Throughout the Bible, there are many individuals and families mentioned that had large numbers of children. Determining who had the most children in Scripture requires looking at key figures and analyzing what the Bible reveals about the sizes of their families.
Examining Key Figures
There are several major figures in the Bible who were specifically noted as having many children:
- Adam and Eve
- Boaz and Ruth
- Elkanah and his wives
While the Bible does not always give specifics on family sizes, there are clues throughout Scripture about these key figures and the numbers of children they had. By piecing together verses from different books, it is possible to make reasonable estimates for the sizes of their families. Examining each one in detail can shed light on who had the most children recorded in the Bible.
Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve were the first man and woman created by God, and all human beings descended from them. They had sons Cain, Abel, and Seth mentioned in Genesis, but likely had many more children beyond those named specifically. Genesis 5:4 states that Adam lived 800 years after the birth of Seth and had “other sons and daughters.” If Adam and Eve averaged having a child every few years during Adam’s 800 year lifespan, they could easily have had dozens of children.
Noah was the patriarch who built the ark and survived the global Flood. The Bible names three sons of Noah – Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Genesis 5:32). Genesis 9:19 also describes how these three sons of Noah were married and they and their wives entered the ark. After the Flood, Genesis 10 provides more detail on the families descended from Noah’s sons, including that the “sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan” and “afterward the families of the Canaanites spread out” (Genesis 10:6, 18). As all humanity came from Noah’s three sons and their wives, conservative estimates would put Noah as having at least 7 children minimum (the 3 sons and their 4 wives), with more likely possibilities of a dozen or more children.
Abraham, originally named Abram, was the patriarch of Israel and ancestor of many biblical figures. Abraham had eight children total, though not all with his wife Sarai. With Sarai (later Sarah) he had son Isaac, and the Bible also notes he had six other sons through concubines: Ishmael, Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, and Shuah (Genesis 25:1-2). So while Abraham had eight sons, only one was through his wife Sarah.
Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, had twelve sons who became the founders of the twelve tribes of Israel. These sons were birthed by Jacob’s two wives – Leah and Rachel – and their two maidservants – Bilhah and Zilpah (Genesis 35:23-26). This included Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph and Benjamin. These twelve sons meant Jacob had at least 13 children (12 sons plus at least 1 daughter, Dinah).
Moses was the prophet God used to deliver the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. Moses had at least two sons that the Bible names specifically. Exodus 18:3-4 mentions that Moses’ wife, Zipporah, had given birth to his son Gershom. In 1 Chronicles 23:15, another son named Eliezer is attributed to Moses as well. So Moses had at least two children, though likely more were possible over his long life.
Table of Moses’ Family
|Relation to Moses
Boaz and Ruth
After Ruth’s first husband died, she remarried to Boaz, her kinsman-redeemer. Ruth and Boaz had only one son named Obed, who was the grandfather of King David (Ruth 4:13-17). While Scripture does not record Boaz having any other children, given customs of the time, it is possible he had children from a previous marriage besides just Ruth’s son Obed. However, at least one child is specifically attributed to him in Scripture.
Table of Boaz’s Family
|Relation to Boaz
Elkanah and his wives
Elkanah was the father of the prophet Samuel and had two wives: Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah was originally barren. Hannah eventually bore Samuel and later had three more sons and two daughters (1 Samuel 1:1-2, 20; 2:21). With Peninnah having at least two sons and daughters (1 Samuel 1:4), and Hannah having 5 children, Elkanah would have had a minimum of 9 children between his two wives.
Table of Elkanah’s Family
|Relation to Elkanah
|Son by Hannah
|At least 4 other children
|Children by Peninnah
|3 other sons
|Sons by Hannah
|Daughters by Hannah
King David had several wives and many children according to various accounts in Scripture. His wives included Michal, Bathsheba, Abigail, Ahinoam, Eglah, Maakah, Abital, and Haggith. Many of his sons are named in 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles, including Amnon, Daniel, Absalom, Adonijah, Shephatiah, Ithream, Shimea, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, Elishama, Eliada, and Eliphelet. In total, the Bible names 19 sons of David and 1 daughter, Tamar. It is possible he had even more children not recorded, so he would have had a minimum of 20.
Table of David’s Family
|Relation to David
Solomon succeeded his father David as king of Israel. 1 Kings 11:3 states that Solomon “had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines.” The large harem of Solomon’s wives and concubines was a factor in him turning away from God later in life. While the Bibles does not give an exact number of children Solomon had, with such a large number of partners, it would be assumed he had hundreds of children. Even being conservative and estimating he had 2 children on average with each wife and concubine, Solomon would have had at least 1,000 children.
While many biblical figures had large families, based on the evidence, King Solomon appears to have had the most children recorded in Scripture. Though exact numbers are not given, the Bible’s accounts of his hundreds of wives and concubines indicate Solomon’s children easily numbered in the hundreds at minimum, and possibly over one thousand. His father King David also had a significant number of named children, with at least 20 sons and 1 daughter specifically recorded. Other notables like Jacob and Elkanah had more than a dozen children, while Adam potentially had dozens of offspring. However, the enormous size of Solomon’s harem surpassed them all, allowing him to have the most children named in the Bible.