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The Most Famous

RELIGIOUS FIGURES from Israel

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This page contains a list of the greatest Israeli Religious Figures. The pantheon dataset contains 2,238 Religious Figures, 56 of which were born in Israel. This makes Israel the birth place of the 11th most number of Religious Figures behind India and Saudi Arabia.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Israeli Religious Figures of all time. This list of famous Israeli Religious Figures is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Israeli Religious Figures.

Photo of Jesus

1. Jesus (-4 - 33)

With an HPI of 96.89, Jesus is the most famous Israeli Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 254 different languages on wikipedia.

Jesus (c. 6 to 4 BC – AD 30 or 33), also referred to as Jesus Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, and many other names and titles, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianity, the world's largest religion. Most Christians believe Jesus to be the incarnation of God the Son and the awaited messiah, the Christ that is prophesied in the Old Testament. Virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed historically. Accounts of Jesus' life are contained in the Gospels, especially the four canonical Gospels in the New Testament. Academic research has yielded various views on the historical reliability of the Gospels and how closely they reflect the historical Jesus. Jesus was circumcised at eight days old, was baptized by John the Baptist as a young adult, and after 40 days and nights of fasting in the wilderness, began his own ministry. He was often referred to as "rabbi". Jesus often debated with fellow Jews on how to best follow God, engaged in healings, taught in parables, and gathered followers, among whom twelve were his primary disciples. He was arrested in Jerusalem and tried by the Jewish authorities, turned over to the Roman government, and crucified on the order of Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect of Judea. After his death, his followers became convinced that he rose from the dead, and following his ascension, the community they formed eventually became the early Christian Church that expanded as a worldwide movement. Accounts of his teachings and life were initially conserved by oral transmission, which was the source of the written Gospels.Christian theology includes the beliefs that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, was born of a virgin named Mary, performed miracles, founded the Christian Church, died by crucifixion as a sacrifice to achieve atonement for sin, rose from the dead, and ascended into Heaven, from where he will return. Commonly, Christians believe Jesus enables people to be reconciled to God. The Nicene Creed asserts that Jesus will judge the living and the dead, either before or after their bodily resurrection, an event tied to the Second Coming of Jesus in Christian eschatology. The great majority of Christians worship Jesus as the incarnation of God the Son, the second of three prosopons of the Trinity. The birth of Jesus is celebrated annually, generally on 25 December, as Christmas. His crucifixion is honored on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter Sunday. The world's most widely used calendar era—in which the current year is AD 2024 (or 2024 CE)—is based on the approximate birthdate of Jesus.Jesus is also revered in the Islam, Baháʼí Faith and Druze Faith. In Islam, Jesus (often referred to by his Quranic name ʿĪsā) is considered the penultimate prophet of God and the messiah, who will return before the Day of Judgement. Muslims believe Jesus was born of the virgin Mary but was neither God nor a son of God. Most Muslims do not believe that he was killed or crucified but that God raised him into Heaven while he was still alive. In contrast, Judaism rejects the belief that Jesus was the awaited messiah, arguing that he did not fulfill messianic prophecies, was not lawfully anointed and was neither divine nor resurrected.

Photo of Mary, mother of Jesus

2. Mary, mother of Jesus (-100 - 100)

With an HPI of 91.17, Mary, mother of Jesus is the 2nd most famous Israeli Religious Figure.  Her biography has been translated into 139 different languages.

Mary was a first-century Jewish woman of Nazareth, the wife of Joseph and the mother of Jesus. She is a central figure of Christianity, venerated under various titles such as virgin or queen, many of them mentioned in the Litany of Loreto. The Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Church of the East, Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches believe that Mary, as mother of Jesus, is the Mother of God. Other Protestant views on Mary vary, with some holding her to have lesser status. The synoptic Gospels name Mary as the mother of Jesus. The gospels of Matthew and Luke describe Mary as a virgin who was chosen by God to conceive Jesus through the Holy Spirit. After giving birth to Jesus in Bethlehem, she raised him in the city of Nazareth in Galilee, and was in Jerusalem at his crucifixion and with the apostles after his ascension. Although her later life is not accounted in the Bible, Catholic, Eastern Christian, and some Protestant traditions believe that her body was raised into heaven at the end of her earthly life, which is known in Western Christianity as the Assumption of Mary and in Eastern Christianity as the Dormition of the Mother of God. Mary has been venerated since early Christianity, and is often considered to be the holiest and greatest saint. There is a certain diversity in the Mariology and devotional practices of major Christian traditions. The Catholic Church holds distinctive Marian dogmas, namely her Immaculate Conception and her bodily Assumption into heaven. Many Protestants hold less exalted views of Mary's role, often based on a perceived lack of biblical support for many traditional Christian dogmas pertaining to her. She is mentioned numerous times in the Quran, including in a chapter named after her, and has the highest position in Islam among all women.The multiple forms of Marian devotions include various prayers and hymns, the celebration of several Marian feast days in liturgy, the veneration of images and relics, the construction of churches dedicated to her and pilgrimages to Marian shrines. Many Marian apparitions and miracles attributed to her intercession have been reported by believers over the centuries. She has been a traditional subject in arts, notably in Byzantine art, medieval art and Renaissance art.

