Jesus'Genealogy

I believe because it is impossible.
-Tertullian

This report aims to show that the genealogies in Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38 are indefensible forgeries. To be discussed: 1) Jesus cannot be a kingly descendant of David and the son of God through Mary at the same time. 2) The virgin birth nullifies the genealogies. 3) The descendants of David died out over 500 years before Christ. 4) Matthew and Luke fabricated the gap with two contradicting genealogies. 5) Attempts to trace Luke's genealogy through Mary don't work because she was a descendant of Levi, while David was a descendant of Judah. 6) Jesus himself denies being a descendant of David. 7) Other parts of the gospels treat Jesus as the legitimate son of Joseph. The Book of John treats Jesus as if he came directly from heaven.

8) Most Christians have set in their minds that Mary was impregnated by the Holy Spirit; they are not concerned about genealogy. Jesus is their Son of God; they don't call him the son of Joseph. But since they are there, literalists have to resort to imaginative possibilities to convince themselves that the Bible is free of errors.

Why they are there

The importance of these genealogies was to validate Jesus' bloodlines from Abraham through David. It was common thinking at that time that a descendant of David would restore the throne of Israel. As these selections below make clear, it was a necessary condition for Jewish acceptance.

7Then the LORD appeared to Abram, and said, "To your descendants I will give this land.". (Gen. 12:7)

18and by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because you have obeyed my voice." (Gen. 22:18)

10The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. (Gen. 49:10)

16And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.'"
17In accordance with all these words, and in accordance with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David. (2 Sam. 7:16)

3Thou hast said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant:
4
'I will establish your descendants for ever, and build your throne for all generations.'" (Psalm 89:3-4)

1"On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness. (Zech. 13:1)

18For if the inheritance is by the law, it is no longer by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. (Gal. 3:16)

Historical background

The fatal flaw to any bloodline connection between Jesus and David is that shortly after the exile, all of David's descendants were wiped out. There were 538 years to account for from the last descendant to Jesus' birth. The Old Testament writers didn't keep records of lineage long after the exile because there were no more kings and no more Davidic descendants. As we shall see later, Matthew and Luke made up names to fill the gap.

The Exile

The historicity and the date of the fall of Judah on 586 BCE is not in dispute. It is accepted from both the religious establishment and from Babylonian records. There were two occasions in which the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem and had upper class Jews deported to Babylon.

On the first, about 597 BCE, Jehoiachin was taken prisoner to Babylon along with his servants, family, princes and palace officials. The deportation of princes implies they were heirs to the throne. There is no record of what happened to them.

12and Jehoiachin the king of Judah gave himself up to the king of Babylon, himself, and his mother, and his servants, and his princes, and his palace officials. The king of Babylon took him prisoner in the eighth year of his reign, (2 Kings 24:12)

Thereafter Nebuchadnezzar had Zedekiah installed as king. Jehoiachin's uncle Zedekiah was previously deported.

17And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin's uncle, king in his stead, and changed his name to Zedekiah. (2 Kings 24:17)

The last king, Zedekiah was on the throne for ten years until his rebellion brought Nebuchadnezzar back a second time. After Jerusalem was besieged for a year, Zedekiah was taken prisoner and his sons were killed in front of him. Every citizen, except for the poor, was taken to Babylon.

7They slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him in fetters, and took him to Babylon. (2 Kings 25:7)

What we are left with is the fact that no royalty was left in Jerusalem; they were either killed off or deported.

Post Exile

The introduction to the Book of Ezra in the New International Version, explains that in 539 BCE, Cyrus, king of Persian, allowed the exiles to return to Jerusalem-Babylon was conquered by Persia. Zerubbabel was installed as governor. There are some differences in his genealogy, but we can accept that he was an heir through the previously disposed king, Jehoiachin, and that he had three sons and a daughter.

Chronicles tells us that Zerubbabel was great grandson of Jehoiachin through Pedaiah and Shealtiel.

17and the sons of Jeconiah [Jehoiachin], the captive: Shealtiel his son,
18Malchiram, Pedaiah, Shenazzar, Jekamiah, Hoshama, and Nedabiah;
19and the sons of Pedaiah: Zerubbabel and Shime-i; and the sons of Zerubbabel: Meshullam and Hananiah, and Shelomith was their sister; (1 Chron. 3:17-19)

Ezra and others say Zerubbabel was the son of Shealtiel. In this case he would be a grandson of Jehoiachin. Shealtiel was not restored to the throne.

