I’ve written before about Israel under the Judges, and how the lack of a king helped keep them out of idolatry. Paganism and idolatry go hand in hand with large centralized governments. Idolatry is rejection of God as law giver, opting for an arbitrary, manipulable god and its law (their own law) instead.
Today in Sunday School we were looking at Isaiah 49:1-9. The discussion (I try to hold it back, but I just can’t) swayed to the discussion of idols. I mentioned that Israel after the exile, once they returned from Babylon, never returned to idolatry. It had not occurred to me that they also never returned to having a king! This is significant. It further demonstrates the direct link between idolatry and kings, and further, to centralized government.
The Jews in Palestine lived under priests and scribes. There was a king of sorts, Herod. But otherwise the Jews were left free to practice their own law at the COMMON level while the Greeks and Romans or whoever fought over empires.
When Jesus came the Jews were hoping for a new empire of their own. They sought a Messiah who would restore them to a position of privilege. But Jesus refused to employ human manipulation in achieving His ends. Instead He came as a servant, as Isaiah predicts. Jesus did not come to be an arbitrary law-maker. He came as the physical embodiment of that Word which is the Law, which is the Truth, the Way and the Life.
I am most curious about the period between the testaments. What political systems emerged? What legal structures were adopted? What was the economy like? How much internal strife was there?
Anyone know a good place to start?
Josephus is my first guess.