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Factors Leading To The Emergence Of Monarchy History Essay

1759 words (7 pages) Essay

1st Jan 1970 History Reference this

In order to state the factors that led to the emergence of Monarchy in Israel and if Saul was anointed to become King or Judge, it is important it is of great importance to know what it meant to be a Judge at the time of Saul. It is as well important to know also what it meant to be a King at that same time. Of course Kings did not exist in Israel before Saul just as it is recorded in the book of Judges Chapter 17 verse 6, “In those days there were no king in Israel…” but surrounding nations were well established and were led by Kings in their monarchies.

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Going by the definition of the monarchy in the dictionary, the Monarchy “is a system of government by a King or a Queen, or a country that is ruled by a King or a Queen. The Monarchy is the King or queen of a country and their families” (Hornby, 2005:948).

With such a definition therefore, it is important that in this paper the monarchy be consider as a system of governance by a King and as a King of a country and their family. By so doing, the factors that led to the emergence of monarchy in Israel will be well understood, and so as to whether Saul was anointed to become King or Judge.


Some scholars have described the Judges in a similar manner. Like Hinson, he looked at the title of the Judges and said, “The ‘Judges’ of Israel were men who became Leader over groups of the tribes of Israel in the time of trouble, before they had any ‘Kings’, and who rescued the people from their enemies” (Hinson, 1974:67).

And another scholar by the name of Howard said, “The Judges were divinely raised up Leaders who ruled over Israel when the nation was a loose confederacy. They were at the same time Judges, Civic functionaries, and Military Leaders” (Howard, 1975:80). Just by this statement from Howard as he description of the judges, we can say that these people existed in the time when actually the Hebrews and no political unity. And we can also say that it was actually the time of the judges when the warfare broke out when the Hebrews fought to fully settle in their Land. And as Canaanites also tried to make others recognize their authority.

Indeed just as scholars have pointed out, the title of a judge was such a one associated with God’s power. There was God’s hand in the works of the Judges, when they brought deliverance the oppressed. In chapter 2 of the book of Judges in verse 16 it is said, “Then the Lord raise up judges, who delivered them out of the power of those who plundered them”. Therefore, as some scholars and the books of the Old Testament describes how and what the judges did, we can actually say that the judges were in those days called judges totally differently from judges of today.

We can say that the authority of the then judges were absolutely not like that of today’s whose duty is only juridical, but also of other duties such as Administrative duties. Looking into affairs of their people in terms of governance of the state and that at the same time, they were Military leaders that looked into the security of its people and delivered them in war times. In short, they were involved in battles and war. Schmidt said, “In Like manner in other emergences those directly affected banded together with the neighbouring tribes under the Leadership of charismatic ‘judge’ for a ‘war of Yahweh,’ either to resist the encroachments of hostile neighbours, such as the Ammorites (Judges11; 1Sam11), or to beat back invasions by hostile tribes such as the Midianites (Jud.6f)” (1979…).

Therefore with these remarks on the judges, it can be concluded that judges in Israel existed first before the Kings. They were raised up and anointed by God for them to do the various duties which included Civic duties, military duties as well as judicial functions. They were also Spiritual Leaders at the same time.

Buttrick defines kingship as, “the designation applied to a male sovereign, who exercise powers over an independent nation and had the right to transmit the loyal powers to his descendants” (1962:11). He further defined it on biblical perspective that they were presented in three types, but two are of our concern. The first one being the petty king of the Palestine cities who were of foreign origin and ruled with the “support of military aristocracy”, secondly that the kingship of Mesopotamia of bible that were regarded as political order divinely ordained for the good of the empire (1962:11).

This can actually be interpreted that the kings were in some way like the judges, though only to the aspect leading people into war. The kings unlike the judges, they were supported by the soldiers, for them being their leaders. The protection they received can be compared to that of the president today.


