Rambam in the laws of kings 3:10 states

כל ההורג נפשות שלא בראיה ברורה. או בלא התראה. אפלו בעד אחד. או שונא שהרג בשגגה. יש למלך רשות להרגו ולתקן העולם כפי מה שהשעה צריכה. והורג רבים ביום אחד ותולה ומניחן תלויים ימים רבים להטיל אימה ולשבר יד רשעי העולם:

The king has the right to execute a killer, even when there is no clear proof (against him) or no warning was given him or even if there was only one witness. He may execute someone who killed accidentally out of hatred. He may do so for purposes of establishing Public Order, as is necessary depending on the prevailing circumstances. He may even execute many people on one day and hang them and leave them hanging for many days in order to instill fear and crush the hands of the wicked of the world.

I would like to know the source in the Torah, ie 5 Books of Moshe, which provides the king power to execute someone or many people without due legal process and when the person in question has not committed an act of rebellion against the king (mored b'malchut).

  • 1
    When you say 'Torah', are you specifically referring to one of the 5 books of Moses? Or does any source earlier than the Rambam count? (I'm asking based on what I see in a cursory glance of the commentators of the Rambam, they seem to point to either a Gemara in Yevamos 79 or verses in Shmuel 2) Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 17:17
  • I've also seen Y'hoshua' 1:18 cited.
    – Fred
    Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 17:25
  • @Salmononius2 the 5 books of Moses only please. Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 17:49
  • 3
    You seem to be assuming that there must be a source in the Pentateuch. Perhaps, like much of halacha, the source is an oral tradition from Sinai.
    – Loewian
    Commented Feb 13, 2020 at 1:16
  • @Loewian you don't need to come on to oral tradition, the books of the Neviim have examplesof kings killing people without due process who were not rebellious. However since this contravenes explicit verses in the Chumash I am limiting my question to that source to understand if there is a pasuk that can be/is used to justify this halacha Commented Feb 13, 2020 at 14:26

2 Answers 2


Ran in his eleventh derashah understands that one of the fundamental purposes of appointing the king is to act as a separate source of judgement (outside of the courts which need to act within specific strict rules of justice) in order to maintain the well-running of society.

Thus, implicitly included in the commandment to appoint a king (in Devarim 17:25) is the assumption that the king is granted all the powers necessary to maintain order.

  • Just to make sure I understand your answer, does the Ran cite a source for his understanding that the purpose of appointing a king is to "act as a separate source of judgement"? Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 19:19
  • Not that I can see. He seems to take it as a given
    – Joel K
    Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 20:53

The Maharats Hayes dealt with this question in Torat Neviim Chapter 7: Din Melech Israel (Rules of the King of Israel).

He also asks how is it possible for him to levy taxes, and to compel those who are qualified to be his ministers as the Rambam said in laws of kings 4:1,2,5 ...

His answer is that its right came from the fact that he / his ancestor made a deal with the people according him those rights. His point of view is that the Parachat Hamelech (Samuel I 8), is a "constitution", not an Halacha.

So he asks, that it is good for "money problems", as the people can absolve (Mo'hel) on those, but how is it possible for them to do so for their lives ?

He answer, that as the people choose to have a kingship-based society, those who come and disrespect him, is considerated as dangerous for the society and so, as a Rotseah'.

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and also:

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  • Chasam Sofer also undersrands mored malchus that the Jews accepted it on themselves.
    – Shlomy
    Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 20:36
  • @Shlomy where did he wrote that ? I also think it's interesting to understand dina demalhouta.
    – EzrielS
    Commented Nov 17, 2020 at 11:04

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