“So that he might not esteem himself above his brothers” (Dt.17:20)—
and not above the consecrated [Priesthood].2
“Excepting that (bilti)3 he not turn aside from the commandment,
to the right or the left” (Dt.17:20)—
and he must not (shelo’)
turn aside from the commandment, to the right or the left. 4
“So that he might extend days over his kingdom” (Dt.17:20)—
if he behaves according to all the stipulations in this matter,
he will be privileged to lengthen days over his kingdom.5
“He and his sons” (Dt.17:20)—
if he dies, his son will stand to succeed him.
I might infer that
this principle of succession applies only to the king.
On what basis do I know of
any providers of Israel that their sons will stand to succeed them?
The Teaching states:
“He and his sons, in the midst of Israel” (Dt.17:20)—
any provider who is in the midst of Israel,
his son will stand to succeed him. 6
R. Hananya b. Gamliel says:
Look at what He says to King Solomon—
“And, also, I gave you what you didn’t request—wealth and honor” (1Ki.3:13).
As if to say: good things,
which I didn’t make conditional upon
your observance of the Torah, I have freely given you;
but good things which I did make conditional upon
your observance of the Torah, I will not give them to you—
unless you observe it!
And, similarly, He says:
“And if you walk in My paths, observing my statutes” (1Ki.3:14).
- H:194-195; JN2:33.
- The text is difficult, but appears to caution the king against conflict with the High Priest. See H:454, n. 1, for a summary of interpretive options. Cf., most recently, Fraade: 245, n. 117.
- In Biblical Hebrew, a common particle of negation, as described in BDB, s.v. beilet.
- Sifre offers a paraphrastic rendering of the biblical usage, substituting the archaizing bilti with an equivalent in rabbinic Hebrew.
- Cf. Pisqa’ot 156.1, 162.1, 170.1, 174.1, 297.1, etc.
- Cf. T. Sheq. 2:15