OUR LORD'S GENEALOGY...
AND THE ROYAL LINE OF SUCCESSION
A Study by J.O. AdamsThough the two lists that concern us in this study, the one in Matthew, the other in Luke, are usually regarded as the genealogies of our Lord, yet the nature of the lists is very different, and I think we should differentiate between them as I have done in my title.
BOTH lists deal with our Lord as 'the Son of the Man', but that in Matthew is more specific and shows Him to be the Son (or descendant) of King David. Hence it is Matthew who supplies the Royal Line of Succession.
As it is His humanity that is in view, the lists must trace His human ancestry, both through His mother, Mary, and through her husband, Joseph, who was legally regarded as His father. Thus we have two lists. Obviously Mary and Joseph did not share the same line of descent, and we find the two lists differing considerably until they reach King David, where they converge into a single line. There is considerable controversy among scholars concerning these lists. Some maintain that both give us Joseph's ancestry. Others, that Matthew records Joseph's line, and Luke, that of Mary. Still others state the reverse. In addition there are several problems that require some clarification.
To keep this account as simple as possible, I have included a series of appendices to provide further evidence of a more detailed nature. Unless otherwise indicated, I will use my own translations from the Hebrew and Greek, and will attempt to explain any differences between these and the King James Version (i.e. the A.V.).
If at times it may be necessary to transpose Hebrew or Greek letters into our language, I will use italics. In so doing I will use 'e' for epsilon, 'E' for eta, 'o' for omicron, and 'O' for omega. Italics will also be used for 'understood' words that are deemed necessary to clarify the meaning of a passage. Where the definite article occurs in the original language, but is not required in English, this will be marked by an asterisk before the relevant word. Thus ho theos means 'the god', but may at times be written as '*God'.
Before proceeding with this study, may I make an observation that should always be kept in mind when studying Scripture? We are dealing with the Word of God and must realise that these lists of names were set down by the Holy Spirit through Matthew and Luke. We must therefore accept them as written. It may be shown that there are omissions, etc. Only the Holy Spirit knows the reason for such things, and it is not our place to 'rectify' them, or alter them in any way - but we may try to explain some of them.
I will cornrnence with Luke's account. This is in verses 23 to 38 of chapter three. The whole 16 verses are one long sentence, and as the structure of each verse is identical, I will quote only verses 23 and 24. We read:
'Jesus began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Janna, which was the son of Joseph.' (A.V)
We see at once that this is a perfectly straightforward genealogical table - a complete and accurate list of ancestry. It starts with Jesus, but as verse 23 states, it is only what the people in general 'supposed' to be His ancestral line, and consequently it became accepted in the eyes of the law of the land.
Being only a 'supposed' genealogy of Jesus, this may, or may not, be His true genealogy. Indeed we are well aware that Jesus was not the son of Joseph, for in verse 22 (and elsewhere) it is plainly stated that He is God's Son. Hence the supposition is false. (The word rendered 'supposed' in our A.V. means 'presumed, accepted', etc., by law or custom. See Appendix I.)
Nevertheless, with the exception of the first part of this supposition - i.e. that Jesus was the son of Joseph - the remainder of this genealogy is a true and accurate table of Joseph's ancestors. Indeed it could not be otherwise. (As Jesus was regarded as Joseph's son, then His ancestry must also be regarded as that of Joseph, which no doubt was well known and thoroughly documented.)
A careful examination of the Greek shows that the meaning of Luke's words, as given in the A.V, is correct. Actually thin Greek text does not contain the phrase 'which was the son'. This was added, quite correctly, to make the understanding of the passage clearer to the average reader. The following is a strictly accurate translation from the Greek:
'Now Jesus Himself when He began, was about thirty years, being as He was legally regarded, a son of Joseph, of *Heli, of *Matthat, of *Levi, etc.'
Though perhaps not absolutely necessary, I too would add the phrase 'who was the son' as being understood before the name of each person following Joseph. Thus:
'Joseph, who was the son of *Heli, who was the son of Matthat, who was the son of Levi, etc.' (Appendix 1 has a more detailed explanation of the grammar and meaning of this verse.)
Now if Jesus were accepted as being Joseph's son, then it must follow, that His family tree must also be that of Joseph. Luke therefore presents Joseph's genealogy, and shows him to he Heli's son.
