Genealogy of Jesus

Jesus’ genealogy can be found at two places in the Bible:

  1. Matthew’s gospel (Mat 1:2-16). Starts with Abraham and lists his descendants all the way down to Jesus. There are 41 generations in total, divided into 3 sections as follows:
    1. Abraham David (from Abraham to David)
    2. David – Josias (from David until the carrying away into Babylon)
    3. Jechonias – Jesus (from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ)

    Each section contains 14 generations. Note, that David is counted twice: Once at the end of the first section, then once again at the beginning of the second section. This explains how 41 generations are divided equally into three. See Mat 1:17 for further explanation.

  2. Luke’s gospel (Luk 3:23-38). This genealogy starts with Jesus and follows his line up until God. There are 77 generations mentioned in total.

In each of the two genealogies every name is different up until David with the exception of Joseph, Zorobabel and Salathiel. Therefore it is practically impossible to reconcile them by matching the persons and say, they are just listed by their different names (as we’ve seen many times before in the Bible). This suggests that the two genealogies do not trace the same lineage.

Since you can trace a person’s ancestors through their father, and also through their mother (and the two genealogies should naturally be different) it is easy to come to the conclusion that one of the two genealogies in the gospels must list Jesus’ ancestors through his “father”, while the other one lists them through his mother.

Matthew’s genealogy
Jesus was called the “son of David” in Mat 1:1, which is a clear reference to his right to inherit David’s throne.

In 2Sam 7:12-17 God tells David (through the prophet Nathan) that David’s kingdom would remain forever and his royal line would go through the son who would build the temple or as it is also called, the house of God. This son of David is Solomon, as we can read in 1Chr 22:7-10.

Only Matthew’s genealogy mentions Solomon (Salmon) as well as the following kings after him, therefore we can see that this is the “royal line” and it shows the legal right to David’s throne being passed down all the way to Joseph who adopted Jesus, thus making him the heir of David’s kingdom.

Since the right to the kingdom always passes from the father to the son, we can conclude that Matthew’s genealogy lists Jesus’ ancestors through his “father”, Joseph.

Luke’s genealogy
Based on the previous facts, Luke’s genealogy must list Jesus’ ancestors through his mother:

Jesus was the natural son of Mary, who conceived by the Holy Ghost and therefore He becomes the Son of God (Luk 1:34-35). Considering the fact that by the Jewish tradition women are never listed in the genealogical links, it is acceptable that Luke lists Joseph instead of Mary (as he was the “father” of Jesus) and thus Luke names Joseph as son of Heli. Further, since Heli had no sons but only daughters, we can find a precedent of the same type of name substitution in Num 27:1-11 and Num 36:1-12.

Reading through Luke’s genealogy, we can see how Jesus, through his blood relationship with his mother and her ancestors, becomes the true son of God.

Curse against Jechonias
Jechonias (also called Jehoiachin, Jeconiah, Coniah) was an evil king and also he was in the royal line of David as it is mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy. God was outraged with him and judged the royal line with a curse: no descendant of Jechonias would sit as king of Israel (Jer 22:24-30).

This seemingly contradicts the promise that God made to David that his son, Solomon’s seed would always be on the throne (1Chr 22:7-10) and also would make Jesus ineligible to the throne, as he was the descendant of Jechonias.

But, since Jesus was only an adopted son and not biological son of Joseph, the curse did not affect his right to the throne as he was not of Jechonias’ seed. This curse also indicates that the Messiah cannot have a human father since then the curse would pass onto him too.

Zorobabel and Salathiel Question
The only two names that are matching in the two genealogies between Jesus and David (besides Joseph), are Zorobabel and Salathiel. This raises the question of whether these persons were the same or not.

The verses in question are:

1Chr 17 And the sons of Jeconiah; Assir, Salathiel his son,
1Chr 18 Malchiram also, and Pedaiah, and Shenazar, Jecamiah, Hoshama, and Nedabiah.
1Chr 19 And the sons of Pedaiah were, Zerubbabel, and Shimei: and the sons of Zerubbabel;Meshullam, and Hananiah, and Shelomith their sister:
Mat 1:12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begatZorobabel;
Luke 3:27 Which was the son of Joanna, which was the son of Rhesa, which was the son ofZorobabel, which was the son of Salathiel, which was the son of Neri,
Generation
Mat 1:16-2 Luk 3:23-38
1
Jesus Jesus
2
Joseph Joseph
3
Jacob Heli
4
Matthan Matthat
5
Eleazar Levi
6
Eliud Melchi
7
Achim Janna
8
Sadoc Joseph
9
Azor Mattathias
10
Eliakim Amos
11
Abiud Naum
12
Zorobabel Esli
13
Salathiel Nagge
14
Jechonias Maath
15
Josias Mattathias
16
Amon Semei
17
Manasses Joseph
18
Ezekias Juda
19
Achaz Joanna
20
Joatham Rhesa
21
Ozias Zorobabel
22
Joram Salathiel
23
Josaphat Neri
24
Asa Melchi
25
Abia Addi
26
Roboam Cosam
27
Solomon Elmodam
28
David Er
29
Jesse Jose
30
Obed Eliezer
31
Booz Jorim
32
Salmon Matthat
33
Naasson Levi
34
Aminadab Simeon
35
Aram Juda
36
Esrom Joseph
37
Phares Jonan
38
Judas Eliakim
39
Jacob Melea
40
Isaac Menan
41
Abraham Mattatha
42
Nathan
43
David
44
Jesse
45
Obed
46
Booz
47
Salmon
48
Naasson
49
Aminadab
50
Aram
51
Esrom
52
Phares
53
Juda
54
Jacob
55
Isaac
56
Abraham
57
Thara
58
Nachor
59
Saruch
60
Ragau
61
Phalec
62
Heber
63
Sala
64
Cainan
65
Arphaxad
66
Sem
67
Noe
68
Lamech
69
Mathusala
70
Enoch
71
Jared
72
Maleleel
73
Cainan
74
Enos
75
Seth
76
Adam
77
God
If Zorobabel and Salathiel in the two genealogies are the same,
Then the facts we have to keep in mind are:

  1. The Zorobabel mentioned in Luk 3:27 who is a blood relative of Mary and through her a blood relative of Jesus, can not be a blood relative of Jechonias because of the curse mentioned above.
  2. The verses above name Salathiel a son of Jechonias AND the son of Neri
  3. The verses above name Zorobabel a son of Pedaiah AND the son of Salathiel.

We will have to assume the following, which are actually not entirely described in the Bible:

  • (a) Salathiel was the biological son of Jechonias. This makes (2.) halfway true.
  • (b) Salathiel died without child, but left behind a widow
  • (c) Pedaiah was Salathiel’s brother and took Salathiel’s widow and begat Zorobabel, this way Zorobabel can be called as Son of Salathiel AND son of Pedaiah. This makes (3.) true.
  • (d) Pedaiah can not be Salathiel’s biological brother, since then he would be the biological son of Jechonias and therefore Zorobabel would become biological grandson of Jechonias and violate (1.) Therefore Pedaiah has to be only adopted son of Jechonias and only half brother of Salathiel. This makes (1.) true.
  • (e) Jechonias has to have Neri’s daughter as a wife, and this way we can call Salathiel as son of Neri, referring to his grandfather through his mother. This makes (2.) true.
  • (f) Pedaiah has to be a son of Neri’s daughter. This way he can be called as son of Jechonias when (e) happens and Pedaiah becomes Jechonias’ adopted son as it is required by (d)

The assumptions between (a) and (f) could be shown with the following family tree:

Neri Note:

Vertical lines: “parent-child”
Horizontal lines: marriages

*: this relationship or person is not described by the Bible, just by the assumptions between (a) and (f)

*
*
Jechonias * Daughter of Neri
*
Salathiel *Wife of Salathiel Pedaiah
*
*
Zorobabel

If Zorobabel and Salathiel in the two genealogies are NOT the same,
Then the facts we have to keep in mind are:

  1. The Zorobabel mentioned in Luk 3:27 who is a blood relative of Mary and through her a blood relative of Jesus, can not be blood relative of Jechonias because of the curse mentioned above.
    This is automatically true.
  2. The verses above name one Salathiel a son of Jechonias AND the other Salathiel a son of Neri
    This is automatically true.
  3. The verses above name Zorobabel a son of Pedaiah AND the son of Salathiel.

The only thing we have to assume is:

  • (a) Salathiel (Jechonias’ son) died without child, but left behind a widow
  • (b) Pedaiah was Salathiel’s biological brother and took Salathiel’s widow and begat Zorobabel, this way Zorobabel can be called as Son of Salathiel AND son of Pedaiah. This makes (3.) true.

This could be shown with the following family tree:

Jechonias Neri Note:
Vertical lines: “parent-child”
Horizontal lines: marriages

*: this relationship or person is not described by the Bible, just by the assumptions between (a) and (b)

Salathiel *Wife of Salathiel Pedaiah Salathiel
*
*
Zorobabel Zorobabel

Zorobabel and Salathiel Answer
There are only two reasons to assume that the two persons listed in Matthew’s genealogy are the same as in Luke’s:

  1. They lived approximately during the same time
  2. Their names were rarely used

As we compare the two possible answers above, we can conclude that we stay closer to the facts described in the Bible if we accept that the Zorobabel and Salathiel mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy are NOT the same as the Zorobabel and Salathiel mentioned in Luke’s list.


Missing names in Matthew’s genealogy
Matthew’s list leaves out Ahaziah, Joash, Amaziah, and Eliakim from the generations of the kings. The reason for why their names were omitted is not known, but as we can see throughout the Bible, the terms “son”, “father” and “begat” are not always used literally.
Because of this, the list is still correct and does not contradict the Old Testament genealogies: 1Chr 3:11-16

Jesus Crest

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