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Abstract

Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

     

Part V: The Genealogies of the Bible

Chapter 2

The Genealogies of the New Testament

     WE COME TO the genealogies of the New Testament. Most wonderful and most illuminating are these genealogies which establish the relationship of the Lord Jesus to the rest of the human family. It is no new discovery that each of the four Gospels appears to have been written and directed by the Holy Spirit with a particular type of audience in view. Matthew wrote for the Jewish people, presenting Jesus Christ as the Hope of Israel. Mark wrote for the common man, and in those days the common man meant virtually the slave, for the Roman Empire was a world in which a comparatively few were served by the vast majority, and that vast majority had little if any personal dignity. Mark presented the Lord as the Servant of Man par excellence. Luke wrote for the better-educated Gentile, for whom the great goal was to be "the cultured man" or in Greek terms, one whose disposition was characterized by the dual hallmark of a gentleman: "sweet reasonableness and appropriate seriousness." Luke therefore presented the Lord as the ideal man, the very Son of Man. These three, the so-called Synoptic Gospels, set their sights at the same level, playing between them a beautiful harmony of chords by taking care to note, with inspired wisdom, those things which Jesus said and did in his character as man though never failing to acknowledge his divinity. And finally, John built upon this concordant testimony to the perfection of the manhood of Jesus to show that part of the mystery of this perfection lay in the fact that He was not merely the Son of Man but also the Son of God.
     Each of these authors, if one may allow some liberty in the use of language, accompanied his record with an appropriate genealogy. In Matthew the line of Jesus Christ is traced forward from Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation. In Luke the line is traced back to Adam, as the father of the human race. In John the line

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is traced back into eternity with God. And what of Mark? How fitting that there should be no genealogy here: who cared whence his servant came? Slaves are not recorded, for records of this kind are kept only to establish rights. And so it is only in a manner of speaking that each of the Gospels has its appropriate form of genealogy, but the absence of a genealogy in Mark is a beautiful tribute to the underlying unity of Scripture and the perfect agreement between its parts.
     Sometimes this perfect agreement appears to be marred by contradiction, but I think it is an invariable rule that the apparent contradictions challenge us to resolve them and, in so doing, allow us to discover great truths which would not otherwise be discovered, but which are like a feast of fat things to the soul. This is never more true than in the case of the seeming inconsistencies between the genealogies given by Matthew and by Luke.
The easiest thing here is to assume either that one of them is wrong, or that both of them are. Needless to say, a great many writers who have casual respect for the Word of God have concluded just this. To quote one such writer:
(23)

     There can be no doubt that the anticipation that Christ would be descended from David was very general in our Lord's time (John 7:42, etc.). It is also clear that it was believed -- at least by the disciples -- that Jesus was indeed descended from him (Matthew 1:1; Acts 2:30; 12:23; Romans 1:3; Revelation 22:16, etc.). The genealogies in Matthew and Luke are apparently inserted to prove that this is a fact. But at first sight it would appear that the two genealogies are mutually destructive and that one or both are entirely untrustworthy. They both appear to be genealogies of Joseph, but they start from two different sons of David, and they end with the discrepancy, which cannot be ascribed to a copyist's error, in the name of Joseph's father.

     These genealogies are provided as an insert, since it is important to have the text; human nature being what it is, there may be a tendency for the reader not to take time (even if he does get out a Bible) to check back and forth from the one to the other as we study the two family trees.
     With this text before us, let us consider certain segments of these two genealogies under four headings:

1. Anomalies that appear within a genealogy itself;
2. Apparent conflicts with background information in the Old Testament;
3. Contradictions between the two genealogies;

23.  Crewdson, G., communication in Transactiions of the Victoria Institute, vol. 44, 1912, p.26.

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 4. Departures from the normal method of setting forth this kind of information in public          records of this kind.

