Friday, June 26, 2009

The Judicials

William Gouge, Commentary on Hebrews (Solid Ground Christian Books: Birmingham, AL, 2006 reprint of 1980 Kregel Publications edition, which is from the 1866 Nichols edition), Vol. 1, p. 505 (and London ed., 1655, p. 171):

Sec. 69. Of the judicial law of the Jews.

Besides the ceremonial law, the Jews had a judicial law, proper and peculiar to that polity. This law concerned especially their civil estate. Many branches of that law appertained to the Jewish priesthood; as, the particular laws about the cities of refuge, whither such as slew any unawares fled, and there abode till the death of the high priest, Num. xxxv.25. And laws about lepers, which the priest was to judge, Lev. xiv.3. And sundy other cases which the priest was to judge of, Deut. xvii.9. So also the laws of distinguishing tribes, Num. xxxvi.7; of reserving inheritances to special tribes and families, of selling them to the next of kin, Ruth iv.4; of raising seed to a brother that died without issue, Gen. xxxviii.8, 9; of all manner of freedoms at the year of jubilee, Lev. xxv.13, etc.

There were other branches of the judicial law which rested upon common equity, and were means of keeping the moral law: as putting to death idolaters and such as enticed others thereunto; and witches, and wilful murderers, and other notorious malefactors. So likewise laws against incest and incestuous marriages; laws of reverencing and obeying superiors and governors, and of dealing justly in borrowing, restoring, buying, selling, and all manner of contracts, Exod. xxii.20; Deut. xiii.9; Exod. xx.18; Num. xxxv.30; Lev. xx.11, etc., 32, 35.

The former sort were abolished together with the priesthood.

The latter sort remain as good directions to order even Christian politics accordingly.

1. By these kinds of laws the wisdom of God was manifested in observing what was fit for the particular kind and condition of people; and in giving them answerable laws, and yet not tying all nations and states thereunto.

2. That liberty which God affordeth to others to have laws most agreeable to their own country, so as they be not contrary to equity and piety, bindeth them more obediently to submit themselves to their own wholesome laws, and to keep peace, unity, and amity among themselves.

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