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by the conscience of the people to whom it was given.
These three principles, then, were at the foundation of the Hebraic commonwealth: first, that reverence for God and acceptance of his authority is the basis of a free state; second, that the general laws of the social order are very simple, though their applications may be diverse and complicated; third, that for a peaceful and a free people acceptance of these laws is necessary, and in a free commonwealth they must depend primarily for their support on the conscience of the people themselves. On these principles as a foundation was built the Hebraic commonwealth; history has proved them to be the foundation of all truly free governments. How they were applied in the Hebrew commonwealth will be the subject for consideration in the next chapter.
THE DEUTERONOMIC CODE
Ir is clear from the subsequent history of the Hebrews that only the foundations of the national structure were laid during the lifetime of Moses. The superstructure was not instantly reared thereon, but was the product of centuries of national growth. It does not come within the province of this volume to trace in detail the national history of Israel. The general outlines of that history are familiar to every reader of the English Bible. For three centuries the tribes existed in scattered and separate communities, without a constitution, an organized government, or effective law. Leaders arose from time to time called "judges," though their function was executive rather than judicial, and military rather than executive. These leaders were not elected by the people, nor did they inherit their office. They assumed authority by reason of some force or vigor of character which made them efficient in protecting the people against foreign foes, or made them the subjects of popular admiration by reason of special feats of valor. Much of the
1 "Their authority was divine, or, as we should say, moral, in its character; it rested upon that spontaneous recognition of the idea
time the tribes were subject to predatory raids by surrounding nations; part of the time they were in absolute subjection to cruel and unscrupulous foes. Within the tribes themselves there was practically no law. "Every man did what was right in his own eyes." At length, under one of these leaders Saul - the tribes were united in a vigorous and successful campaign; under his successor, David, they were organized into a united kingdom; and this kingdom, under his son Solomon, grew in size, in wealth, and in apparent prosperity. But the spirit of liberty in a people whose blood and whose essential principles united to make them jealous of their freedom, the spirit of restlessness which was inherited from their colonial days, and the grievous exactions levied upon them by a king who lived in almost Oriental splendor, induced rebellion after his death. In the reign of his successor ten of the twelve tribes seceded; the nation was rent in twain; a new capital was established; an idolatrous worship imitating that of Egypt was set up in Samaria for the seceding tribes; and the history of the Jews flows thereafter in a divided stream as that of Israel and Judah. After two hundred years of increasing profligacy, Israel, or more accurately a large proportion of its population, was carried away captive by the Assyrians, and their country was repopulated by a colony from the land of their captors. A mongrel population
of right which, though unexpressed, was alive and working among the tribes." The History of Israel, by Julius Wellhausen, p. 436.
supplanted the tribes of Hebrew origin, a hybrid religion the worship of Jehovah. The two remaining tribes, retaining the capital and the temple, preserved their nationality under the name of Judah, but, changing their religion with the changing opinions of their rulers, outrivaled their sister Israel in corruption.2 This corruption reached its climax under Manasseh, the fourteenth king of the southern kingdom. His reign of over half a century was characterized not only by the establishment of paganism as the religion of the state, but by a consequent reign of licentiousness and immorality impossible to describe and almost impossible to imagine. The worship of the heavenly bodies was restored; the name of Moloch became a common oath; human sacrifice was reinstated; there was a succession of small furnaces in the streets for which the children gathered wood and in which their parents baked cakes as offerings to Astarte ; the roofs of the houses were converted into places of worship and of incense-burning to the heathen gods; the temple vessels were consecrated to Baal; the altar in front of the temple was desecrated; and the ark itself was removed from the Holy of Holies. An attempt made by faithful prophets to stem this current of heathenism was met by a wholesale religious persecution of all the followers of Jehovah, and by a reign of terror against all who dared remain faithful to the religion of their
1 2 Kings xvii.
2 Jer. iii. 11.
fathers.1 During this half-century the religious writings as well as the religious principles of the Jewish nation were forgotten. Such ecclesiastical literature as had grown up during the preceding centuries was kept within the priestly circles. The people knew even less about ecclesiasticism then than they do to-day.
Then it was that an unknown prophet arose, resolved to do what he could to bring Israel back to the simple religion of Moses. Inspired by the teaching of preceding prophets of his own nation, such as Isaiah and Micah, and perhaps also by echoes of the prophecies from the northern kingdom of such men as Elijah, Amos, and Hosea, the unknown gathered together whatever there was of ancient law in manuscript and of ancient counsel in current traditions, and rewrote the laws of Moses, codifying both manuscript and tradition, modifying both and adding to them new regulations in the spirit of the old, and new applications of the old to the conditions and problems of his own time. The discovery of his writing would have insured the death of the author and the destruction of the manuscript. The temple was still a literary centre, and somewhere in its archives the prophet hid the book. Here, after Manasseh's death, the manuscript was discovered, brought to the new and reforming king, Josiah, accepted by him as a divinely inspired interpretation of
1 2 Kings xxi. 1-16; xxiii. 4; xxiv. 4; 2 Chron. xxxiii. 1-10; Isa. lxv. 3; Jer. vii. 17, 18, 31; viii. 2; xiv. 13; Zeph. i. 5.