ו׳ במרחשון ה׳תשע״ח (October 26, 2017)

Sanhedrin 102a-b: The Three Kings

The Gemara on today’s daf returns to the list of kings that appears in the Mishna (90a), which enumerates three kings that lost their share in the World-to-Come. The three kings listed are Yerovam, Aḥav and Menashe.

Who were these kings?

Following King Solomon’s reign, the Jewish people broke into two separate kingdoms – Yisrael in the north and Yehuda in the south (see I Melakhim chapters 11-12). While the southern kingdom was ruled by the Davidic dynasty until the destruction of the first Temple, the northern kingdom suffered from assassinations and upheavals and had a series of different dynasties that ruled until the exile by the Assyrians.

King Menashe, the son of the righteous King Ḥizkiyahu, was from the Davidic line (see II Melakhim chapter 21).
King Yerovam was the individual who led the people in their revolt against the Davidic dynasty and established the Northern Kingdom (see I Melakhim chapters 11-12).
King Aḥav, the son of Omri, led the people in the Northern Kingdom to accept and implement Canaanite idol worship (see I Melakhim 16:23-34).

Our Gemara discusses what merit Aḥav’s father, King Omri, had that allowed him to become king of Israel. According to Rabbi Yoḥanan, it was his establishment of Shomron, a new city in the Land of Israel, that gave him that merit (see I Melakhim 16:24). An obvious question that is raised in response to Rabbi Yoḥanan’s assertion is that Omri became king before he built the city. The Maharsha explains that since God knew that Omri would build the city, He gave him the opportunity to do so. The Iyyun Ya’akov suggests that Rabbi Yoḥanan’s intent was to explain why Omri merited a dynasty that lasted a number of generations, and building a new city in Israel was reason for him to receive that reward and recognition.

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