Jesse Tree - Printer friendly version with illustrations

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History of the Jesse Tree
The representation of the Tree of Jesse is based upon the prophecy of Isaiah 11:1-2:

And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots: and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord.
In works of art the genealogy of Christ (based on Matthew 1) is frequently shown in the form of a tree which springs from Jesse, the father of David, and bears as its fruit the various ancestors of Christ.
The Jesse Tree symbols transform a Christmas tree into a "family tree" of Christ, since each ornament is a symbol of an ancestor or of a prophecy which foretells his coming. Some of the symbols included are the sun, the tablets of the Law, the key of David, Bethlehem, the root of Jesse, Noah's ark, the Ark of the Covenant, the altar of holocaust, the apple, the Paschal Lamb, the pillar of fire, manna, the star of David, Jacob's ladder, Jonah in the whale, the Temple, the crown and the scepter, the sword of Judith, and the burning bush.
The Advent Jesse Tree is fairly recent practice, trying to emphasize "Christ" in Christmas by studying His roots. A home Jesse Tree can be a small evergreen tree, artificial or real, bare branch set in a sturdy pot, or a wall hanging made of felt, posterboard or wood. Each evening in Advent a new symbol is placed on the tree, the Scripture verse is read and the significance in Salvation History is explained.
From The Trees of Christmas, by Edna Metcalfe, ©1979, Abingdon Press
Each day during Advent the family reads one of the stories about Jesus’ ancestors and the prophecies that foretell his coming. We have included some observations to be drawn from the stories and have provided a picture to be colored and then hung on your tree.
Day 1 Creation: Gen. 1:1-31; 2:1-4 Symbols: sun, moon, stars, animals, earththecreation

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)
On the: -first day- God created light
- second day- God created sky and water.
- third day- God created the land and all the plants.
-fourth day - God created the sun, moon, and stars.
-fifth day- God created birds and fish.
sixth day- God created animals and Adam and Eve
On the seventh day- God rested.
Suggested emphasis: We are to care for our world; It is wonderfully made.


Adam and Eve
Day 2: Adam and Eve: Gen 2:7-9, 18-24. Symbols : tree, man, woman.adamandeve

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
Suggested Emphasis: God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
Fall of Man
Day 3: Fall of Man. Gen 2:7-9, 18-24. Symbols: tree, serpent, apple with a bite. Sin and death entered the world as woman was tempted and gave in.


The serpent was more clever than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. The serpent said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat the fruit of any tree that is in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We can eat the fruit of the trees that are in the garden. But God did say, ‘You must not eat the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden. Do not even touch it. If you do, you will die.’ ” “You can be sure that you won’t die,” the serpent said to the woman. “God knows that when you eat the fruit of that tree, you will know things you have never known before. You will be able to tell the difference between good and evil. You will be like God.”
The woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good to eat. It was also pleasing to look at. And it would make a person wise. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her. And he ate it. Then both of them knew things they had never known before. They realized they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together and made clothes for themselves.
Then the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking in the garden. It was the coolest time of the day. They hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called out to the man. “Where are you?” he asked. “I heard you in the garden,” the man answered. “I was afraid. I was naked, so I hid.”
Suggested emphasis: This choice to disobey God resulted in many bad things for all people. But God has promised to put things right again one day.
Explain that our choices can often hurt other people.


Day 4. Noah. Gen 6:5-8, D13-22; 7:17,23,24; 8:1,6-22. Symbols: ark, animals, dove, rainbow.

noahbuildsthearkHere is the story of Noah. Noah was a godly man. He was without blame among the people of his time. He walked with God. Noah had three sons. Their names were Shem, Ham and Japheth.

The earth was very sinful in God’s eyes. It was full of mean and harmful acts. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people. They have filled the earth with their harmful acts. You can be sure that I am going to destroy both them and the earth.
“So make yourself an ark out of cypress wood. I am going to bring a flood on the earth. It will destroy all life under the sky. It will destroy every living creature that breathes. Everything on earth will die. But I will make my covenant with you. You will enter the ark. Your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives will enter it with you”.
“Bring two of every living thing into the ark. Bring male and female of them into it. They will be kept alive with you. Two of every kind of bird will come to you. Two of every kind of animal will come to you. And two of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you. All of them will be kept alive with you. Take every kind of food that you will need. Store it away. It will be food for you and for them.”
Noah did everything exactly as God commanded him.
After the big flood, Noah and his family were safe. God gave them the rainbow as a promise that he would never again flood the earth.
Suggested Emphasis: Noah followed God’s instructions and was saved. We should also follow God’s instructions today.


