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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."

[Samuel Ephraim Loewenstamm /

S. David Sperling (2nd ed.)]

In the Aggadah

Jesse merited to be the ancestor of the royal house by virtue of his own good deeds. He expounded Torah to a multitude of 60 myriads (Yev. 76b). His father-in-law Ithra, an Ishmaelite, converted to Judaism and gave Jesse his daughter in marriage, when he heard him recite Isaiah 45:22 "Look unto Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth" (tj, Yev. 8:3, 9b). After the birth of his sixth son, Jesse separated from his wife for three years but on one occasion attempted to seduce one of his female slaves. His wife, however, disguised herself as the slave girl (on the latter's advice), and it was thus that David was conceived (Yal. Mak. to Ps. 118:28). It was Jesse who encouraged David to slay Goliath and thus protect King Saul, seeing in it a continuation of the protection which Judah (David's ancestor) had afforded to Benjamin (Saul's ancestor) in Egypt (Tanḥ. B., Gen. 104). David's cruelty toward the Moabites (ii Sam. 8:2) is justified by the fact that it was they who had treacherously killed Jesse after David had entrusted him to their care while he fled from Saul (cf. i Sam. 22:3; Num. R. 14:1). It is also stated, however, that Jesse was one of the four persons who were untainted by sin and died merely because death was decreed upon all mankind, as a result of the serpent's seduction of Eve. It is for this reason that Abigail, who was really Jesse's daughter, is referred to by Scripture (ii Sam. 17:25) as "the daughter of Nahash" ("serpent"; bb 17a). Jesse is one of the eight "messianic princes among men" referred to in Micah 5:4 (Suk. 52b).


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.

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Jesse in the Bible, the father of David (1 Samuel 16), represented as the first in the genealogy of Jesus Christ.
Jesse tree a representation in carving or stained glass of the genealogy of Jesus as a tree with Jesse at the base and intermediate descendants on branching scrolls of foliage.
Jesse window a church window showing Jesus' descent from Jesse, typically in the form of a Jesse tree.

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Jesse. Genealogical tree depicting the genealogy of Christ, a common medieval motif. It is usually in the form of a winding trunk of a tree or vine springing out of the recumbent body of the patriarch Jesse, with figures denoting his descendants (as given in the Bible) standing on the ends of its branches, the Virgin and Child forming the fruit at the top. A good example survives in the tracery of the Abbey Church of Sts Peter and Paul, Dorchester, Oxon. (c.1340).

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Jesse ★★ 1988 (PG)

A heroic nurse ministers to remote Death Valley residents, and state bureaucats hound her for practicing medicine without a license. Although based on a true case and well-acted, this made-for-TV drama just lacks import and impact. 94m/C VHS . Lee Remick, Scott Wilson, Leon Rippy, Priscilla Lopez, Albert Salmi; D: Glenn Jordan; M: David Shire.

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Jesse. Father of King David (1 Samuel 16). His importance in Christian tradition derives from the messianic prophecy of Isaiah 11. 1. This led in the late Middle Ages to an iconographical composition showing a tree springing from Jesse and ending in Jesus.

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Jesse (jĕs´ē), in the Bible, the descendant of Rahab, the grandson of Boaz and Ruth, and the father of David. Referring to the restoration of the Davidic monarchy, the Book of Isaiah speaks of a shoot coming from the "stump of Jesse." The "root" of Jesse is the Davidic monarch of the eschatological age.