Section 1: Anomalies That Appear Within a Genealogy Itself

     The number of names listed in Matthew's genealogy presents a problem, for we are informed that they total three times fourteen, or 42 in all (Matthew 1:17); but if we count them, there appear to be only 41. It is clear enough that there are 14 names from Abraham to David, and 14 names from Solomon to Jechonias, but unless we repeat Jechonias we have only 13 names for the balance. The only justification for repeating Jechonias is to make the assumption that this one name stands for two separate individuals whose original names may in their Hebrew form have been slightly different, but whose Hellenized transliteration has assumed the same form. Genealogical records provided elsewhere in Scripture supply us in a rather remarkable way with information demonstrating that this assumption is probably correct.
     To begin with, it will be noted in Matthew 1:11 that the first-mentioned Jechonias is said to have been accompanied by "his brethren". If this Jechonias is identified with Jehoiakim, he is in fact the immediate son of Josias, as Matthew tells us, and did indeed have brothers, as 1 Chronicles 3:15 informs us -- namely, Johanan, Zedekiah, and Shallum.
     This man Jehoiakim, in turn, had a son Jeconiah (I Chronicles 3:16), but this son did not have "brethren": he had only a single brother -- whose name happens also to have been Zedekiah (I Chronicles 3:16). Undoubtedly Jeconiah is to be identified with the Jechonias of Matthew 1:12, who became, as I Chronicles 3:17 assures us, the father of Salathiel (of Matthew 1:12).
     In other words, the first Jechonias of Matthew's genealogy is to be identified with the Jehoiakim who had three brothers. The second Jechonias of Matthew is to be identified with the Jeconiah who had only one brother and who went into captivity into Babylon and who there raised a son, Salathiel.
     All this makes perfectly good sense and restores the proper number of names to complete the tally of three times fourteen, provided that one understands that the two entries of the name "Jechonias" in Matthew do not represent one individual but two. The first is distinguished by having several brothers; the second bore Salathiel in captivity.

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    Not a few commentators who have little confidence in the Word of God have, in the past, taken the apparent discrepancy in the total count of generations -- along with the fact that Matthew omits a certain number of names (as we shall see in the following section) -- as a proof that Scripture is far from being historically accurate or consistent. The mathematical inconsistency here in Matthew's genealogy is apparent only and results from paying insufficient attention to the precise wording. This inattention is inevitable if one has only a low regard for the Word of God. But if we observe that the first Jechonias is said to have had brothers and the second Jechonias had only one brother, then the difference between the two is clear to the attentive eye. Indeed, what better assurance could God have supplied us as a means of identification and distinction, especially if He foresaw that the names which are so distinct in their Hebrew form should in due time become confused in the Greek?

Section 2: Apparent Conflicts Within Old Testament Background Information  

     By contrast with a fair proportion of Luke's genealogy, Matthew's genealogy is clearly derived from records which are still accessible to us from the Old Testament. Many of the names in Luke are not to be found there. This enables us to go back to the originals, as it were, and when we do this, we may be surprised to find that Matthew has omitted quite a number of names which by normal standards of keeping such records ought to have been included. The circumstance demonstrates rather clearly that Matthew's genealogy has a special character to it.
     Here we meet with a beautiful illustration of what is God's view of history as opposed to man's. While Matthew 1:8 counts Ozias (Uzziah in the Old Testament) as the son of Joram (Jehoram in the Old Testament),
1 Chronicles 3:11,12 shows that in actual fact he was not his son but his great-great grandson.
     When Jehoram came to the throne of Judah, Israel to the north was being led more and more deeply into wickedness by their worst king, Ahab, and his notorious queen, Jezebel. Jehoram shows the set of his sail by marrying their daughter, Athaliah. The history of the royal house of Judah then passes into one of its saddest phases: the immediate descendants of Athaliah and Jehoram became involved in a series of disastrous events which dreadfully fulfilled the judgment of God pronounced through Elijah (I Kings 21) against the line of Ahab and Jezebel, a judgment which persisted "unto the third and fourth generation".

