Rediscovering the Exodus 11

From my previous article, Part 10, it was evident that Moses made the conscious choice to intentionally not enter into the Promised Land. The true mystery is why he would do such a thing after walking through the wastelands of Sinai for an entire generation. Rather than consider this illogical, let's instead credit Moses with incredible insight as well as foresight gained from his years of being raised at the royal court of Egypt. From the previous article, it may have not been obvious to the Rabbinical and Karaite leaders of the past that Moses had some ulterior motive but other than mentioning it himself in Deuteronomy Chapter 1, no one else even knew that he was never intending to cross the Jordan, except perhaps Joshua, in whom he confided most things. What is a certainty is that he made the decision alone as outlined in the previous article, and it is very unlikely that the decision was the result of any self-imposed punishment for alleged offences to Yahweh. I strongly believe that Moses was well aware of the frailities of human nature and how we like to venerate our heroes and raise them to the status of demi-gods. We merely have to look at some of today's sports stars or film stars and see how we continue to do this. Or for that fact, in a religious vein, we merely have to look at Catholicism with its veneration of saints and the fact that its adherents not only wear graven images of the saints around their necks but pray to them as well for protection. Moses was also well aware from his time in the court of Egypt how the Pharaohs with their pyramids and tombs eventually became hallowed burial sites and a place of pilgrimage, sanctified above all other places where people would come and worship, not only the Lord Almighty but the man within the tomb as well. This practice was so common that it is given mention in the Torah and forbidden. And once again we only have to look at Christianity where every catacomb and tomb is attributed to someplace holy that they must venerate and pray within, seeking absolution. Even the Tomb of Mohammed in Medina, which Islam has declared as its second holiest site has become far more than just a dead man's final resting place. By seeking his final resting place alone, Moses ensured that this would not happen and he would not be attributed with any divine status that would threaten the faith in God that he strived to build.

The Rationale of Judges

Moses understood this and appreciated that his fledgling nation would self-destruct if one tribe felt superior to the other because it housed what would be his final resting place. He also knew that a hereditary line of leadership as was common in all royal families of the time would also sow the seeds of dissent and destruction, as other families perpetually challenged the right to rule. An even greater danger was that the people would follow blindly any hereditary ruler even if that leader led them down a path of evil and sin. It was not oversite on his part that neither of his two sons were permitted to rise to the level of sole leader and it becomes even more evident that he acted intentionally when we exaamine his grandson, Jonathan and his story that I descibed from Judges .Instead, Moses opted for a unique process that was revolutionary for his time. Leadership by men of quality, by those that possessed skils and abilities that exceeded other men; the Judges.First of these was Joshua and for two hundred years the system of judges ruled over the young nation and did it well.The only King would be Yahweh, the nation would be a democratic theocracy and judges were merely his servants that would come and go like comets leaving their trail across the sky. Raised to their position by the council of elders and the will of the people, they were essentially voted into office. When any of the judges attempted to establish reigning families it met with disaster as with the sons of Gideon as described in the Book of Judges.The twelve tribe confederacyestablished a democratic hegemony by which the nation could remain affiliated, but without the need for a king and all that the adoption of such a system would require to the disadvantage of the people.

The System Fails

In spite of what Moses attempted to achieve, the people could never be truly satisfied because they lacked the clarity with which he viewed the world. And as we are all aware, this failure on their part to understand and appreciate Moses great sacrifice for their sake resulted in their pressuring Samuel to anoint them a King.

וַיְהִי, כַּאֲשֶׁר זָקֵן שְׁמוּאֵל; וַיָּשֶׂם אֶת-בָּנָיו שֹׁפְטִים, לְיִשְׂרָאֵל.

1 And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel.

ב וַיְהִי שֶׁם-בְּנוֹ הַבְּכוֹר יוֹאֵל, וְשֵׁם מִשְׁנֵהוּ אֲבִיָּה--שֹׁפְטִים, בִּבְאֵר שָׁבַע.

