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Melachim uMilchamot - Chapter 1, Melachim uMilchamot - Chapter 2, Melachim uMilchamot - Chapter 3

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Melachim uMilchamot - Chapter 1

Introduction to Hilchos Melachim uMilchamot

This text includes 23 mitzvot; ten positive commandments and thirteen negative commandments. They are:

1) The obligation to appoint a king in Israel;
2) The prohibition against appointing a convert as king;
3) The prohibition against the king marrying many wives;
4) The prohibition against the king accumulating many horses;
5) The prohibition against the king amassing too much silver and gold;
6) The obligation to destroy the seven nations living in the Land of Canaan;
7) The prohibition against allowing any one of them to remain alive;
8) The obligation to destroy the descendents of Amalek;
9) The obligation to remember what Amalek did;
10) The prohibition against forgetting Amalek's evil deeds, including his ambush against the Israelites during their journey from Egypt to Israel;
ll) The prohibition against dwelling in Egypt;
12) The obligation to offer peace to the inhabitants of a city when besieging it; to carry out the laws governing the siege as prescribed in the Torah, in particular, the laws applying if the enemy agrees to surrender and those applying if it refuses;
13) The prohibition against offering peace to Ammon and Moab, in contrast to other nations, when besieging them;
14) The prohibition against destroying fruit-bearing trees during a siege;
15) The obligation to set up a latrine outside an army camp;
16) The obligation to carry a spike to dig with;
17) The obligation to anoint a priest to speak to the troops in the event of war;
18) The obligation to allow those who have consecrated wives, built houses, or planted vineyards to rejoice in their new status for a complete year, while releasing them from military conscription;
19) The prohibition against asking those mentioned in the previous category to perform any duties, including handling the needs of one's city or providing supplies to the troops during that year;
20) The obligation not to become frightened, nor to flee in the midst of battle;
21) The prohibitions and obligations regarding a yefat toar, a Gentile woman with whom the Torah allows relations in wartime;
22) The prohibition against selling a yefat toar;
23) The prohibition against subjugating her to perform menial duties after having relations with her.

These mitzvot are explained in the coming chapters.

רמב"ם הלכות מלכים - הקדמה הלכות מלכים ומלחמותיהם. יש בכללן שלש ועשרים מצות. עשר מצות עשה, ושלש עשרה מצות לא תעשה. וזה הוא פרטן: (א) למנות מלך בישראל.
(ב) שלא ימנה מקהל גרים.
(ג) שלא ירבה לו נשים.
(ד) שלא ירבה לו סוסים.
(ה) שלא ירבה לו כסף וזהב.
(ו) להחרים שבעה עממים.
(ז) שלא לחיות מהן כל נשמה.
(ח) למחות זרעו של עמלק.
(ט) לזכור מה שעשה עמלק.
(י) שלא לשכוח מעשיו הרעים ואריבתו בדרך.
(יא) שלא לשכון בארץ מצרים.
(יב) לשלוח שלום ליושבי העיר כשצרים עליה, ולדון בה כאשר מפורש בתורה ואם תשלים ואם לא תשלים.
(יג) שלא לדרוש שלום מעמון ומואב בלבד כשצרים עליהם.
(יד) שלא להשחית אילני מאכל במצור.
(טו) להתקין יד שיצאו בו בעלי המחנה להפנות בו.
(טז) להתקין יתד לחפור בו.
(יז) למשוח כהן לדבר באזני אנשי הצבא בשעת המלחמה.
(יח) להיות מארס, ובונה בנין, ונוטע כרם, שמחים בקנינם שנה תמימה, ומחזירין אותן מן המלחמה.
(יט) שלא יעבור עליהם לכל דבר, ולא יצאו אפילו לצרכי העיר ולצרכי הגדוד, ודומה להם.
(כ) שלא לערוץ ולחזור לאחור בשעת המלחמה.
(כא) דין יפת תואר.
(כב) שלא תמכר יפת תואר.
(כג) שלא יכבשנה לעבדות אחר שנבעלה. וביאור מצות אלו בפרקים אלו.


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.'


שָׁלֹשׁ מִצְוֹת נִצְטַוּוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל בִּשְׁעַת כְּנִיסָתָן לָאָרֶץ. לְמַנּוֹת לָהֶם מֶלֶךְ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יז טו) "שׂוֹם תָּשִׂים עָלֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ". וּלְהַכְרִית זַרְעוֹ שֶׁל עֲמָלֵק שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כה יט) "תִּמְחֶה אֶת זֵכֶר עֲמָלֵק". וְלִבְנוֹת בֵּית הַבְּחִירָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יב ה) "לְשִׁכְנוֹ תִדְרְשׁוּ וּבָאתָ שָּׁמָּה":


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.'


מִנּוּי מֶלֶךְ קוֹדֵם לְמִלְחֶמֶת עֲמָלֵק. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל א טו א) "אֹתִי שָׁלַח ה' לִמְשָׁחֳךָ לְמֶלֶךְ" (שמואל א טו ג) "עַתָּה לֵךְ וְהִכִּיתָה אֶת עֲמָלֵק". וְהַכְרָתַת זֶרַע עֲמָלֵק קוֹדֶמֶת לְבִנְיַן הַבַּיִת. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל ב ז א) "וַיְהִי כִּי יָשַׁב הַמֶּלֶךְ בְּבֵיתוֹ וַה' הֵנִיחַ לוֹ מִסָּבִיב מִכָּל אֹיְבָיו" (שמואל ב ז ב) "וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶל נָתָן הַנָּבִיא אָנֹכִי יוֹשֵׁב בְּבֵית אֲרָזִים" וְגוֹ'. מֵאַחַר שֶׁהֲקָמַת מֶלֶךְ מִצְוָה לָמָּה לֹא רָצָה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא כְּשֶׁשָּׁאֲלוּ מֶלֶךְ מִשְּׁמוּאֵל. לְפִי שֶׁשָּׁאֲלוּ בְּתַרְעֹמֶת. וְלֹא שָׁאֲלוּ לְקַיֵּם הַמִּצְוָה אֶלָּא מִפְּנֵי שֶׁקָּצוּ בִּשְׁמוּאֵל הַנָּבִיא. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל א ח ז) "כִּי לֹא אֹתְךָ מָאָסוּ כִּי אֹתִי מָאֲסוּ" וְגוֹ':


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.


אֵין מַעֲמִידִין מֶלֶךְ בַּתְּחִלָּה אֶלָּא עַל פִּי בֵּית דִּין שֶׁל שִׁבְעִים זְקֵנִים וְעַל פִּי נָבִיא. כִּיהוֹשֻׁעַ שֶׁמִּנָּהוּ משֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ וּבֵית דִּינוֹ. וּכְשָׁאוּל וְדָוִד שֶׁמִּנָּם שְׁמוּאֵל הָרָמָתִי וּבֵית דִּינוֹ:


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.'


אֵין מַעֲמִידִין מֶלֶךְ מִקְּהַל גֵּרִים אֲפִלּוּ אַחַר כַּמָּה דּוֹרוֹת עַד שֶׁתִּהְיֶה אִמּוֹ מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יז טו) "לֹא תוּכַל לָתֵת עָלֶיךָ אִישׁ נָכְרִי אֲשֶׁר לֹא אָחִיךָ הוּא". וְלֹא לְמַלְכוּת בִּלְבַד אֶלָּא לְכָל שְׂרָרוֹת שֶׁבְּיִשְׂרָאֵל. לֹא שַׂר צָבָא וְלֹא שַׂר חֲמִשִּׁים אוֹ שַׂר עֲשָׂרָה. אֲפִלּוּ מְמֻנֶּה עַל אַמַּת הַמַּיִם שֶׁמְּחַלֵּק מִמֶּנָּה לַשָּׂדוֹת. וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר דַּיָּן אוֹ נָשִׂיא שֶׁלֹּא יְהֵא אֶלָּא מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יז טו) "מִקֶּרֶב אַחֶיךָ תָּשִׂים עָלֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ" כָּל מְשִׂימוֹת שֶׁאַתָּה מֵשִׂים לֹא יְהוּ אֶלָּא מִקֶּרֶב אַחֶיךָ:


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.


אֵין מַעֲמִידִין אִשָּׁה בְּמַלְכוּת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יז טו) "עָלֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ" וְלֹא מַלְכָּה. וְכֵן כָּל מְשִׂימוֹת שֶׁבְּיִשְׂרָאֵל אֵין מְמַנִּים בָּהֶם אֶלָּא אִישׁ:


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.


וְאֵין מַעֲמִידִין מֶלֶךְ וְלֹא כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל. לֹא קַצָּב. וְלֹא סַפָּר. וְלֹא בַּלָּן [א.] וְלֹא בֻּרְסִי. לֹא מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהֵן פְּסוּלִין אֶלָּא הוֹאִיל וְאֻמָּנוּתָן נִקְלָה הָעָם מְזַלְזְלִין בָּהֶן לְעוֹלָם. וּמִשֶּׁיַּעֲשֶׂה בִּמְלָאכָה מֵאֵלּוּ יוֹם אֶחָד נִפְסָל:


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 position 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.'