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  When Jehoram died of some atrocious disease, as Elijah had warned him he would, his son (Ahaziah) came to the throne. Having aapparently learned absolutely nothing from the judgment which had befallen his father, Ahaziah proved himself an equally wicked monarch and was murdered in a popular uprising. His mother, Athaliah (Ahab's daughter, it will be remembered), perhaps in a fit of fury and remembering Elijah's judgment against her house, executed judgment herself upon it and set out to murder every remaining male of her father Ahab's line. But it happened that Ahaziah's youngest son, Joash, had a sister who was endeared to him; this sister managed to spirit him away and hide him, so that in due time he was unexpectedly brought out of hiding and, at the age of seven, presented to the people as their rightful king.
     Joash appears to have been a better man than his father or his grandfather. But whether by his very nature, or because the priesthood which should have aided and guided him was itself equally corrupt, he too failed to improve the spiritual life of the people he ruled. In due time Joash also became a prey to treachery, being murdered by his own servants while he was in bed.
     Joash was succeeded by his son Amaziah who, unlike his father, seems to have tried to do the right thing but, as Scripture says, "not with a perfect heart". After various intrigues and a fatal engagement with Israel,

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Amaziah departed entirely from the vision he once had and ended up a defeated man and a fugitive. Escaping from Jerusalem when he learned of a conspiracy against his life, he fled to Lachish. But they pursued him there, and there he too was murdered.
     Amaziah was succeeded by his son Uzziah, the "Ozias" whom Matthew in his genealogy sets forth as the son of Joram. In other words, three generations are missing, three generations of kings of Judah who, while they preserved intact the line of the Promised Seed, did not in themselves prove worthy to be remembered in it. Thus the curse pronounced upon the house of Ahab by Elijah, God's mouthpiece, persisted unto the fourth generation: Athaliah was the first generation of Ahab's line, Ahaziah was the second generation, Joash the third, and Amaziah the fourth. In the official temple records, it may be that the names of Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah were removed or marked in some way as having no official status in the royal line -- just as in Europe a Bar-Sinister may be marked across the arms of a dishonoured branch of a family.
     Evidently, at that period in history and for many centuries after, there was observed the practice of removing from all official records the names of individuals who had brought shame upon themselves. The Athenians, according to Livy, pronounced a similar doom on the memory of Alcibiades, and of Philip V of Macedon in the year 200 B.C.
(24) In Egypt during the time of the eighteenth dynasty, the Egyptian priests similarly cursed the memory of Amenhotep IV and sought to remove his name from all monuments. The same thing was done with the name of Hatshepsut by her successors.
     It is a curious thing how potent is the threat to the individual of having his very remembrance blotted out. It was called, in the days of Imperial Rome, the Damnatio Memoriae, and it was carried out in a striking manner against the emperor Commodus.
(25) His "memory was condemned" in a single night's sitting of the Senate within twenty-four hours of his death, the same night in which Pertinax was nominated as emperor. It was decreed that every statue of Commodus was to be destroyed and his name erased from every private document and public monument. One wonders what they did with his name on the document which ordered its removal!

24.  Livy, Book XXXI, Chap. 44: as quoted by A. S. Lewis, "The Genealogies of Our Lord," Transactions of the Victoria Institute, vol. 44, 19I2, p.12.
25.  Lucius Aurelius Commodus was surely the most degraded and utterly corrupt of all Roman emperors. His short history is disgusting, and it is some credit to the Romans that after his murder in A.D. 192, the Senate attempted to blot out his very memory.

