During the course of Hashem's explanation of his relationship to the Children of Israel, he likens them to his child:

Yirmiyahu 31:9 "כִּֽי־הָיִ֤יתִי לְיִשְׂרָאֵל֙ לְאָ֔ב וְאֶפְרַ֖יִם בְּכֹ֥רִי הֽוּא"

Sh'mot 4:22 "בְּנִ֥י בְכֹרִ֖י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל"

Hoshe'a 11:1 "וּמִמִּצְרַ֖יִם קָרָ֥אתִי לִבְנִֽי"

But in addition, the text explicitly names Shlomo and David as individual "sons" of God (Divrei Hayamim 1, 22:10 and Shmu'el 2, 7:14).

As they are included among the nation, they would already be thought of as "sons of God" (in that metaphorical sense). What is added to the understanding of them, or what is unique in their character that they are singled out as named sons, beyond their status as sons by being of the nation?

They were prophets, unlike other kings, but not every prophet was named a son of God. They ruled over a united nation, but does this earn them the nickname? What do commentators explain this special designation as meaning, as compared to the similar baseline status which falls on the entire nation?

(failing on tags...help appreciated)

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    Apparently you could also ask that in cases where Hashem describes the benei yisrael as His son, He refers to them in the singular. (Which is the premise of your question, apparently.) Probably an answer to this question would be that in these cases, the entire benei yisrael is considered as a single corporate individual (similar to va'yichen sham tachas ha'har - ke'ish echad be'lev echad.) So that where Hashem refers to an individual as a son, He does so at the individual level, and where He refers to the benei yisrael as His son He does so at the corporate personality level. – The GRAPKE Oct 29 at 2:09

Perhaps a mehalach working off the mefarshim could be as follows: Both Dovid and Shlomo were Kings over the Jewish people and also prophets like you assert. It is precisely this point that meant they had a level of responsibility that went above and beyond the normal leader as they were not only there to rule over the people, but to act as an intermediary between them and Hashem. Thus, unlike the Jewish people whose father-son relationship is one of a merciful father who is always seeking the best for His child, in the case of David and Shlomo, it was to ensure that they acted as correct leaders should as their descendants would follow the example set before them. In the same way that if a son acts out of line, they have to deal with the repercussions, Dovid and Shlomo needed to be aware that their leadership would likewise have a big impact if not conducted in the correct manner.

So, by Dovid in Shmuel II 7:14, the Malbim writes about the relationship:

אני אהיה לו לאב וכו' אשר בהעותו, שישגיח עליו בחמלתו כאב על בנו שתיכף שיתחיל להעוות דרכו תיכף יוכיחהו וישיבהו לדרך הטוב בענין שלא יניחהו להתמוטט בשיעור שיסיר אמונתו ממנו, ודייק לאמר שהוא יהיה לו לאב תחלה ועל ידי כן יהיה הוא לי לבן לא בהפך, כי כל עובד את ה' מאהבה נחשב לה' כבן מצד מעשיו, אבל כשישוב צדיק מצדקו לא יקרא עוד בן רק עבד פושע באדוניו, אבל פה אני אהיה לו לאב תחלה, שלא בהשקף על מעשיו רק כאב טבעי, שמה שהוא לאב קודם אל מה שהוא לו לבן, ומצד זה אשגיח שאהיה לו תמיד לאב ושלא יבא לידי חטאים גדולים כי תיכף בהעותו והוכחתיו...

I will be a father to him...when he does wrong etc. - i.e. that He will administer over him with compassion like a father for his son that immediately if he begins to do wrong his (a father's) way is to immediately rebuke him and bring him back to the good path, so that a (positive opportunity for a) lesson will not collapse and he will (G-d forbid) remove his faith from him. And it was particular to mention first that "He will be to him as a father" since only through this can he then "be a son to Me", and not the other way round. Because all those who serve Hashem from love is considered to Hashem to be like a son from the point of his actions, but when a righteous person reverts from his righteous ways, he is no longer called a son, but rather only a servant who was negligent towards his master. But here "I will be to him as a father" comes first, not in light of his actions but only as a natural father, as He is to him a father first and foremost before him being a son. And from this perspective, I will watch over and always be for him a father so that he doesn't come to any big sins as straight away when he does wrong I have rebuked him...

So in the same way a father, watches over his son to see that they act in the proper manner this was the expectation of G-d to Dovid. With Hashem always there, Dovid had to earn the respect.

A similar approach can be adopted when looking at the pasuk in Divrei HaYamim I 22:10 with Shlomo.

The Chidah on the pasuk writes:

והוא יהיה לי לבן ואני אהיה לו לאב. כי בתחילה צריך התעוררות מלמטה ואח"כ אמר ה' פתחו לי פתח וכו' ולזה אמר הוא יהיה לי לבן שיכין עצמו להיות לבן ולעבוד עבודה כל מצות האב ואז אני אהיה לו לאב:

And he shall be a son to Me and I to him a father - Because first you need an awakening from below and after that Hashem says "Open for Me an entrance etc." And this is why it says, "he shall be a son to me" as he first has to prepare himself to be a son and to engage in the service of all Mitzvos (commands) of the father, and then "I will be to him as a father".

Indeed the Malbim here, cross-references the pasuk brought by Dovid to reiterate the point.

הוא יהיה לי לבן. הוא מ"ש לו (ש"ב ז, יד - טו) אני אהיה לו לאב והוא יהיה לי לבן אשר בהעותו והוכחתיו בשבט אנשים וכו' וחסדי לא אפיר מעמו, שבארתי שם שהבטיח לו שישגיח עליו בל יתמוטט מצדקתו עד שיופסק החסד מעמו, כי יוכיחהו תכף בהעותו וישיבהו אל הטוב, וז"ש ע"י שאהיה לו לאב עי"כ והכינותי את כסא מלכותו עד עולם, וגם ר"ל שע"י שיבנה הבית עי"כ אכין מלכותו עד עולם, וכמו שבארתי (תהלות סי' קלב) שע"י שבחר ה' בציון עי"כ תתקיים גם מלכות דוד לעולם...

He shall be a son to Me - As it writes (in Shmuel II 4:14-15) "I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to Me. When he does wrong, I will chastise him with the rod of men etc." (meaning) and My kindness is not dimmed from His people. As I explained there, it was a promise to him (Dovid) that He (Hashem) would watch over him so that he wouldn't fall from his righteousness until the mercy of His people stops, because He immediately rebukes him when he does wrong and brings him back to the good, and that is what is meant that "I will be a father to him".

And I will establish his throne of kingship forever - And similarly it means that through building the Temple, I will establish his kingship forever. Like I explained, that just as Hashem chose Zion, He will establish the kingship of Dovid forever...

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  • Why wouldn't Moshe have been called a son of God in a similar way? Or Shmu'el? – rosends Oct 29 at 10:06
  • Definitely a good point! Maybe because they were not kings as well as neviim? – Dov Oct 29 at 10:09
  • Ibn Ezra on Dev 33:5 "הוא משה ששמעו ראשי עם התורה מפורשת מפיו והטעם כי הוא היה כמלך" – rosends Oct 29 at 10:38
  • He was like a king? – Dov Oct 29 at 11:42
  • from the answer, " It is precisely this point that meant they had a level of responsibility that went above and beyond the normal leader as they were not only there to rule over the people, but to act as an intermediary between them and Hashem." Does this not then apply to Moshe, especially in light of the Ibn Ezra's understanding that Moshe had the status of a king? – rosends Oct 29 at 12:45

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