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Change Of Interests: The Evolution Of The Israelite Leader Essay, Research Paper
Change of Interests: The Evolution of the Isrealite Leader
Ever since the Lord first made his covenant with Abraham, Israel has always
needed a leader. The Israelite society grows and changes and their interests as a group
shift to allow the society to progress. Throughout the Old Testament the Isrealites?
leaders reflect society in that they each represent what was needed in a leader at the time.
Moses becomes the first real leader of the Isrealites during the period when they
were forced to live in slavery in Egypt. Even before the Lord speaks to him of his plan to
bring the Isrealites out of Egypt, Moses has a tremendous amount of compassion for his
people who he sees strugling under the heavy chains of slavery. He shows his compassion
when he risks his own well-being to aid a fellow Isrealite: ?He saw an Egyptian beating a
Hebrew, one of his kinsfolk. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one he killed the
Egyptian and hid him in the sand?(Exodus 2.11-12). This display of courage is the type of
action that probably led the Lord to choose Moses to deliver Isreal. After God appears to
Moses in the burning bush, Moses doubts his own abilities to lead his people: ?Who am I
that I should bring the Isrealites out of Egypt??(Ex. 3.11). Moses isn?t sure that his
people will listen to him. But the Lord wants Moses for his leader, and he reminds him of
his omnipotence and assures Moses that he will work through him to deliver Isreal. ?Who
gives speech to mortals? Who makes them mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the
Lord? Now go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to speak?(Ex.
4.11-12). Moses recieves his wisdom and power from the Lord, which is a common
occurance throughout early Isrealite history. After Moses delivers his people from Egypt,
the Lord makes his covenant with Moses and the Isrealites which is basically an agreement
between the two parties that the Isrealites will follow the Lord?s laws in exchage for his
protection and the promise of the land of their ancestors in Cannan. After the Lord
renews his covenant with his chosen people, he still needs Moses to work as a type of
coordinator for the Isrealites in their new land. He has Moses take a census of all the
Isrealites and keep them organized in tribes according to their ancestry. The Lord also has
Moses lead the Isrealites in warfare: ?So Moses said to the people, ?Arm some of your
number for the war, so that they may go against Midian, to execute the Lord?s vengeance
on Midian?(Numbers 31.3). So Moses expands his role of leader of Isreal. At this point
in Hebrew history, the Isrealites needed someone to unite and inspire the people to rise up
from slavery and be delivered to their promised land. Moses? role as leader evolved as the
Isrealites situation changed. Moses went from a leader in the physical sense that he was
actually leading the group through the wilderness to a more political leader as a judge for
the Lord?s laws as well as a organizer for the propigation of the Isrealites throughout the
land of Canaan.
After the death of Moses, the Canaanites were still in need of a political leader to
lead them to their destiny. The Lord speaks to Joshua, the son of one of Moses?
assistants, about his plan for the Isrealites: ??My servant Moses is dead. Now proceed to
cross the Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving them, to the
Isrealites??(Joshua 1.2). After the Isrealites cross the Jordan there seemed to be an
acceleration of cultural changes and they began to form a distinct society and, thus,
needed a leader to bring order and peace through the times of change. The Isrealites
found their leader in Joshua. ?They answered Joshua: ?All that you have commanded us
we will do, and wherever you send us we will go?(Josh. 1.16). Again, the Lord uses his
power through a chosen servant to bring the Isrealites to his chosen land for them. The
Isrealites put their trust and faith in Joshua to lead them and keep Moses laws. ??Just as
we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with
you, as he was with Moses(Josh. 1.17)! Joshua, commanded by the Lord, was able to
lead the Isrealites to victory at the city of Jericho, as well as other military victories and
put his people in the position so they could settle the lands on the east bank of the Jordan
instead of their previous position. ??You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho
and its king; only its spoil and its livestock you may take as booty for yourselves??(Josh.
8.2). Now that the Isrealites had much more land to divide and settle, there was a shift in
their large-scale interests towards expanding their territory. As these changes occurred
they were reflected in the leadership of Joshua. As their society grew Joshua needed to
keep a strong army and coordinate the division of the the land and keep the laws of the
covenant. He set up cities of refuge and gave power to respected elders to judge the
disputes of the Isrealites. Although the period under Joshua?s rule was marked with
violence and seemed to be in conflict with the nature of Moses? laws, Joshua used wisdom
and guidance from the Lord to carry out his will for the Isrealites.
David?s rise to kingship over all Isreal marked the end of a long period of division
for the Isrealites. After being anointed king by Samuel, David went through many years of
rivalry with Saul and after finally defeating his forces, David rises to become king through
the favor of the Lord. ??The Lord said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my
people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel??(2 Samuel 5.2). Again the people of
Isreal need a leader to unite them and renew their faith in the Lord. So David gathered all
the elders of the tribes of Isreal ?…and King David made a covenant with thm at Hebron
before the Lord, and they annointed David king over Israel?(2 Sam. 5.3). The covenant
David makes with the Lord is similar to the covenant the Lord had with Abraham. Again
the Lord says he will deliver the Isrealites to their destiny, so they can live ?in their own
place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more?(2 Sam. 7.10).
And in exchange he will make a dynasty of David?s offspring. David?s rule over Israel
represented a reunification of a people long-divided. This was a centralization of the
government as well as the religion.
The entire Hebrew history is characterized by a cycle of rising and falling from the
favor of God. Since the time of Abraham, it seemed fit, even necessary to have a chosen
leader for the group. In general, it was the nature of the group to stray away from the
laws of the Lord. And it then became the responsiblity of the leader to unify the group
under God, and deliver the Isrealites to their promised land of Canaan. As in any other
society, the Isrealites went through periods of change and progress. They went from
being simple nomadic farmers, to slaves, to an agrarian society, to an enormous kingdom.
Through these changes, the leaders also had to change to meet the needs of the society
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