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     It seems a reflection of something we find not infrequently in the Old Testament and even in the New. God had warned Israel "whoso sinneth against Me, him will I blot out of my book" (Exodus 32:33). The same thought is reflected in Deuteronomy 9:14; 25:19; 29:20; and in 2 Kings 14:27. In Psalm 9:5 we read, "Thou hast rebuked the nations, Thou hast destroyed the wicked, Thou hast blotted out their name forever and ever." This is repeated in Psalm 69:28: "Let them be blotted out of the Book of Life." By contrast is the promise to the redeemed in Revelation 3:5, "I will in no wise blot out his name from the Book of Life." So in effect, when God assures David that He will blot out his sins and remember them no more, He is saying that they shall be as though they had never been. And in the genealogy which leads from Abraham to Christ, these three men -- Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah -- are blotted out as though they had never been and it seems therefore that if this erasure of their names took place in the original official documents which had been preserved in the temple from time immemorial, Matthew may have merely copied down precisely what he found in the record.
     Some authorities wonder where either Matthew or Luke obtained his genealogy, since they believe that all such records were lost in the destruction of the first temple. However, it is generally agreed that a knowledge of one's genealogy was of very great importance in every Jewish family even when they went into exile, because it was only on the basis of this information that the Promised Land could be divided justly. With the ready means that we today have available for keeping written records, our faculty for remembering may have suffered in some respects. But where written record is more difficult to secure, prodigious feats of memory are not infrequently observed. Native people have been reported by missionaries to have memorized whole books of the New Testament, apparently without too much difficulty. And it is well-known that the Arab youth was formerly -- and perhaps still is -- expected to be able to recite his own genealogy for seventy generations. When an Australian aborigine comes unexpectedly upon another family's camp, he sits down some distance away from it until an elder from the camp comes out to him. Thereupon the two will recite their genealogies until they strike a common ancestor, and when this has been done, the stranger will be invited in and introduced with the proper identification as to his relationship, so that everybody else in the camp will know how to address him correctly, and he them.
     Josephus speaks of the great care which the Jewish people in his day took to preserve certain lines,

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in particular the royal line from David and the royal priesthood. Julius African (26) says that Herod the Great caused as many official registers as he could get hold of to be burned, because he himself was of a plebeian family and he wanted to conceal from the Roman emperor the fact that he had no blood relationship with either the royal line of David or the priestly line of Levi. But it seems unlikely that he could destroy them all, and the existence of private family registers is proved by the discovery of Aramaic documents concerning the Jewish colony which existed between 471 and 411 B.C. at Elephantine near Assoun. This is, of course, much earlier than Herod, but it shows that some genealogical information survived outside of Palestine even if Herod was fairly successful locally. According to a fairly recent Jewish Encyclopedia, (27) we are told that in the Talmudic Age -- i.e., subsequent to Herod's time -- interest in preservation of genealogies was lessened, but the patriarchs in Palestine and the exiled patriarchs in Babylon down to the thirteenth century kept these records alive wherever possible, and the former were believed to possess, interestingly enough, unbroken descent from David in the male line only. This is a point of some interest in view of the fact that Luke's genealogy is widely considered to be that of Mary.
     By the omission of these three names, we have an illustration of a point made much of by those who wish to extend the chronology of the Bible sufficiently to accommodate current views of the antiquity of man which demand anywhere from 200,000 to 500,000 years. The claim is that these genealogies do not supply us with an unbroken series of generations because there are known gaps, such as that in Matthew 1:8, which makes a great-great-grandson a son, thus skipping three generations.
     What is never admitted by those who attempt thus to extend the biblical chronology is that the possibility of arguing for such gaps exists only because elsewhere in Scripture the gaps are filled in. Had we only a single genealogy for example (for some particular period), we would have no evidence that gaps existed in it. It is only when the same period is supplied elsewhere with genealogical material (which neither provides us with more generations for the same period, or with fewer generations for the same period) that we can say with any certainty that a genealogy may be presented which is not actually complete though it has the appearance in itself of being so. It is perfectly true that when we are told that such-and-such a man is the "son" of some other individual, we are not always to assume that it means sonship in our more limited sense, since Ozias was the

26.  Africanus: quoted by Eusebius, History of the Church, 1,7.
27.  "Genealogy," in Standard Jewish Encyclopedia, Doubleday, New York, 1962.

