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The Rambam (Hilchot Melachim 11:8) says the following:

ואם יעמוד מלך מבית דויד הוגה בתורה ועוסק במצוות כדויד אביו, כפי תורה שבכתב ושבעל פה, ויכוף כל ישראל לילך בה ולחזק בדקה, ויילחם מלחמות ה'--הרי זה בחזקת שהוא משיח: אם עשה והצליח, וניצח כל האומות שסביביו, ובנה מקדש במקומו, וקיבץ נדחי ישראל--הרי זה משיח בוודאי.

This passage suggests that the Mashiach will be a King.

Famously, Rabbi Akiva (and others in his generation) believed Bar Kochba to be the Mashiach. The next Rambam seems to suggest that Bar Kochba was a king (ibid.):

שהרי רבי עקיבה חכם גדול מחכמי משנה היה, והוא היה נושא כליו של בן כוזבא המלך, והוא היה אומר עליו, שהוא המלך המשיח. ודימה הוא וכל חכמי דורו שהוא המלך המשיח, עד שנהרג בעוונות;

Following this can we assume that Rabbi Akiva believed him to be a king? If yes, was he ever anointed as such? Is 'fighting the wars of Hashem' a sufficient criterion for being labelled a king?

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  • What is the question (at least according to the Rambam) "בן כוזבא המלך" - he calls him a king? Is your question what qualified him to be king, or are you asking if anyone disagrees with the Rambam? Or both?
    – Yishai
    Jun 16 '14 at 20:40
  • @Yishai Can a person be called a king if they haven't been anointed as such? It seems like the Rambam is suggesting that he can, based on the story of Rabbi Akiva, but I want to know why
    – bondonk
    Jun 16 '14 at 21:07
  • IIRC the mashiach is meant to be anointed, by Eliyahu HaNavi...
    – AKayser
    Jun 16 '14 at 22:47
  • @AKayser exactly, so was Bar Kochba anointed?
    – bondonk
    Jun 17 '14 at 13:07
  • I cannot remember seeing anywhere that he was anointed. Although, maybe he would have been anointed if he won the war (and turned out to be Mashiach!). However, the Rambam you quoted calls him a King, implying he was in fact anointed
    – AKayser
    Jun 17 '14 at 13:53
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The Lubavitcher Rebbe writes in Likkutei Sichos 8 page 361 (at the bottom) that since there was no Navi, and the Rambam (Hilchos Malachim 1:3) requires a Navi (and a Sanhedrin of 71) to appoint a king, Moshiach is not a formal king, rather called one like the Rambam calls Ben Kuzba.

In Likkutei Sichos 23 page 197 footnote 59 he writes that the intention is that he will not initially have the Halachos of a king.

Regarding anointing, the Minchas Chinuch Mitzvah 107 at the end makes a Chakira if the son of a king doesn't need anointing (Rambam Hilchos Malachim Chapter 1 at the end) it is because of an inheritance or because the anointing of the father continues to the son. According to the view that it is an inheritance, Moshiach won't need to be anointed at all. However, according to the view that it comes through a continuation, and since there was a rebellion against the last king of the Davidic line, the anointing doesn't hold just like previous kings who had to be anointed to settle a previously disputed continuation. He concludes that Moshiach will pasken which way to decide this question.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, however, points out that the very name Moshiach means anointed (and not a possible alternative meaning of greatness), and therefore suggests that there may be two stages where he is initially Moshiach without being anointed, and will then subsequently be anointed.

The upshot is (if I understand correctly - the subject is a bit cryptic and only in footnotes) that Moshiach will initially function as a King, but not have the Halachos of one, and will only subsequently be installed as a proper Halachic king.

See the Rambam at the end of Chapter 5 of Gezeila V'Aveida for how such a "king in function" may work - הסכימו עליו בני אותה הארץ, וסמכה דעתן שהוא אדוניהם והם לו עבדים - The people accept that he is the king, and understand that he is their master and they his servants.