Day 5: Gen 12:1-3: Symbol: tent
Scripture Reference: Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-7; Genesis 12:1-9; 22:17-18; Hebrews 11:8


Story Overview: God chose one man, Abram, to be the beginning of a whole new nation that would be called God’s people. He told Abram to leave his home and his relatives and begin traveling. Abram took his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot and left his home and began to travel and live in tents. The Lord also told Abram that his name would be great and that the whole world would be blessed through this new nation -- that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in heaven. Abram believed God and had living faith—the kind of faith that proves it is real by doing actions.
God changed the names of Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah. The Lord had promised Abraham descendants but Abraham was getting old. Abraham and Sarah showed hospitality to three strangers in their tent and the strangers told them that Sarah would give birth to a son. Sarah overheard them and, since she was very old, her reaction was to laugh to herself. One year later, Sarah gave birth to a son, Isaac, just as the Lord said she would. Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90.

Suggested Emphasis: We can trust what God says.
Day 6: Gen, 22:1-14. Symbols: bundle of wood, altar, ram in bush.

Scripture Reference: Genesis 22:1-18; Hebrews 11:17-19

Story Overview: The Lord had promised Abraham that Isaac would be the son through which a great nation would come. Abraham’s faith was tested when the Lord asked him to sacrifice Isaac on an altar. Through faith, Abraham was willing to obey God but an angel stopped the sacrifice. They found a ram caught in a tree nearby and sacrificed the ram instead.

Suggested emphasis: God sometimes asks us to do difficult things- but he also protects us when we follow him.


Jacob and Esau
Day 7: Gen.25:1-34,28:10-15. Symbols kettle, ladder.


Isaac had twin sons, Esau and Jacob. The older brother, Esau gave up his birthright to his twin brother because he was hungry and wanted to eat the soup which Jacob had made in a kettle..
Suggested emphasis: We often make poor choices, choosing our own desires rather than valuing what God has provided for us.
Then Jacob and his mother conspired to trick Isaac, his father who was blind, into giving Jacob the special blessing that was meant for Esau. . Esau was very angry that this trick had been played on him, so Jacob went far away and settled elsewhere. On his travels he dreamed of a ladder on which angels were moving down to earth from heaven and back again. He understood that God was going to take care of him. Eventually the two brothers were reconciled.


Joseph taken to slavery in Egypt
Day 8 Gen. 37:23-28, 45:3-15 Symbols bucket, well, silver coins, tunic

Jacob had 12 sons but he loved Joseph, who was the youngest, the most. Jacob gave Joseph a wonderful coat. This made his brothers jealous. Joseph had a dream that he was a sheaf of wheat and all the other sheaves (his brothers) bowed down to him. His brothers were angry as they did not want to bow down to him. So one day when they were out in the field they tore off his coat and threw him into a pit. One of the brothers saw some slave traders approaching. “Let’s sell Joseph to them”, he said. That is what they did and Joseph was taken to Egypt as a slave. They covered his coat with blood and took it to his father who thought he had been killed. In Egypt, Joseph was put into prison for something he did not do. The king’s cupbearer was in prison also. He had a strange dream that Joseph interpreted for him. Later the Pharaoh had a dream of seven fat cows, then seven thin ones that ate up the fat ones. They sent for Joseph to interpret this dream. He told them there would be seven good years with plenty of good food, to be followed by seven bad years with no harvest. The Pharaoh was very impressed by his wisdom and appointed Joseph to save grain during the good years to last them through the seven years of famine.


Joseph Helps his Family.

Day 9. Joseph prospered in Egypt and was well respected. He had saved enough grain during the good years to provide for the seven lean years of the famine.

During the famine, Joseph’s brothers ran out of grain, so they went to Egypt to buy it. They did not recognize Joseph but he tested them to see if they had changed. He accused them of being spies and asked them to prove their honesty by bringing back their brother Benjamin. When they brought Benjamin, he slipped a silver cup in Benjamin’s bag. When the brothers were on their way home, he had them followed and accused Benjamin of stealing. The brothers were very upset and said: “ Make us your slaves but let Benjamin go!” At that point Joseph told them who he was and invited all of them to live in Egypt, where they prospered. Suggested emphasis: God can bring good out of bad.


