How can Jesus be the son of David from the tribe of Judah ?
One of the main objections used against Jesus being the Messiah, often by those of the Jewish faith, is that if Jesus was “conceived” of God through the holy spirit and did not indeed have a physical earthly human father then this rather than supporting the claim of Messiahship, would actually disqualify Jesus from being the prophesied Jewish Messiah. This objection is based predominantly on 2 points.
The first being that the Messiah, who was to be king of Israel would be of the tribe of Judah seeing that it was declared that the sceptre would not depart from Judah.
Genesis 49-10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
So with Jesus having no earthly father this would mean Jesus had no tribal affiliation to Judah, or any tribe for that matter, as Jewish tribal affiliation is passed down through the father, therefore as Jesus had no earthly father to pass down that tribal affiliation to Jesus, Jesus could not have been of the tribe of Judah.
If Jesus was not of Judah then he could not be king!
The second part of the argument being that the Messiah would be from the line of David. God made a promise to king David regarding the kingdom that it would be one of his physical seed that would be the one who would reign as king of Israel.
2 Samuel 7-12 And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.
Jesus could not be a son of David, having no earthly father he would have no physical lineage that would trace back to King David and therefore he could not be called the son of David. Again it is the Jewish claim that to be a son of (a direct descendant) then this must be and can only be through the father. As Jesus did not have an earthly father this would exclude Jesus from being a son of David and thus this would again invalidate the claim that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah.
If Jesus was not of the line of David then he could not be the one God would establish the kingdom through !
These arguments themselves actually only work if we use the fact Jesus didn’t have an earthly father and was in fact supernaturally born of God. Now even if it could be proven that this disqualified Jesus as the Jewish Messiah it would even in the argument against Messiahship, emulate Jesus as a super naturally conceived man of God and therefore at the very least would make him worthy of such recognition, something that the Jews do not do. But anyway let’s get back to the objections themselves.
The New Testament states that Jesus was BOTH from the Tribe of Judah
Hebrews 7-14 For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.
And that he was called the son of David
Matthew 1-1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
So how can Jesus who the Bible says was born of a virgin conceived of through the holy spirit and therefore had no earthly father, indeed be from the tribe of Judah and also a son of David.
Many people have “answered” or attempted to answer these objections. There are in fact many different answers that have been given. Some people have accepted these answers and some have rejected them. In this writing I will deal with both of these objections and offer my own “answer”. To some this may be just another failed attempt to try and justify the acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah. Hopefully though I will actually do what I have set out to do and use the SCRIPTURES themselves to prove that Jesus was both from the tribe of Judah and the line of David and therefore would support his claim to be the Jewish Messiah.
I’m going to start with the genealogy of Jesus as given in the books of Matthew and Luke. There are 2 completely different genealogies given for Jesus in these 2 accounts (often used to show a contradiction in the Bible by uninformed people). It is generally accepted by most scholars that Matthew traces the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph (his supposed father) while Luke traces his genealogy through Mary. This I believe is actually correct and we will also look at the reasons why this is the case. However this fact is often INCORRECTLY then used to try to prove that Jesus was from Judah and from the line of David through Joseph.
When we look at Joseph’s genealogy we will notice that Joseph was BOTH of the tribe of Judah and also a descendant of David.
Matthew 1-2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; 3And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; 4And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; 5And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; 6And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; 7 And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa; 8And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias; 9And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias; 10 And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias; 11And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:
12And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel; 13And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor; 14 And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud; 15And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; 16And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
Now obviously we know that Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus, even in this genealogy Matthew has to use the fact that Joseph was the husband of Mary of whom was born Jesus in order to connect Joseph to Jesus, and therefore Joseph’s genealogy is not actually that of Jesus.
However when trying to give an answer as to how Jesus could be of the tribe of Judah and the line of David it is the genealogy of Joseph as stated in Matthew that is often used. The claim being that Joseph was the adoptive father of Jesus and so Jesus would have inherited both his tribal affiliation to Judah and his being the son of David through his adoptive father Joseph.
Simple. Or is it? If it were that simple then surely all Jews would be embracing Jesus as the Messiah, we know that this is not the case. Firstly nowhere in the Bible does it say that Joseph adopted Jesus. This is read into the text. We can conclude that Joseph would have brought Jesus up as his son,
Matthew 13-55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?.
But this does not necessarily mean that Joseph adopted Jesus. There are many arguments regarding whether adoption was even practiced at the time of Jesus in Jewish circles. Furthermore on closer inspection of Joseph’s genealogy we see that Joseph’s lineage from David included Jechonias.
The line of king Jechonias was cursed by God due to his wickedness which is told of in Jeremiah 22 and God stated that NO one from his seed would sit on the throne of David
Jeremiah 22- 30 Thus saith the LORD, Write ye 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 any more in Judah.
