What and who is a…

Greek: πατριάρχης —transliteration: patriarchés —meaning: head or founder of a family or larger people group

In the Old Testament, this name is generally applied to the progenitors of families or “heads of the fathers” (Joshua 14:1) mentioned in Scripture, and they are spoken of as antediluvian patriachs (from Adam to Noah) and post-diluvian patriachs (from Noah to Jacob).

Pre-Flood patriarchs

About the very long lifespans of the pre-Flood patriarchs…

“Patriachal longevity presents itself as one of the most striking of the facts concerning mankind which the early history of the Book of Genesis places before us… There is a large amount of consentient tradition to the effect that the life of man was originally far more prolonged than it is at present, extending to at least several hundred years. The Babylonians, Egyptians, and Chinese exaggerated these hundreds into thousands. The Greeks and Romans, with more moderation, limited human life within a thousand or eight hundred years.

The Hindus still farther shortened the term. Their books taught that in the first age of the world man was free from diseases, and lived ordinarily four hundred years; in the second age the term of life was reduced from four hundred to three hundred; in the third it became two hundred; in the fourth and last it was brought down to one hundred.” —George Rawlinson, Historical Illustrations of the Old Testament, 1871

Post-Flood patriarchs

Lineage from Creation to King David

God → ADAMSethEnosCainanMahalaleelJaredEnochMethuselahLamechNOAHShem → Arpachshad → ShelahEBER (founder of the Hebrew race) → PelegReuSerugNahorTerahABRAHAMIsaacJacobJUDAHPerezHezronRamAmminadabNahshonSalmonBoazObedJesseKING DAVID

Lineage, from David to Joseph, adoptive father of Jesus

King David (and Queen Bathsheba) → King SolomonKing RehoboamKing Abijah (Abijam) → King AsaKing JehoshaphatKing Jehoram (Joram) → King Ahaziah (Uzziah) → King JothamKing AhazKing HezekiahKing ManassehKing AmonKing Josiah → Jeconiah (Jechonias, Jehoiachin, Jekonjah, Coniah, Neri) → Prince Shealtiel (exiled to Babylon) → Prince Zerubbabel (royal leader of the return exiles, rebuilt the altar and Temple foundation) → Prince Abiud (Abihud) → Governor Eliakim → Azor → Zadok → Achim → Eliud → EleazarMatthanJacobJOSEPH, the legal father of Jesus Christ

Mary’s genealogy

Mary ← HeliMatthatLeviMelchiJannaJosephMattathiah (Mattathias)AmosNahum ← Esli ← Naggai ← MaathMattathiah (Mattathias)SemeiJosephJudahJoannas (Joanna)RhesaZerubbabelShealtielNeriMelchiAddiCosamElmodamErJose (Joshua, Jesus)Eliezer ← Jorim ← MatthatLeviSimeonJudahJoseph ← Jonan ← EliakimMelea ← Menan (Menna) ← Mattathah ← NathanKING DAVID

“The patriarch”

The Biblical expression “the patriarch,” by way of eminence, is applied to the 12 sons of Israel, or to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (aka Israel).

12 sons of Israel (aka Jacob)

New Testament use of the word

In the New Testament, the name patriarch is applied to:

More information

Article Version: July 11, 2021