The Davidic Lineage of Yeshua the Messiah

by Avram Yehoshua

(Endnotes in red. Click on the number to go to the endnote.
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Prophecies about the Messiah in the Tanach (Old Testament) speak of Him coming from King David (Jer. 23:5; Ezk. 34:23, etc.), and a number of New Testament Scriptures reflect that Yeshua is from the Seed of David (as well as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Judah).1 But how is there a physical connection from David (and subsequently the Fathers of Israel) to Yeshua as other Scriptures speak of (2nd Sam. 7:12; Ps. 132:11; Is. 11:1-9) when Yeshua has no earthly father? The answer to this evaded me for quite some time2 but on 18 June 2008, the Lord opened my eyes to this enigma in a most wonderful way.

The man carries the seed or the lineage of his fathers. Physical lineage from David obviously couldn’t come through Mary although some try unsuccessfully to prove that Mary was from the House of David to give Yeshua some form of legal Davidic lineage. Unfortunately there’s no Scripture that speaks of Mary’s lineage. Some try to force Luke’s genealogy of Joseph (Lk. 3:23-38) to be Mary’s by suggesting that the missing Greek article (the) in front of Joseph’s name means that Joseph is not the ‘son of’ but the ‘son-in-law of’ Heli (Hebrew name Eli), thus making Eli, Mary’s father. But this explanation defies the Greek language.3

Another way of presenting Joseph as Eli’s son-in-law is to interpret ‘as was supposed’ (Lk. 3:23), which means that Luke is saying that people really thought that Yeshua was Joseph’s natural son, to mean ‘as was supposed of Joseph but really of Eli.’ This would make Eli the father of Mary and make it her genealogy.4 Alexander Bruce says this is ‘ingenious but not satisfactory’ noting that if that had been Luke’s intention, he would have clearly stated it.5

Another version of this would make the phrase to mean, ‘Joseph the son of Heli by marriage.’ But this is just another poor twist on the thought above. Leon Morris says that Luke ‘does not mention Mary’ and ‘genealogies were not traced through the female line.’6 Craig Evans states that it’s Joseph that Luke is writing about in Lk. 3:23f., not Mary, and that Luke brings out the Davidic descent of Joseph in other places also (Lk. 1:27; 2:4; 3:23).7

The only lineage information on Mary that we have, if we can call it that, is that she was somehow related to Elizabeth who was of the ‘daughters of Aaron’ (Lk. 1:5, 36). This doesn’t make Mary of the House of Aaron or Levi as she could have been related by marriage and not by ‘blood.’ In other words, Mary’s mother or father’s brothers or sisters, etc., could have married one of Elizabeth’s mother or father’s sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts or cousins, etc., which would make Mary related to Elizabeth but it still leaves us in the dark as to Mary’s lineage. The other possibility is that Mary was from the Tribe of Levi but there’s absolutely no Scripture to support this, and Yeshua is never once referred to as having any ancestry or link to Levi or Aaron. Just the opposite is the case as Hebrews 7:13-14; 8:4 states.

Most theologians believe that Matthew and Luke’s genealogies speak of Joseph, not Mary8 even though Matthew and Luke present different fathers for Joseph. That’s why some want to place Mary into Luke’s genealogy. Julius Africanus seems to reconcile the problem of the two different fathers for Joseph.9

In his encounter with the angel, Joseph is called a ‘son of David’ (Mt. 1:20), but there’s no mention of any lineage for Mary. Gabriel calls Mary, ‘Highly favored’ in Luke (1:26, 28) but again, no mention of any Davidic lineage (e.g. Highly favored daughter of David).

Reading Acts 2:29-30 that day I was struck again by the concept of Yeshua coming from the body of David. Acts Two is Shavuot (Pentecost) with the Holy Spirit falling on 120 Jews who followed Yeshua. Peter explains a number of things to the multitude of Jews who gathered around him, the chief of them being how Yeshua was the long awaited Messiah. At one point Peter expressly speaks of Yeshua coming from the ‘fruit of’ David’s body, ‘according to the flesh’:

‘Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne’. (NKJV)

How could Peter be saying that?! How could Yeshua be from the physical lineage of King David? Some suggest that Joseph adopted Yeshua and as His earthly father, legally it could be said that Joseph’s lineage passed to Yeshua. As true as this may be it’s never mentioned or even hinted at in Scripture. It says that Yeshua saw Joseph as His parent or earthly father and submitted Himself to him (Lk. 2:41-51), and it’s fairly reasonable to think that Joseph raised Yeshua as he would his own son (i.e. Joseph loved Yeshua). Legally Joseph’s lineage would pass to Yeshua, with or without adoption papers, and no one would dispute it as most thought Yeshua was from Joseph’s loins (Lk. 3:23). But where is the physical aspect of Messiah coming from the Seed of David?

