Charisma | Why the People of Israel Will Always Prevail

“Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the ground in reverence to the king and said, “Let my lord King David live forever'” (1 Kings 1:31).

When the mantle of leadership was passed down from King David to his son Solomon, the transition was not exactly smooth. As it became clear to David’s family and closest advisors that his time of death was near, one of his eldest sons, Adonijah, decided to seize the opportunity to appoint himself as David’s successor.

Now, David had already specified that Solomon would succeed him, but Adonijah sought to take advantage of his father’s weakened state and promote himself anyway. Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, was concerned about her son’s future. King David promised to instate Solomon as the rightful heir to the throne and indeed he did. Bathsheba gratefully responded, “Let my lord King David live forever.”

What did Bathsheba mean by what she said? She was speaking to a man on his deathbed. In addition, this phrase became the precursor to another similar one: “David, King of Israel, is alive and well!” This phrase has become part of Jewish liturgy and also forms the words for one of the most basic, universal and well-known songs across the Jewish world. What is the meaning of these words and why are they so relevant even today?

Around the second century of the common era, the rabbis in Israel had a dilemma. According to Jewish law, every new month had to be announced by two witnesses who spotted the new moon in the sky. However, the Romans, who ruled and oppressed the people of Israel at the time, made this ancient practice illegal. The rabbis decided to devise a code phrase that would signify the onset of the new month. The phrase was: “David, King of Israel, is alive and well!”

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