Thursday, September 10, 2015

Social Architecture (16) Justice Collapsed

The rise of kings destroyed the system of local judges that emerged in Moses time. By the time of David, the people of Judah were unable to get justice within their Tens and Hundreds. They had to go to Jerusalem and seek an audience with the king, who had usurped the local judges’ role. David was a military leader, God had not make him a judge.

His son Absalom gained popularity by courting people who had been unable to obtained justice from the King.

Whenever anyone came with a complaint to be placed before the king for a decision, Absalom would call out to him, "What town are you from?"…. Then Absalom would say to him, "Look, your claims are valid and proper, but there is no representative of the king to hear you." And Absalom would add, "If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that he gets justice" (2 Sam 15:2-4).
Absalom gained respect by offering justice to people who could not obtain it. When the administration of justice is centralised, justice disappears. David was a good man, but he could not provide justice for everyone. He simply did not have time to investigate and judge every case. David was trying to do what Moses did when he applied the Pharaohs method, before Jethro challenged him.

People had to travel to Jerusalem to get their case heard. This was costly because while they were waiting for their case to come up, they would have to pay for accommodation in an expensive city. They would also be neglecting their family and farm left at home. Only those with power, privilege and money could gain access to a king’s justice.

Permanent kingship requires heavy taxation, and taxation soon became a cause of injustice. A king would always side with his tax collectors, so a king cannot administer justice fairly. The justice provided by Tens and Hundreds had disappeared, by the time Israel had its second king.

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