In Shmuel 1, 17:12, the sons of Yishai are listed. There is a discrepancy between this count (of 7) and the textual statements that Yishai had 8 sons. Some meforshim explain this as because the 8th, Elihu, was only a half brother. Rashi explains, though,

And he had eight sons. And that which is stated, 'Otzem, the sixth, Dovid the seventh,'(Chron 1, 2:15) and no more is stated. This may be reconciled that one died childless and therefore, he was not mentioned there.

How does Rashi draw this conclusion? Would a person's dying childless justify his name's not being recorded? Are there other instances where someone who died without children is omitted from a Torah listing?

  • 3
    It's hard to find examples of missing entries since we don't know about them.
    – Double AA
    Jan 9, 2019 at 12:26
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    Can you explain what including a childless person, who isn't famous for some other reason, adds to a geneology, that it should be mentioned?
    – Double AA
    Jan 9, 2019 at 12:32
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    What makes things even stranger is that Rashi in Divrei HaYomim has an entirely different attribution why the 8th son -Elihu - is not mentioned. He states that once the author reached the purpose of the genealogical run-down as it were (i.e. identifying Dovid) he did a full stop (akin to the narrative break in Shemot stopping after running through the Levite heritage once arriving at Moshe and Aharon the current protagonists). Jan 9, 2019 at 17:42
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    There are at least a couple of people in Divrei Hayamim who are stated to have been childless.
    – Harel13
    Dec 1, 2020 at 4:49
  • 1
    @ShmuelBrown The commentary attributed to Rashi for Divrei Hayomim was actually written by someone else. In fact, as the Chida points out, that commentary quotes Rashi.
    – N.T.
    Feb 18, 2021 at 9:51

1 Answer 1


R' Avraham Taub in his commentary on Divrei Hayamim writes:

"אוצם השישי דויד השביעי, ברש"י כאן הקשה מדוע לא מנה את אליהו השמיני, וברש"י בנביא שמואל א' פרק י"ז פסוק י"ב כתב יש לומר שאחד מת בלא בנים ולפיכך לא כתבו, ובמדרש רבה במגילת רות סוף פרשה ז, כתוב על הפסוק והיה לך למשיב נפש ולכלכל את שיבתך כי כלתך אשר אהבתך ילדתו אשר היא טובה לך משבעה בנים, ר' יהודה אומר משבעה ראשי האבות האמורין להלן אוצם השישי דוד השביעי. מבואר כאן שלמדו חז"ל שכמו שדוד היה ראש לבית אב למשפחתו כך נמנו כאן כל שאר שבע אחי דוד שגם הם היו ראשי אבות כמוהו, שלכך כתב הנביא מספרן להשוותן שכמו שדוד השביעי היה ראש בתי אב כך אליאב הבכור ואבינדב השני ושמעא שלישי נתנאל הרביעי כולם היו שוים להספר במספר שהיו ראשי האבות כמו דוד. ולכן לא נמנה בן השמיני לישי כי הוא לא היה ראש בית אב כמו שאר שבעה הבנים. ובפרט לפי הרש"י שמת בלא בנים, על כן לא זכה להיות ראש בית אב כי לא היו לו בנים..."

Translation: "Otzem the sixth David the seventh, Rashi here asked why didn't he count Elihu the eighth, and in Rashi in the Prophet Shmuel 17:12 he wrote that this may be reconciled that one died childless and therefore, he was not mentioned there, and in Midrash Rabbah on Megillat Rut end of the seventh parsha, it says on the verse He will renew your life and sustain your old age; for he is born of your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons (Ruth 4:15).”...Rabbi Yehudah says: "It is from the seven heads of the fathers as it is said elsewhere: "Ozem sixth and David seventh (2 Chronicles 2:15)". It is understood from here that Chazal learned that just like that David was the head of a clan of his family so too were counted here the other seven siblings of David who were also heads of clans like him, and for this the prophet wrote their number to equalize them for just like David the seventh was a head of a clan so too Eliav the eldest and Avinadav the second and Shim'ah the third Netanel the fourth all of them were equal and were counted for they were all heads of clans like David, and for this the eighth son of Yishai wasn't counted because he wasn't a clan-head like the rest of the seven sons. And especially as according to Rashi he died without sons, and for this he didn't merit to be a head of a clan because he didn't have sons."

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