Who was King David’s mother, and how many children did she have?

Q. What was King David’s mother’s name? How many children did she have with Jesse?

The Bible actually does not tell us the name of David’s mother, but there is a Jewish tradition that her name was Nitzevet. According to 1 Chronicles, this woman had seven sons (Eliab, Abinadab, Shimea, Nethanel, Raddai, Ozem, and David) and at least two daughters (Zeruiah and Abigail).

There is some debate among biblical scholars as to whether Jesse was the father of Zeruiah and Abigail or whether their father was a man to whom Nitzevet was married before she married Jesse (she may have been widowed). In 1 Chronicles, after the sons of Jesse are listed, Zeruiah and Abigail are called “their sisters” rather than “his daughters.” The sons of Zeruiah (Abishai, Joab, and Asahel) seem in the biblical narrative to be about the same age as David, even though he is their uncle. So Zeruiah may indeed have been many years older than David and she may have married and started to have children around the time he was born.

While we do not know David’s mother’s name for certain, we do know that David took care of her. When he was running for his life from Saul, he went to the king of Moab and asked him to allow his parents to stay with him for safety, and that king agreed.

We also have an indication that David’s mother was a godly woman who influenced him to be godly himself. David is traditionally considered to have been the author of Psalm 86, and in that psalm he says to the Lord, “I serve you just as my mother did.” So while the name of David’s mother has not come down to us through history, her legacy certainly has.

Author: Christopher R Smith

The Rev. Dr. Christopher R. Smith is an an ordained minister, a writer, and a biblical scholar. He was active in parish and student ministry for twenty-five years. He was a consulting editor to the International Bible Society (now Biblica) for The Books of the Bible, an edition of the New International Version (NIV) that presents the biblical books according to their natural literary outlines, without chapters and verses. His Understanding the Books of the Bible study guide series is keyed to this format. He was also a consultant to Tyndale House for the Immerse Bible, an edition of the New Living Translation (NLT) that similarly presents the Scriptures in their natural literary forms, without chapters and verses or section headings. He has a B.A. from Harvard in English and American Literature and Language, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and a Ph.D. in the History of Christian Life and Thought, with a minor concentration in Bible, from Boston College, in the joint program with Andover Newton Theological School.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: