|Elder brother of Moses. Son of Amram and Yokhebed, of the priestly tribe of Levi. Aaron married Elisheva from the tribe of Judah and had four sons, Nadav, Avihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. Aaron became Moses' spokesman, persuading the Israelites to follow Moses and performing miracles with his staff, which turned into a viper before Pharoah (Exodus 7:8-14), unleashed the first three plagues (blood, frogs and lice) and repulsed the advances of the Amalekites (Exodus 17:8-12). Aaron joined Moses, Nadav and Avihu on Mount Sinai to receive the Covenant, and saw a vision of God (Exodus 24:9).
During Moses' 40-day encounter with God, Aaron acceded to popular demand by making a golden calf, outraging Moses (Exodus 32). Aaron became chief priest after the Ark and Tabernacle were constructed, a function that was transferred to his son Eleazar upon his death. Following the rebellion of Korach Moses placed a rod from each of the tribes in the Tabernacle, that of Aaron representing the Levites. Next morning, Aaron's rod alone bore blossom, demonstrating their elevated status. Aaron died aged 123 on Mount Hor, allegedly denied entry to the Promised Land because of the rebellion at the Waters of Dispute.|
|The second son of Adam and Eve, and a shepherd. His brother Cain was a tiller of the soil. When the two brothers made gifts of their produce to God, Abel's young lambs were preferred to Cain's produce. Abel was killed by Cain while they were out in the field, leaving no children. It is said that this is the first act of murder recorded in the Bible, and that Cain was the original victim of family jealousy. The story is sometimes used to illustrate the ancestral strife between the desert-based nomadic peoples and the settled farming communities in the Near East. and the ancient custom of ritual human sacrifice to please the gods and ensure a good harvest.|
|King of Gerar. Abraham, en route to Egypt, pretended that his wife Sarah was his sister in order to avoid the king's unwelcome attention. Abimelekh took Sarah into his harem, but God told Abimelekh in a dream to return her to Abraham. The king gave Abraham and Sarah gifts of servants, sheep and cattle. In return, Abraham asked God to lift the curse of infertility which God had put upon his household. Later, Abimelekh's servants were involved in a dispute with Abraham about a well which he had dug; the king intervened and Abraham regained the well, which he named Beer-sheba (Hebrew: 'Well of the Seven').|
|Considered the first patriarch. Probably lived between 15th-18th century BCE. Born in Ur, Abram (his original name) moved to Haran with his father Terach, his wife Sarai (later Sarah) and nephew Lot. God appeared to Abram and told him to leave for Canaan, where he would make 'a great nation' (Genesis 12:2). Sarai gave Abram her Egyptian maid Hagar as a concubine; Hagar had a son,Ishmael by Abram. Abram was 99 and Sarai 90 when God made a covenant with him, promising him and his descendants the land of Canaan. Abram became Abraham (Genesis 17:5), and circumcised himself and all male family members (the brit milah). Three angels visited Abraham and Sarah and told them that they would have a son, Isaac. At God's command Abraham attempted to sacrifice Isaac on a mountain but was stopped by an angel (Genesis 22:12). After Sarah's death, Abraham married the concubine Keturah, who bore him six sons. He died aged 175 and was buried with Sarah in the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron. Abraham is remembered as the founder of monotheism and the ancestor of the Israelites, as well as the Arabs and several other nations.|
|Leader of the tribe of Dan in the wilderness. Son of Ami-shaddai, Achiezer was one of the twelve princes representing each tribe who had directed the census (Numbers 1:12). His offerings to the Tabernacle are listed in Numbers 7:66-71.|
|Leader of the tribe of Naphtali in the wilderness. Son of Eynan, Achira was one of the twelve princes representing each tribe who had directed the census (Numbers 1:15). His offerings to the Tabernacle are listed at Numbers 7:78-83.|
|Said to have been created along with Eve in God's image in Genesis 1:26-31, but from the dust of the earth in Genesis 2:7-9. In the first creation narrative, he is described as being the crown of creation but in the second as occupying the lesser role of caretaker or cultivator (Genesis 2:15).
