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Melachim uMilchamot - Chapter 2

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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':

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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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