Part 3 No Kings
“In those days [there was] no king in Israel, [but] every man did [that which was] right in his own eyes.” Judges 17:6
Moses managed a society of about three million people by establishing captains of ten families. Who were these captains, how were they chosen and what authority did they have?
The captains were chosen by the people. They were not appointed from the top down until men sinned against God. They had no power to rule, but were respected leaders by consensus. They did not make laws nor exercise authority, but stood in service of the people and the Law of God. The people were sovereign over themselves under God, not the people sovereign over their neighbor. Individually, they were the fountainheads of justice.
There are at least two responsibilities or duties of government. The first is the duty of protecting against actual theft, injury, or invasion. The second responsibility of government is the common welfare of the people, benevolent relief from famine, failure, or fiasco.
There often arises needs of the family and community where families must work together for the common good. There also is the case where the family breaks down and widows and orphans fall upon the charity of the community for assistance.
In Israel, these powers, rights, and responsibility rested in the hands of the individual freeman. It was the individual freeman who was required to see to the common defense against crime, whether domestic or foreign. It was the individual freeman who was responsible for the funding of the common welfare and daily ministration.
The people chose the public servant to handle these duties of government. They chose the captains from amongst the princes of Israel, who were the heads of each family group, and they chose the priests from amongst the Levites as a people, those of whom came out to service first and who had no other inheritance in the land.
This system was not perfect because the people were not perfect, but it was designed to strengthen the people and the family under the authority of God the Father, not the gods of men. There were fundamentals of the law of God that were common in all men for society to function. Justice was the responsibility of every man and, therefore, remained his right.
“And if ye offer a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD, ye shall offer it at your own will.” Leviticus 19:5
One basic rule of that system of governance was that your offerings or contributions to the government of Israel were freewill offerings.
Leviticus 19:11 “Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another.”
No one could force the people to contribute. There was a basic rule against stealing.
“Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob [him]: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.” Leviticus 19:13
Again, we see basic guidelines about fraud, theft, and extortion. But here is one of the most basic of all laws in both the Old and New Testaments:
“Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I [am] the LORD.” Leviticus 19:18
Jesus emphasized this very concept of the law in Mark 12:31. You not only are responsible for defending your own rights, family, and property, but you are also responsible for defending your neighbor's rights as much as your own. Everyone in the kingdom is made acutely aware of this fact. It took years to develop the skill to do this as a whole nation, but it made Israel stronger and more successful than almost everyone else.
How did Israel manage the daily ministration, which included the common welfare of the people? Not only widows and orphans but plagues, floods, storms, and earthquakes could all raise havoc with the community. How did the whole nation protect itself from such calamity through their godly government without the loss of rights?
“And some of the things that should not have been forgotten, were lost.”1
Judea at the time of Christ was clearly in apostasy. What was ancient Israel like in the beginning? If the Jews in the days of Herod could not see the error of their ways, then the difficulty is compounded by an additional 2000 years of obscure history through which we must gaze. To see a more modern example, we can jump to an era some 500 years after the kingdom of God was preached in Europe by the faithful ministers of God.
In the first millennium after the Apostles preached the Kingdom of Heaven the Anglo-Saxon form of government had something called a Tithingman, who oversaw ten families composed of freemen, a Hundredman (or gerefa - in Saxon language, it became reeve) who oversaw ten Tithingmen, and an Eoldorman who was overseer to a thousand families and known as a Shire. A tithing, in English Law, was formerly a district containing ten men with their families. The key to their success was the intimate consensus of each group.
The Tithingmen were often the center in resolving disputes. These were positions of trust that sometimes included donations of limited property to carry out the function and duties of his office. The same was true of Hundredmen and Eoldormen.
Ten Tithingmen, a Hundredsman, and a clerk of the kingdom, a clergyman, often met on the full moon at the time of the filling of the butts. The filling of the butts referred to target practice with their bows and arrows. The full moon, marking the time of the meeting, aided all in returning home when the meetings ran late. This intimate group of twelve was the foundation of the national government.
Most of the ministration of justice was through these men by the mutual consent and aid of the people. The prime responsibility for bringing offenders to justice still remained with the victim and their family, but, through these men and the customary law, an organized structure to assist the Hue and Cry of the people was established. In the case of more national calamities or needs, this network could immediately muster a well-regulated army of thousands. They were the minutemen of the national militia.
The right to bear arms was a responsibility as was the ministration of justice. A twelve-man jury was also the law of custom and, again, chosen with consent of the parties in dispute through the process of Voir Dire2. The Tithing bound by virtue with love and charity could settle most dispute with reason and brotherhood without ever going to trial.
These ancient systems of law and justice were well understood for generations. If attended to by decent men, they formed a wall of protection for individual liberty and national security. By their nature, they cultivated the virtues of sacrifice and courage, so necessary in maintaining a free society. To retain rights in such a free association, it was essential that individuals exercise a responsibility and concern for their neighbor’s rights equal to their own.
There were as many people living in Europe in 176 AD as there were in 1776. The difference was that the former mostly lived on their own land as freeman with the latter living as subjects and serfs. There is an ancient story of some uncivilized barbarians of Germany who stood together when faced with the invasion of three Roman legions3.
The Germans or Teutons had migrated from the far north with their own customs and culture. They were a practical liberty-loving people who believed that the actions and deeds of a man spoke more of his character than preached philosophies and sermonized dogmas. Their ancestral roots and customs, along with their personal family honor, sealed in their hearts the virtuous ideal that “freedom is better than slavery.”4
They gathered together in groups called kindreds.5 Kinship was at the core of their society and these small groups gathered together in larger groups forming a Hundertschaften.6 The leaders of these groups became the tribal counsel. These men were not rulers but leaders. As leaders, they were titular and held no power over the families, as “it was the family that wielded the most power. While families were the principle enforcers of the law...”7 The leaders could be called on in managing the settling of disputes or coordinating large activities,8 but could not make law nor tax the people. The families remained sacred units which were never to be violated. These Germanic tribes had fought many battles, but had never faced such an organized army as the Romans.
