Father of David, son of Obed, and grandson of Boaz and Ruth. He is called "the Bethlehemite" (I Sam. xvi. 1, 18; xvii. 58) and "the Ephrathite of Bethlehem" (ib. xvii. 12). He had eight sons (ib. xvi. 10, 11; xvii. 12), although in I Chron. ii. 13-15 only seven are mentioned. He was a person of wealth, his property being chiefly in sheep (I Sam. xvi. 1, 11; xvii. 20; comp. Ps. lxxviii. 71).
Jesse's name stands out preeminently as that of the father of David, who is called "the son of Jesse"; and though this expression was used during David's lifetime and even afterward as a term of contempt—so by Saul (I Sam. xx. 27, 30, 31; xxii. 7, 8), by Doeg (ib. xxii. 9), by Nabal (ib. xxv. 10), by Sheba (II Sam. xx. 1), and by the Ten Tribes (I Kings xii. 16; II Chron. x. 16)—Isaiah the prophet connects with the "stem of Jesse" (Isa. xi. 1) and "root of Jesse" (ib. xi. 10) one of his sublimest Messianic prophecies. As Jesse was "an old man in the days of Saul" (I Sam. xvii. 12), it is doubtful whether he lived to see his son king. The last historical mention of Jesse is in I Sam. xxii. 3, where it is stated that David entrusted his father and his mother to the care of the King of Moab; but, as may be inferred from ib. xxxii. 4, this was only temporary.