The Genealogy of Messiah
James Scott Trimm
There have been a number of teachings going around, which allege that the genealogies of Matthew 1 and Luke 3 are both those of Yosef (Joseph), and in some versions of the teaching, that Miriam (Mary) was a Levite.
This teaching came up at our Sukkot gathering this last year, and I have seen it come up recently in the archive of our NazareneSpace chat room.
It is a simple matter to show that the two genealogies given of Yeshua in Matthew and Luke cannot be through the same parent (or step parent).
A quick look at the genealogy shows that the names are the same until we get to King David, then they diverge completely:
|Matt. 1||Luke 3|
This shows clearly that one genealogy follows a line that passes from David to his son Solomon and then to the line of kings. The other line passes through another of David’s sons: Nathan. Both genealogies cannot be for the same parent, and both trace back to the Tribe of Judah.
Anti-missionaries like Tovia Singer love to attack the genealogy of Yeshua. The reason is that the genealogy of the Messiah is critical, and Yeshua fit these criteria perfectly.
The Tanak gives the following criteria for the genealogy of Messiah.
First off Messiah must be “seed” of Abraham:
19 And Elohim said: Nay, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Yitz’chak. And I will establish My covenant with him, for an everlasting covenant for his seed after him.
And he must descend from Isaac:
17 I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. There shall step forth a star out of Ya’akov, and a scepter shall rise out of Yisra’el, and shall smite through the corners of Mo’av, and break down all the sons of Shet.
And he must be of the Tribe of Judah:
10 The scepter shall not depart from Y’hudah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes. And unto him, shall the obedience of the peoples be.
Who is this “Shiloh”?
This Gemara also asks “What is Messiah’s name?” Rabbi Shila offers the answer: “His name is Shiloh, for it is written, ‘until Shiloh comes.” (b.San. 98b)
The Targums (Onkelos, Pseudo-Jonathan and Yerushalmi) all have “until Messiah comes” in place of “until Shiloh comes”.
The word “Shiloh” has a gematria (numerical value) of 345 which is the same as the value of “HaShem” (“the name”) and El Shaddai. The phrase “Shiloh comes” has a gematria of 358 which is the same as the gematria for “Messiah and “Moses” (because the Messiah is “the prophet like Moses” (Deut. 18:18) (see my recent article A Prophet Like Moses http://nazarenespace.com/profiles/blogs/a-prophet-like-moses ). This is because “the name” of Messiah is imbedded in the phrase “until Shiloh comes.”
The Zohar says of Gen. 49:10:
…”the scepter” referring to the Messiah of the House of Judah,
and “the staff” to the Messiah of the House of Joseph.
“Until Shiloh comes”, this is Moses, the gematria of Shiloh
and Moses being the same .
The word Shiloh, here, is spelt with both a yod and a he,
to allude to the holy supernal name, Yah,
by which the Shekinah shall rise…
Thus the Zohar teaches us that in Genesis 49:10 we have the two Messiahs (or the two comings of Messiah) represented as a “scepter” and a “staff” which are one “Shiloh” and that the one “Shiloh” has Yah within him.
In my recent article “Lowly and Riding Upon an Ass” (http://nazarenespace.com/profiles/blogs/lowly-and-riding-upon-an-ass) I show how all of this also connects to Messianic Prophecies in Gen. 49:11 and Zech. 9:9.
Messiah must also be heir to David’s throne:
5 (9:6) For a child is born unto us, a son is given unto us, and the government is upon His shoulder: and His Name is called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty El, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
6 (9:7) That the government may be increased, and of peace there be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom: to establish it and to uphold it, through justice and through righteousness, from henceforth even forever. The zeal of YHWH Tzva’ot does perform this.
(Is. 9:5-6 (6-7))
In my recent article “Unto Us a Child is Born- Isaiah 9:6-7 and the Prophetic Perfect” (http://nazarenespace.com/profiles/blogs/unto-us-a-child-is-born-isa…) I demonstrated that this is also a Messianic prophecy.
Anti-missionaries have argued that Yeshua was not heir to David’s throne if he was not actually Joseph’s son (of course the claim of the Gospels is that Yeshua was born to Miriam without any earthly father). This is actually a false claim, the throne can very clearly be passed by inheritance regardless of physical blood line. In fact David himself inherited the throne from Saul without being of Saul’s bloodline. David was the legitimate heir to Saul’s throne, by way of his covenant with Jonathan (1Sam. chapters 18-20) which was how David legitimately obtained the throne.
Many anti-missionaries try to attack Yeshua’s genealogy by claiming that the genealogies in Matthew and Luke contradict one another. In fact Matthew 1:1-18 gives Yeshua’s genealogy through his step-father/adopted father Joseph, while Luke 3:23-38 gives his genealogy through his mother Miriam. We know this because the genealogy in Luke begins with “Yosef, the son of Heli” (Luke 3:23) – The Jerusalem Talmud mentions a certain Miriam who, in context, appears to be the mother of Yeshua, who is said to be the daughter of “Eli” (j.Hag. 77d & j.San. 25c) The Aramaic “bar” like the Hebrew word “ben” normally means “son of” but is very ambiguous and can also refer to a “son in law a step son a servant a student or a follower.” as is the case here (Yosef was the son of Ya’akov see Mt. 1:16) (The Greek has only “of” which is why the KJV has “son of” in italics, thus the Greek can also refer to a son-in-law).
