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An Encyclopedia of Biblical Personalities
by Rabbi Jonathan Mishkin
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An Encyclopedia of Biblical Personalities is an alphabetical listing of every individual mentioned in
Its focus is the literal presentation of the stories and lives of the many people who populate the Bible. Entries contain three pieces of information. (1) The individual's name; (2) Locations where the person appears in
(3) A summary of the personality's life as recorded in the text. For many individuals mentioned in the Torah I have also included the
in which they feature. Lengthy entries in
contain a separate detail: when a career spans many chapters, I have noted the chapter numbers in which events occur. All entry titles are vocalized (are written with vowels), and the occasional name (of a person or a place), or term within the entry itself is also vocalized. Although this work is mainly concerned with the
of the Bible (the literal meaning of the text), I do occasionally cite
in the form of Rabbinic interpretations. The sources for these references are given as well. The following example illustrates the elements just described.
A midwife who rescues Israelite babies, thus defying
and her partner
to kill all newborn boys
According to the
is another name for
is another name for
There are three ways to find Tanakh personalities on this website:
Click on the term "Alphabetic Index" to see the first 30 "à" entries
in alphabetical order. Clicking on any Hebrew letter at the top of
the page will direct you to the first batch of people whose names
start with that letter. At the bottom of the page you have the
option to proceed to the next people in that letter, or to see
previous entries in that section.
Clicking the "Search" option provides you with two ways to locate a
particular individual. Here you can type the name of a person you
want to find and you will be directed to said person. Note that if
you enter only a first name without patronymic, you will be given a
list of people with that first name. For example, if you type
you will be shown a list of the three women named
in Tanakh. On the other hand if you type
"úîø áú ãåã"
you will see the king's daughter. It is not necessary to include
vowels in your search. Searches will work in Hebrew only. A pop-up
Hebrew keyboard is provided for users without the ability to type in
Hebrew. Simply spell out the name of the person you desire by moving
the mouse in sequence to each letter of the name, then click search.
At any place on the website, clicking on an individual's name which
is highlighted with a link, will send you to that person. Thus, when
reading the entry about
will redirect you to the essay on the father.
This is primarily an English work. Nevertheless, I have chosen not to transliterate any of the names, but have written them as they appear in the Bible. I felt that changing all the names to English letters would be awkward and unhelpful. Many popular figures in the Bible do have accepted English names (Moses and Elijah, for example), but most of the people contained herein do not. Writing an entry for Shalum ben Tikvah ben Harhas (or Shaloom ben Tiqwah ben Charchas), seemed to me to be unnecessary when all his acquaintances knew
ùÑÇìÌËí áÌÆï úÌÄ÷ÀåÈä áÌÆï çÇøÀçÇñ.
(Click here for a list matching Hebrew and English names of the Bible's best known personalities.)
This mixture of Hebrew names with English descriptions may at first seem unwieldy, but I trust that the style is accessible. One anomaly emerges from this decision: the possessive form in English, indicated by apostrophe "s" ('s), is of course unknown in Hebrew. This makes constructions such as
husband" somewhat odd, but I hope, still understandable.
Many personalities in the Bible are known by their patronymic - as the son or daughter of so-and-so. If the parent's name (usually the father) is known, it is included in the entry listing. For example:
îÄéëÇì áÌÇú ùÑÈàåÌì.
Where there are several people with the same first name, they are presented alphabetically by their fathers' names. If several people have the same first name, but their parents' names are not included, my listing sequence follows the order in which these figures appear in the Bible. The occasional individual, is so well-known that I list him by his given name alone. Thus, the first of the patriarchs appears as
and not as
àÇáÀøÈäÈí áÌÆï úÌÆøÇç.
Individuals known solely as the parent of a different character do not get a full description, nor have I given the location of their appearance in the Bible. For example:
In these cases, readers should click the link to the child's entry. As described in the previous note, multiple listings of the same name are listed alphabetically according to the second detail - the child's name. Thus
Exceptions to this rule have been made for the genealogies listed in
Many of the individuals mentioned there appear only as a link in a family chain and yet have received their own entries, since in these cases they are not subordinate to their sons.
Names which have a
(are pronounced one way) and a
(are written a different way) are listed by the
variation, with the alternate pronunciation given as well. For example:
éÀòéÌùÑ (éÀòåÌùÑ ÷øé) áÌÆï áÌÄìÀäÈï.
Many personalities in the Bible have two names or have names with alternate spellings. Sometimes an entry under one variation will direct the reader to the other version. For example:
"ùÑÄîÀòÈä áÌÆï éÄùÑÇé
Other times, a single entry will contain both forms:
éÇàÂæÇðÀéÈäåÌ áÌÆï äÇîÌÇòÂëÈúÄé
When referring to the prophet Isaiah and the book named after him, authors and publishers sometimes use the form
In the current work, I have used
when talking about the individual and
when identifying the book. I have used the same rule with regard to the prophet
and the book
Both personalities' names first appear in their books with the full spelling.
Finally, the British spelling found throughout reflects my Canadian upbringing. I thus honour the country where I learned to write.
This work is copyrighted. It may however, be reproduced in part or in full for personal or educational purposes. Teachers, rabbis or other educators may print this website’s material in its entirety, but must distribute it with these introductory notes. This book may not be copied for commercial gain. To order a book version of this material,
Tanakh Profiles was written by Rabbi Jonathan Mishkin. Rabbi Mishkin
is a writer and a teacher who has been active in Jewish education for
close to twenty years. His proudest moment in the classroom came when a
student declared his style of teaching "the opposite of
brain-washing." Jonathan Mishkin lives in Alon Shvut, Israel, with his
wife Shulie and their four kids. To contact the author
This website is dedicated to the memory of
Joy Rochwarger Balsam, my friend and mentor.
Joy taught me that teaching should be a labour of love,
encouraged me to stretch the material to fit my creativity.
The Jewish world thrived with her in it.
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