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  • Agrippas had a Navi appoint him? May 31 '15 at 19:46
  • @Mefaresh, sorry, I'm not following your question?
    – Yishai
    May 31 '15 at 20:42
  • Agripas was a melech halachically yet he didn't have a navi appoint him May 31 '15 at 20:46
  • @mefaresh, who mentioned a Navi?
    – Yishai
    May 31 '15 at 21:09
  • Quote from you: The Lubavitcher Rebbe writes in Likkutei Sichos 8 page 361 (at the bottom) that since there was no Navi, and the Rambam (Hilchos Malachim 1:3) requires a Navi (and a Sanhedrin of 71) to appoint a king, Moshiach is not a formal king, rather called one like the Rambam calls Ben Kuzba. May 31 '15 at 21:16
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In short, NO.

On his coins and lead reference weights, he is identified as "Shimon, Nasi Yisrael" - Simon, Prince of Israel. Here and here are some pages with coin pictures. Some have just "Shimon" on them, others have "Shimon, Nasi Yisrael" in pre-Exilic script plainly legible.

If he WAS a King he would have no doubt identified himself as one. As some of his letters here and here show, he wasn't exactly a meek and humble guy, threatening punishment, and in one letter, foot fetters, for not following his orders.

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  • 1
    So "King" revolves around title? That might have been a more politically correct circumstance choice (don't put it in the Roman's face, or perhaps in deference to some opposition). Not sure it is dispositive. +1 for the info though. I didn't know he made his own coins. Makes my point from Gezeila V'Aveida even more relevant (although I'm not sure the Rambam would make a pre-requisite out of someone making his own currency).
    – Yishai
    Jun 20 '14 at 16:56
  • 2
    @Yishai "don't put it in the Romans' face"?!? Remember, this was the guy taking coins with Emperors' portraits on them and restamping them as shekels "for the freedom of Israel"!! ...and then circulating them in the areas efficiently cleared of Romans... If you take a look at ancient coins and inscriptions, even personal "signature" stamps, you'll see that Kings, princes, and other government officials were quite prolific in making sure their names and titles were out there for the public...
    – Gary
    Jun 20 '14 at 17:26
  • I'm sure I don't understand the dynamics of the time (not sure anyone really does) but that wasn't the only possibility. Maybe he didn't want to start up with Rabbi Yochanan Ben Tortha. Anyway I realized he sought to overthrow the Romans.
    – Yishai
    Jun 20 '14 at 17:31
  • Probably Nesi Yisrael in Semikhut.
    – Double AA
    May 6 '15 at 21:25
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Rabbi Mordechai Hakohen in his book "אישים ותקופות" (People and Eras), pg. 105-108, discusses this issue and concludes, based on various midrashim and aggadatot on Bar Kochva, together with the coins bearing his name, that (my translation):

"...as he, Shimon, despite Rabbi Akiva having announced before him always that "he is the King Mashiach", and all of the nation would reply: "Long live the king", Bar Kochva was not willing to be officially crowned with the title of "king" - though he believed in his mission and messianic potential, he asked for patience, to wait until the final victory over the Romans...And from here, though all the sages of the era and all of Yisrael recognized him as the acting king, he himself, out of his greatness and humility, only saw himself as a Nasi [prince] and not a king, and so minted on his coins that were minted on his command. Also, in the same time that everyone called him, based on the announcement of Rabbi Akiva and his party by the name "Bar Kochva", as though saying "A star rises from Yaakov", he himself signed his letters and commands by the name "ben Kosba" - ben Koziva..."

Per this, it seems that he was recognized as king for all intents and purposes by just about everyone, but since he wished to wait for the final victory over the Romans, he refused to be anointed as a 100% official king. For this reason, he isn't called king in his letters or his coins.

And Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Zini wrote in his essay on Bar Kochva (Etz Erez, pg. 321), with regards to various midrashim, aggadatot and in particular, this Rambam on Bar Kochva (my translation and emphasis):

"...all that remains is to figure out in what way our sages saw that he [Bar Kochva] was to be considered a 'king'? Well, the answer is simple: He stood in the head of the leadership of the people, and held weapons in order to free the people of our nation from the burden of the Romans. These acts alone are enough for his leadership to be considered a monarchy! After all, freeing Am Yisrael from the burden of the nations is one of the tasks of the monarchy! And this freeing in the time of Bar Kochva lasted only two and a half years, which is why our sages number his reign as lasting two and a half years (Sanhedrin 93b). And for all this there is no need for anointing oil or a Sanhedrin!"

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