Some Factors In Early Hebrew History -- By: Harold M. Wiener

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 078:311 (Jul 1921)
Article: Some Factors In Early Hebrew History
Author: Harold M. Wiener


Some Factors In Early Hebrew History

Harold M. Wiener

II.

Once seated on the throne of all Israel, David reverted to the policy of Moses. He realized the ideal of a religious capital, and strengthened it by making it identical with the capital of a powerful and well-organized kingdom. The actual choice made was exceptionally happy. David captured a fortress that lay in the territory of Benjamin, Saul’s tribe, but had apparently never passed into Israelite possession.1 Historically David’s capital was unencumbered by any inconvenient traditions of any former Israelite rule. As it had never been national territory, no troublesome questions could arise in connection with the expropriation of unwilling Israelite land owners, as happened with another site in the case of Naboth. What it was in Israel’s affections, and what it was thereafter to become, it owed solely to David and his house. Politically it had many advantages. It was sufficiently central. By giving the tribe of Benjamin the prestige and solid advantages of having the national capital situate on its territory, it did much to conciliate the portion of the nation that would most resent the change of dynasty. And yet tribalism could have no sway in it, for it had never been incorporated in any tribal organization. If other tribes might feel jealous that the dynasty came from Judah, they could have no corresponding prejudice against the capital. The principle embodied in its choice was similar to that which often leads to the selection of a new capital in territory that is federalized when a number of existing states voluntarily combine in a new federal union. By its situation on the main mountain range of the country, between the two great rival tribes of Ephraim and Judah, near the

highway between them, Jerusalem became to some extent a connecting link, even as it had previously been part of the hostile barrier that separated South from North. Here again we see Benjamin, in the choice of the capital, enjoying the benefit of the mediating position given to it by geography and its inherent weakness, just as a generation before this had given it the crown. The military strength of the new capital was enormous. Not merely was the site easily defensible; the city had the striking advantage of possessing a natural spring in the midst of an arid region, so that any besieging army had to fight against thirst, while the defenders were relieved of anxiety as to their water supply. Moreover, it lies within easy reach of the head of a valley leading from the sea along which runs the modern railway from the coast. On the other hand, one disadvantage was connected with some of its most striking advantages. ...

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