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Jesse, son of Obed, was a notable chieftain of the tribe of Judah in the days of Saul. His home was in the town of Bethlehem Ephratah. In his long life he would father eight sons and at least two daughters. His older sons would fight in the war against the Philistines, Israel's perennial enemy to whom he would send his youngest son, David, who had recently been anointed by the prophet Samuel.

Saul almost always referred to David, whom he had once trusted, as "the son of Jesse." This may indicate that Jesse was a prominent leader of the tribe of Judah. He was apparently wealthy, for he was the patriarch of the house of Salmon, hero of the conquest of Jericho in the days of Joshua. The last mention of him is after he and his sons came to support David at a secluded cave when he was being chased by Saul. David sends him to live among his relatives in Moab, land of his grandmother Ruth.


The name Jesse (Heb: יִשַׁי) means "substance". As the grandson of a wealthy farmer, he represented the hope of continued prosperity in uncertain times.


Jesse was born in Bethlehem in the tribal territory of Judah near the border with Benjamin around 1150 BC. Though the son of Obed in his old age, his inheritance seemed to be sufficient to support a large sheepfold and ten children. He would father David when he was around 100 years old in the tenth year of Saul.

When God sent the prophet Samuel to Bethlehem, he had the town's elders come to a sacrificial ceremony. One of these elders was Jesse[1]. As Samuel consecrated Jesse's sons, he was looking for the next king of Israel to replace King Saul. After Eliab had presented himself, Jesse first called Abinadab, Shammah, and the rest of his seven sons. None of these were accepted by God to be anointed king[2]. Samuel then asked Jesse if these were all of his sons and Jesse told him about David, who he had assigned to take care of the sheep during the sacrifices[3]. Jesse then summoned David, whom God confirmed to Samuel to be the successor to Saul[4].

Afterwards David became notable to Saul himself for his lyre playing skills and so messengers requested Jesse to send David to Saul to play the lyre for him. Jesse took a donkey with his son David as well as some bread, wine, and a goat along with him[5]. Saul, enjoying David, asked Jesse to allow David to stay in his service which he did[6].


  1. 1 Samuel 16:1-15 (Link)
  2. 1 Samuel 16:6-10 (Link)
  3. 1 Samuel 16:11 (Link)
  4. 1 Samuel 16:12-13 (Link)
  5. 1 Samuel 16:14-20 (Link)
  6. 1 Samuel 16:21-23 (Link)