In order to get a clearer idea of what Israel’s governmental structure was like, I want to draw a comparison to the modern day government of the United States of America.
For my international readers or those Americans (whether native-born or properly grafted in via our immigration process) who were never really interested in US politics (like myself), I believe a brief explanation of how American government works is in order.
The first thing you need to know is that in the United States, our system of government is basically broken down into the following three branches.
-The Executive Branch
-The Legislative Branch
-The Judicial Branch
Obviously, true to its name, the Executive Branch is where the President sits in his or her Oval Office.
One could reasonably argue that the position of President is the most powerful in the world at the moment.
The reason is simple.
The US military is the strongest force on the planet and only the Office of the President has the authority to direct this force.
Hence the title “Commander-in-Chief”.
Next, the Legislative Branch is where the Congress makes, defines and enacts the laws America’s citizens are to abide by.
Finally, the Judicial Branch is our court system.
This branch determines whether or not someone has broken one of the those laws that congress has enacted and also decides what the consequences should be for breaking a given law.
The judicial branch is also responsible for determining whether or not a law Congress has made is just.
In other words, they “test” to see whether a law is in accordance with the US constitution that was ratified on June 21st, 1788.
So how is ancient Israel’s governmental system different than America’s system?
The primary difference is that in the American system, governmental powers are divided up and though they do work together, the three branches I just explained are basically independent of each other.
If I was to pick one branch that most resembles the Biblical model as presented in the Torah, I would choose the Judicial Branch.
But even that is not quite accurate because what we were dealing with in ancient Israel was a true theocracy whereby God Himself was the Commander-in-Chief, the Law Maker, and the Judge.
This is going to sound ridiculously obvious but a theocracy will only work when God Himself is in charge.
When you have a theocracy that is not really being led by the one, true and only God of the universe but instead all power is monopolized by one group of imperfect human beings who set themselves up as representatives of God, what results is pure madness.
Indiscriminate torture, beheadings, rape and sexual abuse of its citizens are some of the horrific things that result.
So, in this sense, for what it is, I think the American system of government is good and has done the right thing by dividing up its power among the three different branches.
I think this system properly takes into account the fact that since we are all fallen human beings, it would be too dangerous for just one person or group to hold all the power.
Having said that, I think one look at the state of our world today is more than enough evidence to show that until Messiah returns to establish a true theocracy under Torah rule (which the Scripture says is going to happen), there will never be a perfect government.
Our human imperfections will always get the better of us resulting in social chaos at worst and inner dissatisfaction at best.
I leave you with the following prophecy from Zechariah:
“Then Adonai will be king
over the whole world.
On that day Adonai will be the only one,
and his name will be the only name.”