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superior property and influence; a rank so essential to the subordination and tranquillity of social life.
Such a rank of inen had always existed amongst the Jews; we find them bearing their due part in the solemn act of allegiance, by which all Israel submitted to the sovereignty of Jehovah. * 5 Ye stand all of you this day,” says the legislator, “ before the Lord your God,
your captains of your tribes, your elders " and your officers, and all the men of
Israel; that you should enter into cove“nant with the Lord your God.” We find repeated notice taken of the princes of the tribes of their fathers, heads of thousands in Israel; the rulers of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, of tens, who were civil judges. in lesser causes, and also entrusted with the various gradations of military command. We find twelve princes of the tribes, and fifty-eight heads of families, forming the first model of the celebrated San. hedrim, and, by the divine appointment, sharing the authority of the legislator. The princes of the tribes presided at the origi
* Deut. xxix. 10; also Numbers, i, and xi. 16, and xxxiv,
nał distribution of the lands; and the instance of Caleb, who obtained for his own portion the mountain of Hebron with its cities, proves they were attended to, as it was natural they should, in the distribution of the national property. And it has been proved, by geographical researches, that the computation of territory, which supposed a distribution of from sixteen to twenty-five
* for each of the 600,000 yeomanry, still left an abundant overplus, to supply the nobility and gentry with estates suitable to their rank, in an age and country where the most honourable personages employed themselves in agriculture; and, though hospitable and generous, were unacquainted
* Vide Lowman on the Hebrew Government, ch. iii. The lowest computation of the extent of the land of Judæa, makes it 160 miles in length by 110 in breadth, containing 11,264,000 acres, and giving above sixteen acres to each of the 600,000 yeomen freeholders, with an overplus of 1,264,000 acres for the Levitical cities, the princes of tribes, the heads of families, and other public uses. The authors of the Universal History state the length to have been about seventy leagues or 210 miles, the breadth about thirty leagues or ninety miles. This would give a greater extent, viz. 18,900 square miles, instead of 17,600. Vide Universal History, Vol. I. p. 580), and the Abbe Fleury on the Marners of the Israelites, Part II. ch. iii,
with that expensive splendor and ostentatious magnificence, which consumes the revenues of provinces, in the erection of palaces, the support of equipages, and the indulgencies of luxury.
Another effect of the Mosaic Agrarian Law, which it is necessary to notice, was the invincible barrier which it opposed against all attacks of hostile violence, and all internal attempts on the freedom of the Jewish state. It appears, that * every freeholder was obliged to attend at the general muster of the national army, and to serve in it as long as occasion required, except only such as could
: plead * Deut. xx. 5. These directions to the officers, “ to speak to the people, saying, what man is there of you, " that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it, let « him go and return to his house, lest he die in battle and “ another man dedicate it,” &c. prove two things. First, that all were obliged to attend the summons to war, and not depart until excused by the authority of the commanders. And next, that the obligation to such attendance was not limited to the immediately approaching war on the invasion of Canaan, but was to be perpetual. For it would have been idle to talk of exempting those who had built a house and not dedicated it, or planted a vineyard and not eaten the fruits thereof, from going to war, at a time when the whole nation was collected in camp, before they had so much as entered on the land they were to settle in, and when not a single man of them (at least of nine tribes and a half) could hare possessed either house or vineyard.
plead certain specific excuses, stated by the Law, and which were formed with a wise and benevolent attention to the natural feelings, and even to the pardonable weaknesses of the human mind. This being the condition on which all landed property was held, the Agrarian Law secured a body of 600,000 men enured to labour and industry, and ready to offer themselves at their country's call. And to facilitate every military array, * the princes
* Vide Lowman on the Civil Government of the Hebrews, p. 73, from comparing Exodus xviii. 21, with Numbers xxxi. 14, that the division of the people for civil purposes, was exactly the same as that for military purposes. In both cases they were divided into thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens, and the chiefs of these numbers are in both places expressed by the same Hebrew word, w; and in the Septuagint translation, the same Greek words, expressive of military command, are applied to both. It may appear an objection, that in Deut. xx. 9, it is said in our transation, “ That when the officers have made an end of speaking “ unto the people, they shall make captains of the armies “ to lead the people.” But the original Hebrew appears clearly to mean, that then the captains shall take their post, 17pDi, at the head of the army, with which sense the Syriac version agrees, vide Biblia Waltoni. Patrick observes, (without having the present question at all. in contemplation,) “ And if we translate the words as they "may be out of the Hebrew, they shall place or set captains “ of the hosts in the head or the front of the people. The rotation of 24,000 men, appointed to attend on David every
of the tribes, the heads of families, the rulers over thousands, and hundreds, and fifties, and tens, who in peace exercised certain civil offices, united with these offices proportionable military commands, heading their respective tribes and families, and determinate portions of the militia of their vicinage. This great body of national yeomanry, in which every private landholder possessed an independent property, was commanded by men equally independent, respectable for their property, their civil authority, and, above all, 'their revered ancestors; and acquiring their military rank, almost by hereditary right. Such a body of men, so commanded, presented an insuperable obstacle to treacherous ambition and political intrigue, on any design to overturn the Hebrew constitution, and assume despotic power: too strong to be terrified,
month, are described so as to indicate their being arranged by this old and familiar division. 1. Chron. xxvii. l. “ Now the Children of Israel, after their number, the chief “ fathers, and captains of thousands and hundreds, and their “ officers," &c. Lowman quotes the authorities of Harrington, Sigonius, Menochius and Calmet, to which we may add Leydeker, p. 416, whose opinion is of great weight, and the authors of the Universal History, Book I. ch. vii. Vol. I.