriarchs into the other, the same tribe came again by familys. Thus every patriarch making choice in what one part of this lot he would take his agreed proportion, whether of four thousand acres, or the like, the remainder was again subdivided in the lot book, according to the number of names in his family: if they were more than the parcel would furnish at four acres a man, then was that defect amended by addition out of the next parcel; and if they were fewer, then the overplus was cast into the next parcel. By such means the people came, or might have com in the whole, and in every part, to the lot of their inheritance; while every tribe that was thus planted, became local without removal.Numb. 36. 3.Neither shall the inheritance remove from one tribe to another tribe; but every one of the tribes of the children of Israel shall keep himself to his own inheritance.
Sect. 13. The portion of Levi.The tribes thus planted, or to have bin planted, were twelve. The thirteenth, or that of Levi, came in the like manner to the lot, for their forty-eight citys with their suburbs, and receiv’d them accordingly; as the lot came forth for the familys of the Kohathits, and the rest.Josh. 21. 4, 5, 6. These Israel gave to the Levits out of their inheritance: that is, these were such as the twelve tribes,Numb. 18. 20. before the division, set apart for the Levits, with the tithes, and the offerings;Deut. 10. 9. which, tho this tribe had no other lands, made their portion by far the best. The tribes being henceforth reckon’d by their locality,Deut. 18. 1. and these forty-eight citys being scatter’d throout the twelve tribes, that of Levi was no more computed as a distinct tribe, but lost as it were the name, yet with advantage:Ezek. 44. 22. for to their promiscuous abode they had the right of promiscuous marriage; no more in this point being injoin’d any of them, than to take maidens of the seed of Israel, or at least the widows of priests. And as in the tribes where they dwelt they had promiscuous marriage, so had they right of promiscuous election; that is, of electing, and being elected, into all the magistracys and offices of the commonwealth: which they so frequently injoy’d, that the sanhedrim is somtimes understood by their names.Deut. 17. 8.If there arises a matter too hard for thee in judgment, thou shalt com to the priests the Levits. Between the law, and the religion of this government, there was no difference; whence all ecclesiastical persons were also political persons, of which the Levits were an intire tribe, set more peculiarly apart to God (the king of this commonwealth) from all other cares, except that only of his government. Thus Moses did that with the safety of liberty in Israel, which Lycurgus could not do in Lacedemon, but by condemning the Helots to perpetual slavery: for wheras without these to be tillers of the ground, the citizens of Lacedemon could not be at leisure for the commonwealth; the children of Israel might imploy themselves in their domestic affairs, as they requir’d, with safety: while the Levits bore the burden of the government; or, in case either their privat affairs permitted, or their ambition promted, were equally capable of magistracy.
Sect. 14. Citys of refuge.Of the Levitical citys, three beyond, and three on this side Jordan, were citys of refuge. If a man was slain, the next of kindred, by the laws of Israel, was the avenger of blood; and to the avenger of blood it was lawful to slay him that slew his kinsman,Numb. 35. wherever he could find him, except only in a city of refuge. For this cause, if a man had slain another, he fled immediately to one of these sanctuarys; whence nevertheless, the judges in the gates, within whose proper verge the crime was committed, caus’d the malefactor to be brought before them by a guard, and judg’d between the slayer and the avenger of blood. If that which we call murder, or manslaughter, was prov’d against him by two witnesses, he was put to death: but if it was found, as we say, chancemedly, he was remanded with a guard to the city of refuge; whence if, before the death of the high priest, he was found wandring, it was lawful, not only for the avenger of blood, but for any man else to slay him. The high priest being dead, he return’d, not home only, but to his inheritance also, with liberty and safety. If a priest had slain a man, his refuge was the sanctuary: whence nevertheless he was taken by the sanhedrim; and, if upon trial he was found guilty of wilful murder, put to death.Exod. 21. 14.If a man coms presumptuously upon his neighbour to slay him with guile, thou shalt take him from my altar, that he may dy.
