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The Patriarchs (Hebrew: אבות Avot or Abot, singular Hebrew: אב Ab or Aramaic: אבא Abba) of the Bible, when narrowly defined, are Abraham, his son Isaac, and Isaac's son Jacob, also named Israel, the ancestor of the Israelites. These three figures are referred to collectively as the patriarchs of Judaism, and the period in which they lived is known as the patriarchal age. They play significant roles in Hebrew scripture during and following their lifetimes. They are used as a significant marker by God in revelations and promises, and continue to play important roles in the Abrahamic faiths. More widely, the term Patriarchs can be used to refer to the twenty ancestor-figures between Abraham and Adam. The first ten of these are called the Antediluvian patriarchs, because they came before the Flood. Judaism and Islam hold that the patriarchs and their primary wives – Sarah (wife of Abraham), Rebekah (wife of Isaac), and Leah and Rachel (the wives of Jacob) – (known as the Matriarchs), are entombed at Machpelah, a site held holy by Jews, Muslims, and Christians.
The lifetimes given for the Patriarchs in the Book of Genesis are: Adam 930 years, Seth 912, Enos 905, Kenan 910, Mahalalel 895, Jared 962, Enoch 365 (did not die, but was taken away by God), Methuselah 969, Lamech 777, Noah 950. The lifespans given cause problems of chronology for Bible scholars, as the following quotation shows.
"The long lives ascribed to the patriarchs cause remarkable synchronisms and duplications. Adam lived to see the birth of Lamech, the ninth member of the genealogy; Seth lived to see the translation of Enoch and died shortly before the birth of Noah. Noah outlived Abram’s grandfather, Nahor, and died in Abram’s sixtieth year. Shem, Noah’s son, even outlived Abram. He was still alive when Esau and Jacob were born!"
Explanation of color-codes:
|First Wife||Terah||Second Wife|
|Leah and Rachel||Jacob||Esau|
|Twelve Sons and at least One Daughter|
Many of the tribes living in the Middle East, between the time of Abraham and the time of Christ, have a genealogical connection to the Patriarchs or their descendants. This list, taken from the Book of Genesis, gives the details of that genealogy.
The twelve tribes of Israel include ten of the sons of Jacob, (excluding Levi and Joseph) and the two sons of Joseph.