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JESSE

jes'-e (yishay, meaning doubtful; according to Gesenius it = "wealthy"; Olshausen, Gram., sections 277 f, conjectures yesh yah, "Yahweh exists"; Wellhausen (1 Sam 14:49) explains it as 'abhishay (see ABISHAI); Iessai; Ruth 4:17,22; 1 Sam 16; 17; 20; 22; 25:10; 2 Sam 20:1; 23:1; 1 Ki 12:16; 1 Ch 10:14; 12:18; Ps 72:20; Isa 11:1,10 ( = Rom 15:12)); Mt 1:5,6; Acts 13:22): Son of Obed, grandson of Boaz, and father of King David. The grouping of the references to Jesse in 1 Sam is bound up with that of the grouping of the whole narrative of David and Saul. See SAMUEL, BOOKS OF. There seem to be three main veins in the narrative, so far as Jesse is concerned.
(1) In 1 Sam 16:1-13, where Jesse is called the Bethlehemite. Samuel is sent to seek among Jesse's sons successor to Saul.
Both Samuel and Jesse fail to discern at first Yahweh's choice, Samuel thinking that it would be the eldest son (1 Sam 16:6), while Jesse had not thought it worth while to call the youngest to the feast (1 Sam 16:11).
(2) (a) In 1 Sam 16:14-23, Saul is mentally disturbed, and is advised to get a harpist. David "the son of Jesse the Bethlehemite" is recommended by a courtier, and Saul sends to Jesse for David.
"And Jesse took ten loaves (so emend and translate, and not as the Revised Version (British and American), "an ass laden with bread"), and a (skin) bottle of wine, and a kid, and sent them" to Saul as a present with David, who becomes a courtier of Saul's with his father's consent.
(b) The next mention of Jesse is in three contemptuous references by Saul to David as "the son of Jesse" in 1 Sam 20:27,30,31, part of the quarrel-scene between Saul and Jonathan. (But it is not quite certain if 1 Sam 20 belongs to the same source as 16:14-23.) In answer to the first reference, Jonathan calls his friend "David," and Saul repeats the phrase "the son of Jesse," abusing Jonathan personally (1 Sam 20:30, where the meaning is uncertain). The reference to David as "the son of Jesse" here and in the following verse is contemptuous, not because of any reproach that might attach itself to Jesse, but, as Budde remarks, because "an upstart is always contemptuously referred to under his father's name" in courts and society. History repeats itself!
(c) Further references of a like kind are in the passage, 1 Sam 22:6-23, namely, in 22:7,8,13 by Saul, and repeated by Doeg in 22:9.
(d) The final one of this group is in 1 Sam 25:10, where Nabal sarcastically asks "Who is David ? and who is the son of Jesse?"
(3) The parts of 1 Sam 17 through 18:5 which are omitted by Septuagint B, i.e. 17:12-31,41,48b,50,55 through 18:6a. Here Jesse is mentioned as "an Ephrathite of Beth-lehem-judah" (17:12, not "that" Ephrathite, which is a grammatically impossible translation of the Massoretic Text), Ephrath or Ephrathah being another name for Bethlehem, or rather for the district. He is further said to have eight sons (17:12), of whom the three eldest had followed Saul to the war (17:13).
Jesse sends David, the shepherd, to his brothers with provisions (1 Sam 17:17). Afterward David, on being brought to Saul and asked who he is, answers, "I am the son of thy servant Jesse the Bethlehemite" (1 Sam 17:58). Jesse is also described (1 Sam 17:12) as being "in the days of Saul an old man, advanced in years" (so emend and translate, not as the Revised Version (British and American), "stricken in years among men"). The mention of his having 8 sons in 1 Sam 17:12 is not in agreement with 1 Ch 2:13-15, which gives only 7 sons with two sisters, but where Syriac gives 8, adding, from 27:18, Elihu which Massoretic Text has there probably by corruption (Curtis, Chronicles, 88). 1 Sam 16:10 should be translated" and Jesse made his 7 sons to pass before Samuel" (not as the Revised Version (British and American), the King James Version, "seven of his sons"). Budde (Kurz. Hand-Komm., "Samuel," 114) holds 1 Sam 16:1-13 to be a late Midrash, and (ibid., 123 f) omits (a) "that" in 17:12; (b) also "and he had 8 sons" as due to a wrong inference from 16:10; (c) the names of the 3 eldest in 17:13; (d) 17:14b; he then changes 17:15a, and reads thus: (12) "Now David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem-Judah, whose name was Jesse who was .... (years) old at the time of Saul. (13) And the 3 eldest sons of Jesse had marched with Saul to the war, (14) and David was the youngest, (15) and David had remained to feed his father's sheep at Bethlehem. (16) Now the Philistines came," etc.
According to all these narratives in 1 Samuel, whether all 3 be entirely independent of one another or not, Jesse had land in Bethlehem, probably outside the town wall, like Boaz (see BOAZ) his grandfather (Ruth 4:17). In 1 Sam 22:3,1 David entrusts his father and mother to the care of the king of Moab, but from 20:29 some have inferred that Jesse was dead (although most critics assign 22:3 at any rate to the same stratum as chapter 20).
Jonathan tells Saul that David wanted to attend a family sacrificial feast at Bethlehem (1 Sam 20:29). Massoretic Text reads, "And he, my brother, has commanded me," whereas we should probably read with Septuagint, "and my brethren have commanded me," i.e. the members of the clan, as we have farther on in the verse, "Let me get away, I pray thee, and see my brethren." As to Jesse's daughters, see ABIGAIL; NAHASH.
(4) Of the other references to Jesse, the most noteworthy is that in Isa 11:1: "There shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit," i.e. out of Jesse's roots (compare Rev 5:5). "Why Jesse and not David?" asks Duhm; and he answers, "Because the Messiah will be a second David, rather than a descendant of David." Marti explains it to mean that he will be, not from David, but from a collateral line of descent. Duhm's explanation suggests a parallelism between David and Christ, of whom the former may be treated as a type similar to Aaron and Melchizedek in He. Saul might pour contempt upon "the son of Jesse," but Isaiah has given Jesse here a name above all Hebrew names, and thus does Providence mock "society."
See also ROOT OF JESSE.
David Francis Roberts
Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Definition for 'JESSE'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". bible-history.com - ISBE; 1915.

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