Holy Fatherhood, Batmam!
January 27, 2014 1:33 AM   Subscribe

Help me find examples of father-child relationships in the Bible.

I became a father last week, so I'd like to base my Bible reading over the next wee while on fatherhood. I'm particularly interested less in occasional verses, and would rather substantial accounts of particular relationships. Think: the whole shebang with Abe and Issac; avoid: "Honour thy father and Mother".

I'd appreciate the cautionary tales as well as the positive ones. Father-daughter relationships even better, but I'm not into heavily gendering my little girl so soon, so father-son stuff is acceptable, too.
posted by man down under to Religion & Philosophy (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There are lots of fathers in the bible, but Abraham and Isaac is the most dramatic story. Isaac's son Jacob tricked him spectacularly late in his life, and Jacob himself had 14 children, and considerable interaction with/over some of them, particularly Joseph and Dinah. Also check out Noah, Solomon and Job.
posted by ubiquity at 2:56 AM on January 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

There are plenty of cautionary tales of parent-child relationships in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament. An example is the peculiar behaviour of the daughters of the Lot.
posted by cincinnatus c at 3:26 AM on January 27, 2014

1 Samuel 1 - 4: Eli the high priest and his two sons.
posted by Bruce H. at 5:37 AM on January 27, 2014

Congratulations to all of you!

The parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) leaps to mind.

Though the scriptures are tantalizingly sparse (only Matthew and Luke contain infancy narratives), there is a wealth of meditations on St. Joseph as a model for fatherhood.
posted by jquinby at 5:41 AM on January 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Wow, heavy reading suggested in the first couple comments, for the father of a newborn girl... might as well throw Jephthah in there too. yikes!

In the gospels there is the story of Jairus pleading with Jesus for his daughter's life. In the OT maybe look at Ruth? (If a daughter/MIL relationship works for you by analogy.)

man down under, I get the impression you are coming from a Christian tradition (?), i.e. not unfamiliar with the contents of the Bible. So you probably know that with regard to father-daughter relationships, the "cautionary" tales are easier to come by than the "positive" ones. I haven't read this book and thus am not recommending it, but maybe look at the table of contents for some ideas? It's more about women than about daughters specifically, but there is overlap.

(I'm focusing pretty specifically on the "daughter" aspect of your question; obviously the Bible has lots more stories to do with fatherhood in general. There, too, I think content falls heavily on the "cautionary" side. Or commandments/directives, which you said is not so much what you're looking for.)
posted by torticat at 5:46 AM on January 27, 2014

While it generally gets overlooked in the broader story of David's rise to the throne, the relationship between King Saul and his son Jonathan is fascinating, disturbing stuff. Read it in 1 Samuel chs. 13-31.
posted by BurntHombre at 6:47 AM on January 27, 2014

Yeah, the bible is not a great place for father-daughter relationships. Heck, I could argue that relationships in the bible are VERY fraught. The following is a few I can think of and I am sure that other people will chime with much more:
  • David and Absalom, in particular, the grief of David at the death of Absalom who chose to overthrow him due, in no small part, to the rape of Tamar by another son of David's;
  • Go big, the relationship between Jesus and the Almighty;
  • Abraham and Isaac culminating in the binding. From the Islamic tradition you have Ishmael;
  • Jacob and his preference for the sons of Rachel, Joseph and Banjamin, which leads to intense jealousy on the part of the other brothers;
  • The story of Lot and his daughters was always weird relationship-wise. When Lot was bargaining with the angry crowd he offered his daughters to the crowd to rape. After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah his daughters take the strategic view of repopulating the planet with the only male available, their father. Dude, that is a bad sci-fi story, right there;
  • For a different change of pace, let us consider the intense love that Jepthath had for his daughter, which underscores the grief of his having to perform human sacrifice upon her;
  • Dinah was well loved by her family but raped and then an awful vengeance ensues. This tale is disturbing on multiple levels;
  • Job loved his children and they were struck down by Yahweh as part of the testing.

posted by jadepearl at 6:50 AM on January 27, 2014

Oh, I forgot, any story that involves the request to save or kill a child. So, let us consider:
  • The killing of the first born by Herod the Great. One assumes that much love was lost those days;
  • The killing of the Hebrew male children when enslaved in Egypt. Not a father in the story but Moses rescue by his mother Jochebed. Really, the dad in the rabbinic literature seems kind of minor in the tale;
  • The deaths of the first born in Egypt, except for those who practiced the first Passover;
  • Jesus's raising of the Widow of Nain's son. The reader is assuming that she loves her son because he is her only son and cared deeply for his revival.
There is way more, I am sure. The New Testament is not my area at all and I am going only from memory for the rest.
posted by jadepearl at 7:06 AM on January 27, 2014

Other father-related incidents in the New Testament:

Mark 9:17-28 - A father brings his son to Jesus to be healed ("I believe; help my unbelief!")
Luke 8:40 - The abovementioned story of Jairus and his daughter

The Epistles have lots of father-references, but they're almost all in reference to God (the Father) and Jesus (the Son). Even so, you can find beautiful little meditations like 1 John 2:13, and James 1:17 ("every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change").
posted by jquinby at 12:37 PM on January 27, 2014

Esther has a nice relationship with Mordecai. Technically her uncle or cousin or something but acting as an adoptive father (I think she's an orphan?).
posted by gerstle at 3:51 PM on January 27, 2014

Jacob (fathered 12 sons, one being Joseph)
posted by irish01 at 6:04 PM on January 27, 2014

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