Therefore had Joseph been able to pass down his tribal affiliation to Jesus and Jesus would have been from the tribe of Judah through adoption he would not have been able to sit upon the throne as he would also have been of the lineage that included Jechonias which in itself would have disqualified Jesus as the Messiah. But even more the promise to David was that one of his SEED would be given the kingdom. There really is no getting around the fact that even if Jesus was the adopted son of Joseph and was a son of David through this adoption he would not have been nor could have been an actual physical seed of David and this would most certainly would negate his claim.
Rather than trying to show how Jesus was the son of David of the tribe of Judah through Joseph, Matthew who was writing to the Jews wrote his genealogy to specifically show that Joseph was NOT the father of Jesus neither did Jesus obtain his tribal affiliation or his right to the throne through Joseph.
Matthew states that each father begat the son. The word is egennēsen ἐγέννησεν and means to begat, to bring forth.
Matthew is very clearly showing that the person begat is a literal offspring of the one begetting and not simply a descendent of. Joseph is the BEGOTTEN son of Jacob. Jacob was Joseph’s literal father.
Jesus is the only one in this list for whom begat is not used.
Matthew started his book by calling Jesus the son of David.
Matthew 1-1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
But then Matthew deliberately went on to show that this was not and could not have been through Joseph. WHY?
So that people could not incorrectly use this argument, God did not sneak Jesus onto the throne through the back door on a technicality. The fact is that Jesus obtained his tribal affiliation and his lineage to David through the only way he could, from his blood Grandfather Heli through his mother Mary.
It’s not a surprise then that straight after this genealogy list Matthew goes straight into the description of the virgin birth. In Matthew 1-18 through 25
When we look at the genealogy in Luke which is through Mary we will see that Joseph is referred to as the SON of Heli. How do we know that this was Mary’s and not Josephs genealogy? We already know from Matthew that Jacob was the physical father of Joseph. Joseph is not referred to as the begotten son of Heli. In Jewish tradition women are not mentioned in genealogies only the man. How then would it be possible to trace a womans lineage? You would use the name of her husband which is exactly what Luke does. When we look in the Greek we see that there is the use of the definite article before each name, THE Heli, THE Matthat. All names have this definitive article EXCEPT one, that of Josephs. When this would have been read it would have been very clear that it was NOT Joseph that was being referred to as the son of Heli but Mary. Luke keeping to the Jewish tradition used the name of her husband. Heli was the father in law of Joseph. This would have made Joseph a son of although not the physical son of Heli. Heli was the physical father of Mary as attested to by the Jewish Jerusalem Talmud (Chag. 77,4 )
Jesus was the (supposed) son of Joseph but not the son of.
Luke 3- 23 And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, 24 Which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Janna, which was the son of Joseph, 25 Which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Amos, which was the son of Naum, which was the son of Esli, which was the son of Nagge, 26 Which was the son of Maath, which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Semei, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Juda, 27 Which was the son of Joanna, which was the son of Rhesa, which was the son of Zorobabel, which was the son of Salathiel, which was the son of Neri, 28 Which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Addi, which was the son of Cosam, which was the son of Elmodam, which was the son of Er, 29 Which was the son of Jose, which was the son of Eliezer, which was the son of Jorim, which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, 30 Which was the son of Simeon, which was the son of Juda, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Jonan, which was the son of Eliakim, 31 Which was the son of Melea, which was the son of Menan, which was the son of Mattatha, which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David, 32 Which was the son of Jesse, which was the son of Obed, which was the son of Booz, which was the son of Salmon, which was the son of Naasson, 33 Which was the son of Aminadab, which was the son of Aram, which was the son of Esrom, which was the son of Phares, which was the son of Juda, 34 Which was the son of Jacob, which was the son of Isaac, which was the son of Abraham, which was the son of Thara, which was the son of Nachor, 35 Which was the son of Saruch, which was the son of Ragau, which was the son of Phalec, which was the son of Heber, which was the son of Sala, 36 Which was the son of Cainan, which was the son of Arphaxad, which was the son of Sem, which was the son of Noe, which was the son of Lamech, 37 Which was the son of Mathusala, which was the son of Enoch, which was the son of Jared, which was the son of Maleleel, which was the son of Cainan, 38 Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.
Here we see that Mary was both from the tribe of Judah and from the line of David. Mary was a physical descendant of King David. As Mary was the physical mother of Jesus, Jesus was a physical descendant of David. And also his mother was of Judah as her father Heli was from Judah, Jesus was of Judah.
But this brings us back full circle to the original objections, tribal affiliation and descendancy is passed down through the father. So have I just actually supported the objections? NO what I did is simply remove an incorrect answer that the Jews can see straight through and brought us back to the actual answer that was there all the time but is rejected by the Jews.
The problem isn’t with the very simple and obvious answer to the objection, the fault lies in the objection itself. It is the objection that is incorrect. It actually relies on an incorrect understanding that it is ONLY through the father that these attributes can be passed on.
Jesus showed on numerous occasions that the Jewish authorities had incorrect interpretation of their scriptures.
Matthew 22-29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.
Matthew actually included woman in his genealogy, including Tamar, Rahab and Ruth.
