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CRITICAL AND PRÁCTICAL,
ON THE BOOK OF
DESIGNED AS A GENERAL HELP TO
BIBLICAL READING AND INSTRUCTION.
By GEORGE BUSH,
PROF. OF HEB. AND ORIENT. LIT. N. Y. CITY UNIVERSITY.
Entered according to the Act of Congress in the year 1844, by
in the Clerk's office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York:
S. W. Benedict & Co., Stereotypers and Printers,
No. 16 Spruce street, N. Y.
§ 1. Title ; its Origin and Import.
The seventh book in the received order of the Hebrew Scriptures is termed b10570 Shophetim, Judges ; a name derived from www shaphat, to judge, to determine causes, to do justice, to vindicate ; and also, in general, to rule, govern, regulate, and applied here to the chief rulers who governed the Hebrew Republic from the days of Moses till the time of Saul, because ruling and judging are so intimately connected in the East, that sitting in judgment is one of the principal employments of the oriental sovereign. From this it will be seen that the title, as thus applied, is to be taken in a wider sense than the same term conveys with us, viz., persons appointed to determine litigated questions, and to pronounce the sentence of the law in criminal cases. Here, on the other hand, it is used to denote those occasional leaders and chief magistrates of the Israelites who led out the people to war against their enemies, and after having delivered them from the oppression of the neighboring pations, exercised each during peace the office of chief ruler and judge of Israel. Still the predominant idea conveyed by the term is rather that of military commanders, or more properly avenging deliverers, than of judicial officers, as this latter function came more within the province of the priests.
As the government of the Hebrew nation was strictly a Theocracy, in which Jehovah himself was the chief magistrate, no provision was made for the appointment of any permanent or general ruler of the people. The High Priest was a kind of prime minister of Jehovah, who exercised a general superintendence over all the great interests of the nation, when there was no civil or military ruler especially chosen for the purpose. Each of the tribes had also their respective chiefs, clothed with the primitive patriarchal powers, and in the ordinary state of things these arrangements were sufficient for the due administration of the affairs of the people. But when peculiar emergencies arose, in consequence of the hostilities provoked by the apostasy and rebellion of the Israelites, extraordinary officers were called into requisition, on whom was bestowed the appellation of Judges. They arose from time