Genealogy of Christ – Part I8 min read

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On Genealogy of Jesus (Part 1 of 4): What is the explanation of the discrepancies between the accounts in Matthew and Luke of Joseph’s father and genealogy until David?   

 The New Testament provides two accounts of the genealogy of Jesus, one in the Gospel of Matthew and another in the Gospel of Luke. Matthew starts with Abraham, while Luke begins with Adam. The lists are identical between Abraham and David but differ radically from that point. Matthew has twenty-seven generations from David to Joseph, whereas Luke has forty-two, with almost no overlap between the names on the two lists. Notably, the two accounts also disagree on who Joseph’s father was: Matthew says he was Jacob, while Luke says he was Heli. 

 Patrilineage of Jesus according to Matthew 

Abraham  Nahshon  Abijah  Manasseh  Azor  Jesus 
Isaac  Salmon and Rahab  Asa  Amon  Zadok   
Jacob  Boaz and Ruth  Jehoshaphat  Josiah  Achim   
Judah and Tamar  Obed  Jehoram  Jeconiah  Eliud   
Perez  Jesse  Uzziah  Shealtiel  Eleazar   
Hezron  David and Bathsheba  Jotham  Zerubbabel  Matthan   
Ram  Solomon  Ahaz  Abiud  Jacob   
Amminadab  Rehoboam  Hezekiah  Eliakim  Joseph   


 Patrilineage of Jesus according to Luke 

God  Methuselah  Phalec  Judah  Obed  Jonam  Jose  Zorobabel  Nagge  Levi 
Adam  Lamech  Ragau  Phares  Jesse  Joseph  Er  Rhesa  Esli  Matthat 
Seth  Noah  Saruch  Esrom  David  Judah  Elmodam  Joannan  Naum  Heli 
Enos  Shem  Nachor  Aram  Nathan  Simeon  Cosam  Juda  Amos  Joseph 
Cainan  Arphaxad  Thara  Aminadab  Mattatha  Levi  Addi  Joseph  Mattathias  Jesus 
Maleleel  Cainan  Abraham  Naasson  Menan  Matthat  Melchi  Semei  Joseph   
Jared  Sala  Isaac  Salmon  Melea  Jorim  Neri  Mattathias  Jannai   
Enoch  Heber  Jacob  Boaz  Eliakim  Eliezer  Salathiel  Maath  Melchi   


In this article we will explain why the names and number of the generations from Joseph to David are different in the two accounts. 

 Saint Matthew listed the genealogical order of Christ according to offspring, a result of marriage between man and woman according to natural order. Saint Luke listed another order, which is the order of Jewish Law that states that a brother can bring up a child to his brother who dies without bringing any children. This is described in the Old Testament as follows: “When brothers dwell together and one of them dies without a son, the widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband’s brother is to take her as his wife and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law for her.” (Deuteronomy 25:5, NKJV). Therefore, the father of Joseph, Heli, is Joseph’s father according to law, but Jacob according to nature.  

When Jacob begat Joseph, Joseph became a legal son to the dead Heli, and at the same time a natural son to Jacob. Therefore saint Matthew, from his part, said that Jacob begat Joseph, which is true. Saint Luke, from the other part, said that Joseph is the son of Heli, which is also true according to Jewish law. Matthew mentioned the natural genealogy, and Luke mentioned the legal genealogy.  

But if Jacob and Heli were brothers, wouldn’t both genealogies merge from Joseph’s grandfather onwards to David, and therefore, have the same names and number of generations? 


Well, not if Jacob and Heli were half brothers from the same mother. In this case, the grandfather of Joseph will have different names because Jacob and Heli are not from the same father, only from the same mother. In fact, this is the explanation provided by Eusebius from the fourth century: 

 Joseph therefore being the object proposed to us, it must be shown how it is that each is recorded to be his father, both Jacob, who derived his descent from Solomon, and Eli (Heli), who derived his from Nathan; first how it is that these two, Jacob and Eli, were brothers, and then how it is that their fathers, Matthan and Melchi, although of different families, are declared to be grandfathers of Joseph? Matthan and Melchi, having married in succession the same woman, begat children who were uterine brothers, for the law did not prohibit a widow, whether by divorce or by the death of her husband, from marrying another. By Estha then (for this was the woman’s name according to tradition) Matthan, a descendant of Solomon, first begat Jacob. And when Matthan was dead, Melchi, who traced his descent back to Nathan, being of the same tribe but of another family, married her as before said, and begat a son Eli (Heli). Thus we shall find the two, Jacob and Eli, although belonging to different families, yet brethren by the same mother. Of these the one, Jacob, when his brother Eli had died childless, took the latter’s wife and begat by her a son Joseph, his own son by nature and in accordance with reason. Wherefore also it is written: ‘Jacob begat Joseph.’ But according to the law he was the son of Eli, for Jacob, being the brother of the latter, raised up seed to him.  

