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Ariel Ministries' Messianic Bible Study # 025:
YESHUA'S RIGHT TO DAVID'S THRONE

Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum

1983, 2005 Ariel Ministries. All rights reserved. This manuscript is for your personal use only. No part of this manuscript may be reproduced in any form, except in brief quotation in a review or professional work, without written permission from the publishers. Email: Homeoffice@ariel.org. www.ariel.org.

This manuscript is herein reprinted by special permission of Ariel Ministries.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION ...............................................................................3
I.   THE PURPOSE OF THE GENEALOGIES.....................................3
II.  THE NEED FOR THE GENEALOGIES .........................................4
III. THE OLD TESTAMENT REQUIREMENTS FOR KINGSHIP..........5
     A. Judah ......................................................................................5
     B. Israel .......................................................................................5
     C. The Question Resolved ..........................................................5
         1. Davidic Descendency .........................................................5
              a. The Line of Joseph in Matthew's Genealogy ................5
              b. The Line of Mary in Luke's Genealogy ..........................7
          2. Divine Appointment ............................................................7

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YESHUA'S RIGHT TO DAVID'S THRONE

Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum

He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High: and the
Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David.
- Luke 1:32


INTRODUCTION

The question is often raised that: "Because Yeshua (Jesus) was not the real son of Joseph but only the son of Mary, does He have the right to sit on David's throne?" Also, related to this issue are the two genealogies found in Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38. If Jesus were only the son of Mary and not Joseph, why was it necessary to give Joseph's genealogy? How do we know that Luke's genealogy is that of Mary, as she is not named in it, but Joseph is? These are questions that need to be answered satisfactorily in order to provide a basis for the understanding of why Yeshua could claim the throne of David.

I. THE PURPOSE OF THE GENEALOGIES

Introductory to the entire theme of this question, we set forth that the purpose of Joseph's genealogy in Matthew is to show that if Jesus really were the son of Joseph, He could not be king. The purpose of the genealogy of Mary in Luke shows why He could claim the throne of David.

Of the four Gospels, only two give us a genealogy, the same two that deal with the birth and early life of Jesus. Both Mark and John do not deal with the birth of Yeshua or His early life. Matthew and Luke do
record those events, so it is natural that only these two would bother recording a genealogy. While both Matthew and Luke give us the story of the birth of Jesus, they tell the story from two different perspectives; Matthew tells the story from Joseph's perspective, while Luke tells the story from Mary's perspective. In Matthew, we are told what Joseph is thinking, what is going on in his mind; but we are told nothing of what Mary is thinking. We read of how angels appeared to Joseph, but there is no record of angels appearing to Mary.

On the other hand, when we go to Luke's gospel, we see this same story told from Mary's perspective. In the Gospel of Luke, it is Mary who plays the active role while Joseph plays the passive role. We find the angels appearing to Mary, but no angels appearing to Joseph. We are told several times what goes on in the mind of Mary but we are never told anything about what Joseph is thinking. From this context, when we have these two genealogies and these two Gospels only, it should be very evident that since Matthew tells the story from Joseph's perspective, we have the genealogy of Joseph; whereas when Luke tells the story from Mary's perspective, we have the genealogy of Mary instead.

II. THE NEED FOR THE GENEALOGIES

The question still arises: "Why do we need these two genealogies, especially because Yeshua was not the real son of Joseph?" A very popular and common answer is this: In Matthew's Gospel, we have the "royal" line; whereas, in Luke's Gospel we have the "real" line. From that statement, another one is developed. According to some teachers, Joseph was the heir-apparent to David's throne as seen in Matthew 1. Since Jesus was the adopted son of Joseph, He could have claimed the right to sit on David's throne because of His adoption by Joseph. On the other hand, in Luke's Gospel we are given the "real" line so that we could know that Jesus Himself was a descendant of David. Therefore, these teachers conclude that: through Mary, He was a member of the House of David, but He claims the right to sit on David's throne through Joseph because He was the heir-apparent. However, we will show in this study that, actually, the exact opposite is true.

Matthew breaks with Jewish tradition in two ways: he skips names, and he mentions names of women. Matthew mentions four different women in his genealogy: Tamar, the wife of Judah; Rahab; Ruth and
Bathsheba. Why does he mention these four when there are so many other prominent Jewish women whom he could have mentioned in the genealogy of Yeshua? One thing that the four women had in common was that they were all Gentile. What Matthew was doing by naming these four women and no others is to point out that one of the purposes of the coming of Yeshua was not only to save the lost sheep
of the House of Israel, but also that Gentiles would benefit from His coming. Three of these women were guilty of specific sexual sins: one was guilty of adultery; one was guilty of prostitution; and one was
guilty of incest. Again, Matthew begins hinting at a point he makes quite clear later; that the purpose of the coming of the Messiah was to save sinners. While Matthew breaks with Jewish tradition in these two ways, Luke, however, follows strict Jewish law, procedure and custom; he does not skip names, and he does not mention any women's names.

