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waged, till the power of that pestilent horde of land pirates should be blotted out of memory.
Nor are the Jewish War Laws, relating to internal administration, without their interest. When the host was mustered for an expedition, and had been addressed by the priest with an exhortation to courage, founded on a pious confidence in the guardian God of Israel, heralds, before it was marshalled and officered, were to make proclamation, that whatever citizen soldier had lately built a house, or planted a vineyard, or contracted a marriage, was at liberty to retire unquestioned to his home; and finally, that the same privilege was allowed to whosoever was “fearful and faint-hearted.” † The wise reason of the last provision, is given; the coward was permitted, and advised to retire, “lest his brethren's heart faint as well as his heart.” In an age when military discipline had not achieved the work of giving to men of no character a factitious courage, by making fear of superiors overcome fear of the enemy, a panic, originating in one weak mind, might spread so as to cause universal disorder and shameful rout. He, accordingly, who found in himself so little stomach for such an enterprise, that, rather than encounter its hazards, he preferred to make his reluctance known under such public circumstances, might better be spared than retained; while one who had forborne to avail himself of the permission when it was offered, conscious that he had left himself without excuse, should he prove craven afterwards, was placed under a new impulse to a manful conduct. Through the reflex influence of the other laws, important contributions were secured to the public welfare. The citizen, who found himself indisposed to serve the state in one way, was led to earn his exemption by serving it in another. It was the policy of the state that houses should be built, vineyards planted, and domestic contracts formed ; and whoever was conscious of an insurmountable aversion to the perils of war, would take care seasonably to provide himself with an honorable title to be discharged from them.* — In conducting a war, the people were to be provident, as well as energetic, not destroying wantonly, in its operations, what would else be of value after its close; † and, regarding their camp as a place honored by the virtual presence of Jehovah, they were to observe, in all their arrangements, that order and decorum, which a reverential sense of this would naturally prompt.I
* Deut. xxv. 17 – 19. How well this race of rovers deserved the name which I have given them, is easily understood, if what is related of them here (compare Ex. xvii. 8) is a specimen of their practices; nor would any legislator expose himself to complaint by directing the breaking up of a nest of freebooters, of enemies of the human race. To say that absolute individual extermination is here commanded, would be to go much beyond the record.
† Deut. xx. 1-9.
Some important additions are made, in this collection, to the rules respecting Domestic Relations. To the law in Leviticus forbidding the marriage of a widow with her husband's brother, one exception is now speci
may be added, that the life of a citizen thus circumstanced, would be peculiarly valuable to his family, and to the state; and, further, that, persuading himself that it was peculiarly valuable, he might be more backward to expose it, than would consist with his best usefulness as a soldier. In Deut. xxiv. 5, the dispensation under one of the cases here named, is extended from military to civil service. † xx. 19, 20. — Trees not bearing fruit might be felled (20); fruit-trees
“ man's life” (19; compare Gen. i. 29), and it would take a long time to replace them.
| xxiii. 9-14. — Quicquid sit, quod e sensu communi (ut dicunt) a reverentiâ et verecundià abhorret, id a præsentià divinâ abesse debet. Clericus (recte, me judice) meretrices a castris Judaicis Ono (confer 10, 11) arceri vult. Munditiæ, pudoris, honestatis (12-14) præceptum datur, quòd omnia his virtutibus contraria animum parum Dei observantem indicare existimantur. Adde quòd cautum est, ne fætor se diffunderet, malum nequaquam sub cælo calido temnendum.
when he had falsely represented his wife to have been unchaste before their union.* — The Rights of Children were protected by peculiar regulations, having reference to the rivalship and preferences to which polygamy would unavoidably give rise. The oldest son could not be despoiled of his right of primogeniture (that of inheriting a double portion of the family estate), on account of his mother's not being the favorite wife; † and, in the charge of incorrigible profligacy made against a son, both parents must unite to make it valid, I else a weak father might be prevailed on by the mother of one part of his offspring, to do injustice to the rest.
