Messiah’s Right to David’s Throne





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by Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum - Director, Ariel Ministries

Many modern Rabbis have made special effort to prevent the Jewish people from accepting Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah. Many teachings have been developed in an attempt to answer some of the difficult passages that believers often use in evangelism. As we study Scripture from a Jewish perspective, we are able to uncover some of the faulty reasoning used in the Rabbis’ teachings.

Understanding the perspective of the Jewish leaders in contrast with a Messianic perspective will provide you with a greater ability to share your faith effectively, and will enhance your understanding of the Scriptures.

The legitimate Messiah needed to be a descendant of King David and he needed to be appointed by God. The following Rabbinic account attempts to dispel Yeshua’s right to David’s throne and, therefore, the legitimacy of His Messiahship. In contrast, the Messianic interpretation, given by Dr. Fruchtenbaum, is a fascinating study proving that Yeshua truly is the rightful heir of David’s throne. For a more complete study, radio manuscript #25, Messiah’s Right to David’s Throne, is available from the Ariel catalog.

Modern Rabbi’s Teach:

Because of the New Testament claim that Jesus was born of a virgin birth, it would have been impossible for him to have been a descendant of the House of David. According to Numbers 1:18, the tribal lineage was traced through the father only. Contrary to Christian teaching, the New Testament, therefore, does not give an account for Mary’s ancestry. The accounts in both Matthew and Luke, which are extremely contradictory, demonstrate that Joseph was from the House of David. Because Jesus was claimed to have come from a virgin birth, it would be necessary for Mary to also have been a descendant of the House of David. The real Messiah will be a legitimate heir to the Throne of David; however, this could not have been possible if Jesus had a human Jewish father.

In order to uphold the argument that Jesus was from the House of David and born of the virgin birth, Christians have claimed that Luke’s genealogy is really of Mary, not Joseph. This also clears up some of the contradictions between the two accounts; however, it is a false view, which contradicts Jewish tradition.

Jewish Believers in Messiah Teach:

Of the four Gospels, only two give us a genealogy, the same two that deal with the birth and early life of Jesus. While both Matthew and Luke give us the story of the birth of Jesus, they tell the story from two different perspectives. Matthew tells the story from Joseph’s perspective while Luke tells the story from Mary’s perspective.

Matthew’s genealogy (Matt. 1:1-17) traces the line of Joseph, the step-father of the Messiah. The line is traced from Abraham (v. 2), and continues down to David and Solomon (v. 6), and then to King Jechoniah (v. 11), 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.

Jeremiah 22:30 says of King Jechoniah:
Thus saith Jehovah, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days; for no more shall a man of his seed prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling in Judah.

In the Matthew genealogy, it should be noted that Joseph was a direct descendant of Jechoniah (v. 16). This means, then, that Joseph, having the blood of Jechoniah in his veins, was not qualified to sit on David’s throne. This would also mean that no son of Joseph would have the right to claim the Throne of David. In essence, Matthew’s point is this: if Jesus were really Joseph’s son, He could not claim to sit on David’s throne because of Jechoniah’s curse. Then Matthew proceeds to show that Yeshua was not truly Joseph’s son, for He was born of the virgin Mary (Matt. 1:18-25).

If, by Jewish law, the name of a woman could not be mentioned in a genealogy, but you wished to trace a woman’s line, how would you go about doing so? The answer is that you would use the name of her husband. However, if the husband’s name were used, that raises a second question. Suppose somebody picked up a genealogy to read; how would he know whether the genealogy is that of the husband or that of the wife because, in either case, it would be the husband’s name that was used?

The answer to that riddle lies in a problem with the English language which does not exist with the Greek or Hebrew languages. In English, it is not good grammar to put the word “the” before a proper name. We do not use a definite article before a proper name; such as, the Matthew, the Luke, the Mary, the John. However, this is quite permissible in both Greek and Hebrew grammar. The Greek text of Luke’s genealogy is very interesting because of this. In the Greek text, every single name mentioned in the genealogy of Luke has the definite article “the” with one exception, and that is the name of Joseph. His name does not have the definite article “the” in front of it. What that would mean to someone reading the original is this: when he saw the definite article missing from Joseph’s name while it was present in all the other names, it would mean that this was not really Joseph’s genealogy, rather, it is Mary’s genealogy. So, in keeping with Jewish law, it was the husband’s name which was used. We have two examples of this in the Old Testament: Ezra 2:61 and Nehemiah 7:63.

Luke’s genealogy traces the line of Mary and portrays how Jesus could claim the Throne of David. The line is traced until it returns to the family of David (vv. 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 Mary’s son, He, too, was a member of the House of David, totally apart from the curse of Jechoniah. In this manner, He fulfilled the first Old Testament requirement for kingship.

However, Yeshua was not the only member of the House of David apart from Jechoniah. There were a number of other descendants who could claim equality with Yeshua to the Throne of David, for they, too, did not have Jechoniah’s blood in their veins. At this point, it is important to note the second Old Testament requirement for kingship: divine appointment. Of all the members of the House of David apart from Jechoniah, only One received divine appointment.

We read in Luke 1:30-33:
30And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. 31And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. 32He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

The final question is: On what grounds can it be said that Luke’s account is actually Mary’s genealogy? While there is much evidence to support this, it will be necessary to limit it to only three lines of argument.

First, the Talmud itself refers to Mary as the daughter of Heli. It is obvious, then, that in long-standing Jewish tradition, Mary was recognized to be the daughter of Heli as mentioned in Luke 3:23.

Secondly, although most versions translate Luke 3:23 as follows:
… being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli …

That same Greek phrase could easily be translated in a different way. While all of the names in Luke’s genealogy are preceded with the Greek definite article, the name of Joseph is not. Because of this grammatical point, that same verse could be translated: “being the son (as was supposed of Joseph) the son of Heli.” In other words, the final parenthesis could be expanded so that the verse reads that although Jesus was supposed or assumed to be the descendant of Joseph, He was really the descendant of Heli. 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.

The third argument is the obvious viewpoint of the two genealogies. Matthew is clearly writing from the viewpoint of Joseph. Luke, however, is obviously writing from the viewpoint of Mary. So from the context alone, it would appear that Luke is giving Mary’s lineage, because his whole perspective is focused on Mary.

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