75 words for 75 years of Israel – Melech/King
In honor of Israel’s 75th birthday, Israel365 is excited to launch a new series of essays that will unlock the secrets of the Hebrew Bible!
Excerpted from Rabbi Akiva Gersh’s forthcoming book, 75 Hebrew Words You Need to Understand the Bible (available soon!) these essays illuminate the connection between related Hebrew words, revealing Biblical secrets only accessible through Hebrew.
Enjoy the series – and happy 75th birthday to the State of Israel!
“If, after you have entered the land that your God has assigned to you, and taken possession of it and settled in it, you decide, “I will set a king over me, like all the nations about me.” (Deuteronomy 17:14)
כי תבא אל הארץ אשר יהוה אלהיך נתן לך וירשתה וישבתה בה ואמרת אשימה עלי מלך ככל הגוים אשר סביבתי.
“But you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the children of Israel.” (Exodus 19:6)
ואתם תהיו לי ממלכת כהנים וגוי קדוש אלה הדברים אשר תדבר אל בני ישראל.
Melech, the Hebrew word “king,” is used for both human kings and the King of all Kings, God Himself. “God is king for ever and ever; the nations will perish from His land” (Psalms 10:16). Almost every Jewish blessing said over food or for special occasions includes the words Eloheinu Melech Ha’olam, meaning “Our God, King of the Universe.”
Though the story of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, the first description of a human king in the Bible, is largely negative, God permitted the Israelites to appoint a king to lead the nation. Israelite kings, however, are tasked with a far more exalted role than the average human king. They must serve as God’s messengers on Earth, unify the nation of Israel and turn their hearts towards God. Righteous kings like King David and King Hezekiah fulfilled these goals and brought God’s glory to the people of Israel.
To ensure they remember their higher mission, Israelite kings are commanded to always carry with them a copy of the Five Books of Moses. Nevertheless, many Biblical kings, such as King Jeroboam and King Menashe, lost sight of their mission and led the people of Israel astray.
In preparation for receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai, God gave the Israelites a lofty goal: to become a mamlechet kohanim, a “kingdom of priests.” Like the priests who performed the Divine service in the Tabernacle and the Temple and also served as the spiritual teachers of the nation, the Israelites are tasked with bringing the knowledge and awareness of God to the entire world.
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