Tag Archives: Son of David

Can Jesus Inherit Lineage From His Adoptive Father Joseph?

ancient_jerusalemWas Jesus from the tribe of Judah? Well, here is where we run into our first problem. How does one inherit tribal lineage? From his father. Who was Jesus’ father? Well, according to the New Testament, it certainly wasn’t Joseph – he was going to divorce Mary because she was pregnant. So, you can’t use Joseph’s genealogy. Now, both of the genealogies given for Jesus in the New Testament are listed as belonging to Joseph. That right there presents problems, primarily because they are different. Christian scholars have asserted that the reason they are different is that one of them is actually Mary’s. They never satisfactorily explain why Mary’s genealogy is listed as Joseph’s, but let’s go with that for a minute.

Joseph’s genealogy attributes him to being from the tribe of Judah. But remember, Joseph isn’t Jesus’ father, so it doesn’t count. One cannot inherit tribal lineage through adoption. Here’s an example… Let’s say that Yonatan is a Cohen (of the priestly line) and he marries Rivkah and they have a son named Yosef. Yosef is a Cohen (he inherited it by birth from his father), and when he grows up he can serve in the Temple. Now, let’s say that Yosef’s father Yonatan dies. Can Yosef still serve in the Temple when he grows up? Absolutely – he’s still a Cohen – still of the priestly line. Now let’s say his mother Rivkah marries Shlomo, from the tribe of Yehuda. Shlomo can one day serve as a King. And let’s say that Shlomo loves Yosef and decides to adopt him. Is Yosef still a Cohen? Yes. Can Yosef still serve in the Temple? Yes. Can he serve as a king? No. Even though his adopted father is from the tribe of Yehuda, Yosef is still a Cohen. Adoption doesn’t change a fact of birth.

So, if Joseph is not Jesus’ father, then his genealogy is pointless. It’s a red herring. It doesn’t make a difference, and it doesn’t matter.

-from “The Messiah and the Lineage of Jesus”

OK, I’m at a loss. I found this troubling bit of information a little while ago (as I write this) and very much on the coattails of me publishing my review of the FFOZ TV episode Son of David. In the TV program, First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) teacher Toby Janicki did what I thought was a thorough job of resolving any troubling questions about the genealogy of Jesus (you’ll have to view the program to see the explanation) establishing him as of the tribe of Judah and in the lineage of David and Solomon.

However, as you can see from the above-quoted information, one question remains: how can one inherit a genealogy from an adopted father, and particularly tribal affiliation?

And you shall not mistreat a stranger, nor shall you oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Exodus 22:20

You shall not pervert the judgment of a stranger or an orphan, and you shall not take a widow’s garment as security [for a loan].

Deuteronomy 22:17

The stranger or “ger” in ancient, tribal Israel, was a non-Israelite, someone born of the nations, who desired to join the community of Israel and to obey all of the requirements of God. That person behaved just as a born-Israelite but he or she lacked any sort of tribal status, and therefore no protection from tribal leaders and no inheritance in the Land. This person was potentially vulnerable, along with widows and orphans, to all sorts of abuses, and God made a specific point on numerous occasions that the tribally affiliated Israelites were not to afflict or take advantage of this population.

Eventually, their descendants would intermarry and would become tribally affiliated, but especially that first generation of gerim were connected to no Israelite tribe.

tallit-prayerIf Jesus did not gain tribal membership through Joseph, then he had a unique status in Israelite society in the early First Century. I’m not sure if he could legally gain a tribal affiliation from his mother (JewishAnswers.org says, “no”), but if not, then he did not have one at all. As far as Toby’s presentation is concerned, we don’t have a record of Mary’s (Miriam’s) genealogy, so even if Jesus could inherit affiliation from her, we’d still have no idea about who Jesus was as a tribal member.

As far as I understand it, the status of a “ger” didn’t exist in the Israel of Jesus’s day. Many tribal affiliations had been lost in the Babylonian exile and the only ones still recognizable were Judah, Benjamin (Paul knew he was of that tribe), and Levi. We have no record of any other tribes being recognized, such as Dan, Gad, Naphtali, and so on. These were supposedly part of the “lost tribes,” but one theory on where they went was that representatives did return to Israel after some time and were simply assimilated into Judah and Benjamin.

