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Melachim uMilchamot - Chapter 4

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Melachim uMilchamot - Chapter 4


The king is granted license to levy taxes upon the nation for his needs or for the purpose of war. He may also fix a duty on merchandise. It is forbidden to avoid paying this duty. The king has the right to decree that if someone does not pay these duties, his property will be seized or he will be killed.

These laws are derived as follows: I Samuel 8:17 states: 'You will be servants to him, the king.' Previously, Deuteronomy 20:11 states: 'They shall be subject to your levy and they shall serve you.' From this association, it is derived that the king may levy taxes and fix duties.

The statutes that he establishes in these and related matters are accepted as law for all the matters mentioned in the Biblical passage concerning the king are rights to which the king is entitled.


רְשׁוּת יֵשׁ לַמֶּלֶךְ לִתֵּן מַס עַל הָעָם לִצְרָכָיו אוֹ לְצֹרֶךְ הַמִּלְחָמוֹת. וְקוֹצֵב לוֹ מֶכֶס וְאָסוּר לְהַבְרִיחַ מִן הַמֶּכֶס. שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ לִגְזֹר שֶׁכָּל מִי שֶׁיִּגְנֹב הַמֶּכֶס יִלָּקַח מָמוֹנוֹ אוֹ יֵהָרֵג שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל א ח יז) "וְאַתֶּם תִּהְיוּ לוֹ לַעֲבָדִים". וּלְהַלָּן הוּא אוֹמֵר (דברים כ יא) "יִהְיוּ לְךָ לָמַס וַעֲבָדוּךָ". מִכָּאן שֶׁנּוֹתֵן מַס וְקוֹצֵב מֶכֶס וְדִינָיו בְּכָל אֵלּוּ הַדְּבָרִים וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן דִּין. שֶׁכָּל הָאָמוּר בְּפָרָשַׁת מֶלֶךְ מֶלֶךְ זוֹכֶה בּוֹ:


He may also send throughout the territory of Eretz Yisrael and take from the nation valiant men and men of war and employ them as soldiers for his chariot and cavalry. Similarly, he may appoint them as his body guard and as footmen to run before him as I Samuel 8:11 states: 'He shall place them among his charioteers and his horsemen and they shall run before his chariot.' He may also take the choicest of them to be his servants and attendants as ibid.:16 states: 'He shall take... your finest young men... to do his work.'


וְשׁוֹלֵחַ בְּכָל גְּבוּל יִשְׂרָאֵל וְלוֹקֵחַ מִן הָעָם הַגִּבּוֹרִים וְאַנְשֵׁי חַיִל וְעוֹשֶׂה מֵהֶן חַיִל לְמֶרְכַּבְתּוֹ וּבְפָרָשָׁיו וּמַעֲמִיד מֵהֶן עוֹמְדִים לְפָנָיו. וּמַעֲמִיד מֵהֶן אֲנָשִׁים לָרוּץ לְפָנָיו. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל א ח יא) "וְשָׂם לוֹ בְּמֶרְכַּבְתּוֹ וּפָרָשָׁיו וְרָצוּ לִפְנֵי מֶרְכַּבְתּו"ֹ. וְלוֹקֵחַ מִן הַיָּפִים שֶׁבָּהֶם לִהְיוֹת שַׁמָּשִׁים וְעוֹמְדִים לְפָנָיו שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל א ח טז) "וְאֶת בַּחוּרֵיכֶם הַטּוֹבִים" (שמואל א ח טז) "יִקָּח וְעָשָׂה לִמְלַאכְתּוֹ":


Similarly, he may take all those that are necessary for him from the nation's craftsmen and employ them to do his work. He must pay their wages. He may also take all the beasts, servants, and maids that are necessary for his tasks. He must pay their hire or their value as ibid.:12-16 states: 'He will set them to plough his ground and to reap his harvest, to make instruments of war, and gear for his chariots.... He will take your servants, your maids, your finest young men, and your donkeys to do his work.'