III. THE OLD TESTAMENT REQUIREMENTS FOR KINGSHIP

With this background, we could ask; "Why do we have Matthew's genealogy of Joseph at all?" Again, everyone agrees that Joseph was not the real father of Jesus.

After the division of the kingdom at the death of Solomon, there were two basic requirements for kingship, one requirement was applicable to the throne of Judah in Jerusalem, while the other was applicable to
the throne of Israel in Samaria.

A. Judah
The requirement for the throne of Judah was that of Davidic descendency; no one was allowed to sit on David's throne unless he was a member of the House of David. For that reason, any conspiracy to do away with the House of David was doomed to failure (Isaiah 7).

B. Israel
The requirement to sit upon the throne of Israel was one of prophetic sanction or divine appointment; no one was able to sit on Samaria's throne unless he had divine appointment through prophetic sanction.
Anyone who attempted to rule without prophetic sanction was assassinated (I Kings 11:26-39; 15:28-30; 16:1-4, 11-15; 21:21-29; II Kings 9:6-10; 10:29-31; 15:8-12).

C. The Question Resolved
With the background of these two Old Testament requirements for kingship and what is stated in the two genealogies, the question of the Messiah's right to the Throne of David can be resolved.

1. Davidic Descendency
a. The Line of Joseph in Matthew's Genealogy
Matthew's genealogy traces the line of Joseph, the stepfather of Messiah. The line is traced from Abraham (verse 2), and continues down to David and Solomon (verse 6), and then to King Jechoniah (verse 11), who was one of the last kings before the Babylonian Captivity. It is the person of Jechoniah that is significant in dealing with the genealogy of Matthew because of the special curse pronounced on him in Jeremiah 22:24-30: As I live, says Jehovah, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck you thence; 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 Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans. And I will cast you out, and your mother that bore you, into another country, where ye were not born; and there shall ye die. But to the land whereunto their soul longs to return, thither shall they not return. Is this man Coniah a despised broken vessel? is he a vessel wherein none delights? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into the land which they know not? O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of Jehovah. Thus says Jehovah, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days; for no more shall a man of his seed prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling in Judah. Because of the kind of man Jechoniah was, God, through the Prophet Jeremiah, pronounced a curse upon him. The content of this curse was that no descendant of Jechoniah would have any right to the Throne of David (verse 30).

In the Matthew genealogy, it should be noted that Joseph was a direct descendant of Jechoniah (verse 16). This means, then, that Joseph, having the blood of Jechoniah in his veins, was not qualified to sit on David's throne. This would also mean that no son of Joseph would have the right to claim the Throne of David. So, if Yeshua were really the son of Joseph, this would have disqualified Him from sitting upon David's throne.

The point of Matthew's genealogy, then, is to show why Jesus could not be king if He were really Joseph's son. For this reason, Matthew starts out with the genealogy, and then proceeds with the account of the Virgin Birth, which from Matthew's viewpoint, is the way out of the Jechoniah problem. In essence, Matthew's point is this: if Jesus were really Joseph's son, He could not claim to sit on David's throne because of Jechoniah's curse. Then Matthew proceeds to show that Yeshua was not truly Joseph's son, for He was born of the virgin Mary (Matthew 1:18-25).

If, by Jewish law, the name of a woman could not be mentioned in a genealogy, but you wished to trace a woman's line, how would you go about doing so? The answer is that you would use the name of her
husband. However, if the husband's name were used, that raises a second question. Suppose somebody picked up a genealogy to read, how would he know whether the genealogy is that of the husband or that of the wife because, in either case, it would be the husband's name that was used?

The answer to that riddle lies in a problem with the English language, which does not exist with the Greek or Hebrew language. In English, it is not good grammar to put the word "the" before a proper name. We do not use a definite article before a proper name; such as, the Matthew, the Luke, the Mary, the John; however, it is quite permissible in both Greek and Hebrew grammar. The Greek text of Luke's genealogy is very interesting because of this. In the Greek text, every single name mentioned in the genealogy of Luke has the definite article "the," with one exception, and that is the name of Joseph; his name does not have the definite article "the" in front of it. What that would mean to someone reading the original is this: when he saw the definite article missing from Joseph's name while it was present in all the other names, it would mean that this was not really Joseph's genealogy; rather, it is Mary's genealogy. So, in keeping with Jewish law, it was the husband's name that was used. We have two examples of this in the Old Testament: Ezra 2:61 and Nehemiah 7:63.

b. The Line of Mary in Luke's Genealogy
Luke's genealogy traces the line of Mary and portrays how Jesus could claim the Throne of David. Luke begins his genealogy in the reverse order of Matthew's, going from the present back into the past. The
line is traced until it returns to the family of David (verses 31-32). However, the son of David involved in this genealogy is not Solomon but Nathan. The important point here is that Mary was a member of the House of David totally apart from Jechoniah. Since Jesus was Mary's son He, too, was a member of the House of David, totally apart from the curse of Jechoniah.

