Through the Lineage – Part 2 of 3

Part 2 – The genealogy of Jesus, as recorded in the book of Matthew:

Matthew’s record of our Lord’s genealogy is entirely different from Luke’s. Right from the start, we notice that this genealogy does not follow the strict Jewish tradition. The Talmud states, “A mother’s family is not to be called a family.” Nevertheless, Matthew’s record does not trace back to Adam and God, it skips many people, and it includes women. These differences do not make it inferior, but show a different intent. As an example, see the following:

Matthew 1: (Young’s Literal Translation)
6 and Jesse begat David the king. And David the king begat Solomon, of her [who had been] Uriah’s,
7 and Solomon begat Rehoboam, and Rehoboam begat Abijah, and Abijah begat Asa,

It’s evident that Matthew’s account is not included in his book to establish a rigorous record of Christ’s ancestry. Instead, Matthew has included this record for a different reason. We shall see that Matthew’s account seems to exist to show, with a preponderance of the evidence, that Joseph was not the father of Jesus, and therefore, Jesus was born of a virgin, Mary. Also, notice that Matthew’s record diverges from Luke’s with the sons of King David.

Luke traces Christ’s genealogy from King David’s son, Nathan, whereas Matthew traces the genealogy from King Solomon. Right here is the split. Before the sons of King David, the two lists do not conflict. So, what is happening here?

One conventional explanation for these differences, from as early as John of Damascus, is that Nathan is the ancestor of the Virgin Mary, while Solomon is the ancestor of Mary’s husband Joseph.

Note that Tamar, Rahab, Ruth are all ancestors of King David and therefore in the lineage of Jesus. As for Bathsheba, she is the mother of Solomon and, therefore, would be in the lineage of Joseph, not Jesus.

One conventional explanation for these differences, from as early as John of Damascus, is that Nathan is the ancestor of the Virgin Mary, while Solomon is the ancestor of Mary’s husband Joseph.

God is showing us that these two genealogies are not intended to document the same person. Luke’s account, following strict Jewish guidelines, clearly showing the lineage of Jesus and Mary back to God, through Nathan, the son of King David. Matthew’s record is sparse, beginning with Abraham, skips groups of people, and includes the women Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and probably Bathsheba.

So, what is the purpose of Matthew’s record? It seems to be telling us that Joseph could not have been the father of Jesus because he is disqualified from royalty because his genealogy descends from King Solomon, and Jehoiachin is in this lineage.

Jehoiachin is the problem.  In Jeremiah 22: 24,30, God says:
24 As surely as I live,” declares the LORD, “even if you, Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, were a signet ring on my right hand, I would still pull you off

30 This is what the LORD says: “Record this man as if childless, a man who will not prosper in his lifetime, for none of his offspring will prosper, none will sit on the throne of David or rule any more in Judah.”

The three-parts of Jehoiachin’s curse are:
– that he would be childless (this is how the Hebrew text reads)
– that he would not prosper in his lifetime
– that none of his descendants would rule in Judah

Tradition (not the Bible) says that Jehoiachin repented during his Babylonian exile. What we do know from Matthew 1:11-12,  “And after the Babylonian removal, Jehoiachin (i.e. Jeconiah) begat Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begat Zerubbabel,” So, Jehoiachin had children after God cursed him. And, in Haggai 2:23 we see, “‘On that day,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the Lord Almighty.” So, Zerubbabel was favored by the LORD, however, he was never a king.

Though Zerubbabel, a descendant of Jehoiachin, did not sit on the throne as king, the fact that Haggai 2:23 uses the same terminology as Jeremiah 22:24 Haggai seems to show that God intended to show a reversal of Jehoiachin’s curse. Nevertheless, it is likely that Matthew included Jehoiachin in his genealogy because of God’s curse, so people would understand that Joseph did not qualify to be the father of the Messiah.

The four points I hope you take away from this article are:
1. Matthew’s genealogy is the genealogy of Joseph.
2. Matthew’s genealogy is sparse and does not conform to the Jewish tradition.
3. Matthew’s genealogy does not attempt to establish Jesus as the Son of God or the Son of Man.
4. Matthew’s intent for his genealogy was to show that Joseph could not have been the father of the Messiah, thereby supporting the virgin birth of Jesus.


The primary source, outside of the Bible, for these lessons was derived from https://jewsforjesus.org/publications/issues/issues-v05-n06/the-genealogy-of-the-messiah/

Photo by Lachlan Donald on Unsplash

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