Moses in the Bullrushes
Day 10; Ex.2:1-10 Symbols: Baby in basket, river and rushes. Burning bush, Ten Commandments.
Scripture Reference: Exodus 1:1-2:10

Almost 400 years had passed since the time when Joseph invited his family to move to Egypt. The Pharaoh who now ruled Egypt hated the Israelites and worried that they had became so numerous. He made them slaves and ordered the deaths of all baby boys born to them. To save her infant son, Jochabed placed him in a basket and hid him among the reeds along the Nile River. His big sister, Miriam, watched after him. Pharaoh’s daughter discovered the baby as she was bathing and adopted him and raised him as her son. She called him Moses.

Moses grew into adulthood in the Pharaoh’s palace but he always knew that he was a Hebrew (another name for Jews or descendants of Israel). After killing an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave, Moses was forced to flee to Midian for his own safety.

Moses called to serve
Day 11

During the next forty years he married and helped take care of his father-in-law’s sheep. One day the Lord spoke to him from a godtalkstomosesmiraculously burning bush. When the Lord told Moses that he had been chosen to lead his people out of Egypt, Moses offered up many excuses. The Lord gave Moses everything he needed to be a leader. He even told him that his brother, Aaron, would help him.

Suggested emphasis: We should obey God without complaining.


When Moses and Aaron told Pharaoh that the Lord wanted His people to leave Egypt, Pharaoh became angry. He ordered the Israelite slaves to produce more bricks with less of the required straw. One after another the Lord sent ten different plagues upon the Egyptian people. While suffering from a plague, Pharaoh would give Moses permission to take the people out of Egypt only to harden his heart and withdraw his offer when that particular plague stopped. The tenth and final plague brought upon Egypt convinced Pharaoh to allow the Israelites to leave. The firstborn children and even the firstborn of the livestock died as the angel of death passed through Egypt. Only those who obeyed the instructions of the Lord were safe. The angel of death “passed over” their homes. That night Israelites ate the first Passover Meal. This would become a yearly meal to remind them that the Lord delivered them.
Suggested Emphasis: It is important to obey God’s instructions


Moses Crossing the Red Sea
Day 12

As soon as Pharaoh finally gave his permission, all of the Israelites left Egypt quickly by night. Four hundred and thirty years of bondage was finally over.

God’s people were finally on their way to their own land—Canaan! A pillar of cloud led the way by day and a pillar of fire guided them at night. As the Israelites arrived at the edge of the Red Sea, Pharaoh and his army caught up with them. Pharaoh had changed his mind yet again! The Lord protected his frightened people. The pillar of cloud moved between the Israelites and the Egyptian army. Moses then stretched his hand across the sea and the Lord caused a great wind to part the water and hold it back while the estimated two million Israelites passed through. When the Egyptians followed them, the Lord caused the water to flood and kill all of them.
Suggested Emphasis: God is powerful and He can change the laws of nature to protect His people.


Moses and the Ten Commandments
Day 13

The Lord knew that His people would need rules so that they could get along mosesgivescommandmentsand so that they would know how to love and obey Him. When the Israelites came to Mount Sinai, Moses went up on the mountain where the Lord gave him the Ten Commandments. From the mountain the people heard thunder and trumpet sounds and saw lightning and smoke. They were afraid as they saw the awesome power of God. The Lord later wrote these commands on stone tablets that the people carried with them as they travelled.
Suggested Emphasis: God gave us good rules to live by.
Day 14. 1 Sam. 3:1-18 Symbols. Lamp, temple. Horn, oil

Scripture Reference: 1 Samuel 1:21-2:26
Story Overview: Elkanah had two wives, Peninnah and Hannah. Peninnah taunted Hannah because Hannah had no children. When Hannah accompanied Elkanah to the tabernacle, she prayed and wept near the entrance. In her prayer she promised the Lord that if He would give her a son then she would give that son to Him all the days of her life. Hannah’s prayer was so intense that the High Priest, Eli, saw her and thought she was drunk. Hannah’s prayer was answered and she gave birth to a son. His name was Samuel.


Hannah did not forget the promise that she had made to the Lord. After her son, Samuel, was weaned, she took him to the tabernacle and presented him to Eli, the High Priest. Samuel’s parents returned home but Samuel remained with Eli to be a helper. Samuel would have cleaned, and run errands, and lots of other jobs to help the priests. Every year Hannah made a new robe for Samuel and brought it to him when she and Elkanah visited the tabernacle.
Suggested emphasis: Even children can help in the work of the Lord.

