Genealogy of Jesus Christ

Genealogy Of Jesus Christ, the only one given in the New Testament.

1. Object of this Genealogical Record. — From the foregoing article it is evident that no nation was more careful to frame and preserve its genealogical tables than Israel. Their sacred writings contain genealogies which extend through a period of more than 3500 years, from the creation of Adam to the captivity of Judah. Indeed, we find from the books of Ezra and Nehemiah that the same carefulness in this matter was observed after the captivity; for in Ezr 2:62 it is expressly stated that some who had come up from Babylon had sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but were not found; therefore were they, as polluted, removed from the priesthood. The division of the whole Hebrew nation into tribes, and the allotment to each tribe of a specified portion of the land of Canaan as an inalienable possession, rendered it indispensable that they should keep genealogical tables. God had, however, a still higher object than that of giving stability to property in Israel in leading successive generations of his people thus to keep an accurate list of their ancestry. That they should do this was especially required from the moment that the voice of prophecy declared that the promised Messiah should be of the seed of Abraham, of the posterity of Isaac, of the sons of Jacob, of the tribe of Judah, and of the family of David.

The Rabbins affirm that after the Captivity the Jews were most careful in keeping their pedigrees (Babyl. Gemar. Gloss. fol. 14:2). Since, however, the period of their destruction as a nation by the Romans, all their tables of descent seem to be lost, and now they are utterly unable to trace the pedigree of any one Israelite who might lay claim to be their promised and still expected Messiah. Hence Christians assert, with a force that no reasonable and candid Jew can resist, that Shiloh must have come.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

The priesthood of Aaron having ceased, the possession of the land of Canaan being transferred to the Gentiles, there being under the N.T. dispensation no difference between circumcision and uncircumcision, Barbarian and Scythian, bond and free, there is but one whose genealogy it concerns us as Christians to be acquainted with, that of our Lord Jesus Christ. Him the prophets announced as the seed of Abraham, and the son of David, and the angels declared that to him should be given the throne of his father David, that he might reign over the house of Jacob forever. His descent from David and Abraham being therefore an essential part of his Messiahship, it was right that his genealogy should be given as a portion of gospel truth. Considering, further, that to the Jews first he was manifested and preached, and that his descent from David and Abraham was a matter of special interest to them, it seems likely that the proof of his descent would be one especially adapted to convince them; in other words, that it would be drawn from documents which they deemed authentic. Such were the genealogical records preserved at Jerusalem. SEE GENEALOGY. Now when to the above consideration we add the fact that the lineage of Joseph was actually made out from authentic records for the purpose of the civil census ordered by Augustus, it becomes morally certain that the genealogy of Jesus Christ was extracted from the public registers. Another consideration adds yet further conviction. It has often excited surprise that the genealogies of Christ should both seem to be traced through Joseph, and not Mary. But if these genealogies were those contained in the public registers, it could not be otherwise. In them Jesus, the son of Mary, the espoused wife of Joseph, could only appear as Joseph's son (comp. Joh 1:45). In transferring them to the pages of the gospels, the evangelists only added the qualifying expression "as was supposed" (Lu 3:23, and its equivalent, Mt 1:16).

We find other traces of the existence of the public tables of descent in the New Testament: the taxation spoken of by Lu 2:2-3, would clearly indicate this, for how could each one be able to go to his own city unless he knew the specific tribe to which he belonged? Hence it was, we think, that Paul was able with confidence to appeal to the Hebrews concerning the lineage of Christ, "for it is evident," says he, "that our Lord sprung out of Judah" (Heb 7:14; 2Ti 2:8). To evince this beyond reasonable doubt, it pleased God to give us, by his inspired servants Matthew and Luke, these genealogies.

2. Statement of the Subject. — The following is a tabular view of these records, with which it will be convenient to compare the parallel lists as found in the Hebrew copies of the Old Testament.

3. Solution of Difficulties. — We do not find that there was any objection made to these genealogies, either by Jew or Gentile, during the 1st century. Had any difficulty on this head existed, we may reasonably suppose that the Jews, of all others, would have been but too ready to detect and expose it. We may, therefore, fairly conclude that, whatever difficulty meets us now in harmonizing our Lord's pedigree as given by the two evangelists, it could have had no place in the first age of the Christian Church. In subsequent ages, however, objections were and still are made to the genealogies of Matthew and Luke.

