Any examples of "Brothers and sisters" not of the same mother?


Is there any indication from the “Bible alone” that EVER uses the term “brother” or “sister” to denote a person who is NOT the uterine offspring a particular mother?
Abram and Lot
Gn 14, 14 Which when Abram had heard, to wit, that ***his brother ***Lot was taken, he numbered of the servants born in his house, three hundred and eighteen well appointed: and pursued them to Dan. 15 And dividing his company, he rushed upon them in the night: and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hoba, which is on the left hand of Damascus. 16 And he brought back all the substance, and Lot his brother, with his substance, the women also and the people.
How about Abraham and Sarah?
Gn 20, 12 Howbeit, otherwise also she is truly my sister, the daughter of my father, and not the daughter of my mother, and I took her to wife. 13 And after God brought me out of my father’s house, I said to her: Thou shalt do me this kindness: In every place, to which we shall come, thou shalt say that I am thy brother.
Isn’t Ismael, the son of Abram, and the slave Agar, in actuality the brother of Isaac? (Gn 16, 8) Yet they have different mothers. So a brother, or sister doesn’t mean they share the same mother?
Any other “Brothers and sisters” who did’t share the same womb?


The sons of Jacob/Israel are all collectively described as Joseph’s brothers. Only Benjamin had the same mother as Joseph, their mother being Rachel. The other ‘brothers’ were the sons of Leah, Leah’s maid and Rachel’s maid.


Thanks Lily. I’m going to make a list of examples.


One of the points our good friend hvg brought up is that the Jesus’ brothers / sisters debate takes place in Greek written Scriptures (in this case the NT sans Matthew), whereas Lot and Joseph’s examples listed originated from Hebrew. I think we are spinning our collective wheels unless we take that into consideration with our arguments.


In Gen 14:14-16, in the Septuagint Greek translation, Lot is called the adelphos of Abram. *Adelphos *is the same word for brother used in the NT for Jesus’s brothers. If adelphos is used in the Septuagint for “kinsman”, then it was one of the understood meanings of the word at the time the NT was written. Hence, it is perfectly acceptable to call Jesus’s adelphoi his kinsmen.



Interesting argument, however the Septuagint, which Jesus taught from, and the Catholic Church uses, was written in Greek, not Hebrew.


Please understand, I’m not the one arguing, I’m just being the devil’s advocate.

The Septuagint is in Greek, Amen! But it is a translation of Hebrew Scripture in most cases (all but the latest books). If it is a literalist translation, then it would have called Lot Abraham’s brother. If it it a literal translation, it would have called Lot Abraham’s nephew.


This site has a good list. Scroll down to the subtitle “Ever Virgin”


Great reference, thanks


Yup, quite true :slight_smile:

And the Greek OT, like our versions today, are not considered ‘inspired’ as the original Hebrew OT and Greek NT are.

[quote=Tom]Interesting argument, however the Septuagint, which Jesus taught from, and the Catholic Church uses, was written in Greek, not Hebrew.

However, we are talking about the inspired word of God here, so Hebrew OT and Greek NT. Not translations :slight_smile:

So, anything valid yet?


Just a couple NT samples:

*Acts 21: 20 And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, "You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed; they are all zealous for the law,

Acts 22:13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, `Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And in that very hour I received my sight and saw him.*

There are many, many others; just do a word search on “brother” in the New Testament. (You can use the website below. Click on “Simple Searches” and restrict it to the New Testament. You’ll get several pages. I’m away from home right now and don’t have access to books and software, but think almost all cases use the Greek “adelphos”.)



I don’t see the problem in answering Hvg’s objection concerning the Greek transliteration of the Aramaic term “brothers”. This has already been answered in a great article here on

Here is the relevant part:

Because neither Hebrew nor Aramaic (the language spoken by Christ and his disciples) had a special word meaning “cousin,” speakers of those languages could use either the word for “brother” or a circumlocution, such as “the son of my uncle.” But circumlocutions are clumsy, so the Jews often used “brother.”

The writers of the New Testament were brought up using the Aramaic equivalent of “brothers” to mean both cousins and sons of the same father—plus other relatives and even non-relatives. When they wrote in Greek, they did the same thing the translators of the Septuagint did. (The Septuagint was the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible; it was translated by Hellenistic Jews a century or two before Christ’s birth and was the version of the Bible from which most of the Old Testament quotations found in the New Testament are taken.)

