A black and white photograph capturing the essence of a desolate room, a discarded bedsheet in disarray, symbolizing the complex and controversial story of Tamar and Judah from the Bible.

Who Slept With His Mother In The Bible?

Incest and sexual immorality are sadly not uncommon in the biblical narrative. If you’re looking for a quick answer, one of the most well-known examples is Lot, who had relations with both of his daughters as recorded in Genesis 19.

In this comprehensive article, we will examine the accounts in Scripture of individuals who committed incest with their mothers. We will look at the stories of Reuben, Lot, Absalom, and others. Their motivations, the surrounding context, and the consequences of their sinful actions will be explored.

By the end, you will have a thorough understanding of these tragic events and what we can learn from them. The article covers around 3000 words for those seeking maximum detail on this difficult topic from the Bible.

Reuben and Bilhah

The Account in Genesis

The story of Reuben sleeping with his father Jacob’s concubine Bilhah is recounted in Genesis 35:22. Bilhah was originally given to Jacob by Rachel to bear children for her, as Rachel was initially unable to conceive (Genesis 30:1-8).

Bilhah gave birth to two of Jacob’s sons, Dan and Naphtali (Genesis 30:4-8).

Later, in Genesis 35, we find this account: “While Israel lived in that region, Reuben went in and slept with his father’s concubine Bilhah, and Israel heard of it.” This is a shocking development, as sleeping with your father’s concubine would be considered incest and highly forbidden.

Context and Motivations

There are several theories as to why Reuben might have slept with Bilhah:

  • As the firstborn son, Reuben may have been trying to assert his dominance and claim inheritance rights over his brothers by taking one of his father’s concubines.
  • He may have been motivated by lust for Bilhah.
  • It may have been an intentional slight against Rachel, who was his mother Leah’s rival.
  • Some scholars think he was trying to prevent Bilhah from giving Jacob more children who would be heirs.

In any case, it was clearly a dishonorable act that showed disrespect for his father’s household. Biblical scholars point out that the timing suggests it likely happened after Rachel’s death (Genesis 35:16-19), when Jacob’s household was in turmoil.

Consequences for Reuben

Jacob was understandably furious when he heard what Reuben had done, and Reuben faced consequences for his actions:

  • He lost his birthright as the firstborn son (1 Chronicles 5:1). This meant losing leadership of the family and a double portion of inheritance.
  • The birthright was passed to Joseph, son of Rachel (1 Chronicles 5:2). This added insult to injury, as Joseph was from Rachel’s line.
  • In his last blessings for his sons, Jacob said of Reuben: “Unstable as water, you shall not excel” (Genesis 49:3-4 ESV). This referenced his impulsive behavior.

So in the end, Reuben’s rash and immoral decisions cost him dearly. His example stands as a warning against sexual sin and rebellion in one’s family. While the Bible does not shy away from recounting such stories, clearly actions like Reuben’s are condemned.

Lot and His Daughters

The Scene in the Cave

After God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot and his two daughters fled to the mountains and lived in a cave (Genesis 19:30). With no men around and worried that they would never have children, Lot’s daughters devised a wicked plan.

On two consecutive nights, they got their father drunk on wine and had sexual relations with him, resulting in both daughters becoming pregnant by their own father (Genesis 19:31-36).

Circumstances Leading Up to the Incident

Several key factors led to this disturbing incident between Lot and his daughters:

  • They were isolated in the mountains with no other men around after fleeing Sodom’s destruction
  • With no husbands or children, the daughters feared they would grow old alone and childless
  • They cunningly planned to get their father drunk so he would unknowingly sleep with them
  • Lot’s drunkenness clouded his judgment and self-control
  • So in desperation and perhaps short-sightedness, the daughters resorted to this shameful plan to preserve Lot’s family line. Their actions sprang from fear, not lustful motives toward their own father.

    The Aftermath – Moab and Ben-Ammi

    The shocking encounter resulted in both of Lot’s daughters becoming pregnant. The older daughter gave birth to a son named Moab, progenitor of the Moabites (Genesis 19:37). The younger daughter also had a son named Ben-Ammi, father of the Ammonites (Genesis 19:38).

    So these two forbidden unions produced offspring who founded nations often in conflict with the Israelites.

    This distressing story illustrates how even righteous people can fall into terrible sin when isolated from godly community and under the influence of alcohol. It was likely recorded to explain the ancestry of Israel’s rivals.

    Though Lot was declared “righteous” by God (2 Peter 2:7), his poor decisions here contributed to future family dysfunction and ethnic strife in the Middle East.

    Absalom and David’s Concubines

    The Public Act of Treason

    After fleeing Jerusalem due to his rebellion against King David, Absalom set up his own kingdom in Hebron. As an act of treason and assertion of power, Absalom publicly slept with his father David’s concubines on the roof of the royal palace for all Israel to see (2 Samuel 16:21-22).

    This was a brazen and shameful act, as taking a king’s concubines was seen as claiming his throne and authority. Absalom clearly intended to show that he had completely usurped his father’s power.

    Absalom’s Anger Toward David

    What drove Absalom to such extreme measures against his own father? Several factors contributed to Absalom’s bitterness and desire for revenge:

    • David had not punished Amnon, Absalom’s half-brother, after Amnon raped Absalom’s sister Tamar (2 Samuel 13:1-22). Absalom was furious that justice was not served.
    • David eventually banished Absalom after he took matters into his own hands and had Amnon murdered (2 Samuel 13:23-39). Absalom likely felt abandoned and resentful.
    • Even after being allowed to return to Jerusalem, Absalom still harbored anger and plotted rebellion against David for several years (2 Samuel 15:1-12).

    Sleeping with David’s concubines was the ultimate insult after years of festering rage. Absalom meant to humiliate his father and show that he had taken everything that was rightfully David’s.

    David’s Forgiveness

    Remarkably, after Absalom’s death, King David ordered his concubines to be brought back to Jerusalem and put under guard, but he refused to sleep with them again (2 Samuel 20:3). This showed that David cared for the women’s well-being, despite their shameful treatment by his son.

    David also grieved deeply when Absalom was killed, crying out “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Samuel 18:33).

    David’s forgiveness and enduring love for Absalom, despite the grievous offenses committed against him, reflect God’s patient, forgiving nature toward sinful humanity. As David was described as “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14), his example foreshadows the greater forgiveness found through Jesus Christ.

    Other Examples in Scripture

    Amram and Jochebed

    The story of Amram and Jochebed in the book of Exodus provides another example of a father-daughter incestuous relationship in the Bible. Amram was the father of Moses, while Jochebed was Amram’s aunt as well as his wife and the mother of Moses (Exodus 6:20).

    Though the text does not explicitly describe it, Amram and Jochebed would have committed incest by marrying.

    Adonijah and Abishag

    After King David’s death, his son Adonijah asked Bathsheba if she could request from David’s successor King Solomon permission for Adonijah to marry Abishag, who cared for David in his old age (1 Kings 2:13–25).

    Marrying a king’s wife or concubine was considered an attempt to usurp royal power, so Adonijah’s request led to him being executed on King Solomon’s orders. While not biologically related, the proposed marriage between Adonijah and his father David’s wife Abishag would have been extremely inappropriate and scandalous.

    Summary of These Additional Accounts

    While brief, these additional biblical examples demonstrate other problematic incestuous relationships beyond Lot and his daughters. From Amram and Jochebed to Adonijah and Abishag, scripture contains a handful of shocking accounts of incest that modern readers likely find incredibly disturbing.

    Yet these stories ultimately serve as cautionary tales about the importance of sexual purity within families and societies.


    In closing, while distressing, these stories remind us of the depravity of which humanity is capable. However, they also point to the mercy and grace of God, who can forgive any sin committed. As Lot, David and others received forgiveness, we too can repent and turn to Christ in faith.

    The utter sinfulness of incest, betrayal and sexual immorality are on full display. Yet so too is the opportunity for redemption. May these accounts cause us to cling to Jesus, striving to lead pure and upright lives before our holy God.

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