• Exploring American History

America needs to understand the biblical background of the U. S. Constitution

To fully understand how the Constitution came to be, attention must be directed to the political teachings and contemporary influences of the day in which it was written, along with recorded history. Of equal importance are the religious influences on the political writings of that time.

More than any other nation besides Israel, the United States has been intensely influenced by the Old Testament. Between 1770 and 1789, the vast majority of political pamphlets were written by members of the clergy. When a study is made of all references from these writings, 34% are directed towards the Bible, with the vast majority citing the Book of Deuteronomy. A great many similarities and parallels are found by comparing the text of the US Constitution to that of Deuteronomy.

The Hebrew word for “constitution” is “torah”, which is defined as “an important and divine” teaching. The first five books of the Old Testament comprise the Hebrew Torah, also known as the Five Books of Moses or the Pentateuch. Located within the Torah is the ancient constitution of the Israelis.

- Genesis provides the framework through its historic content.

- Exodus and Leviticus present the preamble, explaining to the Hebrews the covenant God is making with them and the law under which they will live.

- Numbers continues the process with additional fundamental laws.

- Deuteronomy serves as a summary of the other four.

In the same way the Torah became the law for all the Hebrews, the Constitution for the United States is the law for all her citizens. For both societies to survive, these laws not only must be obeyed, but they must also be taught to each generation. The entire population of the Hebrew nation was expected to know the text and content of the Torah. The Framers of the Constitution for the United States of America expected no less of its citizens.

The constitution set forth in Deuteronomy is a covenant between God and the Hebrews; an agreement each is sworn to keep. Within its text are blessings and curses the Hebrews will experience in response to their loyalty/disloyalty to the covenant. To fulfill the covenant, they understand more is required of them than just obeying a contract; it also involves mutual faith and love between all those involved. It binds them together and identifies who they are.

The Preamble to the Constitution for the United States indicates not only do the people establish the Constitution; they also ordain it. To “ordain” means to invest with priestly power – a ministerial function. As with the Torah, the Preamble provides the reason for the creation of this law, in addition to identifying and binding together those for who it is meant, “We the People”.

"The American Founders argued that knowledge, and in particular civic knowledge, was absolutely crucial to the workings and future of republican government. The primary lesson of civic education was that legitimate government is grounded in the protection of equal natural rights and the consent of the governed. The threat to those rights - from government, among other things, or majority tyranny - was the second and most vital lesson. A knowledge and appreciation of how our institutions of government work - enumerated powers, checks and balances, federalism - was crucial, but they stressed even more the limits of 'parchment barriers' and the need for a vigilant, educated citizenry." Matthew Spalding - Heritage Foundation

Declaration of Independence signer and Supreme Court Justice James Wilson stated in 1790, “Law and liberty cannot rationally become the objects of our love unless they first become the objects of our knowledge.

The Hebrews’ constitution did not concentrate its power in that of a single individual. Instead, it was divided into three different units – Keter Torah (Crown of Torah), Keter Kehunah (Crown of Priesthood) and Keter Malkaut (Crown of Kingship or civil rule), with the word “crown” referring to power or ruling authority. When the Hebrews were later granted the power to choose a king, this individual had to be chosen by God and had to be an Israelite – never a foreigner. The Keter Malkhut covenant was not made with the king, but with the people and limited the king in his actions. After being appointed, the king was required to write out the entire Book of Deuteronomy in the presence of the Levites (priests). This was to ensure the king would have no excuse for not knowing the law.

"And it shall be with him and he shall read therein all the days of his life that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children, in the midst of Israel." Deut 17:19-20 (NKJV)

In like manner, the Constitution of the United States stipulates in Article II, Section 1, no person except a “natural born citizen” (citizen at birth) shall be eligible for the office of President.

"That provision in the Constitution which requires that the president shall be a native-born citizen (unless he were a citizen of the United States when the Constitution was adopted,) is a happy means of security against foreign influence, which, wherever it is capable of being exerted, is to be dreaded more than the plague."

