My son noticed in Ⅱ Sh'muel chapters 56 that, although David is generally called "David", there are times he's called "hamelech" (="the king") or "hamelech David" (="the king David"). (I'm speaking of the narrative, not reported speech.) What determines when he's called which (also in other chapters, like 1516)?

  • Would you mind posting the exactly pesukim for each example. This will help improve the question and make things easier for those wishing to look things up.
    – Yehoshua
    Commented Nov 6, 2012 at 9:56
  • @Yehoshua, it'll get unwieldy. I'll add links.
    – msh210
    Commented Nov 6, 2012 at 17:14
  • Maybe see Or HaChayim to 24:29: hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14020&st=&pgnum=297
    – b a
    Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 1:27
  • 1
    There are 9 times in Nach where it says Dovid Hamelech - דויד המלך - and Dovid is spelled with a Yud. There are 6 times in Nach where it says HaMelech Dovid - המלך דויד - and Dovid is spelled with a Yud. These 15 instances all occur in Divrei HaYamim. There is only one instance where it says - דוד המלך - and that is in Shmuel2 13:39. There are 22 instances where it says Hamelech Dovid - המלך דוד - and they are all in either Shmuel2 or Melachim1. Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 17:32

2 Answers 2


Sefer Magen Shaul explains why in Shmuel2 13:39 it says Dovid HaMelech instead of HaMelech Dovid. He says that at this point Dovid lost the strength of Malchus by losing interest in chasing after AvSholom. Therefore the word HaMelech is placed after his name in this instance.


The father of a friend of mine works with the police. He's in the area of criminology and teaches interviewers how to interpert the answers they receive based on a system he developed. The base of it is - notice variations of words and when they're used, it's the same but has a different meaning to the intervewee.

For example, if I say "John Doe", or "John" or "Johnny" or "my friend" I'm in a different state of feeling towards him at that specific part of the story.

L'havdil, tanach uses a same method. See Malbim on beginning of Megilla regarding "Vashti", "Hamalka Vashti" and "Vashti Hamalka". Achashverosh as well.

Iwould assume something similar for David Hamelech in the sources you mention.

  • Malbim's commentary to Ester is here: hebrewbooks.org/…
    – b a
    Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 8:26
  • 1
    I suspected something of this sort (which is why I asked), but was looking for specifics.
    – msh210
    Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 17:04

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