It has been asserted very positively by many commentators that Luke's list supplies Jesus' genealogy through His mother Mary. I am not able to find the slightest shred of evidence to support this contention. For instance, one statement made in this respect is that:
'In Luke it is not said that Heli begat Joseph, so that the natural explanation is that Joseph was the son-in-law of Heli, who was, like himself, a descendant of David. That he should in that case be called 'son of Hell'... would be in accord with Jewish usage. [cf. I Sam. 24:16]' (Scofield's Reference Bible. Footnote to Luke 3:23)
It may seem 'natural' to Scofield that Joseph was Heli's son-in-law, but there is no evidence to confirm it. Luke's statement is quite clear and definite, and there call be no grounds for doubting its validity. The fact that a son-in-law cannot occupy such a place in a genealogical list has been completely overlooked!
In other words, if Jesus were the son of Joseph, then His ancestry would be traced through Joseph's actual father and not through Heli, his father in law. To do so would mean that the whole of Luke's list from Heli to God, is false. Scofield's mention of the word 'begat' is in reference to Matthew 1:16, and I have explained this in Appendix 2.
In addition, nowhere in Luke's table is there a reference to Mary. Indeed her name is not mentioned in the entire third chapter of Luke's gospel. By contrast she is deliberately mentioned in Matthew 1:16, and the last seven verses of the chapter deal with some of the peculiar features of Jesus' birth from Mary, and Joseph's position in regard to it.
It is generally accepted, and I think rightly so, that Luke's gospel deals with our Lord's life on earth from the viewpoint of His humanity - that is, as the Son of *Man. Similarly Matthew's gospel views Him as the King. But in the opinion of the community in general, and consequently of the law of the land at this time, He was simply regarded as the son of Joseph the carpenter:
'Is not this man the son of the carpenter? Is not his *mother called Mary, and His *brothers James and Joseph, and Simon and Judas?' - (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3)
Clearly at this time, His virgin birth and His divine origin were not recognised by the people as a whole. It was from the point of view of the community into which He was born, that Luke's 'supposed' genealogy is presented. It presents His lineage as that of 'the Son of *Man'. To do so His ancestry needed to be traced backwards from the man regarded as His father - i.e. from Joseph. The same applies to Mary, and her ancestry can be traced from Jacob to Adam.
Matthew's first verse upholds the concept that he presents Jesus as the King. It reads:
'The book of generation (or 'birth') of Jesus, anointed Son of David, Son of Abraham.'
The word 'generation' used here, represents the word 'genesis' and primarily means 'birth', and thence 'successive generation' or 'lineage'. Thus we find, particularly in the last eight verses of the chapter, details about His birth frorn Mary, and Joseph's part in it.
This chapter then is the 'book' or 'scroll' of the generation of Jesus, King David's anointed Son - anointed by God to be Israel's King (and Israel's High Priest). For this to come about it was necessary that Jesus, The Son of *God, should be born into the royal line of kings, and Mary was selected for that privilege. It follows, that in her own right, Mary belonged to, and was next In the line of royal succession.
And clearly, as He was the child of Mary and not of Joseph, Jesus' right to inherit did not come from His 'supposed' father. This means that the royal line proceeded from David to Jacob, and then passed directly to Mary. It means too, that Mary was Jacob's daughter, and that Joseph was only 'begotten' by Jacob in that he became Jacob's heir, or son-in-law. Remember that Mary was carrying the infant Jesus before her marriage. (Regarding the use of 'beget' in these verses see again Appendix 2) Two other matters should be observed in this first verse of Matthew. First, our Lord is designated 'Son of Abraham'. This immediately points to Him as being of Israel, and to the fact that He came to confirm the promises, or covenants, made to the fathers. Paul states:
'For I say that an anointed One became a minister of circumcision for the maintenance of God's truth, in order to confirm the promises belonging to the fathers.' - (Rom. 15:8)
Then we should observe the title of 'anointed Son of David'. This is placed before 'Son of Abraham', possibly to show its great importance here. He was born into the kingly line and anointed, to ultimately take over as King of Israel, and occupy David's throne. This must not be overlooked.
