Biden hosted Herzog in the Oval Office at the White House, telling him, "You know my love for Israel is deep-rooted and long-lasting."
But the warm greeting did not mask a split over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's divisive push to reform the court system and expand Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territories.
President Isaac Herzog, who has a mostly ceremonial role in Israel, was quick to address the judicial reforms controversy, which has sparked giant street protests by opponents accusing Netanyahu of mounting a power grab.
"It's a heated debate but it is also a virtue and a tribute to the greatness of Israeli democracy," he told Biden."Let me reiterate, clear -- crystal clear -- that Israeli democracy is sound, strong and resilient."
Herzog's high-profile visit -- which includes an address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday -- was a chance for official Washington to underline its backing for one of the United States' closest and most consequential alliances anywhere in the world.
In opening remarks, Biden flagged Washington's determination to prevent Iran from ever getting a nuclear weapon and also discussed regional diplomatic thaws that have seen Israel and Arab countries expanding ties.
But clouding Herzog's presence was the shadow of the leader with the real power in Israel -- Netanyahu.
Relations between Netanyahu and the Biden administration have been rocky ever since he made his political comeback at the head of a coalition of hard-right and ultra-Orthodox parties in December.
A few lawmakers in Biden's Democratic Party have said they are considering boycotting Herzog's address to Congress in protest.
On the eve of Herzog's visit, Biden eased tensions somewhat by speaking with Netanyahu and agreeing to meet with him later this year in the United States.
It will be the first such meeting since Netanyahu returned to office late last year.
But the Biden administration would not say whether the Israeli leader would get a coveted White House invitation or whether they'd talk elsewhere -- potentially at the UN General Assembly session in New York.
"We just haven't worked it out," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday, denying any "hesitation."
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Monday that the meeting will be closer to the end of this year, perhaps "in the fall" -- which would around the time of the UN General Assembly session in New York.
In Monday's phone call, Netanyahu told Biden that the judicial bill would be passed next week and that he intended to "reach wide public support for the rest of the reform during the summer recess," his office said.
According to the US readout of the call, Biden "expressed concern about continued Jewish settlement growth" and "stressed the need to take measures to maintain the viability" of a future Palestinian state alongside Israel.