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son of Jehoram only in the sense of being a descendant.
     But this surely does not allow us to assume that, wherever we decide it would be convenient, we are free to insert an unlimited number of generations merely because the word son has this wider meaning. The fact is that in the historical portions of Scripture -- that is, in those parts of the Bible which detail the lives and doings of individuals -- we can find no break anywhere in the record in the historical account itself. People's doings are set forth relatedly so that one gets the feeling -- which undoubtedly results from the fact that this is a continuous record -- that each succeeding generation picked up the historical threads of those who immediately preceded them and united the past and the future by their own doings. This is manifestly true even in the very earliest parts of Scripture which record the growth of civilization before the Flood as well as its recovery immediately after it. Moreover, as we have seen, there are chronological cross-ties in the record wherever the line from the first Adam to the Last Adam is being traced. The omission of these three names from Matthew's genealogy does not give us permission to take liberties with the genealogies, but only teaches us that God discounts entirely and blots out of history whatever has come under his judgment. This is an unhappy thing for those who have not experienced redemption, but it is wonderfully reassuring to those who have, since by his gracious action in so doing, the redeemed can have nothing to fear in the judgment, for there will be no record against them.
     Another example of apparent conflict appears in Matthew 1:7, which tells us that Solomon begat Rehoboam who begat Abia who begat Asa. In I Kings 14:31 we are told that when Rehoboam died, his son Abijam (to be identified with the Greek form Abia of Matthew) reigned in his stead. In I Kings 15:2 we are told that Abijam's mother's name was Maachah, and that she was the daughter of Abishalom. In 2 Chronicles 11:20,21 this individual, Abishalom, is named alternatively as Absalom. Jewish tradition identifies this Absalom as David's son - which is quite possible, since David bore Absalom by a woman named Maachah -- and this would account for Absalom's naming his daughter after the mother. Now, in Matthew, Asa is said to have been Abia's son with which I Kings 15:8 agrees -- for it says that when Abijam died, his son Asa reigned in his stead. But the curious thing is that the record in Kings goes on to say that he reigned for forty-one years in Jerusalem after succeeding to the throne, and "his mother's name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom." Thus Asa who was the son

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of Abia nevertheless appears from the text to have had the same mother. It is conceivable, of course, in a case of incest, but this is certainly not true here, otherwise Matthew's genealogy would surely have omitted one of the names at least, if not both -- for such a thing as incest was an abomination in the sight of the Lord. The explanation is undoubtedly that Maachah was indeed the mother of Abia and the grandmother of Asa. Thus, while -- as we have already seen -- a son or a grandson may look back to a common father, similarly a son or a grandson may evidently look back to a common mother. Indeed, in I Kings 15:8,11 Asa is said to have been the son of both Abijab his father and the son of David, the latter being more precisely his great-great-grandfather.

This is the simplest way to reconcile 2 Chronicles 13:2 with I Kings 15:2. In 2 Chronicles 13:2 Abijah's mother's name is also spelled "Michaiah", where she is given as the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. Therefore Absalom must have married a girl from Gibeah named Uriel (even though the name Uriel is otherwise used of men only), for in I Kings 15:2 Abijah is said to have been the son of Maachah the daughter of Absalom. 

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    Working out these little problems not merely enlarges one's understanding of the relationship of these peoples, but somehow makes the individuals live, as a map makes places live that we have once visited. And if it is not irreverent to say so, finding solutions is like finding a missing piece in a jigsaw puzzle or a missing word in a crossword puzzle -- it provides genuine intellectual satisfaction.


Section 3: Contradictions Between The Two Genealogies 

     Luke provides us with a line from Adam to David, a section of the genealogy which is not found in Matthew, for reasons already noted, and which therefore in no way conflicts with it. But from David forward to Jesus there are disagreements almost all the way along.
     Needless to say, these disagreements were once made much of by those who held a low opinion of the integrity of Scripture. But in due time these very disagreements led to a search for some means of reconciliation, and this search proved fruitful because it brought to light a further truth which might otherwise have escaped notice entirely. Now that the truth is recognized, there seem to be many incidental confirmations of it from other parts of Scripture; but these confirmations were not recognized as such until the truth they confirmed had itself been rediscovered.
     This discovery is that Luke's genealogy traces the line of Mary, not of Joseph. Thus, at the very beginning of Luke's record -- a record which sets the names in the reverse order from that given in Matthew -- we meet with the first "contradiction": namely, that Joseph was the son of Heli, whereas Matthew says that Joseph was the son of Jacob. Although some of the early Church Fathers perceived that this was Mary's pedigree, they did not apparently make the discovery that in the Talmud, Jewish tradition held that Mary was the daughter of Heli (Beth-Heli).
(28) Early Christian writers held that Mary was the daughter of Joiakim and Anna. But the name Joiakim is interchangeable with Eliakim, as 2 Chronicles 36:4 shows, and Eli or Heli is an abridgment of Eliakim. It is thus quite possible that the early Christian tradition is in perfect harmony with that of the Jewish people themselves whose knowledge would be based on temple records. This is undoubtedly the basis of the early