Matthew gives the genealogy of Yeshua through his “supposed” father (step father and adoptive father) Yosef, to establish Yeshua’s legal right to the throne of David, through Solomon. Luke, on the other hand, gives Yeshua’s genealogy through his mother Miram, showing Messiah to also be the “seed of David” through David’s son Nathan (Lk. 3:23-38).
This resolves the problem of the “curse of Jeconiah” (Jeremiah 22:24 – 29) though it may also be argued based on Hag. 2:23 that this curse had been reversed.
Tovia Singer and other anti-missionaries have claimed that the presence of Jeconiah in Yeshua’s genealogy disqualifies him from being Messiah due to the supposed “curse of Jeconiah” as we read in Jeremiah:
24 As I live, says YHWH, though Coniah the son of Yahuyakim king of Y’hudah were the signet upon My right hand, yet would I pluck you thence;
25 and I will give you into the hand of them that seek your life, and into the hand of them of whom you are afraid, even into the hand of N’vukhadretzar king of Bavel, and into the hand of the Chaldeans.
26 And I will cast you out, and your mother that bore you, into another country, where you were not born; and there shall you die.
27 But to the land whereunto they long to return, there shall they not return.
28 Is this man Coniah a despised, broken image? Is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? Wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into the land which they know not?
29 O land, land, land, hear the word of YHWH.
However if we look in the Book of Haggai we find that Elohim appears to have reversed this curse:
23 In that day, says YHWH Tzva’ot, will I take you, O Z’rubavel, My servant, the son of Shealtiel, says YHWH, and will make you as a signet; for I have chosen you, says YHWH Tzva’ot.’
Note the use of the term “signet ring” in each passage.
The Talmud seems to agree with this concept that the curse was reversed. It says:
Rab Judah said: Exile makes remission for three things, for it is written, Thus saith the Lord etc. He that abideth in this city shall die by the sword and by the famine and by the pestilence; but he that goeth out and falleth away to the Chaldeans who beseige you he shall live and his life shall be unto him for a prey. R. Johanan said: Exile atones for everything, for it is written, 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. Whereas after he [the king] was exiled, it is written, And the sons of Jechoniah, — the same is Assir — Shealtiel his son etc.33 [He was called] Assir,34 because his mother conceived him in prison. Shealtiel, because God did not plant him36 in the way that others are planted. We know by tradition that a woman cannot conceive in a standing position. [yet she did conceive standing. Another interpretation: Shealtiel, because God obtained [of the Heavenly court] absolution from His oath. Zerubbabel [was so called] because he was sown in Babylon. But [his real name was] Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah.
33. I Ch. III, 17. Notwithstanding the curse that he should be childless and not prosper, after being exiled he was forgiven.
34. Which He had made, to punish Jechoniah with childlessness.”
(Sanhedrin 37b – 38a, Soncino Talmud Edition)
Also the Midrash Rabba says:
. . . they made the Calf and deserved to be exterminated, and I would have thought that He would curse and destroy them, yet, no sooner had they repented, than the danger was averted, And the Lord repented of the evil (ib. XXXII, 14).And so in many places. For example, He said about Jekoniah: For no man of his seed shall prosper (Jer. XXII, 30) and it says, I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations… In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, My servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the Lord, and will make thee as a signet (Hag. II, 22 f.). Thus was annulled that which He had said to his forefather, viz. As I live, saith the Lord, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim King of Judah were the signet upon My right hand, yet I would pluck thee thence (Jer. XXII, 24).
(Numbers Rabbah XX:20)
And Midrash Pesikta Rabbati says:
R. Joshua ben Levi, however, argued as follows: Repentance sets aside the entire decree, and prayer half the decree. You find that it was so with Jeconiah, king of Judah. For the Holy One, blessed be He, swore in His anger, As I live, saith the Lord, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakhim king of Judah were the signet on a hand, yet by My right – note, as R. Meir said, that is was by His right hand that God swore – I would pluck thee hence (Jer. 22:24). And what was decreed against Jeconiah? That he die childless. As is said Write ye this man childless (Jer. 22:40). But as soon as he avowed penitence, the Holy One, blessed be He, set aside the decree, as is shown by Scripture’s reference to The sons of Jeconiah – the same is Assir – Shealtiel his son, etc. (1 Chron 3:17). And Scripture says further: In that day . . . will I take thee, O Zerubbabel . . . the son of Shealtiel . . . and will make thee as a signet (Haggai 2:23). Behold, then, how penitence can set aside the entire decree!
(Pesikta Rabbati, Piska)
Anti-missionary Tovia Singer also attacks Yeshua’s genealogy in Matthew because three names are omitted in Matthew 1:8. In Matt. 1:8 we read “Y’horam begat Uziyahu” Here the names of three kings are omitted. These are added back in Old Syriac (c), however they are clearly not part of the original text of Matthew, since verse 17 in Old Syriac (c) still counts only fourteen names.
Once again Singer fails to use equal weights and measures, judging the Gospels by a stricter criteria than that which he applies to the Tanak. The truth is that it was not unusual for ancient Hebrew genealogies to be abbreviated and omit names. For example if we compare the genealogy of Ezra as given in Ezra 7:1-5 1 with that given in 1Chron. 6:4-15 we find that the later genealogy given in Ezra also has omitted names.
While anti-missionaries like Tovia Singer seek to attack Yeshua’s genealogy, the truth is that Yeshua was the heir to the throne of David through Solomon by way of his step father Joseph as we see in Matthew 1 and was also the physical descendant of David through Nathan by way of his mother Miriam. These genealogies demonstrate that Yeshua was in fact uniquely qualified as fulfilling the genealogical prophecies regarding the Messiah.
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