2 Now the name of his first-born was Joel; and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beer-sheba.

ג וְלֹא-הָלְכוּ בָנָיו בִּדְרָכָו, וַיִּטּוּ אַחֲרֵי הַבָּצַע; וַיִּקְחוּ-שֹׁחַד--וַיַּטּוּ, מִשְׁפָּט. {פ}

3 And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted justice. {P}

Now we can truly appreciate the foresight that Moses had exhibited. He knew this would happen and that it would ultimately cause the ruination of the the nation of Israel. Most people are not aware that Samuel's role was as Judge, not High Priest. He was not a Kohen, he was not of the family of Aaron and therefore he and his children had no hereditary status but Samuel attempted to usurp that authority and this was the beginning of the punishments delivered upon our people, exactly as Moses had predicted.

ד וַיִּתְקַבְּצוּ, כֹּל זִקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; וַיָּבֹאוּ אֶל-שְׁמוּאֵל, הָרָמָתָה.

4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah.

ה וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֵלָיו, הִנֵּה אַתָּה זָקַנְתָּ, וּבָנֶיךָ, לֹא הָלְכוּ בִּדְרָכֶיךָ; עַתָּה, שִׂימָה-לָּנוּ מֶלֶךְ לְשָׁפְטֵנוּ--כְּכָל-הַגּוֹיִם.

5 And they said unto him: 'Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways; now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.'

ו וַיֵּרַע הַדָּבָר, בְּעֵינֵי שְׁמוּאֵל, כַּאֲשֶׁר אָמְרוּ, תְּנָה-לָּנוּ מֶלֶךְ לְשָׁפְטֵנוּ; וַיִּתְפַּלֵּל שְׁמוּאֵל, אֶל-יְהוָה. {פ}

6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said: 'Give us a king to judge us.' And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. {P}

ז וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה, אֶל-שְׁמוּאֵל, שְׁמַע בְּקוֹל הָעָם, לְכֹל אֲשֶׁר-יֹאמְרוּ אֵלֶיךָ: כִּי לֹא אֹתְךָ מָאָסוּ, כִּי-אֹתִי מָאֲסוּ מִמְּלֹךְ עֲלֵיהֶם.

7 And the LORD said unto Samuel: 'Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee; for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me, that I should not be king over them.

Because Samuel had attempted to remove the old system of Judges, with its semi-democratic election of leaders and replace it with his own self-imposed hereditary system, it really was in essence a rebuke of Samuel. But God made Samuel aware that because of what he had done, the ramifications were far greater than his own vainglorious attempt to raise his family above others, but instead resulted in the people no longer accepting Yahweh as their one and only King. So God is actually saying to him, look beyond your own pettiness and see that what he has done was not merely an affront to his own foolish pride but was truly an affront to God.

ח כְּכָל-הַמַּעֲשִׂים אֲשֶׁר-עָשׂוּ, מִיּוֹם הַעֲלֹתִי אוֹתָם מִמִּצְרַיִם וְעַד-הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה, וַיַּעַזְבֻנִי, וַיַּעַבְדוּ אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים--כֵּן הֵמָּה עֹשִׂים, גַּם-לָךְ.

8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, in that they have forsaken Me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.

ט וְעַתָּה, שְׁמַע בְּקוֹלָם: אַךְ, כִּי-הָעֵד תָּעִיד בָּהֶם, וְהִגַּדְתָּ לָהֶם, מִשְׁפַּט הַמֶּלֶךְ אֲשֶׁר יִמְלֹךְ עֲלֵיהֶם. {ס}

9 Now therefore hearken unto their voice; howbeit thou shalt earnestly forewarn them, and shalt declare unto them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.' {S}

י וַיֹּאמֶר שְׁמוּאֵל, אֵת כָּל-דִּבְרֵי יְהוָה, אֶל-הָעָם, הַשֹּׁאֲלִים מֵאִתּוֹ מֶלֶךְ. {ס}

10 And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king. {S}

יא וַיֹּאמֶר--זֶה יִהְיֶה מִשְׁפַּט הַמֶּלֶךְ, אֲשֶׁר יִמְלֹךְ עֲלֵיכֶם: אֶת-בְּנֵיכֶם יִקָּח, וְשָׂם לוֹ בְּמֶרְכַּבְתּוֹ וּבְפָרָשָׁיו, וְרָצוּ, לִפְנֵי מֶרְכַּבְתּוֹ.

11 And he said: 'This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: he will take your sons, and appoint them unto him, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and they shall run before his chariots.

