Date of Birth
Jesse had at least eight sons and two daughters. David was his youngest child. (1_Chronicles 2:13-17 ) The Bible lists the two daughters as sisters of David, but also the daughters of Nahash (Hebrew: נחש, Nachash; "serpent") (2_Samuel 17:25 ). Some commentators suggest that Nahash was the unknown son of Jesse, and that Zeruiah and Abigail were Jesse's granddaughters. But these commentators forget that Joab the son of Zeruiah became David's military chief of staff while David was king over the tribe of Judah. So this man was far more likely to be David's nephew than his great nephew. Thus Nahash is likely to be another name for Jesse—though how Jesse came to be called a snake, and by whom, the Bible does not say.
Jesse seems to have been as wealthy as Boaz was (Ruth 2:1 ), but his wealth was primarily in sheep, not in wheat or barley. When the prophet Samuel came to see him in 2934 AM and asked to see all of Jesse's sons, Jesse told him that he had an eighth son (David) who was tending the sheep. (1_Samuel 16:11 ) Three years later, when David offered to accept the single-combat challenge of Goliath, David told King Saul of how he personally rescued sheep from bears or lions who had attacked the flock. (1_Samuel 17:34-36 )
The Bible names all of Jesse's sons but one, and Jesse's daughters and their sons. The Bible also says that Jesse and his wife took refuge at Mizpah, which belonged to Moab at the time, in or about the spring of 2940 AM (1064 BC). (1_Samuel 22:3 ) How long he lived after that, the Bible does not say, and most commentators doubt that he lived to see David become a king.
- Hirsch EG and Pick B, "Jesse," The Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906. Accessed January 26, 2009.