The Rambam in Hilchos Melachim 3:2 writes how a king can't have more than 18 wives:

לֹא יַרְבֶּה לוֹ נָשִׁים. מִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה לָמְדוּ שֶׁהוּא לוֹקֵחַ עַד שְׁמוֹנֶה עֶשְׂרֵה נָשִׁים בֵּין הַנָּשִׁים וּפִלַּגְשִׁים הַכּל שְׁמוֹנֶה עֶשְׂרֵה

"He must not have too many women" (Deut. 17:17). By Tradition we have learned that he may have up to eighteen women including wives and concubines.

However in the subsequent 2 halachot the Rambam writes how a king may not own more horses or gold/silver than he may need.

Unlike the number of wives a king may have, why isn't a specific number given for the amount of horses and gold/silver that a king may own?


1 Answer 1


This is unsourced.

The reason why horses and gold aren’t given a set amount is that different kings have needs for different amounts of each depending on the circumstances. For example, during a time of war, a king would need more gold to pay soldiers and more horses for them to ride on than in a time of peace. Therefore the Rambam said that a king can’t have more than he needs- in his specific circumstance.

Whereas the amount of wives wouldn’t change based on circumstances, and therefore can be a set amount.

  • Sound reasoning- will accept if you're able to find a source!
    – alicht
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 18:32
  • Just about nobody today has more than one wife. Would a king today be allowed to have 18 wives, which is 17 more than 99+% of men? It sounds like yes (mideoraisa; if he's Ashkenazi you'd have other issues), but according to this answer it's not clear why that should be.
    – Heshy
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 19:50
  • @Heshy remember that the takana not to have more than one wife was many years after the last of the Jewish kings. Before the takana, many important figures had many wives. For example, Avraham had 3 (according to pshat), Yacov had four, David had at least 6, Shlomo had 1000, Gidon had 70 kids from “many wives”. Maybe a king nowadays wouldn’t be allowed to have 18 wives, I don’t know. But the question isn’t about nowadays, it is about when there were kings.
    – Lo ani
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 21:05
  • @Loani but that's exactly the question. The limit on horses and money is what he needs, the limit on wives is 18. Your claim is that the amount of "needed" horses and money can change with circumstances, but the number of "needed" wives will never change, it's always 18. For that to be true you have to argue that 18 is the needed number even today. I find that hard to justify.
    – Heshy
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 21:11
  • @Heshy 1. I didn’t say that that’s the amount needed. It’s the permissible amount. 2. I don’t claim to understand why 18 was the chosen number. I also don’t claim that it can never change. Just that the amount of permissible wives doesn’t change for every king like the amount of horses and gold does. Maybe they understood that more than 18 wives is bad for any king, no matter the place and time, but having a set amount of gold and horses, no matter how high, might not be enough at a certain point in time, and therefore they didn’t set a limit.
    – Lo ani
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 21:27

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