These matters, plus the listing of Judah's kings in the table that follows, show that this is the royal line of succession, rather than a true genealogy. A genealogy is a list of direct ancestors. It depicts natural generation from father to child, and no names from other branches of the family, or elsewhere, can be inserted into it. But Luke's list does comply with this definition.
On the other hand a royal line of succession can permit the inclusion of persons from other branches of the family, if circumstances arise that make this necessary. The omission of names from the list is also possible and does occur. Matthew's table contains examples of such insertions and omissions. It is a line of kingly succession, but not necessarily a line of direct ancestors. (See Appendix 3)
For these reasons, whilst Luke's account is perfectly straightforward, that of Matthew presents problems that have caused confusion and controversy among scholars.
I would also remark, that not being a record of His actual parentage, Luke's list does not supply a proper basis for any claim Jesus may have for royal succession. To properly support such a claim, a genuine line of genealogy and/or succession, would be required. Under the circumstances of His birth such a claim could only come through His mother. It is Matthew that supplies this by tracing His descent through Mary.
Before examining the line of succession recorded by Matthew, some revision of the Lord's parentage may be helpful. Such may help to explain the wording used by Luke in 3:23 and Matthew 1:16. As we know, Jesus was begotten only by God. (John 3:16.) He therefore had no human father. But it was essential that He be of Israel to become Israel's 'kinsman-redeemer'. (See Lev. 25:48,49, etc.) It was also necessary for Him to be a descendant of King David to make Him eligible to succeed to David's throne. To achieve these things He was born by Mary (Luke 1:32), who we shall see, was an Israelite of Nathan's branch of David's progeny.
However this was not all that was required. He must be born in wedlock to avoid any hint of scandal, and also because a woman could only be entered in these lists under her husband's name. Also to comply with these legal requirements, it was necessary that her husband be descended from David. That Joseph was so descended is made clear from his genealogy in Luke, and from the passage quoted below, in which the angel addresses him as 'Joseph, thou son of David'.
For these reasons Joseph was instructed by Jehovah's angel to marry Mary before the birth of the child (Matt. 1:20-25). So when Jesus was born, Joseph being already Mary's husband, became regarded by the law as Jesus' father. (See Appendix 3.) The events leading up to Jesus' birth are important so I will quote them in full from the Greek. Here are the last eight verses from Matthew chapter one.
'Now the birth of the anointed Jesus was in this way. While His mother Mary was betrothed to *Joseph and before they came together, she was found to have a child from Holy Spirit. And Joseph, her man (i.e. her intended husband), being righteous and not wishing to shame her publicly, was disposed to release her secretly. But while he was pondering on these things, behold, an angel of LORD (i.e. Jehovah) appeared to him during a drean saying, "Joseph, thou son of David, thou shouldst not be afraid to take to thyself Mary, thy woman (i.e. his intended wife), for that which is within her is begotten of Holy Spirit, and she will bear a Son, and thou shalt call his *name Jesus, for He will save His *people from their sins. Now all this has come to pass in order that there shouldst be fulfilled that which was spoken by LORD, saying 'Behold the virgin shall be with child, and she shall bear a son, and they will call His name Emmanuel, which is interpreted 'God with us'." Then when Joseph was awakened from the sleep, he did as the angel of LORD had commanded him, and he took to himself his wife. And he knew her not until she bore a Son, and he called His name Jesus.' - Matt. 1:18-25.)
I find it significant, that whereas Mary's name is not mentioned at all in Luke's list, she is deliberately named in Matthew 1:16 and on to the end of the chapter. But even here she is not mentioned as a direct link in the chain of succession. Custom demanded that only the names of men should be so listed. If a woman is mentioned it is only indirectly for it is the name of her spouse that is entered in the list. Of course, that spouse must also be of the royal line, and with his insertion into the list, a new house or dynasty, carries on.
This is probably because the 'seed' comes only from the male. In the process of reproduction it is only the man who possesses, and therefore can provide the 'seed' (or sperm).
The function of the woman is to bear, or carry the seed, and to nurture it. (By the way, there are four other women mentioned in Matthew's list, but as in the case of Mary, the reference is always oblique, and none are actually named as direct links in the line.) The statement at the end of Matthew's table is:
'And Jacob begat *Joseph, the husband of Mary, from whom was born Jesus, the One being called 'anointed'.
