Patriarchs (Bible)

Patriarchs (Bible)

The Patriarchs (Hebrew: אבותAvot) of the Bible, when narrowly defined, are Abraham, the ancestor of all the Abrahamic nations; his son Isaac, the ancestor of the nations surrounding Israel/Judah; and Isaac's son Jacob, also named Israel, the ancestor of the Israelites. These three figures are referred to collectively as the patriarchs of Judaism, and the period in which they lived is known as the patriarchal age. They play significant roles in Hebrew Scripture during and following their lifetimes. Dated, though without certainty, as having lived in the early second millennium,[1] they are used as a significant markers by God in revelations[2] and promises,[3] and continue to play important roles in the Abrahamic faiths.

Judaism and Islam hold that the patriarchs and their primary wives – Sarah (wife of Abraham), Rebekah (wife of Isaac), and Leah and Rachel (the wives of Jacob) – (known as the Matriarchs), are entombed at Machpelah, a site held holy by Jews, Muslims, and Christians.

Thus, Judaism has three patriarchs and four matriarchs.

More widely the term Patriarchs can be used to refer to the twenty ancestor-figures between Abraham and Adam, the first man - the first ten of these, between Adam and Noah, are called the Antediluvian patriarchs, because they came before the Flood.


Antediluvian Patriarchs

In the conventional reading of the Bible, these are the lifetimes given.

Adam 930; Seth 912; Enosh 905; Kenan 910; Mahalalel 895; Jared 962; Enoch 365 (did not die, but was taken away by God); Methuselah 969; Lamech 777; Noah 950 y.o.[4]

However, as well as being much greater than regular human lifespan, they cause problems of chronology for Bible scholars, as the following quotation shows.

“The long lives ascribed to the patriarchs cause remarkable synchronisms and duplications. Adam lived to see the birth of Lamech, the ninth member of the genealogy; Seth lived to see the translation of Enoch and died shortly before the birth of Noah. Noah outlived Abram’s grandfather, Nahor, and died in Abram’s sixtieth year. Shem, Noah’s son, even outlived Abram. He was still alive when Esau and Jacob were born!” [5]

Alternative readings and discussion of the ages are given under Methuselah.

Genesis 5

Black and grey timelines refer to the lifespans of patriarchs recorded in the Septuagint. Gold and yellow timelines refer to lifespans as recorded in the Syriac Peshitta. Crimson and vermillion timelines refer to the lifespans as recorded in the Masoretic text.

Abraham Abraham Abraham Abraham Abraham Abraham Terah Terah Terah Terah Terah Terah Nahor Nahor Nahor Nahor Nahor Nahor Serug Serug Serug Serug Serug Serug Rehu Rehu Rehu Rehu Rehu Rehu Peleg Peleg Peleg Peleg Peleg Peleg Eber Eber Eber Eber Eber Eber Shelah Shelah Shelah Shelah Shelah Shelah Kenan Kenan Arpachshad Arpachshad Arpachshad Arpachshad Arpachshad Arpachshad Shem Shem Shem Noah Noah Noah Lamech Lamech Lamech Methuselah Methuselah Methuselah Enoch Enoch Enoch Jared Jared Jared Mehalalel Mehalalel Mehalalel Kenan Kenan Kenan Enosh Enosh Enosh Seth Seth Seth Adam Adam Adam

Relation to other tribes

Many of the tribes living in the Middle East, between the time of Abraham and the time of Christ, have a genealogical connection to the Patriarchs or their descendants. This list, taken from the Book of Genesis, gives the details of that genealogy.

  • Ham, father of Canaan (Canaanites)
  • Canaan, father of Sidon, Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashities, Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, Arvadites, Zemarites, and Hamathites
  • Kemuel, father of Aram (Arameans)
  • Bethuel, father of Laban and Rebeccah
  • Nahor and Reumah, parents of Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah
  • Haran, father of Lot
  • Lot and his older daughter, parents of Moab (Moabites)
  • Lot and his younger daughter, parents of Ben-ammi (Ammonites)
  • Isaac and Rebekah, parents of Jacob, Esau (Edomites)
  • Eliphaz and Timna, parents of Amalek (Amalekites)

The twelve tribes of Israel include ten of the sons of Jacob, (excluding Levi and Joseph) and the two sons of Joseph.

Family tree

Other Children
other people
First Wife
Second Wife
Leah and Rachel
Twelve Sons and at least One Daughter

Religious significance

In Judaism

In Islam

Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham as referred to in the above context) is considered the father of the Prophets in Islam as most of the prophets were his descendants (all of Israelites prophets and prophet Mohamed). Also, prophet Ibrahim was Khalil Allah the father of both Isaac and Ismael. Prophet ibrahim was thrown into a huge fire was made for his torture and death as a punishment of his infidelity for idols, but even though, Allah has miraculously saved him from death under the eyes of all the existing people. Muslims believe that Ibrahim was the one who named them Muslims.[citation needed]

In Christianity


The Matriarchs (Hebrew: אמהות, Imahot ; "mothers") are four important women mentioned in the Book of Genesis of the Hebrew Bible, the wives of the Biblical Patriarchs. They are:

See also


  1. ^ ""Biblical Chronology", Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)". 1908-11-01. Retrieved 2010-12-26. 
  2. ^ Exodus 3:6
  3. ^ Leviticus 26:42
  4. ^ Ages of the patriarchs in Genesis
  5. ^ Von Rad, G. (trans Marks, J. H.) 1961 Genesis - a commentary Philadelphia: Westminster Press

External links

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