Sanhedrin, Chapter Two, Mishnah Five



Mishnah five teaches that the people must respect and have awe for a king.


Mishnah Five

1)                     None may ride his horse and none may sit on his throne and none may make use of his scepter.

2)                     No one may see him when his hair is being cut or when he is naked or when he is in the bath house, for it says, “You shall set a king upon yourself” (Deut. 17:15)—that his awe should be over you.



This mishnah continues the midrash on Deut. 17 that began in the previous mishnah.  The Torah states that the people of Israel shall set a king upon themselves.  The Torah uses a typical syntax repeating the verb “to set” twice.  In usual fashion, the Rabbis see this as an unnecessary repetition of a word and therefore a legitimate basis for a midrash.  The midrash is that the Torah mandates awe of the king, and therefore one is not allowed to not sit in his place, use his scepter or see him in a position of compromise.


Questions for Further Thought:

·                      What is the mishnah’s attitude towards the institution of the monarchy?