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Old Testament | Key Figures

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Key Figure Description
Yahweh/God Yahweh is the primary name of the God of ancient Israel in the Hebrew Bible. The Bible explains the entire history of ancient Israel as the product of a covenant relationship between Yahweh and this chosen people. Read More
Abraham Abraham (called Abram initially) is the first major ancestor, or patriarch, of the people of Israel. Because of his faith in Yahweh, Yahweh promises to make Abraham's descendants into a great nation. Read More
Jacob Also known as Israel, Jacob is the son of Isaac and Rebekah, and father of 12 sons whose descendants make up the 12 tribes of Israel. Read More
Moses Moses is the paradigmatic prophet of Israel. He leads the people out of slavery in Egypt, receives the laws of Yahweh at Mount Sinai, and guides the people until they arrive at the edge of the land of Canaan. Read More
Joshua Joshua is Moses's successor as leader of Israel. He leads the tribes of Israel in the conquest of the land of Canaan and apportions the land among the tribes. Read More
David David is the second and most celebrated king of the united monarchy of Israel. He makes Jerusalem the capital city and founds a dynasty that rules there for over 400 years until the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon in 586 BCE. Read More
Solomon Solomon is the third and final king of the united monarchy of Israel. After a conflicted succession of his father, David, Solomon becomes a powerful ruler who gains renown for great wisdom and for building the temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem. Read More
Aaron Aaron is the brother of Moses and first priest of the Israelites, whose descendants inherit the office of high priest. He assists Moses from their first confrontations with the Egyptian pharaoh and throughout the wilderness journey.
Adam Adam is the first man created by Yahweh. Adam and his wife, Eve, the first woman, are expelled from the garden of Eden for disobeying Yahweh's instructions not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Athaliah After her husband and son are both assassinated while ruling Judah, Athalia claims the throne of Judah for herself to become the only ruling queen of Judah in the Hebrew Bible. She rules for six years before being killed in a coup that places her grandson Joash on the throne.
Daniel Daniel is an exiled Judean serving in the Babylonian court in the 6th century BCE. He survives a series of trials, interprets dreams for the king, and receives apocalyptic visions of future events.
Eve Eve is the first woman, created by God from a rib taken from Adam's body. After a talking serpent persuades Eve to eat from the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" against Yahweh's instructions, Eve and Adam are banished from the Garden of Eden.
Ezekiel Ezekiel is a prophet of priestly lineage who prophesied in Babylonia during the early years of Judean exile. The book bearing his name records his prophetic messages, strange visual demonstrations, and dramatic visions.
Ezra Ezra is a Jewish scribe and priest who returns from exile in Babylon to Jerusalem in the middle of the 5th century BCE. After arriving in Jerusalem, he instructs the people in the Torah, puts marriage to foreigners to an end, and leads the people in a renewal of the covenant with Yahweh.
Hagar Hagar is the servant of Abraham's wife Sarah and the mother of Abraham's first son, Ishmael. After Sarah has her own son Isaac, she forces Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away.
Hezekiah Hezekiah rules Judah in the last quarter of the 8th century BCE. He institutes religious reforms and manages to preserve Jerusalem against the siege of the Assyrian king Sennacherib.
Isaac Isaac is the first son of Abraham and Sarah, and father of the twin brothers Jacob and Esau. In old age, he is deceived by his wife, Rebecca, into giving the younger twin, Jacob, the birthright that should have been Esau's.
Isaiah Isaiah prophesies during the 8th century BCE to several successive kings of Judah. His prophetic messages primarily advise these kings to rely on Yahweh alone in the face of threats from Assyria and not to turn to ill-advised alliances with other nations.
Jehu Jehu assassinates all surviving members of the Omride dynasty in Israel and Judah before taking the throne of the Northern Kingdom for himself. He then rules for 28 years in the latter half of the 9th century.
Jeremiah Jeremiah prophecies in Jerusalem during the final decades of the kingdom of Judah, and his scribe Baruch is said to have recorded his messages for the book of Jeremiah. His prophecies of coming doom for Judah make him unpopular with Judean leadership, and after the fall of Jerusalem his last stated whereabouts are in exile in Egypt.
Jeroboam I Jeroboam I led the 10 northern tribes in rebellion against Solomon's son Rehoboam and became the first king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He is despised in the Hebrew Bible for this act of rebellion and for establishing the northern centers of worship at Dan and Bethel.
Job Job is pious, wealthy, and happy, until all is taken away from him as a test of faith. Job argues forcefully with his friends about the cause of his misfortunes until Yahweh appears and silences the argument, but also vindicates Job.
Joseph Joseph is the first son of Jacob by his favorite wife, Rachel. Sold by his elder brothers into slavery, he rises to power in Egypt and eventually provides for his entire family to reside there during a famine.
Josiah Josiah rules Judah from 641–609 BCE in the final decades before the kingdom fell to Babylonian incursions. According to 2 Kings, a scroll of the Torah was rediscovered in the temple during Josiah's reign, prompting him to institute sweeping religious reforms.
Noah Noah and his family are the only humans spared from the great flood in Genesis. His descendants repopulate the earth.
Omri Omri becomes the sixth king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel after a violent struggle for the throne among multiple contenders. He establishes the new northern capital of Samaria and inaugurates a four-generation dynasty that makes the Northern Kingdom powerful and affluent.
Sarah Sarah is the wife of Abraham and mother of Isaac. She is long unable to conceive, and Abraham fathers his first son Ishmael with her maidservant, but at the age of 90 she gives birth to Isaac.
Saul Saul becomes the first king of Israel after the prophet Samuel anoints him to rule, but he soon falls out of favor with Samuel. After Saul dies in battle against the Philistines, his former servant David becomes king.
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