One Old Testament requirement for kingship was that of being a member of the House of David. In the days of Jeremiah, there was the added requirement that one had to be a member of the House of David apart from Jechoniah. Zedekiah, who reigned after Jechoniah, was not the son of Jechoniah. In the case of Yeshua, through Mary, He was a member of the House of David, totally apart from Jechoniah. In this manner, He fulfilled the first Old Testament requirement for kingship.

2. Divine Appointment
However, Yeshua was not the only member of the House of David apart from Jechoniah. There were a number of other descendants who could claim equality with Yeshua to the Throne of David, for they, too, did not have Jechoniah's blood in their veins. At this point, it is important to note the second Old Testament requirement for kingship: divine appointment. Of all the members of the House of David apart from Jechoniah, only One received divine appointment.

We read in Luke 1:30-33: And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for you have found favor with God. And behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name YESHUA. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. On what grounds, then, could Jesus claim the Throne of David? First, He was a member of the House of David apart from Jechoniah; and secondly, He alone received divine appointment to that throne.

So while Matthew's genealogy showed why Yeshua could not be king if He really were Joseph's son, Luke's genealogy shows why Yeshua could be king. Luke, in contrast to Matthew, does not begin with the
account of the Virgin Birth. Only later does he record the genealogy, for he does not need, like Matthew, to get around the Jechoniah problem.

The final question is: "On what grounds can it be said that Luke's account is actually Mary's genealogy?" While there is much evidence to support this, it will be necessary to limit it to only three lines of argument.

First, the Talmud itself refers to Mary as the daughter of Heli. It is obvious, then, that in longstanding Jewish tradition, Mary was recognized to be the daughter of Heli as mentioned in Luke 3:23.

Secondly, although most versions translate Luke 3:23 as follows: being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli. That same Greek phrase could easily be translated in a different way. While all of the names in Luke's genealogy are preceded with the Greek definite article, the name of Joseph is not. Because of this grammatical point, that same verse could be translated: being the son (as was supposed of Joseph) the son of Heli. In other words, the final parenthesis could be expanded so that the verse reads that although Jesus was supposed or assumed to be the descendant of Joseph, He was really the descendant of Heli. The absence of Mary's name is quite in keeping with Jewish practices on genealogies, and it was not unusual for a son-in-law to be listed in his wife's genealogy.

The third argument is the obvious viewpoint of the two genealogies. Matthew is clearly writing from the viewpoint of Joseph. Mary plays a very passive role in Matthew's account. Matthew records only the
angelic annunciation to Joseph concerning the coming birth, and only Matthew records the warning of the angel to Joseph to flee from Bethlehem before Herod's soldiers arrived for the slaughter. In the context of Matthew's Gospel, it is Joseph who is emphasized, and the genealogy gives Joseph's line.

Luke, however, is obviously writing from the viewpoint of Mary. In Luke, Joseph is the one who plays the passive role. Luke alone records the annunciation of the birth of John the Baptist, whose parents were
related to Mary. Luke alone records the angelic annunciation to Mary and ignores the one to Joseph. Luke also is the one who records the innermost thoughts of Mary as she ponders things that are said to her
by shepherds and prophets. Even when Yeshua is twelve years old, only Luke records the words of Mary to Yeshua and not those of Joseph. Mary is the active player, while Joseph is the passive player. So from the context alone, it would appear that Luke is giving Mary's lineage, because his whole perspective is focused on Mary.

In conclusion, then, both from the Talmudic reckoning and from the reckoning of biblical theology, Jesus indeed has the right to sit on David's throne.

In these genealogies, we are given four specific titles of Yeshua. In Matthew 1:1, He is called the son of David, and the son of Abraham. In Luke 3:38, He is called the son of Adam, and the son of God. These
four titles give us the fourfold portrait of the Messianic Person.

First, by saying Yeshua is the son of David, this means He is a king through Mary.

Secondly, by calling Jesus the son of Abraham, this means He is a Jew.

Thirdly, by giving Yeshua the title, the son of Adam, this means that He is a man.

And fourthly, by giving Him the title, the son of God, this means Jesus is God.

These genealogies give us the fourfold portrait of the Messianic King; Yeshua is the Jewish God-Man King.

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If you enjoyed this Bible study, Dr. Fruchtenbaum recommends these Messianic Bible Studies, which may be obtained from Ariel Ministries:

mbs-003 The Basis of the Second Coming of the Messiah
mbs-007 Jews, Gentiles and Christians
mbs-011 The Suffering Messiah of Isaiah 53
mbs-012 The Messiah of the Old Testament
mbs-013 What the New Testament Says about Jesus
mbs-016 Nicodemus, A Rabbi's Quest
mbs-026 Zionism: What It Is and What It Is Not
mbs-087 The Book of Romans and the Jews
... and his series on Christology

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Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Th.M., Ph.D., is founder and director of Ariel Ministries.