Younger Sons who Rise to Prominence in the Bible

I am currently reading The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son: The Transformation of Child Sacrifice in Judaism and Christianity by Jon D. Levenson.  I’m about halfway through and it is easily one of the best books I have read in a long time.  He covers some similar issues in this VIDEO which I have embedded on my site.  But really, if you get the opportunity, you absolutely must read this book.

At any rate, I remember checking out some of the mail a while back from the Yahoo! Biblical Studies group about younger sons who rise to prominence in the Bible. I had learned a bit about this from Gary Rendsburg’s course on Genesis from The Teaching Company.  However, his thoughts are confined to the book of Genesis (he does talk a bit about David too from what I remember).  When I was reading today I came across this helpful quote from Levenson, which lists out the most prominent examples extending even beyond Genesis: “The list of non-first-borns who attain special eminence reads like a roster of the great names of early Israel: Isaac, Jacob, Levi, Judah, Joseph, Ephraim, Moses, Eleazar, Ithamar, Gideon, David, Solomon.”


  • But why?

    • Some have suggested that it is simply a folkloric element that you would find in any other culture as well. Others have suggested that it is a pro-Davidic theme since David was a younger son.