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

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Wed Aug 15 01:47:53 EDT 2007


Dear Shoshanna and all,

As I'm sure that you know, not all authorities consider the law of the king 
in Deut. 17 to be a positive commandment. While Mimonides (Rambam) does 
consider it obligitory to annoint a king, Nahmanidies (Ramban) disagrees, 
and understands it as meaning that IF Israel were to want a king, then these 
are the terms that they must follow.


I do agree, that the Deuteronomist considers the Davidic kingship to be 
representitive of God's will. One of the major themes of Judges is that the 
prior, pre-monarchic, system did not work. "In those days there was no king 
in Israel, every man did what was right in his own eyes" (which, despite 
appearences, occurs only three times!), is a NEGATIVE comment: there was 
anarchy, and the part of that anarchy that the author was conserned about 
was in worship of God (remember, the Bible is a religious text, not a book 
on political science!) - cf. Deut. 12:8. The king is responsible for keeping 
the people faithful to God's laws, and with no king, there was nobody who 
could do this.

The whole book of Judges is composed around two conflicting themes: on one 
hand, the tribes, which start off in chapter 1 as completely disunited, form 
ever-growing ad-hoc groupings, culminating in 11 tribes being united it the 
final episode. On the other hand, inter-tribal conflicts also grow more 
intense, from Deborah's cursing some tribes, through Gideon and Abimelech 
and finally, again, the 12th tribe being almost wiped out by the united 11. 
These conflicting themes come to a crisis, which MUST lead to a change!

1 Sam. 8, in which Samuel argues against a king but God commands him to 
annoint one anyway, must be read as a "warning" by the Deuteronomistic 
author - yes, the monarchy is divinely commanded, but in reality most kings 
were far from perfect. In fact, one can compare Samuel's "speach" to the law 
in Deut. 17 and see the literary relationship between the two texts. In 
other words, the (exilic) writer is trying to explain why, if God wanted 
there to be a king and God chose the Davidic line, the same God allowed 
those kings to lead the people to destruction and exile.

Yigal Levin


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Shoshanna Walker" <rosewalk at concentric.net>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Cc: <JCR128 at student.anglia.ac.uk>
Sent: Wednesday, August 15, 2007 7:02 AM
Subject: [b-hebrew] The 'need' for a king?


> Then think a little harder, because the "need" for a king was because
> G-d (and not any human representatives/ 'authors' of the Torah)
> COMMANDED - once we possessed and settled our Land - that we appoint
> a G-d chosen (ie; with the concurrence of both a prophet and the
> Sanhedrin) king with certain qualifications, which are described.
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> Ie; it was not only permitted, but it was COMMANDED that at some
> future point, when we were established in our land that we request a
> king.
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> Devarim 17: 14, 15
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> Shoshanna
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> 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.
>
> James Christian Read
> BSc Computer Science (thesis: concept driven machine translation
> using the Aleppo codex)
> http://www.lamie.org/hebrew
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>  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.
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> 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 convers
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