As already mentioned, the statement that 'Jacob begat Joseph' has been eagerly seized upon by those who claim that Joseph was not the son of Heli (Luke 3:23), but of Jacob. However, the Greek word gennao, 'to beget', etc., is frequently used in Scripture to denote relationships other than the immediate biological one of father and child. Indeed it is so used in this same table, for we read that 'Josias begat Jechoniah'. Yet Jechoniah was not the son of Josiah, but his grandson. Similarly Matthew states that Joram begat Ozias, yet Ozias (or 'Uzziah') was not the son of Joram, but his great, great, grandson. Another case is that of Salathiel, but I will consider this later. (For notes on the use of 'beget' see Appendix 2.)
When we take into consideration the broad range of values Scripture places on gennao, 'to beget', we see that it was Luke, who was correct in showing Joseph to be Heli's son, and therefore it was Mary who was the daughter of Jacob. (Matt. 1:16.)
Then as Joseph married Mary, he became Jacob's son-in-law, and as such was referred to as having been 'begotten' by him. This is quite in accord with the Scriptural use of gennao. This usage agrees with Scofield's note mentioned on page 3. (See Appendix 2.)
I am reminded of a humorous remark that is often heard at weddings. It is said of the bride's father, that he 'lost a daughter, but got a son'. Such a remark could well have been made at the marriage of Joseph and Mary. (Incidentally 'begat' is simply an obsolete word for 'got'.)
Each of these lists traces the descent of Jesus' human parents to King David. Luke traces His 'supposed' parentage through His 'supposed' father's ancestry - i.e. in law. This genealogy is traced through Joseph, Heli, and Nathan, to David. However, in Matthew's table the position is not so clear, for it appears that though Mary was a descendant of David, she came through the branch of Solomon and Jechoniah. This presents a very big problem - that of Jechoniah.
At the same time, and closely connected with this, there is another matter that causes concern. Not only do the names of Salathiel and Zorobabel appear in both lists, but whereas in Matthew it seems that Salathiel was Jechoniah's son, Luke definitely identifies him as the son of Neri. These apparent contradictions must be examined, so let us look at some of the events that occurred around the time of these men.
Josiah, a good king in Judah, had four sons, three of whom reigned in Judah. All three were evil in Jehovah's sight. Jehoiakim was particularly notable in this respect. The evil ways of his son Jechoniah brought down the anger of God, who through His prophet Jeremiah, uttered the following decree concerning Jechoniah's progeny:
'Thus saith Jehovah, "Write this man a childless man. He shall not prosper in His days because no man of his seed shall succeed (or 'prosper' ) to sit upon David's throne and rule any more in Judah".' - (Jer.22:3O.)
What does this edict mean? It does not mean that Jechoniah would be childless, but that he would be written in the line of succession as not having any children. It means that not one of his seed - none of his descendants - would be eligible to occupy David's throne.
I believe the edict was obeyed and that Jechoniah's progeny are not written down in Matthew's table of succession. It will be claimed from both Matthew 1:1 and I Chronicles 3:17, 18, that Salathiel (or 'Shealtiel' as he is called in Hebrew) was Jechoniah's son, and that he is so named by Matthew. This would be in direct contradiction to Luke's statement, which definitely shows him to have been the son of Neri. (Luke 3:27.) My reasons for rejecting this claim are set out in Appendix 4.
We can be sure that the persons responsible for keeping the public records were well aware of Jehovah's decree disqualifying Jechoniah's seed. Accordingly they brought into the royal list another descendant of King David, to replace them. This was Salathiel, also a descendant of David, but from the branch of Nathan, Solomon's brother. I have a Bible Dictionary of 1867, which states the position very clearly:
'As the direct line failed in Jechoniah, who was written childless, the right of succession went to the descendant of Nathan, namely to Salathiel, the son of Neri, who as being legal heir to Jechoniah, was reckoned his son by Matthew, and doubtless also was so reckoned in the public registers.'
I have discussed this in more detail in Appendix 4. See again the use of 'son' and 'beget' in Appendix 2.
Then, and this is in agreement with Luke's list, Matthew shows that Salathiel had a son named Zorobabel, who succeeded him in the royal line.
