Thursday, August 27, 2009

Parshat Softim: You should elect judges.

The Parsha of Shofetim and the portion of electing a king I find very interesting.

The question is: Is it required or is it something that we can request but is not required which of course leads to the question in the future will we need a king. I try to search for truth and I was reading some of the commentary and if anyone has something to add here I would love to hear from you.

Anyway in Deuteronomy (17:14) it says after you possess the land "I will set a king over me as do all the nations," you shall be free to set a king over yourself one chosen by G-d. Artscroll commends on Sanhedrin 20 that says one of the three things required when you land in Israel is to appoint a king and it quotes Exodus 17:16 that says the war against Amalek will be fought by the throne of G-d. It really doesn't seem like it is suggesting a human king but the G-d of Israel being the king. As it says in hebrew the throne of G-d.

Then you go to Shmuel and this request is repeated that we should have a king like other nations to fight wars and G-d criticizes them for needing a human king and not having G-d as their king but nevertheless gives in to this request even though seemingly it isn't the ideal because otherwise why was G-d critical of this. The wording is exactly as in Deutoronomy of having a king over us so it seems Moses was partially prophesying here and saying that we would want a king like other nations and G-d would allow us to have one even though in this case we were doing it to be like other nations.

If you read Shmuel (See Shmuel or Samuel Chapter 8) you see that G-d was not happy with the request but gave in and even warned the Jewish people that having a king may lead to AN ABUSE OF POWER and taking your sons and daughters for certain tasks "he will take your sons and place them in his chariots and cavalry and take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers" (Shmuel 8:12-13). He will take a tenth of your grain (8:15) and you would cry out to G-d but G-d will not answer you on this day (8:18) son once you want a King and you then later on cry out on the harsh activities of the king G-d will need head your crying out. So this does not seem like some ideal. And after this warning they do agree and Shmuel picks a king for them.

But it does bear the question which I admit in the future where there is peace would we need a king since in the first place this was never an ideal as this all shows. So as someone who is searching for truth what is the answer to this as I do think most believe we will have a king in the future. I know the prophets view this ideal of each person (each family) under a fig tree and each having their own land. I don't know the passages for this. It certainly doesn't seem like it was a requirement but that the Israelites requested it and G-d gave in even though it wasn't an ideal. If it was why warn the Jewish people of abuses of power and taking your children and your property and letting them know that once you elect a king and then have second thoughts G-d will not hear you at that time because you were warned in the first place.

So I would love to here some other perspectives and idea's on this as I find it an interesting topic as I find it interesting that this whole idea of abuse of power by having a king and giving him much power is nothing new.

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