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Davidic line, or Davidic Kingdom, known in Hebrew as Malchut Beit David ("Monarchy [of the] House of David") refers to the tracing of royal lineage by kings and major leaders in Jewish history to King David in Judaism.
Upon being chosen and becoming king, the custom in the times of the Tanakh was to be anointed with olive oil by having it poured on the head. In David's case, this was done by the prophet Samuel. The anointing is called meshicha (meaning "pouring") in Hebrew and that is why a king (melekh or melech in Hebrew) is referred to as a Mashiach or Messiah or a Melech HaMashiach meaning "The Annointed King". The procedure of anointment, in David's case symbolized the descent of God's holiness (kedusha) upon the king and as a sign of a bond never to be broken.
Since the monarchy was vouchsafed to David by God in the Book of Samuel:
- "...Now he [David] was ruddy, and with beautiful eyes, and goodly to look upon. And the Lord said: 'Arise, anoint him; for this is he.' Then Samuel [the prophet] took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward..." (I Samuel, 16:12-13), and
- "And Nathan said to the king:...Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people, over Israel. And I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make you a great name, like the name of the great ones that are in the earth... and I will cause you to rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord tells you that the Lord will make you a house....Then David the king went in, and sat before the Lord...'now therefore let it please you to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever before you; for you, O Lord God, have spoken it; and through your blessing let the house of your servant be blessed forever.'" (II Samuel, 7:1-29), and
- "Then came all the tribes of Israel to David to Hebron, and spoke, saying: 'Behold, we are your bone and your flesh. In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was you that did lead out and bring in Israel; and the Lord said to you: You shalt feed my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel.' So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a covenant with them in Hebron before the Lord; and they anointed David king over Israel..." (II Samuel, 5:1-3).
As well as in the Book of Chronicles:
- "...So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and David made a covenant with them in Hebron before the Lord; and they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the Lord by the hand of Samuel..." (I Chronicles, 11:3), and
- "...And these are the numbers of the heads of them that were armed for war, who came to David to Hebron, to turn the kingdom of Saul to him, according to the word of the Lord...All these, being men of war, that could order the battle array, came with a whole heart to Hebron, to make David king over all Israel; and all the rest also of Israel were of one heart to make David king." (I Chronicles, 12:24;39).
Thus all subsequent monarchs in both the ancient first united Kingdom of Israel and the later Kingdom of Judah needed to show their direct descent from King David to validate their claim to the throne/s in order to rule over the Israelite and Jewish people/s in perpetuity.
In cases where this rule was broken, the verdict of history has not been kind according to classical understandings within traditional Judaism. Two important examples are:
- After the death of King Solomon son of David, the ten northern tribes of the Kingdom of Israel revolted against the Davidic line, refusing to accept Rehoboam son of Solomon and instead chose as king Jeroboam who was not a member of King David's family. The fate of this northern kingdom was sealed when they were eventually conquered by Assyria who exiled them completely until they became The Ten Lost Tribes.
- The Hasmoneans, also known as the Maccabees, who were priests, (kohanim) from the Tribe of Levi, establshed a monarchy of their own in Judea following their revolt and war against the Greek Seleucid dynasty. The Hasmoneans were not connected to the Davidic line that is attached to the Tribe of Judah. The Levites had always been excluded from the Israelite monarchy. When the Maccabees assumed the throne in order to re-dedicate the defiled Second Temple, a cardinal rule was nevertheless broken, and it has been considered to be contributing to their own downfall, and part of the eventual downfall of Judea and when internal strife brought in Rome and resulted in the violent non-Jewish Herod the Great becoming king, and eventually ended with the destruction of the Second Temple by the Roman Empire according to scholars within Orthodox Judaism.
With the cessation of the Jewish monarchy following the destructions of both the Temple of Solomon and the Second Temple, the line of the monarchy was always carefully preserved and guarded even though no kings such as David and his immediate descendants were alive. It was from that supposed Davidic line though that many great rabbis and "princes" of the people were claimed descent. Thus men such as the editor of the Mishnah, Rabbi Judah haNasi and his heirs were considered to be from the Davidic line, hence also the title "Nasi" meaning prince. Many of the heads of the Jewish communities in Babylon, the Reish Galuta were also described as being of the Davidic line.
The future Jewish Messiah is expected to be from the Davidic line, see Jewish eschatology. Many prayers in the Jewish prayer book, the Siddur make fervent mention for the restoration of King David's monarchy, and the long-awaited Messiah who is referred to as Mashiach ben David, "Messiah son of [King] David".
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