Historian: Conditions Are Ripe for a King of Israel
The current situation in Israel could have all the necessary ingredients for the appointment of a king, according to biblical scholar and historian David Solomon.
Speaking today on Israel National Radio, Solomon said that problems and divisions within Israel today and the threats it faces from outside to its security could be interpreted as the conditions that precede the appointment of a king.
"We need a unified leadership, we've got anti-Semitic regimes on our doorstep that want to wipe us out, we have fractures within the population," said Solomon.
Drawing a parallel between the current "disastrous absence of genuine political and spiritual and religious leadership" in Israel today and the period leading up to the anointing of Israel's first king, Saul, he said that many people might view a theocratic monarchy as an answer to Israel's troubles today as it was then.
Discussing the period of the early chapters of the book of Samuel, dated historically at around 1100 BCE, Solomon said that the situation at that time saw a crisis of political and religious leadership based upon corruption, exploitation and the abuse of power. It was as a result of this that the people of Israel turned to the prophet Samuel seeking a different model of leadership, asking instead for a king.
But Solomon cautioned against people being too hasty about appointing a king in Israel today. "Every generation that is thinking of adopting a new model of leadership needs to be extremely careful," he said. "Kings can be good but kings can also be very bad."
According to Solomon, Jewish History shows that the decision to appoint a king is fraught with problems. While Israel can boast figures like King David and King Hezekiah, it has many more examples of bad kings.
"If we had the power to set up a king now, we would have to be extremely careful," he said.
Solomon said that it is not simply that one good king could easily be followed by a bad king, but that there is also the problem of how Israel would find the right person to provide the necessary qualities of leadership. "Let's say that we have all the ingredients for a king: how would we go about selecting that king?" he asked.
He said the cautionary lesson from the book of Samuel is that people tend to get the king they deserve.