But that’s beside the point.

The question is, given the unique circumstances of the birth of Jesus, what tribal affiliation (if any) did he possess and how can you prove it from scripture? Any information about tribal inheritance and the specifics of legal adoption practices from the early First Century CE in Israel would be a bonus.

I’m not aware of any other virgin births in the Bible. If there were, we could look at the person/people who were the products of such births and see how tribal affiliation was managed. There are other miraculous births such as Isaac and Samuel, but they still required a participating male to biologically father these children.

In the case of Jesus, we have none since Joseph, by definition, could not have been involved in a virgin birth.

I should mention at this point that an explanation and evidence satisfactory to Jewish audiences (as well as Gentiles) must exist based on Paul’s presentation of said-evidence in Acts 13:13-34. Luke only gives us a summary of Paul’s oratory in the synagogue at Pisidian Antioch, but assuming we believe the text is accurate, whatever Paul said must have been sufficient to have convinced the born-Jews, righteous converts, and God-fearing Gentiles present that Jesus was the Messiah. The only objection the Jewish audience seemed to have was on the following Shabbat (Acts 13:44-52), when the synagogue was inundated by masses of pagan Gentiles, all eager to hear what Paul had to say about Jesus. The Jewish leadership didn’t question the authenticity of Jesus as Messiah, only the necessity of involving a whole lot of Gentiles (which eventually tainted anything Paul said about Messiah or anyone else).

However, if we cannot find the proof that resolves the issue of the genealogy of Jesus based on scriptural evidence and ancient Israeli inheritance and adoption practices, then it is a showstopper. I don’t expect that anyone responding to this will present iron clad evidence that absolutely cannot be denied, but this is a good question and it deserves a good answer. Otherwise, we are left to fill in the missing pieces of this puzzle with faith, and that wasn’t the point of Toby’s teaching in his video lesson.

Is Jesus the Son of David or not?

FFOZ TV Review: Son of David

ffoz_tv5_1Episode 05: In Jewish thought one of the most important titles for Messiah is “Son of David.” Episode five will explore the title “Son of David” in depth. Viewers will learn that the term “Son of David” is a title for the promised messiah, the anointed king, who will come from the house of David. Jesus needed to be of the line of David because if he was not, he could not qualify to be Messiah. By the Scriptures referring to Jesus as the Son of David it solidifies that he is the promised messiah.

-from the Introduction to FFOZ TV: The Promise of What is to Come
episode 5: Son of David

The Lesson: What Does the Title “Son of David” Mean?

As you might expect if you’ve read my previous reviews of the earlier episodes of this series, Episode 5 builds on the material that came before it. Today, Toby explores the Mystery of the “Son of David,” investigating the meaning of this title.

Jesus was called by a wide variety of names and titles, but none more commonly than “Son of David.” People from Prophets to the demon-possessed referred to Jesus this way. But why? What does it mean? Why is it significant to understand?

In ancient and even sometimes in modern Judaism, a male is known by his father’s name. A Jewish man named Jacob who had a father named Abraham, would be known as “Yaakov ben Avraham.” This name would be commonly used when calling Jacob up for a Torah reading in synagogue on Shabbat. Otherwise, he might be known as “Jacob Silverstein” or “Jacob some other last name”. However in the days of Jesus, men were commonly referred to by their given name and then by their father’s name.

But Jesus would have been known by the name Yeshua ben Yosef, since most people would commonly believe Joseph was his biological as well as legal father. Why call him Yeshua ben David? Interestingly enough, Joseph was also known as Yosef ben David, even though his father was actually named Jacob. Why would this be? The answer comes later in the program with Aaron Eby’s portion.

Toby begins by addressing the genealogy of Jesus starting in Matthew 1:1 as read from the DHE Gospels:

The book of the toledot of Yeshua the Mashiach, son of David, son of Avraham.

If the Hebrew words threw you, here’s the same verse from the NASB translation (when Toby isn’t reading from the DHE Gospels, he uses the ESV Bible):

The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

The mention of Jesus as the Son of Abraham summons the connection between the Messiah and a promise God made to Abraham as part of the covenant between them.

