[b-hebrew] The 'need' for a king?

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Tue Aug 14 22:51:07 EDT 2007

Dear James:

On 8/14/07, JAMES CHRISTIAN READ <JCR128 at student.anglia.ac.uk> wrote:
> BJW:The recurring phrases of
> "there was no king in Israel" and "every one did right in his own eyes" indicate
> that "Keeping the Law of Moses" (including Deuteronomy) was not being done.
> JCR:My understanding was always that these phrases were
> used in reference to a golden age where the people had
> enough faith in Yhwh that they felt no need to have an
> earthly figure to look toward for salvation.
Looking at the context, I always read the above phrases as indicating
apostasy, that they did what was right in their own eyes, not YHWH's.

> In fact, Yhwh expresses feelings of hurt when the
> people ask for a king, looking to the idolatrous
> neighboring nations as their example. Furthermore, the
> regal system proved to be no less flawed and perhaps
> even more so than the period of the Judges. They then
> also had to start paying tax as a result of their
> faithless request for a king.
Agreed. As it states in Proverbs 28:2, when a people is rebellious, it
has many "princes", where it appears that the role of the "prince" was
more to enforce the king's law, i.e. police force, than as we think
today as a hereditary office. The people were forging their own
slavery chains.

> In fact, now I think of it, there is absolutely nothing
> I can think of in the hebrew canon that would ever
> lead anyone to believe that the conversion to regal
> system was considered an improvement by Yhwh and his
> representatives, the authors of the canon.
Agreed. While there were some good kings, other kings were disasters
for Israel and Judea.

> James Christian Read
> BSc Computer Science (thesis: concept driven machine translation using the Aleppo codex)
> http://www.lamie.org/hebrew

Karl W. Randolph.

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