Photo of Solomon

3. Solomon (-1011 - -931)

With an HPI of 88.43, Solomon is the 3rd most famous Israeli Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 103 different languages.

Solomon () also called Jedidiah, was a monarch of ancient Israel and the son and successor of King David, according to the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament. He is described as having been the penultimate ruler of an amalgamated Israel and Judah. The hypothesized dates of Solomon's reign are from 970–931 BCE. After his death, his son and successor Rehoboam would adopt a harsh policy towards the northern tribes, eventually leading to the splitting of the Israelites between the Kingdom of Israel in the north and the Kingdom of Judah in the south. Following the split, his patrilineal descendants ruled over Judah alone.The Bible says Solomon built the First Temple in Jerusalem, dedicating the temple to Yahweh, or God in Judaism. Solomon is portrayed as wealthy, wise and powerful, and as one of the 48 Jewish prophets. He is also the subject of many later references and legends, most notably in the Testament of Solomon (part of first-century biblical apocrypha). The historicity of Solomon is hotly debated. Current consensus states that regardless of whether or not a man named Solomon truly reigned as king over Israel and Judah in the tenth century BCE, the biblical description of his apparent empire's lavishness is most probably an anachronistic exaggeration.In the New Testament, he is portrayed as a teacher of wisdom excelled by Jesus of Nazareth, and as arrayed in glory but excelled by "the lilies of the field". In the Quran, he is considered to be a major Islamic prophet. In mostly non-biblical circles, Solomon also came to be known as a magician and an exorcist, with numerous amulets and medallion seals dating from the Hellenistic period invoking his name.

Photo of John the Baptist

4. John the Baptist (-20 - 31)

With an HPI of 87.84, John the Baptist is the 4th most famous Israeli Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 105 different languages.

John the Baptist (c. 1st century BC – c. AD 30) was a Judaean preacher active in the area of the Jordan River in the early 1st century AD. He is also known as Saint John the Forerunner in Eastern Orthodoxy, John the Immerser in some Baptist Christian traditions, Saint John by certain Catholic churches, and Prophet Yahya in Islam. He is sometimes alternatively referred to as John the Baptiser.John is mentioned by the Roman Jewish historian Josephus and he is revered as a major religious figure in Christianity, Islam, the Baháʼí faith, the Druze faith, and Mandaeism, the latter in which he is considered to be the final and most vital prophet. He is considered to be a prophet of God by all of the aforementioned faiths, and is honoured as a saint in many Christian denominations. According to the New Testament, John anticipated a messianic figure greater than himself, and the Gospels portray John as the precursor or forerunner of Jesus. Accord to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus himself identifies John as "Elijah who is to come", which is a direct reference to the Book of Malachi (Malachi 4:5), that has been confirmed by the angel who announced John's birth to his father, Zechariah. According to the Gospel of Luke, John and Jesus were relatives. Some scholars maintain that John belonged to the Essenes, a semi-ascetic Jewish sect who expected a messiah and practiced ritual baptism. John used baptism as the central symbol or sacrament of his pre-messianic movement. Most biblical scholars agree that John baptized Jesus, and several New Testament accounts report that some of Jesus's early followers had previously been followers of John. According to the New Testament, John was sentenced to death and subsequently beheaded by Herod Antipas around AD 30 after John rebuked him for divorcing his wife Phasaelis and then unlawfully wedding Herodias, the wife of his brother Herod Philip I. Josephus also mentions John in the Antiquities of the Jews and states that he was executed by order of Herod Antipas in the fortress at Machaerus.Followers of John existed well into the 2nd century AD, and some proclaimed him to be the Messiah awaited by Jews. In modern times, the followers of John the Baptist are the Mandaeans, an ancient ethnoreligious group who believe that he is their greatest and final prophet. In the Roman martyrology, apart from Jesus and the Virgin Mary, John is the only saint whose birth and death are both commemorated.

