The Rabbi's teach that one kingship does not overlap with another even a hairbreadth (Yoma 38b). I understand this to mean that there may be only 1 Jewish king ruling at a time, or in the case where the Jewish people were divided, one king ruling per division at a time. However there are times in history such as the anointing of David or Yehu in which there were two people anointed as king at the same time.

I would like to know what the status of both the original and newer kings were during those time frames. For example would the concept of rebelling against a king apply equally to both of them - meaning if a person acted in a rebellious manner to either the original king or the new king would that be considered rebelling against the king? Another example would be the injunction against having too many wives or horses etc.

  • 2
    See Megillah 14 about David trying to kill Naval while Shaul was still king
    – Double AA
    Sep 15, 2017 at 13:16
  • @DoubleAA thank you for that source. As I recall David felt that Naval was rebelling against his kingship but I don't recall if that was actually taken to be the halacha. I could be mis-remembering and will consult the text. Sep 15, 2017 at 13:33
  • To make the question stronger, I would note that overlapping kingship is ubiquitous in Sefer Melachim. If one adds up years, kings both in Israel and Judah had to co-rule some years with their sons/successors. I see this as similar arrangement to Henry the Young King in England. Oct 19, 2017 at 2:22
  • See the sefer Nachalas Shimon on Nach that deals with the question at length.
    – N.T.
    Sep 21, 2020 at 3:39

2 Answers 2


In short, In my understanding there are two kind of Kings and commentators are using them interchangeably:

  1. Kings de facto - anointed de facto. This does not have to be rightful or Torah-approved, like the lineage of kings of Israel (vs Judeah), Maccabean "Kings" etc.
  2. Kings de jure - "born to be kings", like Abraham, Judah, Moses, Joshua, David. They were called "kings" from birth.

THis is the reason the commentaries let the later behave like kings and judge others to deaths.

  • 3
    Can you edit to clarify the relevance to the overlap of reigns?
    – msh210
    Sep 18, 2017 at 16:24
  • Is the second category halachic? For example if Mashiach turns out to be a sofer who has already written two sifrei Torah before he knew he was Mashiach, does he have to write any more?
    – Heshy
    Jan 16, 2018 at 22:38
  • The second category should just be "lawful kings", not kings from birth. None of those listed were kings from birth.
    – N.T.
    Sep 21, 2020 at 3:38

You find that Shmuel Hanovi appointed Dovid as King WHILE SHAUL HAMELECH WAS STILL KING,so the Meforshim in Shmuel Aleph ask how was this possible based on the above Klal of Chazal that its not possible for 2 Kings to rule at the same time so they answer that while technically Dovid had been appointed with the Shemen Hamishchoh while Shaul was still King but Dovid had not yet been widely accepted by Am Yisroel as their king and it was only at the end of Shmuel Aleph after Shoul had been killed by the Pelishtim and at the beginning of Shmuel Beys where Dovid makes the Kinoh for Shaul that Klal Yisroel as it were accept Dovid as their new king

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