I admit I don't have a decent understanding of the idea of Torah kingdom and kingship.

I know it is a מחלוקת whether the kingship is לכתחילה or בדיעבד, but based on Rambam's Hilhot Melachim 1, 1:

"שלש מצות נצטוו ישראל בשעת כניסתן לארץ: למנות להם מלך שנאמר שום תשים עליך מלך ולהכרית זרעו של עמלק שנאמר תמחה את זכר עמלק ולבנות בית הבחירה שנאמר לשכנו תדרשו ובאת שמה"

Yehoshua was the leader of the generation that entered the Eretz Isroel and he seemingly was the first to carry this Mitzvah out.

I also know that many Meforshim attributes to both Moses and Yehoshua qualities of a King but why not make it official?

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    Is your question only on Yehoshua, or on every leader until Shaul?
    – Alex
    Jul 8, 2018 at 2:30
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    I was always under the impression that kingship is a bedieved and Shmuel felt that way as well.
    – sam
    Jul 8, 2018 at 2:37
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    Based on that Rambam, why not ask why Yehoshua also didn't wipe out Amalek and build the Bais Hamikdash? Jul 8, 2018 at 2:59
  • @Alex Do you have a more general answer about all the Judges? I'd be glad to hear.
    – Al Berko
    Jul 8, 2018 at 11:58
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    @sam The Rambam seems to be under the opinion that the Jews were supposed to have a king - the part that Shmuel was upset about was the way in which they asked (“like all the nations around us”). That’s how it’s always been explained to me.
    – DonielF
    Jul 8, 2018 at 23:38

2 Answers 2


Update: I just saw a Gemara at the very end of chapter 7 of meseches Yoma. See the last three lines of that chapter and the second to last Rashi! Explicit proof.

Great intriguing question. I just read a little further in that same Rambam you quoted and it seems as though the Rambam holds that Yehoshua was appointed as the official King over the nation:

Chapter 1 Halacha 3 of Hilchos Melachim and Milchamos:

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

At first, a king was not appointed other than by the Court of Seventy (Sanhedrin) and with the consent of a Prophet. So was Joshua appointed by Moses our Teacher and his Court, and Saul and David by Samuel the Ramathite and his Court.

(Quoted from Sefaria)

So from this, it sounds like he was appointed as the official King.

Now granted he wasn't called Yehoshua Hamelech like Dovid Hamelech or Shlomo Hamelech or Shaul Hamelech, but maybe that was just a naming convention he didn't take on for whatever reason.

In response to Al Berko's comment:

Hi, it seems you are raising 3 points.

  1. When the Rambam said 'K'Yhoshua' he didn't mean that Yehoshua was actually made king by Moshe, rather the Rambam was comparing a kings anointing process to the process that Yehoshua went through to become a general leader.
  2. Yehoshua was not from the tribe of Yehuda and therefore could not have been officially king.
  3. There are no Mefarshim that say that the Rambam holds that Yehoshua was officially king, so this would lead us to think that the Rambam doesnt actually think that Yehoshua was officially king.

I would respond as follows:

  1. I would agree with what you're saying if the Rambam stopped after the first comparison with Yehoshua. If he would have stopped there, then I could hear that he is saying "Just like the process Yehoshua went through, to become a general leader.

'Just LIKE Yehoshua who Moshe APPOINTED'

From the fact that the Rambam continues with the comparison to David and Shaul, in the exact same way he does the comparison to Yehoshua, seems to me that the simple understanding in the Rambam is that he holds Yehoshua was actually made king by Moshe just like David and Shaul were made king by Shmuel.

'Just LIKE Yehoshua who Moshe APPOINTED' 'Just LIKE Shaul and David who Shmuel APPOINTED'

"We only appoint a King through B'D of 71 and a Prophet, just like Yehosua, Shaul and David were appointed by a B'd of 71 and a Prophet"

With regard to point 2): Im not exactly sure what you're saying, it seems you yourself agree that Shaul was officially king without being from the tribe of Yehuda, rather from Binyamin. Yehoshua was also from the tribe of Binyamin. You can see this answer and the other answers there which explain how it is not set in stone that the official king of the Jewish nation has to be from the tribe of Yehudsa.

