Land Reform, Communism And Israel
Adam Kirsch of Tablet Ezine reviews a new book that he says ‘examines the debt 17th century republicanism owed to Jewish sources. The book has the improbable title: The Hebrew Republic by Eric Nelson. Both Mr. Nelson and Adam Kirsch would seem to have difficulty distinguishing a religious theocracy from a secular republic. At no time in the history of Judaism has the governing concept been other than theocratic.
Our two authors seem to believe that the notion of republicanism sprang full born from the minds of Puritans who had been reading the Bible for the first time. The authors seem to be unaware of King John and the Magna Carta of the thirteenth century and the evolutionary steps that led up to the seventeenth century and the beheading of King Charles. Nothing all that sudden about it nor from my own reading of the Bible connected except in the most tenuous way with Hebraic theology.
Nelson bases his argument according to Kirsch on the prophet Samuel’s relaying the Hebrew request for a king to God who then says: ‘They have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.’ This would indicate a transition from a pure theocratic state to a human kingship. No room for republics at all. Nor was the puritan government in Massachusetts, derived from the Bible, a republic. It was a theocracy as was Israel.
Completely disregarding the fact that communism was current in the oldest human gatherings we are led to believe that the very impractical Jewish concept of the Jubilee year was the first instance in history upon which all such future distributions were based hence Jews are claimed to be the initiators of communism.
Quoting a supposed ‘republic’ theorist, James Harrington of the seventeenth century the author Nelson refutes his own arguments when he quotes Harrington as referring to ancient Israel as a ‘commonwealth’ which is quite a different thing than a republic. It would seem that Harrington was more of a communist than a republican.
In fact, then, this Jewish concept of ‘communism’ has always been stoutly resisted by the West. The West prefers a secular republic to a theocratic commonwealth.
Very likely the early human settlements were ‘commonwealths.’ So, while one has to admire the astonishingly remarkable government of today’s Isreal it seems to resemble ancient Israel of Samuel and the kings rather than any republic from the seventeenth century on. Perhaps the Jews invented the republic but never used it because they were too busy with other forms of government.
But, then, perhaps it’s all in the way you look at it.