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Melachim uMilchamot - Chapter 1

Melachim uMilchamot - Chapter 1

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Halacha 1

Israel was commanded to fulfill three mitzvot upon entering the Promised Land:

a) To choose a king, as Deuteronomy 17:15 states: 'Appoint a king over yourselves;'

b) To wipe out the descendents of Amalek, as Deuteronomy 25:19 states: 'Erase the memory of Amalek;'

c) To build God's Chosen House, as Deuteronomy 12:5 states: 'Seek out His Presence and go there.'

Halacha 2

The appointment of a king should precede the war against Amalek. This is evident from Samuel's charge to King Saul (I Samuel 15: l-3): 'God sent me to anoint you as king ... Now, go and smite Amalek.'

Amalek's seed should be annihilated before the construction of the Temple, as II Samuel 7:1-2 states: 'And it came to pass, when the king dwelled in his palace, and God gave him peace from all his enemies who surrounded him, the king said to Nathan, the prophet: 'Look! I am dwelling in a house of cedar, ... but the ark of God dwells within curtains.'

Since it is a mitzvah to appoint a king, why was God displeased with the people's request of a king from Samuel? Because they made their request in a spirit of complaint. Rather than seeking to fulfill the mitzvah of appointing a king, they were simply intent on rejecting the Prophet Samuel as implied by God's reply to him (I Samuel 8:7): 'It is not you, but Me they have rejected.'

Halacha 3

As an initial and preferred option, a king may be appointed only by a court of 70 elders, together with a prophet, as Joshua was appointed by Moses and his court, and as Saul and David, were appointed by Samuel of Ramah and his court.

Halacha 4

A king should not be appointed from converts to Judaism. This applies even if the convert's ancestors had been Jewish for many generations, unless his mother [or father1] is a native-born Israelite, as Deuteronomy 17:15 states: 'You may not appoint a foreigner who is not one of your brethren.'

This does not apply to the monarchy alone, but to all positions of authority within Israel. A convert may not serve as an army commander, a leader of fifty, or as a leader of ten. He may not even supervise the allocation of water from a stream to various fields.

Needless to say, a judge or a nasi should only be a native-born Israelite, as it is stated (ibid.): 'Appoint a king over you from among your brethren.' This implies that all appointments must only be 'from your brethren.'

Halacha 5

We may not appoint a woman as king. When describing the monarchy, the Torah employs the male form of the word king and not the female.

This principle also applies to all other positions of authority within Israel. Only men should be appointed to fill them.

Halacha 6

Neither a butcher, barber, bath-attendant, nor a tanner should be appointed king or High-Priest. This is not because of an inherent fault, but because their professions are less prestigious, and the people will always treat them lightly.

A person who has served in one of these professions for even one day, is disqualified for the monarchy.

Halacha 7

When a king is appointed, he is anointed with oil reserved for this purpose, as I Samuel 10:1 states: 'And Samuel took the cruse of oil and poured it over his head. Then, he kissed him.'

Once a king is anointed, he and his descendents are granted the monarchy until eternity, for the monarchy is passed down by inheritance, as Deuteronomy 17:20 states 'Thus, he the king and his descendents will prolong their reign in the midst of Israel.'

If the king leaves only a young son, the monarchy should be held for him until he matures, as Yehoyada did for Yoash. The order of inheritance of the monarchy is the same as that governing the inheritance of property. An older son is given precedence over a younger one.

Not only the monarchy, but all other positions of authority and appointments in Israel, are transferred to one's children and grandchildren as inheritances forever.

The above applies if the knowledge and the fear of God of the son is equivalent to that of his ancestors. If his fear of God is equivalent to theirs but not his knowledge, he should be granted his father's position and given instruction. However, under no circumstance should a person who lacks the fear of God be appointed to any posi-tion in Israel, even though he possesses much knowledge.

Once David was anointed king, he acquired the crown of kingship. Afterwards, the kingship belonged to him and to his male descendents forever, as II Samuel 7: 16 states: 'Your throne shall be established forever.' Nevertheless, his acquisition of the monarchy was conditional, applying only to the righteous among his descendents, as Psalms 132:12 states: 'If your children will keep My covenant... their children shall also sit on your throne forever.'

Despite this condition, God assured David that the monarchy would never be taken from his descendents forever, as Psalms 89:31-38 states: "lf his children will forsake My Torah and cease walking in My statutes ... I will punish their transgressions with the rod and their sins with plagues. Nevertheless, I will not utterly remove My grace from him.... His throne shall be ... established forever.'

Halacha 8

If a prophet appoints a king from any other tribe of Israel and that king follows the path of Torah and mitzvot and fights the wars of God, he is considered as a king, and all the commandments associaed with the monarchy apply to him.

Although the kingship was primarily given to David and one of his descendents will be serving as king, there is halachic legitimacy to the rule of other kings. Behold, Achiyah of Shilo appointed Jeroboam and told him (I Kings 11:38): 'And it shall be that if you obey all that I command you... I will build you a faithful house as I built for David.' Similarly, Achiyah told him (ibid.: 36): 'To his (David's) son, I will grant one tribe, so that David, My servant, will always have sovereignty before Me in Jerusalem.'

Halacha 9

The kings of the Davidic dynasty will prevail forever (II Samuel 7:16): 'Your throne shall be established forever.' In contrast, should a king arise from other Israelites, the monarchy will eventually cease from his descendents. For behold, Jeroboam was told: I Kings 11:39 'I will afflict the House of David.... but not forever.'

Halacha 10

Kings of Israel are not anointed with the special anointing oil, but with Afarsimon oil. Only a descendent of David may be appointed as king in Jerusalem. And only descendents of David are anointed with the special anointing oil.

Halacha 11

The kings of the Davidic dynasty should only be anointed near a spring.

Halacha 12

A son who succeeds his father as king is not anointed unless he assumes his position amid a dispute over the inheritance or during a civil war. Under these circumstances, he should be anointed in order to remove all disagreement.

Therefore, they anointed Solomon because of the claim of Adoniyahu, Jehoash, because of the usurpation of Atalyah, and Jehoachaz, because of [the claim of his brother, Jehoyakim.

FOOTNOTES
1. Tosafot (Yevamot 102a) explain that if a person's father is a native-born Israelite, he may be appointed to positions of authority, regardless of his mother's origins. Alternatively, a king's yichus is questioned only at the beginning of a dynasty. Once the dynasty has been established, a son may assume his father's position, even if his mother is a convert (Noda B’Yehudah, Choshen Mishpat, Responsum l).
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