The Old Testament Requirements for Kingship

Following on our last post, we might still ask, “Why is there a need for Matthew’s genealogy of Joseph at all?” Everyone agrees that Joseph was not the real father of Jesus. Let’s look at the Old Testament for further detail.[1]

After the division of the kingdom at the death of Solomon, there were two basic requirements for kingship, one pertinent to the Throne of Judah in Jerusalem and the to he Throne of Israel in Samaria.

Judah

No one was allowed to sit on David’s Throne unless he was a member of the House of David.

Israel

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 Kg. 11:26‑39; 15:28‑30; 16:1‑4, 11‑15; 21:21‑29; II Kg. 9:6‑10; 10:29‑31; 15:8‑12).

The Question Resolved

With this background, the question of the Messiah’s right to the Throne of David can be resolved vis-à-vis the two genealogies.

Matthew 1:1‑17: Davidic Descent & The Line of Joseph in Matthew’s Genealogy

Matthew’s genealogy traces the line of Joseph, the stepfather of the Messiah. In verses 2‑6, the line is traced from Abraham and continues down to David and Solomon. In verses 7‑11 the line is traced to Jechoniah, 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. In verse 30, the content of this curse was that no descendant of Jechoniah would have any right to the Throne of David. In the genealogy of Matthew, it should be noted that Joseph was a direct descendant of Jechoniah (Mat. 1:16). So, if Yeshua had been the son of Joseph, this would have disqualified Him from sitting upon David’s Throne.

The point of Matthew’s genealogy, then, is to show why Jesus could not be king if He had been Joseph’s son. For this reason, Matthew starts out with the genealogy, and then proceeds with the account of the Virgin Birth, which is the way out of the Jechoniah problem from Matthew’s viewpoint.

Luke 3:23‑38: 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 in 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 truly Mary’s son He, too, was a member of the House of David, totally apart from the curse of Jechoniah. In the days of Jeremiah, there was the added requirement for kingship that one had to be a member of the House of David apart from Jechoniah (Jer. 22:24‑30). Zedekiah, who reigned after Jechoniah, was not the son of Jechoniah. In the case of Yeshua, He was a member of the House of David through Mary, totally apart from Jechoniah. In this manner, He fulfilled the first Old Testament requirement for kingship.

Divine Appointment

Furthermore, although there were a number of other descendants of David who could claim equality with Yeshua to the Throne of David, only Jesus was divinely appointed as such (Luke 1:30‑33).

Thus, unlike the purpose of Matthew’s genealogy, Luke’s genealogy shows why Jesus could be king.

There are three further lines of reasoning to suggest that Luke’s account records Mary’s genealogy.

1)     The Talmud refers to Mary as the daughter of Heli. Mary was recognized to be the daughter of Heli as mentioned in Luke 3:23.

2)     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.

3)     Matthew is clearly writing from the viewpoint of Joseph – with Mary in a passive role – and in Luke’s Gospel, Joseph is the one who plays the passive role.

[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

2 thoughts on “The Old Testament Requirements for Kingship

  1. Dear Friends,
    I have read your information about your Summer Bible study camp. While I was reading about it, I came to the part that you have a Scholarship Fund. I was wondering how one could qualify for a scholarship. My roomate and I are both disabled sister’s in Christ. We are on limited income. I was wondering if there would be anyway that we could qualify? Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.
    Yours in Christ Jesus,
    Christine Schwartz

  2. Dr. Fruchtenbaum is quoted in Dr. Charles Stanley’s December 2013 “In Touch” magazine as saying “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 genealogy of Mary in Luke shows why He could claim the throne of David.”

    I have two problems with the quote:
    1. Matthew’s account lists Jeconiah (also known as Johoiachin), followed by Shealtiel and Zerubbabel. Luke’s account lists (backwards, but I’m listing succession), Addi, Melki, Neri, Shealtiel, Zerubbabel. BOTH ACCOUNTS GO THROUGH SHEALTIEL AND ZERUBBABEL. Luke may not list Johoiachin, but I don’t think Matthew made things up.After Shealtiel and Zerubbabel there could well have been a subsequent genealogical divergence — but in no way an ancestral divergence. In light of that, how can Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s statement be factually applicable?
    2. Luke’s account lists Matthat, Heli, and Joseph. Matthew’s lists Eleazar, Matthan, Jacob, and “Joseph the husband of Mary the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.” BOTH ACCOUNTS GO THROUGH JOSEPH. IT TAKES ONE’S INTERPRETATION TO GO THROUGH MARY, WHEN THE LITERAL WORD DOES NOT SEEM TO. ONE AY INFER, BUT THE TEXT DOES NOT SEEM TO IMPLY.

    Based on this, I find Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s interpretation interesting, but in complete disregard of how I read the genealogies AND THE IMPLICATIONS OF BOTH GENEALOGIES GOING THROUGH SHEALTIEL AND ZERUBBABEL.

    Regards,

    Matthias (Matt) R. Wall

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