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Thus, when the LORD commands Numb. Mofes to number the People, He says, Take i. 2. ye the sum of all the congregation of tbe children of Israel, after their families
, by the house of their fathers. So, for Example, ic is faid, The ehildren of Reuben, Ifrael's eldest son, were numbered by their generations, after their families, by the bouse of their fathers. The Names of
these Families, Generations or Houses, are --xxvi. exprefly mention’d in another Place, to
which the curious are referr'd; it not being very material to insert them here.
These Families, were again subdivided into Housholds. And therefore, when they were to make a Scrutiny upon any Occasion, by Enquiry from God, or by Lot, they first pitch'd upon the Tribe; then the Family; then the Houfhold; and so, till they came at the very Person requir’d.
Of this, chere is a notable Instance in the Jolh. vii. Book of Joshua, where the Man is detec
sed, who had made a Concealment of the
Spoil. As there is also in the manner of 1 Sam. x. Selecting Saul to be King. When Samuel
bad caused all the Tribes of Ifrael to come near, the Tribe of Benjamin was taken.
When he had caused the Tribe of Benjamin kl to come near, by their Families, the Family of Matri was taken, &c.
We have frequent mencion of them in » Scriptures, thus distinguish'd; it is said, The chief fathers of the families of the chil- Numb.
xxxvi. 1. dren of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son i of Manafleh, of the families of the fons of
Joseph, came near and spake before Moses, and before the princes, the chief fatbers of the children of Israel. Again; Then came Jolh. xxi. near the heads of the fathers of the Levites ". unto Eleazar the Priest, and unto Joshua tbe son of Nun, and unto the beads of the fatbers of the tribes of the children of ilrael. And again, speaking of some of those Heads in the Tribe of Benjamin, , Chron. it is said, These were beads of the fathers, viii
. 28, by their generations, chief men. These dwelt in Jerusalem.
As to their peculiar Province and Part in the Administration of the Government, it was their business to hold Assemblies of the Houtholds that were under cheir Infpection; and to enquire into all Matters and Concerns thereunto, in any wise, relating; as far as they were of a publịc
Nature. Sometimes they were summon's by the Kings, to meet in the Great Council; and commanded the Families that were under their Jurisdiction, in Times of War.
That they had the Care and Management of the Housholds over which they presided, appears plainly from this; that they only, of all the Magistrates of this Government, preserv'd and exercis'd their Power, during the Time of the Babylonish Captivity. And therefore, upon the Return, we find them active in promoting all Affairs. As soon as the Proclamation came out from Cyrus King of Perfia, giving them Leave to go up to Je
rusalem, to, build the house of the LORD Ezra i. 5. God of Israel, Then, it is said, rose up the chief
fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the
Priests and the Levites, &c. Nebemiab Neh, vii. fays, My God put into my heart, to gather
together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy.
To shew that they sate as Judges, we
read that Jehosaphat King of Judah ap2 Chron. pointed some of the chief of the fathers of
. Ifrael, for the judgment of the LORD,
and for controverhes. And that they comel manded in the Wars, we shall fee under 2 particular Article.
S E C T. XV. T
The RULERS of CITI E S. The third Wheel of their Government, which, as we mention'd before, turn'd I within the other two, was the Constitu( tion and Magistracy of every City within
it self. As the Weight of superintending
the Affairs of every Tribe, was much · lighten'd to the Prince thereof, by the
subordinate 'Jurisdiction of the Heads of Families; the Political Burden of these latter was, in like manner, considerably
alleviated by the Share of Authority · which appertain'd to the Rulers of Cities:
Every Tribe having several Cities belonging to it, and every City being inhabited by a great Number of Families.
The Chief Magistrate in these Corporations was call’d the Ruler of the Cir ty. When Gaal had enter'd into a Conspiracy and Rebellion against Abimelech, (who himself had usurp'd the GovernHh
ment of the Israelites, in the Time of the Judges,) and drawn in the Men, of
Shechem, a City of the Tribe of Ephraim, Judg. ix. to side with him; we read that Zebul the
Ruler of the Çity sent Abimelech private
Some have question'd whether there were not mere than one of these Chief Magistrates in every City: That there were many subordinate ones, having a gradual Authority under one another is very plain; and that these were the fame whom Moses constituted to be Judges of the People in the Wilderness, by the Ad
vice of Jethro his Father-in-law. He chose Exod. xviii. 25. able men out of all Israel, and made them
heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And they judged the people at all seasons: The hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judg’d themselves.
When therefore the Tribes came to have Cities belonging to them, there these Magistrates presided and exercis'd their Jurisdiction. Which consisted principally, of these three Parts. First, to convene and