Explore a list of Old Testament heroes and a brief description of their deeds and achievements. These people in the Old Testament were heroic figures because they demonstrated courage, obedience, and faithfulness to God as well as sacrificial love for others.
A true hero in the Old Testament is one who follows God’s commands by faith, trusts in His promises, and supports the weaknesses of others with their strengths and abilities, which all of these men and women did in the Bible.
Old Testament Heroes
The Old Testament heroes in the Bible are Adam and Eve, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Miriam, Joshua, Caleb, Rahab, Deborah, Barak, Gideon, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, Saul, Jonathan, Solomon, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Esther, Mordecai, Nehemiah, and Ezra.
Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve are the first Old Testament heroes. They were the first human beings created by God and had a special relationship with Him that no one else on earth has ever been granted.
Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden until they disobeyed God and ate from the forbidden tree. They were expelled from the garden and became the parents of all humanity. Although they sinned greatly, Adam and Eve are still heroic people in the Old Testament because they taught the gospel to their two sons Cain and Abel, and trusted God even when they had to do hard or scary things. (See the Genesis 2:4-3:24.)
Abel is the next hero in the Old Testament. He was the second son of Adam and Eve and the first martyr in the Bible. He was a righteous person who offered a more acceptable sacrifice to God than his brother Cain, who killed him out of jealousy. Abel showed that he trusted God and obeyed his commands, even though he did not see the outcome. (See Genesis 4.)
Enoch is the third Old Testament Bible hero. He was a man who had more than just strong faith in God; he walked with God and pleased Him so much that he did not die, but was taken up to heaven by the Lord and made guardian of the celestial treasures and a chief of the archangels.
Enoch obeyed the Lord’s commands, even when the world around him was wicked and corrupt. He also prophesied about God’s judgment and salvation and warned people to repent of their sins. Enoch’s life is a living testimony of pleasing God in all ways through fellowship and obedience. He is only one of the two people in the Bible who never experienced death. The Prophet Elijah is the other person. (See Genesis 4:17-5:24.)
Noah was a righteous man who obeyed God and built an ark in the desert of Mesopotamia to save his family and the animals from the great flood. God saw that the earth was corrupt and filled with violence, and He decided to destroy what he had created. Noah trusted God by faith even though others mocked him for building the ark. He was the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, the ancestors of different nations that repopulated the earth. (See Genesis 5:29-10:32.)
Abraham is one of the most famous biblical figures in the Old Testament of the Bible because he demonstrated great acts of steadfast faith and unquestioning obedience to God. He was also the first of the Hebrew patriarchs.
Abraham left his homeland of Ur in Mesopotamia and followed God’s call to a land of promise. He became the “father of many nations” as the head of the covenant line of the House of Israel. He was even willing to sacrifice his own son, Isaac, as a test of faith in God. Abram was his given name, which God changed to Abraham after establishing His covenant promise with him. Several times in Scripture Abraham is called God’s friend: James 2:23, 2 Chronicles 20:7, and Isaiah 41:8. (See Genesis 11-25:10 for the full story of Abraham.)
Sarah is the first woman (after Eve) who is considered to be one of the distinguished Old Testament Bible heroes (or heroines). She was Abraham’s wife and the mother of Isaac. She was barren until God miraculously enabled her to conceive in her old age. Sarah is known as the mother of the chosen people of Israel. Sarai was her earlier name, and she was renamed Sarah at the annunciation of the birth of Isaac. (See Genesis 11:29-23:2.)
Isaac is the son of Abraham and Sarah, and the father of Jacob and Esau. Isaac is well-known in the Old Testament for almost being sacrificed by his father as a sign of obedience to God, but God provided a ram instead. He is also one of the founding Hebrew patriarchs.
By faith, Isaac accepted God’s sovereign will for his sons. God reaffirmed to Isaac the covenant He promised to his father Abraham and he had a similar encounter with God as his father had. He was married to Rebekah. (See Genesis 17:19-35:29.)
Jacob is a distinguished hero in the Bible who had a pivotal role in the Old Testament. He is the son of Isaac and Rebekah, and the third patriarch of the Hebrew nation. He became the father of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Jacob was his given name, which God changed to Israel after wrestling with Him, which means “he who struggles or strives with God”. He started out as a cunning and deceitful man in the Bible who cheated his brother Esau of his birthright and blessing. But then turned into a hero because he showed the power and grace of God to change and renew a person’s life. Jacob married Rachel and Leah and had many children with them. (See Genesis 25:26-49:33.)
