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    A king without a people – Shof’tim

    King Solomon, from a Bible card, 1896

    When a king ascends his throne, says the Torah, “He shall write for himself a copy of this Torah and it shall be with him all the days of his life” (Deut. 17:18).

    What a contrast – other kings are known by the crown on their head, whilst an Israelite king is known by the book that is with him.

    It almost seems as though a non-Israelite king hardly needs a people but a Jewish king cannot possibly hold office without a people. The people comes first: “from the midst of your brethren shall you appoint a king” (verse 16).

    The king also needs a people because the book that accompanies him spells out how they are to relate to each other.

    After the death of Solomon the relationship of the royal family to the people broke down, and the nation split into two.

    Under Solomon things had been tense but now they became impossible. Rehoboam told the people, “My father chastised you with whips; I will chastise you with scorpions”, and the people sadly concluded, “What portion have we in David (i.e. in the Davidic dynasty)?“ (I Kings 12:14, 16).

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