(Eusebius. Church History of Eusebius) 


 The figure below illustrates the explanation of Eusebius: 

 In conclusion, Saint Luke went on with the genealogical legal sequence from Heli, who died childless but got a legal seed from his half brother Jacob, until Nathan, son of David. Saint Matthew went on from Jacob, Heli’s half brother from the same mother, until Solomon, son of David. The two genealogies did not meet until David, because the half brothers, Jacob and Heli, were uterine brothers. The genealogy of Christ is confirmed, from the natural and from the legal points of view, that He is the son of David, the son of Abraham, the son of Adam. 

Saint Matthew stated that: “all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations” (Matt. 1:17). But when we count them, we find them to be 41 only not 14 * 3 which is 42. What then is the secret?  

Abraham  Nahshon  Abijah  Manasseh  Azor  Jesus 
Isaac  Salmon and Rahab  Asa  Amon  Zadok   
Jacob  Boaz and Ruth  Jehoshaphat  Josiah  Achim   
Judah and Tamar  Obed  Jehoram  Jeconiah  Eliud   
Perez  Jesse  Uzziah  Shealtiel  Eleazar   
Hezron  David and Bathsheba  Jotham  Zerubbabel  Matthan   
Ram  Solomon  Ahaz  Abiud  Jacob   
Amminadab  Rehoboam  Hezekiah  Eliakim  Joseph   


The reason here is that Jeconiah was double counted in two fourteenth, Saint Ambrose of Milan said that historically there are two Jeconiah: “Again, from Jeconiah to Joseph are computed twelve generations; yet he afterwards calls these also fourteen. But if you look attentively, you will be able to discover the method by which fourteen are reckoned here. Twelve are reckoned including Joseph, and Christ is the thirteenth; and history declares that there were two Joakim’s, that is two Jeconiahs, father and son. The Evangelist has not passed over either of these, but has named them both. Thus, adding the younger Jeconiah, fourteen generations are computed.” 

This is also supported by Rainer Albertz in Israel in exile 

Year  Event 
609 BCE  Death of Josiah 
609–598 BCE  Reign of Jehoiakim (succeeded Jehoahaz, who replaced Josiah but reigned 11years ) Began giving tribute to Nebuchadnezzar in 605 BCE. First deportation, purportedly including Daniel. “Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zebudah the daughter of Pedaiah of Ruma ” (2 Kings 23:36, NKJV)  
598/7 BCE  Reign of Jehoiachin (reigned 3 months only). Siege and fall of Jerusalem.
Second deportation, 16 March 597 ” Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother’s name was Nehushta the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.” (2 Kings 24:8, NKJV). 



Jeconiah (Hebrew: יְכָנְיָה Yəḵonəyā [jəxɔnjaː], meaning “Yah has established”;Greek: Ιεχονιας; Latin: Iechonias, Jechonias), also known as Coniah and as Jehoiachin (Hebrew: יְהוֹיָכִין Yəhōyāḵīn [jəhoːjaːˈxiːn]; Latin: Ioachin, Joachin) 


Listing the generations in fourteenth gives a great analogy for the state of Israel. Saint John Chrysostom said “Having enumerated the generations from Abraham to Christ, he divides them into three divisions of fourteen generations, because three times at the end of fourteen generations the state of the people of the Jews was changed. From Abraham to David they were under Judges; from David to the carrying away into Babylon under Kings; from the carrying away to Christ under the High Priests.”   





Jesus and Jeconiah 

“Is this man Coniah a despised, broken idol A vessel in which there is no pleasure? Why are they cast out, he and his descendants, And cast into a land which they do not know? O earth, earth, earth, Hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord: ‘Write this man down as childless, A man who shall not prosper in his days; For none of his descendants shall prosper, Sitting on the throne of David, And ruling anymore in Judah.’ ” (Jeremiah 22:28-30, NKJV) 


According to Jeremiah prophesying The Lord’s words, No descendant from Jeconiah can sit on the throne of David, yet Matthew listed Jeconiah in the Genealogy of Christ  


According to Matthew’s genealogy, Joseph had the blood of Jeconiah in his veins. He was not qualified to sit on David’s throne. He was not the heir apparent. This would also mean that no real son of Joseph would have the right to claim the throne of David. Therefore, if Jesus were the real son of Joseph, he would have been disqualified from sitting on David’s throne. Neither could he claim the right to David’s throne by virtue of his adoption by Joseph, since Joseph was not the heir apparent. 


The purpose of Matthew’s genealogy, then, is to show why Yeshua could not be king if he were really Joseph’s son. The purpose was not to show the royal line. For this reason, Matthew starts his Gospel with the genealogy, presents the Jeconiah problem, and then proceeds with the account of the virgin birth which, from Matthew’s viewpoint, is the solution to the Jeconiah problem. In summary, Matthew deduces that if Jesus were really Joseph’s son, he could not claim to sit on David’s throne because of the Jeconiah curse; but Jesus was not Joseph’s son, for he was born of the virgin Miriam (Matthew 1:18-25). 


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