But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, “No! but we are determined to have a king over us, so that we may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 1 Samuel 8:19-20

*   *   *

Delivered to their Promised Land, where they were free to develop a revolutionary way of governing themselves, the Jewish people soon looked instead to the forms of civilization they saw elsewhere. (How curious, by the way, that they seem willing to have a king “fight our battles,” as if they wouldn’t have to bear the burden of warfare.)

The prophet Samuel, however, emerges as a new kind of political figure: the dissident. At first, he is a vocal critic of the movement to establish a monarchy, but once he loses that campaign, he becomes instrumental in creating a unique form of monarchy: unlike other nations, where the ruler (pharaoh, emperor, king) could be declared a divinity and even worshiped, the kings of Israel would remain accountable to the laws of YHWH. And Samuel, soon joined by Nathan, in the role of prophet would find himself engaged in major political intrigue, rather than purely religious matters.

*   *   *

And hence have they mocked at and derided that godly Fear and holy Trembling, that hath been made to appear in some, when the Terrors of the Almighty took hold of them by reason of Sin, as though this were occasioned through some Frenzy Humour, being the Product of natural Weakness and Defect, or else produced by the invincible Force of Magick Art, which the Creature can no Ways resist. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s