The prohibition of Usury might, in one aspect, be arranged under the next class of rules, which I am to specify. But, in an important point of view, it demands a separate consideration. Commerce, to be carried on to any considerable extent, requires the use of credit. A community, whose citizens have little or no command of borrowed capital, can never engage in the transactions of trade, on any but the most limited scale. But, where the taking of interest for money lent is not allowed, no loans will be made except in the way of charity to the indigent (which none could be esteemed to be, who proposed to borrow money to invest in business); since, if I may have no rent for money, I shall, rather than lend it, prefer to purchase something with it, from which I may obtain a profit. The Law of Moses, accordingly, in prohibiting the taking of interest, struck a blow against any tendency of the people to engage in those pursuits of commerce, which, by leading them to
* Deut. xxii. 19.
# xxi. 15 - 17. This text makes it certain, that, where there were children by different mothers, there was reckoned in a family only one first-born; compare p. 317, note *.
| xxi. 18, 19,
too much intercourse with other nations, would have endangered the purity of their faith. I say, by prohibiting the taking of interest ; for the Law, by the word which our translators have rendered usury, intended not excessive interest, but all interest whatever. The object of depriving the Israelite of the use of borrowed money, except for the supply of his necessities, was attained by successive steps. The first direction, touching the subject, was introduced into the original legislation at Mount Sinai, to the effect, that, from a poor Israelite, interest on money lent might not be exacted.* A little later, apparently to create a greater familiarity with the approved practice, the rule was extended to loans made to strangers dwelling among the Israelites, and to loans of articles of food as well as money.t Hitherto the danger of the people's addicting themselves to commercial pursuits, was remote. But, when they were about to be established in the promised land, the rule for which preparation had been making, was at length announced in its whole breadth, that a Jew might take no interest from a countryman for the loan of money, or of merchantable commodities of any sort; from which, as I have said, it would follow as a certain consequence, that very little money would be lent for purposes of traffic. With credits given to foreigners, the Law declared itself to have no concern, it being no part of its province to limit their commercial operations. I
Besides what are properly called laws, we find in this discourse the most earnest and considerate inculcation of sentiments and offices of Justice, Humanity, Courtesy, and a Compassion extending to the inferior races. Not only was the Israelite taught to shun all
| Deut. xxiii. 19, 20.
Ex. xxii. 25. VOL. I.
† Lev. xxv. 35-38.
kept and cared for, till inquiry for it should be made. The very ox, who trod out the corn, (the ancient mode of threshing,) was not to be so muzzled as to be prevented from feeding on a part, to beguile and cheer his labor; * and even the mother bird, whose nest was discovered by a passer-by, was to be unmolested when he despoiled her of her young.t
A few directions occur in this discourse, not conveniently referable to any general head. A careful consideration for the security of life is inculcated, where houses are required to be furnished with parapets around the roof, which is used by the Orientals as a place of exercise, refreshment, and repose.I The wearing by one sex of the proper garments of the other is prohibited, as opening a door to immoralities, and probably also on account of its being a practice belonging to the licentious forms of idolatrous worship. For a
* Deut. xxv. 4.
† xxii. 6, 7. Besides its influence on the general culture of a compassionate spirit, it is likely that this rule was designed to serve economical uses.
That it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days” (7). From this text we obtain further light, respecting the promise made in several other places besides the fifth commandment. Different rules made part of one Law, designed and fitted to promote the citizen's virtue, and, through this and in other ways, the nation's prosperity. Obedience to it, and the spirit which would be manifested in every minute act of obedience, would tend to prolong the nation's life; for as the author of the Proverbs well lays down the principle (xxviii. 2), “ by a man of understanding and knowledge the state (firm footing of a nation] shall be prolonged.” It would be bold criticism, which should infer from the text before us, that Divine Providence would reward with longevity an exercise of moderation in robbing a bird's nest. On any other principle, again, how are we to interpret the words “for ever," added to the clause, as it occurs in Deut. iv. 40? We speak of the perpetuity of a nation, but hardly of that of an individual human life. — The general subject of the paragraph in the text, has been before us at pp. 292, 293.
| xxii. 8; compare Josh. ii. 6; 2 Sam. xi. 2.
§ Deut. xxii. 5. In Cyprus (Spencer, “De Legibus,” &c. lib. 2, cap. 17, § 1) there was a statue of Venus, to which men sacrificed in women's attire, and women in men's.