Melachim Bet

We just can't stop learning! ...The Bekiut Nach class of 5766 in a quest to complete Nevi'im Rishonim

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Ch. 14 - Amatzia, King of Yehudah. Part 1.

Here we have a king that is described as following God. His reign is a significant 29 years. In addition, Sefer Melachim relates that he conquers Edom on the Southern border. We can see from this description that this is a period of calm and stability in which YEhuda can flourish. As we have seen with Yisrael, the pressure from Aram has waned. There is no enemy on the horizon, no superpowers. And so we shall see that for a period of 80 years - the reign of Amatzia and Uzziah - we have a period which is good, economically, religiously and in terms of national security.

Amatzia's father - Yoash - was assasinated. The Tanach tells us that whereas Amatzia executed the perpetrators of the assasination,:

"he did not put to death the children of the assassins, in accordance with what is written in the Book of the Teaching of Moshe, where God commanded, 'Parents shall not be put to death for children, nor children be put to death for parents; a person shall be put to death only for his own crime." (14:6)

To investigate this topic further, see the article by Rav Yonatan Grossman on the VBM:

here is an excerpt:

"The question that begs itself is, why would a monarch or judge consider punishing an individual on account of his parents' sins? Even the most superficial knowledge of the Torah's justice system leads one to recognize the inconceivability of such a provision. For the court to administer punishment, guilt must be established beyond any shadow of a doubt and the defendant must have clearly been warned just prior to the crime. As we know, these requirements render a death sentence almost impossible, even for the perpetrator himself. So why would the Torah need to warn against the execution of his son?!

The Seforno implicitly raises this question in his commentary:

"Parents shall not be put to death for children - even for the sin of rebellion, where the practice of kings was to kill even their children so they wouldn't rise up as enemies of the monarchy... In any event, the Torah prohibited our kings from killing one on account of the other, out of God's compassion for His nation."

In the specific instance of rebellion, it may occur to a king to adopt the practice of the foreign monarchs who, in their effort to solidify their rule in the aftermath of a failed coup d'├ętat, eliminate the families of the dissidents. Our verse outlaws this practice."

In our next post, Amatzia and the Civil War.