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Thus, when the LORD commands Numb. Mofes to number the People, He fays, Take ye the fum of all the congregation of the children of Ifrael, after their families, by the house of their fathers. So, for Example, it is faid, The children of Reuben, Ifrael's eldest son, were numbered by their generations, after their families, by the boufe of their fathers. The Names of thefe 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 infert them here.
These Families, were again fubdivided into Houfholds. And therefore, when they were to make a Scrutiny upon any Oce cafion, by Enquiry from God, or by Lot, they first pitch'd upon the Tribe; then the Family; then the Houfhold; and fo, still they came at the very Perfon requir'd. Of this there is a notable Inftance in the Book of Joshua; where the Man is detected, who had made a Concealment of the Spoil. As there is alfo in the manner of 1 Sam. x. Jelecting Saul to be King. When Samuel bad caufed all the Tribes of Israel to come near, the Tribe of Benjamin was taken.
When be bad caufed the Tribe of Benjamin E to come near, by their Families, the Family of Matri was taken, &c.
We have frequent mention of them in Scriptures, thus diftinguish'd; it is faid, The chief fathers of the families of the chil- Numb. dren of Gilead, the fon of Machir, the fon of Manafleh, of the families of the fons of Jofeph, came near and spake before Mofes, and before the princes, the chief fathers of the children of Ifrael. Again; Then came Josh. xxi. near the heads of the fathers of the Levites 1. T unto Eleazar the Prieft, and unto Joshua
the son of Nun, and unto the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Ifrael. And again, speaking of some of those Heads in the Tribe of Benjamin,, Chron. it is faid, Thefe were heads of the fathers, viii. 28, by their generations, chief men. These dwelt in Jerufalem.
As to their peculiar Province and Part in the Adminiftration of the Government, it was their Bufinefs to hold Affemblies of the Houfholds that were under their Infpection; and to enquire into all Matters and Concerns thereunto, in any wife, relating; as far as they were of a public Nature.
Nature. Sometimes they were fummon'd by the Kings, to meet in the Great Council; and commanded the Families that were under their Jurifdiction, in Times of War.
That they had the Care and Management of the Houfholds over which they prefided, appears plainly from this; that they only, of all the Magiftrates of this Government, preferv'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 foon as the Proclamation came out from Cyrus King of Perfia, giving them Leave to go up to Jerufalem, to build the houfe of the LORD Ezra i. 5. God of Ifrael, Then, it is faid, rofe up the chief fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the Priefts and the Levites, &c. Nehemiah 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 fhew that they fate as Judges, we read that Jehoshaphat King of Judah ap2 Chron.-pointed fome of the chief of the fathers of
Ifrael, for the judgment of the LORD, and for controverfies. And that they commanded in the Wars, we fhall fee under a particular Article.
The RULERS of CITIES.
The third Wheel of their Government, which, as we mention'd before, turn'd within the other two, was the Conftitution and Magiftracy of every City within it felf. As the Weight of fuperintending the Affairs of every Tribe, was much lighten'd to the Prince thereof, by the fubordinate Jurifdiction of the Heads of Families; the Political Burden of these latter was, in like manner, confiderably alleviated by the Share of Authority which appertain❜d to the Rulers of Cities: 3 Every Tribe having feveral Cities belonging to it, and every City being inhabited by a great Number of Families.
The Chief Magiftrate in these Corporations was call'd the Ruler of the City. When Gaal had enter'd into a Confpiracy and Rebellion against Abimelech, (who himself had ufurp'd the GovernHh
ment of the Ifraelites, in the Time of the Judges,) and drawn in the Men of Shechem, a City of the Tribe of Ephrain, Judg. ix. to fide with him; we read that Zebul the Ruler of the City fent Abimelech private Intelligence of it.
Some have queftion'd whether there were not more than one of thefe Chief Magiftrates in every City: That there were many fubordinate ones, having a gradual Authority under one another is very plain; and that these were the fame whom Mofes conftituted to be Judges of the People in the Wilderness, by the Advice of Jethro his Father-in-law. He chofe able men out of all Ifrael, 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 feafons: The hard caufes they brought unto Mofes, but every small matter they judg'd themselves.
Exod. xviii. 25.
When therefore the Tribes came to have Cities belonging to them, there these Magiftrates prefided and exercis'd their Jurisdiction. Which consisted principally of these three Parts. First, to convene and hold