From judges to kings.
“When you enter the Land that HaShem is giving you,” continued Moshe, “appoint a king for yourselves…”
“A king?! How? Elections? Popular vote?! Electoral college?”
“Not to worry… somehow, someway, HaShem will find a way to let us know which king should be chosen Mikerev Achecha – ‘from among your brothers.’”
The appointment of a king is crucial. In the words of our Sages of the Talmud:
There are three Mitzvos Bnei Yisrael were commanded to fulfill when they enter the Holy Land.
Meseches Sanhedrin 20b
In spite of this, Bnei Yisrael were without a king for over 300 years. From the times of Yehoshua until King Shaul, it was the judges – not a king – who ruled the nation.
Finally, after 300 years, Bnei Yisrael approached the prophet Shmuel and requested a king. He was very saddened, “Isn’t HaShem your king?” he asked.
Now, why was Shmuel so upset? Doesn’t the Torah here command us to appoint a king? Isn’t it one of the three special Mitzvos listed above?
Good question? It sure is! Indeed, this question has bothered, perplexed and mystified even the greatest of minds for thousands of years. So if you really want the answer, it’s time for you to do your own research. Good luck!
King Shaul, the first official king, was from the Tribe of Benyamin. The second king was Dovid HaMelech, who was from the tribe of Yehuda. From then on, HaShem promised that Dovid’s descendants (starting with his son, Shlomo) would be the only ones to rule over His nation.
Now for a Gematriya secret, compliments of Rabbi Yaakov ben Asher (1269-1343), known as the Ba’al HaTurim:
Moshe told Bnei Yisrael to select a king Mikerev Achecha, ‘from among your brothers.’ Add the letters up – מקרב אחיך – and it comes out the exact same number (381) as MiShevet Yehuda – משבט יהודה, ‘from the Tribe of Yehudah.’