PREFACE TO THE CIVIL LAWS OF MOSES by Moses Lowman
The Civil Laws of Moses was published in 1740, some 47 years before the Constitution of the USA. The sections of the USA Constitution shows a remarkable resemblance to the Table of Contents of Lowman’s book and shows that our forefathers were Bible students, well aware of these principles. These principles of government were the topics of conversations between John Adams and John Quincy Adams (see their biographies and letters). In fact John Adams wrote a three-volume work, following the republics of the world back to the Hebrew Republic. It was John Adams who formulated the first Constitution of Massachusetts, which the Constitution of the United States of America closely resembles.
First of all, the government of the Hebrews was a Theocracy; Jehovah was not only their God, but also their King. The rulers, under God, could appeal to God on difficult questions by the Urim and Thummim through the High Priest, Num 27:21, Ex 28:30 (see Ch 11, The Oracle). In the time of Samuel all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, and said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations, 1 Sam 8:4,5. God in His providence brought this rebellion forth (1 Sam 8:7) to prepare for the Messiah, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, prophesied to David, (see 2 Sam 7:11-17), who shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth, when he returns the second time, see also Zech 9:10, Ps 2:8, acts 3:19-21. God, to this present time, has not ruled over any other nation in this same capacity, although He is the moral Governor over all nations. There was, also, a republican aspect, however, of the Theocracy.
Notice second of all, there was a Constitution of the nation of Israel. The basis of this Constitution was the law, judgments, statutes, etc. The core of this was the Ten Commandments. The true sense then of this solemn transaction, between God and the Hebrew nation, which may be called the original contract of the Hebrew Government, is to this purpose: if the Hebrews would voluntarily consent to receive Jehovah their Lord and King, to keep his covenant and laws, to honor and worship him as the one true God, in opposition to all idolatry. Then, though God as Sovereign of the world rules over all the nations of the earth, and all nations are under the general care of his providence, he would govern the Hebrew nation by peculiar laws of his particular appointment, and bless it with a more immediate and particular protection. He would secure to them the invaluable privileges of the true religion, together with liberty, peace, and prosperity, as a favored people above all other nations. It is for very wise reasons you may observe, that temporal blessings and evils are made so much use of in this Constitution, for these were the common and prevailing inticements to idolatry; but by thus taking them into the Hebrew Constitution, as rewards to obedience and punishments of disobedience, they became motives to true religion, instead of encouragements to idolatry, (Ch 1 The Chief Design of the Hebrew Government).
Thirdly, the Hebrew government was a federal union of twelve sovereign tribes; see Ch 7, The Union of the Tribes. Each Tribe had their own government with their own rulers. The States of the United States of America are patterned after the twelve tribes of Israel.
Fourth, There was an executive branch of the Hebrew nation. The first chief magistrate was Moses, then following him were the Judges, and then the Kings. Notice Chapter 10, Of the Judge. The authority then of the judge was very great. As a general in war, he had the chief command of the army: as the chief civil magistrate, he summoned the senate, and the congregation of the people, proposed the public affairs unto them, as a first senatorian magistrate; and acted in all things as viceroy, or stadtholder of Jehovah the king of Israel. He had that authority in war, as general, and in public affairs of state, presiding in their councils, and executing their resolutions, that the executive power of the government was principally lodged in his hands.
Fifth, the Congregation of all Israel is discussed in Chapter 8. This Congregation of all Israel is the pattern for the House of Representatives of the USA. In the third month…the LORD called unto Moses out of the mountain and directed him what he should say unto the children of Israel. And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words, which the LORD commanded him. And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do, Ex 19:1-8. Notice here that the elders of the people spoke for and represented all the people. Again in Josh 23:1,2 that when Joshua called for all Israel, he was calling for their representatives. Notice that the word and is in italics in verse two and is not in the original text. In Chapter 5 Lowman shows that each level of government, that is, each tribe, each city, etc. had the same form as the National Government. In other words there was in each level an executive branch, a congressional branch, made up of two houses, and a judicial branch.
Sixth, The Senate of all Israel is examined in Chapter 9. When the children of Israel left Egypt, they left as an organized host. There were already leaders of the people. In the second year after they left Egypt, the LORD told Moses to make two trumpets of silver…for the calling of the assembly…and when they shall blow with them, that is both trumpets, all the assembly, that is both houses of Israel’s government, shall assemble themselves to thee at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And if they blow but with one trumpet, then the princes, that is the Senate, which are heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee, Num 10:1-4. In Numbers 11 when the people murmured because they only had manna to eat, the LORD and Moses were angry and displeased. Moses became distraught and complained that he was not able to bear all this people alone, because it was too heavy for him,…And the LORD said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people…and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone. Even when two of the seventy did not appear with the others to be anointed, they were anointed by the LORD. The reason was that they were written, that is, they were already elected elders of Israel, Num 11:1-26.
Seventh, There was a Judicial branch of the government. When Moses could not settle all the grievances of the people, his father-in-law advised him to provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: and let them judge the people at all seasons, Ex 18:21,22. This was a graded judiciary, which was followed in the USA with the various levels of courts.
Eighth, Notice Chapter 13 summery of contents. “That the balance of the Hebrew Government was so well fixed, that no one part had power, by overbearing the rest, to overturn it; in particular, the Constitution had taken effectual care it could not be in the power of the Levites. Care and provision in the Hebrew Government to prevent factions, (notice James Madison’s discussion of factions in the Federalist Papers). Attempts of ambition and faction were made very difficult, almost impracticable by the Constitution.”
You can see that our forefathers knew the Bible well. If you were living in their day, could you have formulated the Constitution of the USA? Do you know your Bible as well as they did?