Photo of Isaac

5. Isaac (-1900 - -1533)

With an HPI of 84.11, Isaac is the 5th most famous Israeli Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 88 different languages.

Isaac is one of the three patriarchs of the Israelites and an important figure in the Abrahamic religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. He was the son of Abraham and Sarah, the father of Jacob and Esau, and the grandfather of the twelve tribes of Israel. Isaac's name means "he will laugh", reflecting the laughter, in disbelief, of Abraham and Sarah, when told by God that they would have a child. He is the only patriarch whose name was not changed, and the only one who did not move out of Canaan. According to the narrative, he died aged 180, the longest-lived of the three patriarchs.

Photo of Saint Joseph

6. Saint Joseph (-100 - 100)

With an HPI of 83.76, Saint Joseph is the 6th most famous Israeli Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 83 different languages.

Joseph (Hebrew: יוסף, romanized: Yosef; Greek: Ἰωσήφ, romanized: Ioséph) was a 1st-century Jewish man of Nazareth who, according to the canonical Gospels, was married to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and was the legal father of Jesus.Joseph is venerated as Saint Joseph in the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Church, Anglicanism and Lutheranism. In Catholic traditions, Joseph is regarded as the patron saint of workers and is associated with various feast days. The month of March is dedicated to Saint Joseph. Pope Pius IX declared him to be both the patron and the protector of the Catholic Church, in addition to his patronages of the sick and of a happy death, due to the belief that he died in the presence of Jesus and Mary. Joseph has become patron of various dioceses and places. Being a patron saint of virgins, he is venerated as "most chaste". A specific veneration is tributed to the most chaste and pure heart of Saint Joseph.Several venerated images of Saint Joseph have been granted a decree of canonical coronation by a pontiff. Religious iconography often depicts him with lilies or spikenard. With the present-day growth of Mariology, the theological field of Josephology has also grown and since the 1950s centers for studying it have been formed.

Photo of Andrew the Apostle

7. Andrew the Apostle (-6 - 70)

With an HPI of 83.71, Andrew the Apostle is the 7th most famous Israeli Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 88 different languages.

Andrew the Apostle (Koinē Greek: Ἀνδρέας, romanized: Andréas [anˈdre.aːs̠]; Latin: Andreas [än̪ˈd̪reː.äːs]; Aramaic: אַנדּרֵאוָס; Classical Syriac: ܐܰܢܕ݁ܪܶܐܘܳܣ, romanized: ʾAnd'reʾwās), also called Saint Andrew, was an apostle of Jesus. According to the New Testament, he was a fisherman and one of the Twelve Apostles chosen by Jesus. The title First-Called (Πρωτόκλητος, Prōtoklētos) stems from the Gospel of John, where Andrew, initially a disciple of John the Baptist, follows Jesus and, recognizing him as the Messiah, introduces his brother Simon Peter to him.According to Eastern Orthodox tradition, the apostolic successor to Andrew is the Patriarch of Constantinople.

Photo of Elijah

8. Elijah (-1000 - -900)

With an HPI of 83.38, Elijah is the 8th most famous Israeli Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 77 different languages.