2Then arose Jeshua the son of Jozadak, with his fellow priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel with his kinsmen, (Ezra 3:2, 8, 5:2; Neh. 12:1; Hag. 1:1, 12, 14; 2:2, 23)

From this point, the name of Zerubbabel disappears. There is no account of what happened to him or his sons. When the temple is rebuilt, his name is missing in the dedication.

14And the elders of the Jews built and prospered, through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. They finished their building by command of the God of Israel and by decree of Cyrus and Darius and Artaxerxes king of Persia; (Ezra 6:14)

Zechariah laments that the new temple will have to be accompanied by a priest on the throne as a reminder to kings of old. From this point, the leaders were high priests.

13It is he who shall build the temple of the LORD, and shall bear royal honor, and shall sit and rule upon his throne. And there shall be a priest by his throne, and peaceful understanding shall be between them both."'
14And the crown shall be in the temple of the LORD as a reminder to Heldai, Tobijah, Jedaiah, and Josiah the son of Zephaniah. (Zech. 6:13-14)

To show that it is not from my inability to find any more genealogical references, I quote from two authoritative sources. The Holman Bible Dictionary says he disappeared.

Zerubbabel himself, however, disappeared from view. He was a Davidic prince, so it is possible that the Jews tried to crown him king during the civil war surrounding the rise of Darius as emperor may reflect the wish to crown Zerubbabel, but his fate remains unknown.

The Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible says the same.

The circumstances of the end of Zerubbabbel's service as governor are unknown as are those of his death. Because no known Davidic ruler appears to have followed Zerubbabel in the governorship.it has been conjectured that he was removed from office by the Persian throne for rebelling or threatening to rebel against it.

This is where the Davidic line ends. Whatever happened to Zerubbabel, we can be sure his sons met the same fate. The Persians would have left no chance for a descendant to reclaim the throne. The Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible tells us how the chronology of the Old Testament went blank for long periods of time.

Although much of the OT was put into final form during this period, historical records pertaining to it are exceeding few. The period between 515 and 445 and the period between 428 and circa 175 are almost completely blank.

In conclusion, there is no chance Jesus could have been a descendant of David. Zerubbabel was the last on record, whose governorship ended shortly after 538 BCE. To fill in the gap, Matthew and Luke had to forge a list of names.

Genealogy errors

1. The Matthew's and Luke's genealogy tables below shows how strikingly different they are. The names in blue are not accounted for in the OT. Those following Zerubbabel are blue because he had no descendants for the reasons stated above.

2. For argument's sake, if Matthew and Luke did have a list of names to draw from, it wasn't from a canonized source. The Christian rules of canon say that if it is not canonized Scripture it is not sanctioned and not credible. Furthermore, because they differ, they would have had to come from two different unsanctioned sources. There can be no other conclusion other than Matthew and Luke fabricated names to make up the gap.

3. What stands out in both tables is their divisibility by seven. The important markers are Abraham, David and Jesus. Matthew contains three blocks of fourteen names, 42 names total. Luke contains three blocks of 21 names and one block of 14 names, 77 names total. The magic concerning numbers divisible by seven comes from Daniel where he predicted there would be a period of seventy weeks of years from the end of the Babylonian exile until the coming of the messiah. The actual genealogies don't come out that way, so they had to adjust the facts to fit their prejudices.

24"Seventy weeks of years are decreed concerning your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.
25Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time.
26And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off, and shall have nothing; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war; desolations are decreed.
27And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week; and for half of the week he shall cause sacrifice and offering to cease; and upon the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator." (Dan. 9:24-27)

 

Matthew's genealogy 1:1-16
1 Abraham David Jechoniah
2 Isaac Solomon Shealtiel
3 Jacob Rehoboam Zerubbabel
4 Judah Abijah Abijah
5 Perez Asaph Eliakim
6 Hezron Jehoshaphat Azor
7 Ram Joram Zadok
8 Amminadab Uzziah Achim
9 Nahshon Jotham Eliud
10 Salmon Ahaz Eleazar
11 Boaz Hezekiah Matthan
12 Obed Manassen Jacob
13 Jesse Amos Joseph
14 David Josiah Jesus
Matthew 1 Chron. 3
David David
Solomon Solomon
Rehoboam Rehoboam
Abijah Abijah
Asa Asa
Jehoshaphat Jehoshaphat
Joram Joram
Uzziah (Ahaziah?) Ahaziah
  Joash
  Amaziah

 

Azariah
Jotham Jotham
Ahaz Ahaz
Hezekiah Hezekiah
Manassen Manasseh
Amos Amon
Josiah Josiah
  Jehoiakim
Jechoniah Jeconiah
Shealtiel Shealtiel
  Pedaiah?
Zerubbabel Zerubbabel

MATTHEW

1. It is not a copy mistake that Matthew's genealogy has David listed twice; it was Matthew's mistake.

17So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations,
and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations,
and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.
(Matt. 1:17)

2. Matthew lists eleven generations between Zerubbabel and Jesus. That means that each generation would have to last an average of fifty years. Impossible!

