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JESSE (Heb. יִשָׁי ,יִשַׁי), father of King *David. According to the Book of Ruth (4:17–22), Jesse was the grandson of Boaz and Ruth and was listed among the descendants of Pereẓ, son of Judah, who lived in Beth-Lehem. When *Samuel anointed David, he invited Jesse and his sons to a feast in their honor, which was a natural thing to do, in order to avoid arousing Saul's suspicions (I Sam. 16:1–5). It is possible that it is his social position that is indicated in the Hebrew text of I Samuel 17:12, which says of Jesse that he "was an old man… who entered among men (of standing)" (Heb. ba-anashim). The word "men" in this context has been compared with its semantic parallel, Akkadian awēlu, which in Mesopotamian society refers to men of the upper stratum, namely the elders and chiefs of the community. The stories concerning David mention Jesse's flocks, but his standing and his descent from Boaz suggest that he was also a landowner. It must be noted that both the Greek Septuagint and the Syriac Peshitta (see *Bible: Translations) presuppose a Hebrew: ba ba-shanim, "entered into years," i.e. "old."


IN THE AGGADAH: Ginzberg, Legends, 4 (1954), 81, 86; 6 (1959), 245, 249–53; I. Ḥasida, Ishei ha-Tanakh (1964), 239–40. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: S. Bar-Efrat, I amuel (1996), 225.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.