There is a seemingly well known chazal "Ein Melech B'Lo Am" there is no king without a people. Which is supposed to indicate that God cannot truly be king without subjects. Where is this chazal found (if at all)?

2 Answers 2


I don't know if this is the earliest source, but it is pretty early. In Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer Chapter 3 the Torah asks God the following question:

רבון כל העולם אם אין צבא למלך ואם אין מחנה למלך על מה הוא מולך, אם אין עם לקלס למלך אי זה הוא כבודו של מלך?‏ Master of the Universe, if a king does not have armies or camps then what is he king of? If there is no nation to praise the king, then where is his honor?

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    This is the earliest description of this term that I have found as well.
    – user1292
    Sep 10, 2012 at 1:39

Rabbeinu Bechaye says it (using those words) in his commentary on the Torah, Bereshit 38:30. It is a long entry, but the relevant portion is found towards the end (top of the first column here). He also says it in his introduction to Parshat Balak (about 15 lines in here).

He also brings it up in another Sefer of his called Kad HeKemach (Rosh Hashana (2) d"h V'od).

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    +1 Just to clarify: Rabbinu Bechaye lived some 500 years after the redaction of Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer, but on the other hand he is the first (so far) to use the precise wording of the OP.
    – Double AA
    Sep 9, 2012 at 22:35
  • I found the following citations by googling: עמק המלך שער שעשועי המלך בעצמותו רפ"א; ספר החיים פרק הגאולה פ"ב; רבינו בחיי לבראשית לח, ל (from a footnote on this web page: malchuty.org/… (So, Rabbeinu Bachya looks like the first, as Menachem says.)
    – paquda
    Sep 10, 2012 at 18:31
  • From these Kabbalistic sources, the saying seems to spread into Chasidic teachings, including Tanya and Likutei Moharan.
    – paquda
    Sep 10, 2012 at 18:36
  • It is also reminiscent of the first page in Eitz Chaim, from the Arizal, which presents a 'hakirah' into the reason for the creation of all the worlds and says the fact of the creation makes the divine names and appellations meaningful, e.g., adnut implies others over whom there is mastery.
    – paquda
    Sep 10, 2012 at 18:41

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