Secondly, He did not reveal Himself to all, nor could anyone acquire faith in Him by his own efforts, but He revealed Himself only to those with whom He chose to enter into communion - Abraham, first of all. This was contrary to the custom in the pagan world, where ecumenism was the vogue - that is, all the gods, whoever they were and wherever they were worshipped, were considered true. The nation of the Hebrews, therefore, was founded on an exclusively religious - and religiously exclusive - principle.
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In Ur, on the other hand, and in the other proto-communist states of the ancient world, the governing principle of life was not religion, still less the nation, but the state. Or rather, its governing principle was a religion of the state as incarnate in its ruler; for everything, including religious worship, was subordinated to the needs of the state, and to the will of the leader of the state, the god-king.
But Israel was founded upon a rejection of this idolatry of the state and its leader, and an exclusive subordination to the will of the God of Abraham, Who could in no way be identified with any man or state or material thing whatsoever. The foundation of the nation, and criterion of its membership, was faith , faith in the God Who revealed Himself to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - and acceptance of the rite of circumcision.
Some half a millenium later, in the time of Moses, the Hebrews were again living under another absolutist regime - this time, Pharaonic Egypt. And God again called them out of the despotism - this time, through Moses. He called them to leave Egypt and return to the promised land. Now during the life of Moses, a third important element besides faith and circumcision was added to the life of Israel: the law. The law was necessary for several reasons.
First, by the time of Moses, the Israelites were no longer an extended family of a few hundred people, as in the time of Abraham and the Patriarchs, which could be governed by the father of the family without the need of any written instructions or governmental hierarchy. Since their migration to Egypt in the time of Joseph, they had multiplied and become a nation of several hundred thousand people, which no one man could rule unaided. Secondly, the sojourn of the Israelites in Egypt had introduced them again to the lures of the pagan world, and a law was required to protect them from these lures.
And thirdly, in order to escape from Egypt, pass through the desert and conquer the Promised Land in the face of many enemies, a quasi-military organisation and discipline was required.
For these reasons among others, the law was given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. Its God-givenness was vitally important. The fact that God ruled meant that in practice his law ruled. And since all were equally subject to the law, the system was the first to embody the double merits of the rule of law and equality before the law. But there was no democracy in the modern sense.
T his indivisibility had important practical consequences. In Mosaic legal theory, all breaches of the law offend God. All crimes are sins, just as all sins are crimes.
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Offences are absolute wrongs, beyond the power of man unaided to pardon or expunge. Making restitution to the offended mortal is not enough; God requires expiation, too, and this may involve drastic punishment. Most law-codes of the ancient Near East are property-orientated, people themselves being forms of property whose value can be assessed. The Mosaic code is God-oriented.
For instance, in other codes, a husband may pardon an adulterous wife and her lover. The Mosaic code, by contrast, insists both must be put to death…. To kill a man is an offence against God so grievous that the ultimate punishment, the forfeiture of life, must follow; money is not enough. The horrific fact of execution thus underscores the sanctity of human life. Whereas other codes provided the death penalty for offences against property, such as looting during a fire, breaking into a house, serious trespass by night, or theft of a wife, in the Mosaic law no property offence is capital.
Human life is too sacred where the rights of property alone are violated. A major part of the Mosaic law concerned the institution of a priesthood and what we would now call the Church with its rites and festivals. The priesthood was entrusted to Moses' brother Aaron and one of the twelve tribes of Israel, that of the Levites. Thus already in the time of Moses we have the beginnings of a separation between Church and State, and of what the Byzantines called the "symphony" between the two powers, as represented by Moses and Aaron.
By outsider here is understood not only he who is a stranger to Israel from the pagans, but everyone who is not of the tribe of Levi, like Kore, Dathan and Abiram, whom God did not choose, and whom, the impious ones, a flame devoured; and King Uzziah laid his hand on the ark to support it, and God struck him and he died II Kings 6. However, it is important to realise that there was no radical separation of powers in the modern sense.
Israel was a theocratic state ruled directly by God, Who revealed His will through His chosen servants Moses and Aaron.
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The Church, the State and the People were not three different entities or organisations, but three different aspects of a single organism, the whole of which was subject to God alone. That is why it was so important that the leader should be chosen by God. In the time of the judges, this seems always to have been the case; for when an emergency arose God sent His Spirit upon a man chosen by Him cf. Judges 6. Judges And if there was no emergency, or if the people were not worthy of a God-chosen leader, then God did not send His Spirit and no judge was elected.
In those circumstances "every man did that which was right in his own eyes" Judges The lesson was clear: if theocracy is removed, then sooner or later there will be anarchy - that is, no government at all.
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The unity of Israel was therefore religious, not political - or rather, it was religio-political. It was created by the history of deliverance from the satanocracies of Babylon and Egypt and maintained by a continuing allegiance to God - the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God Who appeared to Moses and Joshua, - as their only King.
