The Genealogy of Christ
kay, here is the question again: “There are contradictions between the genealogy of Jesus as set forth in the first chapter of Matthew and the genealogy given in the third chapter of Luke. Both genealogies list Jesus’ father as being Joseph, but whereas Matthew has Joseph’s father being Jacob, Luke says that his name was Heli. Also, Matthew tells us that there were twenty-six generations between Jesus and King David, but Luke reports that the number of such generations was forty-one. In addition, Matthew alleges that Jesus’ line of descent was through David’s son Solomon, but Luke asserts that it was through David’s son Nathan.”
Well, the first thing to do is to look at the lists themselves, so what I say here will make more sense. You will have a “visual aid” of sorts, and because of the amount of information contained both in the charts and their explanations, I have put it on this separate page. First, Matthew’s list:
“So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.” (Matthew 1:17)
Total: 14 + 14 + 14 = 42 individuals
Luke’s list goes from Yahshua to Adam and then to God, so already you can see why his list will be longer. Of course, that is not the only reason there are more names in the third Gospel’s chart, but I will get to that. As you may know, Matthew’s list runs downward through time (Abraham to Christ), while Luke chose to write his flowing backwards, from Christ back to Abraham and beyond. For ease of comparison, I will reverse his list here:
Aside from Matthew’s list being shorter because he only goes back as far as Abraham, there are other reasons why there are less names in that Chapter. For example, if you go back through the books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles, where the record is kept of the rulers of Israel and Judah, you will find that three kings’ names appear in the Old Testament that are missing from the New Testament list. These are: Ahaziah, Joash and Amaziah, appearing between ML2 (Matthew’s Second List) #6 and #7. And why was this done?
Well, Matthew’s gospel was, scholars generally agree, written to the Jews primarily. In an effort to show that Christ was indeed of Kingly heritage, more specifically of the line of David from which was promised would come the Messiah, he took the route that led through the royal line. The three kings he did not list were those spoken of in the book of 2 Kings. The line of the wicked king Ahab was to be completely cut off, for “Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.” (1 Kings 16:33) What a statement! It earned him the promise from Yah, “Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity.” (1 Kings 21:21)
This was indeed done, for Ahab does not appear either in Matthew’s list, and moreover Ahaziah, who “walked in the way of the house of Ahab” and was “the son-in-law of the house of Ahab” also (2 Kings 8:25), was removed from the list.
The second on the list of the three removed kings, Joash, “took all the hallowed things that... his fathers, kings of Judah, had dedicated, and his own hallowed things, and all the gold that was found in the treasures of the house of the Lord, and in the kings’s house and sent it to Hazael king of Syria.” (2 Kings 12:18) Because of the king’s lack of faith, Jerusalem came under the power of Syria, and Yah’s people were forced to pay tribute like bondsmen. For this reason, the king’s servants rose up against him and slew him violently (2 Kings 12:20). His name also was blotted from the ancestry of Christ.
The third king, Amaziah “brought the gods of the children of Seir, and set them up to be his gods, and bowed down himself before them, and burned incense unto them.” (2 Chronicles 25:14) For his idolatry, and other reasons, his servants “made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem: and he fled to Lachish; but they sent after him to Lachish, and slew him there.” (2 Kings 14:19) These three kings were killed violently, and each died having angered Yah, mismanaged His people and committed idolatry. For these reasons Matthew did not include them.
The list of Matthew is further shortened by the exclusion of Jehoiakin and Jechoniah, because at the death of Josiah or Josias (ML2 # 13) the kingdom of Israel came to an end: “And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon” (Matthew 1:11) Now Jehoiakin specifically was removed from the list because he “did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD his God.” (2 Cr 36:5) For this and his other “abominations which he did,” (2 Cr 36:8) his name was not mentioned.
His son, Jeconiah, has the clearest condemnation. Not necessarily in what he did, but because his “blotting out” was recorded by the prophet Jeremiah, who’s emphasis, it seems, was toward such things. An excerpt from his book reads, “‘As I live,’ saith the LORD, ‘though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence.’” Now remember that there is NO “J” in Hebrew, so “Ieconiah” is pronounced similarly to just “Coniah” and is written that way by this individual. “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.’” (Jer 22:30) Just as with his father, and several kings before him.
These are not the only exclusions from either list, but are the main ones. Is it fair, though, to say that someone “begat” his grandson, great grandson, or even son-in-law, as we will later see? Certainly, for Yahsua is called “Son of David,” by many, and certainly “Son of God,” for Luke’s genealogy traces Him back to Adam himself, and then to Yah. As one website I was reading points out, this is a beautiful testimony to how precious WE are. For Seth, Enosh and so on were as surely SONS of Yah through Adam as Christ was the Son of David. And so, by just being human, we are also considered directly to be sons of Yah! By accepting Christ in His death and His example for our lives, we may all also claim His inheritance. This is the Gospel itself.
Now we come to the big issue. Most of what I have said above only applies to Matthew’s list. He alone has the list of kings from Solomon down to Josiah. In fact, the two lists split after David, one going through Solomon, and the other through Nathan. But how can this be? How can it possibly be reconciled? Both begin with David, and both end with Jacob, the father “so it was supposed” of Christ (note*). There is a scripture that one needs to keep in mind for now. That is, “If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her. And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.” (Deuteronomy 25:5,6)
This is shown by example (Genesis 38:8-10) and by repetition in three of the four gospels (Matthew 22:4, Mark 12:19 and Luke 20:28), making it seem a very significant point indeed! The NAME of the first husband, as well as his inheritance, passes to the firstborn son of such a union.