After Zorobabel there is a divergence in the royal lists. The line of succession continues from Zorobabel's son Abiud, down to Jacob and Mary, and then to our Lord. On the other hand, the genealogical list in Luke follows Rhesa, another son of Zorobabel, and continues to Joseph- and then 'supposedly' to Jesus.
The fact that Salathiel was not the son of Jechoniah is of the utmost importance, for it means that none of the persons that follow him in either list is affected by Jehovah's decree.
Conversely, had Salathiel been Jechoniah's son, Joseph, Mary, and even our Lord, would have been disqualified by Jeremiah's utterance.
That Salathiel was brought into the line of succession from Nathan's branch of David's progeny shows that Matthew's list does not trace Mary's (nor Jesus') ancestry through Solomon.
Her genealogy goes back in an unbroken line through Jacob, Abiud and Zorobabel in Matthew's list. It then continues through Salathiel and Neri to Nathan and David, in Luke's list. This is shown in the table of Mary's genealogy in Appendix 5b.
Indeed it is now clear that both Joseph and Mary were descended from Nathan, and so were entitled to sit upon David's throne should the occasion arise. Also from any human, or legal point of view, no objection could be raised to Jesus' right to the throne. In actual fact, although born of Mary, our Lord has no human genealogy, for He was 'begotten from above' - that is by Holy Spirit.
Matthew's statement in verse 17 has also caused much controversy. The Greek states:
'So all the generations from Adam until David are fourteen generations; and frorn David until the deportation of Babylon; are fourteen generations - and frorn the deportation of Babylon until the anointed One, are fourteen generations.'
Here I would remark, that it is the Holy Spirit that sets out the three groups of fourteen generations. This must therefore be so, and arguments about where these groups should begin and end, or about such things as names being omitted, etc., are futile and do not alter the facts. This however does not preclude some attempts to explain them.
The Greek word genea, rendered 'generations' in this verse, represents 'families, steps in a genealogy', or 'a generation as a period of time, an age'. Thus the first section starts with Abraham and ends with David. There are fourteen generations. The second starts with Solomon and ends with 'the carrying away into Babylon'. In verse 14 this is described as:
'Josias begat Jechonias (Greek spelling of Jechoniah) and his brethren at (or 'near', or 'about') the carrying away of Babylon'.
The real situation was that Josiah begat Jehoiakim, who in turn begat Jechoniah. Jehoiakim is not mentioned in Matthew's table, but the 'carrying away' commenced during his reign. Hence the first mention of 'Jechoniah and his brethren' was I think, inserted in lieu of Jehoiakim's generation, and so should be counted. This is in agreement with verse 17, and makes fourteen generations from Solomon to the deportation.
After the deportation, Jechoniah's name is again listed - possibly to indicate the generation after the deportation. This would include the eleven year reign of Zedekiah, who also gets no mention by Matthew. Then counting from Jechoniah to Jesus, there are again fourteen generations. (Appendix 5a.). It is noticeable that verse 17 makes no mention of Jechoniah, but only of the carrying away into Babylon.
The prominence of the number seven in each of these lists is worthy of comment. That of Matthew has 42 (6x7) generations, comprising three clearly defined sections, each having 14 (2x7) generations. Luke's list provides another remarkable pattern of sevens. In all there are 77 (11x7) names listed. These too have well defined divisions. From God to Thara (or 'Terah', Abraham's father) there are 21 (3x7) names, and from Abraham to David, 14 (2x7) names, from Nathan to Salathiel 21 (3x7) names, and from Zorobabel to Jesus there are 21 (3x7) names.
I think this study has demonstrated several important things that will surprise most Christians and Bible students.
With regard to our Lord, Luke does not present either His true right to succession, or a table of His nativity - His human descent. What then does Luke's account present? It presents Jesus in the light of the law of the land. As He was born by Joseph's wife, the law naturally assumes that Joseph was His father. From this, as my remarks on the translation have shown, the law regards His ancestry as that of Joseph. Consequently it is His 'supposed' ancestry that is tabled by Luke, and this must be through the line of His 'father'. Therefore Luke shows Joseph's genealogy. Of course the law's assumption was incorrect, for Jesus was not a son of Joseph.
