The Real King

August 22, 2019 at 3:52 PM , , ,

שׂוֹם תָּשִׂים עָלֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ – דברים יז, טו

“…..You shall appoint a king over you….” (Devarim 17:15)

When a king is appointed, he is anointed with oil. —Rambam, Hilchos Melachim 1:7

Parashat Shoftim
When stating the mitzvah to appoint a king, the Torah does not mention the process of anointing the king with oil. Furthermore, Yehoshua is considered to have the Halachic status of a king (see Rambam, Melachim 1:3), but we don’t find that he was ever anointed! The only record of Yehoshua’s appointment is the authority vested in him by Moshe “leaning his hands upon him” and ordaining him (Bamidbar 27:18-23). If Yehoshua was a king, why was he not anointed?

The monarch in Judaism is tasked not only with governing and protecting the nation’s prosperity and security, but also primarily “to elevate the true faith and fill the world with justice (ibid, 4:10).” In this sense, the monarchy is the instrument through which the teachings and rulings of the Sanhedrin, the Torah authorities, are implemented among the masses. These two forms of authority came together in the person of Yehoshua, who was also the absolute authority on the transmission of the Torah in his generation.

Therein lay the difference between Yehoshua and all later kings. Yehoshua’s spiritual empowerment and ordination was by Moshe “leaning his hands upon him”. His kingship, however, was ancillary to his Torah leadership, and therefore did not require additional appointment through anointing.

Anointing the king with oil is only necessary when the king is a separate entity from the Torah authority. The Torah makes no mention of such anointing, however, because the Torah’s ideal form of monarchy is one in which anointing is unnecessary, for the physical leadership is a byproduct of spiritual leadership.

—Likutei Sichos, vol. 23, pp. 190-197

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