כְּשֶׁמַּעֲמִידִין הַמֶּלֶךְ מוֹשְׁחִין אוֹתוֹ בְּשֶׁמֶן הַמִּשְׁחָה. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל א י א) "וַיִּקַּח שְׁמוּאֵל אֶת פַּךְ הַשֶּׁמֶן וַיִּצֹק עַל רֹאשׁוֹ וַיִּשָּׁקֵהוּ". וּמֵאַחַר שֶׁמּוֹשְׁחִין הַמֶּלֶךְ הֲרֵי זֶה זוֹכֶה לוֹ וּלְבָנָיו עַד עוֹלָם. שֶׁהַמַּלְכוּת יְרֻשָּׁה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יז כ) "לְמַעַן יַאֲרִיךְ יָמִים עַל מַמְלַכְתּוֹ הוּא וּבָנָיו בְּקֶרֶב יִשְׂרָאֵל". הֵנִיחַ בֵּן קָטָן מְשַׁמְּרִין לוֹ הַמְּלוּכָה עַד שֶׁיַּגְדִּיל. כְּמוֹ שֶׁעָשָׂה יְהוֹיָדָע לְיוֹאָשׁ. וְכָל הַקּוֹדֵם בְּנַחֲלָה קֹדֶם לִירֻשַּׁת הַמְּלוּכָה. וְהַבֵּן הַגָּדוֹל קוֹדֵם לְקָטָן מִמֶּנּוּ. וְלֹא הַמַּלְכוּת בִּלְבַד אֶלָּא כָּל הַשְּׂרָרוֹת וְכָל הַמִּנּוּיִין שֶׁבְּיִשְׂרָאֵל יְרֻשָּׁה לִבְנוֹ וּלְבֶן בְּנוֹ עַד עוֹלָם. וְהוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה הַבֵּן מְמַלֵּא מְקוֹם אֲבוֹתָיו בְּחָכְמָה וּבְיִרְאָה. הָיָה מְמַלֵּא בְּיִרְאָה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְמַלֵּא בְּחָכְמָה מַעֲמִידִין אוֹתוֹ בִּמְקוֹם אָבִיו וּמְלַמְּדִין אוֹתוֹ. וְכָל מִי שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ יִרְאַת שָׁמַיִם אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁחָכְמָתוֹ מְרֻבָּה אֵין מְמַנִּין אוֹתוֹ לְמִנּוּי מִן הַמִּנּוּיִין שֶׁבְּיִשְׂרָאֵל. כֵּיוָן שֶׁנִּמְשַׁח דָּוִד זָכָה בְּכֶתֶר מַלְכוּת. וַהֲרֵי הַמַּלְכוּת לוֹ וּלְבָנָיו הַזְּכָרִים עַד עוֹלָם. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל ב ז טז) "כִּסְאֲךָ יִהְיֶה נָכוֹן עַד עוֹלָם". וְלֹא זָכָה אֶלָּא לִכְשֵׁרִים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהילים קלב יב) "אִם יִשְׁמְרוּ בָנֶיךָ בְּרִיתִי". אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא זָכָה אֶלָּא לִכְשֵׁרִים לֹא תִכָּרֵת הַמְּלוּכָה מִזֶּרַע דָּוִד לְעוֹלָם. הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא הִבְטִיחוֹ בְּכָךְ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהילים פט לא) "אִם יַעַזְבוּ בָנָיו תּוֹרָתִי וּבְמִשְׁפָּטַי לֹא יֵלֵכוּן" (תהילים פט לג) "וּפָקַדְתִּי בְשֵׁבֶט פִּשְׁעָם וּבִנְגָעִים עֲוֹנָם" (תהילים פט לד) "וְחַסְדִּי לֹא אָפִיר מֵעִמּוֹ":


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 associated 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.'


נָבִיא שֶׁהֶעֱמִיד מֶלֶךְ מִשְּׁאָר שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. וְהָיָה אוֹתוֹ הַמֶּלֶךְ הוֹלֵךְ בְּדֶרֶךְ הַתּוֹרָה וְהַמִּצְוָה וְנִלְחָם מִלְחֲמוֹת ה'. הֲרֵי זֶה מֶלֶךְ וְכָל מִצְוֹת הַמַּלְכוּת נוֹהֲגוֹת בּוֹ. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁעִקַּר הַמַּלְכוּת לְדָוִד. וְיִהְיֶה מִבָּנָיו מֶלֶךְ. שֶׁהֲרֵי אֲחִיָּה הַשִּׁילוֹנִי הֶעֱמִיד יָרָבְעָם וְאָמַר לוֹ (מלכים א יא לח) "וְהָיָה אִם שָׁמוֹעַ תִּשְׁמַע אֶת כָּל אֲשֶׁר אֲצַוֶּךָ וּבָנִיתִי לְךָ בַיִת נֶאֱמָן כַּאֲשֶׁר בָּנִיתִי לְדָוִד" וְגוֹ'. וְאָמַר לוֹ אֲחִיָּה (מלכים א יא לו) "וְלִבְנוֹ אֶתֵּן שֵׁבֶט אֶחָד לְמַעַן הֱיוֹת נִיר לְדָוִיד עַבְדִּי כָּל הַיָּמִים לְפָנַי בִּירוּשָׁלַםִ":


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.'


מַלְכֵי בֵּית דָּוִד הֵם הָעוֹמְדִים לְעוֹלָם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל ב ז טז) "כִּסְאֲךָ יִהְיֶה נָכוֹן עַד עוֹלָם". אֲבָל אִם יַעֲמֹד מֶלֶךְ מִשְּׁאָר יִשְׂרָאֵל תִּפָּסֵק הַמַּלְכוּת מִבֵּיתוֹ. שֶׁהֲרֵי נֶאֱמַר לְיָרָבְעָם (מלכים א יא לט) "אַךְ לֹא כָל הַיָּמִים":


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.


אֵין מוֹשְׁחִין מַלְכֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּשֶׁמֶן הַמִּשְׁחָה אֶלָּא בְּשֶׁמֶן אֲפַרְסְמוֹן. וְאֵין מְמַנִּין אוֹתָן בִּירוּשָׁלַיִם לְעוֹלָם אֶלָּא מֶלֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל מִזֶּרַע דָּוִד. וְאֵין מוֹשְׁחִין אֶלָּא זֶרַע דָּוִד:


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


כְּשֶׁמּוֹשְׁחִין מַלְכֵי בֵּית דָּוִד אֵין מוֹשְׁחִין אוֹתָן אֶלָּא עַל הַמַּעְיָן:


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.


וְאֵין מוֹשְׁחִין מֶלֶךְ בֶּן מֶלֶךְ. אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הָיְתָה שָׁם מַחְלֹקֶת אוֹ מִלְחָמָה מוֹשְׁחִין אוֹתוֹ כְּדֵי לְסַלֵּק הַמַּחֲלֹקֶת. לְפִיכָךְ מָשְׁחוּ שְׁלֹמֹה מִפְּנֵי אֲדֹנִיָּה. וְיוֹאָשׁ מִפְּנֵי עֲתַלְיָה. וּמָשְׁחוּ יְהוֹאָחָז מִפְּנֵי יְהוֹיָקִים אָחִיו:


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).

