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Who Are the Biblical Patriarchs?

The term “patriarch” refers to the founder or ruler of a tribe, family, or clan. The Israelites traced their ancestry to one man—“the patriarch Abraham” (Is. 51:2; Heb. 7:4). They laid claim to Canaan based on the covenant God made with their first three patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob—to “possess the land” (Deut. 1:8).

Look to Abraham your father,
And to Sarah who bore you;
For I called him alone,
And blessed him and increased him.”

Isaiah 51:2


The phrase “the patriarchs” eventually referred to Jacob’s twelve sons as well (Acts 7:8, 9). Thus among figures of the Bible, the patriarchs were the ancestors of the Israelites from Abraham to Jacob’s son Joseph. Exact dates for the period in which the patriarchs lived cannot be established. The events of the patriarchal narratives in Genesis cannot be synchronized with any events outside of the Bible. As a result, scholars have suggested dates for the patriarchs ranging from 2000 B.C. to as late as 1200 B.C. The biblical context places Abraham long before Moses. In the genealogy of Ex. 6:16–20, Moses is the great-great-grandson of Jacob, who himself was the grandson of Abraham. The line of descent—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Levi, Kohath, Amram, Moses—would set Abraham somewhere around 2000 to 1900 B.C.

See, I have set the land before you; go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—to give to them and their descendants after them.’

Deuteronomy 1:8


9 comments on “Who Are the Biblical Patriarchs?

  1. Elizabeth J. Miller says:

    What does the Bible say about the matriarchs? Abraham’s wife was Sarah until the age of 90, when she miraculously conceived. She then sent her hand maiden, Hagar, who had a son and mercilessly taunted Sarah, out into the desert with nothing than a loaf of bread and a jar of water. But she survived and became the matriarch of the Arab nation.

  2. Elias Flores says:

    Do you have The Chronological Study Bible in the NASB?

    1. John at Thomas Nelson Bibles says:

      Hi Elias. At the moment, the Chronological Study Bible is available only in the NKJV and NIV.

  3. Anne McDonald says:

    I appreciate the history of the Bible and always try to check it out with the written record given to us in it.

  4. FRANK BROWN says:

    I thankyou very much for your help

  5. D. Campbell says:

    Ah ! but who knows the matriarchs?

  6. Jan Meta says:

    Is Hagar and his son Blessed? Tell the story of Ishmael and his descendants.


    I thank you very much for this document.

  8. Rani T says:

    The Chronological Bible is available in NLT as well. I have been using this Bible for about 4 years now.

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