One night Samuel heard a voice calling to him. He got up and went to wake Eli.
I am here Master, what do you want.
Eli had not called him so he told him to go lie down.
Again a voice called Samuel and he got up and woke Eli. Again he was told to lie down. The third time, Eli realized that God was calling Samuel. He told him to answer the voice of God: Speak, for your servant is listening.


Now the Lord began to speak to Samuel. He told him that Eli’s sons would not be the next High Priests. They were too wicked and they did not love the Lord.”
Samuel lay back down until morning when it was time to open the tabernacle. Samuel did not want to tell Eli what the Lord had said. He knew that Eli would feel bad. But Eli told Samuel to tell him everything the Lord said. He told him not to leave one thing out.
Eli was very sad but he knew that Samuel was telling the truth. During the years that followed God spoke to Samuel many times giving him messages for his people. God was not happy with King Saul.
Suggested emphasis: It is not always easy to tell others that God is not pleased.
Samuel mourned for King Saul because Saul had sinned. Saul was no longer the humble man that hid behind the baggage rather than stand before a crowd (10:20-27). All of Saul’s accomplishments seem to have gone to his head. Samuel loved Saul but knew that God had rejected him as king. Saul was allowed to rule for as long as he lived but God planned to have another man ready to become king after Saul died. God told Samuel to go to Bethlehem and anoint one of the sons of Jesse to be the next king.
The official way that a person was shown to be chosen by God was to be anointed. Samuel used a hollow horn of a cow to store the oil for his journey.


Day 15: Scripture Reference: 1 Samuel 16:1-13

Story Overview: God told Samuel that he had chosen a new king for Israel. The new king was to be one of the sons of Jesse. When Samuel saw the sons he thought the Lord would want Jesse’s oldest son to be the king. Instead, the Lord chose the youngest son, David, who was out tending the sheep. Samuel anointed David as the new king but it would be many years before the time was right for David to take Saul’s place. The Lord chose David even though he did not look as big and handsome as his older brothers.
Suggested Emphasis: The Lord does not judge by outward appearance but by the heart.


David and Goliath

Day 16: 1 Samuel 17:45-47 symbols: rock, sling, giant
David was anointed to be king over Israel by Samuel. But he was an unknown in Israel until his battle with Goliath. His father had sent him to check on his older brothers who were serving with King Saul’s army. When he heard Goliath’s taunts, he knew someone had to do something. He also knew that God would provide the victory for whoever was willing to march out in faith.
No other battle in the Bible is as well known as the confrontation between David and Goliath. Goliath was a giant, over nine feet tall, and a warrior all his life. David was a shepherd boy who had proven God’s faithfulness to His Word during confrontations with lions and bears. This classic story should encourage any person facing a problem that seems too big to handle.
David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
Suggested emphasis: We can do amazing things with God’s help.


King Solomon
Day 17: Scripture Reference: 1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:5-28; 4:29-34
Symbols: scales of justice.


After David’s death, his son, Solomon, became king. The Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream and told him to ask for anything he wanted. Solomon did not ask for selfish things but instead, he asked for wisdom so he could be a good king for the people. God granted Solomon his request. Things happened just as the Lord said. Solomon became known everywhere as a very wise ruler. He was also very rich and famous. People came from everywhere to talk to Wise King Solomon. They would tell Solomon their problems and he would give them wise advice to help them.
Once, there were two women who were having a fight. They lived in the same house with each other. Each of the women had given birth to a baby. Each of the babies would sleep in the same bed with their own mother.
One of the mothers said, “One night this other woman rolled over on top of her baby and it died. She quietly snuck into my room and put her dead baby beside me in my bed. She took my baby and put it in bed with her. When I woke up I found the baby dead beside me. At first I thought my baby had died. Then I looked closely and I knew that it was not my baby. She has my baby and I want it back”! “No!” argued the other woman, “It’s my baby!” “No! It’s my baby.”
Everyone looked at Solomon. How could he ever know which woman the baby belonged to? But remember, God gave Solomon special wisdom.
Solomon ordered one of his servants to bring him a sword. “I order that the baby be cut in half with this sword.”
One of the women said, “Okay, that’s fair. The baby should be cut in half. That way neither of us will have more than the other.”
The other woman looked very sad. “No, do not cut the baby in half. I would rather the other woman have my baby. I do not want my baby to die.”
Then Solomon knew who the real mother was. He told his servant to give the baby to the woman who did not want the baby cut in half. He knew that a real mother would never want her baby cut in half.
Everyone saw that Solomon really was wise. Everyone knew that God had given him special wisdom.
Suggested Emphasis: It is most important to have wisdom and to follow God.


