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may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.”
This third part of the history covers three books. Book five is concerned with the Conquest of Canaan. In spirit it is a continuation of what has preceded; Joshua is a second Moses. He wields an authority not inferior to that of his predecessor :
All that thou hast commanded us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us we will go. According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee: only the LORD thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses.
The passage of the Jordan is a counterpart to the passage of the Red Rea. The Doomsday Book,' as it has well been called, occupying ten chapters of Joshua, carries on the documentary legislation of the Exodus. And the Farewell of Joshua, and the covenant which he inaugurates, are an echo of the successive appeals of Moses, and the covenants in the land of Moab, which constitute the Book of Deuteronomy.
It is in the sixth book that the character of the period becomes apparent- - a Succession of Judges. Isolated stories describe these officers raised up in times of national emergency, and wielding an undefined authority as long as they live. The intervals between are conveyed by the characteristic formula that there was no king in Israel, and every man did that which was right in his own eyes. As we traverse the order of events, we seem to catch an approach to the coming unification of the people in the hegemony of various tribes in succession according to the quarter from which the national danger comes. At the opening of the book the tribe of Judah takes the leadership by the Divine appointment of the lot; Simeon uniting with Judah by invitation. In the achievements of Deborah and Barak, with the enemy in the north, the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali come to the front. When Gideon and Jephthah are waging war against such external foes as the Midianites and Ammonites, the men of Ephraim seem to claim an hegemony; the leaders indeed do not come from that tribe, but the Ephraimites make it a grievance that they have not been called upon as a matter of course; and in the case of Jephthah this leads to a civil war. Under Samson the Philistines' are the foe, and the tribe of Dan has the lead; the stories of Samson are followed by the interesting narrative of the Danish migration. And at the close of the sixth book the tribe of Benjamin has attained such power as to be able for a long time to carry on a successful war against the whole of the rest of Israel. Though it seems paradoxical to cite a civil war as evidence of unity, yet this cohesion of eleven tribes is the largest advance that has yet appeared in the transition from tribeship to nationality.
It is in this sixth book that we find the idea of kingship distinctly formulating itself. It comes upon us quite suddenly in the story of Gideon. After the great deliverance wrought by him the appeal is made in these terms:
Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son's son also: for thou hast saved us out of the hand of Midian. And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you.
After the death of Gideon, however, his illegitimate son, Abimelech; obtains the help of his mother's brethren, slaughters in oriental fashion the seventy sons of Gideon, and is crowned king' in Shechem. As Israel's first royal procession is marching in triumph, an escaped son of Gideon suddenly confronts them from the safe height of Gerizim, and pours upon them the biting satire of his fable in scorn of people and king, and of the whole idea of kingship.
The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us. But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to wave to and fro over the trees? And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us. But the fig tree said unto them, Should I leave my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to wave to and fro over the trees? And the trees said unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us. And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to wave to and fro over the trees? Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us. And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.
In the application of his fable, Jotham prays that fire may come out from Abimelech and devour the men of Shechem, and that fire may come out from the men of Shechem and devour Abimelech. The usurped kingship continues three years, and ends in the feud which Jotham had foreseen; in the most literal sense fire comes forth from Abimelech and devours the men of Shechem, and a fate not less ignominious than fire brings vengeance from the men of Shechem upon Abimelech.
When we pass to the seventh book, we see, not in precise statements, but in what the incidents imply, that the national sense of unity which gave strength to the demand for visible kingship, has been making advances. Eli is called a judge; yet it is evident that in his time Shiloh and its 'temple' has become the national centre; the ark, moreover, is regarded even by the wicked Hophni and Phinehas as the symbol of unity and national strength, and several sections of the history are devoted to the wonders of the ark in the hands of the enemy. Again, a notion seems vaguely to have establ ed itself of the authority of the judge as descending in his family; not only is prominence given to the doings of the sons of Eli, but the unworthiness of Samuel's sons is distinctly associated with the demand of the people for a recognized king. Of course the centre of this seventh book is Samuel. He is the last of the judges. Unwillingly, by Divine command, he becomes a king-maker. And he is above all things a prophet. It is in the stories of Samuel, moreover, that we first come across the companies of prophets : at the very time when an hereditary kingship is commencing we find the beginning of a prophetic order that would maintain prophetic traditions from generation to generation. Thus the seventh book is the Establishment of Kings and the Rise of the Prophetic Order.
All three books may be described as Incidental History; and the separate pictures of notable incidents, which have made the bulk of the narrative, draw together at the close into the long epic history of the Feud of Saul and David, filled with the interest of strange adventure, and made yet more beautiful by the link of tenderness which joins together Jonathan and the man who by Divine appointment is to take from him his inheritance. Over and above the interest of story, the successive episodes have shown a growing tendency to connect themselves with other literary interests. Even Joshua, in the thick of the battle of Gibeon, breaks out into the ballad of the sun and the moon standing still. The war against Sisera produces the Song of Deborah, in which the full power of the lyric ode is revealed. The story of Abimelech, we