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According to Halacha, is it permissible to have multiple kings govern over Israel at the same time? Like could you have different kings each governing but all accountable to say a greater king or court and they co-rule over the state of Israel? Sources for this please.

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    Wasn't this the case for most of ancient Jewish history?
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 28, 2023 at 2:08
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    @DoubleAA doesn't mean it was permissable? Many of those kings weren't exactly a paradigm of halachic life! Commented Dec 28, 2023 at 11:23
  • Why not first explain Halacha? Could you do that? Commented Dec 28, 2023 at 19:01
  • Since you raised the point, where are your sources for this please. Commented Dec 28, 2023 at 19:02
  • Are you suggesting Israel is special, or Asking whether multiple kings might reign anywhere at the same time? Do you see no difference between your original idea - which looked like 'joint' kingship - and various kings being subordinate to a greater one? Could you go back and ask what 'kingship' or nations in general or Israel in particular mean to you, or does none of that matter? Commented Dec 28, 2023 at 19:14

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Here are some relevant points to that question. I would imagine a strict halachic ruling (if there is one) would take into account these elements.

Yeravam was informed by Achiyah Hashiloni that part of the kingdom would be given to him. Hence Hashem's navi is setting the scene for two kings in Israel (albeit over different parts/tribes).

https://www.sefaria.org/I_Kings.11.31?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en

וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ לְיָֽרׇבְעָ֔ם קַח־לְךָ֖ עֲשָׂרָ֣ה קְרָעִ֑ים כִּ֣י כֹה֩ אָמַ֨ר יְהֹוָ֜ה אֱלֹהֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל הִנְנִ֨י קֹרֵ֤עַ אֶת־הַמַּמְלָכָה֙ מִיַּ֣ד שְׁלֹמֹ֔ה וְנָתַתִּ֣י לְךָ֔ אֵ֖ת עֲשָׂרָ֥ה הַשְּׁבָטִֽים׃

and he said to Yorov῾am, Take thee ten pieces: for thus says the Lord, the God of Yisra᾽el, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Shelomo, and will give ten tribes to thee:

וְהַשֵּׁ֥בֶט הָאֶחָ֖ד יִֽהְיֶה־לּ֑וֹ לְמַ֣עַן ׀ עַבְדִּ֣י דָוִ֗ד וּלְמַ֙עַן֙ יְר֣וּשָׁלַ֔͏ִם הָעִיר֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בָּחַ֣רְתִּי בָ֔הּ מִכֹּ֖ל שִׁבְטֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ (but he shall have one tribe for my servant David’s sake, and for Yerushalayim’s sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Yisra᾽el:).

On the flip side of exploring this topic, see Chullin 60b. where two Kings sharing a crown is certainly an issue (the moon's complaint to Hashem about both the sun and moon ruling)

https://www.sefaria.org/Chullin.60b.3?lang=bi

אמרה ירח לפני הקב"ה רבש"ע אפשר לשני מלכים שישתמשו בכתר אחד אמר לה לכי ומעטי את עצמך

Then, the moon said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, is it possible for two kings to serve with one crown? One of us must be subservient to the other. God therefore said to her, i.e., the moon: If so, go and diminish yourself.


A further question relevant to your query may be what constitues a King of Israel (halachically)? For further exploration, The Rambam has a number of things to say about this. I still wonder though what is the minimal requirement for someone to halachically be considered a king?

https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1188345/jewish/Melachim-uMilchamot-Chapter-1.htm

https://www.sefaria.org/Mishneh_Torah%2C_Kings_and_Wars.1.7?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en

אֵין מַעֲמִידִין מֶלֶךְ בַּתְּחִלָּה אֶלָּא עַל פִּי בֵּית דִּין שֶׁל שִׁבְעִים זְקֵנִים וְעַל פִּי נָבִיא. כִּיהוֹשֻׁעַ שֶׁמִּנָּהוּ משֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ וּבֵית דִּינוֹ. וּכְשָׁאוּל וְדָוִד שֶׁמִּנָּם שְׁמוּאֵל הָרָמָתִי וּבֵית דִּינוֹ:

As an initial and preferred option, a king may be appointed only by a court of 70 elders, together with a prophet, as Joshua was appointed by Moses and his court, and as Saul and David, were appointed by Samuel of Ramah and his court.

Further in Perek Alef

נָבִיא שֶׁהֶעֱמִיד מֶלֶךְ מִשְּׁאָר שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. וְהָיָה אוֹתוֹ הַמֶּלֶךְ הוֹלֵךְ בְּדֶרֶךְ הַתּוֹרָה וְהַמִּצְוָה וְנִלְחָם מִלְחֲמוֹת ה'. הֲרֵי זֶה מֶלֶךְ וְכָל מִצְוֹת הַמַּלְכוּת נוֹהֲגוֹת בּוֹ.

If a prophet appoints a king from any other tribe of Israel and that king follows the path of Torah and mitzvot and fights the wars of God, he is considered as a king, and all the commandments associated with the monarchy apply to him.

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Ramban touches on a lot of the points you're raising.

He has a lengthy piece in Bereishis 49:10 where he essentially says that only kings descended from Yehuda are permitted to rule.

He explains away Shaul who was from Ephraim saying that had he not sinned he would have only ruled Ephraim, Menashe and the tribe of Binyamin as an independent monarchy, alternatively he would have been subject to the king from Yehuda.

He also says that Yeravam aside, who was appointed by Achiya, there shouldn't have been any more kings from other than Yehuda.

Ramban doesn't seem to have any intrinsic problem with multiple kings per se however as a matter of practical halacha it seems that only kings from Yehuda need apply which presumably would limit the kingship to one at a time (unless two kings from Yehuda govern simultaneously?)

Here's the relevant excerpt:

רמב"ן בראשית מ"ט:י ומה שאמר הכתוב: נסכלת לא שמרת את מצות י"י כי עתה הכין י"י ממלכתך אל ישראל עד עולם (שמואל א י"ג:י"ג), שאם לא חטא היה לזרעו מלכות בישראל, לא על כלם, וזה טעם: אל ישראל, אולי היה מולך על שבטי אמו, על בנימין ואפרים ומנשה, כי יהודה ואפרים כשני עממין נחשבין בישראל, או היה מלך תחת מלך יהודה.] ולפי דעתי, היו המלכים המולכים על ישראל משאר השבטים אחרי דוד עוברים על דעת אביהם ומעבירים נחלה, והם היו סומכין להם על דבר אחיה הנביא שמשח לירבעם ואמר: ואענה את זרע דוד למען זאת אך לא כל הימים (מלכים א י"א:ל"ט), וכאשר האריכו ישראל להמליך עליהם משאר השבטים מלך אחר מלך, [ולא היו חוזרים אל מלכות יהודה,] עברו על צואת הזקן ונענשו בהם, וכמו שאמר הושע: הם המליכו ולא ממני (הושע ח':ד').

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The deposed, penultimate king of Judah retained his title of king, even after he was replaced by another king and the kingdom fell. This means that you don't stop being a king by stopping from being a king. We know the final king was called a king, so we have an example of two kings at the same time. Jehoahaz could also have been alive, in exile, in Egypt.

27And it was in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, that Evil-Merodach, king of Babylonia, in the year of his coronation, lifted up the head of Jehoiachin, king of Judah and released him from prison.

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