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God unconditionally promised David that his lineage would never fail or be cut off (Jer. 33:17)—thus guaranteeing that the Messiah would be born as the “seed of David” (Jer. 23:5; 33:15). Jesus’ connection to David is paramount if He is to inherit the Davidic throne. The messianic genealogies presented in Matthew and Luke show that this promise was fulfilled, as both trace the Christ back to David. However, neither genealogical account is clear-cut, leaving us with certain questions. For example, most scholars recognize that Luke’s account deals with Mary’s family line—yet why is she not mentioned? Matthew’s account, which deals with Joseph’s line, is often seen as pointless since he was not Jesus’ actual father. What, then, is the purpose of Matthew’s account?

There are two specific requirements for one being eligible to inherit the Davidic throne: 1) one must be of the blood line of David; and 2) one must be the recipient of “divine appointment.” Jesus the Christ fulfills both requirements. Moreover, as we will demonstrate, God took the matter a step further, doubly connecting Jesus to David while unequivocally verifying His divine conception.

It is important to reiterate here the fact that David’s throne was set up by God—and has been allowed to continue, by God’s choice, through Solomon’s line (I Chron. 28:5; 29:23). Thus, it is God’s to give—by “divine appointment”—to the one of His choosing.

Before going on to examine the details of Jesus’ genealogy, we must establish the historical background of the Davidic line at the time of Judah’s fall. Of particular importance is the curse God placed on one of the last kings of the nation—Jechoniah. As we will see, this curse complicates the messianic genealogy, while simultaneously adding an element of surprise.

The Curse of Jechoniah

As the last righteous king of the beleaguered nation of Judah, Josiah is remembered for his sweeping reforms (II Chron. 34:29-33; 35:26-27). Josiah’s sons, however, were determined to take the Jewish nation back into the depths of sin and rebellion. After Josiah died in battle, his son, Jehoahaz, reigned in his place for a mere three months before being replaced—at the insistence of Egypt—by his brother, Jehoiakim. Under Jehoiakim, who ruled for only 11 years, Judah became a vassal state to Babylon. After being taken as a captive to Babylon, his son, Jechoniah (also known as Jehoiachin or Coniah), reigned briefly before being taken to Babylon as part of the first wave of the Jews’ captivity. King Nebuchadnezzar subsequently replaced Jechoniah with another of Josiah’s sons, Zedekiah (Jer. 37:1). As the final Davidic king ruling over the nation of Judah, Zedekiah was also eventually taken to Babylon where he died (Jer. 39:5-7).

From this point, the royal lineage becomes somewhat complicated. From all appearances, the Davidic throne ended with Zedekiah, as all of his sons were killed (Jer. 52:10). (One of Zedekiah’s daughters, however, was used to preserve the royal line and throne—see Chapter 12.) Moreover, Jechoniah—who had at least one son (I Chron. 3:17; Matt. 1:12)—was under a God-ordained curse stating that none of his seed would have a right to sit on David’s throne: “Thus says the LORD, ‘Write this man [Jechoniah] down as [if he were] childless, a man who will not be blessed in his days. For no man of his seed shall be blessed, sitting on the throne of David and ruling any more in Judah” (Jer. 22:30).

As the last surviving Davidic king, Jechoniah was taken to Babylon where he was allowed to live in comfort and favor until his death. Of course, David’s throne was never restored over Judah; but had it been restored, none of Jechoniah’s descendants could have inherited it. Jechoniah’s grandson, Zerubbabel, was among the Jews who returned to Palestine to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. Zerubbabel served as governor of Judah, but not king, and is listed in the family lineage of Joseph, Mary’s husband (Matt. 1:11-12, 16).

Jesus’ Genealogical Accounts

When we examine the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew, we see that the writer tells the story from Joseph’s perspective—focusing on him being a just man and on his visit by an angel. Following the genealogical listing itself (verses 1-17), Matthew immediately moves to the fact that Jesus was divinely conceived in Mary’s womb by the Holy Spirit of God (verse 18). This begs the question: What is the point in bringing out Joseph’s family line if he is not really Jesus’ father?