A preliminary difficulty, which applies, however, equally to the O.T. lists, lies in the small number of names between Judah and David, being only nine for an interval of 833 years, making the incredible average of nearly a century for each generation. Hence arises the presumption that some names have been omitted (see Browne, Ordo Saeclorum, page 283), and at least three — more probably nine — must be supplied, in order to reduce this average to the ordinary age of paternity; three, Judah, Boaz, and Jesse, are known to have been advanced in life at the birth of their youngest sons, and Salmon was considerably so. The synchronism of Nahshon with the Exode, and Boaz with the earlier judges, requires the insertion of these omitted generations in the latter part of the list. SEE RAHAB; SEE RUTH.

On the other hand, the names Menan and Melea, also Mattathias and Maath, seem to be superfluous repetitions of others in the same list.

1. Difficulties that apply to the Evangelists INDIVIDUALLY. —

(1.) It is objected that Jechoniah was not the son of Josiah, but his grandson. Answer: Matthew does not mean to say he was his son; for verses 11 and 12 are obviously intended to designate two different persons, viz. Jehoiakim, and his son Jehoiachin. That the former is the person meant in verse 11 is evident from the addition of "his brethren." Whose brethren? Not Jehoiachin's (or Jechonias), for he had none, but Jehoiakim's, viz. Jehoahaz and Zedekiah, the former of whom reigned before him (though a younger brother), and the latter after him (1Ch 3:15-17). Admitting this, we see the consistency of the evangelist as to the number of generations in the second and third series; whereas they who make Jechonias (verses 11, 12) to be the same person leave only thirteen in the second series, if Jechonias be added to the third; or in the third, if he be placed to the second. If the objection had any truth, the evangelist would be palpably inconsistent with himself! St. Jerome (in Mattheum, cap. 1) confirms this view: "If Jechonias be included in the first tessarodecade there will not be fourteen generations: we may therefore assume that the first Jechonias meant Joakim and the latter Joachin — the one spelt with the letters k and m, the other with ch and i; which letters, in the course of time, by fault of transcribers, were confounded by Greeks and Latins." Porphyry brought forward this objection against Matthew's genealogy, and we find the same father, in his Comment. on Daniel, thus replying: "In the Gospel of Matthew one generation seems to be wanting, for the second tessarodecade ends with Joakim, the son of Josiah, and the third begins with Joachin, the son of Joakim. Porphyry, ignorant of this, would exhibit his own skill in proving the falsity of the evangelist Matthew." We may add that some respectable MSS. still exhibit the name of Jehoiakim as well as that of Jechonias. (See Strong's Greek Harmony of the Gospels, ad loc.) The triple series of fourteen generations will therefore stand thus SEE JEHOIAKIM.

1. Abraham. 1. Solomon. 1. Jeconiah.

2. Isaac. 2. Rehoboam. 2. Salathiel.

3. Jacob. 3. Abijah. 3. Zerubabel.

4. Judah. 4. Asa. 4. Abiud.

5. Phares. 5. Jehoshaphat. 5. Eliakim.

6. Esrom. 6. Jehoram. 6. Azor.

7. Aram. 7. Uzziah. 7. Sadok.

8. Aminadab. 8. Jotham. 8. Achim.

9. Naason. 9. Ahaz. 9. Eliud.

10. Salmon. 10. Hezekiah. 10. Eleazar.

11. Boaz. 11. Manasseh. 11. Matthan.

12. Obed. 12. Amon. 12. Jacob.

13. Jesse. 13. Josiah. 13. Joseph.

14. David. 14. Jehoiakim. 14. Jesus.

(2.) It is objected that Matthew omits three kings, viz. Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah (comp. 1 Chronicles 3, and 2 Kings 8), from his second series. In reference to this objection, it might suffice to say that Matthew, finding fourteen generations from Abraham to David inclusively, contracted, most likely in order to assist memory and give uniformity, the second, and possibly the last series. If we compare Ezr 7:1-5 with 1Ch 6:3-15, it will be seen that Ezra, in detailing, with apparent particularity, his own lineal descent from Aaron, calls Azariah, who was high-priest at the dedication of the first Temple, the son, not of Johbaan his father, but of Meraioth, his ancestor at the distance of six generations. Doubtless the desire of abridgment led him to omit those names with which there were connected no very remarkable associations. Some of the early fathers, however, give a different solution of this difficulty. Hilary (in Mattum, cap. 1) says: "Three generations are designedly passed over by Matthew, for Jaras is said to have begotten Ozias, when, in fact, he was the fourth from him, i.e., Jaras begat Ochazias from the Gentile famemily of Ahab, whose wife was Jezebel." That the omission of the three kings was a punishment inflicted upon the house of guilty Joram to the fourth generation is the view yet were pointedly put forth by St. Jerome also, and by many of our own best commentators. SEE SON.