28.  Jerusalem Talmud, Haggigah, Book 77,4.

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assurance that Jesus was, in the flesh, of the seed of David. In the annunciation (Luke 1:32), the promised Saviour is called at once "Son of God" and "Son of David": Son of God by virtue of his conception by the Holy Spirit, and Son of David by virtue of his birth through Mary. This should therefore be compared with Romans 1:3,4, in which we are told that He who was God's Son was "born of the seed of David according to the flesh and declared to be the Son of God with power. . . . " Later on, in his confrontation with the Jewish authorities, Jesus answered a question which had probably arisen from the fact that, while they recognized the validity of his lineal claim to being David's son through Mary, they would not recognize his further claim to being the Son of God. He pointed out to them from Psalm 110:1 that while the Messiah was indeed to be David's son, David nevertheless called Him "Lord". They had no answer to this. The Lord's argument could only have real force if the people to whom it was addressed recognized his claim as the son of Mary who was a daughter of David.
Why, then, is Mary's name not included in Luke's genealogy? Undoubtedly, to establish a legal pedigree it is necessary to set down the name of the head of the household -- in this case, of course, Joseph. At the same time, according to the Jewish way of thinking -- and indeed, according to the common practice of many other societies -- the man who married could claim his wife's father as his own. We ourselves recognize this right, only we make the distinction of saying "father-in-law" -- rather than "father". There are a number of examples in Scripture where this principle is followed.
     In I Chronicles 2:31 we have an illustration of this practice of naming another as the father. In this instance it will be observed that son succeeded "son" until we come to Ahlai, whom we know had a daughter but not a son. Meanwhile Ahlai had an Egyptian servant named Jarha and, as was not altogether unusual at that time, he gave his daughter to him as a wife. But from then on the children are still credited to him as his descendants -- that is, members of his own line through his daughter -- and therefore listed as his sons and grandsons. Thus the children of his daughter are listed as his children rather than the children of his daughter's husband, and they in their turn would look back to him as their ultimate father. Of necessity, Jarha would therefore be accounted as Sheshan's son. The following genealogy sets this forth:

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     The manner in which Joseph's name is introduced in Luke's genealogy is also exceptional. Whereas each man in the line is said to have been, simply, "of" his father, Jesus is said to have been the son "nominally" of Joseph -- such is the Greek which the Authorized Version renders "as was supposed". The verbal root of this qualifying term is nomidzo, which has the sense of legal standing or standing established by custom: it is cognate with the root which gave rise to the English form "nominal". Thus it was clearly recognized that Jesus was the son of Joseph legally, but not necessarily by natural generation. This claim is accepted without question in John 6:42, "whose mother and father we know."
     When a man wished to identify as his son one who was not his son by natural generation, he could do so by a process of legal adoption which involved two acts. In the first place, he must name the child. Evidently the name "Jesus" was registered as the child's name by Joseph in obedience to the angel's instructions in Matthew 1:21. These instructions, it will be noted, were given by the angel directly to Joseph himself rather than to Mary. The significance of this from the legal point of view is great. Although Joseph appears to have predeceased Mary, it does not appear that anyone ever seriously challenged his familial rights.
     The second requirement has an interesting history to it. It is well-known that the Code of Hammurabi played an important part in structuring much of the social custom of the Jewish people, since it was the legal

