10 So Samuel spoke all the words of the Lord to the people who had asked of him a king. 11 He said, “This will be the [d]procedure of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and place them for himself in his chariots and among his horsemen and they will run before his chariots. 12 He will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and of fifties, and some to [e]do his plowing and to reap his harvest and to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will also take your daughters for perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves and give them to his servants. 15 He will take a tenth of your seed and of your vineyards and give to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will also take your male servants and your female servants and your best young men and your donkeys and [f]use them for his work. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his servants. 18 Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

I forget where exactly that translation is. But I bet it's one of these http://biblehub.com/1_samuel/8.htm

The controversy is not in translation this time so no biggy.

Is Samuel effectively explaining to the Israelites what the king's right are. So basically Samuel says okay, you pay 10% of your stuff to the king. So that seems like commandment. Is this a mitvah?

However, it's way beyond Torah.

Actually, is it a mitvah to obey kings at all?

What are the mitvahs that govern rights and obligations of kings? Where in the bible is it written? Is it in Torah or in this Samuel's speech?

After I read again, it doesn't seem like Mitvah. Samuel is just saying how live will be pretty "bad" if Israel got a king (instead of president?). However, he seems to enumerate that a king have right for a tenth of your flocks and stuff. So that looks like commandments (mitvah?)

  • are you asking whether this text is the source for a particular mitzvah? I vaguely recall learning that with very few exceptions (I believe) we don't derive commandments from nach.
    – rosends
    Mar 30, 2017 at 14:05
  • Can you edit the question to include the chapter number of this passage? That will improve your question, and make it easier for others to find answers for your. (Also please include attribution for the translation) Thanks.
    – MTL
    Mar 30, 2017 at 14:13
  • @Danno It is a rule mentioned in the Gemarah in several places (though, offhand, I can't think of an instance.) Essentially it says "We don't deduce Torah rules (i.e. mitzvoth) from Divrei Sofrim (i.e. Navi or Ketubim)"
    – DanF
    Mar 30, 2017 at 15:25
  • I'm wuite certain that this text is meant as a hyperbolic warning / chastisement to the people about what the king MIGHT do. Samuel and G-d were displeased about how the people requested a king. (There is nothing wrong with requesting a king, and, in fact, it is a mitzvah to do so. But the circumstances for the request were incorrect.) Essentially, Samuel was trying to scare the people to relinquish their requests, or at best, change their circumstances for the request. The scare tactic, didn't work, because the people were stubborn.
    – DanF
    Mar 30, 2017 at 15:28

1 Answer 1


i guess you can say it is a mitzvah of protecting your life since there is a law

rambam kings 3.8

Anyone who rebels against a king of Israel may be executed by the king.
Even if the king orders one of the people to go to a particular place and the latter refuses, or he orders him not to leave his house and he goes out, the offender is liable to be put to death. The king may execute him if he desires, as Joshua 1:18 states: 'Whoever rebels against your command ... shall be put to death."...

maybe this also includes doing what he commands
kings 2.1

The king must be treated with great honor...

kings 3.9

A person who negates a king's command because he was occupied with a mitzvah, even a minor one, is not liable. Whose words should have precedence in case of conflict, the words of the Master or the words of the subject? Needless to say, if a king decrees that a mitzvah should be negated, his words should not be heeded.

rambam's source of the kings 3.8-9 seems to be
talmud sanhendrin 49a

Whosoever he be that shall rebel against thy [the King's] commandments and shall not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death.(Josh. I, 18.) Now, one might have thought that this holds good even [when the transgression is committed] for the sake of the study of the law: it is therefore written, only [Rak] be strong and of good courage.(Rak intimating a limitation. Hence the duty to fulfil the King's command does not apply where one is engaged in the study of the Law, According to the view held by Amasa, God's Law seemed more important to him than the will of the King, and no transgression was involved in waiting until they had finished their study.)

  • So a king can pretty much say give all your money and your daughter to me and you can go screw yourself and die and you will have to obey it?
    – user4951
    Apr 3, 2017 at 7:47
  • @JimThio "he may not confiscate property. If he does, it is considered theft." (It seems you need to obey, but that doesn't make it correct)
    – hazoriz
    Apr 3, 2017 at 8:02
  • so kings are bounded by some "rules" too. What are rules for the king? What can a king do? Veto senate? Issue executive orders? Where is it written? Torah? Samuel's speech?
    – user4951
    Apr 3, 2017 at 8:06
  • @JimThio (what Senate , it seems Senate was not invented until much later) the Rambam made a collection of all the laws regarding Kings see chabad.org/1188345 , each law has its own source (usually they are derived from the Torah, by the Talmud)
    – hazoriz
    Apr 3, 2017 at 8:11
  • So Samuel, like Rabam, simply explains what will happen when Israelites have kings based on what Torah wrote.
    – user4951
    Apr 3, 2017 at 9:08

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