Joseph is the son of Jacob and Rachel, and his father’s favorite child. He is named an Old Testament hero because he stayed faithful and obedient to the commandments of God even when he was sold into slavery by his brothers who were jealous of him.
Through God’s blessings, Joseph rose to become the second-in-command in Egypt. He forgave his brothers and saved his family from famine by faith. He also predicted the exodus of Israel from Egypt. (See Genesis 30:24-50:26.)
Moses is one of the most famous heroes of the Old Testament. He was born a Hebrew but raised as an Egyptian prince. He fled to Midian after killing an Egyptian but returned to Egypt after encountering God in a burning bush. He is an example of someone who was called by God for a special purpose and who fulfilled it with the Lord’s help.
Moses received the law from God on Mount Sinai and mediated between God and the people of Israel. He was a great leader at the time of the Exodus and performed signs and wonders for the Egyptian Pharoah. He also led the Israelites towards the freedom of the Promised Land and teaching them to live in obedience and trust in God. Moses is the author of the first five books of the Old Testament, commonly referred to as the Torah (in Hebrew) or Pentateuch (in Greek). (See the Book of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.)
Aaron is the brother of Moses and the first high priest of Israel. He is named a hero because he assisted Moses in confronting Pharaoh, leading the Israelites out of Egypt, and performing miracles by God’s power. Aaron also taught the people how to worship God and offer sacrifices. He was chosen by God to serve Him as a priest and to represent the people before Him. (See the Book of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers.)
Miriam is another heroine in the Old Testament. She is the sister of Moses and Aaron and a prophetess of Israel. She was a brave and strong woman who led the Israelites through the wilderness after Moses was gone. She spoke to God on behalf of her people in Moses’ absence. (See Exodus 15:20-21; Numbers 12.)
Joshua is the successor of Moses and the heroic Old Testament leader of Israel who conquered Canaan. He led the people across the Jordan River and captured Jericho by marching around it seven times. He divided the land among the tribes and renewed the covenant with God at Shechem. (See Exodus 17-33; Numbers 11-34; Deuteronomy 3 and 31; and the Book of Joshua.)
Caleb is the friend of Joshua and one of the twelve spies who brought back a good report about Canaan. He was faithful to God and followed him wholeheartedly. He asked for and received Hebron, a territory southwest of Jerusalem, as his inheritance. (See Numbers 13-14; Joshua 14-15.)
Rahab is another heroine in the Bible. She was a prostitute who lived in Jericho, a city doomed for destruction. She hid the spies sent by Joshua and helped them escape. She believed in the God of Israel and asked for mercy for her family, which He granted (Joshua 2 and 6). She became a notable ancestor of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:5).
Deoborah is a heroic prophetess and judge of Israel. She was a woman of courage, wisdom, and faith who led Israel to victory over their enemies. She heard God’s voice and spoke His word to the people. She was also a judge who settled disputes and guided the nation in ways that were pleasing to God.
Deborah was also the military leader who inspired Barak and an army of men to fight against the Canaanites and their powerful commander Sisera. She is an example of someone who trusted God and followed his will, even when it was difficult or dangerous. She is an inspiration for all who seek to serve God and his people with courage, wisdom, and faith. (See Judges 4-5.)
Barak is an Old Testament military leader who fought against the Canaanites under the direction of Deborah, a prophetess and judge. He trusted God’s promise of victory by faith, but he asked Deborah to accompany him to the battle, to which she agreed. In turn, Deborah prophesied that the honor of victory would not go to Barak, but rather to a woman. (See Judges 4-5.)
Gideon is a judge who delivered Israel from the oppression of the Midianites. He doubted his calling at first but eventually obeyed God’s commands by faith. He is a heroic figure in the Bible because he defeated a vast army of only 300 men armed with trumpets, jars, and torches. (See Judges 6-8.)
Samson is an Old Testament hero (and judge) who had extraordinary strength from God. He was dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth, but he often disobeyed God’s laws. He fought against the Philistines by faith, but he fell in love with Delilah, who betrayed him and cut off his hair, the source of his strength. Samson is listed as a distinguished hero because he never lost faith despite his failures. (See Judges 13-16.)
