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Nature. Sometimes they were summon'd by the Kings, to meet in the Great Council; and commanded the Families that Were under their Jurisdiction, in Times of War.
That they had the Gare and Management of the Housholds over which they presided, appears plainly from this; that they only, of all the Magistrates 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 soon as the Proclamation came out from Cyrus King of Persia, giving them Leave to go up to Jerusalem, to, build the house of the Lord Ezrai. s- Ged of Israel, Then, it is h\A,rofe up the chief fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the Priests and the Levites, &c. Nehemiah Nch.vii. fays, My God put into my heart, to gather 5' together the nobles, and the rulers, and the
people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy- _, , .;.
To shew that they fate as fudges, we
read that Jehojhaphat King of Judah ap
2 Chron. pointed some of the chief of the fathers of
xix-8- . Israel,
• Israel, for \ the judgment of the Lord, and for controversies. And that they com
:manded in the Wars, we shall 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 Constitution and Magistracy of every City within it self. As the Weight of superintending the Affairs of every Tribe, was much lighten'd to the Prince thereof, by the subordinate 'Jurisdiction of the Heads of Families; the Political Burden of these latter was, in like manner, considerably alleviated by the Share of Authority which appertain'd to the Rulers of Cities: Every Tribe having several Cities belonging to it, and every City being inhabited by a great Number of Families.
The Chief Magistrate in these Corporations was call'd the Ruler of the City. When Gaal had enter'd into a Conspiracy and Rebellion against Abimelech, (who himself had usurp'd the GovernH h men?
ment of the Israelites, in the Time of the Judges,) and drawn in the Men of Shechem, a City of the Tribe of HLphraim, TuiK ix. to "^e Wltn nimi we read that Zebul the 3°. Ruler of the City sent Abimelech private Intelligence of it.
Some have question'd whether there were not mere than one of these Chief Magistrates in every City: That there were many subordinate ones, having a gradual Authority under one another is very plain; and that these were the fame whom Moses constituted to be Judges of the People in the Wilderness, by the AdExod. viœrfj'throhxs Father-in-law. He chose xviii. 25. able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of te'ns. And they judged t&e peop/e at all seasons: The hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judg'd themselves.
When therefore the Tribes came to have Cities belonging to them, there these Magistrates presided and exercis'd their Jurisdiction. Which consisted principally of these three Parts. Firstt to convene and
hold Senates and Councils, in order to enact such By-Laws as were expedient for that Body Corporate of which they were Members. Secondly, to commission and authorize the Judges to enter upon and to determine, in the judiciary Way, such small Matters as lay properly within their Cognizance. And, thirdly, to make a Part of the Great Council of the Nation, as often as it was summon'd to assemble by that Person who held the Helm of Government.
These are they who are intended in that Precept, where it is said, Judges and Deut. officers Jhalt thou make thee in all thy gates, XV1* which the Lord thy God giveth thee throughout thy tribes. Which Officers we find mention'd upon other Occasions. Te lb- xxlX« stand this day all of you before the Lord your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers. Again, Moses fays, Gather unto me all the elders of -^ xxxj, your tribes, and your officers. And we find z8> fojhua, when he was old and stricken in age, called for all Israel, and for their el- T0^ ders, and for their heads, and for their xxiii. z. judges, and for their officers,
H h 2 So
So when David calls together the Great
Congregation to declare his Purpose about
the Building of the Temple, we read of
i Chron. the Captains over the Thousands, and the
Y V VI III
'Captains over the Hundreds, with the Officers, being fummon'd upon that Occasion. And, afterwards, we are told that Solomon
2 Chron. made a Speech unto all Israel, to the captains of thousands and of hundreds, and to the judges, and to every governor in all Israel, the chief of the fathers. And thus, when that pious Prince Hezekiah was resolv'd upon a Reformation both of "Religion and Manners, throughout his King
2 Chron. dom, it is said; Then Hezekiah the King ■°- rose early, and gathered the rulers of the city, and went up to the house of the Lord.
As to their judiciary Capacity, they were not, strictly speaking, Judges themselves, but had the Power of admitting what Causes they thought were proper to come before the Judges, and of rejecting what they look'd upon as frivolous or unnecessary to be enquir'd into. By this means they became an obvious Mark for Bribery and Corruption; and, accordingly,