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Jesse was the father of King David. His name means "God (Yahweh) Exists" or "God's gift".


Jesse was the son of Obed, and the grandson of Ruth. He lived in Bethlehem (1 Samuel 16:1)

His children

Jesse had eight sons: Eliab, Abinadab, Shammah, Nethanel, Raddai, Ozem and David, as well as one who probably died early and is not mentioned by name. In the story recounted in 1 Samuel 16 the prophet Samuel was commanded by God to go to Jesse to meet his sons and anoint the man who was to become the nextg king of Israel. His eldest son Eliab was tall and had fair features, but did not have the proper heart to be king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:7):

But Yahweh said to Samuel, "Don't look on his face, or on the height of his stature; because I have rejected him: for [Yahweh sees] not as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but Yahweh looks at the heart."

Each son was brought out in turn. Finally, the youngest one, David, was brought out and anointed. He would become the second king of Israel following the death of King Saul. He is described in 1 Samuel 16:12 as "ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features" and later as "a brave man and a warrior" who "speaks well and is a fine-looking man."

David's two sisters, Zeruiah and Abigail, are never called daughters of Jesse in the Masoretic Text, but daughters of Nahash. (1 Chronicles 2:13-16; 2 Samuel 17:25) Hence, it seems that they were daughters of David's mother from an earlier marriage to a man named Nahash. Alternatively, it could be that Nahash was either another name for Jesse, or the name of David's mother.

Geography: Geza of Jesse

The "Geza of Jesse" is a plateau located just north of the valley of Jezreel in Israel and is said to have been originally cleared and settled by descendents of David.

Imagery: The Tree of Jesse

The name Jesse is referenced in the Old Testament when predicting the coming of Jesus, the Messiah. Isaiah 11:1-3 talks of a shoot and branch growing from the stump of Jesse - this is a picture of a king who is a descendent of Jesse

A shoot will come out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of Yahweh will rest on him: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Yahweh. His delight will be in the fear of Yahweh. He will not judge by the sight of his eyes, neither decide by the hearing of his ears;

From the eleventh century onwards this Tree of Jesse has been portrayed in Christian art including in illuminations, manuscripts, wall paintings, wood carvings and on stone. In the representation of the Tree, it is usual for Jesse to be portrayed recumbent with a tree rising from his body, and the ancestors of Jesus portrayed in its branches with Christ at the summit. The earliest illustrated manuscripts did not always depict Jesse or Christ.



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