Jephthah is a judge in the Old Testament who had a heroic triumph followed by an epic tragedy. He made a rash vow to God before fighting against the Ammonites. He promised to sacrifice whatever came out of his house to greet him if he returned victorious. He won the battle by faith, but he had to fulfill his vow when his only daughter came out to meet him.
Judges 11:31 reads: “If you will indeed deliver the children of Ammon into my hand, then it shall be, that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, it shall be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering”
Jephthah won the battle by faith, but he had to fulfill his vow to God. His daughter did not reject the awful circumstance but accepted it with trust in the Lord.
Judges 11:36 reads: She said to him, “My father, you have opened your mouth to the LORD; do to me according to that which has proceeded out of your mouth, because the LORD has taken vengeance for you on your enemies, even on the children of Ammon”.
After that incident in the Bible, it became a custom in Israel that the daughters of Israel went yearly to celebrate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite for four days. (See Judges 11-12.)
David is another one of the most well-known Old Testament Bible heroes. He was a shepherd boy who became the king of Israel. He defeated Goliath, the giant Philistine champion, with a sling and a stone by faith.
David was a man after God’s own heart, but he also committed adultery and murder. He repented of his sins and received God’s forgiveness. He wrote many psalms that express his faith in God. David wrote 73 of the 150 Psalms in the Book of Psalms in the Bible that express his love, faith, and dependence on the Lord. (See 1 Samuel 16-30; Book of 2 Samuel; 1 Kings; 2 Kings; 1 Chronicles; 2 Chronicles.)
Samuel is a prophet who heard God’s voice as a boy while serving in the Tabernacle under Eli, the priest. He became Israel’s last judge and anointed Saul and David as kings by faith. Samuel is a hero who always spoke the truth and turned to God for guidance and direction in all things. (See the Book of 1 Samuel.)
Saul is the first king of Israel who was chosen by God through the Prophet Samuel and received the Spirit of God. Saul had many military victories, but he also disobeyed God in two notable ways. First, by not following the Lord’s instructions for waiting for Samuel to make a sacrifice. Second, for sparing King Agag and the best of the Amalekites’ livestock, when God told him to destroy them completely.
Saul also became jealous of David, who became a threat to Saul’s reign. He tried to kill David several times but failed. He died in battle against the Philistines after consulting a witch.
Saul’s story is a tragic one, but it also teaches us some important lessons about faith, obedience, and humility before God. Saul started well, but he did not finish well. He had great potential as a king, but he wasted it by his own choices. He had God’s favor and lost it by his own sin. Saul is an example of someone who was called by God for a special purpose, but who failed to fulfill it with God’s help. (See 1 Samuel 9-31; 2 Samuel; 1 Chronicles.)
Jonathan is the son of Saul and a beloved friend of David. Jonathan was a hero in the Bible because he was a loyal friend, a courageous warrior, and a humble servant of God. He loved David as his own soul and helped him to escape from Saul’s wrath.
Jonathan recognized that God had chosen David to be the next king of Israel and supported him with his words and actions. He fought bravely against the enemies of God’s people and died with honor on the battlefield. (See 1 Samuel 13-31; 2 Samuel.)
Solomon is the son of David and Bathsheba, and the third king of Israel. He is an Old Testament hero for several reasons.
First, he asked God for wisdom to rule his people, instead of asking for long life, riches, or victory over his enemies. Second, he judged wisely over his people. Third, he built a magnificent temple for God in Jerusalem, according to the plans that God had given to David. Fourth, he wrote many proverbs, songs, and books that teach us about God’s ways and purposes. (See 1 Kings; 1 Chronicles; 2 Chronicles; Proverbs; Song of Solomon.)
Elijah is a prophet who performed many miracles by God’s power. He confronted King Ahab and Queen Jezebel for their idolatry and challenged the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. He prayed for drought and rain, raised a widow’s son from the dead, and called down fire from heaven. He was the only other person who never died in the Bible but was taken up to heaven by the Lord. The other person is Enoch mentioned previously on this list of Old Testament heroes. (See 1 Kings 17-21; 2 Kings 1-10.)
Elisha is the successor of Elijah and a prophet who also performed many miracles by God’s power. He received a double portion of Elijah’s spirit when he saw him taken up to heaven. He healed Naaman, a Syrian general, from leprosy, multiplied oil and bread for widows, made an iron axe head float, and raised a boy from the dead. (See 1 Kings 19:16-20; 2 Kings 2-13.)
