The Non-Messianic Genealogy of Jesus as seen from Judaism
According to the Jewish Bible, one of the requirements for the messiah is that he must be a descendant of King David. All of the major Messianic prophecies indicate this (Ezekiel 34:23, 37:21-28; Isaiah 11:1-9; Jeremiah 23:5, 30:7-10, 33:14-16; and Hosea 3:4-5). In Jeremiah chapter 33, verse 17, G-d says that the royal House of David will never lack a man to sit on the throne of Israel. The Christian Bible, recognizing this vital requirement, spends almost two chapters to establish the genealogical record of Jesus as going back to King David. However, when the genealogical records, as recorded by Matthew and Luke are examined, critical problems are revealed.
According to Matthew
In the gospel of Matthew, the genealogy of Joseph, who was the husband of Mary, is traced back to King David. However, Matthew then shoots himself in the foot by claiming that Joseph was never the father of Jesus. He does this in order to establish his claim that Jesus did not have a normal birth. His claim is that Jesus was the product of a miraculous virgin birth; that Mary never had sexual relations with her husband Joseph, and that Jesus was conceived through the “Holy Spirit.” Therefore, since the genealogy as recorded in Matthew only traces Joseph back to King David, but never connects Joseph as the father of Jesus, it is clear that Jesus has no established genealogical record going back to King David.
Christian apologists answer that, even though Joseph wasn’t the biological father of Jesus, he was the legal father, and, therefore, passed on his genealogical line through adoption. There are several problems with this answer. First of all, there is no indication from any of the records in the Christian Bible that Joseph actually adopted Jesus. However, even if a case for his adoption could be made, it is absolutely impossible to pass on one’s genealogy through adoption.
For example, a priest (Kohain) is someone who is born to another priest. If your father is a priest, then you are a priest. If a priest (Kohain) adopts a boy who is the son of someone who was not a priest, that child does not become a priest through adoption.
An additional problem still remains, even if one would want to conclude that, through adoption the genealogy is adopted as well. We find that when Matthew traces the genealogical line of Joseph back to King David, this line goes through a King named Jeconiah (also known as Coniah or Yehoaikin). The problem arises in Jeremiah, chapter 22, verse 30, when the ancestor of Joseph named King Jeconiah was cursed by G-d:
“Write this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days. For no man of his seed shall prosper sitting upon the throne of David and ruling anymore in Judah.”
We see from this passage in Jeremiah that any descendant of Jeconiah would be disqualified from ever being a Messianic candidate; and therefore, if Christians insist upon making Jesus the legal adopted child of Joseph, then it is obvious that Jesus would be disqualified from even potentially being the messiah.
According to Luke
In order to answer this difficult problem, Christian apologists claim that Jesus also traces himself back to King David through his mother, Mary. This claim is made relative to the genealogy recorded in the third chapter of the book of Luke, which is also traced back to King David. There are also a number of problems with this claim. First and foremost, there is no evidence at all that the genealogy listed in Luke is that of Mary. The chapter clearly says that this is the genealogy of Joseph. Mary isn’t even mentioned. In an article written by Arnold Fruchtenbaum, and circulated by “Jews for Jesus,” the author makes the following claim: “In the Greek text of Luke’s genealogy, every single name mentioned has the Greek definite article ‘the’ with one exception: the name of Joseph (Luke 3:23). Someone reading the original would understand by the missing definite article from Joseph’s name that this was not really Joseph’s genealogy, but his wife Miriam’s (Mary).”
David L. Blank, Professor of Classic Languages at The University of California-Los Angeles, made the following observations about the above comments:
“According to the Greek original, Eli is indeed the father of Joseph. There is a definite article before each name, except that of Joseph, and that definite article is in each case the masculine genitive singular article — you. Not only does this not clearly indicate that Joseph is skipped in the genealogy, it cannot by any stretch of the imagination be taken as so indicated. The author’s comments on the Greek grammar of the passage are absurd and manifest an appalling ignorance of the facts of Greek syntax.”
Other Greek scholars agree with Professor Blank. And, even if Mary could trace herself back to King David, it still wouldn’t help Jesus. According to the Torah, the mother (the matrilineal) determines if someone is Jewish (Deuteronomy 7:3-4), but tribal affiliation and family genealogy can only be traced through the person’s father (the patrilineal in accordance with Exodus 28:4, 29:9-30, 30:30, and 40:15 [Priesthood Lineage]; Numbers 36 [Tribal Lineage]; Genesis 49:10, I Kings 11:4, and I Chronicles 17:11-19 [Kingship Lineage].).
For instance, in Numbers, chapter 1, verse 18, we’re told that the Jewish people declare their pedigrees according to their fathers’ houses. When Queen Athaliah wanted to eliminate the Royal Line of David, she only killed the males knowing full well that a female descendant of David couldn’t pass on the right to the throne (II Kings 11; II Chronicles 22).
The fact that the daughters of Zelophchad inherited their father’s property (Numbers 27) doesn’t prove that genealogy can be passed through the daughters. This is born out by Numbers 36, where they are told that they must marry someone from their father’s tribe, otherwise the inheritance would pass out of their family. Finally, a Third problem presents itself. Even if it could be maintained that a family line could be passed on through the mother, Mary herself was not from a legitimate messianic family. According to the Bible, the messiah must be a descendant of King David through his son Solomon (II Samuel 7:12-13; I Chronicles 17:11-14, 22:10, 28:4-7).
It’s glaring that in the book of Matthew, the genealogy of Joseph is traced back to King David through his son Solomon, but ultimately down to the cursed King Jeconiah. However, in the book of Luke, the genealogy goes from David, not through his son Solomon, but through his son Nathan. The problem is that even if one wants to maintain that the book of Luke is tracing the genealogy of Mary and that it’s possible to pass on genealogical lineage through the mother, Mary would still not be of help to Jesus, because her line does not go back to David through the King’s son, Solomon.
On an important side note a person may have Jewish status but not tribal lineage:
The verse (Leviticus 24:10) reads:
Now the son of an Israelite woman, and he was the son of an Egyptian man, went out among the children of Israel, and they quarreled in the camp—this son of the Israelite woman, and an Israelite man. And the son of the Israelite woman pronounced the [divine] name and cursed.
Here we have a man born to a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father who became extremely angry and blasphemed in the encampment. Our sages explain the reason for his anger. Apparently, the man was told that he was tribe-less, and hence unable to pitch his tent together with the tribe of Dan. The reason: tribal lineage runs through the paternal line, and his non-Jewish father was of course not part of any tribe. Therefore a man born to a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father and/ or a convert to Judaism are Jewish but without tribal lineage.
According to G-d
Jesus failed to fulfill any of the major messianic prophecies; he was never anointed as King, he never ruled Israel, and the world was certainly not perfected in his time. In addition, he was not preceded by the return of the prophet Elijah (Malachi 4:5). Finally, he was disqualified from ever being a messianic candidate due to his lack of the necessary family background. The Jewish people never rejected Jesus. He just never measured up to the description that God gave to the Jewish people, of who the messiah would be.
You are confronted with a choice: you can believe what G-d said when he promised the Jewish people a messiah from the House of David through Solomon his son, or you can decide that G-d was lying when He made these vital promises.
We aren’t talking about a crisis in faith, but, rather, a search for the truth.
Do you have the courage to make that search?