As I was studying fathers in the Bible I came across some things that I thought I would share. Though there are many, many fathers in the Bible these are my five favorite fathers. Take a look at this summary for a Christian study:
Adam – Father of Cain, Abel, Seth and other sons and daughters
Distinction: The first human father
Most folks are familiar with the story of Adam and Eve  in the Bible. They may even be familiar with the fact that their firstborn son murdered his brother. But did you know that Adam and Eve had other children as well?
Titus Flavius Josephus, a first century Jewish historian writes: “The number of Adam’s children, as says the old tradition, was 33 sons and 23 daughters.” In view of their longevity, these appear to be reasonable figures while it would have to be said that, sinners though they were, Adam and Eve had faithfully obeyed God’s first commission to: “be fruitful and multiply …” (1)
Here are some Bible references about Adam’s children:
Cain and Abel
Genesis 4:1–2 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
Genesis 4:25 And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.
Genesis 5:3 And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth
More Sons and Daughters
Genesis 5:4 And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters
Noah – Father of Shem, Ham and Japheth
Distinction: A righteous man (Gen 6:9)
Noah in the Bible is most popular as the builder of the large ship that floated on the water for 40 days and 40 nights. He was commanded by God to build the ark because it was going to rain. Interestingly, Noah may not have known what rain even was because before the big rain that caused the historic flood, the Bible says “And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.” (Gen 2:5-6) I also like what Hebrews 11:7 says “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Perhaps the “things not seen as yet” were rain and a flood so large that it drowned everything on earth, leaving only those on the ark to survive. Even so, Noah obeyed the Lord and built the ark (Gen 7:4-5)
Saved on the ark were only eight souls, including his only 3 sons:
Genesis 7:13–14 In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark; They, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort.
So though Adam was the first earthly father, Noah and his family repopulated the earth after the flood. In fact, Noah’s sons had 16 sons (and probably some daughters too) between them. It is good to note that Noah is a descendant of Adam through Seth (Gen 5:28-29). After Cain murdered Abel, it was not until Seth begat Enos that he began to call upon the name of the LORD again (Gen 4:26). This family continued to follow the LORD all the way down to Noah, many generations later.
Abraham – Father of Many
Distinction: Father of the Jewish Nation
“Father Abraham had many sons, many sons had father Abraham, I am one of them, and so are you, so let’s just praise the Lord!” I have lost count of how many times I have sung this song with children, including my own. This little children’s song is significant in that it talks of what is known as the Abrahamic Covenant – God’s promise to Abraham “As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.” (Gen 17:4) And that promise started with the birth of Isaac. Here is what I found in the Bible about Abraham:
Ishmael – Son of the Handmaid
Genesis 16:15 And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son’s name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael.
Isaac – Everlasting Covenant
Genesis 17:19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.
Genesis 21:5 And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him.
There are many things about Isaac that point to Jesus in the Bible. These are called types. Here are just a few that I found:
- He was offered as a sacrifice on a mountain (hill) (Gen 22:2; Matt 21:10)
- He took a donkey to the place where he was to be sacrificed. (Gen 22:3; Matt 21:2-11)
- He was accompanied by two men (Gen 22:3; Mark 15:27; Luke 23:33)
- Three days (Gen 22:4; Luke 24:13-21)
- Carried wood up the hill (Gen 22:6; John 19:17)
- The lamb (Gen 22:8; John 1:29)
- Sacrifice offered on wood (Gen 22:9; Luke 23:33)
Genesis 25:1–2 Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah. And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah.
Jacob – Later called Israel
Distinction: Father of the 12 Tribes of Israel
Jacob’s story is fascinating and sad. His is the story of love at first sight and when he met Rachel, who was tending his Uncle’s sheep, he was so overcome with joy that he wept (Gen 29:11). In fact, when he met his Uncle Laban he told him that he loved Rachel and was willing to serve seven years to take her as his wife (Gen 29:18). Long story short, Laban tricked Jacob on his wedding night and put Leah (his older daughter) in the tent with Jacob. When Jacob awoke in the morning he realized he was married to Leah, rather than Rachel. But he loved Rachel so much that he was willing to continually work to earn her as his wife too.
So Jacob had more than one wife (Leah and Rachel). He also had children with handmaids (Bilhah and Zipah). Jacob’s children are listed in the Bible in Genesis chapters 29, 30; and 35. Here is how I understand it in order of birth:
Reuben (Leah), Simeon (Leah), Levi (Leah), Judah (Leah), Dan (Bilhah,Rachel’s handmaid), Naphtali (Bilhah), Gad (Zipah, Leah’s handmaid), Asher (Zipah), Issachar (Leah), Zebulun (Leah), Dinah (Leah), Joseph (Rachel), and Benjamin (Rachel)
Joseph – Adoptive Father of Jesus, Father of 4 other sons and also daughters
Distinction: Earthly father of Jesus
Joseph, a simple carpenter, had a unique position as a father in that he was chosen to be the adoptive father of Jesus. He learned that the woman he was promised to marry was pregnant and he was concerned that she would be stoned to death because it was clear that the baby was not his. It was in a dream that Joseph learned the true facts about the Holy Spirit conception and he agreed to take Mary as his wife despite the life circumstance.
In order to fulfill the prophecy that Jesus was to be born of a virgin Joseph and Mary lived in a platonic relationship until after Jesus was born “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.” (Matt 1:23-25)
So what I see in the above verse is that Joseph and Mary lived as husband and wife after Jesus was born. The Bible even mentions their other children:
Matthew 13:55–56 Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?
Mark 6:3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.
Job – Father of 7 Sons and 3 Daughters Plus 7 Sons and 3 Daughters
Distinction: A man who was perfect and upright and hated evil.
Job lived a good life, he was blessed with many possessions, a wife and seven sons and three daughters (Job 1:1-2). God tested his faith through many trials and disasters. In fact, all of his children were killed in a wind storm:
Job 1:18–19 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house: And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
Yet Job remained faithful to God and in the end God blessed him even more:
Job 42:12–13 So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses. He had also seven sons and three daughters.
Does this mean Job had 7 plus 7 sons and 3 plus 3 daughters = 20 in all? That’s a good question and perhaps the subject of another article.
I love reading about the heritage that God gives in the Bible. Do you have a favorite father in the Bible? Care to share?
Psalm 127:3 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: And the fruit of the womb is his reward.
Read about some more fathers in the Bible here: 8 Famous Bible Fathers 
Resources – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, King James Version. (1) The Works of Josephus. Hendrickson Publishers [First AD 93, this ed.1804] Book 1, Chapter 2, verse 3 footnote.