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Jesse of Bethlehem

Jesse was the son of Obed, and grandson of Boaz and Ruth (Ruth 4:13-22). Jesse had eight sons and two daughters, but he is known to Bible History primarily because of his youngest son, the one who became King David. As such, Jesse was a key ancestor of Jesus Christ: "There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots ... In that day the root of Jesse shall stand as an ensign to the peoples; him shall the nations seek, and his dwellings shall be glorious." (Isaiah 11:1,10 RSV)

Bethlehem After Saul proved himself to be an unwise and unstable king, The Lord appeared to the priest Samuel to make known that He had chosen a new king from among the sons of Jesse of Bethlehem:

"The Lord said to Samuel, "How long will you grieve over Saul, seeing I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for Myself a king among his sons." (1 Samuel 16:1 RSV)

The choice of the new king was a surprise to Jesse, who very nearly overlooked his youngest son who was out tending the sheep when Samuel arrived:

"And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, "The Lord has not chosen these." And Samuel said to Jesse, "Are all your sons here?" And he said, "There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep." And Samuel said to Jesse, "Send and fetch him; for we will not sit down till he comes here." And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. And The Lord said, "Arise, anoint him; for this is he." Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of The Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward." (1 Samuel 16:10-13 RSV)

The transition of the monarchy from Saul to David did not occur immediately, or easily. Saul was killed in battle against the Philistines before David became king of all Israel. Before that time however, Saul became increasingly bitter against David, and frequently spoke of David in a derogatory manner simply as the "son of Jesse" (e.g. 1 Samuel 22:7). It eventually got so dangerous for all of David's family that David arranged for refuge for his parents with the king of Moab (Jesse's grandmother Ruth was from Moab i.e. Ruth 1:1-4). It was the last of Jesse's life recorded in the Bible:

"David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; and when his brothers and all his father's house heard it, they went down there to him. And every one who was in distress, and every one who was in debt, and every one who was discontented, gathered to him; and he became captain over them. And there were with him about four hundred men. And David went from there to Mizpeh of Moab; and he said to the king of Moab, "Pray let my father and my mother stay with you, till I know what God will do for me." And he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him all the time that David was in the stronghold." (1 Samuel 22:1-4 RSV)

Fact Finder: Is Jesse listed in the genealogy of Jesus Christ?
Matthew 1:6, Luke 3:32
See also Why 2 Genealogies For Jesus Christ?


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