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A Brief History of the Davidic Kings

Parsha Halacha - Parshat Ki Teitzeh

A Brief History of the Davidic Kings

Sponsored by Geroge and Joni White in memory of George's mother, Braindel bat Shmaya. Co-sponsored by Ilan Trojanowski in memory of his father, Shmuel Ben Rephael. May their Neshamot have an Aliyah.

Parsha Halacha is underwritten by a grant from Dr. Stephen and Bella Brenner and Dr. Morton Berg in loving memory of Stephen's father, Shmuel Tzvi ben Pinchas, and Bella's parents, Avraham ben Yitzchak and Leah bas HaRav Sholom Zev HaCohen.

Click here for a print version of this article 

In the Torah portion of Ki Teitzeh we find the prohibition of marrying a Moabite or an Ammonite.[1] According to the oral tradition, the prohibition applies only to males and not females,[2] which is why Boaz was allowed to marry Ruth.[3] Despite the tradition, this matter remained controversial for some time which led some people to question the legitimacy of King David, the descendant of Ruth, and his worthiness to be the king of Israel.[4]

This article will outline the history of the kings in the Davidic dynasty, beginning with King David and going until the final (acting) king of Judea, Tzidkiyahu. 

21 Kings

There were 21 kings in the dynasty of King David (and a queen who seized the throne that was not rightfully hers, see below). 

Here is some biographical information about each of them:

1)     King David. He was the eighth son of Yishai and Nitzevet and was anointed by the Prophet Samuel in a private ceremony after King Saul failed to wipe out the Amalekites.[5] He began ruling formally after the death of King Saul, and he ruled for 40 years, seven and a half of which were in Chevron and the remaining 33 years in Jerusalem.[6] He passed away on his 70th birthday,[7] which was on the holiday of Shavuot[8] which coincided with Shabbat.[9]

2)     King Solomon, the son of King David and Batsheva,[10] was considered the wisest man to have ever lived.[11] He built the Beit HaMikdash, wrote the books of Song of Songs, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes (Kohelet),[12] and his influence reached the entire (known) world at that time.[13] Despite his wisdom and general piety, he was faulted for bringing sacrifices outside the Beit HaMikdash,[14] for having too many wives,[15]too many horses,[16] too much gold and silver,[17] and for allowing his wives, many of whom had converted from pagan nations, to worship idols.[18] He began his reign at the age of 12[19] and reigned for 40 years.[20]

3)     King Rechavam, the son of King Solomon and Na’amah the Ammonite, became king at age 41 and ruled for 17 years.[21] He refused to lower the burdensome taxes that his father had placed on the people. As a result, the 10 northern tribes rebelled and appointed Yeravam ben Nevat as their king, splitting the nation into two kingdoms, the kingdom of Judah, comprising the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and the kingdom of Israel, comprising the 10 northern tribes.[22]

4)     King Aviyam, the son of King Rechavam and Ma’acha the daughter of Avshalom, ruled for only three years and was not considered a righteous king. He continued battling Yeravam ben Nevat as his father had done.[23]

5)     King Assa, the son of King Aviyam, was brought up by his paternal grandmother, Ma’acha bat Avshalom, and reigned for 41 years.[24] He built up the kingdom of Judea and fought many successful battles.He was considered a righteous king although he was faulted for seeking the counsel of doctors instead of having faith in G-d.[25]

6)     King Yehoshafat, the son of King Assa and Azuvah bat Shilchi, began his reign at age 35 and reigned for 25 years.[26] He was a righteous king like his father Assa, and he built up Judea but became connected to the wicked family of Achav ben Omri (king of the northern tribes) when he married off his son to Achav’s daughter.[27]

7)     King Yehoram, who was married to Ataliah, the daughter of Achav, was the son of King Yehoshafat. He became king at the age of 32 and ruled for 8 years. He was a wicked king who killed his own brothers and fought against the Edomites who had rebelled against him. He died a gruesome death after suffering from an illness which caused his bowels to come out.[28]

8)     King Achazyah, the son of King Yehoram and Ataliah bat Achav, became king at age 22 and ruled for only one year. He followed in the wicked path of his grandfather Achav before being assassinated by Yehu ben Nimshi who had been appointed by the prophet Yonah to wipe out the family of Achav.[29]

