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>f their Government) but went in Circuit, hroughout all the Tribes; and, in cerain Cities, held Courts of Judicature, vhere they exercis'd their Power and Jurisdiction.
At least, all the People repair'd to them at their Dwelling, wherever it was, to have Justice done them. Thus, it is said; Deborah a Prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, Jhe judged Israel, at that time. And |udg' jhe dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah; betweenRamah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: And the children of 'Israel came up to her Jor judgment. Of Samuel, it is said; And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. And he went, from year to year, in 'rSaTM circuit to Bethel, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places. And his Return was to Ramah; for there was his house; and there he judged Israel, and there he built an altar unto the Lor D.
It does not appear that these fudges had, or pretended to, any Share of arbitrary Power; but only to see that the Laws were faithfully executed. That they were at the Head of the Army, in Times of War, is plain, from this Instance,
Judg. xii. stance, of Jephthah; who is said to have xi judged Israel ^xr jrar*. We read that,
6. ii. tfljfo-tf A&£ children of Ammon wat/e1 ivar against Israel, Elders of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah, out of the land of Tob. And they said unto Jephthah, Come, and be our captain, that we may fight ivith tbt children of Ammon. Then Jephthah went with the Elders of Gilead; and the people made him head and captain over them.
That they had likewise the Power of convening a Congregation of the whole People, and holding a Senate of the Elders, though the Instances of their doing so, are very rare, is, I think, unquestionable; because we find Moses and Jo/hua had that Power, before them, and the Kings us'd it, after them. In truth, the History and Account of the Judges^ is very obscure and imperfect. And though we need not doubt but God raised up proper Persons to record the memorable Transactions of his People, during the whole Time of the fudges; yet, such is the Imperfection of our human State, and so many the various Revolutions to which it is liable; that the Loss of some Monuments
numents of so great Antiquity, is nothing near so much to be wonder'd at, as that any at all have been preserv'd and transmitted to us. .. • .
Xhe merciful Providence of God has, however, taken care, at all Events, to secure enough to Men thro' all Ages, tp build a firm and well-grounded Faith upon; to nourish their Hope of immortal Bliss, through the Merits of their glorious Redeemer; and, above all, to let them fee that Charity, mutual Love and Benevolence, is the indispensable Qualification of all those, who are ambitious of being the Children of God.;,; 3-(
But to return: Th$ Promotion of the Judges was not hereditary j but purely elective. They whose Talents or Endowments mark'd them out as proper Persons to fill that Station, were desired .to accept of the Office by the concurrent Suffrages of the People. And this being the Manner of Government which God himself design'd for them, as long as they continued to be contented with ir, his diyine Providence so far concern'd it seisin these Elections, as to dispose them to F f pitch pitch upon those Persons who were most capable of defending them, and of conducting their Affairs with the best Success.
And therefore it is said, upon those Judg. ii. Occasions, that God raijed them up delii'lf'iii 9 verers- Nay, Gideon was appointed, by i$. God, immediately; The Lord looked on 'i6.V34.14" btmi andJa*d'> Got in this thy mighty and thou /halt save Israel from the hand of tht Midianites; have not I sent thee? Surely J will be with thee, and thou shalt smitt the Midianites, as one man. Again; The spirit os the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, and Abiezer was gathered after him. And he sent messengers throughout all ManafTeh, who also was gathered after him; and be sent messengers unto Asher, and unto Zebulon, and unto Naphtalij and they came up to meet them.
And of Samson likewise a Designation to be Judge of Israel was made, by an Angel of the Lokd, even before he was ib. xiii. 5. born. It is said to his Mother; Lo, thou shalt conceive and bear a son, and no razor si all come on his head; and he fid all begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Pbilijlines. And, of Samuel it is said, that all Israel, from Dan even to Beer- iSam.iii. sheba, knew that Samuel was ejlablijhed20' to be a Prophet of the Lord. No wonder therefore that, after the Death of Eli, we find him, in the Quality of Judge, ordering, and presiding over, the Affairs of the Israelites.
And, as a Confirmation, that it was not with God's good Liking and Approbation, either that the Succession should be hereditary, or that any particular Person should be fixed in this Station, for Life; unless he was wanted, or behaved himself well during that whole Time; when the People were inebriated w/'th their good Success against: the Midianites, and complimented Gideon with this tempting Offer; Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy Judg.viii. son, and thy sons son also; for thou hajl de- 22' *3' livered us from the band of Midian: The Answer of Gideon, like that of a godlike Hero, was, as follows; / will not rule over yoUy neither Jhall my son rule over you: The Lord Jhall rule over you. And though his Son Abimelech did succeed him, by flaying his seventy Brethren, it appears F f 2 that