Dueling Genealogies

By Dr. Henrietta Mears and Guy Cramer

Why are there two different genealogies for Jesus?
Part of the answer solves another prophecy.

The skeptic asks:
"The New Testament gives a detailed line of descent for Jesus demonstrating that Jesus was born of the line of King David. This is done to meet the prophetic requirement of the Messiah being an heir to the house of David. It is unfortunate that the writer traces Jesus descent from David through Joseph. Joseph isn't the father if we are to believe the story of a virgin birth."

For an general answer we can turn to the book "What The Bible Is All About" By Dr. Henrietta C. Mears, p.356-357, 396

In the genealogy in Matthew 1, notice one name, Jechonias (Jeconiah), in verse 11. If Joseph had been Jesus' father according to the flesh, He could never have occupied the throne, for God's word barred the way. There had been a curse on this royal line since the days of Jeconiah. In Jeremiah 22:30 we read, Thus says the Lord: write this man down as childless, a man who shall not prosper in his days: for none of his descendants shall prosper, sitting on the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah. Joseph was in the line of this curse. Hence, if Jesus had been Joseph's son, He could not have sat on David's throne.

But we find another genealogy of Jesus in Luke 3. This is Mary's line, back to David, through Nathan, not Jeconiah (Luke 3:31). There was no curse on this line. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David: And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there will be no end (Luke 1:30-33).

In Matthew 1:1-17 we have the royal genealogy of the son of David, through Joseph. In Luke 3:23-38 it is His strictly personal genealogy, through Mary. In Matthew it is His legal line of descent through Joseph; in Luke it is His lineal descent through Mary. In Matthew His genealogy is traced forward from Abraham; in Luke it followed backward to Adam, Each is significant! Matthew is showing Jesus' relation to the Jew, hence he goes back no further than to Abraham, father of the Jewish nation. But in Luke is His connection with the human race; hence His genealogy is traced back to Adam, the father of the human family.

In Luke, Jesus' line is traced back to Adam, and is, no doubt, His mother's line. Notice in Luke 3:23, it does not say Jesus was the son of Joseph. What are the words? As was supposed. In Matthew 1:16, where Joseph's genealogy is given, we find that Joseph was the son of Jacob. In Luke it say he was the son of Heli. He could not be the son of two men by natural generation. But notice this carefully - the record does not state that Heli begot Joseph, so it is supposed that Joseph was the son by law (or son-in-law) of Heli. Heli is believed to have been the father of Mary.

The Davadic genealogy goes through Nathan, not Solomon. This too is important. The Messiah must be David's son and heir (2 Sam. 7:12,13; Romans 1:3; Acts 2:30,31) and his seed according to the flesh. He must be a literal flesh and blood descendant. Hence Mary must be a member of David's house as well as Joseph (Luke 1:32).1

The skeptic responds: The passage from Luke 3: 23-31 does not use the term begotten. Allowing your argument that this phrasing is used to indicate that Joseph was the son-in-law of Heli, I find it interesting that this entire passage does not use the term begotten all the way back to David and beyond.

Following your line of reasoning, these men were all son-in-laws and not sons to the previous generation. Considering that the Israelites did not trace lines of descent through matriarchal lines but through patriarchal lines this seems to be a very tenuous linkage at best.

The Genealogy Jigsaw Puzzle
By Guy Cramer

The original Greek in Luke 3:24 reads: being, as was supposed, son of Joseph, of Heli, of Matthat,... notice it does not say son of Heli... sure they could be son-in-laws and not sons but you must take note that it does not say son of Heli...

But if we look at the original Greek of Matthew 1:2 we read that Abraham fathered Isaac, Isaac and fathered Jacob... so here we have a definite patriarchal line.

Matthew was written for the Jews so we have the patriarchal line listed in Matthew 1. Luke was written to the Greeks, a highly feminized culture in the first century so a matriarchal line is possible. Can we confirm that Matthew was written for the Jews? Often Matthew leaves Jewish phrases and customs unexplained, assuming that his readers are familiar with them. And where Luke would say "kingdom of God," Matthew uses the phrase "kingdom of heaven," out of respect for Jews, who never wrote out the word God.

Matthew 1:18-25 even states that Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus. So the genealogy he gives prior to this is only a legal line of decent.

Sons from Luke 3

Do we have proof that any of the Men listed in the Luke 3:23-38 are not son-in-laws?

First the genealogy in Matthew 1:1-17 shows in the original Greek that each man is the father of the next. The genealogy in Luke just says that the man "of" the next one all the way to Adam of God. But both genealogies lists the same 12 men from David to Abraham. Therefore, those passages in Luke 3:32-43 are showing the actual fathers and cannot be understood as son-in-laws.

Our question now shifts to the prior men in Luke 3:23-31 were they all son-in-laws?

As mentioned before, the split in genealogies happens with David's sons. Matthew lists the line of Solomon, Luke lists the line of Nathan.

In 2 Samuel 5:13-14 we read "...Also more sons and daughters were born to David. Now these are the names of those who were born to him in Jerusalem: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon,...

So we know that Nathan was David's son.

If we turn to Zechariah 12:12-14 we read in this Old Testament book a prophecy who will mourn for the Messiah when He is pierced:

"And the land shall mourn, every family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of Shimei by itself, and their wives by themselves.

It turns out that the pierced Messiah is not the only prophecy in these passages.

If we go back to the genealogy in Luke 3:26, 3:29, 3:31 we find all four of these same names in the proper order. This doesn't mean that the names are one immediately after the other, but If we look at the first two names in Zechariah David and Nathan we do find these are one after the other in Luke 3. The next name in Zechariah 12 is Levi. If we begin at David and then Nathan we have to skip 9 names until we run into Levi. If we skip ahead 17 more names from Levi we find Semei. The Hebrew name in Zechariah 12 is Shimei. This same Hebrew name in the Greek New Testament would be translated as Semei.

I asked James D. Price a Professor of Hebrew, if this was correct. His response: "The Greek language has no "sh" sound, and no letter for "sh". So both the Greek Septuagint and the Greek NT transliterate Hebrew "sh" with "s"." I also asked him, "Can the Hebrew name Shimei be understood as Semei?" His responded, "If you are talking about a Greek translation, yes."

So considering that the Israelites did not trace lines of descent through matriarchal lines but through patriarchal lines, if we look at Zechariah 12:12-14 we find that the author who is an Israelite traces this line through a patriarchal system from David to Shimei.

This only leaves us with 14 generations from Joseph to Semei (not 41 from Joseph to David) in which could have had been son-in-laws in the Luke 3 genealogy. There is no other data in the Bible on these remaining 14 generations to express a dogmatic view on the issue but the information from the prophecy of Zechariah seems to suggest that we should expect only one in the genealogy who is a son-in-law - Joseph.

Zechariah picked four names in correct order from the blood line of the Messiah 500 year before Jesus was born. Zechariah knew from other prophecies the Messiah was to come from the line of David. In 1 Chronicles 3:1-9 we find that David had at least 15 sons. So Zechariah correctly picked Nathan as the line in which the Messiah would come. He also correctly picked the names Levi and Shimei (Semei) to be part of that line in his prophecy. What are the odds?

The skeptic has his answer.

This Paper is Part1. To goto Part 2 see; The Lineage Loophole

© Copyright 1997, Trinity Consulting, All Rights Reserved.

For more papers on this and other related subjects;
Go back to the Main Page (XWALK.CA)


1. Mears, Henrietta C.,"What The Bible Is All About",G/L Publications 1953,1954,1960,1966, p.356-357, 396

Presented by Trinity Consulting