Early Israel before the kings was therefore not a kingdom - or rather, it was a kingdom whose king was God alone. It had rulers, but these rulers were neither hereditary monarchs nor like presidents or prime ministers, who are elected to serve the will of the people. They were charismatic leaders who were elected because they served the will of God alone. We see this most clearly in the story of Abraham, who always acted at the direct command of God; we read of no priest or king to whom he deferred.
The only possible exception to this rule was Melchisedek, the mysterious king-priest of Jerusalem, who blessed him on his return from the slaughter of the kings. However, Melchisedek was the exception that proved the rule; for he was both the first and the last man in the history of the People of God to combine the roles of king and priest  , which shows, as St. Paul indicates Hebrews 7.
Rather it was said to him by God: "Kings will come from you" Genesis The Lord was recognised as the Master of Israel in a moral sense, as of a spiritual union, that is, as a Church. And strictly speaking the People of God remained a Theocracy, without a formal state structure, until the time of the Prophet Samuel, who anointed the first King of Israel, Saul. Early Israel before the kings had rulers, but these rulers were neither hereditary monarchs nor were they elected to serve the will of the people.
They were charismatic leaders, called judges, who were elected because they served the will of God alone. That is why, when the people offered to make Gideon and his descendants kings in a kind of hereditary dynasty, he refused, saying: "I shall not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the Lord shall rule over you" Judges 8. The seeds of the Israelite Autocratic State can be discerned already in the time of Moses. By that time the Israelites had grown far beyond the size of unit that a single patriarchal figure could know and control unaided, and had become a People with its own internal structure of twelve tribes.
They needed order , and consequently, both a law and a judicial system to administer it. That law, a law which governed the life of the People in all its spheres, including the religious, was provided by God Himself as the Supreme Ruler of the people Exodus 20 et seq. Thus in the relationship between Moses and Aaron we see the first clear foreshadowing of the relationship between the State and the Church, the monarchy and the priesthood. The symphony of these blood brothers foreshadowed the spiritual symphony of powers in both the Israelite and the Christian theocracies. A king would have to wait until the Israelites acquired a land.
And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests, the Levites. Thus God blessed the institution of the monarchy, but stipulated three conditions if His blessing was to continue to rest on it.
First, the people must itself desire to have a king placed over it. Thirdly, he will govern in accordance with the Law of God, which he will strive to fulfil in all its parts. In the period from Moses to Saul, the people were ruled by the Judges, many of whom, like Joshua, Jephtha and Gideon, were holy, truly charismatic leaders. In their desperation at the mounting anarchy, the people called on God through the Prophet Samuel to provide them with a king.
God fulfilled their request. For while Saul was a mighty man of war and temporarily expanded the frontiers of Israel at the expense of the Philistines and Ammonites, he persecuted True Orthodoxy, as represented by the future King David and his followers, and he allowed the Church, as represented by the priesthood serving the Ark at Shiloh, to fall into the hands of unworthy men the sons of Eli. Some democrats have argued that the Holy Scriptures do not approve of kingship.
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This is not true. Kingship as such is never condemned in Holy Scripture: rather, it is considered the norm of political leadership. Let us consider the following passages: "In all, a king is an advantage to a land with cultivated fields" Ecclesiastes 5. The tragedy of the story of the first Israelite king, Saul did not consist in the fact that the Israelites sought a king for themselves - as we have seen, God did not condemn kingship as long as He was recognised as the true King of kings. The sacrament of kingly anointing, which was performed for the first time by the Prophet Samuel on Saul, gave the earthly king the grace to serve the Heavenly King as his true Sovereign.
The tragedy consisted in the fact that the Israelites sought a king "like [those of] the other nations around" them Deuteronomy Thus the Lord said to Samuel: "Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should rule over them Now therefore listen to their voice. However, protest solemnly to them, and show them the manner of the king that shall reign over them" I Kings 8. And then Samuel painted for them the image of a harsh, totalitarian ruler of the kind that was common in the Ancient World.
These kings, as well as having total political control over their subjects, were often worshipped by them as gods; so that "kingship" as that was understood in the Ancient World meant both the loss of political freedom and alienation from the true and living God. As the subsequent history of Israel shows, God in His mercy did not always send such totalitarian rulers upon His people, and the best of the kings, such as David, Josiah and Hezekiah, were in obedience to the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Nevertheless, since kingship was introduced into Israel from a desire to imitate the pagans, it was a retrograde step. It represented the introduction of a second, worldly principle of allegiance into what had been a society bound together by religious bonds alone, a schism in the soul of the nation which, although seemingly inevitable in the context of the times, meant the loss for ever of that pristine simplicity which had characterised Israel up to then.
It is important to realise that the worldly principle was introduced because the religious principle had grown weak. For the history of the kings begins with the corruption of the priests, the sons of Eli, who were in possession of the ark at the time of its capture. Thus for the kings' subsequent oppression of the people the spiritual leaders had some responsibility - and also the people, to whom the principle applied: "like people, like priest" Hosea 4. And yet everything seemed to go well at first. But the schism which had been introduced into the life of the nation began to express itself also in the life of their king, with tragic consequences.