It has been said that the Torah is not a history book and her words are succinct. In addition to the "obvious" people and stories/events discussed in scripture, there are many others mentioned if only by name. Has Judaism ever considered the possibility that there were other great, G-d fearing people (or important events) who/which were not mentioned, even in passing, in the Torah and for what reason?

For example, is it possible that Abraham's neighbor, "Tzvi", three tents down, approached, equaled or excelled Abraham's greatness but was not mentioned, for whatever was G-d's reason, in the Torah? Obviously the Torah considers Moshe to be the greatest prophet ever. Is there, however, any evidence for or against the possibility that there existed during biblical times Torah-true prophets or leaders (or events) that Hashem did not elaborate upon in His torah? Put into another context, which Torah giants of the 19th and 20th centuries will be venerated 100 years from now? It is unlikely that they all will be remembered to the same degree. Some might be mentioned only in passing. Many will be forgotten. To sum up, Did the same thing happen in the Torah?

For purposes of this question, I am limiting reference only to the Tenakh, not "rejected" works such as pseudepigraphic, apocryphic and Dead Sea scrolls.

  • judaism.stackexchange.com/a/22949/759
    – Double AA
    Jul 28, 2014 at 1:49
  • Thanks @DoubleAA. The last two "unknowns" on the list is exactly where I was going with this.
    – JJLL
    Jul 28, 2014 at 2:43
  • 1
    There are many instances in Tana"ch where anonymous people are referenced, yet they were often considered great "righteous" people in some way. Eliezer is mentioned "in passing" - I think his name is mentioned once. But, his name is noever mentioned in the main story when he is seeking a wife for Yitzhak. In Shoftim, in the "pilegesh B'Giv'ah" story, the man who took the traveler into his home (did a "righteous" act) is never mentioned by name, either. Just some examples.
    – DanF
    Jul 28, 2014 at 14:57
  • @DanF. Thanks for the examples. I am seeking persons and events that were never once mentioned in scripture but may have been documented elsewhere or inferred otherwise.
    – JJLL
    Jul 28, 2014 at 22:08
  • There were plenty of "great people" not documented in Torah, but your limiting factor is "G-d fearing" in the 3rd sentence of your question. They feared gods, but not ours...Every city/city-state from before Abraham's time onwards(Lagash and Ur are good examples) had kings that published their achievements, in war and peace. They did a good job of leaving boasting records on statues, foundation tablets, etc. There is an awful lot of cuneiform records from the 3000's BCE all the way to Neo-Babylonian and Persian times. People outside Israel did a LOT of stuff, almost none of it in Tanach.
    – Gary
    Dec 17, 2017 at 18:04

3 Answers 3


The gemara in Megila 14a says there were many many more neviim than the 48 men and 7 ladies we have recorded in tanach. But we only have record of the ones who's nevuos were needed for future generations.

  • 3
    Why "ladies" but not "gentlemen"?
    – Double AA
    Jul 28, 2014 at 16:53
  • @user6591. Thank you for your answer. Are you aware of any sources that provide further elaboration on who these prophets and prophetesses were and what their prophesies were? In your opinion does Megila 14a imply the same holds true for events and stories that were not mentioned in the Torah?
    – JJLL
    Jul 28, 2014 at 22:22
  • I would assume so. Every prophet had a prophecy concerning something. Whether an event or an action, personal or communal. Its quite possible some were momentous. But not in a historic sense.
    – user6591
    Jul 29, 2014 at 1:56
  • 1
    Rav Soloveitchik wrote that Judaism revels anonymity. How many of the Anshei Knesses Hagdolah are famous? We know the names of only a handful of them. I think our focus on making them historic undermines their true greatness of having been a rung in the ladder of the broader world. Its something our egocentric minds don't want to admit is greatness. I've heard a few reports of Reb Moshe Feinstein giving a eulogy along the lines of 'this man was such a great talmid chacham that Hashem didn't let him become famous so he can sit and learn'.
    – user6591
    Jul 29, 2014 at 2:00

The ibn Ezra in Vayera quotes an approach to understanding the three visitors of Avraham as prophets.

In the Gemara in Bava Basra 16 some hold that Iyov was in the time of Avraham Avinu, and others say he was in the time of Moshe Rabbeinu. Hashem spoke to him and his friends, especially Elihu, were righteous. Yet they aren't mentioned in the Torah.


I'm only going to address one of your questions:

Is it possible that Abraham's neighbor, "Tzvi", three tents down, approached, equaled or excelled Abraham's greatness but was not mentioned, for whatever was G-d's reason, in the Torah?

From the Talmud and the Medrash, we do know of great people from Abraham's time - Aner, Eshkol, Mamre, Shem son of Noah, and possibly Iyov (Job). Could they have equaled and/or excelled Abraham in some way? It's a definite possibility.

What is clear from a careful reading of Genesis is that God chose Abraham because he was uniquely suited to the task intended for him, to introduce monotheism to the world, father the Chosen Nation, and change history forever. The others, in contrast, had limited impact on the future of the world, notwithstanding their personal righteousness.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .