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with continual solicitude,” and at the moment of his liberation, he was not left to be sent away unprovided, but the flock, the floor, and the wine-press were all commanded to be used in supplying his necessities.” If slavery were contracted from other motives, if the offender were sold in punishment of crimes, or the weak and the defenceless were dragged into bonds, they were to be set free, as brethren over whom it did not befit the more fortunate to rule.”
Besides these general precautions to make disorder and revolution impossible, the laws which are to be read in almost any chapter of Deuteronomy, concerning police and health and private habits, were to the same effect as if each man of the holy nation were to be separately protected and separately governed. The penal statutes, so severe that death and horrid torture were common punishments, were devised to preserve the law, and the worship to which the law was subordinate, unalterable. “What thing soever I command you,” are the words in the Scripture, as of the lawgiver, “observe to do it; thou shalt not add thereto nor diminish from it.” It was meant, undoubtedly, that “the holy people unto the Lord,” as the Jews were called, should be as much restrained against outbreak or vicissitude as against any tyranny or oppression.
37 Exod., XXI. 2 – 9. 40 Deut., XII. 32. Read on in * Deut., XV. 12–15. Levit., the following chapter, to see the XXV. 39 – 43. same design.
39 Levit., XXV. 44–46. So 41 Deut., VII. 6. See Ewald, ver. 17. See Jahn, Arch. Bibl., Alterthümer des Volkes Israel, pp. for the various causes of slavery, 237,238. Sect. 169 – 172.
In both cases, the laws of Moses were designed to act prospectively. He laid aside his own authority, enrolled his sons amongst the inferior ranks of the priesthood,” and for himself in all respects had no mind to be great in the eyes which looked up to him amongst men. But for his legislation, on which he believed the salvation of his fellow-creatures and the glory of his Creator to depend, he seemed determined to make it applicable, not only to the wants of his own age, but to the progress and the piety of his posterity.” His laws, indeed, were for all the people,” undivided and undistinguished, further than by the simple ranks and offices before described. But there was no power in the people to reject, any more than there had been knowledge amongst them to desire or spirit to claim, the institutions he gave them under God. It may be said more confidently, as a matter of faith, if not of history, that the Jews were formed to feel their utter feebleness whenever they transgressed, but that, in their better days, they were taught as a people to feel their strength, and to guard their independence against any merely human authority. The life of Moses is the heart of all Hebrew history. Through him, the religion of his nation was unfolded as clearly as it was permitted to be disclosed by man; and through him, also, the power to fulfil the commands and complete the hopes of faith was supplied with abundant means of exercise in freedom. The liberty of the Jews must be measured by a separate standard from that of other people. They claimed no rights of election, and sought no offices of government; content, as they were, in the belief that the authority they obeyed was Divine, and that the priest or the prophet, on the earth, was the chosen servant of God. The circumstances, besides, of their escape from Egypt and their settlement in the promised land, were not of a kind to set their ambition free to aim at any political advantages. They were not only more than occupied with the cares of labor, warfare, and worship, but the toils and the sacrifices they beheld in the persons of their leaders were not so tempting that they would themselves desire to exchange for these the selfish and boisterous enjoyments they undoubtedly found in their humbler lives. The faith, moreover, that they professed was hostile to sedition or to revolution; and there were few who would not join with Moses in his psalm” to implore the glory of the Lord sooner than exalt any name of man. Moses died while this spirit was yet alive amongst his people.” Seven years after his death, the promises of many centuries were fulfilled, and there failed not aught of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass." Joshua, to whom the charge of the people was committed by Moses in his last days, led them to their conquests and their habitations, as he had been commanded; but the power of the prophet does not appear to have descended to the warrior. One of the early narratives, following the invasion of Canaan, describes Joshua in consultation with princes, and, as he grew old, he called all Israel together to hear his counsels.” Active service against their enemies might naturally give the people, without their demanding it, an ampler portion in the management of their common interests. With any other nation, the change from wanderers in the desert to conquerors of an abundant land would have been too great to be consistent with the character or even with the safety of their earlier institutions; but such had been the providence of Moses in relation to the trials and the destinies of his race, that their years of warfare and settlement were passed without departure from their still sovereign laws. The fullest directions, even, had been prepared concerning the conduct of the battles into which the Lord their God would go with them against their enemies;” and when the fields, flowing with milk and honey, were overrun, and the towns, defended by spears and slings, were smitten or burned, the law was still active in appointing the rules by which the twelve Tribes should divide the long desired territory. All that such a people could desire was theirs. The country in which they dwelt was beautiful; the air they breathed, serene; and the soil so exuberant, that every one could have his home with vines and fig-trees. Each week ended with the rest of the Sabbath; each period of the year was hallowed by its festival about the holy tabernacle. In spring, the Passover preserved the memory of the national deliverance from bondage; in early summer, the ripened harvest was acknowledged in the thanksgivings of Pentecost, the memorial, also, of the laws from Sinai, their harvest of every day as well as every year; and once again, in autumn, at the feast of the Tabernacles, the booths raised round the tabernacle for seven days brought back the times when their fathers were in the wilderness. In the midst of rejoicing,
42 1 Chron., XXIII. 14.
43 “And truly Moses gave them all these precepts, being such as were observed during his own lifetime. But though he lived now in the wilderness, yet did he make provision how they might observe the same laws when they should have taken the land of Canaan.” Joseph., Ant., III. 12. 3.
44 “Ye stand this day, all of you, before the Lord your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders
and your officers, with all the men of Israel, your little ones, your wives, and thy stranger that is within thy camp, from the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water: that thou shouldest enter into covenant with the Lord thy God. . . . . . Neither with you only do I make this covenant; . . . . . but with him that is not here with us this day.” See the whole Chapter XXIX. of Deuteronomy.
46 See the last two chapters of Deuteronomy. Josephus professes to record the dying instructions of Moses to his countrymen : —“May you be a laborious people, and exercise yourselves in virtuous actions, and thereby possess and inherit the land without wars, while neither any foreigners make war upon it, and so afflict you, nor any internal sedition seize upon it, whereby you
may do things that are contrary to your fathers, and so lose the laws which they have established.” Ant., IV. 8. 41, Whiston's translation.
47 Joshua, XXI. 43–45.
48 Joshua, IX. 15 et seq., XXIII. 2, XXIV. 1. Jahn calls this assembly the “Comitia Generalia.” Arch. Bibl., 216, 218.