Elijah ( il-EYE-jə; Hebrew: אֵלִיָּהוּ, romanized: ʾĒlīyyāhū, meaning "My God is Yahweh/YHWH"; Greek form: Elias il-EYE-əs) was, according to the Books of Kings in the Hebrew Bible, a prophet and a miracle worker who lived in the northern kingdom of Israel during the reign of King Ahab (9th century BC). In 1 Kings 18, Elijah defended the worship of the Hebrew God over that of the Canaanite deity Baal. God also performed many miracles through Elijah, including resurrection, bringing fire down from the sky, and entering heaven alive "by fire." He is also portrayed as leading a school of prophets known as "the sons of the prophets." Following his ascension, Elisha, his disciple and most devoted assistant, took over his role as leader of this school. The Book of Malachi prophesies Elijah's return "before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD," making him a harbinger of the Messiah and of the eschaton in various faiths that revere the Hebrew Bible. References to Elijah appear in Sirach, the New Testament, the Mishnah and Talmud, the Quran, the Book of Mormon, and Baháʼí writings. In Judaism, Elijah's name is invoked at the weekly Havdalah rite that marks the end of Shabbat, and Elijah is invoked in other Jewish customs, among them the Passover Seder and the brit milah (ritual circumcision). He appears in numerous stories and references in the Haggadah and rabbinic literature, including the Babylonian Talmud. According to some Jewish interpretations, Elijah will return during the End of Times.The Christian New Testament notes that some people thought that Jesus was, in some sense, Elijah, but it also makes clear that John the Baptist is "the Elijah" who was promised to come in Malachi 3:1; 4:5. According to accounts in all three of the Synoptic Gospels, Elijah appeared with Moses during the Transfiguration of Jesus. Elijah in Islam appears in the Quran as a prophet and messenger of God, where his biblical narrative of preaching against the worshipers of Baal is recounted in a concise form.Due to his importance to Muslims, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians, Elijah has been venerated as the patron saint of Bosnia and Herzegovina since 1752.

Photo of Matthew the Apostle

9. Matthew the Apostle (10 - 74)

With an HPI of 82.07, Matthew the Apostle is the 9th most famous Israeli Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 83 different languages.

Matthew the Apostle (Saint Matthew) is named in the New Testament as one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. According to Christian traditions, he was also one of the four Evangelists as author of the Gospel of Matthew, and thus is also known as Matthew the Evangelist. The claim of his gospel authorship is rejected by most biblical scholars, though the "traditional authorship still has its defenders." The New Testament records that as a disciple, he followed Jesus. Church Fathers such as Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria claim that Matthew preached the gospel to the Jewish community in Judea, before going to other countries.

Photo of Samson

10. Samson (-1118 - -1078)

With an HPI of 81.67, Samson is the 10th most famous Israeli Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 65 different languages.

Samson (; Hebrew: שִׁמְשׁוֹן Šīmšōn "man of the sun") was the last of the judges of the ancient Israelites mentioned in the Book of Judges (chapters 13 to 16) and one of the last leaders who "judged" Israel before the institution of the monarchy. He is sometimes considered as an Israelite version of the popular Near Eastern folk hero also embodied by the Sumerian Gilgamesh and Enkidu, as well as the Greek Heracles. Samson was given superhuman powers by God (the biblical Yahweh) in the form of extreme strength. The biblical account states that Samson was a Nazirite and that he was given immense strength to aid him against his enemies and allow him to perform superhuman feats, including slaying a lion with his bare hands and (after offending groomsmen at his wedding to a Philistine), massacring a Philistine army with a donkey's jawbone. The cutting of Samson's long hair would violate his Nazirite vow and nullify his ability.Samson is betrayed by his lover Delilah, who, sent by Philistine officials to entice him, orders a servant to cut his hair while he is sleeping and turns him over to the Philistines, who gouge out his eyes and force him to mill grain at Gaza City. While there, his hair begins to grow again. When the Philistines take Samson into their temple of Dagon, Samson asks to rest against one of the support pillars. After being granted permission, he prays to God and miraculously recovers his strength, allowing him to bring down the columns – collapsing the temple and killing both himself and the Philistines. In some Jewish traditions, Samson is believed to have been buried in Zorah in Israel overlooking the Sorek valley (also considered his birthplace).Samson has been the subject of rabbinic, Christian, and Islamic commentary, with some Christians viewing him as a type of Jesus, based on similarities between their lives. Notable depictions of Samson include John Milton's closet drama Samson Agonistes and Cecil B. DeMille's 1949 Hollywood film Samson and Delilah. Samson also plays a major role in Western art and traditions.

Pantheon has 56 people classified as religious figures born between 1900 BC and 1937. Of these 56, 1 (1.79%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living religious figures include Michel Sabbah. The most famous deceased religious figures include Jesus, Mary, mother of Jesus, and Solomon. As of April 2022, 4 new religious figures have been added to Pantheon including Al-Tabarani, Saint Petronilla, and Angelus of Jerusalem.

Living Religious Figures

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Deceased Religious Figures

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Newly Added Religious Figures (2022)

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