Melachim uMilchamot - Chapter 2


The king must be treated with great honor. We must implant awe and fear of him in the hearts of all men. The command Deuteronomy 17:15: 'Appoint a king' implies the obligation to be in awe of him.

We may not ride on his horse, nor sit on his throne, use his scepter, wear his crown, or use any of his utensils. When he dies, they should all be burned before his bier.

Similarly, only another king is allowed to make use of his servants, maids, and attendants. Accordingly, Avishag was permitted to Solomon, but prohibited to Adoniyahu.


כָּבוֹד גָּדוֹל נוֹהֲגִין בַּמֶּלֶךְ. וּמְשִׂימִין לוֹ אֵימָה וְיִרְאָה בְּלֵב כָּל אָדָם. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יז טו) "שׂוֹם תָּשִׂים" שֶׁתְּהֵא אֵימָתוֹ עָלֶיךָ. אֵין רוֹכְבִין עַל סוּסוֹ. וְאֵין יוֹשְׁבִין עַל כִּסְאוֹ. וְאֵין מִשְׁתַּמְּשִׁין בְּשַׁרְבִיטוֹ. וְלֹא בְּכִתְרוֹ. וְלֹא בְּאֶחָד מִכָּל כְּלֵי תַּשְׁמִישָׁיו. וּכְשֶׁהוּא מֵת כֻּלָּן נִשְׂרָפִין לְפָנָיו. וְכֵן לֹא יִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בַּעֲבָדָיו וְשִׁפְחוֹתָיו וְשַׁמָּשָׁיו אֶלָּא מֶלֶךְ אַחֵר. לְפִיכָךְ אֲבִישַׁג הָיְתָה מֻתֶּרֶת לִשְׁלֹמֹה וַאֲסוּרָה לַאֲדוֹנִיָּה:


However, a king's wife is forbidden to share intimacy with another person forever. Even another king may not marry a king's widow or divorced exwife.


אֲבָל אִשְׁתּוֹ שֶׁל מֶלֶךְ אֵינָהּ נִבְעֶלֶת לְאַחֵר לְעוֹלָם. אֲפִלּוּ הַמֶּלֶךְ אֵינוֹ נוֹשֵׂא אַלְמָנָתוֹ אוֹ גְּרוּשָׁתוֹ שֶׁל מֶלֶךְ אַחֵר:


It is forbidden to observe him while he is naked, while he is having his hair cut, while he is in the baths, or while he is drying himself afterwards.

He may not perform chalitzah, for concerning that ritual, it is said Deuteronomy 25:9: 'And she shall spit before him.' This would be disrespectful to the king.

Even if he desires to perform this mitzvah, he is not given the opportunity because a king's honor must be preserved even though he is willing to forgo it.

Since he is not allowed to perform chalitzah, he is not eligible to participate in yibbum. Similarly, in the event of his death, since it is forbidden to initiate yibbum with his wife, chalitzah is also not performed for her. Rather, she must remain in her state of attachment forever.


וְאָסוּר לִרְאוֹתוֹ כְּשֶׁהוּא עֵרוֹם וְלֹא כְּשֶׁהוּא מִסְתַּפֵּר. וְלֹא כְּשֶׁהוּא בְּבֵית הַמֶּרְחָץ. וְלֹא כְּשֶׁהוּא מִסְתַּפֵּג. וְאֵינוֹ חוֹלֵץ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כה ט) "וְיָרְקָה בְּפָנָיו" וְזֶה בִּזָּיוֹן. וַאֲפִלּוּ רָצָה אֵין שׁוֹמְעִין לוֹ. שֶׁהַמֶּלֶךְ שֶׁמָּחַל עַל כְּבוֹדוֹ אֵין כְּבוֹדוֹ מָחוּל. וְהוֹאִיל וְאֵינוֹ חוֹלֵץ אֵינוֹ מְיַבֵּם. וְכֵן [אִם מֵת הוּא] כֵּיוָן שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לְיַבֵּם אֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ כָּךְ אֵין חוֹלְצִין לָהּ אֶלָּא תֵּשֵׁב לְעוֹלָם בְּזִקָּתָהּ:


Even if one of his close relatives dies, he may not leave his palace. When he is served the meal of comfort, the entire nation should sit on the ground and he should sit on a low couch.

If he enters the Temple courtyard, and he is of David's descendents, he may sit. For the only ones who may sit in the Temple Courtyard are kings of the Davidic dynasty, as II Samuel 7:18 states: 'And David sat before God.'


מֵת לוֹ מֵת אֵינוֹ יוֹצֵא מִפֶּתַח פַּלְטֵרִין שֶׁלּוֹ. וּכְשֶׁמַּבְרִין אוֹתוֹ כָּל הָעָם מְסֻבִּין עַל הָאָרֶץ וְהוּא מֵסֵב עַל הַדַּרְגָּשׁ. וְאִם נִכְנַס לָעֲזָרָה וְהָיָה מִזֶּרַע דָּוִד יֵשֵׁב. שֶׁאֵין יְשִׁיבָה בָּעֲזָרָה אֶלָּא לְמַלְכֵי בֵּית דָּוִד בִּלְבַד. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל ב ז יח) "וַיָּבֹא הַמֶּלֶךְ דָּוִד וַיֵּשֶׁב לִפְנֵי ה'":


A king should have his hair cut every day. He should dress and adorn himself in attractive and impressive garments, as Isaiah 33:17 states: 'Your eyes shall behold the king in his beauty.'