And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.

Genesis 12:3 (NASB)

Hopefully, that part is obvious. Messiah is Abraham’s “seed” through which the nations are blessed. But why “Son of David?”

ffoz_tv5_aaronThe question introduces the “mystery” that Toby presents the audience and of course, we now proceed to seeking “clues.”

Toby introduces a problem with the genealogies of Jesus, particularly comparing Matthew 1:6 and Luke 3:31. While Jesus’s family line is traced back to David, Matthew traces it through Solomon and Luke traces it through Nathan. How can both be right?

There are a number of theories about what is happening here. Toby presents an explanation I’ve heard before but repeatedly forget. I’ll offer a clue to the answer to you at the end of my review (to find out the complete solution, you’ll have to watch the episode), but it’s an important piece of information, because without being able to accurately show that Jesus is from the Davidic line, we cannot establish him as Messiah.

Clue 1: Yeshua was a direct descendent of King David.

The lineage of Jesus to David is connected to the title “Son of David,” but as we have seen, even though Jesus is described as the Son of God, his human legal father was Joseph. How can Jesus be Son of David?

The answer lies in part with Aaron Eby in Jerusalem.

He describes the complexities involved in the Hebrew word for son which is “Ben”. I won’t describe everything he said, but the key part is that “Ben” doesn’t just mean “Son of” your immediate biological father, but it describes the connection to any of your male ancestors. My father’s father’s name was Jesse, so even though my father’s name is James, I could also be known as James, son of Jesse. If I had a male ancestor hundreds or even thousands of years removed, let’s say his name was Samuel, I could also be known as “James, son of Samuel.” The person doesn’t have to literally be my Dad as long as he’s one of my male ancestors from whom I am directly descended.

But so what if Jesus is descended from the line of David?

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, And has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David His servant—As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old…

Luke 1:68-70 (NASB)

Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, is talking about the Messiah being equivalent to the Son of David.

And that’s the next clue:

Clue 2: Son of David is a title for Messiah.

But Zechariah also gives us the final clue with which we can solve the mystery.

Clue 3: It was prophesied that the Messiah would come from the line of David.

It’s like I said before, if we can’t establish that Jesus is a legitimate heir of the line of David, it’s impossible for him to be the Messiah.

ffoz_tv5_geneologyToby reads from a list of various prophesies establishing that the Messiah must come from the tribe of Judah and the family of David including Genesis 49:10, 2 Samuel 7:14-16, and Jeremiah 33:22. However he shows the viewers where we hit a bit of a snag in scripture and in history. Samuel speaks of there always being a descendent of David on Israel’s throne forever, but Jeremiah is prophesying at a time when there was no Davidic King on the throne. Israel had been exiled to Babylon, and although the Davidic line continued, Israel had no King. Was Samuel wrong? How could he be wrong?

The answer is found in Isaiah 11:1-2, and 11:10 in the phrase “stump of Jesse.” Out of that cut off stump, a Davidic King would one day rise who would be Messiah, a King who would rule not just over Israel, but over the entire world. Messiah would be Israel’s King forever.

But although Messiah has come, his physical reign is yet to begin. That is the promise of what is to come.

What Did I Learn?

It’s more what did I remember? I had heard the explanation about Yeshua’s lineage through two different sons of David but I don’t always retain the details. This time, I’ve got access to a video recording of the explanation to help cement it in my brain, or at least a place to go when I need a reminder. However, none of us would have even that if, as Toby said, we didn’t have access to an oral history from Yeshua’s family in the Galilee which explains it to us.

This is important information, as I said, because by linking Jesus to his “father” David, we see he is eligible to be Messiah. This is an answer not only for Christians but for any critics who deny that Jesus could possibly be the Messiah because of a poorly understood meaning of scripture. Jesus is Messiah and is worthy to rule and reign is King of Israel and King of the World. May be come soon and in our day.

I’ll review the next episode very soon.

Addendum: I found a question that directly relates to Toby and Aaron’s teaching about the “Son of David”: Can Jesus Inherit Lineage from his Adoptive Father Joseph?