As I pondered Peter’s words it came to me. So simple and so sublime, as it always is with the Spirit revealing the Word. It’s not by our intelligence or reasoning capabilities. It’s by His Spirit that God’s Word is opened up to us. Conceptually, just as Yeshua rebuked the Sadducees for not believing in an afterlife, basing their belief on Torah (they only considered the Law of Moses authoritative, not the Prophets or the Psalms, etc.), so it is with Yeshua’s Davidic (and Abrahamic, etc.) physical lineage.

Yeshua went right to the Torah and showed the Sadducees how wrong they were. He told them of Moses at the Burning Bush and how God had said, speaking in the present tense, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob’ (Ex. 3:6). To God, Yeshua said, even the dead are alive unto Him (Mt. 22:31; Mk. 12:26; Lk. 20:37). How could the Sadducees have failed to see that?!

How indeed! Without Yeshua telling us, we also would have failed to see it! Praise God for Yeshua who reveals His Word to us by His Spirit! Yeshua’s physical lineage to David and Abraham is also ‘seen’ in Torah, at Gen. 2:24:

‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife, and they become one flesh.’

Joseph and Mary were one flesh in God’s eyes! Did you ever wonder why, for the most part, Scripture doesn’t record women in their genealogies? That’s because the woman is ‘one’ with her husband. It’s the same reason why only men are counted in the numbering of Israel in the Wilderness, and even the feeding of the 5,000 by Yeshua, etc.10

Mary, from whatever lineage she had been of, was now of the lineage of King David through her husband Joseph. That’s why it was essential for Joseph and Mary to have been betrothed11 before Gabriel came to Mary. Mary had become ‘one flesh’ with Joseph. Now the Child would be conceived and born under Joseph’s physical lineage.

Isn’t this what happens with us? Having died to self (like Mary losing her identity and becoming one with Joseph), and given eternal life through our union with Messiah (Rom. 6-7), we are now the betrothed Bride of Messiah Yeshua (Rev. 19:7; 21:2, 9). We are one with Messiah12 so we can bear fruit unto God (Rom. 7:4). Yet the consummation of our Marriage won’t happen until Judgment Day.

Our lineage doesn’t go back to a fallen and carnal Adam & Eve, but to the eternal lineage of Messiah Yeshua. We have come out of the side of Yeshua (His sacrificial death; Jn. 19:34-35), just as Eve came out of Adam’s side (Gen. 2:21-24). We have a divine genealogy now, being one flesh with Messiah Yeshua, and just as it’s written in Gen. 2:24 and Eph. 5:31-32, Yeshua left His ‘Father and Mother’ and He is joined to us, and we are ‘one flesh’ with Him. .

Don’t you just want to dance and sing praises to Him?!

Yeshua—from the Seed of King David—our BrideGroom!

Just as the Scriptures speak of!

‘Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Messiah is the Head of the Assembly, the body of which He is the Savior. Just as the Assembly is subject to Messiah, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands.’

‘Husbands, love your wives, just as Messiah loved the Assembly and gave Himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of Water by the Word, so as to present the Assembly to Himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Messiah does for the Assembly, because we are members of His Body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Messiah and the Assembly.” (Eph. 5:22-32)

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ENDNOTES

1.  Mt. 1:1-17; Lk. 1:27, 32, 69; 2:4; 3:23-31; Acts 13:22-23:

Rom 1:3: ‘the Good News concerning His Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh’.

2nd Tim. 2:8: ‘Remember Yeshua the Messiah raised from the dead, Seed of David—that is my Good News’.

Heb. 7:13-14: ‘Now the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another Tribe from which no one has ever served at the Altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah and in connection with that Tribe Moses said nothing about priests.’. And Heb. 8:4 by inference, ‘Now if He were on Earth, He would not be a priest at all since there are priests who offer gifts according to the Law.’

Rev. 5:5: ‘Then one of the Elders said to me, “Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered so that He can open the scroll and its seven seals.”’

Rev. 22:16: ‘It is I, Yeshua who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the assemblies. I am the Root and the Seed of David, the bright morning star.’


2.  Actually, the answer to that question has stymied Church theologians for almost two millennia. They have never been able to properly answer this question. Many Jews who are anti-Yeshua/Jesus use the Scripture for Messiah to be from the loins of King David as ‘proof’ that Yeshua didn’t descend from David.


3.  In an article written by Arnold Fruchtenbaum, and circulated by ‘Jews for Jesus,’ the author makes the following claim:

‘In the Greek text of Luke’s genealogy, every single name mentioned has the Greek definite article ‘the’ with one exception: the name of Joseph (Luke 3:23). Someone reading the original would understand by the missing definite article from Joseph’s name that this was not really Joseph’s genealogy, but his wife Miriam’s (Mary).’

David L. Blank, Professor of Classic Languages at The University of California-Los Angeles, made the following observations about the above comments:


‘According to the Greek original, Eli is indeed the father of Joseph. There is a definite article before each name, except that of Joseph, and that definite article is in each case the masculine genitive singular article -- you. Not only does this not clearly indicate that Joseph is skipped in the genealogy, it cannot by any stretch of the imagination be taken as so indicated. The author’s comments on the Greek grammar of the passage are absurd and manifest an appalling ignorance of the facts of Greek syntax.’ (Taken from http://www.sullivan-county.com/identity/gen_jesus.htm)


4.  Alexander Balmain Bruce, D.D., Author; W. Robertson Nicoll, Editor, M. A., LL. D., The Expositor’s Greek Testament, vol. one: The Synoptic Gospels (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002), p. 485.


5.  Ibid.


6.  Leon Morris, The Rev. Canon, M.Sc., M.Th., Ph.D., Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: Luke (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 2000), p. 110.


7.  Craig A. Evans, New International Biblical Commentary: Luke (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1990), p. 60.


8.  The lineage of Yeshua always goes back to King David through Joseph. Mary is never mentioned as coming from King David but being married to Joseph who was from the Seed of David:

In Matthew’s genealogy, the line is traced through Joseph. Mt. 1:16: ‘and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.’

Mt. 1:20: ‘But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”’

Lk. 1:27: ‘to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the House of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.’

The NASB though for Luke 1:27 has, ‘to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendents (plural) of David, whose name was Mary.’ This could be interpreted to mean that both Joseph and Mary were of the Seed of David, but both the NRSV and the KJV have it speaking of only Joseph:

The NRSV: ‘to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.’

The KJV: ‘to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.’

The NIV has descendent, singular, which points directly to Joseph and Joseph only: ‘to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendent of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.’

Most likely what the NASB means is that David had many descendents and Joseph was one of them, as we see in Matthew chapter one.

Lk. 2:4: ‘Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the House and Family of David.’

Luke too traces Yeshua’s lineage through Joseph. Lk. 3:23: ‘Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his work. He was the son (as was thought) of Joseph son of Heli’.


9.  Julius Africanus (160–240 A.D.), in his letter to Aristides, says he heard from a descendent of James that Heli (Eli) of Luke 3:23 died childless. Jacob (Mt. 1:16), Eli’s half brother had the same mother but a different father and married the widow and Joseph was born (Morris, Luke, p. 110, see also http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08565a.htm). If this is true, and Africanus seems to be a very credible source, it reconciles the different fathers and lineage of Joseph in Matthew and Luke.

What this means is that Eli was the original husband of Joseph’s mother but Eli died childless and according to Mosaic Law (Dt. 25:5-7; see also Ruth 4:5, 10), and law that predates Moses (Gen. 38:6-10, 14, 24-30), a brother of the dead husband was to raise up a son for his dead brother through his dead brother’s widow so his dead brother’s ‘name’ and inheritance wouldn’t be forgotten or lost in Israel.

This is where Jacob of Matthew’s genealogy (Mt. 1:16) comes in. Eli’s half-brother Jacob takes Eli’s widow and raises up seed for his dead brother and Joseph is born. Joseph is technically the son of Eli but actually the son of Jacob. The two different genealogies of Matthew and Luke reflect this.

The two different lineages of Eli to David (Luke), and Jacob to David (Matthew), come from Eli and Jacob being half-brothers with different fathers of Davidic lineage.


10.  Women and children were considered part of the family, one with the husband-father. The man was the head of the family.

