Patriarchs (Bible)

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For the movement within evangelical Christianity, see Biblical patriarchy. For uses not directly related to the Bible, see Patriarch (disambiguation).
The bosom of Abraham - medieval illustration from the Hortus deliciarum of Herrad of Landsberg (12th century)

The Patriarchs (Hebrew: אבותAvot or Abot, singular Hebrew: אבAb or Aramaic: אבא Abba) of the Bible, when narrowly defined, are Abraham, his son Isaac, 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. They are used as a significant marker by God in revelations[1] and promises,[2] and continue to play important roles in the Abrahamic faiths. More widely, the term Patriarchs can be used to refer to the twenty ancestor-figures between Adam and Abraham. The first ten of these are called the Antediluvian patriarchs, because they came before the Flood. Judaism and Islam hold that the patriarchs and their primary wives – Sarah (wife of Abraham), Rebekah (wife of Isaac) and Leah (one of the wives of Jacob) – (known as the Matriarchs), are entombed at Machpelah in Hebron, a site held holy by Jews, Muslims, and Christians. Only Rachel, Jacob's favorite wife, is said to be buried separately in the Tomb of Rachel, near Bethlehem, where she is believed to have died in childbirth. More broadly, the term can also refer to any of the major figures of the Book of Genesis, including the lineage of Adam, before the Great Flood, and the lineage of Noah to repopulate the earth after the Flood.

Antediluvian patriarchs[edit]

See also: Methuselah

The lifetimes given for the patriarchs in the Book of Genesis are: Adam 930 years, Seth 912, Enos 905, Kenan 910, Mahalalel 895, Jared 962, Enoch 365 (did not die, but was taken away by God), Methuselah 969, Lamech 777, Noah 950.[3] The lifespans given 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!"[4]

Abraham Terah Nahor Serug Rehu Peleg Eber Shelah Kenan Arpachshad Shem Noah Lamech (father of Noah) Methuselah Enoch Jared Mahalalel Kenan Enos (biblical figure) Seth Adam

Explanation of color-codes:

Family tree[edit]


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Adam
 
Eve
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Cain
 
 
 
 
Other children
 
 
 
 
Seth
 
 
Abel
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Other people
 
 
 
 
Noah
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Japheth
 
 
Ham
 
 
 
 
Shem
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
First Wife
 
Terah
 
Second Wife
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Haran
 
Nahor
 
Hagar
 
Abraham
 
Sarah
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Lot
 
Bethuel
 
 
 
Ishmael
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Laban
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Rebekah
 
Isaac
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Leah and Rachel
 
Jacob
 
 
 
 
 
Esau
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Twelve Sons and at least One Daughter

Table of Nations[edit]

Main article: Sons of Noah

According to the Bible, 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.

  • 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)

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

Religious significance[edit]

Islam[edit]

Abraham (Ibrahim in Islam) is considered the father of the Prophets in Islam because all subsequent prophets were his descendants (the Israelite prophets through Isaac and Muhammad through Ismā'īl).

Matriarchs[edit]

The Matriarchs are the wives of the biblical Patriarchs. They are Sarah, the wife of Abraham, Rebekah, the wife of Isaac and Leah and Rachel, the wives of Jacob.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Exodus 3:6
  2. ^ Leviticus 26:42
  3. ^ Ages of the patriarchs in Genesis
  4. ^ Von Rad, G. (trans Marks, J. H.) 1961 Genesis - a commentary Philadelphia: Westminster Press

External links[edit]