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code in force at the time of Abraham. In section 188 of this code it is written: "If an artisan takes a son to sonship and teaches him his handicraft, no one may bring a claim for him". Evidently Joseph taught Jesus to be a carpenter in fulfillment of this recognized requirement, a guarantee which would stand even if the records in the temple were destroyed. It was a kind of double insurance of legal status. A comparison of Matthew 13:55 with Mark 6:3 shows that both father and son were carpenters. Matthew 11:30 tells us something of his skill!
Thus, although Mary in her own right could claim descent from David through Heli her father, the temple record could not enter her name in the line but must enter the name of her husband, the adopting father of her child. So when Luke copied out this record, he quite properly omitted Mary's name and substituted that of Joseph.
We have, therefore, a genealogy from David to Mary preserved, presumably, in the family of Heli and perhaps actually in their possession -- for as we have already noted previously; long after the temple was destroyed with all its records, there still existed families who claimed descent from David and claimed it, significantly, in the female line. On this account the names in Luke's Gospel from David forward do not coincide (except at one point) with the names in Matthew's Gospel. David had three sons of note -- namely, Solomon, Absolon, and Nathan -- and it is in the line of Nathan that Mary's claim is established.
     In Luke 3:28 we have "Melchi"; in Luke 3:27 his son is given as "Neri"; and his son, in turn, is given as Salathiel followed by Zorobabel and then Rhesa. At this point we have some apparent connections with the genealogy in Matthew's Gospel, for in Matthew 1:12 we have Jechonias whose son was Salathiel followed by Zorobabel. When we turn to the Old Testament to find out what this uniting of the two families signifies, we find ourselves with insufficient information to provide an unequivocal answer -- but just enough to allow a reconstruction which, in the light of what we have already observed of the way in which relationships are acknowledged, has a fair degree of probability about it. The Jechonias of Matthew 1:12 was, as we have seen, the king who terminated the Judean royal line when these unfortunate people went into captivity. Although he is stated to have been still a child, he survived long enough in captivity to reach a marriageable age; he evidently was later accorded kingly status -- a not unusual circumstance in those days -- for the girl he married is called (in Jeremiah 29:2) "his queen". Scripture has taken care to provide us with very concrete information to this

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effect (2 Kings 25:27-30) as though God foresaw that one day this information would be important.
     Now, to bring the two genealogies at this point into harmony, it is only necessary to assume that Neri of Luke 3:27 also went into captivity and there raised both sons and daughters, and that one of these daughters became the wife and queen of Jechonias. This is a most reasonable assumption really, because, if Neri was known to be of the royal line through Nathan (and Nehemiah 7:5 shows that at least some genealogies had been saved in spite of the conquest of Judah), then who would be more proper as the wife of the still-acknowledged king than a daughter of the royal line? Of this marriage, Jechonias had a son (among others) whose name was Salathiel (I Chronicles 3:17) and besides Salathiel he had also a second son named Pedaiah. In I Chronicles 3:19 Pedaiah had a son named Zerubbabel (the "Zorobabel" of the New Testament). Thus Salathiel was, in fact, properly called the son of Jechonias but also the son of Neri through the latter's daughter. The two lines from David through Solomon and through Nathan meet in Salathiel by this device. Salathiel's brother, Pedaiah, though not mentioned in either of the New Testament genealogies, appears to have exercised the right of the Levirate upon the early death of his brother Salathiel, and to have taken his wife, by whom he raised up to Salathiel's line a son named Zorobabel.
     In Zorobabel we again meet with an example of a man's children being traced through their mother's father. Zorobabel had both sons and daughters, but the male seed for some unknown reason came to an end, thus fulfilling the prophecy made in Jeremiah 22:30 that no man of Jechonias' seed "should sit on the throne of David". We are, however, given his daughter's name in I Chronicles 3:19 as "Shelomith". We have only to make one further assumption, namely, that this girl married the Rhesa of Luke 3:17 and had of this union two sons -- Abiud of Matthew 1:13 and Joanna of Luke 3:17 -- and the rest makes perfectly good sense and the two genealogies are reconciled, the one with the other.
     By this means -- always bearing in mind the manner of stating relationships which was allowable -- we can see how, according to Matthew, Jechonias had a son Salathiel and Salathiel had a son (via his brother Pedaiah) Zorobabel, and Zorobabel a son (actually a grandchild through his daughter Shelomith) named Abiud, and thence down to Joseph: and at the same time, according to Luke, how Neri could have a son Salathiel (actually his grandson), who had a son Zorobabel (again, in fact a grandson), who had a son Rhesa (actually his  