Sect. 15. The jubile.Inheritances, being thus introduc’d by the lot, were immovably intail’d on the proprietors and their heirs for ever, by the institution of the jubile, or the return of lands, however sold or ingag’d, once in fifty years to the antient proprietor, or his lawful heir. Yet remain’d there two ways wherby lots might be accumulated; the one by casual inheritance, the other by marriage with an heiress; as in the case of Zelophedad, or of his daughters.Numb. 36.
Sect. 16.Now to bring the whole result of these historical parts, thus prov’d, to the true political method or form, the commonwealth instituted by Moses was according to this model.
The model of the commonwealth of Israel.THE whole people of Israel (thro a popular distribution of the land of Canaan among themselves by lot, and the fixation of such a popular balance by their agrarian law, or jubile, intailing the inheritance of each proprietor upon his heirs for ever) was locally divided into twelve tribes.
EVERY tribe had a double capacity, the one military, the other civil.
A TRIBE, in its military capacity, consisted of one staff or standard of the camp, under the leading of its distinct and hereditary prince, as commander in chief; and of its princes of familys or chief fathers, as captains of thousands and captains of hundreds.
A TRIBE, in its political capacity, was next and immediately under the government of certain judicatorys, sitting in the gates of its citys; each of which consisted of twenty-three elders, elected for life, by free suffrage.
THE soverain power, and common ligament of the twelve tribes, was the sanhedrim of Israel, and the ecclesia dei, or congregation of the Lord.
THE sanhedrim was a senat, consisting of seventy elders for life, so instituted by the free election of six competitors, in and by each tribe; every elder or senator of the sanhedrim being taken out of this number of competitors by the lot.
THE congregation of the Lord was a representative of the people of Israel, consisting of twenty-four thousand, for the term of one month; and perpetuated by the monthly election of two thousand deputys of the people in each tribe.
THE sanhedrim, upon a law made, was a standing judicatory of appeal from the courts in the gates, throout the tribes; and upon a law to be made, whatever was propos’d by the sanhedrim, and resolv’d in the affirmative by the congregation of the Lord, was an act of the parlament of Israel.
Deut. 4. 5. 6.Of this frame, says Moses to the people (as well he might) Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither you go to possess it. Keep therfore, and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the fight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. In another place, upon the people’s observing this form, he pronounces all the choicest blessings; and in case of violation of the same, a long enumeration of most dreadful curses, among which he has this:Deut. 28. 36.The Lord shall bring thee, and thy king which thou shalt set over thee, to a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known; and there shalt thou serve other Gods, wood and stone. In which words, first he charges the king upon the people as a creature of their own, and next opposes his form pointblank to monarchy; as is farther apparent in the whole antithesis running throout that chapter. To the neglect of these orders may be apply’d those words of David:I have said that ye are gods—but ye shall dy like men, and fall like one of the princes. But this government can with no countenance of reason, or testimony of story, give any man ground to argue from the frame thus instituted by Moses, that a commonwealth rightly order’d and establish’d may by any internal cause arising from such orders, be broken or dissolv’d; it being most apparent, that this was never establish’d in any such part as could possibly be holding. Moses dy’d in the wilderness: and tho Joshua, bringing the people into the promis’d land, did what he could, during his life, towards the establishment of the form design’d by Moses; yet the hands of the people, especially after the death of Joshua, grew slack, and they rooted not out the Canaanits, which they were so often commanded to do; and without which it was impossible their commonwealth should take any root. Nevertheless, settled as it could be, it was in som parts longer liv’d than any other government has yet bin; as having continu’d in som sort from Moses, to the dispersion of the Jews in the reign of the emperor Adrian; being about one thousand seven hundred years. But that it was never establish’d according to the necessity of the form, or the true intent of Moses, is that which must be made farther apparent throout the sequel of the present book; and first, in the state of the Israelits under their judges.