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but confessed, his dependence, rather than allow his people to be deceived in thinking they owed their deliverance from any difficulty to him. When, for instance, they were lamenting the days in which they had sat by the flesh-pots and eaten the bread of Egypt to the full, and at the same time were reproaching Moses and Aaron for having led them into the wildermess, Moses, while assuring them of protection, asked, “What are we, that ye murmur against us?”" The humblest man who drank the water from the rock, or watched with awe the form retiring high up within the mountain-cloud, was not so meek or so unambitious as his leader, to whom such powers were given and such visions shown. But it is plain that the Jews were held under restraint, and that the exercise of the power above them was, humanly speaking, in Moses' hands.” None knew better than Moses, however, that the worship of the true God could not be the offering of a race which was either enslaved or barbarous. Even before arriving at Sinai, he began to teach the people the work they had to do, themselves, by selecting some “able men, such as fear God,” to act as judges in the cases to which he could not personally attend.” Another body was afterwards formed, of “seventy men of the elders of Israel,” to whom still weightier offices were committed;” the right of appeal to Moses, and in after times to the priests, being preserved. The institution of the priesthood soon succeeded to that of the judicial magistracies. Aaron and his sons had long been set apart to conduct the ceremonies at first required from the people; but as these increased in number and in solemnity, the Levites, the tribe which had taken Moses's side against the others, were chosen to perform the sacrifice and attendance which the sanctuary required; but in such inferiority were they placed with regard to the family of Aaron, that a sedition shortly arose amongst some of them, ambitious of higher honors. The prečminence of the original priesthood was preserved by dreadful visitations upon their opponents;” while the Levites became, in time, as much a civil” as an ecclesiastical body in the nation. They and the superior priests were both provided with support from public contributions,” but were also expressly excluded from any part in the promised land, lest they should be
17 Exodus, XVI. 7. 20 Numb., XI. 16–17, 24, 25. 18 “And he was king in Jeshu- Cf. Deut., XVI. 18. It is here run.” Deut., XXXIII. 5. that the origin of the Sanhedrim is 19 Exod., XVIII. 13–26. Deut., sometimes supposed to be discoverI. 12– 17. able; but the more probable opinion
sicians.” Milman, Hist. of Jews, Book III. Michaelis further thinks the Levites resemble the Mandarins.
refers the institution to the period
Book I. ch. 1.
Laws of Moses, Vol. I. art." 42,
23 Numbers, Ch. XVIII. “All the tenth in Israel”; Ibid., 21. Out of this tithe which was paid to the Levites, a tithe was by them paid to the priests. Ibid., 26–28. “Il existait,” says Pastoret of the priesthood, “comme une fiscalité religieuse, dont le peuple entier était tributaire.” Législ. des Hébreux, Ch. XVI.
come too wealthy or too powerful.” In connection with certain powers of jurisdiction” which the Levites possessed, they were appointed to the charge of six cities for refuge” in the land to which they were journeying, where any one who killed a person unawares was to find protection against the ferocity with which he was sure of being pursued.” The priesthood was thus appointed to serve, rather than to rule, the people. Before these various offices, ecclesiastical and civil, appear to have been entirely established, the nation generally was classified and organized. The mass, as it must at first be styled, though it gradually became the great assembly of the people, was their Congregation, in which the divisions of Tribes and the subdivisions of Families were comprised. At the head of each of these bodies were chiefs whose titles are variously given as Fathers of Families, Heads, Elders, and Princes; of whom the highest in rank were the Princes of the Tribes, one to each of the twelve.” To these, as so many representatives, apparently, was committed the authority considered as belonging to the people, in contrast with the sacred charges of the priests and the almost equally sacred duties of the judges or elders. As time rolled on, and the popular part in the institutions of Moses was extended by wars and disorderly habits, the princes and the congregation met together more frequently, and used more regularly the powers, always moderate, that they had originally received.” It was beyond the power of the great man whose cares we are but attempting to review, to change the characteristic qualities of his people; but it became his object, as it proved his glory, to nurture the growth from these primary seeds in such a manner as should secure the ripening and the gathering of the fruit he labored for, at last. He sought, especially, to maintain the nation in independence and peace within itself. The territory of the promised land was ordered to be equally divided by lot, according to the number of names,” each portion being declared beforehand to be inalienable.” under the solemn sanction of the Almighty. But as it was in the common course of things that many should become restless or impoverished, so that the land of the father would be lost or abandoned by the son, an additional provision was made to secure the universal prosperity which Moses would have remdered perpetual. Each fiftieth year was hallowed as a Jubilee, in which the liberty denoted by the original word” was to be proclaimed throughout the land, in order that every one might return to his possession and his family.” The old home was given back to its wilful or indigent inheritor; the parent or the child was redeemed from slavery; and they who had lived a life of despair were awakened to hope and to rejoicings. This was to insure the safety of the household; the well-being of the individual was still more carefully defended. Usury was prohibited;” and the pledges for borrowed money were, in certain instances at least, to be restored at sundown of the same day on which they had been conveyed.” Every seventh year was appointed as the Lord's Release, when the obligations of the debtor should be discharged or his bondage ended.” Even during the time of his confinement, he was watched by the laws
24 Numbers, Ch. XVIII. Cf. Pastoret, Hist. des Législ.,
Deut., Ch. XIV.
Tom. VI. p. 111.
and its Captain. II. The Families called Heads, Princes, and Elders.
(Ewald says twelve to each Tribe), which were apparently like the Athenian Fraternities (“families of the sons of Joseph’’), and which were again subdivided into bodies corresponding, possibly, with the Athenian Names (“families of the children of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh."). The Chiefs of the Families were called the Chief Fathers of the Families, in contradistinction to the Princes of the Tribes, who were styled the Chief Fathers of the Children of Israel; but the family chieftains are also
Perhaps the Head was the Chief of the lesser, and the Elder or Prince of the greater Family. See Numbers, Ch. II., XXVI., and XXXVI., and consult Ewald's Alterthümer, etc., pp. 253 et seq., as well as his Geschichte des Wolkes Israel, Vol. I. pp. 411 et seq.
* Jahn observes concerning the government of the later princes, – “De singulari populi mandato nullum occurrit vestigium; decreta vero sua populo praeponebant ut consensa rata haberentur.” Arch. Bibl., Sect. 218.