יב וְלָשׂוּם לוֹ, שָׂרֵי אֲלָפִים וְשָׂרֵי חֲמִשִּׁים; וְלַחֲרֹשׁ חֲרִישׁוֹ וְלִקְצֹר קְצִירוֹ, וְלַעֲשׂוֹת כְּלֵי-מִלְחַמְתּוֹ וּכְלֵי רִכְבּוֹ.

12 And he will appoint them unto him for captains of thousands, and captains of fifties; and to plow his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and the instruments of his chariots.

יג וְאֶת-בְּנוֹתֵיכֶם, יִקָּח, לְרַקָּחוֹת וּלְטַבָּחוֹת, וּלְאֹפוֹת.

13 And he will take your daughters to be perfumers, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.

יד וְאֶת-שְׂדוֹתֵיכֶם וְאֶת-כַּרְמֵיכֶם וְזֵיתֵיכֶם, הַטּוֹבִים--יִקָּח; וְנָתַן, לַעֲבָדָיו.

14 And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.

טו וְזַרְעֵיכֶם וְכַרְמֵיכֶם, יַעְשֹׂר; וְנָתַן לְסָרִיסָיו, וְלַעֲבָדָיו.

15 And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.

טז וְאֶת-עַבְדֵיכֶם וְאֶת-שִׁפְחוֹתֵיכֶם וְאֶת-בַּחוּרֵיכֶם הַטּוֹבִים, וְאֶת-חֲמוֹרֵיכֶם--יִקָּח; וְעָשָׂה, לִמְלַאכְתּוֹ.

16 And he will take your men-servants, and your maid-servants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.

יז צֹאנְכֶם, יַעְשֹׂר; וְאַתֶּם, תִּהְיוּ-לוֹ לַעֲבָדִים.

17 He will take the tenth of your flocks; and ye shall be his servants.

יח וּזְעַקְתֶּם, בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא, מִלִּפְנֵי מַלְכְּכֶם, אֲשֶׁר בְּחַרְתֶּם לָכֶם; וְלֹא-יַעֲנֶה יְהוָה אֶתְכֶם, בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא.

18 And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king whom ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not answer you in that day.'

So it is now clear exactly why Moses refused to establish a hereditary system of leadership over the people. Why he insisted that it remain as a twelve tribe confederacy where the tribal princes gathered and came to mutual decisions while a Judge acted as a uniting force in time of national crisis or war. And as Samuel repeated the words that God had put into his mouth, we can see all that was said came to pass. The pettiness, greed, abberations, and malicious intents of those that came to rule over Israel were its undoing. In the end, we had condemned ourselves because we chose to ignore what Moses had tried to make us understand at the beginning.

יט וַיְמָאֲנוּ הָעָם, לִשְׁמֹעַ בְּקוֹל שְׁמוּאֵל; וַיֹּאמְרוּ לֹּא, כִּי אִם-מֶלֶךְ יִהְיֶה עָלֵינוּ.

19 But the people refused to hearken unto the voice of Samuel; and they said: 'Nay; but there shall be a king over us;

כ וְהָיִינוּ גַם-אֲנַחְנוּ, כְּכָל-הַגּוֹיִם; וּשְׁפָטָנוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ וְיָצָא לְפָנֵינוּ, וְנִלְחַם אֶת-מִלְחֲמֹתֵנוּ.

20 that we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.'

In Conclusion

In this respect, then it must be recognized that the concept of a King-messiah was never part of the original structure or plan for our nation. Any messiah was to be more in the mold of a judge or temporary leader that would provide us with courage and strength in a time of crisis. The concept of a prince from David was a much later Pharaisic and Rabbanite ideology, whereas the Karaite beliefs of both a priest and royal messiah working in tandem (the priestly messiah being the dominant of the pair) and which as mentioned in my earlier artical of the Twin Messiahs was very different from the both the Rabbinic and Christian concepts was adhering more to the precepts of Judaism as conceived by Moses.

The impact of our failure to adhere to the "no King but God" unwritten commandment was immeasurable as we look back on the history of the Jewish people. The destruction and repeated annihilation of our country, our homes, our people was a direct result of our failure to understand. Yet it was not necessarily our fault that we failed to receive the message as those that vied for power often concealed Moses' true intent. More of this and events which followed I will discuss in the next article.

Avrom Aryeh-Zuk Kahana

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