6

Is it possible that the titles ‘ben David’ and ‘ben Yoseph’ do not refer to blood kinship or origin, but serve as a reference to the fact that someone possesses certain qualities, traits, abilities or characteristics such as the one to which one is named? Maybe they should be taken as descriptions rather as real names?

Let me clarify this a little bit.

  1. Although the term ‘ben (בן)’ means ‘son’ or ‘son of’ in Hebrew, it’s also used sometimes almost as a Hebrew idiom for “one characterized by or connected with”, to indicate that someone possesses a certain ability, trait, quality, characteristic etc. or belongs to a certain group. בן-חיל, or בן-עולה, בןמשק, בני הנביאים to name some from the Tenach or בן-ברית, בן-בית.

  2. We also know of the phenomenon that when a person has certain particularly dominant character traits that, in time, one’s name can become a title for such traits. Think of Einstein when someone is really smart or acts smart, think of Samsonite to emphasize the strength of a particular material. This is somewhat similar to the title with which Haman is described: Agagi, despite the fact that it is hard to say that Haman was a biological descendant of Agag/Amalek, but rather that his wicked characteristics and actions were reminiscent of those of Amalek. We even see people named after animals, kind of as a shem to’ar, to describe certain characteristics to them. The Tenach compares Leah with a cow for example, while comparing Rachel to a sheep.

  3. If we take Mashiach ben David for example it could mean that Mashiach is comparable to David in his kingship. Which does not exclude that Messiah should be a literal son of David, since every king after David had to come from his bloodline.

So to sum things up:

Why do the titles ‘ben David’ and ‘ben Yoseph’ has to imply that they are from the bloodline of Yehudah and Ephraim, why can’t these be seen as descriptions?

6
  • Thanks for this great question! I took the liberty of reformatting certain pieces of your question; because of the way SE is designed you have to hit return twice to create a paragraph break, or end the line with two spaces before hitting return to create a line break. That was messing up the layout of your post in a few places, particularly just before your numbered list. As always, feel free to roll back or edit further. – DonielF Feb 4 '20 at 13:50
  • 1
    This question asks from the descendant on "up" because of the word "ben" but isn't there text which looks from David on down, and refers to the mashiach as an offshoot of David's family tree? If so, then "ben" is simply corroboration. – rosends Feb 4 '20 at 14:02
  • Just to strengthen the question, I think it would be good to bring examples for point no. 1. – Harel13 Feb 4 '20 at 14:03
  • @Harel13 I could cite "ben Torah" but I think a contemporary, text based example is better. – rosends Feb 4 '20 at 14:14
  • 1
    P.s. BenHadad is called the son of Elisha in 2 Kings 8:9 in a non-literal sense right? David is called the son of Nabal in the same manner (1 Samuel 25:8). Should I add such examples? – Y.Talmid Feb 4 '20 at 22:34
1

All jewish kings must come from יהודה as prophesied in פרשת ויחי when yaakov blessed yehudah ״לא יסור שבט מיהודה ומחוקק מבין רגליו עד כי יבא שלה״, which was passed on to דוד as it says in chapter 89 of tehillim ״נשבעתי לדוד עבדי עד עולם אכין זרעך ובניתי לדור ודור כסאך סלה״. and to conclude, we do not find anywhere in Tanac"h where the term זרע in the context of offspring, does not refer to physical children, and that term is used in the above mentioned verse from tehillim, connoting physical children to exclude disciples or those of similar character etc.

1
  • 1
    Is there any verse which teaches that the Mashiach ben Yosef is called זרע of Yosef? P.s. like I said it’s clear that the Mashiach ben David is (also) a literal descendant from David HaMelech, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the term ‘ben’ should always be interpreted in the exact same way right? – Y.Talmid May 10 '20 at 8:22

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .