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What is the family tree diagram explaining how Sarah was Abraham's half sister (same father different mothers)?

She is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and so she became my wife. - Gen 20:12

I tried googling it and I found this link which had the following diagram:

enter image description here

But that doesn't work as sister, because she's Terach's grandaughter. Abraham's niece.

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  • I guess they define sister as not just one generation down from the father. but multiple generations down. So a sister isn't just a daughter of your father, could be a grandaughter of your father.
    – barlop
    Feb 13, 2021 at 4:27

3 Answers 3

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The article by a Jesuit scholar Felix Just, S.J., PhD The Family of Abraham contains the family tree you are looking for, demonstrating how Sarai is indeed Abram's half sister from another (un-named) wife of his father, Terah:

Family tree of Abraham

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    So we don't really know which wife produced which other than that Abraham and Sarah were produced by a different one of Terach's wives?
    – barlop
    Feb 13, 2021 at 4:29
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    @barlop Correct. The Bible does not seem to have that information. Feb 13, 2021 at 5:31
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that would make Sarai Abrams Step or half brother not really incestual but maybe a Levitical law preventing such. I believe we humans have enough trouble of our own thus we should take care of ourselves.

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Yiksa

The Bible is silent about the name of Sarah's mother. So are the Talmud and other ancient rabbinical texts as far as I can tell. However, a rabbinical authority in the current era, Rabbi Chaim Kanievski gives her name as Yiska Bas Tissa - Yiksa the daughter of Tissa. If this is right it gives us both the name of Sarah's grandmother as well has her mother. Yiksa is usually translated as Jennifer and is related to foresight. Tissa is related to receiving, taking, etc. However it could aslo be Tessa, which is related to "beholding" in Hebrew and "harvest" in Greek.

Rabbi Kanievski was characterized by the New York Times as "one of the greatest Talmudic interpreters of his generation and one of the most revered figures among the world’s ultra-Orthodox Jews." I can give no details as to his basis for saying this. It is discussed with few details here.

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  • For the jewish/judaism sources identifying Sarai with Yiskah, The source is here the Talmud in tractate Megilla page 14, side A. Megillah 14a sefaria.org/Megillah.14a.13?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en relevant part i.stack.imgur.com/l4rcS.png The idea is mentioned in Rashi's commentary. Supracommentary on Rashi mentions Rashi's sources. Which is Megillah 14a. when Rashi is commenting on Gen 11:29 chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/8175/showrashi/true/jewish/… relevant part here i.stack.imgur.com/DZ4yA.png
    – barlop
    Oct 21, 2023 at 2:49
  • I don't think it's that good to write Yiskah at the top when it's from a source that isn't authoritative in Christianity.. Also, it is the Talmud that mentions it (contrary to your second sentence). Also if I wanted the judaism sources 4 it i'd ask on judaism.stackexchange.com I think it could be mentioned 'cos Jewish sources can be of some interest to christians, but more of a side note.. Not in big writing at the top of the posted answer! Also some other judaism/rabbinic sources for it mentioned here dafyomi.co.il/chumash/…
    – barlop
    Oct 21, 2023 at 2:51
  • thanks for your correction re the Talmud etc. The description of this site says "We welcome Jewish, Christian, Atheist, and other viewpoints, as long as they take seriously the process of understanding Biblical texts." As I mentioned, the Bible itself does not tell us Sarah's mother's name. In looking for it I stumbled on an answer and shared it. Oct 21, 2023 at 4:01
  • I'm not sure that rabbinic texts do necessarily take seriously the process of understanding biblical texts!! Sometimes they do. I have a pastor friend that has made use of The RAMBAN's commentary (RAMBAN=Nachmonides). I think the RAMBAN is very logical and careful. Or, Rabbi Shimshon Rephael Hirsch is another good one. But some rabbinical stuff is a bit, shall we say, imaginative, probably making stuff up. In some cases there's a tradition but that's not really interpretation of biblical text.
    – barlop
    Oct 21, 2023 at 4:05
  • btw, doesn't Meg. 14a say that Sarah herself was called Iksa - not her mother? Oct 21, 2023 at 4:06

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