Last night’s reading included 1 Samuel 10, where Saul is made king. And I mused about the startup costs of having a king.
Before, the Israelites had been a collection of, basically, semi-independent states with no central authority. Not even states–just tribes. A confederation of sorts. Sometimes a “judge” would rally everyone to defeat an enemy, of which there were many. But then they’d go back to doing their own thing in their own territory.
But now, this farmer named Saul had been plucked out of the cornfields and annointed King. But there was no “kingdom” infrastructure. They had a lot of scurrying to do.
- Where was the King to live? A king needs a palace. Quick–hire an architect!
- A King needs an entourage–attendants and deputies and cooks for state dinners and a person to hold an umbrella over his head. Maybe a jester or two. That means lots of recruiting and interviewing and vetting and writing of job descriptions.
- A King needs an expense account.
- And who is going to pay for all of this? Somehow, they would need to raise money from the people, which meant a tax system.
A Kingdom is a complicated thing. You don’t just snap your fingers and Presto! you have a Kingdom. Lots of startup costs. Lots of stuff to organize from scratch. Kind of like starting a new church, but with pageantry.
Of course, if you’re the King, you can, indeed, pretty much snap your fingers and make things happen. But first, there need to be people within hearing distance of the snapping. I imagine many Israelites wanted to participate, to get in on the ground floor of this new venture, maybe position themselves for knighthood or some profitable skimming. So along with everything else, I suppose you need a patronage system.
When Saul started out, it was just himself and Samuel. This was a big deal for a farmer and an old guy to pull off. I wish the Bible explained how they went about creating a Kingdom. It would have made an interesting case study.