This was to show that it was not just the man who could pass on tribal affiliation or descendancy.
Jews will go to the book of Numbers to show that tribal affiliation must come through the father
Numbers 1-18 And they assembled all the congregation together on the first day of the second month, and they declared their pedigrees after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, by their polls.
And this is true, in NORMAL situations. However this is not all the Bible has to say on this matter. In fact the question was actually dealt with in a passage in the book of Numbers where the daughters of Zelophehad came to Moses regarding their father who had died but had no son. They asked why his name should not continue seeing he had no son to carry on his name.
Numbers 27- 1 Then came the daughters of Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of Manasseh the son of Joseph: and these are the names of his daughters; Mahlah, Noah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Tirzah. 2And they stood before Moses, and before Eleazar the priest, and before the princes and all the congregation, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying, 3 Our father died in the wilderness, and he was not in the company of them that gathered themselves together against the LORD in the company of Korah; but died in his own sin, and had no sons. 4 Why should the name of our father be done away from among his family, because he hath no son? Give unto us thereforea possession among the brethren of our father.
Moses took their cause to the LORD.
Numbers 27- 5 And Moses brought their cause before the LORD.
The LORD then stated that they were correct and that the daughters could be counted and could continue on their father’s name. In fact God went into more detail regarding the passing on the name.
Numbers 27- 6 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 7The daughters of Zelophehad speak right: thou shalt surely give them a possession of an inheritance among their father’s brethren; and thou shalt cause the inheritance of their father to pass unto them. 8 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a man die, and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter. 9 And if he have no daughter, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his brethren. 10And if he have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his father’s brethren. 11 And if his father have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his kinsman that is next to him of his family, and he shall possess it: and it shall be unto the children of Israel a statute of judgment, as the LORD commanded Moses.
Further on in the book of Numbers we see protection for woman who would pass on their family name and inheritance. Their inheritance was not to be lost if they married.
Numbers 36-1 1 And the chief fathers of the families of the children of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of the sons of Joseph, came near, and spake before Moses, and before the princes, the chief fathers of the children of Israel: 2 And they said, The LORD commanded my lord to give the land for an inheritance by lot to the children of Israel: and my lord was commanded by the LORD to give the inheritance of Zelophehad our brother unto his daughters. 3 And if they be married to any of the sons of the other tribes of the children of Israel, then shall their inheritance be taken from the inheritance of our fathers, and shall be put to the inheritance of the tribe whereunto they are received: so shall it be taken from the lot of our inheritance. 4 And when the jubile of the children of Israel shall be, then shall their inheritance be put unto the inheritance of the tribe whereunto they are received: so shall their inheritance be taken away from the inheritance of the tribe of our fathers.
We get another example of a genealogy being passed through a daughter in 1 Chronicles chapter 2 where Sheshan had no sons but his genealogy is continued through his daughter Ahli (verse 31)
1 Chronicles 2- 34Now Sheshan had no sons, but daughters. And Sheshan had a servant, an Egyptian, whose name was Jarha. 35 And Sheshan gave his daughter to Jarha his servant to wife; and she bare him Attai.36And Attai begat Nathan, and Nathan begat Zabad, all of which were counted as of the kingly line of Judah.
When we look at verse 31 where we are told the name of Sheshan’s Daughter the word translated as children is the Hebrew word ū-ḇə-nê וּבְנֵ֥י which means SON
1 Chronicles 2-31 And the sons of Appaim; Ishi. And the sons of Ishi; Sheshan. And the children of Sheshan; Ahlai
This is the EXACT same word translated as sons for the others mentioned. Ahlai was considered a “son” when it came to the lineage of Sheshan.
Not only does the BIBLE say that the line could be passed through the mother and not the father only, in certain circumstances and there was certainly a circumstance that would warrant this in the case of a virgin birth, more importantly this is how God himself had already deemed it to be in the case of the Messiah. This is actually a fulfillment of a prophecy that goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden where God told the serpent that the seed of the woman would bruise his head.
Genesis 3-15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
The Messiah was always going to be the seed of the woman. Jesus is that seed. Anyone who ignores this is doing so through ignorance or their own personal denial.
Mary was told before Jesus was Born, that Jesus would be given the throne of his father David. Jesus received divine appointment to the throne.
Luke 1-32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
Jesus questioned the Jewish authorities understanding regarding the Messiah and being the son of David. He showed them that the Messiah was not just a son of David but was to be GREATER than David. Jesus quotes
Psalms 110-1 A Psalm of David. The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
Luke 20-41 And he said unto them, How say they that Christ is David’s son?
42And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
43 Till I make thine enemies thy footstool. 44 David therefore calleth him Lord, how is he then his son?
Mark 12- 35 And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David?
36For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.
37David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly.
To which they had no answer.
The Bible tells us that God himself has made Jesus that Lord.
Acts 2-36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
Jesus was through his mother Mary from the tribe of his grandfather Heli, the tribe of Judah, and a physical son of David. Jesus was also made the Lord of David. Jesus was the Messiah.