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'(1 SAMUEL X. 1.) The Hebrew state was governed by judges, appointed by the Almighty, from the earliest ages to the days of Samuel the prophet. This holy man, growing “old and grey-headed,” appointed his sons, Joel and Abiah, to act for him at Bethel and Beersheba. Their conduct in this situation was oppressive. They walked not in the ways of their father, but “turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment,” 1 Sam. viii. 3. This misconduct of the sons of the prophet, with his own advancing age, and the seemingly unsettled state in which the government would be left at his death, induced the elders of Israel to resort to Samuel at Ramah, and to demand of him that a king should be appointed over them.

Samuel rebuked the elders for their conduct, and told them of the Divine disapprobation. At the same time, he represented to them the burdens they would have to bear under a king, and warned them that he might be led to imitate other oriental monarchs, and to disregard the law of Jehovah.

The picture drawn by Samuel exhibits in a lively manner the character of the monarchies which at that time existed in the east, and the principles of which prevail in the east even to this day. He reminded them, that the heaviest exaction would be made upon their persons and estates for the support of the government, which powerfully contrasts with the mild character of that service which their King, Jehovah, had required under the theocracy. Their king would take their young men, and employ them as charioteers, horsemen, and even runners before and about his chariot; his army would require the services of their young men, and he would take them to till his ground, and to make his instruments of war, and the furniture of his chariots; he would, further, take the daughters of Israel to minister to the luxuries of the court as cooks, confectioners, and bakers; he would deprive them of the best of their male and female servants, as well as their cattle, and put them to his own work; and he would take the best of their fields, vineyards, olive-yards, and the tenth of their seeds, and their sheep, for the support of his court and his servants.


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