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David’s Numbering Of The People–The Politics Of The Situation
by [?]

Secondly, the other inference from the phenomenon of no military pay, and therefore no separate fighting profession, is this–that foreign war, war of aggression, war for booty, war for martial glory, is quite unknown. Now, all rules of political economy, applied to the maintenance of armies, must of course contemplate a regular trade of war pursued with those objects, and not a domestic war for beating off an attack upon hearths and altars. Such a war only, be it observed, could be lawfully entertained by the Jewish people. Mahomet, when he stole all his great ideas from the Mosaic and Christian revelations, found it inevitable to add one principle unknown to either: this was a religious motive for perpetual war of aggression, and such a principle he discovered in the imaginary duty of summary proselytism. No instruction was required. It was sufficient for the convert that, with or without sincerity, under terror of a sword at his throat, he spoke the words aloud which disowned all other faith than in Allah and Mahomet his prophet. It was sufficient for the soldier that he heard of a nation denying or ignoring Mahomet, to justify any atrocity of invasive warfare. But the Jews had no such commission–a proselyte needed more evidences of assent than simply to bawl out a short formula of words, and he who refused to become a proselyte was no object of persecution. Some nations have forced their languages upon others as badges of servitude. But the Romans were so far from treating their language in this way, that they compelled barbarous nations on their frontier to pay for a license to use the Latin tongue. And with much more reason did the Jews, instead of wishing to obtrude their sublime religion upon foreigners, expect that all who valued it should manifest their value by coming to Jerusalem, by seeking instruction from the doctors of the law, and by worshipping in the outer court of the Temple.

Such was the prodigious state of separation from a Mahometan principle of fanatical proselytism in which the Jews were placed from the very first. One small district only was to be cleared of its ancient idolatrous, and probably desperately demoralized, tribes. Even this purification it was not intended should be instant; and upon the following reason, partly unveiled by God and partly left to an integration, viz., that in the case of so sudden a desolation the wild beasts and noxious serpents would have encroached too much on the human population. So much is expressed, and probably the sequel foreseen was, that the Jews would have lapsed into a wild hunting race, and have outworn that ceremonial propensity which fitted them for a civil life, which formed them into a hive in which the great work of God in Shiloh, His probationary Temple or His glorious Temple and service at Jerusalem, operated as the mysterious instinct of a queen bee, to compress and organize the whole society into a cohesion like this of life. Here, perhaps, lay the reason for not allowing of any sudden summary extirpation, even for the idolatrous tribes; whilst, upon a second principle, it was never meant that this extirpation should be complete. Snares and temptations were not to be too thickly sown–in that case the restless Jew would be too severely tried; but neither were they to be utterly withdrawn–in that case his faith would undergo no probation. Even upon this small domestic scale, therefore, it appears that aggressive warfare was limited both for interest and for time. First, it was not to be too complete; second, even for this incompleteness it was not to be concentrated within a short time. It was both to be narrow and to be gradual. By very necessity, therefore, of its original appointment this part of the national economy, this small system of aggressive warfare, could not provide a reason for a military profession. But all other wars of aggression, wars operating upon foreign objects, had no allowance, no motive, no colourable plea; for the attacks upon Edom, Midian, Moab, were mere acts of retaliation, and, strictly speaking, not aggressive at all, but parts of defensive warfare. Consequently there remained no permanent case of war under Divine allowance that could ever justify the establishment of a military caste; for the civil wars of the Jews either grew out of some one intolerable crime taken up, adopted, and wickedly defended by a whole tribe (as in the case of that horrible atrocity committed by a few Benjamites, and then adopted by the whole tribe), in which case a bloody exterminating war under God’s sanction succeeded and rapidly drew to a close, or else grew out of the ruinous schism between the ten tribes and the two seated in or about Jerusalem. And as this schism had no countenance from God, still less could the wars which followed it. So that what belligerent state remains that could have been contemplated or provided for in the original Mosaic theory of their constitution? Clearly none at all, except the one sole case of a foreign invasion. But as this, if in any national strength, struck at the very existence of the people, and at their holy citadel in Shiloh or in Jerusalem, it called out the whole military strength to the last man of the Hebrew people. Consequently in any case, when the armies could tend at all to great numerical amount, they must tend to an excessive amount. And, so far from being a difficult problem to solve in the 120,000 men, the true difficulty would lie the other way, to account for its being so much reduced.