When Publius Quinctilius Varus marched into Germany to keep the peace and tax the Teutons, the people needed someone to lead the whole populace if they were to be free of the imposed excise of Rome. They chose Hermann the Cheruscan as their commander-in-chief against the occupational peace keepers. In the Teutoburg Forest, he lead the people against all three legions and destroyed the invading usurpers to the last man.
The Romans knew him as Arminius the Traitor and Rebel, but the people of Germania knew him as Hermannsdenkmal, or Hermann the Hero. In fact, Hermann was a little of both. He was an officer for the Romans and was in their employ when he began to prepare for their overthrow. The Romans had come because some of the Teutons were raiding their neighbors across the Rhine in Gaul. Gaul had fallen under Roman “protection” during the exploits of Julius Caesar, who came to Gaul for much the same reason. Although most of the Teutons did not raid their neighbors, they benefited from the spoils spent and traded back home by the marauders and turned a blind eye to the robbery. Such sloth on the part of a free citizenry inevitably brings tribute and tyranny.
The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute. Pr 12:24
Due to their own civil war and the high cost of oppression in other lands, they were forced to raise taxes in Germania. This disregard for the rights of neighbors and the desire for power and continued control led Herman, with the aid of his strongest supporters and using methods he had learned from the Romans, to compel the people to remain under his capable leadership and authority. He virtually sought to crown himself over the people. Though the people were grateful for his service, his own family judged him a dictator and executed him as a traitor and a tyrant.
The people of Germania are difficult for historians to understand from a modern or Roman point of view. As freemen they opposed all forms of tyranny, whether foreign or domestic. There opposition to any kind of central ruler was so absolute that, when the Romans came back to reap revenge, Tacitus reported that, "Germanicus, who had torn off his helmet so as to be recognized, ordered his men to kill and kill. No prisoners were wanted. Only the total destruction of the tribe would end the war."
Who were these people who valued freedom and family, strength and courage, kinship and honor and the essential realities of a vigorous life?9 There was a custom of severe penalties for adultery, cities were despised, usury unheard of, and a passion for justice and liberty. They knew that freedom did not come without constant vigil and actions in time of war and peace.
Their customs of sumbels and blóts10 were not originally designed to appease imaginary pagan gods with superstitious sacrifices. Through their chosen ministers or priests, these blots were a practical method of charity, intended to bind neighbors and communities in a fellowship of love. When they began to lose sight of the need to protect their neighbors and their neighbors’ rights, both those near and far, their days of liberty were numbered as the world shrank about them.
The word "German" is of uncertain origins. Some say it means "one who shouts as a warrior" or perhaps "neighbors who shout."11 If they, as a people, had more fully remembered the wisdom and practice of the prophets and loved their neighbors freedom as much as they loved their own, their fate would have been much different.
Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I [am] the LORD. Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 5:43
In 600 AD, a wealthy landowner in central Europe began to exercise authority by oppressing some of his neighbors. The news got around quickly and, soon, a host of men marched toward this tyrant’s castle. More volunteers joined their ranks until an army approached the fortified dwellings of the potential despot. He sent an ambassador to make peace with their king, hoping to bribe him with a sufficient sum.
After some time, the emissary returned totally confounded with no agreement. When the ruler nervously inquired as to the reason he could not obtain a treaty, the frustrated ambassador replied that he could not make a bargain because, “They say they are all kings.”
This was the right hand of government that stood for justice in the face of criminal or tyrant, but was bound together in times of peace by the daily practice of charity. This was the result of the Testaments. There is no King in the Kingdom of God, for each man is possessed of God-given rights and responsibilities. Wise men knew they could not shirk obligation or covet their neighbors' goods without bringing their rights into jeopardy. The building block of this heavenly kingdom was the autonomous family, which was independent and sovereign within each home, but bound by love and charity with faith and hope.
And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout [all] the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. Leviticus 25:10
1Galadriel, Lord of the Rings.
2Voir dire. “to say the truth”. Was a process of questioning by which men were rejected or accepted as jurors by two parties. of a disputes The choosing of a jury to judge fact and law in the settlement of that dispute.
3The 17th, 18th, and 19th legions. Their numbers were never used again after this defeat.
4One of the Nine Virtues of Asatru. Asatru has a number of translations including “The Faithful”
5Kindred were compose of two to ten family groups that were often related by blood or marriage. Kindred, hearths, godhords, garths, harrows, hofs or fellowships are all names attributed over centuries to small groups of families that were the building blocks of larger gatherings of people as tribes and nations.
6German word for hundred, comparable to the early Hundreds courts of the Anglo-Saxons and Israelites.
7Good, Evil and Wholeness: Enclosures and The World by Swain Wodening Canote.
8The men chosen to represent the Kindred could elect a leader to coordinate a militia of able bodied men against invaders or catching thieves and marauders. Those leaders also chose the leaders of the tribes or they could form a court or tribunal when called upon to settle disputes.
9The nine virtues of Asatru, part of the faith of the Teutons and Saxon peoples.
10Sembles were gatherings where men set aside their differences and extolled the good qualities in each man of the community. Blot was sacrifices to the needs of the community to share the good fortunes of neighbors with those that have had losses or hard times. It was a voluntary community social security system that brought people closer together. Modern Blots and sembles are often little more than social clubs in reaction to Modern Christianity.
11The Schakes of La Charette