Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ancient Israel a Federal Monarchy

1 Chronicles 26:32, "And his brethren, men of valour, were two thousand and seven hundred chief fathers, whom King David made rulers over the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, for every matter pertaining to God, and affairs of the king."

A shocking revelation: apparently the government instituted by King David (after God-provided release from the oppression of King Saul, but still while threatened by powerful and jealous neighbors) had great resemblance to the government of the United States originally set forth in the Constitution. The one primary difference was that the government of Israel included oversight on spiritual matters. There was no separation of church and state. Rather the church served as part of the “checks and balances” alongside the king, much like our three-branch system of government in the United States.

Levites were the judges (in religious, ceremonial, and cleanliness matters) and jailers, as instructed by Leviticus. They kept the cities of refuge, in which men who had involuntarily committed manslaughter could live safely out of reach of the avenger of blood (not an official government agent, but a near relative of the victim; see the Second Amendment).

David’s trusted military chiefs were made rulers in their respective tribal lands (states), but those men who were directly subject to King David were only responsible for matters pertaining to God and affairs of the king, implying that there are matters which are not affairs of the king or particularly pertaining to God/religion. These are local matters (originally our country would have considered commerce, education, and ordinances like traffic laws to be the domain of state and local governments). Elders in each city of Israel, on a clannish basis, were responsible for oversight of these more minor issues.

See the definition of Federalism provided by

“A system of government in which power is divided between a central authority and constituent political units. “


“A system of government in which power is divided between a national (federal) government and various regional governments. As defined by the United States Constitution, federalism is a fundamental aspect of American government, whereby the states are not merely regional representatives of the federal government, but are granted independent powers and responsibilities. With their own legislative branch, executive branch, and judicial branch, states are empowered to pass, enforce, and interpret laws, provided they do not violate the Constitution. This arrangement not only allows state governments to respond directly to the interests of their local populations, but also serves to check the power of the federal government. Whereas the federal government determines foreign policy, with exclusive power to make treaties, declare war, and control imports and exports, the states have exclusive power to ratify the Constitution. Most governmental responsibilities, however, are shared by state and federal governments: both levels are involved in such public policy issues as taxation, business regulation, environmental protection, and civil rights.”

The king unified the tribes when necessary in defense against their hostile neighbors, just as the authors of the Federalist Papers defended as a prime reason for any kind of central US government (as opposed to a Confederacy).

Of course we know that Israel’s federation endured a similar pattern to ours. Solomon’s son became rather tyrannical, so a large portion of the tribes seceded, but in Israel’s case, successfully. Eventually the people all fell to wickedness, and the government: kings and priests also became selfish and corrupt. This was not a result, please recognize, of the union of church and state. Rather, it was because the spiritual legacy was abandoned and replaced with paganism or humanism alternately, that the nation suffered decay.

Warnings were given to Israel. The people ought to have repented. The government needed reform. Refusing to heed, both sections of David’s kingdom were, short hundreds of years after his reign, conquered anyway.

To God be all glory.

PS: I wrote this after reading 1 Chronicles 26. My facts could be a little off. Any other thoughts?

1 comment:

Mac.AmideDieu said...

Terribly interesting... =)

I caught myself wondering what it would be like, to be a citizen... of said historical "federal," middle-eastern government...

good point too, about the reason the nation fell...

(You know what? I should probably go read that chapter... =)

ISR... I Shall Return... =)

And what's this? The second I resolve to read the Word of God, you distract me with trailers for midget private-eye movies...

Ok, so... I read it. =)

Some of it made me think of the "Outlaws" in Ivanhoe...

and I was half-way wondering

"Heads of Father's houses" ?

Like, they were responsible husbands and fathers, thus further proving they were capable and worthy of appointment to such an office?

But I always wonder, who decides/decided what constitutes/ed a "worthy, capable" agent?

good stuff, fuel for the provocative imagination...

Thanks. =)

-MAC <>< =)