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Beit Midrash Series Parashat Hashavua

Kingdom = King Son of King

Last week we saw that Moshe set the standard for the structure of prayer (praise, supplication, thanks) and that David used it in Shmuel II, 7. In that context, the prophet informed him that he had merited a unique gift – that his son would rule after him. By setting up a dynasty, it became possible for David’s son to build the Beit Hamikdash. This week we will learn from Gidon that true kingdom requires a succession of kingdom.
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Last week we saw that Moshe set the standard for the structure of prayer (praise, supplication, thanks) and that David used it in Shmuel II, 7. In that context, the prophet informed him that he had merited a unique gift – that his son would rule after him. By setting up a dynasty, it became possible for David’s son to build the Beit Hamikdash. This week we will learn from Gidon that true kingdom requires a succession of kingdom.

Gidon was the only one of all the leaders of the era of the Shoftim who was requested by others and took steps himself to become king and actually begin a dynasty. We see the term melech (king) explicitly in the famous Parable of Yotam (Shoftim 9:8), in reference to Gidon’s son Avimelech, whose name we will focus on later. Also, when the people approached Gidon with the request that he rule over them, after his stunning defeat of the enemy, they said: "Rule over us, both you and your son and your son’s son" (ibid. 8:22). This unique formula strengthens the thesis that kingdom requires the possibility of passing on the rule to one’s son.

Although Gidon initially refused the offer to rule over the nation, there are strong indications that he eventually acceded to it. Consider the following p’sukim: "Yeruba’al (Gidon’s nickname) the son of Yoash went and lived in his house. Gidon had seventy sons, for he had many wives. His concubine from Shechem gave birth to a son for him and he made his name Avimelech" (ibid. 29-31).

These p’sukim contain several hints at kingship: the taking of many wives is a practice that is related to kings, who are also warned not to go too far in this regard (Devarim 17:17). Taking a concubine was also more common for kings. We see this concerning: Reuven’s "interaction" with his father’s concubine, the dispute between Avner and Ish Boshet over the latter’s father’s concubines, and Avshalom’s actions with David’s concubines (development of all of these is beyond our present scope). Gidon also collected a large sum of gold, which he used in an improper manner (see Shoftim 8:24-26). As we learn from the Torah’s mitzvot for a king, this is a common problem that kings are likely to have.

Perhaps the most interesting sign of a kingdom is hinted at in the name of Gidon’s son Avimelech. First, the unusual language of "vayasem" (he made his name) implies that it was more than just any name but that it represented a status, and this root is used for appointing a king (Devarim 17:15). In other words, Gidon made Avimelech his heir apparent. The name can be understood two ways: my father is the king; the father of the king. Another words, he was supposed to be the second link in a developing dynasty.

David was informed by a prophet that he was to be the founder of a dynasty, and David succeeded. Gidon did not receive such a divine message or blessing, which indeed had been bestowed on the Tribe of Yehuda (see Bereishit 49:10), of which he was not a part. May we merit seeing the fulfillment of the second part of that pasuk, the coming of Shilo (Mashiach), who will gather the nations in service of Hashem.
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