He sits on his throne in his palace and has a crown placed on his head.

When he desires, the nation must present themselves before him. They should stand before him and prostrate themselves to the ground. Even a prophet must stand before the king and prostrate himself on the ground, as I Kings 1:23 states: 'Behold, Nathan, the prophet came before the king and prostrated himself before the king.'

However, a High Priest need not come before the king unless he the High Priest desires to do so. The High Priest need not stand before the king. Rather, the king stands before the High Priest, as Numbers 27:21 states: 'And he shall stand before Elazar, the priest.'

Nevertheless, it is a mitzvah for the High Priest to honor the king by having him seated and standing in his presence when he visits him. The king should only stand before him when he consults the Urim and Tumim.

Similarly, it is a mitzvah for the king to honor students of Torah when they enter his presence. He should stand before the Sanhedrin and the Sages of Israel and seat them at his side.

Jehosephat, King of Judah would follow this practice. Whenever even a student of a Torah scholar would come to him, he would rise from his throne and kiss him and address him as 'My teacher and master.'

When does the above apply? When the king is alone in his palace. Then, in private, before his servants, he should behave in this fashion. However, in public, before the people at large, he should not conduct himself in this manner. He should not stand before anyone. He should not speak gently and should address a person using his name alone in order that the awe of him will be implanted in everyone's hearts.


הַמֶּלֶךְ מִסְתַּפֵּר בְּכָל יוֹם. וּמְתַקֵּן עַצְמוֹ וּמִתְנָאֶה בְּמַלְבּוּשִׁין נָאִים וּמְפֹאָרִים. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה לג יז) "מֶלֶךְ בְּיָפְיוֹ תֶּחֱזֶינָה עֵינֶיךָ". וְיוֹשֵׁב עַל כִּסֵּא מַלְכוּתוֹ בַּפַּלְטֵרִין שֶׁלּוֹ. וּמֵשִׂים כֶּתֶר בְּרֹאשׁוֹ. וְכָל הָעָם בָּאִין אֵלָיו בְּעֵת שֶׁיִּרְצֶה. וְעוֹמְדִין לְפָנָיו וּמִשְׁתַּחֲוִים אַרְצָה. אֲפִלּוּ נָבִיא עוֹמֵד לִפְנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ מִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה אַרְצָה. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (מלכים א א כג) "הִנֵּה נָתָן הַנָּבִיא וַיָּבֹא לִפְנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ לַמֶּלֶךְ". אֲבָל כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל אֵינוֹ בָּא לִפְנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶלָּא אִם רָצָה. וְאֵינוֹ עוֹמֵד לְפָנָיו אֶלָּא הַמֶּלֶךְ עוֹמֵד לִפְנֵי כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר כז כא) "וְלִפְנֵי אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן יַעֲמֹד". אַף עַל פִּי כֵן מִצְוָה עַל כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל לְכַבֵּד אֶת הַמֶּלֶךְ וּלְהוֹשִׁיבוֹ וְלַעֲמֹד מִפָּנָיו כְּשֶׁיָּבוֹא לוֹ. וְלֹא יַעֲמֹד הַמֶּלֶךְ לְפָנָיו אֶלָּא כְּשֶׁיִּשְׁאַל לוֹ בְּמִשְׁפַּט הָאוּרִים. וְכֵן מִצְוָה עַל הַמֶּלֶךְ לְכַבֵּד לוֹמְדֵי הַתּוֹרָה. וּכְשֶׁיִּכָּנְסוּ לְפָנָיו סַנְהֶדְרִין וְחַכְמֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל יַעֲמֹד לִפְנֵיהֶם וְיוֹשִׁיבֵם בְּצִדּוֹ. וְכֵן הָיָה יְהוֹשָׁפָט מֶלֶךְ יְהוּדָה עוֹשֶׂה אֲפִלּוּ לְתַלְמִיד חָכָם הָיָה עוֹמֵד מִכִּסְאוֹ וּמְנַשְּׁקוֹ וְקוֹרֵא לוֹ רַבִּי וּמוֹרִי. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בִּזְמַן שֶׁיִּהְיֶה הַמֶּלֶךְ בְּבֵיתוֹ לְבַדּוֹ הוּא וַעֲבָדָיו יַעֲשֶׂה זֶה בְּצִנְעָה. אֲבָל בְּפַרְהֶסְיָא בִּפְנֵי הָעָם לֹא יַעֲשֶׂה. וְלֹא יַעֲמֹד מִפְּנֵי אָדָם. וְלֹא יְדַבֵּר רַכּוֹת. וְלֹא יִקְרָא לְאָדָם אֶלָּא בִּשְׁמוֹ כְּדֵי שֶׁתְּהֵא יִרְאָתוֹ בְּלֵב הַכּל:


Just as the Torah has granted him great honor and obligated everyone to revere him; so, too, has it commanded him to be lowly and empty at heart, as Psalms 109:22 states: 'My heart is a void within me.' Nor should he treat Israel with overbearing haughtiness. For Deuteronomy 17:20 describes how 'he should not lift up his heart above his brothers.'

He should be gracious and merciful to the small and the great, involving himself in their good and welfare. He should protect the honor of even the humblest of men.

