The Talmud says:

חכם קודם למלך ישראל חכם שמת אין לנו כיוצא בו מלך ישראל שמת כל ישראל ראוים למלכות -- A Torah Sage comes before the king of Israel, because if a Sage dies, we have no one like him to replace him, but if a king of Israel dies, all of Israel are fit for royalty. [Horayot 13a]

Doesn't a king of the Jews have to descend from King David?

  • Are you referring to passages such as 1 Kings 2:33, 2:45, 9:5; Isaiah 9:7; Jeremiah 17:25, 33:17 ? If so, then please note that a naive or simplistic interpretation of at least some of them is easily disproved by either scripture or history. – Lucian Oct 12 '20 at 3:07
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    Midrash Tanchuma Parshat Bo עד שלא נבחר דוד היו כל ישראל ראויים למלכות משנבחר דוד יצאו כל ישראל – Alex Oct 12 '20 at 3:08
  • @Alex But the Chashmonaim still became kings? (Yes I know what the Ramban says, but nevertheless no-one at the time objected to the arrangement) – The GRAPKE Oct 12 '20 at 3:43
  • this question is discussed here but I don't understand it well enough to present an answer sefaria.org/… – rosends Oct 12 '20 at 8:22
  • I can name dozens of kings of Jews who weren't descended from David. Why do you think they have to descend from David? – Double AA Oct 12 '20 at 13:28

See Rambam Hilchot Melachim Chapter 1.

Any Jew can be appointed king as long as he is not a convert nor descended exclusively from converts (Law 4), a woman (Law 5) nor currently or previously employed in a dishonorable profession (Law 6).

Although the Davidic line was promised everlasting kingship (Law 7), a king from any tribe, appointed by a prophet, and who behaves appropriately, has the status of a king (Law 8). However, such a king's line of succession will eventually cease (Law 9). He also cannot reign in Jerusalem (Law 10).


See the Rav Yerucham Fischel Perla's commentary on Sefer Hamitzvos of Rav Sadia Gaon, where he proves definitively, with proofs from all over the place, that a king may be appointed from any Shevet.

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    Can you summarize one or a few of his proofs? – robev Oct 12 '20 at 15:10

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