Interestingly, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum makes the observation that Matthew was actually demonstrating the impossibility of Jesus being anything other than divinely conceived.1 Jumping through the lineage as given by Matthew, we see Abraham, David, Solomon, Jechoniah, and finally, Joseph. It seems that Matthew is drawing our attention to the fact that Joseph is of the cursed line of Jechoniah—as if to emphasize that no son of Joseph could have the right to the throne of David. If Jesus had actually been a son of Joseph, He would have been disqualified from sitting on David’s throne. Matthew deliberately gives us the Jechoniah-Joseph connection, then proceeds to emphasize that Jesus’ real father is God Himself. All of this serves to verify the foundational truth of Jesus’ begettal by God through the Holy Spirit.

At Joseph’s expense, Matthew effectively confirms Jesus’ divine conception; however, we should not entirely dismiss Jesus’ relationship with Joseph. As was the custom in Hebrew culture, a man would typically adopt his stepson, making him his legal son. If Joseph had adopted Jesus as his legal son—and Luke 2:48 certainly indicates that he did so—such a maneuver would have given Jesus a legitimate claim to the throne of David through the line of Solomon. Accordingly, the fact that Joseph was of the cursed line of Jechoniah becomes a moot point, as the curse applies only to blood lines, not legal lines.

Still, a direct blood-line connection to David is required. Indeed, as we have seen, the Scriptures promise that the Messiah will sit on David’s throne as a son of David (Jer. 23:5; 33:15; Isa. 11:1) We find this direct link to David in Luke’s genealogical account.

In Luke three, we find the same story told from Mary’s perspective. This time, she is visited by an angel, while Joseph takes on a secondary role in the narrative. It is apparent that Luke is presenting Mary’s genealogy. But why is Mary not mentioned? The answer, according to Hebrew custom, is that the name of a woman was not to be mentioned in a genealogical table (although Matthew repeatedly ignores this custom). Rather, the name of the woman’s husband was to be used.

In the KJV, Luke 3:23 reads: “Jesus … being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli.” This makes it read as if Jesus was the son of Joseph, who was the son of Heli. However, Matthew has already informed us that Joseph’s father was Jacob (Matt. 1:16). The problem in this rendering is with the parentheses, which are not part of the original Greek. If we reposition the final parenthesis, the text could read: “Jesus … being (as was supposed, the son of Joseph) the son of Heli.” Using this configuration, Jesus is called the son of Heli because Heli was his maternal grandfather (Mary’s father), his nearest male relative.

Another valid explanation is that Joseph’s name (representing Mary) was inserted as if he were the son of Heli—who was, in fact, his father-inlaw. As such, the text could read: “Jesus … being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph, the son-in-law of Heli.” The absence of Mary’s name is 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.

Thus, Mary’s genealogy in Luke connects Jesus directly to David through Nathan (verse 31), a rather obscure son of David (II Sam. 5:14). It is irrelevant that Jesus is not descended from the royal dynasty of Solomon. Because of sin, the dynasty established through Solomon could not be perpetual. Indeed, the perpetuity of David’s throne does not depend on Solomon or his lineage. Jesus’ blood-line right to the throne comes through Nathan. Solomon’s royal line—which even today continues to occupy the throne of David—will end when Jesus assumes that throne.

As messianic genealogies are concerned, we have seen that: 1) Jesus is the literal seed of David through Mary’s family line; and 2) Jesus has, by adoption, a legal connection to Solomon’s line, giving Him a legal right to the Davidic throne. However, David had many sons—and there are any number of Davidic descendants who could potentially claim a right to his throne. The matter, however, is settled in the final biblical requirement for qualifying for David’s throne: divine appointment. Recall that the throne of David originated with God. Thus, it is His to give to whom He chooses. In announcing the news of Jesus’ birth to Mary, God revealed Jesus’ divine right to David’s throne: “He [Jesus] shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give Him the throne of David, His forefather; and He shall reign over the house of Jacob into the ages, and of His kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:32-33).


1. Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Yeshua’s Right to David’s Throne, Ariel Ministries,