Give the People (Only Some of) What They Want

Rabbi Shai Held

Parashat Shoftim

Should Israel ideally have a king? On this fundamental political and theological question, biblical voices are sharply divided. For some texts, the very idea of a human monarch is an offense against God, an unacceptable assault on God’s exclusive sovereignty over Israel. Yet other texts see an Israelite king as a key part of God’s providential plan for Israel’s flourishing in the land. The laws of the king in parashat Shof’tim stake out a middle ground between these two extremes. (5775)