וְכֵן לוֹקֵחַ מִן בַּעֲלֵי הָאֻמָּנֻיּוֹת כָּל מַה שֶּׁהוּא צָרִיךְ וְעוֹשִׂין לוֹ מְלַאכְתּוֹ וְנוֹתֵן שְׂכָרָן. וְלוֹקֵחַ כָּל הַבְּהֵמוֹת וְהָעֲבָדִים וְהַשְּׁפָחוֹת לִמְלַאכְתּוֹ וְנוֹתֵן שְׂכָרָן אוֹ דְּמֵיהֶן. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל א ח יב) "וְלַחֲרשׁ חֲרִישׁוֹ וְלִקְצֹר קְצִירוֹ וְלַעֲשׂוֹת כְּלֵי מִלְחַמְתּוֹ וּכְלֵי רִכְבּוֹ". (שמואל א ח טז) "וְאֶת עַבְדֵיכֶם וְאֶת שִׁפְחוֹתֵיכֶם וְאֶת בַּחוּרֵיכֶם הַטּוֹבִים וְאֶת חֲמוֹרֵיכֶם יִקָּח וְעָשָׂה לִמְלַאכְתּוֹ":


Similarly, he may take wives and concubines from the entire territory of Eretz Yisrael. The term 'wives' implies women who were married with A ketubah and kiddushin; concubines, women who were not given A ketubah and kiddushin. With the act of yichud alone, the king acquires her and relations with her are permitted him.

A commoner is forbidden to have a concubine. The only similar relationship is the union with a Hebrew maid servant after she has been designated by her master.

The king may make the concubines which he takes to his palace cooks, bakers, and perfumers as ibid.:13 states: 'He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers.


וְכֵן לוֹקֵחַ מִכָּל גְּבוּל יִשְׂרָאֵל נָשִׁים וּפִילַגְשִׁים. נָשִׁים בִּכְתֻבָּה וְקִדּוּשִׁין. וּפִילַגְשִׁים בְּלֹא כְּתֻבָּה וּבְלֹא קִדּוּשִׁין. אֶלָּא בְּיִחוּד בִּלְבַד קוֹנֶה אוֹתָהּ וּמֻתֶּרֶת לוֹ. אֲבָל הַהֶדְיוֹט אָסוּר בְּפִילֶגֶשׁ אֶלָּא בְּאָמָה הָעִבְרִיָּה בִּלְבַד אַחַר יִעוּד. וְיֵשׁ לוֹ [רְשׁוּת] לַעֲשׂוֹת הַפִּילַגְשִׁים שֶׁלּוֹקֵחַ לְאַרְמוֹנוֹ טַבָּחוֹת וְאוֹפוֹת וְרַקָּחוֹת. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל א ח יג) "וְאֶת בְּנוֹתֵיכֶם יִקָּח לְרַקָּחוֹת וּלְטַבָּחוֹת וּלְאֹפוֹת":


He may force those who are fit to serve as officers, appointing them as leaders of thousands and leaders of fifties as ibid.:12 states: 'He shall appoint them as leaders of thousands and leaders of fifties for himself.'


וְכֵן כּוֹפֶה אֶת הָרְאוּיִין לִהְיוֹת שָׂרִים וּמְמַנֶּה אוֹתָם שָׂרֵי אֲלָפִים וְשָׂרֵי חֲמִשִּׁים. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל א ח יב) "וְלָשׂוּם לוֹ שָׂרֵי אֲלָפִים וְשָׂרֵי חֲמִשִּׁים":


He may take fields, olive groves, and vineyards for his servants when they go to war and allow them to commandeer these places if they have no source of nurture other than them. He must pay for what is taken. This is stated in ibid.:14: 'He shall take your good fields, vineyards, and olive groves and give them to his servants.


וְלוֹקֵחַ הַשָּׂדוֹת וְהַזֵּיתִים וְהַכְּרָמִים לַעֲבָדָיו כְּשֶׁיֵּלְכוּ לַמִּלְחָמָה וְיִפְשְׁטוּ עַל מְקוֹמוֹת אֵלּוּ אִם אֵין לָהֶם מַה יֹּאכְלוּ אֶלָּא מִשָּׁם. וְנוֹתֵן דְּמֵיהֶן. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל א ח יד) "וְאֶת שְׂדוֹתֵיכֶם וְאֶת כַּרְמֵיכֶם וְזֵיתֵיכֶם הַטּוֹבִים יִקָּח וְנָתַן לַעֲבָדָיו":


He is entitled to a tenth of the produce of the seed and the orchards and the newborn beasts as ibid.:16-17 states: 'He will take a tenth of your seed and your vineyards...He shall take a tenth of your sheep.'