When he speaks to the people as a community, he should speak gently, as I Chronicles 28:2 states 'Listen my brothers and my people....' Similarly, I Kings 12:7 states 'If today, you will be a servant to these people....'

He should always conduct himself with great humility. There is none greater than Moses, our teacher. Yet, he said Exodus 16:8: 'What are we? Your complaints are not against us.' He should bear the nation's difficulties, burdens, complaints, and anger as a nurse carries an infant.

Psalms 78:71 refers to a king as a shepherd: 'to pasture, Jacob, His nation.' The prophets have described the behavior of a shepherd (Isaiah 40:11): 'He shall pasture His flock like a shepherd, He shall gather the lambs with His arm and carry them in His bosom."


כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁחָלַק לוֹ הַכָּתוּב הַכָּבוֹד הַגָּדוֹל. וְחִיֵּב הַכּל בִּכְבוֹדוֹ. כָּךְ צִוָּהוּ לִהְיוֹת לִבּוֹ בְּקִרְבּוֹ שָׁפָל וְחָלָל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהילים קט כב) "וְלִבִּי חָלַל בְּקִרְבִּי". וְלֹא יִנְהַג גַּסּוּת לֵב בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל יֶתֶר מִדַּאי שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יז כ) "לְבִלְתִּי רוּם לְבָבוֹ מֵאֶחָיו". וְיִהְיֶה חוֹנֵן וּמְרַחֵם לִקְטַנִּים וּגְדוֹלִים. וְיֵצֵא וְיָבוֹא בְּחֶפְצֵיהֶם וּבְטוֹבָתָם. וְיָחוּס עַל כְּבוֹד קָטָן שֶׁבַּקְּטַנִּים. וּכְשֶׁמְּדַבֵּר אֶל כָּל הַקָּהָל בִּלְשׁוֹן רַבִּים יְדַבֵּר רַכּוֹת. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברי הימים א כח ב) "שְׁמָעוּנִי אַחַי וְעַמִּי". וְאוֹמֵר (מלכים א יב ז) "אִם הַיּוֹם תִּהְיֶה עֶבֶד לָעָם הַזֶּה" וְגוֹ'. לְעוֹלָם יִתְנַהֵג בַּעֲנָוָה יְתֵרָה. אֵין לָנוּ גָּדוֹל מִמּשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ וְהוּא אוֹמֵר (שמות טז ח) "וְנַחְנוּ מָה לֹא עָלֵינוּ תְלֻנֹּתֵיכֶם". וְיִסְבּל טָרְחָם וּמַשָּׂאָם וּתְלוּנוֹתָם וְקִצְפָּם כַּאֲשֶׁר יִשָּׂא הָאוֹמֵן אֶת הַיּוֹנֵק. רוֹעֶה קְרָאוֹ הַכָּתוּב. לִרְעוֹת בְּיַעֲקֹב עַמּוֹ. וְדַרְכּוֹ שֶׁל רוֹעֶה מְפֹרָשׁ בְּקַבָּלָה כְּרֹעֶה עֶדְרוֹ יִרְעֶה בִּזְרֹעוֹ יְקַבֵּץ טְלָאִים וּבְחֵיקוֹ יִשָּׂא וְגוֹ':

Melachim uMilchamot - Chapter 3


During a king's reign, he must write a Torah scroll for himself in addition to the scroll which was left to him by his ancestors. A court of 71 elders should check this scroll by comparing it to the Torah scroll kept in the Temple Courtyard.

If his ancestors did not leave him a Torah scroll or that scroll was lost, he must write two Torah scrolls:

one, in whose writing, he is obligated as is every individual Israelite, and which he places in his treasury;

the second, which should not move from his presence except when he enters a lavatory, the baths, or other places in which it is not fit to read the words of Torah.

When he goes to war, this scroll should accompany him. When he returns, it should accompany him. When he sits in judgement, it should be with him. When he dines, it should be opposite him, as Deuteronomy 17:19 states: 'It should accompany him and he should read it all the days of his life.'


בְּעֵת שֶׁיֵּשֵׁב הַמֶּלֶךְ עַל כִּסֵּא מַלְכוּתוֹ כּוֹתֵב לוֹ סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה לְעַצְמוֹ יֶתֶר עַל הַסֵּפֶר שֶׁהִנִּיחוּ לוֹ אֲבוֹתָיו. וּמַגִּיהוֹ מִסֵּפֶר הָעֲזָרָה עַל פִּי בֵּית דִּין שֶׁל שִׁבְעִים וְאֶחָד. אִם לֹא הִנִּיחוּ לוֹ אֲבוֹתָיו אוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱבַד כּוֹתֵב שְׁנֵי סִפְרֵי תּוֹרָה. אֶחָד מַנִּיחוֹ בְּבֵית גְּנָזָיו שֶׁהוּא מְצֻוֶּה בּוֹ כְּכָל אֶחָד מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל. וְהַשֵּׁנִי לֹא יָזוּז מִלְּפָנָיו אֶלָּא בְּעֵת שֶׁיִּכָּנֵס לְבֵית הַכִּסֵּא. אוֹ לְבֵית הַמֶּרְחָץ. אוֹ לְמָקוֹם שֶׁאֵין רָאוּי לִקְרִיאָה. יוֹצֵא לַמִּלְחָמָה וְהוּא עִמּוֹ. נִכְנָס וְהוּא עִמּוֹ. יוֹשֵׁב בַּדִּין וְהוּא עִמּוֹ. מֵסֵב וְהוּא כְּנֶגְדּוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יז יט) "וְהָיְתָה עִמּוֹ וְקָרָא בוֹ כָּל יְמֵי חַיָּיו":


'He should not amass many wives' Deuteronomy 17:17. The Oral Tradition states that he may take no more than eighteen wives.

