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And fuch a Power God delegated to Mofes over the Children of Ifrael; even before the Promulgation of the Law; I when he gave him a Commiffion to bring Exod. iii. forth his people out of Egypt. By Virtue of this Commiffion, therefore, Mofes and ib. iv. 29. Aaron went and gathered together all the Elders of the children of Ifrael: And the people believed, that he was appointed by God to be their Captain and Judge, and :they fubmitted themselves to him accordingly, and bowed the head and worshipped.
But, after he had brought them out into the Wilderness, Jethro, his Father-inLaw, obferving that he fate to judge the ib. xviii. people from morning until evening, faid un1 to him; The thing that thou doft is not good; Thou wilt furely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: For this A thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thy felf alone. Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counfel, and God fhall be with thee. Be thou for the people to Godward, that thou mayeft bring the caufes unto God. And thou halt teach them ordinances, and laws, and Shalt fhew them the way, wherein they must
walk, and the work that they must do. Moreover thou shalt provide, out of all the people, able men, such as fear God; men of truth, bating covetousness; and let them judge the people at all feafons. And, it Jhall be, that every great matter they fhall bring unto thee; but every small› matter they fhall judge. So fhall it be easier for thy felf, and they shall bear the burden with thee.
And we are tolds further, that Mofes bearken'd to the voice of his father-in-law, and did all that he had faid; and chofe able men out of all Ifrael, and made them beads over the people; rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And they judged the people at all feafons. The hard caufes they brought unto Moses; but every small matter they judged themfelves.
This Jurifdiction Mofes, at his Death, bequeath'd to Joshua; and, by Virtue thereof Joshua conducted and fettled the People, in the Land of Canaan? After Jofbua's Time, they were govern'd by that Form which God himself had prescrib'd to them; according to the Command and Appoint
Appointment of Mofes. Who, when he was making a Rehearsal of the feveral Statutes and Judgments of the LORD, fays of them, Which ye shall obferve to do, Deut. xii. 1. 8, in the land which the LORD God of thy 9. fathers giveth thee to poffefs it. Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here į this day, every man whatsoever is right in - his own eyes; for ye are not, as yet, come to the reft, and to the inheritance, which the LORD your God giveth you..
Now the Form of Government, here spoken of, being, as we have already obferv'd, threefold; One Part relating to the whole People, in general; another, to every particular Tribe; and a third, to the several Cities in every Tribe: And those who prefied in the First, being originally Judges; and afterward Kings; thofe, in the Second, Heads of Tribes, and Heads of Families; and thofe in the Third, Chiefs or Princes of the Cities and States to which they belong'd; it will be beft, for Method's Sake, to enquire after the Nature of each of them, feparately, and in their feveral Orders.
Those who had the Administration of the Affairs of the People of Ifrael, after their Government, as appointed by God, came to take Place, though they were in the double Capacity, both of Judges, to fee that Juftice was dealt among them impartially according to Law, and of Captains, to lead them forth to Battle against their Enemies, yet they were called and known, only by the first Name; as that which denoted the Province or Business of the greatest Importance and highest Dignity. And their principal Bufinefs being to judge; that is, either to acquit or to condemn; they had the Power of Life and Death in themselves; and could make use of it, at fuch Times as they thought expedient, without the Concurrence of any of the inferior Judges. And this Power they exercis'd, not only in the Places where they liv'd, (Jerufalem, the Place which God intended to choose, not being, at that Time, the Seat of
of their Government) but went in Circuit, Ithroughout all the Tribes; and, in certain Cities, held Courts of Judicature, where they exercis'd their Power and Jurifdiction.
: At least, all the People repair'd to them at their Dwelling, wherever it was, to have Justice done them. Thus, it is faid; Deborah a Prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, he judged Ifrael, at that time. And Judg. iv. She dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah; between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. Of Samuel, it is faid; And Samuel judged Ifrael all the days of his life. And he went, from year to year, in 1 Sam. circuit to Bethel, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Ifrael in all thofe places. And bis Return was to Ramah; for there was his house; and there he judged Ifrael, and there he built an altar unto the LORD.
It does not appear that these Judges had, or pretended to, any Share of arbitrary Power; but only to fee that the Laws were faithfully executed. That they were at the Head of the Army, in Times of War, is plain, from this Inftance,