Only the firstborn sons in Egypt were killed at the First Passover, while the firstborn sons of Israel were spared (Ex. 12:12). Because of that, Yahveh spoke of them, the firstborn sons of Israel, being His (Ex. 13:1-2, 12-13, 14, 15; 22:29). An obvious thing for men only is circumcision, ‘to come into the Covenant.’ Why not something for women? There isn’t anything. Only the firstborn male is considered the firstborn to open the womb (Ex. 12:48). In Ex. 30:11-16, it’s only the men over 20 years old that are allowed to give a half-shekel for their redemption from Egypt and subsequent numbering. In Ex. 34:19-20, only the male sons are to be redeemed when they are born (for it was only the firstborn sons in Egypt that died or were spared). In Ex. 34:23 it only mentions that the males are to come to the place where Yahveh has His Name, three times a year, to celebrate the major Feasts. And in Ex. 38:25-26 only the men have given of the silver half-shekel to be redeemed and numbered (as per Ex. 30:11-16).

Only the male Levites could be helpers to Aaron and his sons. Only the male priests could eat of the grain sacrifice (Lev. 6:18) and the trespass sacrifice (Lev. 7:6).

Only the men of Israel over 20 years old were numbered in the censuses and that, according to their Father’s House. The women weren’t numbered (Num. 1:1-4, 20, 22; 2:32 26:1-4). . The male Levites were numbered according to their Father’s House (Num. 3:14-15f; 26:22). Only the male firstborn of Israel were numbered (Num. 2:23; 3:40-43). God commanded Moses to number the Levitical men from 30-50 years old for the various work of the Tabernacle (Num. 4:1-18). Israel camped around the Tabernacle according to their Father’s House, not their Mother's House (Num. 2:1-2). Only the man can bring a charge of infidelity against his wife (Num. 5:11f, esp. vv. 19-20, 29). Only the sons of Aaron could be priests (Num. 8:16, 17, 18; 24-26). There were no priestesses (only in paganism do we find priestesses). The regulations for the Passover that one could observe in the second month only applied to men being unclean or on a long journey, not to women (Num. 9:10). In Num. 18:19 it specifically states, ‘sons and daughters’ when indicating such as to receive portions, and in 18:21 the bnai (Sons of) Israel only means sons as it speaks of the Levites who worked or ministered in the Tent as receiving the tithe. Only men are given land as an inheritance (Num. 26:52-56), unless there are no men to give it too (Num. 27:1-11). If a woman made a vow, her father or her husband could annul it in the day that they found out (Num. 30:3-16).

All the men, it’s written, assembled before King Solomon for the dedication of the Temple (1st Kings 8:1-2; 39-40, 57-58). There were only kings in Israel, not queens who ruled (the only exception being one who usurped the authority of a king (2nd Kings 11:1-3). 1st Chron. 15:15 shows us that ‘Sons of Israel’ pertains most of the time to men. 1st Chron. 21:5 was the unlawful census that King David took, of the men.

In the NT the concept of woman being one with their husbands naturally continues. Only men are counted but not women (Lk. 9:14; Jn. 6:10, the feeding of the 5,000). Interestingly enough, in the accounts of Yeshua and the Passover there aren’t any women observing it with Him, just the 12 men. Yet, it specifically says that women ministered to Him and came with Him to Jerusalem at the time of the Passover (Mk. 15:40-41). Also, there were 12 men Apostles, no women. Some might say that this line of thinking is archaic and denigrates women. But God’s ways are not Man’s ways and as Yeshua said to Peter, ‘You’re not thinking as God thinks, but as Man thinks’ (Mt. 16:23).


11.  Even though Joseph was ‘only’ betrothed to Mary and hadn’t yet consummated the marriage when Gabriel appeared to Mary and she conceived Yeshua, they were still officially married. Betrothal was an official statement of marriage: Mt. 1:19 calls Joseph the husband of Mary and says that he wanted ‘to put her away’ (i.e. divorce her), ‘but while he thought on these things’ an angel appeared to him and told him to take Mary as his wife (v. 20), that is to say, don’t put your wife away.’ Luke 2:4-5 speaks of their being ‘married’ (betrothed) and acting like husband and wife; ‘to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.’


12.  Rom. 6:11; 7:4; 8:1; 12:5; 1st Cor. 1:2, 30; 4:17; 6:16; 2nd Cor. 1:21; 5:17; Gal. 1:22; 3:28; Eph. 1:1, 11; 2:6, 10; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:2; 1st Pet. 5:10, 14, etc.

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