The Representative System In The Constitution Of Moses -- By: S. Tuska

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 015:60 (Oct 1858)
Article: The Representative System In The Constitution Of Moses
Author: S. Tuska

The Representative System In The Constitution Of Moses

S. Tuska

§ 1. The national constitution of the Hebrews was built on a patriarcho-democratic basis. The existence of a perpetual representation of the people is indicated both by their customs and their laws. The representatives consisted of the heads of tribes and families; men who, by virtue of their age1 and natural position in society, were well fitted to exercise a patriarchal authority.

§ 2. Even while in Egypt, Moses gathered “all the elders of the children of Israel” (Ex. 4:29), with whom, conjointly, he was to appear before Pharaoh (Ex. 3:16–18.). When, therefore, it is said (4:30-31, “He did signs before the people,”—”the people believed in them, and they bowed their heads,” we must assume that all the people, as is clearly evident from 4:29, were not present on that occasion; but that the elders referred to fully represented them. Thus early do we find the datum, so often applicable in the subsequent books of Scripture, viz. that “the people “signifies the same as “the people represented by their elders” Compare Ex. 19:7-8,, where Moses convoked “the elders of the people,” and then “all the people together “reply to the communication imparted to the former; also Judg. 10:8, where the “people “and the “princes of Gilead “are identified; see also Josh. 23:2, where “all Israel” is paraphrased, and at the same time restricted, by the phrase “its elders, judges, and officers.”

On this supposition alone can it be explained how Moses could speak to all the people.2 From this point of view, also,

is to be explained one of the most decisive passages in point: “Ye are all,” it is said Deut. 29:10, “standing today before the Lord your God, your heads, your tribes, your elders, your officers, every man of Israel; your children, your wives, and thy stranger who is in thy camp, from the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water.” That Moses had at that time actually convoked an assembly, is evident from 29:2. This, however, could ...

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