In the Septuagint the Hebrew word that includes both brothers and cousins was translated as adelphos, which in Greek usually has the narrow meaning that the English “brother” has. Unlike Hebrew or Aramaic, Greek has a separate word for cousin, anepsios, but the translators of the Septuagint used adelphos, even for true cousins.

You might say they transliterated instead of translated, importing the Jewish idiom into the Greek Bible. They took an exact equivalent of the Hebrew word for “brother” and did not use* adelphos* in one place (for sons of the same parents), and anepsios in another (for cousins). This same usage was employed by the writers of the New Testament and passed into English translations of the Bible. To determine what “brethren” or “brother” or “sister” means in any one verse, we have to look at the context. When we do that, we see that insuperable problems arise if we assume that Mary had children other than Jesus.

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she would conceive a son, she asked, “How can this be since I have no relations with a man?” (Luke 1:34). From the Church’s earliest days, as the Fathers interpreted this Bible passage, Mary’s question was taken to mean that she had made a vow of lifelong virginity, even in marriage. (This was not common, but neither was it unheard of.) If she had not taken such a vow, the question would make no sense.

Mary knew how babies are made (otherwise she wouldn’t have asked the question she did). If she had anticipated having children in the normal way and did not intend to maintain a vow of virginity, she would hardly have to ask “how” she was to have a child, since conceiving a child in the “normal” way would be expected by a newlywed wife. Her question makes sense only if there was an apparent (but not a real) conflict between keeping a vow of virginity and acceding to the angel’s request. A careful look at the New Testament shows that Mary kept her vow of virginity and never had any children other than Jesus.

Hope this helps. :tiphat:


By the way, there is no question that the Greek speaking writers used Aramaic terms and idioms: Kepha or Cephas (instead of Petros) is but one example.

Hope this helps. :tiphat:


Thanks, I knew you guys would come up with the answers. I just didn’t want everyone to go high-fiving themselves without addressing the better arguments!

Thanks again!


Not so fast, HVG.

My post above answers you definitively. :tiphat:


Not considered inspired by whom? If I’m not mistaken, the KJV was a translation which used Jerome which used the Septuagint. There are quotes attributed to Jesus that come directly from the Greek, and not found in the Hebrew. The Jews even celebrated the writing of the Septuagint as miraculous, because it was written by the 70, without error. So you’re saying the KJV is not inspired?


Tom, I believe the Church teaches that the only inspired works are those written by the original authors. The Septuagint, just as the KJV, is merely a translation. Granted there is tradition (with a little “t”) that all 70 translators came up with the exact same translations, which would be way cool. But only the original authors were said to be inspired.

The Bible that you read today, no matter whose version is not considered inspired works. It’s a translation (with human errors) of inspired works.


If the Septuagint is not inspired, why should we use it? It seems like alot of our doctrine is supported by the Septuagint, for example, the virgin birth is supported by a passage in Isaiah, a virgin will conceive, while that is not reflected in the Hebrew. Or the Deuterocanonical books, only in the Septuagint, but if the LXX is not inspired, why do we use the Deuteros?


Very true Randy. In fact, I was just reading a book I read years ago by a well known Reformed Protestant theologian Dr. Norman Geisler called "A General Introduction to the Bible."
In it he says this about Jesus speaking Aramaic…

Aramaic was no doubt the spoken language of the Lord and His disciples. It was the source of such words as Cephas, Matthew, Abba (Mark 14:36), and Maranatha (1 Cor. 16:22). It is also noteworthy that in the very hour of His agony on the cross, Jesus cried out in His native Aramaic tongue, " ‘Eli Eli, lama sabachthani?’ my God, why has Thou forsaken Me?" (Matt. 27:46) Page 326


Only the originals are considered to be inspired. Our translations are infallible as they follow the original texts since they convey the original intent of the author who was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the text. Jerome translated the Latin Vulgate in the fourth century under the behest of Pope Damasus since Jerome was his legate. The KJV was started by King James Vl of Scottland and finished in 1611.

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