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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?

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  • 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
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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).

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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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