Within the Jewish community, genealogical studies have shown several families that can claim descent ben akhar ben (father to son) in a direct line, most notably the Dayan, Shealtiel and Charlap/Don Yechia families. Most of these families come from Aleppo, Syria.
Susan Roth founded the Davidic Dynasty organization in 2000 to gather and reunite Davidic descendants in the Holy City of Jerusalem. Roth has a personal interest as well, tracing her lineage back to King David through Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, the preeminent 11th century French Torah scholar known by the acronym Rashi.
Her registry currently lists approximately 150 descendants who have verifiable descent to King David. However, efforts to introduce this reality into mainstream Judaism have met with surprising resistance.
When she first compiled her list, Roth contacted Israel’s Chief Rabbinate to inform them of her registry but, surprisingly, they expressed no interest.
One of her discoveries was Mitchell Dayan. In 1983, Dayan was mourning for his brother. Amazed at the number of visitors who claimed to be from his family, he began to research his genealogy. Dayan’s research led him to a book called Yashir Moshe, a commentary on Song of Songs written in 1864 by Rabbi Moshe Dayan. In the prologue to the book, the rabbi lists his genealogy, leading back to King David. In this list, Mitchell found the name of his great grandfather from Aleppo.
Another genealogic list was found in the Cairo geniza, a storehouse of over 300,000 Jewish documents discovered in the late 1800’s. The two lists were almost identical, despite the Cairo list being compiled hundreds of years earlier. Through these sources, Mitchell Dayan was able to verify his lineage back 87 generations to King David.
In 2005, another Dayan, Rabbi Yosef Dayan, was recognized by the nascent Sanhedrin as a direct descendant of King David and, as such, a candidate to re-establish the Davidic Dynasty. Similar to Mitchell Dayan, his discovery came as a result of a death in the family.
Soon after he immigrated to Israel in 1968, Rabbi Dayan buried his grandfather in Jerusalem. He was surprised to see inscribed on the headstone the words “M’Bet David” (from the house of David). Rabbi Dayan discovered that this inscription was a family custom dating back to their origins in Aleppo.
Several years later, Rabbi Dayan received an antique document from a cousin which lists his genealogy, showing him to be the 89th generation from King David. This document was verified by Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, the former Chief Sephardi Rabbi of Israel.
“This concept of family tradition is not surprising,” Rabbi Dayan told Breaking Israel News. “The Kohanim (priests) have a family tradition that they are descended from Aaron the Priest, well before King David, and this tradition is totally accepted by the rabbis. This tradition has been proven accurate by DNA testing.”
Rabbi Dayan is disappointed by the lack of acceptance by rabbinic authorities and mainstream Judaism.
Comment by Shlomo Moshe Scheinman. It is implied by Tehillim – Psalms – Chapter 89 that one day the Davidic dynasty will be restored. I pray that it will lead to the greater observance of the Torah and not the opposite. I once heard a shiur by Rabbi S. Prusansky who implied that Judaism recognizes the possibility of election or appointing leaders with term limits.
I have personally not investigated the validity of his claims but I am just reporting what he said.
In any case much research should be made to think of a mechanism, that will prevent the abuse of power by the Davidic line (as the prophet Shmuel/Samuel predicted would take place and which did in fact take place).
In my blog post Fake Democratic Elections in Israel I suggested a possible way to move forward on restoring the Davidic Dynasty.
But as I stated in that post, perhaps there are better ways to move forward and I am certainly open to good suggestions.
See Ariel N. Pasko’s article Getting Ready For Korban Pesach This Year by Ariel Natan Pasko which describes how activism to restore the Davidic Dynasty helps move the redemption process forward.
This blog post is located at https://vilnagaon.org/king-david/