This week’s Torah reading of Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9) concerns itself, more than any other, with political matters. It begins with the commandment to appoint “judges and officers in all your gates,” and ends with the laws of war. As is true throughout Deuteronomy, many of the precepts found in Shoftim are repetitions or elaborations of injunctions from previous books of the Torah. But one passage stands out both for its significance and for its novelty:
Were the Ancient Israelites Required to Appoint a King, or Simply Given the Option?
The monarchy begins twice.