     pg.15 of 18     


son-in-law, as Joseph was Heli's son-in-law), and Rhesa a son, Joanna by his wife Shelomith who was a daughter of Zorobabel, and thence down to Heli.
     This sounds terribly complicated, but the full genealogical table (see file Adam.html) which gives both lines, will show that all the requirements of all that we know, both from the Old and the New Testament, seem to be satisfied.
     There are no conflicts either between the Old and the New Testament records or between Matthew and  

     pg.16 of 18     


Luke. The validity of the claim that Jesus was the promised Messiah as the Son of David, the Seed of the Woman as virgin-born through Mary, the Saviour of mankind as the Son of Man (from Adam) and the Son of God (as conceived supernaturally by the Holy Spirit) is assured on every ground.
     Undoubtedly a study of the genealogies requires considerable effort, perhaps more effort (or at least a different kind of effort) from that which normally proves most fruitful when expended elsewhere in Bible study. But it is well worth it and brings with it a peculiar intellectual satisfaction.


                      Section 4: Departures From the Usual Way of Setting Forth a Genealogy

     The fundamental departure found in Luke's Gospel, is that in this genealogy we are not presented at the top of the page with the oldest antecedent followed by father, sons, grandsons, and so on, but rather with the latest in the line, who is then by a simple device traced backwards -- whereas all other genealogies trace forward. Why was this order adopted?
     There is a second departure, namely, that whereas Matthew and John both commence their history by establishing the pedigree, Luke covers briefly but effectively a period of some thirty years in the life of the Lord before saying who He is in terms of his antecedents.
     It is not until this time -- when Jesus, being now about thirty years of age, has been identified by John as the "Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world" and singularly considered by God in heaven as His beloved Son in whom He is well pleased -- that Luke sets forth his lineage, showing in effect that though the circumstances of Jesus' birth were such as to set Him apart from all other men, yet He was nevertheless truly representative of man in Adam.
     The genealogy of Matthew reads forward from Abraham to Jesus, identifying Him as the Child of Promise. Promises are always of the future, and Matthew wished above all to establish from the very first that Jesus was the Christ, the fulfillment of this promise. He wanted to show the grounds upon which Jesus established his title as the Messiah, and his Gospel thereafter presents His credentials as the Son of David.
     Luke, on the other hand, wished to show the potential of man, the model which God had in mind from which all other men derive whatever of manhood they happen to have. Hence he begins with Jesus and  

     pg.17 of 18     


appropriately gives Him alone, above all others, the title "Son of Man", and then he traces Him back to Adam, in whose place He stood.
    Thus Matthew begins with Abraham and leads us forward to the Lord, whom he identifies by his title, "the Christ" (Matthew 1:17); whereas Luke begins with the Lord, whom he identifies by his name, "Jesus" (Luke 3:23), and leads us back to Adam and so to God.


     Viewed as vehicles for conveying information, the genealogies of the Bible are supportive of one another. Were it not for the genealogical material in the Old Testament, the genealogies in the New Testament would be without historical foundation; and were it not for the genealogies in the New Testament, the genealogical material of the Old, preserved with such precision, would be without point. One set of data looks forward, and one looks backward. Each is required to complete the other. Just as we are learning, contrary to earlier expectations, that there are no useless or vestigial organs in the body, so we shall learn, perhaps contrary to present expectation, that there are no useless entries in the Word of God. All Scripture is given by inspiration and is profitable. . . .    (2 Tim. 3:16). The brief treatment of the genealogies in this Paper barely scratches the surface of only a few of them. There is yet much to be discovered, enough undoubtedly to keep a man occupied for a lifetime. 

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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