The figure eighteen includes both wives and concubines. If he takes an additional wife and has relations with her, he is punished with lashes.

He may divorce one of his wives and marry another instead of the one he divorced.


לֹא יַרְבֶּה לוֹ נָשִׁים. מִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה לָמְדוּ שֶׁהוּא לוֹקֵחַ עַד שְׁמוֹנֶה עֶשְׂרֵה נָשִׁים בֵּין הַנָּשִׁים וּפִלַּגְשִׁים הַכּל שְׁמוֹנֶה עֶשְׂרֵה. וְאִם הוֹסִיף אַחַת וּבְעָלָהּ לוֹקֶה. וְיֵשׁ לוֹ לְגָרֵשׁ וְלִשָּׂא אַחֶרֶת תַּחַת זוֹ שֶׁגֵּרֵשׁ:


He may not accumulate many horses, only what is necessary for his cavalry. It is even forbidden for him to have one additional horse to run before him as is customarily done by other kings. If he adds an additional horse, he is to be lashed.


וְלֹא יַרְבֶּה לוֹ סוּסִים אֶלָּא כְּדֵי מֶרְכַּבְתּוֹ. אֲפִלּוּ סוּס אֶחָד פָּנוּי לִהְיוֹת רָץ לְפָנָיו כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁעוֹשִׂין שְׁאָר הַמְּלָכִים אָסוּר. וְאִם הוֹסִיף לוֹקֶה:


He may not amass silver and gold to keep in his personal treasury in order to boost his pride or allow him to glorify himself. Rather, he may collect only what is necessary to pay his soldiers, servants, and attendants.

Any gold and silver which he does accumulate should be given to the Temple treasury to be kept there, in readiness for the needs of the community and their wars.

It is a mitzvah to accumulate such treasure stores. The prohibition is only against amassing personal wealth in his own treasure houses, as Deuteronomy 17:17 states: 'He shall not amass for himself...' Should he amass personal wealth, he is to be lashed.


וְלֹא יַרְבֶּה לוֹ כֶּסֶף וְזָהָב לְהַנִּיחַ בִּגְנָזָיו וּלְהִתְגָּאוֹת בּוֹ אוֹ לְהִתְנָאוֹת בּוֹ. אֶלָּא כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּתֵּן לְחֵילוֹתָיו וְלַעֲבָדָיו וּלְשַׁמָּשָׁיו. וְכָל כֶּסֶף וְזָהָב שֶׁיַּרְבֶּה לְאוֹצַר בֵּית ה' וְלִהְיוֹת שָׁם מוּכָן לְצָרְכֵי הַצִּבּוּר וּלְמִלְחֲמוֹתָם הֲרֵי זֶה מִצְוָה לְהַרְבּוֹתוֹ. וְאֵין אָסוּר אֶלָּא לְהַרְבּוֹת לְעַצְמוֹ בְּבֵית גְּנָזָיו שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יז יז) "וְלֹא יַרְבֶּה לּוֹ". וְאִם הִרְבָּה לוֹקֶה:


The king is forbidden to drink wine to the point of intoxication, as Proverbs 31:4 states: 'It is not for kings to drink wine....'

Rather, he should be involved with Torah study and the needs of Israel by day and by night, as Deuteronomy, loc. cit. states: 'It should accompany him and he should read it all the days of his life.'


הַמֶּלֶךְ אָסוּר לִשְׁתּוֹת דֶּרֶךְ שִׁכְרוּת. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (משלי לא ד) "אַל לַמְלָכִים שְׁתוֹ יָיִן". אֶלָּא יִהְיֶה עוֹסֵק בַּתּוֹרָה וּבְצָרְכֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בַּיּוֹם וּבַלַּיְלָה. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יז יט) "וְהָיְתָה עִמּוֹ וְקָרָא בוֹ כָּל יְמֵי חַיָּיו":


Similarly, he should not be overly indulgent in his relations with his wives. Even if he has only one wife, he should not constantly be with her as is the practice of fools, as Proverbs 31:3 states: 'Do not give your strength to women.'

When the Torah forbade the king from accumulating many wives, its emphasis was that his heart not go astray as Deuteronomy 17: 17 warns: 'lest his heart go astray.' His heart is the heart of the entire congregation of Israel. Therefore, the verse commanded him to have it cleave to the Torah to a greater degree than the rest of the nation, as it is stated: 'all the days of his life.'


וְכֵן לֹא יִהְיֶה שָׁטוּף בְּנָשִׁים. אֲפִלּוּ לֹא הָיְתָה לוֹ אֶלָּא אַחַת לֹא יִהְיֶה מָצוּי אֶצְלָהּ תָּמִיד כִּשְׁאָר הַטִּפְּשִׁים. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (משלי לא ג) "אַל תִּתֵּן לַנָּשִׁים חֵילֶךָ". עַל הֲסָרַת לִבּוֹ הִקְפִּידָה תּוֹרָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יז יז) "וְלֹא יָסוּר לְבָבוֹ". שֶׁלִּבּוֹ הוּא לֵב כָּל קְהַל יִשְׂרָאֵל לְפִיכָךְ דִּבְּקוֹ הַכָּתוּב בַּתּוֹרָה יֶתֶר מִשְּׁאָר הָעָם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יז יט) "כָּל יְמֵי חַיָּיו":


We have already explained that kings of the Davidic dynasty may be judged and testimony may be given against them.