The purpose of Matthew's table was to show Jesus' right to, and place in, the royal line of succession. This naturally followed the line of Judah's kings from Solomon to Jechoniah. Then due to the disqualification of Jechoniah's seed, the line came to an abrupt end, and it became necessary to bring in the next in line from the descendants of Nathan. This was Salathiel, the son of Neri.
Unless something unforeseen should happen, such as the disinheriting of Jechoniah's seed, the right of succession always passes from a person to his next of kin. In other words it is a descent from father to son, except when the next in line is a woman. If she marries, the offspring from that marriage inherits. If however she has no spouse, then the next in line from another branch of the family can be brought in.
This is how Salathiel came to be included in the royal line in lieu of Jechoniah's sons. In the case of a true genealogy, such as that in Luke, this is not possible, and the persons named must bear a true father to son relationship.
From Luke's list we also see that Joseph was the son of Heli, not of Jacob. Hence apart from his marriage to Mary, he had no claim to succession. Nevertheless in law, being Mary's spouse, the royal line would pass from him to Jesus. Matthew's list therefore shows our Lord's right to sit on David's throne by virtue of being Mary's son.
(The procedure is exemplified in the case of our present queen. She was next in line to her father George VI, and when he died she succeeded to the throne. She was of the House of Windsor. With her death the line will pass to Philip's son, and a new house, or dynasty, will be established. This would normally be the House of Mountbatten, but I believe it has been decreed, that the name of Windsor will be retained.)
Nevertheless, as Mary's Son was conceived prior to her marriage to Joseph, Jesus was her true heir. And as He still lives, Joseph's offspring cannot be entered in the royal line of succession.
We see too that Mary herself was a descendant of Salathiel through Zorobabel and Abiud, and not of Solomon and Jechoniah. From Salathiel Mary's genealogy passes through Nathan to David, and this is shown by reference to Luke's list. That is, Joseph's line of descent and that of Mary, converge in Zorobabel.
It is of interest, that Scripture does not give a straight line of our Lord's human descent. However as I have just intimated, by combining Matthew's list with that of Luke, we can trace Mary's descent. I have shown this in the table in Appendix 5b. If I may be permitted to write Jesus' true line of descent it would be:
Jehovah - Mary
Though it does not directly concern us in this study, there is another matter, that should perhaps be mentioned. I refer to the case of Zedekiah and the transference of the throne to the British Isles.
Zedekiah's father Josiah, had four sons. The first born, Johanan, died at about the same time as his father. The other three sons were Eliakim, Mattaniah and Shallum. Their names are confusing for all became changed:
Eliakirn became Jehoiakim, Mattaniah became Zedekiah, Shallum became Jehoahaz
Likewise Jehoiachin, the son of Jehoiakim, became better known as Jechoniah (or sometimes, called Coniah). A brief look at the history of these men may help us to understand their omission from the line of succession recorded by Matthew - especially the case of Zedekiah. We read, that following the death of Josiah:
'The people of the land took Jehoahaz, the son of Josiah, and anointed him, and made him king in his father's stead.' (II Kings 23:30.II Chron. 36:1 -A.V)
As Jehoahaz was Josiah's youngest son, it is apparent that this action by 'the people of the land', bypassed the rightful heir, Elilakim (Jehoiakim). Such an action by the common people would be without proper authority, or God's sanction.
Anointing indicated the outpouring of God's Spirit, and was the divinely appointed ceremony for the inauguration of Israel's kings. It was therefore required to be carried out by a priest of God.
But there is no evidence that Jehoahaz, or the three kings that followed him, were thus anointed. After reigning for three months, Jehoahaz was deposed by Pharaoh Necho and taken to Egypt, where he died. Necho then placed Eliakim on the throne and changed his name to Jehoiakim.
Jehoiakim was therefore a vassal king placed on Judah's throne by a foreign ruler and paying tribute to him. After reigning for eleven years, he came to a violent and ignominious end. He was succeeded by his son Jechoniah.
Jechoniah is twice mentioned in Matthew's list, but I think simply to mark two successive generations, or periods of time. In the first instance he is said to have been 'begotten' by Josiah. This could only be in the sense of a successor, for he was not the son of Josiah, but of Jehoiakim. He is named along with his 'brethren' (or 'near kinsmen') to mark the period of Jehoiakim's reign - the period in which the deportation to Babylon occurred.