(3.) Moreover, it is said that Matthew terms Zorobabel the son of Salathiel, whereas in 1Ch 3:19, he is called the son of Pedtiah. How is this? We answer that the Sept. version of 1 Chronicles 3 agrees with Matthew, and that this is the manner in which Zorobabel is designated in Ezra, Nehemiah, and Hiaggai. Josephus also calls him the son of Salathiel. Were he not the immediate son of Salathiel, but of Pedaiah, yet is it suitable to the language of the Jewish nation to count the grandson the son of the grandfather. Thus Laban is called the son of Nahor (Ge 29:5), as being the son of Bethuel, who was, in fact, the son of Nahor (24:47). If, according to another manner of rendering verses 17 and 18, Salathiel and Pedaiah were brothers, Zorobabel might have been, by the Levirate law, the natural son of the one and the legal son of the other. SEE PEDAIAH.

(4.) It is again asked, if it be, as Matthew states, that Salmon, son of Naason, prince of Israel, had married so remarkable a person as Rahab, how then comes it that such a circumstance is not noticed in the book of Joshua? This objection will have no force if we remember that this book, full as it is in describing the partition of Canaan among the several tribes, is yet very silent concerning the exploits, and even names, of the subordinate leaders of Israel. There is nothing, therefore, surprising in the circumstance that it should pass over in total silence Salmon's marriage with Rahab. Had the matter in question been the espousal of Rahab by Joshua himself, the presumption against its truth would be very different. Indeed Kimchi, in bhis Commentary on the Book of Joshua, adduces a tradition to this effect, taken from the Babylonian Talmud. Every consideration, moreover, of a chronological character is in favor of the circumstance of the son of Naason, born to him in the wilderness being married to Rahab. SEE RAHAB.

(5.) But a far graver objection than that which is alleged against Matthew for having omitted names is brought against Luke for having inserted that of Cainan as son of Arphaxad — a name neither to be found in the Hebrew nor Samaritan text, nor yet in any of the Targums or versions, save the Sept. We may infer from the fact that neither Philos nor Josephus, who ins other respects followed this version, receive this name as genuine, that it was not found in the earlier copies of the Sept.; it was, no doubt, borrowed from the corrupted Sept. which has come down to us, containing the name in question, but which cannot, with any propriety, be raised to a level of authority with the Heb. text. It is clear, moreover, that Irenaeus, Africanus, Eusebius, and Jerome reject it as an interpolation. (See, on this subject, Whitby's Preface to the Reader, and Lightfoot's Harm.; also Usher's Dissertation on Cainan, and Kidder's Demonstr. of Messiah.) SEE CAINAN.

2. We are now to compare the evangelists as to the points on which they agree and differ. It does not appear that Celsus attacked the genealogies on the score of any inconsistency with each other. Not so the emparor Julian; he made their discrepancies the specific ground of attack. Jerome (in Matthew 1) — thus writes: "Julianus Augustus in this place attacks the evangelists on the ground of discrepancy: Matthew calls Joseph the son of Jacob, whereas Luke calls him the son of Heli! Had Julian been better acquainted with the modes of speech of the Jews, he would have seen that one evangelist gives the natural and the other the legal pedigree of Joseph."

(1.) The first solution of the apparent discrepancies of the evangelists (one to which this ancient father obviously here alludes) is that of Africanus, which, he informs us (Eusebius Hist. Eccles. 1:7), he received from the relatives of our Lord, who, because of their consanguinity to him, were called Δεσπόσυνοι. It is to the effect that Matthan, the third in the list from Joseph in Matthew's genealogy, sand Melchi, the third in Luke's list, married successively the same womam, by whom the former begat Jacob, and the latter Heli. Heli dying without issue, bis maternal brother took his widow to wife, by whom he had Joseph, who, according to law (De 25:6), was registered by Luke as the son of Heli, though naturally the son of Jacob, as Matthew records him. This is the explanation which was generally admitted by Eusebius, Nazianzen, the writer of Ad orthodoxos, and others, for ages.

