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The Patriarchs (also known as the Avot in Hebrew) according to the Judeo-Christian Old Testament, are Abraham, his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob. Collectively, they are referred to as the three patriarchs of Judaism, and the period in which they lived is known as the patriarchal period.

Their primary wives – Sarah (wife of Abraham), Rebekah (wife of Isaac), and Leah and Rachel (the wives of Jacob) – are known as the Matriarchs. Thus, classical Judaism considers itself to have three patriarchs and four matriarchs. However, although the matriarchs are key personages, they have little or no authority over the clan.

Other uses

In the New Testament, King David is referred to as a patriarch, as are Jacob's twelve sons the ancestors of the Twelve tribes of Israel).

In addition, the title patriarch is often applied[where?] t the ten antediluvian figures Adam, Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, and Noah. According to the Book of Genesis, these ten men are the ancestors of the entire human race. Strictly speaking, it could be argued that Enoch and Lamech never held the status of patriarch, as they departed the earthly world prior to the deaths of their own fathers. Moses and Joseph are also known as patriarchs.

The Testament of the Twelves Patriarch (in French):

Ages of the 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.[1]

However, as well as being much greater than human lifetimes today, 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!” [2]

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

Genesis 5

These two tables and figure are a graphical depiction of the genealogy of Genesis 5, assuming that the pre-Flood patriarchs were all in father-son relationships.

Table 1: Age of Pre-Flood Patriarchs in Genesis 5

Age at
Name Birth of Son Death Refs.
Adam 130 930 Gn 5:3,5
Seth 105 912 Gn 5:6,8
Enosh 90 905 Gn 5:9,11
Kenan 70 910 Gn 5:12,14
Mahalalel 65 895 Gn 5:15,17
Jared 162 962 Gn 5:18,20
Enoch 65 365(b) Gn 5:21,23
Methuselah 187 969 Gn 5:25,27
Lamech 182 777 Gn 5:28,31
Noah 500 950 Gn 5:32; 9:29

Note: Enoch did not die, but "God took him" (Gn 5:24).

Table 2: Year(a) of Birth and Death(b) of Pre-Flood Patriarchs in Genesis 5

Name Born Son(a) Died
Adam 0 130 930
Seth 130 235 1042
Enosh 235 325 1140
Kenan 325 395 1235
Mahalalel 395 460 1290
Jared 460 622 1422
Enoch 622 687 987
Methuselah 687 874 1656
Lamech 874 1056 1651
Noah 1056 1556 2006


(a) See note (a), Table 1 above.
(b) See note (b), Table 1 above.

Figure 1: Timeline of Year(a) of Birth and Death(b) of Pre-Flood Patriarchs in Genesis 5

            0   500 1000 1500 2000 2500 
Adam        xxxxxxxxxx
Seth          xxxxxxxxx
Enosh         xxxxxxxxxx
Kenan          xxxxxxxxxx
Mahalalel       xxxxxxxxxx
Jared           xxxxxxxxxxx
Enoch             xxxx
Methuselah         xxxxxxxxxx
Lamech               xxxxxxxx
Noah                  xxxxxxxxxxx


(a) See note (a), Table 1 above.
(b) See note (b), Table 1 above.

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
  • 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)
  • Jacob and Leah, parents of Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun
  • Jacob and Rachel, parents of Joseph, Benjamin
  • Jacob and Bilhah, parents of Dan, Naphtali
  • Jacob and Zilpah, parents of Gad, Asher

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

Family Tree of Certain Patriarchs Mentioned in the Book of Genesis

Other Children
other people
First Wife
Second Wife
Leah and Rachel
Thirteen Children


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. Ages of the patriarchs in Genesis
  2. Von Rad, G. (trans Marks, J. H.) 1961 Genesis - a commentary Philadelphia: Westminster Press


External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Patriarchs (Bible). The list of authors can be seen in the page history.