וְיֵשׁ לוֹ מַעֲשֵׂר מִן הַזְּרָעִים וּמִן הָאִילָנוֹת וּמִן הַבְּהֵמָה. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל א ח טו) "וְזַרְעֵיכֶם וְכַרְמֵיכֶם יַעְשֹׂר" וְגוֹ'. (שמואל א ח יז) "צֹאנְכֶם יַעְשֹׂר":


The Messianic king may take a thirteenth portion of all the lands conquered by Israel as his own. This will be an allotment for him and his descendants forever.


הַמֶּלֶךְ הַמָּשִׁיחַ נוֹטֵל מִכָּל הָאֲרָצוֹת שֶׁכּוֹבְשִׁין יִשְׂרָאֵל חֵלֶק אֶחָד מִשְּׁלֹשָׁה עָשָׂר. וְדָבָר זֶה חֹק לוֹ וּלְבָנָיו עַד עוֹלָם:


The property of all those executed by the king, belongs to the king. Similarly, all the treasures belonging to the kings of the kingdoms which he conquers become the property of the king.

In regard to the other spoil which is taken. The soldiers may take spoil. Afterwards, they must bring it to the king. He is entitled to one half of the spoil. He takes this portion first.

The second half of the spoil is divided between the combat soldiers and the people who remained in camp to guard the baggage. An equal division is made between them as I Samuel 30:24 relates: 'The portion of those who go down to the battle will be as the portion of those who stay with the baggage. They shall divide equally.'


כָּל הֲרוּגֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ מָמוֹנָן לַמֶּלֶךְ. וְכָל הַמַּמְלָכוֹת שֶׁכּוֹבֵשׁ הֲרֵי אוֹצְרוֹת הַמְּלָכִים לַמֶּלֶךְ. וּשְׁאָר הַבִּזָּה שֶׁבּוֹזְזִין בּוֹזְזִין וְנוֹתְנִין לְפָנָיו וְהוּא נוֹטֵל מֶחֱצָה בָּרֹאשׁ. וּמַחֲצִית הַבִּזָּה חוֹלְקִין אוֹתָהּ כָּל אַנְשֵׁי הַצָּבָא בְּיַחַד עִם הָעָם הַיּוֹשְׁבִין עַל הַכֵּלִים בַּמַּחֲנֶה לְשָׁמְרָם חוֹלְקִין בְּשָׁוֶה. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל א ל כד) "כִּי כְּחֵלֶק הַיֹּרֵד בַּמִּלְחָמָה וּכְחֵלֶק הַיּשֵׁב עַל הַכֵּלִים יַחְדָּו יַחֲלֹקוּ":


All the lands that he conquers belong to him. He may apportion them to his servants and soldiers as he desires and keep the remainder for himself. In all these matters, the judgement he makes is binding.

In all matters, his deeds shall be for the sake of heaven. His purpose and intent shall be to elevate the true faith and fill the world with justice, destroying the power of the wicked and waging the wars of God. For the entire purpose of appointing a king is to execute justice and wage wars as I Samuel 8:20 states: 'Our king shall judge us, go out before us, and wage our wars.'


כָּל הָאָרֶץ שֶׁכּוֹבֵשׁ הֲרֵי הִיא שֶׁלּוֹ וְנוֹתֵן לַעֲבָדָיו וּלְאַנְשֵׁי הַמִּלְחָמָה כְּפִי מַה שֶּׁיִּרְצֶה. וּמַנִּיחַ לְעַצְמוֹ כְּפִי מַה שֶּׁיִּרְצֶה. וּבְכָל אֵלּוּ הַדְּבָרִים דִּינוֹ דִּין. וּבְכָל יִהְיוּ מַעֲשָׂיו לְשֵׁם שָׁמַיִם. וְתִהְיֶה מְגַמָּתוֹ וּמַחְשַׁבְתּוֹ לְהָרִים דַּת הָאֱמֶת. וּלְמַלְּאוֹת הָעוֹלָם צֶדֶק. וְלִשְׁבֹּר זְרוֹעַ הָרְשָׁעִים וּלְהִלָּחֵם מִלְחֲמוֹת ה'. שֶׁאֵין מַמְלִיכִין מֶלֶךְ תְּחִלָּה אֶלָּא לַעֲשׂוֹת מִשְׁפָּט וּמִלְחָמוֹת. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל א ח כ) "וּשְׁפָטָנוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ וְיָצָא לְפָנֵינוּ וְנִלְחַם אֶת מִלְחֲמֹתֵנוּ":

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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