Rise Of Monarchy In Early Isrealite Times Essay

Rise Of Monarchy In Early Isrealite Times Essay

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The rise of the monarchy in Israel was a period of confusion and turmoil, but the readings of 1 Samuel gives some insight for the reasons of the establishment of the monarchy. The Israelites were in a time of political upheaval, corrupt judges, and relentless disbelief. The political and social status greatly affected Israel's decision to appoint a king. Because of their need for protection from outsiders and honest officials, the elders chose to organize a monarchy in hopes that Israel would reunite and survive the disorder. The elders of Israel chose Samuel to delegate a sovereign to govern over the people of Israel in anticipation that the new king would ease the political and social tension. In the readings, it is apparent that revisions have been made after the fact in order to explain the history of Israel. Although the kingship proved to be a challenging and controversial selection, Samuel chose an inexperienced, but wealthy Bejaminite named Saul to rule over the chosen people of Israel. Saul was appointed in order to deliver the Israelites from the military and political upheaval and constant warring with the Philistines as seen in 1 Samuel 4:10, "So the Philistines fought ;Israel was defeated, and they fled, everyone to his home. There was a very great slaughter, for there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers." Constant warring with the Philistines kept depleting their forces and their faith in the Lord causing many of them to stray to foreign gods. However, many Israelites looked to the kingship to deliver them from such chaos. Those who interpreted the establishment of the monarchy as a good idea expressed their opinion in 1 Samuel 10:1 when Samuel said to Saul, "The Lord has anointed you ruler over his people Israel. You shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their enemies all around." This positive view of a new ruler portrays the sovereign as a protector in the time of political turmoil and war. The kingship was formed to save the "chosen people" from outside influences, such as the Philistines. It is apparent that the ruler has the Lord's blessing and he will work and abide by the Lord in order to help the good of the people. The Israelites were also expected to abide by the Lord and his word, but most did not. In order to have the full love of the Lord and protection of the king, the Israelites had to give up all other gods and serve the Lord. Samuel says to the people, "If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Astartes from among you. Direct your heart to the Lord, and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines." Once Israel put away the "foreign gods" they received the blessing of the Lord. In texts 1 Samuel 12:13-14, it reads, "See. Here is the king whom you have chosen, for whom you have asked ;see, the Lord has set a king over you. If you will fear the Lord and serve him and heed his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God, it will be well". This quotation portrays the king as a leader, but also as a servant. He will be a servant of the Lord as long as the people of Israel remain servants of the Lord and the king as well. Although this is a conditional statement, the people realize the importance of the king to Lord relationship and people to Lord relationship. The king is merely doing the service of the one true king, the Lord. In contrast to the logic above, there are still those Israelites who interpreted the institution of the monarchy, such as Samuel's initial interpretation, as a bad proposal. The evidence for this opinion is clearly stated in 1 Samuel 8:11-18 when Samuel said, "These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you ;he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots ;he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest…and in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves ;but the Lord will not answer you in that day." This negative view of the monarchy describes the king as greedy and in some ways, forsaking Yahweh. Although this quotation is totally the antithesis of the points stated above, it is believed that the negative viewpoints on the kingship were a result of later interpretation by the Deuteronomistic Historian(DtrH) to help further explain the sad political story of Israel's monarchy. Other evidence of these interpretations can be found in 12:19 when the people of Israel say to Samuel, "Pray to the Lord your God for your servants, so that we may not die ;for we have added to all our sins the evil of demanding a king for ourselves." Other Israelites viewed the king as another "master" to rule over them and they felt as if they could not worship the Lord justly. In spite of the Israelites mixed emotions of the establishment of the monarchy, it is evident through the text of 1 Samuel that the kingships were enforced in hopes that it would protect the people from invaders and keep them from worshipping other gods due to the chaos of their political and social status at the time. Eventually, the kingship proved to be one of the Israelites greatest attributes with the eras of King David and King Solomon that directly followed the reign of King Saul.

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