The king must have a separate book of the Law for himself

The Literal Commandment

Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. (Deuteronomy 17:18)

 

The literal commandment is that the king of Israel should write for himself a copy of the law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests.

 

Messiah Says

Messiah implicitly affirmed this commandment when He spoke about the Law:

"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-19)

 

 

Pictures of Messiah

This particular commandment pictures Messiah in that He is King over Israel. The laws of the king are found in the preceding verses:

"When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, 'I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,' you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman. Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the LORD has said to you, 'You shall never again return that way.' He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself." (Deuteronomy 17:14-17)

 

There are four requirements in this passage. The King shall not:

  1. Multiply horses for himself
  2. Cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses
  3. Multiply wives for himself
  4. Greatly increase silver and gold for himself

 

- Horses are a symbol of military might. The king shall not build up military power because that people to think that that the battles Israel wins are the result of their own power and might. G-d is Israel's strength and shield.

- The king shall not build alliances with Egypt (a symbol of the world) because that may cause people to think that any battles Israel wins are the result of their alliance with other nations. Once again, G-d is Israel's strength and shield. He will not share His glory with any other (Isaiah 42:8).

- There is only one G-d and He has only one bride: Israel. If the king were to multiply wives for himself then he blurs the picture of Messiah that he is to portray to his nation and the world.

- The king is not to make the accumulation of gold and silver his primary concern. To do so would elevate the pursuit of material wealth above his pursuit of knowing G-d and the Truth G-d has proclaimed.

In writing a scroll of these laws by his own hand, the king is given a solemn reminder of Whom he serves and how he should live. He should live in the pattern of the life of Messiah.

 

How Messiah Fulfilled

Although Messiah is King of Israel, He has not yet assumed that position of authority. As such, He may have yet to fulfill this commandment. We know that Messiah was without sin (Hebrews 4:15) so we know that He has not transgressed this commandment.

 

Traditional Observance

This commandment is traditionally understood to mean that the king has an obligation to write one scroll of the Law more than other Israelite men do. Since all Israelite men are traditionally required to write a scroll of the Law (see the previous commandment), the king is required to write an additional scroll that will be used in his official capacity as sovereign ruler over the nation: it should be with him constantly.

 

Other Notes

There is only one King over Israel (indeed King over all the world!0 and He is able to fulfill this commandment today.

For rest of humanity, we are not able to perform this commandment as it does not apply to us.

 

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Commandment Details

  • Mishneh Torah # 83
  • Mishneh Torah Book # 2
  • Mishneh Torah Book Love
  • Mishneh Torah Category 8- Tefillin, Mezuzah, and Torah Scroll
  • Reference Deuteronomy 17:18
  • Scripture Book Deuteronomy
  • Chapter 17
  • Verse 18
  • English Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests.
  • Hebrew יח וְהָיָה כְשִׁבְתּוֹ, עַל כִּסֵּא מַמְלַכְתּוֹ--וְכָתַב לוֹ אֶת-מִשְׁנֵה הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת, עַל-סֵפֶר, מִלִּפְנֵי, הַכֹּהֲנִים הַלְוִיִּם.
  • Greek 18 καὶ ἔσται ὅταν καθίσῃ ἐπὶ τῆς ἀρχῆς αὐτοῦ, καὶ γράψει ἑαυτῷ τὸ δευτερονόμιον τοῦτο εἰς βιβλίον παρὰ τῶν ἱερέων τῶν Λευιτῶν,
  • Parashah 48- Shoftim
  • Positive/Negative Positive
  • Sefer Hachinuch # 503
  • Sef. Hach. Command The kings's obligation to write one Torah scroll more than other Israelites
  • Category The King
  • We can fullfill today No

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