Isaiah is a prophet who saw visions of God’s glory and judgment. He is a hero in the Old Testament because he prophesied about the coming Messiah and the new heaven and earth. He also warned Judah about their sins and urged them to repent and trust in God. (See the Book of Isaiah.)
Jeremiah is a prophet who was called by God before he was born. He wept over the sins and sorrows of Judah and predicted their destruction by Babylon. He also spoke about God’s new covenant and restoration for his people.
Jeremiah is named a hero because he was a faithful prophet who spoke God’s word to the people of Judah, even when they rejected him and persecuted him. He endured many hardships and sufferings for the sake of God’s truth and love; making Jeremiah a good example of someone who trusted God and followed his will, even when it was difficult or dangerous. (See the Book of Jeremiah.)
Ezekiel is a prophet who was taken into exile in Babylon along with many other Jews. He saw visions of God’s throne and acted out many symbolic messages from the Lord to warn and comfort his fellow exiles. He demonstrated his faithfulness and obedience to God, even when it cost him dearly. He suffered hunger, thirst, pain, and isolation for God’s sake. (See the Book of Ezekiel.)
Daniel is a prophet who was exiled to Babylon and served in the courts of Babylon and Persia. He was faithful to God and refused to worship idols or compromise his principles even though he faced persecution and death by King Nebuchadnezzar.
Daniel interpreted dreams and visions for the king and received revelations about God’s plan for the future. He was thrown into a lion’s den, but God delivered him without harm as an example of His omnipotent power, mercy, and grace. (See the Book of Daniel.)
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are three friends of Daniel who were also exiled to Babylon. They were appointed as administrators over the province of Babylon, but they refused to bow down to a golden image set up by King Nebuchadnezzar. They were thrown into a fiery furnace, but God protected them and they came out unharmed. (See the Book of Daniel.)
Esther is a Jewish orphan who became the queen of Persia by winning the favor of King Ahasuerus. She risked her life to save her people from a plot to annihilate them by Haman, the king’s advisor. She also persuaded the king to issue a new decree that allowed the Jews to defend themselves against their enemies. Esther is celebrated as an Old Testament heroine in the festival of Purim, which commemorates God’s deliverance of His people through her actions. (See the Book of Esther.)
Mordecai is the cousin and guardian of Esther who raised her as his own daughter. He was a loyal subject of King Ahasuerus and exposed a conspiracy to assassinate him. He also opposed Haman and his scheme to destroy the Jews. He was honored by the king for uncovering the assassination conspiracy and became his second-in-command.
Mordecai shows us how to be loyal, courageous, and faithful to God and his people. He also showed us how to trust God’s providence and timing. He is an example of someone who was blessed by God and used his blessings for God’s glory. (See the Book of Esther.)
Nehemiah is a cupbearer to King Artaxerxes of Persia who became the governor of Judah. He is a heroic figure in the Old Testament because he asked the king for permission to return to Jerusalem and rebuild its walls. He faced opposition and threats from his enemies, but he completed the task with God’s help. He also reformed the people’s spiritual and social life. (See the Book of Nehemiah.)
Ezra is a priest, scribe, and heroic leader who helped restore the worship and obedience of God among the Jewish people who returned from exile in Babylon. He is also considered an Old Testament hero because he was a scholar and teacher who devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of God, and to teaching it to others for God’s glory. (See the Book of Ezra.)
More Heroes In the Bible
- The Book of Hebrews contains a complete chapter dedicated to heroic figures of faith called the “Halls of Faith”. Visit our guide on Heroes of Faith In the Bible to find that list of people with their biographies.
- The New Testament has its own list of heroes for Jesus Christ you can view here: New Testament Heroes In the Bible.
- The Bible also has villains throughout Scripture. Check out our page on the major Villains In the Bible to learn how they opposed God and His people.
Summary for Old Testament Heroes In the Bible
We hope you enjoyed this list of Old Testament heroes in the Bible.
As you discovered, these men and women are known as heroic figures in the Old Testament because they demonstrated courage, obedience, and faithfulness to God as well as sacrificial love for others. Hopefully, these heroes in the Old Testament inspire you to follow in their footsteps by obeying God’s commands, trusting in His promises, and supporting the weaknesses of others with your God-given strengths and abilities.
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