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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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