Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions

By Roland De Vaux ; John McHugh | Go to book overview

CHAPTER EIGHT
THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE KINGDOM

I. The kingdom of David

WE know nothing about the administration of the kingdom under David apart from the fact already noted,1 that Israel and Judah remained distinct entities. It is true that 1 Ch 26: 29-32 names some Levites engaged in secular affairs under David, as civil servants or judges, and attributes to this king the establishment of a police force, also composed of Levites, who supervised all the affairs of Yahweh and the king on both sides of the Jordan; but what these statements mean, or from what period they date, cannot be decided.

It is also true that I Ch 27: 16-22 names the chiefs who commanded the tribes under David, but this list is obviously artificial. It follows the order of the sons of Jacob as given in 1 Ch 2: 1-2, it retains Simeon and Levi (not to mention Reuben) which under David were no longer autonomous tribes; it then divides Joseph into three ( Ephraim and the two halves of Manasseh) and omits the last two names on the list, Gad and Aser, so as not to exceed the number of twelve. It is still probable, however, that in the strictly Israelite territory David retained the tribal organization as he found it established, and as we find it described, with only slight variations, in Gn 49 and Dt 33. Beyond these frontiers the subject lands were laid under tribute and administered by governors ( 2 S 8: 6, 14), or else left under their vassal kings ( 2 S 8: 2; 10: 19).


2. The administration under Solomon

In contrast to this, a most important document has survived from the reign of Solomon. It is a list of twelve prefects, nissabîm, with the description of the lands they governed ( 1 K 4: 7-19). Five of them are named only by their patronymic, 'son of X', and it has been suggested that the redactor had before him an old document from the archives, the edge of which was damaged: this would account for the absence of certain personal names. On the other hand, the administrative lists of Ugarit show that this designation by patronymic alone was the rule for certain families, which served the king from father to son. The twelve prefectures are given in the following order:

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1
Cf. pp. 95-96.

-133-

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