In the OT the immediate male progenitor, the head of a people or tribe (Gen 19:37), or a founder of some institution (Gen 4:20-21; 1Chr 2:41-52); in the latter two cases, the NRSV often uses “ancestor.” The plural “fathers” (NRSV, “ancestors”) refers to previous generations (Jer 31:32; Ps 22:4; Lam 5:7). “Father” can also be an honorary title given to prophets and priests (Judg 17:10; 2Kgs 2:12; 2Kgs 6:21; 2Kgs 13:14). In the nuclear family, a father had considerable power over his children but this was not unlimited: e.g., a father could arrange his daughter’s marriage (Gen 34:12; 1Sam 18:25), but he could not sell her into prostitution (Lev 19:29). The father was obligated to circumcise his sons (Gen 17:12; Gen 17:23; Gen 21:4; Lev 12:3) and to educate the children in the Torah (Exod 13:8; Deut 4:9; Deut 6:7; Deut 20-25:7; also Prov 3:12). The children were to revere and obey the father (Exod 20:12; Lev 19:3; Deut 21:18; Deut 21:20; Exod 21:15; Lev 20:9). The father’s love and blessing (Gen 27:27-40; Gen 49) is the basis for the image of God the Father of Israel (Exod 4:22; Deut 14:1; Deut 32:6; Hos 11:1; Jer 3:4; Jer 3:19; Jer 31:9; Ps 103:13). In the NT, “father” can refer to the male progenitor (Matt 1:1-16; Mark 1:20; Acts 28:8), but in most instances it is used to refer to God. This Christian practice probably derives from the intimate term for father that Jesus used to address God (Heb. and Aramaic abba). “Father” is also the term for God Jesus used in the prayer he taught his followers (Luke 11:2).

Gen 19:37

37The firstborn bore a son, and named him Moab; he is the ancestor of the Moabites to this day.

Gen 4:20-21

20Adah bore Jabal; he was the ancestor of those who live in tents and have livestock.21His brother's name was Jubal; he was the ancestor of all those who play t ... View more

1Chr 2:41-52

41Shallum became the father of Jekamiah, and Jekamiah of Elishama.42The sons of Caleb brother of Jerahmeel: Mesha his firstborn, who was father of Ziph. The son ... View more

Jer 31:32

32It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they bro ... View more

Ps 22:4

4In you our ancestors trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.

Lam 5:7

7Our ancestors sinned; they are no more,
and we bear their iniquities.

Judg 17:10

10Then Micah said to him, “Stay with me, and be to me a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year, a set of clothes, and your living. ... View more

2Kgs 2:12

12Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothe ... View more

2Kgs 6:21

21When the king of Israel saw them he said to Elisha, “Father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?”

2Kgs 13:14

Death of Elisha
14Now when Elisha had fallen sick with the illness of which he was to die, King Joash of Israel went down to him, and wept before him, crying, “ ... View more

Gen 34:12

12Put the marriage present and gift as high as you like, and I will give whatever you ask me; only give me the girl to be my wife.”

1Sam 18:25

25Then Saul said, “Thus shall you say to David, ‘The king desires no marriage present except a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, that he may be avenged on t ... View more

Lev 19:29

29Do not profane your daughter by making her a prostitute, that the land not become prostituted and full of depravity.

Gen 17:12

12Throughout your generations every male among you shall be circumcised when he is eight days old, including the slave born in your house and the one bought wit ... View more

Gen 17:23

23Then Abraham took his son Ishmael and all the slaves born in his house or bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house, and he circumcis ... View more

Gen 21:4

4And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him.

Lev 12:3

3On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.

Exod 13:8

8You shall tell your child on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’

Deut 4:9

9But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of you ... View more

Deut 6:7

7Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.

Deut 20-25:7

Rules of Warfare
1When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots, an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them; for t ... View more

Prov 3:12

12for the Lord reproves the one he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.

Exod 20:12

12Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

Lev 19:3

3You shall each revere your mother and father, and you shall keep my sabbaths: I am the Lord your God.

Deut 21:18

Rebellious Children
18If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father and mother, who does not heed them when they discipline him,

Deut 21:20

20They shall say to the elders of his town, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.”

Exod 21:15

15Whoever strikes father or mother shall be put to death.

Lev 20:9

9All who curse father or mother shall be put to death; having cursed father or mother, their blood is upon them.

Gen 27:27-40

27So he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his garments, and blessed him, and said,
“Ah, the smell of my son
is like the smell of a field tha ... View more

Gen 49

Jacob's Last Words to His Sons
1Then Jacob called his sons, and said: “Gather around, that I may tell you what will happen to you in days to come.2Assemble and ... View more

Exod 4:22

22Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord: Israel is my firstborn son.

Deut 14:1

Pagan Practices Forbidden
1You are children of the Lord your God. You must not lacerate yourselves or shave your forelocks for the dead.

Deut 32:6

6Do you thus repay the Lord,
O foolish and senseless people?
Is not he your father, who created you,
who made you and established you?

Hos 11:1

God's Compassion Despite Israel's Ingratitude
1When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.

Jer 3:4

4Have you not just now called to me,
“My Father, you are the friend of my youth—

Jer 3:19

19I thought
how I would set you among my children,
and give you a pleasant land,
the most beautiful heritage of all the nations.
And I thought you would call me ... View more

Jer 31:9

9With weeping they shall come,
and with consolations I will lead them back,
I will let them walk by brooks of water,
in a straight path in which they shall not ... View more

Ps 103:13

13As a father has compassion for his children,
so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.

Matt 1:1-16

The Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah
1An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.2Abraham was the father of Isaac, and ... View more

Mark 1:20

20Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

Acts 28:8

8It so happened that the father of Publius lay sick in bed with fever and dysentery. Paul visited him and cured him by praying and putting his hands on him.

Luke 11:2

2He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.

 NEH Logo
Bible Odyssey has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.