However, in regard to the other kings of Israel, the Sages decreed that they neither sit in judgement or be judged. They may not give testimony, nor is testimony given against them. This is because they are arrogant and the matter may cause a tragedy and loss to the faith.


כְּבָר בֵּאַרְנוּ שֶׁמַּלְכֵי בֵּית דָּוִד דָּנִין אוֹתָן וּמְעִידִין עֲלֵיהֶן. אֲבָל מַלְכֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל גָּזְרוּ חֲכָמִים שֶׁלֹּא יָדוּן וְלֹא דָּנִין אוֹתוֹ. וְלֹא מֵעִיד וְלֹא מְעִידִין עָלָיו. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁלִּבָּן גַּס בָּהֶן וְיָבוֹא מִן הַדָּבָר תַּקָּלָה וְהֶפְסֵד עַל הַדָּת:


Anyone who rebels against a king of Israel may be executed by the king.

Even if the king orders one of the people to go to a particular place and the latter refuses, or he orders him not to leave his house and he goes out, the offender is liable to be put to death. The king may execute him if he desires, as Joshua 1:18 states: 'Whoever rebels against your command ... shall be put to death."

Similarly, anyone who embarrasses or shames the king may be executed by the king as was Shim'i ben Gera.

The king may only execute people by decapitation. He may also imprison offenders and have them beaten with rods to protect his honor. However, he may not confiscate property. If he does, it is considered theft.


כָּל הַמּוֹרֵד בְּמֶלֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל יֵשׁ לַמֶּלֶךְ רְשׁוּת לְהָרְגוֹ. אֲפִלּוּ גָּזַר עַל אֶחָד מִשְּׁאָר הָעָם שֶׁיֵּלֵךְ לְמָקוֹם פְּלוֹנִי וְלֹא הָלַךְ אוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יָצָא מִבֵּיתוֹ וְיָצָא חַיָּב מִיתָה. וְאִם רָצָה לְהָרְגוֹ יֵהָרֵג. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (יהושע א יח) "כָּל אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יַמְרֶה אֶת פִּיךָ". וְכֵן כָּל הַמְבַזֶּה אֶת הַמֶּלֶךְ אוֹ הַמְחָרְפוֹ יֵשׁ לַמֶּלֶךְ רְשׁוּת לְהָרְגוֹ. כְּשִׁמְעִי בֶּן גֵּרָא. וְאֵין לַמֶּלֶךְ רְשׁוּת לַהֲרֹג אֶלָּא בְּסַיִף בִּלְבַד. וְיֵשׁ לוֹ לֶאֱסֹר וּלְהַכּוֹת בְּשׁוֹטִין לִכְבוֹדוֹ. אֲבָל לֹא יַפְקִיר מָמוֹן וְאִם הִפְקִיר הֲרֵי זֶה גֵּזֶל:


A person who negates a king's command because he was occupied with a mitzvah, even a minor one, is not liable. Whose words should have precedence in case of conflict, the words of the Master or the words of the subject? Needless to say, if a king decrees that a mitzvah should be negated, his words should not be heeded.


הַמְבַטֵּל גְּזֵרַת הַמֶּלֶךְ בִּשְׁבִיל שֶׁנִּתְעַסֵּק בְּמִצְוֹת. אֲפִלּוּ בְּמִצְוָה קַלָּה הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר. דִּבְרֵי הָרַב וְדִבְרֵי הָעֶבֶד דִּבְרֵי הָרַב קוֹדְמִין. וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר אִם גָּזַר הַמֶּלֶךְ לְבַטֵּל מִצְוָה שֶׁאֵין שׁוֹמְעִין לוֹ:


A murderer against whom the evidence is not totally conclusive, or who was not warned before he slew his victim, or even one who was observed by only one witness, and similarly, an enemy who inadvertently killed one of his foes - the king is granted license to execute them and to improve society according to the needs of the time.

He may execute many on one day, hang them, and leave them hanging for many days in order to cast fear into the hearts and destroy the power of the wicked of the earth.


כָּל הַהוֹרֵג נְפָשׁוֹת שֶׁלֹּא בִּרְאָיָה בְּרוּרָה. אוֹ בְּלֹא הַתְרָאָה. אֲפִלּוּ בְּעֵד אֶחָד. אוֹ שׂוֹנֵא שֶׁהָרַג בִּשְׁגָגָה. יֵשׁ לַמֶּלֶךְ רְשׁוּת לְהָרְגוֹ וּלְתַקֵּן הָעוֹלָם כְּפִי מַה שֶּׁהַשָּׁעָה צְרִיכָה. וְהוֹרֵג רַבִּים בְּיוֹם אֶחָד וְתוֹלֶה וּמַנִּיחָן תְּלוּיִים יָמִים רַבִּים לְהָטִיל אֵימָה וּלְשַׁבֵּר יַד רִשְׁעֵי הָעוֹלָם:

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.
Download Rambam Study Schedules: 3 Chapters | 1 Chapter | Daily Mitzvah
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Vowelized Hebrew text courtesy Torat Emet under CC 2.5 license.