Did David’s father Jesse have seven or eight sons?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Have you ever wondered how many sons Jesse, David’s father, had?

When the LORD instructed the prophet-priest Samuel to anoint King Saul’s successor as leader of Israel, 1 Samuel 16:10-11 says: “[10] Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The LORD hath not chosen these. [11] And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.”

The above passage says that Jesse had seven sons plus David, or eight sons total. Chapter 17, verse 12, confirms that Jesse had eight sons. David was the youngest, the eighth son of Jesse. Very simple, right?

But, when we come to 1 Chronicles 2:15, which is part of the genealogical record of Jacob’s sons (the twelve tribes of Israel), we find something at variance to 1 Samuel: “[13] And Jesse begat his firstborn Eliab, and Abinanadab his second, and Shimma the third, [14] Nethaneel the fourth, Raddai the fifth, [15] Ozem the sixth, David the seventh:” Why is David listed as “the seventh?” Was not David the eighth son of Jesse? Why are only seven sons listed here?

Evidently, one of David’s older brothers died childless, so his name was not needed in the genealogical record of 1 Chronicles. That brother was alive at the time of 1 Samuel chapter 16, to be rejected as king of Israel, and he died sometime later, childless (reflected by the testimony of 1 Chronicles). David was indeed chronologically the eighth son of Jesse but David was the seventh son of Jesse in terms of fathering children. In other words, Jesse did not have eight sons who became fathers themselves, but rather he had seven sons who fathered children. This seems to be the reasoning behind the totaling of 1 Chronicles 2:15. Again, very simple, right?

Also see:
» Why do Matthew 28:19 and Acts 2:38 contain dissimilar instructions?
» Do not Acts 9:7 and Acts 22:9 contradict each other?
» Why does the Bible say that Jesus was “slain and hanged on a tree?”