By Binyamin Kagedan/

The great epic poet Homer once said, “For rarely are sons
similar to their fathers; most are worse, and a few are better.” In honor of
Father’s Day 2013, compiled
some quick facts about some rather un-famous (though not all infamous)
fathers of famous biblical characters.

Click photo to download. Caption: An illustration of Elkanah and his two wives. In honor of Father’s Day 2013, compiled some quick facts about
some rather un-famous (though not all infamous) fathers of famous
biblical characters, including Elkanah. Credit: Masters of Utrecht/Wikimedia Commons.

Terah, father of

The biblical verse is mostly silent on Terah’s life and
times, its brief description of his family and travels serving only to set the
stage for the story of Abraham. But various ancient interpretive traditions
grew around the character of Terah in the imagination of the rabbis, especially
as they pertain to the spiritual evolution of Abraham. Terah is portrayed in
the Midrash as a typical worshipper of Mesopotamian gods, perhaps even a
priest, who kept a sizable collection of stone idols. His precocious son
Abraham, so the familiar tale goes, having become convinced of the
powerlessness of these images, smashed all but the biggest one to pieces, then left
his hammer in the remaining statue’s hands. When a furious Terah later demanded
an explanation for the disaster, Abraham cleverly blamed the one idol he’d left
standing, claiming that a fight had erupted in which it was the sole victor!

Elkanah, father of

Elkanah had two wives, like many men of his day, but had
only been able to have children with one of them. The biblical narrator tells
us that it was his other wife, Hannah, who was his favorite of the two. Hannah
was greatly depressed by her infertility, and Elkanah, in what is perhaps one
of the earliest accounts of male insensitivity, responds: “Hannah, why do you
weep? And why do you not eat? And why does your heart grieve? Am I not better
to you than ten sons?” (I Samuel 1:8). In fact, having a son was so important
to Hannah that she made deal with God: If she would be granted a son, she
offered to permanently lend him to the service of the divine. Thus Samuel, when
he came of age, became the servant of the High Priest Eli, and grew to be one
of the great prophets of Israel.

Jesse, father of

The importance of the genealogy David to both Jewish and
Christian messianic thought has helped make Jesse a more familiar name than
some of the other dads on our list. Jesse is said to have descended from the
Judah, fourth son of Jacob, who in Jewish lore was the given the rightful
kingship of Israel. The book of Samuel I contains the dramatic account of Samuel
visiting the house of Jesse in Bethlehem, having been instructed by God that
one of the man’s sons has been chosen to replace the weakened King Saul. Jesse
innocently offers Samuel his oldest, tallest son Eliab, assuming him to be the
best man for the job, but he and Jesse’s next six sons are all rejected by God until
the youth …read more


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