3. To get his list into groups of fourteen, Matthew had to omit some names. The table below shows what he left out. The name of Pedaiah is questionable because Ezra has Zerubbabel listed as a son of Shealtiel.

2Then arose Jeshua the son of Jozadak, with his fellow priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel with his kinsmen . (Ezra 3:2)

4. The table below shows that Matthew left out Jehoiakim's name besides many others. He was king for eleven years and said to do evil in the sight of God (2 Kings 22:36). According to Jeremiah 22:24-30, none of his offspring would sit on the throne of David. His son Jeconiah lasted three months (2 Kings 24:8) before his uncle Zedekiah was installed as king by Nebuchadnezzar. (See "The exile" above.) Jesus' virgin birth bypasses all these difficulties, but hits a dead end with regards to Jesus' Davidic birth rights.

30Thus says the LORD: "Write this man down as childless, a man who shall not succeed in his days; for none of his offspring shall succeed in sitting on the throne of David, and ruling again in Judah." (Jer. 22:30)

 

Luke's genealogy 3:23-38
1 Adam Isaac Nathan Zerubbabel
2 Seth Jacob Mattatha Rhesa
3 Enos Judah Menna Joanan
4 Cainan? (Cain) Perez Melea Joda
5 Mahalaleel Hezron Eliakim Josech
6 Jared Arni? (Ram) Jonam Semein
7 Enoch Admin Joseph Mattathias
8 Methuselah Amminadab Judah Maath
9 Lamech Nahshon Simeon Naggai
10 Noah Sala? (Salma) Levi Esli
11 Shem Boaz Matthat Nahum
12 Arphaxad Obed Jorim Amos
13 Cainan Jesse Eliezer Mattathias
14 Shelah David Joshua Joseph
15 Eber   Er Jannai
16 Peleg   Elmadam Melchi
17 Reu   Cosam Levi
18 Serug   Addi Matthat
19 Nahor   Melchi Heli
20 Terah   Nerif Joseph
21 Abraham   Shealtiel Jesus

LUKE

1. Disagreements between Luke and 1 Chronicles are noted in parenthesis.

Nathan

2. Blue names follow Nathan, because he has no list of royal offspring. Nathan was the third son of David.

13And David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron; and more sons and daughters were born to David.
14And these are the names of those who were born to him in Jerusalem: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, (2 Sam. 5:13-14)

3. There are three other Nathans with sons: Nathan the prophet, Nathan of Zobah and Nathan the officer. None of them have a son named Mattatha.

36Igal the son of Nathan of Zobah, (2 Sam. 23:36)

5Azariah the son of Nathan was over the officers; Zabud the son of Nathan was priest and king's friend; (1 Kings 4:5)

36Attai was the father of Nathan and Nathan of Zabad. (1 Chron. 2:36)

4. Luke's Nathan should not be confused with the son of Attai mentioned in 1 Chronicles 2:36. Nathan the son of David is last mentioned in Zechariah's ominous prophecy.

12The land shall mourn, each family by itself; the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; (Zechariah 12:8)

5. Luke bypassed Solomon who was directly in line from David to carry on the name. It follows that the name must pass through Solomon.

9Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days. (1 Chron. 22:9)

Mary

6. Apologists acknowledge that Matthew doesn't supply enough names to account for the years, so they casually dismiss him for being incomplete. In those terms Luke is more plausible, so they rationalize that Luke's genealogy carries through Mary. The stumbling block is that Mary was from the tribe of Levi, while David was from the tribe of Judah. Mary was related to Elizabeth who was a daughter of Aaron. Aaron was a Levitical priest and brother of Moses. Tribes did not intermarry. Arguably, the exception between Mary and Joseph occurred at a time when the strictures against intermarriage were not strictly enforced after the exile.

5In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. (Luke 1:5)

36And behold, your [Mary] kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren (Luke 1:36)

7. Jewish law mandates that the name be carried through the father (Deut. 25:5-10). If a woman is widowed without a son, she is to marry her ex-husband's brother. Every genealogy in the OT is carried through male descendants. To suggest that the lineage goes through Mary means that Luke stuck with the male tradition, then shifted to the female side after David.

5"If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead shall not be married outside the family to a stranger; her husband's brother shall go in to her, and take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband's brother to her.
6And the first son whom she bears shall succeed to the name of his brother who is dead, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel. (Deut. 25:5-6)

8. With the phrase "as was supposed," Luke left some doubt that Jesus was the son of Joseph. The most plausible interpretation was in recognition of divine conception. Apologists argue that Mary's connection to David skips over Joseph. This implies that both Matthew and Luke were wrong to include Joseph's name.

23Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli, (Luke 3:23)

9. Anticipating this brother-sister connection, apologists argue that Joseph is the actual son of Jacob (Matthew) and the legal son of Heli (Luke). Okay, so then they are half related through bloodlines. Then Jesus' brothers were born out of incest. 

55Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? (Matt. 13:55)

10. If Mary was the daughter of Heli, then Joseph was the son? That would make them brother and sister with two fathers or something like that.

Other problematic issues

1. Matthew leaves no room for doubt; Mary was impregnated by the Holy Spirit. She didn't know until she found herself pregnant.

18Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; (Matt. 1:18)

Accordingly, this was to fulfill what was prophesized.

22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23
"Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel" (which means, God with us). (Matt. 1:22-23)

But the prophecy says no such thing. The prophecy was addressed to King Ahaz over 500 years ago. He was the one who would see a sign of a child named Immanuel. A young woman is by implication a virgin.

12But Ahaz said, "I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test."
13And he said, "Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also?
14Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (Isaiah 7:12-14)

2. In Luke, when she is told by the angel she will bear a son who will inherit the throne from his father David, she is perplexed because she has no husband. The angel tells her the Holy Spirit will come upon her. This is an immediate contradiction. How can David and God both be Jesus' father?

30And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
31And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
32
He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,
33
and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end."
34
And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?"
35And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.  (Luke 1:30-38)

3. When asked how the Christ can be the son of David, Jesus denied being a descendant of David.

35And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, "How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David?
36David himself, inspired by the Holy Spirit, declared, 'The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I put thy enemies under thy feet.'
37
David himself calls him Lord; so how is he his son?" And the great throng heard him gladly. (Mark 12:35-37, Mat. 22:41-45)

Jesus was probably referring to Psalm 2:7 when God called David his son.

7I will tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my son, today I have begotten you. (Psalm 2:7)

4. John avoids the virgin birth altogether and asserts Jesus was at the creation. He became flesh later.

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2He was in the beginning with God;
3all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made (John 1:1-3)

14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. (John 1:14)

5. Miracle births have a precedent in the OT. Eve was grateful to God for helping her conceive Cain.

1Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, "I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD." (Gen. 4:1)

And God provided the seed for the first born of Sarai when Abraham was a hundred and she was ninety. 

15And God said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.
16I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her; I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall come from her."
17Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said to himself, "Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?" (Gen. 17:15-17)

6. The phrase "son of God" has shades of meaning. There were other sons of God besides Jesus. See Jesus Son of God

7. In other verses, Jesus was recognized as the son of Joseph. Or did he come directly from heaven as stated in John 6:42.

55Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? (Matt. 13:55)

23Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli, (Luke 3:23)

22And all spoke well of him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth; and they said, "Is not this Joseph's son?" ((Luke 4:22)

45Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, "We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." (John 1:45)

42They said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, 'I have come down from heaven'?" (John 6:42)

8. The excuse that God was Matthew's and Luke's source doesn't withstand scrutiny. If that were true, there must be four different gods: Matthew's god, Luke's god and the Old Testament god. Then there is Paul's god who suggests that speculating over genealogies is a stupid waste of time.

1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,
2
To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3
As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine,
4nor to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies which promote speculations rather than the divine training that is in faith; (1 Tim. 1:1-4)

9But avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels over the law, for they are unprofitable and futile. (Titus 3:9)

The Fallacy of Verisimilitude (mere appearance)

The Catholic Encyclopedia argues that as long as they come up with possibilities, their opponents have no right to deny the two gospels can't be harmonized.

The reader will observe that we suggest only possible answers to the difficulty; as long as such possibilities can be pointed out, our opponents have no right to deny that the genealogies which are found in the First and Third Gospel can be harmonized.

With all the dead ends I've catalogued, the best apologists can come up with is that as long as there are other possibilities, the Bible remains the infallible word of God. This is the secret to how religionists manage to hold on to their faith in inerrancy. It is not the fault of the evidence, because there is an abundance of it. It is their determination to ignore the evidence. Through conjecture and belief in miracles, anything is possible within the realm of human imagination.

If we exercise our imagination, it is possible Elvis is alive. Teacher, the reason why I don't have my homework is because it is possible my dog ate it. If I jump off a cliff, it is possible a wind will carry me safely to ground. It is possible that I was sent by Satan. It is possible that the Bible was written by aliens from outer space. The best example of denial I've seen is the Flat Earth Society.