In researching this question, I had come across several instances where it was suggested that Luke’s family line was actually that of Mary, rather than Joseph, and the latter is only included in the third Gospel’s list by virtue of his marriage and his legal parentage of Christ. I resisted this at first, for in none of these was there given a good reason why this was so. There was nothing spoken of in Scripture that would justify such an action, until I realized that there truly was a reason, and I had known it already for a while.
Elsewhere in these pages, in the Essays & Transcripts section, I have an article entitled The Logo, which explains the symbolism used on the emblem for this website. The angel within the circle is a Seraph, a member of the Order seen by the prophets Ezekiel, Isaiah and John. The significance of this angel is that it is always seen doing the will of the Father, and is constantly praising His name. In this angel, the concepts of “praise” and “worship” meet, and these abstracts find their physical representation in the Tribes Judah and Levi respectively, named for brothers who were sons of Israel.
Yahshua the Christ, it turns out, is also a literal manifestation of the combination of Praise and Worship, for the New Testament explains this in the letter to the Hebrews. Though the Levites were traditionally the “priestly” tribe of Israel, “it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.” (Hebrews 7:14) Though a king by descent, He is nevertheless a priest.
Now looking at Luke’s list, we see that the name before Joseph’s is Heli, rather than Jacob, whom Matthew asserts is his father. There is no way this could have been an error, for this was but a few years after the fact! Luke could have asked anyone, and they would have declared that Joseph, who was the legal father of Christ, had a father named Jacob. Nor would the early church (composed largely of Jews who were very much interested in lineage) allow such an error to be published.
So why was Joseph’s predecessor named as Heli? And why was this allowed to be recorded for posterity? Because Heli was Joseph’s and therefore Yahshua’s predecessor, but not along the line of kings, rather the line of priests. There were certain books written by 1st century writers, many of which confirm the events spoken of in the Gospels, but for reasons of misunderstanding or misinterpreting doctrine, were left out of the Holy Canon. The books may have been flawed in their theology, but their historical data is as factual as that found anywhere else.
The Apocryphal books, perhaps, are among these, as is the “lost book” of Mary. In the beginning of this book, Mary’s parentage is discussed, and of this it says, “Her father’s name was Joachim, and her mother’s Anna. The family of her father was of Galilee and the city of Nazareth. The family of her mother was of Bethlehem.” (Mary 1:2) Whereas I may certainly not agree with all the spiritual points the book presents, nevertheless something interesting appears. Once again, we need to remember that there was no “J” in Hebrew, therefore the name given above, Joachim was really pronounced Eiachim, or, to get the harder vowel sound, Eliachim (The same name as in ML3 #5). The common, shortened formed of this name is Eli or... Heli.
Essentially, Mary’s father’s name was Heli, and her mother, though not of the family of her father, was nevertheless a Jewess of the areas occupied by the Israelite tribes. Tradition suggests that she (Anna, Mary’s mother) was actually of the tribe of Levi, and this being the case, it would be seen that Christ was a descendant of David through both parents, but though of the Tribe of Judah also through these, was also a descendant of Levi by his mother’s family.
Yahshua is called “prophet and priest and king” and we see that this may very well be literally true by all accounts. A prophet is called specifically, regardless of parentage or bloodline, and so was Christ chosen specifically, conceived as He was by the Holy Spirit. A priest was, in the Jewish system, chosen by bloodline, and as inheritance in the Hebrew tradition is traced by the mother’s family, we see that Christ may also have literally inherited the Levitical mantle through His mother. Moreover, a kingdom is passed on from father to son through inheritance, and the name of the father is carried down this way, even if a substitute father is required (see Deuteronomy 25:5,6 quoted above), and thus, through Joseph directly and Mary indirectly, He also inherited the “Throne of His father David.” (Luke 1:32)
Regardless of whether one accepts the Levitical roots of Mary’s mother, the explanation of the Luke/Matthew differences should be clear enough by this point. I wrote this, not merely to refute the belief that the two genealogies listed in Matthew and Luke prove the Bible a flawed work, but to show the beautiful fulfillment of prophecy concerning the Messiah. And there can be no other after Yahshua who CAN be the Messiah, for as one writer pointed out, when Jerusalem was destroyed, the birth records were also lost. No one else can ever again be shown to be “of the line of David” in this way. After the birth of Christ, the records had served their purpose, and were allowed to drift off into the smoke of history.
From David, it was prophesied, would come a righteous “Branch” (Jer 23:5). Not only was this true in the spiritual sense, but also the physical, for the branching bloodlines of Solomon and Nathan, occurring right after David, were again reconciled at the birth of the Redeemer.
*Note: It may throw readers for a while that both lists contain (after the split) a man named Salathiel who has a son named Zorobabel (ML#3 2 & 3 and LL3 #56, LL4 #57). Someone looking for a fast resolution may decided that the lists rejoin at this point, but this is not so, for the following names do not coincide. It is merely an instance of a father and son in each list having the same names. Consider that Joseph (the husband of Mary) had a father whose name was Jacob, just as were the names of those two father-and-son patriarchs. It does happen.