Genealogy of Jesus

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The genealogy of Jesus thought to be described in two passages of the Gospels: Luke 3:2338 and Matthew 1:117, although only Luke's is a linage of Jesus, whereas Matthews is a linage of Joseph. Matthew's genealogy commences with Abraham and then from King David's son Solomon follows the legal line of the kings through Jeconiah, the king whose descendants were cursed, to Joseph, legal father of Jesus. Luke gives a different genealogy going all the way back to Adam, through a minor son of David, Nathan Nathan and again to Joseph.

Because Jeconiah was cursed, in no way can the linage of Joseph be part of the linage of Jesus, as many modern versions of the bible mistakenly claim by changing the English reading of "generation" into "genealogy" or "linage."

Both gospels state that Jesus was begotten not by Joseph, but by God, being born to Mary through a virgin birth. These lists are identical between Abraham and David, but they differ from that point onward.

Matthew’s genealogy

Matthew 1:1–17 begins the Gospel, 1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac…” And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. 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 1:16-17)

Matthew emphasizes, from the beginning, Jesus’ title Christ which is the Greek rendering of the Hebrew title Messiah, meaning anointed, in the sense of an anointed king. Jesus is presented first and foremost as the long awaited Messiah, who was expected to be a descendant and heir of King David, so the genealogy serves the essential purpose of demonstrating this line of descent. Thus, Matthew begins by calling Jesus Son of David, indicating his royal origin, and also Son of Abraham, indicating that he was a Jew; both are stock phrases, in which son means descendant, calling to mind the promises God made to David and to Abraham.

Matthew’s introductory title (βίβλος γενέσεως, book of the generation) has been interpreted various ways, one being a title for the genealogy that follows, echoing the Septuagint use of the same phrase for toledot. The other more orthodox interpretation is that is a reference to how Christ was generated through Mary from God.

Genealogy of Jesus according to Matthew
  1. Abraham
  2. Isaac
  3. Jacob
  4. Judah & Tamar
  5. Perez
  6. Hezron
  7. Ram
  1. Amminadab
  2. Nahshon
  3. Salmon & Rahab
  4. Boaz & Ruth
  5. Obed
  6. Jesse
  7. David & Bathsheba
  1. Solomon & Naamah
  2. Rehoboam
  3. Abijam
  4. Asa
  5. Jehosaphat
  6. Jehoram
  7. Uzziah
  1. Jotham
  2. Ahaz
  3. Hezekiah
  4. Manasseh
  5. Amos
  6. Josiah
  7. Jeconiah
  1. Shealtiel
  2. Zerubbabel
  3. Abiud
  4. Eliakim
  5. Azor
  6. Zadok
  7. Achim
  1. Eliud
  2. Eleazar
  3. Matthan
  4. Jacob
  5. Joseph & Mary *
  6. Jesus

14 + 14 + 14 = 41?

Some bible skeptics conclude that Matthew had basic math problems when adding up the number of people in the genealogy of Matthew 1.

Matthew 1 says:

In Matthew 1:17, the list is broken down into three separate divisions:

  • 1 Abraham to David
  • 2 From David to the captivity
  • 3 From the captivity to the Messiah

The first segment is “from Abraham to David,” including both David and Abraham and the 12 generations between them to make 14.

The second segment is “from David to the deportation,” including David in the tally again, but not specifically Jeconiah. It would have made perfect sense to use his name seeing Israel would have been familiar with Jeconiah and his relation to the exile. But Jeconiah is not listed here by name; rather, the deportation is listed. This is an important point in understanding this list. Jeconiah was only king for a very short amount of time, and is documented as doing evil and was young, being just 18 when he took the position as king (2 Chronicles 36:9). We should not assume that Matthew counted Jeconiah’s short reign as a full generation which is specifically what Matthew is writing about in verse 17. So, from David to the deportation, which would include the small period of Jeconiah, there are 14 generations.

The third segment is “from the deportation to the Messiah,” and seeing Jeconiah was not listed with the previous division at the exile, he is also not listed here, since the time of his generation was more complete after the exile of Israel. When adding up the generations, from Jeconiah to Christ, there are 14 generations.

Matthew was accurate with his wording of each of the 14 generations. Using Matthew’s list, David was mentioned twice, which does not produce a contradiction but rather reveals vigilant wording on Matthew’s part with an emphasis on generations.

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