Miller and Hayes said, “In approximately 1000 B.C.E. there emerged an Israelite monarchy under the leadership of Saul…”(1986:120). According to time specified by these scholars, the reason for emergence we can first mention is the political instability in the Land of Israel. The Israelites were under pressure from their hostile neighbours.

Schmidt said when he gave the reasons to the emergence of the monarchy, “Thus, external pressure around the year 1000 B.C. led to the establishment of the monarchy and thereby to the formation of a state” (1979:20. This actually tells that Israel was rally under political crisis, and their neighbours who conquered them seem have been politically well organized. The Israelites at this time thought that their leader who was Samuel, a Judge, had failed to deliver them from the hostility of neighbours.

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And this same period, is said to have been the period when judges were loosed, not strictly organized, hence the need to demand for a monarchy by the Israelites. Anderson G.W. said, “During this period of the judges the organization of the tribes remained somewhat loose; and it was no doubt the succession of crises…which prepared the way fro the monarchy” (1966:50. Apart from stating that the judges were not strictly organized, in Anderson’s statement, it can also be suggested that there were a lot of invasion by hostile neighbours Israel.

And at that time Samuel was the judge and at the same time a prophet acted with the powers of God in the deliverance of Israelites, but failed to do so. This situation made Israelites to start demanding for a king. Whom they thought would deliver them from oppression and defeat in war by the Philistines and other. Schmidt said, “Predominance of Philistines with there superior iron weapon forced Israel as a whole to take a common action under a permanent leader” (1976:20). Hence the Israelites opted for a political reformation, to shift from the rule of God to that of a human being.

The demand for a king by the Israelites grew stronger when the Philistines dominated them in a war and destructed the sanctuary in about 1050 B.C. and the capturing of the Ark. Hinson said, “The Philistines captured the Ark, and killed all the sons of Eli who were responsible for the Ark” (1990:88). This destruction was a let down to the Israelites, because they believed that the Ark was representing the power of God among His people and unfortunately destroyed by people who believed in other gods.

The other reason for the emergence of a monarchy was the appointment of Joel and Abijah, sons of Samuel, as judges and ruled in a manner that did not please the people. This was at the time when their father grew old. In 1Samuel 8:1, it is written, “When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel”. Samuel’s sons did not please people in their rule because they were characterized by corrupt practices and changed the system of justice to a bad one. Hence this prompted the elders of Israel to demand for a king from Samuel. They said him, “You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations” 1Samuel 8:5.

Of course, this did not please Samuel because he thought that the elders had rejected God and himself from being there King for he considered God to have been already a king over Israel, 1Samuel 8:7. The demand of elders for a king like other nations was probably that he could also lead them into battle by instituting a permanent Administrative structure. They thought those established structures would grant them victory over the opponents.

Therefore, such pressure on Samuel for the demand of a king and established monarchy like that of Israel’s surrounding nations, led Samuel into giving them one. Of course, Samuel did this with the permission from God to whom he had presented the demand, 1Samuel8: 22-23. Saul was the chosen king who ruled Israel and led them into battle and this is how the monarchy emerged.


After the appointment of Saul as a king and the establishment of a monarchy, he was also anointed. Anderson G.W. said, “…both Saul and David were anointed” (1966:50). But following how he ruled the people, the question is, was he anointed king or judge?

Anderson said, “The identity of the prospective king was divinely revealed to Samuel, who privately anointed him” 1966:51). According to this scholar, Saul was anointed as king and biblically we can affirm to this though God did not pronounce him king but ruler who were to rule over Israel, 1Samuel 9:16. This is because God and Samuel chose him as a ruler at the time when they were demanding for a king. Despite in his rule ruled like a judge, it is disputable that he was anointed as judge, because he did not perform religious duties. God directed Samuel to anoint him as per His instruction as one who would be His heritage 1Samuel 10:1.


This paper can be concluded that political, social and economic challenges faced by Israel led to the emergence of monarchy. Though the anointing of Saul is surrounded by controversy, we can also say that Saul was anointed as a king and not judge. This is because, he was chosen at the time when Israel demanded for a king.


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