Ariel Ministries' Messianic Bible Study # 025:
YESHUA'S RIGHT TO
Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. THE PURPOSE OF THE
II. THE NEED FOR THE GENEALOGIES
III. THE OLD TESTAMENT REQUIREMENTS FOR KINGSHIP..........5
C. The Question Resolved
1. Davidic Descendency
a. The Line of Joseph in Matthew's Genealogy ................5
b. The Line of Mary in Luke's Genealogy ..........................7
YESHUA'S RIGHT TO
Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum
He shall be great, and
shall be called the Son
of the Most High: and
Lord God shall give unto him the throne of
his father David. -
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 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
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
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
III. THE OLD TESTAMENT REQUIREMENTS FOR
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.
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).
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
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
whom you are afraid, even into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon,
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?
they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into the land which they know
earth, earth, earth, hear the word of Jehovah. Thus says Jehovah,
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
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
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
have found favor with God. And behold, you shall conceive in your womb,
forth a son, and shall call his name YESHUA. He shall be great, and shall
the Son of the Most High: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne
father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of
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
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:
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:
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
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
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
These genealogies give us the fourfold portrait of the Messianic King;
Yeshua is the Jewish God-Man King.
If you enjoyed this Bible
study, Dr. Fruchtenbaum recommends these Messianic Bible Studies, which
may be obtained from
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
Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Th.M., Ph.D., is
founder and director of