(2.) Grotius, however, availing himself of the tradition that Haeli and Jacob were both sons of the same mother, but of different fathers (Matthan and Melchi), supposes that Luke traces the natural pedigree of Christ, and Matthew the legal. This he argues on two grounds: first, that Salathiel could not have been the natural son of Jechonkas, who was childless — according to the declaration of God by Jeremiah (22) — and was, therefore, as Luke states, the son, properly so called, of Neri, of Nathan's line; and, secondly, that the Levirate law imposed no necessity on Jacob to marry Heli's widow, they being only uterine brothers. The learned commentator might have been led to this view by St. Ambrose, who, in his Commentary on Luke, says, "Heli, fratre sine liberis decedente, copulatus est fratris uxori et generavit filium Joseph, qui juxta legem Jacobi fillius dicitur." But both the reasons assigned by Grotius for differing from the solution of Africanus would seem to be founded on petitio principio. It does not appear an ascertained fact that Salathiel was not the natural son of Jechonias, nor yet that the law which obliged a man to marry the widow of his deceased brother might be departed from when they were only maternal brethren; for even in cases of distant relationship the law seemed obligatory, as we see in the case of Boaz marrying Ruth, the widow of his distant kinsman. Whitby defends Africanus's account; Hammond, Le Clerc, and Wetstein agree with Grotius.

(3.) Dr. Barrett, whoa in his preliminary dissertation to a curious facsimile of a most ancient MS. of Matthew's Gospel (an abridgment of which treatise may be found in Clarke's Commentary, at the end of Luke 3), brings to bear upon this difficult question a large share of sound learning and correct criticism, objects to the above theory as given by Africanus and altered by Grotius, on the ground principally that it refers entirely to the descent of Joseph from David, without attempting to prove that the son of Mary emas the son of David. Dr. Barrett then states his oaen hypothesis, viz., that Matthew relates the genealogy of Joseph, and Luke that of Marny. He supposes a sufficient reason, that after Matthew had given his genealogical table another should be added by Luke, fully to prove that Christ, according to the flesh, derived his descent from David, not only by his supposed father Joseph, but also by his real mother Mary. The writers who agree is this opinion Dr. B. divides into two classes: first, those who assert that the families of Solomon and Nathan met in Salathiel and Zorobabel, after which they separated, and were again reunited in Joseph and Mary; secondly, those who suppose that Salathiel and Zorobabel were distinct individuals, and deny that any union took place between them previously to the marriage of Joseph and Mary. He rejects this latter opinion because it seems to contradict the divine promise (2Sa 7:12-16), which intimates that Christ should be lineally descended from David through Solomon. He therefore receives the former hypothesis, and supports it by numerous and profound arguments. (See his Preliminary Dissertation to Codex Rescriptus; see also, on both hypotheses, Lightfoot's Harmony Ev.; South's Sermon on Revelation 12:16, volume 3;

Wetstein, ad Matthaeum, 1:17; Bishop Kidder's Demonst. of Messiah, part 2 to chapter 13; Hale's Analysis of Chronology, volume 3).

In constructing their genealogical tables, it is well known that the Jews reckoned wholly by males, rejecting, where the blood of the grandfather passed to the grandson through a daughter, the name of the daughter herself, and counting that daughter's husband for the son of the maternal grandfather (Nu 26:33; Nu 27:4-7). On this principle Joseph, begotten by Jacob, marries Mary, the daughter of Hell, and in the genealogical register of his wife's family is counted for Heli's son. Salathiel, begotten by Jeconiah, marries the daughter of Neri, and, in like manner, is accounted his son in Zorobabel, the offspring of Salathiel and Neri's daughter, the lines of Solomon and Nathan coalesce; Joseph and Mary are of the same tribe and family; they are both descendants of David in the line of Solomon; they have in them both the blood of Nathan, David's son. Joseph deduces his descent from Abiud (Mt 1:13), Mary from Rhesa (Lu 3:27), sons of Zorobabel. The genealogies of Matthew and Luke are parts of one perfect whole, and each of them is essential to the explanation of the other. By Matthew's table we prove the descent of Mary, as well as Joseph, from Solomon; by Luke's we see the descent of Joseph, as well as Mary, from Nathan. But still it is asked how know we that Mary was the daughter of Neri?

