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the causes unto God; and thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt show them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.” But having thus advised Moses to restrict himself to the work which properly belonged to him as the inspired teacher and leader of the people, Jethro proceeds with his counsel, saying, “Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people, able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens; and let them judge the people at all seasons; and it shall be that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge. If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall go to their place in peace. So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father-in-law, and did all that he had said.”
It is to be observed that no reference is here made to a choice of rulers by the people, either in the advice given by Jethro, or in the action founded upon it. Probably he did not contemplate such a thing. It would seem that this counsel came from a higher source. Jethro was both a wise man and a worshipper of the true God; and feeling that the in
troduction of such a magistracy as he recommended was a measure of vast importance to the nation, he referred Moses to God for a special intimation of the Divine will, when he should proceed to act in the matter. “If,” says he, “thou shalt do this thing, and God shall command thee so,” or so authorize and commission thee, as the Hebrew word properly means, thus intimating that the thing was not to be done unless God would command or authorize the proceeding. No one who is acquainted with the close and habitual intercourse which Moses maintained with God, in all that he did as the leader of Israel, can doubt as to his having asked for the Divine direction which Jethro judged so indispensable. And what were the steps which he actually took in order to provide rulers for the people after he had sought instruction from God; he himself tells us in the Book of Deuteronomy, where he recites the whole transaction; and specifies both what the people did, and what he did on the memorable occasion.
We should remember that the name of “Deuteronomy” is given to this JBook of the Pentateuch, because it contains a second or supplementary account of what was announced as the law or will of God, on the subjects to which it refers. Let us then look at what Moses here declares to have been done when rulers were appointed; and observe the mi
nuteness with which he pictures out the whole pro3*
ceedings from first to last. Deut. 1 : 9-18. “I spake unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone: the Lord your God hath multiplied you, and behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude. How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife " Having thus alluded to the necessity which called for the appointment of rulers, what does he describe as the first step for the accomplishment of the object ' It is “Take you (or select for yourselves)* wise men, and understanding, and known
among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over
* Bogos to "an are the Hebrew words, and they are the same which are used by Joshua, (18 : 4) where having reproved the children of Israel for allowing seven tribes still to remain without “their inheritance in the land which the Lord God had given them;” he directs, “Give out from among you,” or select for yourselves, “three men for each tribe: and I will send them, and they shall rise and go through the land, and describe it into seven parts.” It was an important mission on which these men were to be sent, and before they were authorized to proceed upon it they were to be selected, or “given out” by the voice of the people. Many other passages might be cited to show that this is the meaning of the verb Tar. The generic idea is to put forth, to propose, or prefer for some given object: as in 2 Samuel, 11:15. “Set ye,” or put ye forth, “Uriah in the fore-front of the hottest battle;” the post of honor, as it was the post of danger for the brave soldier; and which no doubt Uriah would readily take, little conscious as he was of the treachery by which he was to be sacrificed.
you. And ye answered me, and said, The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do. So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes. And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great ; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it. And I commanded you at that time all the things that you should do.” There can be no doubt as to the object in view throughout the transaction here described. It was the creation of a civil magistracy in a form adapted to the existing wants of the people. And we find in the proceedings so carefully and distinctly recited by Moses, the origin or the first precedent of elective civil government. It appears to have been among the first things ordained for the Hebrew nation, after they were brought out from their bondage in Egypt, and were being formed into a State. It was also one of the great privileges that distinguished them from all other nations of the earth, which still remained under the merciless tyranny already described as the calamity of the human race at that day. And observe, how fully the record covers every essential point in the case. In the first place, the candidates for office were not to be selected from any one privileged class. They were taken “out of all the people.” They must be well known for their intellectual and moral worth, and their fitness for the stations to which they were chosen. They were to be, as it is here expressed, “able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness;” “wise men and understanding, and
* Note C.
known among the tribes;”
and these qualifications being not only all-important but all-sufficient, none
others were required. In the second place, the voice of the people to be ruled was the first step in the appointment of the ruler. It was to “all Tsrael,” that the direction W3. S given, “Take you,” or choose for yourselves, “wise men,” &c. and it was the people over whom the magistrates were to act, who answered Moses, say ing, “The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do.” . . In the third place, after the rulers were thus
chosen, they were inducted into office by an appro