He, along with Eve were to be expelled from the Garden of Eden, as both were guilty of tasting from the forbidden fruits of the tree of knowledge. In punishment is is said that he would be fated to toil in anguish for his livelihood and be forever bound by his own mortality (Genesis 3:17-19).|
|Descendant of Noah. Son of Yoktan and brother of Shelef, Chatzarmaveth, Yerach, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Oval, Avimael, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah and Yovav.|
|Amalek was the son of Eliphaz and his concubine Timna, and was a grandson of Esau. He is said to be the ancestor of the Amalekites, the fierce tribe who attacked the Israelites from the rear on their way to the Promised Land at the time of the the Exodus from Egypt. The Amalekites became known as the bitter enemies of the Israelites (Exodus 17:8-16) and came to symbolise the archetypal enemy of the Jewish people in each generation. The passage referring to Amalek is read in synagogue on the Shabbat before Purim, and on Purim the reading of Haman's name is accompanied by loud booing to fulfil the commandment to blot out the name of Amalek (Deuteronomy 25:19), as Haman was a descendant of Amalek.|
|One of the twelve spies sent out by Moses to survey the land of Canaan. Amiel represented the tribe of Dan (Numbers 13:12).|
|Known as the once-powerful pre-Israelite inhabitants of the land of Israel (Hebrew: Emori), the Amorites were among the several ethnic groups that inhabited Canaan before the formation of the Israelite federation (Genesis 10:15-17; Genesis 15:19-21). Although Abraham had made an alliance with the Amorites of Hebron (Genesis 14:5-7), they were constantly involved in skirmishes with the Israelites: see king Sichon's ill-judged attack on Israel at Yahatz (Numbers 21:21-32). The Israelites conquered the territories of Sichon and Og, and the tribes of Gad, Reuben and Menasseh occupied them (Numbers 32:33).|
|One of the confederacy of kings who invaded the area of Sodom and Gomorrah in the time of Abraham.Sometimes identified as the Babylonian king Hammurabi.|
|A tribe of giants who occupied Canaan before the Israelite conquest. The Anakim were the descendants of Anak, and all were very tall (Deuteronomy 2:10). The spies who gave a negative report of the land of Canaan were frightened by the size of the Anakim: 'All the men we saw there were huge!...We felt like tiny grasshoppers! That's all we were in their eyes!' (Numbers 13:13). However, Moses predicted that God would eventually give the Israelites victory over the Anakim (Deuteronomy 9:2-3).|
|Son of Shem grandson of Noah. Eponymous ancestor of the Arameans or Syrians. Laban is described as an Aramean.|
|1. A son of Shem and a grandson of Noah. He is known traditionally to be the ancestor of the tribe who settled in Aramaea, to the north-east of the Holy Land, in modern-day Syria. Laban was described as an Aramaean as he lived between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Charan, in Aram Naharayim. For this reason, it is likely that Jacob is referred to as a 'homeless Aramaean' in Deuteronomy 26:5.|
2. A son of Kemuel and grandson of Nachor, brother of Abraham. He may have been the ancestor of a second tribe of Aramaeans. Alternatively, Kemuel may have been the leader (aviof the Aramaeans (Genesis 22).
3. The home town of Balak (Numbers 23:7).
|One of the confederacy of kings who invaded the area of Sodom and Gomorrah in the time of Abraham.|
|Traditionally known as descendants of Canaan (Genesis 10:17), they have been identified either as the inhabitants of Irquata, a coastal Phoenician town (now in Syria) or as the residents of Arce, a city at the northwest foot of Mount Lebanon.|
|Son of Shem, grandson of Noah and an ancestor of Abraham. Associated with the Chaldeans in some sources: possibly to be identified with the Armenians.|
|Traditionally known as descendants of Canaan (Genesis 10:17), the Arvadites are identified either as the inhabitants of the city of Arvad, on the island of Aradus on the Phoenician coast, or as the residents of the town of Antidanai or Antarados, situated opposite the island.|
|Wife of Joseph at the court of Pharoah, and daughter of Potiphera,the high priest of the Egyptian temple of On. Asenath and Joseph had two sons,Menasseh and Ephraim .|
|Asher was the eighth son of Jacob and the second son of Zilpah, the maidservant of Jacob's wife, Leah who had been given to Jacob as a concubine. He was involved in the events leading up to the selling of his brother Joseph into slavery in Egypt. When Jacob later went to settle in Egypt with his family, it included Asher's four sons and a daughter. On his deathbed, when Jacob blessed each of his sons, he said of Asher: 'From Asher shall come the richest foods; he shall provide the king's delights' (Genesis 49:20). Ancestor of the tribe of Asher.|
|One of the sons of Gomer, grandson of Yepheth and great-grandson of Noah. There are several different possible explanations for the origin of the people, who are sometimes associated with Scythia among other places. Medieval Jews mistakenly used the term 'Ashkenaz' to refer to Jews of German origin, and the expression 'Ashkenazi' is now used to denote any Jew of European, rather than Oriental, family background.|
|Son of Shem and grandson of Noah. The eponymous ancestor of the Assyrians.|
|Leader of the tribe of Benjamin in the wilderness. Son of Gid'oni, Avidan was one of the twelve princes representing each tribe who had directed the census (Numbers 1:11). His offerings to the Tabernacle are listed at Numbers 7:60-65.|
|A leader of the tribe of Menasseh who was to be given a share in the the land of Israel after the death of Moses (Numbers 26:30).|
|Descendant of Noah. Son of Yoktan and brother of Almodad, Shelef, Chatzarmaveth, Yerach, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Oval, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah and Yovav.|
|Of the two goats in the Day of Atonement ritual, one was said to be for God and the other, which was sent away into the wilderness, was said to be "for Azalel". This may mean "cliff", "sent away" or be the name of a demon.|