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Rosh Hashanah: Why the Torah Suppresses God’s Kingship

Several biblical passages imply that God was ritually enthroned as king during the new year celebrations. In the Torah itself, however, this is suppressed.
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Dr. Israel Knohl is a Senior Research Fellow of the Kogod Research Center at Shalom Hartman Institute. He has a doctorate in Bible from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he is the Yehezkel Kaufmann Professor of Bible. Professor Knohl has served as a visiting professor at Harvard University, University of California at Berkeley, Stanford University and the University of Chicago Divinity School. His numerous publications include: Messiahs and Resurrection in the Gabriel Revelation (Shalom

“The Torah takes a skeptical perspective on the institution of the monarchy. The collections of laws that precede the Book of Deuteronomy make no mention of future kings, preferring to speak of the נשיא, “chieftain,” i.e., the leader of a tribe. Thus, in Exodus’ Covenant Collection, the law cautions that one must not “put a curse upon a chieftain among your people” (וְנָשִׂיא בְעַמְּךָ לֹא תָאֹר; Exod 22:27). Similarly, in the Priestly laws of Leviticus, the law of the sin offering does not discuss the sin of a king, but instead says, “in case it is a chieftain who incurs guilt” (אֲשֶׁר נָשִׂיא יֶחֱטָא; Lev 4:22).”

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