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H6. Appointing a Ruler Whom God Chooses.    [Make a Comment]

If we appoint a ruler over us, he is to be one whom God chooses - one who rules according to the Word of God, and does not prefer himself over his people.

This precept is derived from His Word (blessed be He):

Key Scripture

Deuteronomy 17:14-20 (Maimonides RN365; Chinuch C502)
When you have entered the land ADONAI your God is giving you, have taken possession of it and are living there, you may say, 'I want to have a king over me, like all the other nations around me.' In that event, you must appoint as king the one whom ADONAI your God will choose. He must be one of your kinsmen, this king you appoint over you- you are forbidden to appoint a foreigner over you who is not your kinsman. However, he is not to acquire many horses for himself or have the people return to Egypt to obtain more horses, inasmuch as ADONAI told you never to go back that way again. Likewise, he is not to acquire many wives for himself, so that his heart will not turn away; and he is not to acquire excessive quantities of silver and gold. When he has come to occupy the throne of his kingdom, he is to write a copy of this Torah for himself in a scroll, from the one the cohanim and L'vi'im use. It is to remain with him, and he is to read in it every day, as long as he lives; so that he will learn to fear ADONAI his God and keep all the words of this Torah and these laws and obey them; so that he will not think he is better than his kinsmen; and so that he will not turn aside either to the right or to the left from the mitzvah. In this way he will prolong his own reign and that of his children in Isra'el.

Romans 13:1-6
Everyone is to obey the governing authorities. For there is no authority that is not from God, and the existing authorities have been placed where they are by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authorities is resisting what God has instituted; and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are no terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you like to be unafraid of the person in authority? Then simply do what is good, and you will win his approval; for he is God's servant, there for your benefit. But if you do what is wrong, be afraid! Because it is not for nothing that he holds the power of the sword; for he is God's servant, there as an avenger to punish wrongdoers. Another reason to obey, besides fear of punishment, is for the sake of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes; for the authorities are God's public officials, constantly attending to these duties.

Supportive Scriptures

Acts 5:26-29
The captain and his officers went and brought them, but not with force; because they were afraid of being stoned by the people. They conducted them to the Sanhedrin, where the cohen hagadol demanded of them, "We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name! Look here! you have filled Yerushalayim with your teaching; moreover, you are determined to make us responsible for this man's death!" Kefa and the other emissaries answered, "We must obey God, not men."

Hebrews 13:17
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your lives, as people who will have to render an account. So make it a task of joy for them, not one of groaning; for that is of no advantage to you.

1 Peter 2:13-17
For the sake of the Lord, submit yourselves to every human authority - whether to the emperor as being supreme, or to governors as being sent by him to punish wrongdoers and praise those who do what is good. For it is God's will that your doing good should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Submit as people who are free, but not letting your freedom serve as an excuse for evil; rather, submit as God's slaves. Be respectful to all - keep loving the brotherhood, fearing God and honoring the emperor.

Revelation 13:11-18, 20:4
Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth. It had two horns like those of a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence; and it makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, the one whose fatal wound had been healed. It performs great miracles, even causing fire to come down from heaven onto the earth as people watch. It deceives the people living on earth by the miracles it is allowed to perform in the presence of the beast, and it tells them to make an image honoring the beast that was struck by the sword but came alive again. It was allowed to put breath into the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast could even speak; and it was allowed to cause anyone who would not worship the image of the beast to be put to death. Also it forces everyone - great and small, rich and poor, free and slave - to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead preventing anyone from buying or selling unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This is where wisdom is needed; those who understand should count the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person, and its number is 666 ... Then I saw thrones, and those seated on them received authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for testifying about Yeshua and proclaiming the Word of God, also those who had not worshipped the beast or its image and had not received the mark on their foreheads and on their hands. They came to life and ruled with the Messiah for a thousand years.


How can Romans 13:1-6 say:

For there is no authority that is not from God, and the existing authorities have been placed where they are by God.

And how can Hebrews 13:17 say without qualification:

Obey your leaders and submit to them.

Are there not evil rulers that would command us to do ungodly things and yet we must obey them? It is indeed a conundrum unless we consider that the leaders spoken of are those referred to in Deuteronomy 17:14-20 - leaders approved by God, and governing with knowledge of Torah, and with intent to do God's will. These rulers may be of our secular governments or they may be the elders of our congregations but, if we do what we ought to do - choose rulers that are approved by God and accountable to Him, all will be well. This requires that we be involved in the appointing process of our leaders, in order to make sure that whether king, or president, or governor, or congregational elder - our rulers will be of the mind and character to govern in godly ways. Yes, things go awry in this fallen world and, when they do, we must take our instruction from God (through the Holy Spirit) and rely on Him to set things right. And until things are set right, if we are commanded against God's Torah, must obey God and not man (see Acts 5:26-29 & Revelation 13:6-10).

Classical Commentators

Maimonides and HaChinuch refer to Deuteronomy 17:16-17 to support their mitzvot stating only that a king must not amass great personal wealth. The quintessential example of a king that did amass great wealth is King Solomon who, according to 2 Chronicles 9:13-29, received twenty-two tons of gold each year in addition to other items of worth, and according to 1 Kings 11:3, had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines who eventually turned his heart away from God. Meir wrote no mitzvah on the subject.


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