The second mention of Jechoniah's name was to indicate the period 'after' the deportation, and this probably referred to, and indicated the eleven year reign of Zedekiah.
(I think that in 1:12 Matthew employs 'beget' in the sense of a successor, for it was Neri, not Jechoniah, who was the actual father of Salathiel. Matthew again used 'beget' in verse 16 for Jacob's 'begettal' of Joseph, when he became his son-in-law.)
Jechoniah reigned about three months, then was captured and imprisoned in Babylon. I have suggested that the enthroning of Jehoahaz was probably irregular. If so this would also apply to that of Jehoiakim and Zedekiah, for both were idolators placed on Judah's throne by foreign monarchs.
In II Chronicles 36:5,9,12), it is stated that all three sons of Josiah 'did evil in the sight of Jehovah'.
In Jehoiakim's abominations there is mention of 'that which was found on (or 'against') him'. Some believe, and there is some evidence to support the belief, that he was tattooed with idolatrous marks. We are also told that Zedekiah did evil in the sight of Jehovah according to all that Jehoiakim had done. (Jer. 52:2)
The irregularities of their enthronements, along with their evil and idolatrous behaviour, may possibly explain why not one of these men is mentioned in Matthew's list of succession.
Jechoniah's reign ended when Nebuchadnezzar captured him and imprisoned him in Babylon. He then placed Mattaniah on the throne and changed his name to Zedekiah. Later he took Zedekiah and his sons to Babylon, where he first killed the sons, then put out Zedekiah's eyes. Zedekiah died in Babylon, and It appeared that his line had come to an end.
However he had two daughters who had remained in Jerusalem. These along with the 'stone of destiny' and the royal regalia, were taken to Egypt by the prophet Jeremiah. From there they travelled to Ireland, where Zedekiah's elder daughter married Eochaidh, the Heremon, or King of Ireland. (There is some doubt as to whether this daughter was Tea Tephi or Scota.)
Eochaidh too was a descendant of Judah, though not from the line of Phares and David, but from that of Zarah, the twin brother of Phares. Thus David's throne passed to Ireland. From there it was later transferred to Scotland, and finally to England, where it remains.
But as Eochaidh was not a descendant of David, the progeny resulting from his marriage with Zedekiah's daughter was not of Zedekiah's seed, and therefore not of David's line. Hence the Irish kings, who came from this union were not of David's line (except through their rnother).
Nevertheless David's throne remained and was occupied by the Zarah branch of Judah's descendants. In addition, some ancient records also indicate that the seed of David is present in our later royal houses (e.g. the Tudors). If so we still have a descendant of David on the throne. Likewise the ancestry of the present royal house can be traced to Judah, and so God's promises remain unbroken. (See Gen. 49:10).
God made unconditional promises to David that his house and his throne would remain forever (II Sam. 7:10-16), but the occupancy of the throne was conditional upon obedience to Him. This is acknowledged in Solomon's prayer to God:
'And now Jehovah, God of Israel, keep for thy servant David, that which Thou didst promise him when Thou saidst, "There shall not be a man from thee (i.e. from David) cut off from before Me to sit upon the throne of Israel, only if thy sons keep their way to walk before Me as thou hast walked before Me.' (I Kings 8:25).
What then was God's purpose in Zedekiah, and the transference of the throne to Britain? We should notice that Zedekiah was not listed in the line of succession. This passed from Josiah (or perhaps Jechoniah) to Salathiel, then to Mary, and finally to the Lord Jesus. However, with the help of Jeremiah, the throne was taken to Ireland in the keeping of Zedekiah's daughter. It has remained in the British Isles until now and has been occupied by a descendant of David and Judah.
But the true line of succession, the authority to sit on the throne and rule over God's Kingdom on earth (Israel), ended with Jesus. He lives, and the throne and sceptre belong to Him. He will return and will take over from our present line of kings. Hence the Kingdom is in abeyance, and Zedekiah and the royal family were made its caretakers until Shiloh - 'He to whom it belongs' - comes to rule over it.
Appendix 1 Appendix 2 Appendix 3 Appendix 4 Appendix 5A Appendix 5B
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