George Tucker, Treatise on the Constitution (1803)

The Book of Deuteronomy also contains a section that is likened to the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of the United States. Legal rights for both Israelites and aliens are defined, as are citizenship, civil and criminal matters, warfare and family relations. These are included in an effort to protect the natural rights of the people by limiting the power of those in authority. The Torah indicates natural rights emerge from the obligation to maintain a standard of behavior toward mankind, with Deuteronomy stating the Israelites must behave with justice and fairness if they are to be holy.

The Bill of Rights was required by a number of the U. S. Constitution’s framers prior to ratification.

Based on George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights, it was included in an effort to guarantee individual liberty and prevent the overreach of the central government.

The Torah stipulated that every seven years Deuteronomy must be read to the entire population of Israel, both citizens and strangers in the land. “Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the LORD your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land . . .” Deuteronomy 31:12-13 (NKJV)

In keeping with that requirement, the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 became the first federal law to govern the western territories, which comprised the land area of future states Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and the arrowhead of Minnesota. A portion of the Ordinance’s text reads: “. . . religion, morality and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” In time, however, sad results are seen in the US population due to the fact this law has not been kept.

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The dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness began to make itself known in the hearts of the Founding Fathers, in a manner to compare with Jeremiah’s reference to “a fire shut up in one’s bones.” (Jeremiah 20:9). As with others who had gone before with a passion for God and freedom, America’s founders met with persecution and suffering. They triumphed through the use of courage, the determination to stand against tyranny and the willingness to sacrifice their very lives, if necessary, to fight for freedom.

Living in a time in which so much of God and the faith of America’s founders has been edited out of academia, students are now lead to believe the Founding Fathers were a group of atheists, agnostics and unbelievers. As a result, a spiritual amnesia now plagues the United States. Politicians stand before the American public and proclaim the United States is not a Christian nation.

Today’s America can, in some respects, be likened to the prodigal son, found in the 15th chapter of Luke. The parable reveals a story about the younger of two sons born to a wealthy man. Though he grew up in privilege and enjoyed the best life had to offer, the younger son decided he was tired of his father’s rules and wanted to live life his own way. Thus, he went to his father and requested the portion of his father’s estate which was his inheritance. His father agreed and soon the lad packed his bags and headed off for the glamour of the big city.

Having never worked to earn this inheritance, the son did not fully appreciate what he had and squandered it on his chosen lifestyle. It did not take long for the money to disappear, forcing the young man to find a job. This was no easy task, due to the fact there was a famine in the land. The lad finally found a job feeding swine. As the pigs ate, he desired to eat with them because he had no meal of his own. When one adds to the story the fact the young man was Jewish and being around pigs was forbidden, it is easy to see his level of desperation.

The day finally came when the young man awoke to the fact of what he had been given and was now squandered. He realized if he was to survive, he must swallow his pride, return to his father and beg for forgiveness, which he did.

The question should now be asked as to whether the “prodigal son” America has become will now awaken to the need to return to her Father before it is too late.

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In July 2009, a survey was commissioned by the American Revolution Center. The survey revealed:

  • More than 1/3 of American adults do not know in which century the American Revolution was fought.

  • 50%> of American citizens believe the Constitution established the US government as a democracy, despite the fact the Pledge of Allegiance specifically states, “. . . and to the republic for which it stands.

  • Only 33% of Americans can identify the Bill of Rights.

As with the requirement in the Book of Deuteronomy for the Hebrews to read/have read to them its important text, the citizens of the United States must hear, learn and observe the Constitution. These vital rules need to be written upon the hearts of every citizen and taught to each generation. By doing this, the Constitution for the United States will continue in like manner as the constitution in Deuteronomy has been the guiding light to the Jewish people for over 3,000 years. Nowhere else but in ancient Israel and modern America is there a document that carries such weight and is so highly respected.

It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God or the Bible.” George Washington

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