9)     Ataliah, the daughter of Achav, killed out nearly every member of the family of the Davidic dynasty and ruled over Judea for six years. She was finally put to death by the Kohanim led by Yehoyadah, the Kohen Gadol.[30]

10) King Yoash, son of King Achazyah and Tziviah of Be’er Sheva, was hidden as a baby in the Holy of Holies by his aunt Yehosheva (the wife of Yehoyadah) and was thus saved from the murderous hands of his grandmother Ataliah. Upon Atalia’s death, he became king at the age of seven, guided by his uncle the Kohen Gadol. He ruled for 40 years. Although originally a righteous king who refurbished the Beit HaMikdash, he strayed from the path of G-d after Yehoyadah’s passing and allowed his subjects to deify him. In addition, he instructed his subjects to kill Yehoyadah’s son, the prophet Zecharyah, who was speaking harsh prophetic words against his behavior. Yoash was subsequently assassinated by his own courtiers.[31]

11) King Amatzyah, the son of King Yoash and Yoho’adan of Jerusalem, became king at the age of 25 and reigned for 29 years. He killed the courtiers in revenge for assassinating his father and fought successfully against the Edomites. He fought against Yehoash, king of Israel, but lost. Originally, he was a righteous king but later in his rule began worshiping idols. He, too was assassinated by his enemies. [32]

12) King Azaryah, also known as Uziyahu, the son of King Amatzyah and Yecholyah of Jerusalem, became king at the age of 16 and ruled for 52 years. Originally, he was a righteous king who was successful in his building and military campaigns, but later in his reign he tried to usurp the position of Kohen Gadol and was punished with leprosy, at which point his son Yotam became the acting ruler.[33]

13) King Yotam, son of King Azaryah and Yeru’ah bat Tzadok, became king at age 25 and reigned for 16 years. He was a righteous king who led successful building and military campaigns.[34]

14) King Achaz, son of King Yotam, became king at the age of 20 and reigned for 16 years. He was a wicked king who sacrificed his own sons to pagan gods and sacrificed to pagan idols in the Beit HaMikdash. During his era many of the northern tribes were exiled by the Assyrians (Ashur).[35]

15) King Chizkiyahu, son of King Achaz and Avi bat Zecharyah, became king at age 26 and ruled for 29 years. He was an exceptionally righteous king who strengthened Torah throughout his kingdom and fortified the city of Jerusalem. During his reign, the Assyrians exiled the remaining tribes of the northern kingdom and attempted to do the same to Judea, but G-d saved Jerusalem miraculously from the Assyrian siege. When Chizkiyahu nearly died of an illness, G-d answered his prayers and healed him, after which he married his cousin, the daughter of the prophet Isaiah.[36]  

16) King Menashe, son of King Chizkiyahu and Cheftzibah, became king at age 12 and reigned for 55 years. He was a wicked king who served many pagan gods, reintroduced pagan sacrifice into the Beit HaMikdash, and sacrificed his own children to these gods. He killed many innocent people including his own grandfather, the prophet Isaiah. After being captured by his enemies, he did (some form of) teshuvah, and G-d restored him to Jerusalem.[37]

17) King Amon, son of King Menashe and Meshulemet bat Charitz of Yotvah, became king at age 22 and only ruled for two years. He was a wicked king who followed in the (original) ways of his father Menashe. He was assassinated by his own servants who were then killed by the people.[38]

18) King Yoshiayahu, son of King Amon and Yedidah bat Adayah of Botzkat, became king at age 8 and ruled for 31 years. He was a righteous king who inspired his people to do teshuvah. He was tragically killed by the Egyptian army when he tried to prevent them from crossing through Judea.[39]

19) King Acahzyahu, son of King Yoshiayahu and Chamutal bat Yirmiyahu of Livnah, became king at age 23 and only ruled for three months. He was a wicked king who was taken into captivity by the king of Egypt. He died in captivity.[40]

20) King Yehoyakim (formerly known as Elyakim), son of King Yoshiyahu and Zevudah bat Pediyah of Ruma, became king at age 25 and ruled for 11 years. He was a wicked king whose kingdom became a vassal state to the Babylonian empire.[41]

21) King Yehoyachin, son of King Yehoyakim and Nechushta bet Elnatan of Jerusalem, became king at age 18 and ruled for eight years before being taken to Babylonian captivity by King Nevuchadnetzar. Although not a righteous king, he did teshuvah while in captivity and fathered She’altiel whose descendant Zerubavel led the Jewish people back to rebuild the second Beit HaMikdash.[42]

22) The last king of Judea, King Tzidkiyahu, son of King Yoshiyahu and Chamutal bat Yirmiyahu of Livnah, became king at age 21 and ruled for 11 years. His reign came to a tragic end when the Beit HaMikdash was destroyed by the Babylonians. His children were killed in front of his eyes. He was then blinded and taken into Babylonian captivity where he died.[43]

List in Order of Years as Monarchs

Here is a list of the kings showing the amount of time that they reigned, in descending order:

1)        King Menashe ruled for 55 years

2)        King Uzziah ruled for 52 years.

