2000 years ago Jews in the Galilee, in Judea, and outside of Eretz Israel, the Land of Israel, were fully convinced that Yeshua (Jesus), the inspiring rabbi-teacher and the miracles performer, was the son of a man called Joseph (Luke 3:23), “of the house of David” (Luke 1:27; 2:4). Many believed that his mother was Miriam from Nazareth (John 6:42).
At the very beginning of Matthew’s Gospel in the New Testament (NT), the apostle wrote about Messiah Yeshua’s family-tree as follows: “This is the genealogy of Yeshua the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matt 1:1).
As a matter of principle, according to biblical narration all parentage lists refer only to the ancestry’s fathers, neglecting to mention the mothers’ names.
Messiah’s Inconsistent Lineage
The first two chapters in Matthew’s Gospel describe a dual origin for Messiah Yeshua. This description presents a “combination” of both physical and unnatural background of ancestry. Namely, that behind Yeshua’s earthly genesis there was a Davidic lineage up until Joseph, “the husband of Miriam, of whom was born Yeshua who is called Messiah” (Matt 1:16).
Furthermore, by providing a detailed account Matthew also specifies three chains of precisely fourteen generations each (3×14) – from Patriarch Abraham till Messiah Yeshua. Fourteen generations from Abraham till King David; plus 14 generations from David till the destruction of the first temple (586 B.C.) and Israel’s exile in Babylon, and additional 14 generations till Messiah came.
After Matthew’s description of the long generational list which presents Messiah’s earthly royal “bloodline,” the NT also reveals a unique mystery concerning Messiah’s origin – that Joseph, Miriam’s husband, surely was not Yeshua’s biological father. In reality Joseph, a righteous man who lovingly respected his fiancé Miriam, was merely the adopting stepfather of the Lord Yeshua on this earth.
Luke, the third Evangelist, provides additional information which was concealed not only from the common people, but also from many disciples and apostles of the Lord Yeshua. Namely that physically in this world the Messiah was of fatherless origin. He was born without male intervention.
According to the revelation given to Luke it was by the miraculous involvement of the Holy Spirit that the Lord Yeshua appeared in this world as a baby through Miriam (Luke 1:34-35).
This paradoxical question regarding Messiah’s genealogy, whether it had a natural – or – it had an unnatural “hereditary succession” in this world has challenged many people, past and present. Therefore, we too ask, does it really matter to perfectly expose the accurate authenticity of Messiah’s genealogical records?
David’s Throne in the New Testament
The angel Gabriel, who was sent by God to tell the virgin Miriam to rejoice and not to be afraid about her phenomenal pregnancy, said to her that her miraculous Son will be called Yeshua (Salvation) and that “the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David” (Luke 1: 32).
In other words, the Messiah Yeshua will reign over Israel, the “house of Jacob” forever, “and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:33).
Thus both Gospels of Matthew and Luke agree that the Lord Yeshua is the Savior, the King of the Jewish people and that He first came to His own chosen people.
However, there is also another inconsistency: Whose throne exactly will the Messiah “Son of David” inherit – the one on the seat of King Solomon, as Matthew writes (1:6-7), or rather the one on the seat of “Nathan the son of David,” as Luke writes in his list, ignoring King Solomon (Luke 3:31)?
This question, for the time being, we leave unanswered.
Paul’s Understanding about Messiah’s Lineage
Unsurprisingly, also the apostle Paul, like his contemporaries in the first century, was completely sure that the Lord Yeshua had a direct bloodline to King David, who ruled in Jerusalem about 1000 years before Messiah’s appearance in Bethlehem.
The apostle to the Gentiles clearly wrote to them: “… Jesus (Yeshua) the Messiah our Lord was born of the seed of David according to the flesh” (Romans 1:3).
Not only to the Romans, but also Timothy, Paul’s faithful companion, the apostle delivered the same message (2 Timothy 2:8).
“Son of David” as Messiah in the TANAKH (“Old Testament”)?
The Hebrew designation MASHIAH BEN DAVID (Messiah Son of David) in the sense of the atoning-forgiving Messiah does not appear at all in the entire TANAKH (“Old Testament”). Although Messiah Son of David is absent from the 24 books of the Masoretic canon, it is a central and formative Jewish idea. Within mainstream Jewish thought and tradition the concept of Messiah Son of David does refer to a saving human person, but this person, according to the rabbinical sages, both past and present, must not be the Lord Yeshua.
About 3000 years ago, Nathan the prophet told King David that the Lord will set up his seed after him by one who will come from his own body, and the Lord will establish his kingdom forever. This son of David had to build a house – a temple – for the Lord’s name (2 Samuel 7:12-16). Obviously these words refer to King Solomon who had built the first temple, yet eventually Solomon’s grave sins brought an everlasting disaster upon his dynasty.
Also the prophet Isaiah, about 2600 years ago, prophesied with unique words pointing to a splendid Savior whose “name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,” who will reign upon David’s throne (Isaiah 9:6-7).
The same Isaiah also wrote that the future Savior, filled with Spirit and righteousness, will stem from King David and his father Jesse (Isaiah 11:1-10).
However, in the four Gospels the Lord Yeshua revolutionizes this whole issue, as we will see later on.
Who is the Messiah?
After the above mentioned brief look into the Scriptural verses concerning Messiah’s Davidic descent, it is still interesting, even imperative, to investigate and find out why is this issue systematically discussed in the Gospels? Why, actually, in the first three Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, did the Lord Yeshua explicitly and repeatedly ask His audience: “Why do you say that the Messiah is the son of David” (Mark 12:35)?
Moreover, it is only in John’s Gospel that we can find the “key” to open the door leading into the answer to this mystery.
No doubt the Lord Yeshua well knew that the Jews around Him insisted, as they still do today, that the Messiah must be David’s biological son. However, He openly and strongly challenged this belief. We will relate to this puzzle in the following article.
Gershon Nerel (www.iseeisrael.com)