[1.] Because the angel Gabriel, at the Annunciation, told the Virgin that God would give her divine son the throne of his father David (Lu 1:32), and thus it was necessary to prove this by her genealogy afterwards.

[2.] Mary is called by the Jews בת עלי, "the daughter of Hell," and by the early Christian writers "the daughter of Joakim and Anna" (Lightfoot, on Luke 3:23). But Joakim and Eliakim (as different names in Hebrew for God) are sometimes interchanged (2Ch 36:4): Eli or Hell, then, is the abridgment of Eliakim.

[3.] The evangelist Luke has critically distinguished the real from the legal genealogy by a parenthetical remark: Ι᾿ησοῦς ὤν (ώς ἐνομίζετο) υἱὸς Ι᾿ωσήφ, τοῦ ῾Ηλί, "Jesus being (as was reputed) the son of Joseph (but in reality), the son of Hell," or his grandson by the mother's side, for so the ellipsis should be supplied. Moreover, on comparing the two tables, we find that from Abraham to David they agree with each other because they are in accordance with the genealogies of Genesis, Ruth, and 1 Chronicles 3; but from David to Joseph they are evidently distinct lines of pedigree, agreeing only in two persons, viz. Salathiel and Zorobabel.

Again, it is objected that there are now in Luke's genealogy seventy-seven names; whereas Irenaeus, Africanus, and other early fathers, acknowledge but seventy-two. But if we omit the names Maath, Mattathias, Melea, Mfainan, and Cainan, as being interpolations, then the number will be reduced to seventy-two.

It is said that Abiud and Rhesa are called by the evangelists the sons of Zorobabel, though in 1Ch 3:19 we have no mention of them among his sons. We remark that it was a custom with the Jews to call the same person by different names, and that this custom was peculiarly prevalent about the time of the captivity (Da 1:6-7; also comp. 2Sa 3:3 with 1Ch 3:1).

Lastly, it is inquired whence the evangelists had their genealogies from Zorobabel to Christ, there being nothing of them to be found in Scripture. We answer, from those authentic public tables kept by the Jews, of which, as before noticed, Josephus speaks; and regarding which also Eusebius (Hist. Eccles. 1:1) says, "Omnes Hebraeorum generationes descriptae in archivis Templi secretioribus habebantur." It was doubtless from this source that they had the above-named parts of our Lord's legal and natural pedigree; for, otherwise, they would have exposed themselves to the cavils of the Jews; nor could the apostles have appealed, as they did, with confidence, to Christ's pedigree, as answering all the requirements of prophecy. — Kitto, s.v.; Smith, s.v.

(4.) Rejecting all the above identifications and Levirate marriages, Lord Hervey (Genealogies of our Lord, Cambr. 1853) contends that both evangelists give the genealogy of Joseph, Matthew's being the legal or royal line, and Luke's the private. He supposes that Mary was the daughter of Jacob, and thus the first cousin of Joseph. The discrepancies in the latter names of the two lists he attempts to reconcile by supposing "Rhgsa" to be merely a title (Chald. for prince) of Zorobabel, so that "Joanna" of Luke will be the " Hananiah" of 1 Chronicles, but omitted by Matthew; then identifying Matthew's "Abiud" with Luke's "Juda," and both with thee "Hodaiah" of 1 Chronicles; also Matthew's "Matthan" with Luke's "Matthat.;" and finally cutting off all the remaining names in 1 Chronicles, and supposing a number of genarations to have been omitted in the following names of Matthew; so that the lists will, in this part, stand thus:

The violent character of these suppositions is sufficiently obvious. (See each name in its place.)

(5.) Others, like Alford (Commeanlt. ad loc.), content themselves with saying that solution is impossible without further knowledge than we possess. But this is a view in which, with the actual documents before us, few will be disposed to acquiesce.

See, in addition to the works already referred to, Mill, Vindication of the Genealogies (Cambridge, 1842); Beeston, Geneal. of Matt. and Luke (3d 6d. Lond. 1842); Jour. Sac. Lit. July, 1856; Meth. Quart. Rev. October 1852, page 593 sq.; Schleyer, in the Theolog. Quartelschr. 1836. Older treatises may be seen in Darlimg's Cyclop. Bibliograph. 2, col. 771 sq., 1854; Volbeding, Index, page 7; Hase, Leben Jesu, page 51. SEE LINEAGE.

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