AMRAM (Heb.עַמְרָם; "the Divine Kinsman is exalted"), father of Aaron, Moses, and Miriam (Ex. 6:18, 20; Num. 26:58–59). Amram married his aunt Jochebed (Ex. 6:20), which is contrary to biblical law (Lev. 18:12–13; 20:19–20). He was the son of Kohath, the grandson of Levi, and his name frequently appears in genealogical lists of the tribe of Levi (Num. 3:19; I Chron. 5:28–29; 6:3; 23:12–13; 24:20). Amram was also the father of the Amramites, a Kohathite branch of the tribe of Levi (Num. 3:27; I Chron. 26:23).
In the Aggadah
The aggadah relates that Amram was "head of the Sanhedrin" (Ex. R. 1:13), and describes him as "the leader of his generation" (Sot. 12a). When Pharaoh decreed the death of all the male Jewish children, Amram divorced Jochebed, his wife, declaring: "We labor in vain." His example was followed by all the men in Israel. His daughter, Miriam, however, criticized his action declaring that his example was worse than Pharaoh's decree. Amram heeded her words, and remarried Jochebed. All the men of Israel, thereupon remarried their wives (Sot. 12a).
Amram's piety is described as being partly responsible for bringing the divine presence closer to earth (PdRK 1). It is also recorded that he was one of the four personalities (the others were Benjamin, Jesse, and Chileab), who died untainted by sin (Shab. 55b; BB 17a).
H.H. Rowley, From Joseph to Joshua (1950), 57–108; Ginzberg, Legends, 2 (1910), 258–61; I. Ḥasida, Ishei ha-Tanakh (1964).
[Elimelech Epstein Halevy]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.