3)        King Assa ruled for 41 years.

4)        King David ruled for 40 years.

5)        King Solomon ruled for 40 years.

6)        King Yoash ruled for 40 years.

7)        King Yoshiyahu ruled for 31 years.

8)        King Amatziah ruled for 29 years.

9)        King Chizkiyah ruled for 29 years.

10)      King Yehoshafat ruled for 25 years.

11)      King Rechavam ruled for 17 years.

12)      King Yotam ruled for 16 years.

13)      King Achaz ruled for 16 years.

14)      King Yehoyakim ruled for 11 years.

15)      King Tzidkiyahu ruled for 11 years.

16)      King Yehoram ruled for eight years.

17)      King Yehoyachin ruled for eight years.

18)      King Aviyam ruled for three years.

19)      King Amon ruled for two years.

20)      King Achaziah, son of king Yehoram, ruled for one year.

21)      King Achazyahu, son of king Yoshiyahu, ruled for three months.

May G-d restore the Davidic Dynasty with the Coming of Moshiach Speedily in our Time!

[1] Deut.23:4

[2] See Yevamot 76b and 77a and Rambam Hilchot Issurei Bi’ah 12:18

[3] Ruth, chapter 4 see here.

[4] See I Samuel 17:9 and Yevamot ibid.

[5] I Samuel chapter 16 and Bava Batra 91a

[6] II Samuel chapter 1 and 5:4I Kings 2:11. See Igrot Kodesh of the Rebbe Rashab (Fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe) vol. 4 page 192 who explains the spiritual significance of the years King David spent in Chevron.

[7] See II Samuel 5:4 and Sha’arei Teshuvah on O.C. 494:7

[8] Tosfot Chagigah 17a D.H. Af Atzeret in the name of the Jerusalem Talmud (Beitzah 2:4) and Yalkut Shimoni on Nach Remez 735

[9] Shabbat 30a

[10] II Samuel 12:24

[11] I Kings 5:11

[12] Seder Olam Rabbah 15 but see Bava Batra 15a

[13] Megillah 11b

[14] I Kings 3:3

[15] Ibid. 11:3

[16] Ibid. 5:6 and Radakibid 10:29 and Sanhedrin 21b

[17] I Kings 10:14 with Chomat Anach

[18] I Kings 11:7 and Rashi

[19] Seder Olam Rabbah 14

[20] I Kings 11:42

[21] Ibid. 14:21

[22] Ibid. chapter 12 see Nedarim 40a

[23] I Kings 15:1-7

[24] Ibid. 15:9 -24 

[25] II Chronicles 14:1 – 16:12

[26] ! Kings 22:41-51

[27] II Chronicles 17:1

[28] II Kings 8:16 – 24 and II Chronicles 21:4 - 19

[29] Ibid. 8:259:1 and 9:27

[30] Ibid. 11:1 - 16. See Sanhedrin 95b

[31] II Kings 11:2, Chapter 12, and II Chronicles 24:20

[32] II Kings 14:1-22 and II Chronicles chapter 25

[33] II Kings 14:21, 15:2 - 5II Chronicles 26:3, and 19

[34] II Kings 15:32, and II Chronicles chapter 27

[35] II Kings chapter 16 and 17 and II Chronicles chapter 28

[36] II Kings chapter 181920 and II Chronicles chapter 29303132

[37] II Kings chapter 21II Chronicles chapter 33, and Yevamot 49b 

[38] II Kings 21:19 - 24

[39] II Kings chapter 22 and 23, see here

[40] II Kings 23:31 and on

[41] II Kings 23:36 and on

[42] Ibid 24:8 and on, and I Chronicles 3:17

[43] II Kings 24:18 and on 

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom UMevorach!

Mon, March 4 2024 24 Adar I 5784