Who Had The Most Children Recorded In The Bible?

In a time when kings had harems and women had no birth control, a fair few biblical rulers had a lot of kids. Unfortunately, they aren't all named, and the Bible doesn't always go into detail, so we can't be entirely sure who had the most. King Solomon, for example, supposedly had 700 wives and 300 concubines. However, the Old Testament mentions just three of his kids, which seems like a strangely low number. If accurate, Soloman would surely be on a par with the likes of Genghis Khan for his fecundity (unless he had some serious fertility issues).

The person with the most named sons and daughters in the bible (like father like son?) is one of Solomon's kids, Rehoboam, with 88 children altogether. He is closely followed by Ahab and Gideon, with 70 offspring each. You may not be particularly familiar with Rehoboam because he wasn't a great king, but he was actually pretty important. Rehoboam's Israel was divided into two after he lost control of the general population in a revolt, and the unfortunate monarch wound up ruling just the southern part of the country — Judah. Still, he was powerful enough to have scores of women at his beck and call — and many kids as a result.

Rehoboam's family

In 2 Chronicles 11, we are told that King Rehoboam had 18 wives in addition to an extra 60 concubines for his amusement — which is actually a surprisingly big step down from his father King Soloman's numbers. We are also told that Rehoboam had a clear favorite among them: Maakah, the daughter of Absalom.

Unlike Soloman — who married some pretty interesting women, including an Egyptian princess and political matches from various neighboring civilizations — we don't really have much interesting backstory for Rehoboam's many wives. Apart from Maakah, his only other named wife is Mahalath, the granddaughter of King David. Out of 88 children — 28 sons and 60 daughters — only his seven children by Maakah and Mahalath are mentioned directly: Jeush, Shemariah, Zaham, Abijah, Attai, Ziza, and Shelomith.

Sadly, Rehoboam's massive family is not a big part of his story in the Old Testament. The unfortunate king seems to have had a pretty troubled reign in which he spent most of his time trying to put Israel back together again and fending off the raids of a rogue Egyptian pharaoh. What happened to his many offspring is largely a mystery, but we do know that his son Abijah succeeded him as king of Judah.

The runners-up

Another King in the running for biggest family in the Bible is Ahab, who deserves an honorable mention for coming in joint second. According to 2 Kings 10, Ahab had 70 sons in total, and we are given details about them because they appear in one particularly horrible story. Ahab is given short shrift in the bible because he began worshipping the god Ba'al instead of Yahweh. As a result of the king's disastrous reign, all 70 of his progeny were murdered on the orders of Jehu. We are told, "[Jehu's] men took the princes and slaughtered all seventy of them. They put their heads in baskets and sent them to Jehu in Jezreel. ... Then Jehu ordered, 'Put them in two piles at the entrance of the city gate until morning.'"

Along with Ahab, Gideon, who appears in the Book of Judges, also had 70 sons. Unlike Ahab, Gideon is depicted as a good guy on a mission to wipe out Ba'al worshippers, and his progeny proved to be pretty significant. Notably, his son Abimelech was declared king of Shechem, a key milestone in the development of the monarchy in Israel.