Jonah and the Whale
Day 18: Scripture Reference: Jonah 1-4 Symbols: whale,


Story Overview:
Ninevah was the capitol city of Israel’s enemy, Assyria. The Lord commanded Jonah to go and tell the people in the city of Ninevah that their city would be destroyed if they did not repent of their wickedness. Jonah did not want to teach the people of Ninevah because he thought they would never change. He headed in the opposite direction away from Ninevah – to try to hide from God. When the boat that he boarded ran into a storm, Jonah was thrown overboard and swallowed by a big fish. Jonah spent three days praying inside the fish and then he was spit out on a beach near Ninevah. When Jonah finally went to Ninevah and preached as God had ordered, the wicked people repented and turned to God.
Suggested Emphasis: Everyone deserves a chance to hear about God.
O Antiphons

Day 19-24 are typically used for stories of Mary and Joseph and the O antiphons.
Each Antiphon invokes the coming of the Messiah, beginning with a biblical title and closing with a specific petition.
1. O Come, Thou Wisdom, from on high,
and order all things far and nigh;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.
2. O Come, O Come, Thou Lord of might,
who to thy tribes on Sinai's height
in ancient times didst give the law,
in cloud, and majesty, and awe.
3. O Come, Thou Rod of Jesse's stem,
from ev'ry foe deliver them
that trust Thy mighty power to save,
and give them vict'ry o'er the grave.
4. O Come, Thou Key of David, come,
and open wide our heav'nly home,
make safe the way that leads on high,
that we no more have cause to sigh.
5. O Come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
and cheer us by thy drawing nigh;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death's dark shadow put to flight.
6. O Come, Desire of the nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind;
bid every strife and quarrel cease
and fill the world with heaven's peace.
7. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
There are many other stories about Jesus’s ancestors, but these are a few of the important ones that teach us about God’s love and his promises to us. He will take care of us and protect us from harm as long as we follow His commandments and believe in Him.
Sometimes He asks us to do things that are difficult for our faith but He has provided us with lots of helpers. The Holy Spirit is always there and many angels are busy doing His work on earth.
He has given us the Bible, His Word, to help us to understand what he wants.
We need to pray to God every day, thanking Him for His goodness, praising Him for the awesome beauty of His creation, and asking His help as we go through life. He will provide for our needs. He expects us to love Him and to love one another; and that means forgiving people if they have hurt us.

Produced by the Catholic Daughters of the Americas- Court 339
Permission has been obtained from the Complete Bible Story Clip Art Book @Gospel Light Publications for use of the clip art.

Catholic Bible Stories for Children

 Author: Ann Ball, Julianne Will
 ISBN: 9781592762439
 ID #: T294
 Copyright: 2006
 Pages: 208
 Format: Hardback
 Availability: Usually ships next business day
 Need Help? Call 1-800-348-2440 ext. 2173
Catholic Bible Stories for Children
Fun. Faithful. And fully Catholic.
We recommend buying a book of Catholic bible stories that is well illustrated and true to our Catholic Bible. Young children are not really ready to read the adult Bible but can gain a lot from the timeless truths they convey.

Printer-Friendly Version: here


Produced by the Catholic Daughters of the Americas- Court 339
Contact: Mary Micco using the form below to get more information about the Jesse Tree Book.©

Permission has been obtained from the Complete Bible Story Clip Art Book @Gospel Light Publications for use of the clip art.


We also recommend that you buy a good illustrated Catholic Bible Stories for Children.   One suggestion is listed below.  If we can read Cat in th Hat to our children they should also become familiar with wonderful stories in the Old testament:   David and Goliath, Samson and Delilah. Moses

 Author: Ann Ball, Julianne Will
 ISBN: 9781592762439
 ID #: T294
 Copyright: 2006
 Pages: 208
 Format: Hardback
 Availability: Usually ships next business day
 Need Help? Call 1-800-348-2440 ext. 2173
Catholic Bible Stories for Children
Fun. Faithful. And fully Catholic.
We recommend buying a book of Catholic bible stories that is well illustrated and true to our Catholic Bible. Young children are not really ready to read the adult Bible but can gain a lot from the timeless truths they convey.

Printer-Friendly Version: here

Click here to go to the Resources page where you can download this book and other materials.