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elders (e); but there was not then a sufficient power lodged in any one person to control and keep the people in order, by punishing public offences and private wrongs, so that “
every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” The great council had hitherto acted as assistants to Moses and Joshua, and probably was not yet considered as designed to be the supreme authority under God their King. We have indeed reason to suppose that the general depravity which prevailed in the nation, after the death of the generation contemporary with Joshua (f), had tainted the council itself, and had deprived its members of the gift of inspiration, with which the elders had been favoured on its first establishment (g); and from the address of Abimelech to the people (h), and from some other pas, sages, we may even suppose that the institution itself was perverted, for the council seems to have been then made up wholly of the family of Gideon, instead of the representatives of the twelve tribes, and members chosen according to the directions originally given. The people themselves appear to have been very sensible of the miseries arising from such a state of anarchy; for when God was pleased to raise up Judges to
(c) Judges, c. 21. v. 16. (f) Judges, c. 2. v.7-13. (8) Numb. C. II. v. 1630. (h) Judges, c.9. V.2.
deliver them from the power of the neighbouring nations, to which they were subjected as punishments for their wickedness, we find them desirous of inaking them kings (i) to secure a succession of chief civil magistrates as well as military leaders. As the functions of all ordinary magistrates among the Romans were superseded by the authority of a dictator, so were all Hebrew magistrates subject to the control of a judge, who was specially appointed by God (k); and in the time of the Jewish kings this whole system of administrative justice was frequently interrupted; but it cannot escape the observation of the attentive reader of the Jewish history, that the periods most marked by violence and crimes were precisely those, when these constituted authorities were from various causes suffered to sink into inaction. We find, however, that Jehosaphat was anxious to revive the power of the inferior courts of judicature (1), and the council seems to have possessed great influence in the time of Jeremiah (m). After the return from the Babylonian captivity, when " the people were settled as of old (n),” the
supreme (i) Judges, c.8. v.22 & 23. c.9. v.2.6–57. C. 10. II. -(k) 1 Sam. c. 7. v.16. (l) 2 Chr. C. 19. v. 5 and 6, &c. (m) Jer. c. 36, 37, and 38.
(n) Isaiah, c. 1. V. 26. Ezra, c. 7. v. 25. c. IO. 9.7-14,
supreme power was again lodged in the great council or sanhedrim, which, as we have seen, continued to exercise its judicial office, till the national polity was totally destroyed by the Romans.
The land of Canaan, so named from Canaan, the son of Ham, whose posterity possessed this land as well as Egypt or Mizraim, lies in the western part of Asia, between latitude 31° and 34o. Its boundaries were, to the north, Cole-Syria; to the west, the Mediterranean Sea; to the east, Arabia Deserta; and to the south and southwest, Arabia Petræa and Egypt. Its extent was about 200 miles from north to south (that is from Dan to Beersheba) and its breadth about ioo. It was divided into two unequal parts, of which the western was considerably the greater, by the river Jordan, which rises in the mountains of Hermon, (a branch of the mountains of Libanus,) and running south through the lake of Gennesareth, or “ the Sea of Tiberias or Galilee,” after a course of 150 miles loses itself in the Lacus Asphaltitis, or the Dead Sea. This last lake, or sea, was also called “the Sea of the Plain,” and occupies the place where Sodom and Gomorrha formerly stood. The country to the east of the Jordan,
was given, as has been related, to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh. The kingdom of Moab lay to the south of Reuben; the kingdom of Ammon to the east of Gad; and the mountains of Hermon bounded Manasseh to the north-east, beyond which lay Trachonitis and Ituræa. West of the Jordan, to the north, were placed Naphtali, on the river, and Asser, which bordered on Phænicia and the Mediterranean. Zabulon and Issachar had inland districts; but the other half tribe of Manasseh and Ephraim reached from the sea to the river. Dan (upon the coast) and Benjamin were south of Ephraim, and north of Simeon and Judah. The country allotted to Simeon bordered upon the Mediterranean, and extended to Egypt; but the Philistines, who inhabited the coast, were never entirely driven out of their possessions. The country of Judah bordered upon the Dead Sea, which separated it from the kingdom of Moab, (for both Simeon and Judah lay considerably more south than the tribe of Reuben) and adjoined the mountainous country of Idumea, or Edom, and Arabia Petræa, to the south. Jerusalem, or Hierosolyma, the capital, supposed to have been the Salem of Melchisedek, stood partly in the territory of Benjamin, but was allotted to Judah," the chief anong the tribes of Israel.” VOL. I.
After the return from the Babylonian captivity, the eastern division was called Peräa, (more properly the country which had belonged to Reuben and Gad, for the northern part sometimes called Gaulonitis, was included in the district of Trachonitis,) and the western part was divided into Galilee to the north, Judæa to the south, and Samaria in the middle. Judæa proper, extended from the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean to Egypt, and included the countries of Benjamin, Dan, and Simeon, besides that of Judah. The whole country was also called Palestine, from the Philistines, who, inhabiting the western coast, were first known to the Romans, and being by them corruptly called Palestines, gave that name to the country; but it was more commonly called Judæa, as the land of the Jews. Since our Saviour's advent it has been called the Holy Land; but in modern writers all distinction is frequently lost in the general name of Syria, which is given to the whole country east of the Mediterranean, between the sea and the desert.