With regards to point 3): If it actually is the simple understanding in the Rambam that Yehoshua was officially made King, then I wouldn't expect any other mefarshim to corroborate that. Meaning I would only expect someone to speak up if they disagreed. I think from the fact that no other commentators disagree that is actually proof that everyone agrees with the Rambam.

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    Interesting point, I always thought כ- meant "in the way of", so of course Yehoshua was not a king, it just has to follow the same procedure. Besides Y' was from Efrayim, not Yehuda (and this fact it did a big mess with Saul). I couldn't find Meforshim on that - it seems that nobody really holds that Rambam counted Y' as a king.
    – Al Berko
    Jul 8, 2018 at 11:55
  • Hi Al, I responded to your comment in my answer above. Thank you. Jul 9, 2018 at 0:05
  • Maybe the term "king" is not well defined, so any leader can be called so. As I said many attribute to him qualities of a king, but nobody calls him King Yehoshua, do you agree? You try hard to defend your stand, but it seems pointless, as we all know the truth - ask anyone - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_of_the_Jews for example. But if you insist, why didn't he fight Amolek and built the Temple?
    – Al Berko
    Jul 9, 2018 at 11:12
  • 1) I think the Rambam is clearly defining exactly what a king is without any shadow of a doubt. He is saying a person becomes an official King of Am Yisrael when he is appointed as one by a prophet and beis din hagadol of 71. So no, it is not true that any leader can be called a king. Yes, I agree that no one calls him King Yehoshua, but as I originally said in my answer, that is just a naming convention and not a proof in the least that he wasn't officially the king. Jul 9, 2018 at 19:22
  • Your logic is not right: Rambam says that if he's a king he must be appointed by a prophet and a BD (if A=>B) but it says nothing about other leaders that can be appointed in that way (if B=>A - NOT). THere could be different definitions of leadership in Israel (for example if Kings of Israel were true kings), so the fact that Y was appointed by Moses proves nothing.
    – Al Berko
    Jul 9, 2018 at 19:34

Ralbag explicitly states (in his commentary to Joshua Chapter 1) that Yehoshua was a king:

ושכל מי שיעבור על מצוותו יומת כי כן יסדה התורה בעובר על דברי הנביא וכל שכן יהושע שהיה מלך ונביא

And that anyone who violates his command shall be put to death, for so established the Torah in [the case of] one who violates the words of the prophet – and certainly Joshua who was a king and a prophet.

Additionally, R. Yom Tov Lipman Heller also explicitly states (in his commentary to Sotah 7:8) that Yehoshua was a king, even saying that Yehoshua being a king is a source for a halachic derivation:

אבל דבר הלמד מענינו הוא שמשה אמר ליהושע תקרא וגו' ויהושע מלך היה

  • Thank you. As a rule, I, personally, don't except "by the way" answers, as you can see, he mentions that Y. was a king "by the way", without proof or נ"מ. So it is a sort of "slip of the tongue".
    – Al Berko
    Jul 9, 2018 at 11:17
  • I dont think the Ralbag's comment is a 'by the way'. He is saying an Halacha that someone who goes against a Prophet gets put to death "for so established the Torah" and Kol SheKein (all the more so) since Y was a prophet and a King. It seems simply from the Ralbag, that if Yehoshua was JUST a king and not a Prophet then this halacha would still apply to him and a rebel would still have to be killed. So I think you cant say the Ralbag is speaking with 'slip of the tounge' if there is a real practical difference for halacha. Jul 9, 2018 at 19:51
  • @BenjaminKozuch What I meant is when one wants to present a claim (Yehoshuah was a real king) one has to support it. Here we see a mere deduction that since the text allows him to execute without a court, he must be a king.
    – Al Berko
    Jul 2, 2021 at 14:15

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