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This Blog is named after an ancient gnoseological riddle which hints hidden, disseminated, omnipresent wisdom.
I invite you to search, listen and observe with me for "the word of tree, whisper of stone, and humming together of the abyss and stars."


In Defense of Theocracy

Kingdom of God - Kingdom of Social Justice
Ancient roots of protecting the most vulnerable.

       Our contemporary society more and more resembles the form of government which could be called oligarchy or even plutocracy. (Oligarchy stands for rule of tiny minority over majority of society. Plutocracy is a rule of the powerful and wealthy.) A small group of wealthy and powerful people is designing (rigging) rules and laws so that these rules would fit their own narrow and short-sighted interests. At this time, when we are experiencing a substantial crisis of democracy (rule of people), it might be interesting to look into older models and structuring of society.
       Historically our civilization originated in monarchy. But it is worthy of mention that the excesses of monarchy were controlled and moderated by powerful religious and theological mechanisms which kept monarchy in check. In ancient times these mechanisms were traditionally verbalized (expressed) as protection of widows and orphans.

In the epilogue of the Code of Hammurabi (circa 1770 B.C.E.) we read:
   I made an end of war;
   I promoted the welfare of the land;
   I made the peoples rest in friendly habitations;
   I did not let them have anyone to terrorize them.
   The great gods called me,
   so I became the beneficent shepherd whose scepter is righteous;
   my benign shadow is spread over the city.
   In my bosom I carried the peoples of the land of Sumer and Akkad;
   they prospered under my protection;
   I always governed them in peace;
   I sheltered them in my wisdom.
   In order that the strong might not oppress the weak,
   that justice might be dealt the orphan and the widow,
   in Babylon, the city whose head Anum and Enlil raised aloft,
   in Esaglia, the temple whose foundations stand firm like heaven and earth,
   I wrote my precious words on my stela,
   and in the presence of the statue of me, the king of justice,
   I set it up in order to administer the law of the land,
   to prescribe the ordinances of the land,
   to give justice to the oppressed.
                                           (column xxiv lines 31-75)

In the Ugaritic texts (written roughly at 1200 B.C.E.) a legendary hero Danel (Daniel) is depicted as an ruler of his city state and thus he is also an administrator of justice:
   Then Danel the ruler of Rapha,
   at once the hero, the man of Hrnmy,
   arose and sat in the entrance of the gate,
   beneath the mighty (trees) by the threshing-floor.
   He tried the case of the widow,
   he judged the cause of the orphan.
                                             (KTU 1.17.v.5-8)

And in another text we can observe that failure to administer justice and protect the most vulnerable is considered as the most persuasive reason for the dethronement of an ineffective king:
   Crown prince Yasib looked for courage,
   and he prayed.
   He came to his father,
   he lifted his voice and cried:
       Listen, I besiege you, O Kirtu, the noble,
       listen, and let your ear be alert!
   Can you command your armies?
   Are you really a commander in chief?
   You certainly don't behave like it!
       You have not tried the case of the widow,
       you have not judged the cause of the powerless!
       You have not stopped the plundering of the poor.
       You did not feed the orphans in your presence,
       you didn't pay attention to the widows around you.
   And for all of this you are sick and weak,
   and your dominion is undermined!
       Step down from your kingship - I shall be king!
       From your dominion - I shall be enthroned, I!

                                (KTU 1.16.vi.26-38 parallel 1.16.vi.41-54)

The Biblical tradition which is even closer to our Euro-American civilization continues in the same tradition. The protection of the weak and dispossessed is clearly at the center of the Judeo-Christian tradition and is backed by powerful theological arguments and warnings.
Here is an example from the book of Exodus:
   You must not mistreat or oppress foreigners in any way.
   Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt!
   You must not exploit a widow or an orphan.
   If you exploit them in any way and they cry out to me,
   then I will certainly hear their cry.
   My anger will blaze against you,
   and I will kill you with the sword.
   Then your wives will be widows and your children fatherless.
   (Exo 22:21-24)

And here another example from Deuteronomy:
   True justice must be given to foreigners living among you and to orphans,
   and you must never accept a widow's garment as security for her debt.

   Always remember that you were slaves in Egypt
   and that the LORD your God redeemed you from your slavery.
   That is why I have given you this command.
   When you are harvesting your crops
   and forget to bring in a bundle of grain from your field,
   don't go back to get it.
   Leave it for the foreigners, orphans, and widows.
   Then the LORD your God will bless you in all you do.
   When you beat the olives from your olive trees,
   don't go over the boughs twice.
   Leave the remaining olives for the foreigners, orphans, and widows.
   When you gather the grapes in your vineyard,
   don't glean the vines after they are picked.
   Leave the remaining grapes for the foreigners, orphans, and widows.
   Remember that you were slaves in the land of Egypt.
   That is why I am giving you this command.

                                       (Deut 24:17-22)

Prophets are constantly calling their society, and especially their rulers to keep these ancient principles. Here are just few examples:
   This is what the LORD says:
   Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right!
   Help those who have been robbed;
   rescue them from their oppressors. 
   Quit your evil deeds!
   Do not mistreat foreigners, orphans, and widows.

   Stop murdering the innocent! (Jeremiah 22:3)

   At that time I will put you on trial.
   I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars.
   I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages,
   who oppress widows and orphans,
   or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice,
   for these people do not fear me,
   says the LORD of Heavenly Armies.
  (Malachi 3:5)

       When Jesus and the Early Church called for the Kingdom of God, their primary interest was not in Kingdom (monarchy). Their main demands were for theocracy, a divine rule which would protect widows, and orphans, foreigners and the oppressed. Social justice and natural societal cohesion are clearly among the organizing principles and main roots of our Judeo-Christian tradition.

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