How Can Jesus Be An Heir to the Throne of David?

If Mary miraculously conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit, how then can Jesus have a legal claim to the royal inheritance rights of David when Joseph was not his biological father? Ironically, the answer lies in the legalities of Jewish law.

In a normal situation, betrothal and marriage would have provided the legal means for Joseph to pass along his rights of inheritance in the lineage of David to Jesus.[1]  Mary’s unique circumstances were anything but normal and Joseph was a wild card.

“… he who comes first in the order of hereditary succession transmits that right to his descendants, and that the father comes before all his descendants in hereditary succession…” – Jewish Encyclopedia

Joseph had a legitimate escape avenue which would have immediately ended the royal inheritance rights of the unborn Jesus. Knowing he was not responsible for Mary’s pregnancy, Joseph had the legal recourse of a divorce during his betrothal. It was an option Joseph actively considered.[2]

Jewish law certainly favored Joseph – he needed only to make the accusation of adultery.[3] And, he had very strong circumstantial evidence to support the charge. All Joseph needed to do was point to Mary’s state of pregnancy that began while she was out-of-town on a 3-month trip without him to visit her cousin, Elizabeth.[4]

Luke reports that before Joseph acted on the divorce option, he had a visitation by the “angel of the LORD” revealing that Mary’s conception of a son came from the Holy Spirit, his birth was a fulfillment of prophecy, and they were to name him Jesus.[5] Joseph had a big decision to make.

If he stayed with Mary, Joseph knew that in the eyes of the people he would be presumed to be the biological father. Whether he was the father or not embarrassment, public humiliation, scorn and perhaps other repercussions were certain.[6]

Few would believe the truth if he defended himself saying Mary was a virgin made pregnant by the Holy Spirit.[7] On the other side of the equation, he just had an angelic encounter where the angel said Mary’s birth of a son was a fulfillment of prophecy and to name him Jesus.

His sudden change of behavior strongly indicates something most profound did occur – Joseph stopped considering a divorce.  He made a full commitment to Mary and her future son in-spite-of the inevitable adverse consequences and wed Mary before Jesus was born.[8]

With divorce no longer a potential issue, lineage inheritance rights of the son and paternity by the father now relied on other Jewish laws and customs. Even for the highest purity lineage requirements of a priest, the law favored the rights of the unborn son who had no control over the circumstances of his own conception.[9]  

“Doubtful paternity involves not only the right of inheritance, but also, if the father be a kohen, the claim of priesthood with all its privileges and restrictions, including those regarding incest and prohibited marriage.  Biblical chronology ignores the mother in the lineal descent of generations.  The father was considered the stem of the family tree.  The census was conducted “after their families, by the house of their fathers” (Num. §, 2).  The father’s priesthood descended to his issue only by legal (with kedushlu) and lawful (not incestuous) marriage.” – Jewish Encyclopedia

Marriage preserved the lineage inheritance rights for Jesus regardless of Mary’s source of conception. A paternity claim by Joseph was a different matter. For a child impregnated by someone other than the husband, paternity was addressed by other Jewish legalities. [10]

“Acts of adultery by a wife living with her husband do not affect his paternity of her children, as the maxim is “The issue follows the majority of cohabitations by the husband” (Soṭah 27a).”

“Paternity can not be claimed for a child begotten out of wedlock when the alleged father disclaims it, even though the mother was his mistress and the child be born after he has married her.”  The mother’s own claim, when denied by the man, is not accepted.  But a man may establish his paternity of a son born out of wedlock, to entitle the son to the right of inheritance and of priesthood. A man may also disclaim the paternity of a child born to his legal wife; but he may not do so after that child has had a child (Shulḥan ‘Aruk, Eben ha-‘Ezer, 4, 29).” – Jewish Encyclopedia

Conception outside of marriage was not a disqualifying factor for the inheritance and lineage rights to the priesthood if the couple remained married, “The issue follows the majority of cohabitations by the husband.” The husband Joseph, the wild card factor, still had the option to disclaim paternity. 

Further action was required – Joseph had to establish that he accepted the child as his own. One definition of establish by Merriam-Webster is: “to cause (someone or something) to be widely known and accepted.”[11]

As parents, Joseph and Mary had their 8-day old son circumcised and officially named him “Jesus” as each had been independently instructed by an angel:[12]

LK 2:21 And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.

At the 30-day mark from the birth of Jesus, two more separate events took place as required by the Law – the purification of Mary after childbirth and the Redemption of the Firstborn, each with different requirements:

LK 2:22-24 “Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the LORD”), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”” (NKJV)

Every mother was required to forego a purification ceremony. A mother was required 30 days after childbirth of a son, 60 days for a daughter, to offer a purification sacrifice.[13]

A father of a mother’s firstborn had responsibilities known as the Redemption of Firstborn ceremony when every firstborn son was to be presented to a priest. Redeeming a first-born required no sacrifice, only a nominal payment to the priest.[14]

Jewish custom expected the father to pronounce a blessing on his son to be followed by a feast. A priest attended the feast and had a dialog with the father to make an impression upon the attendees. One of the purposes of the Redemption of Firstborn ceremony was to affirm the right of inheritance of the firstborn:[15]

“Any doubt regarding the primogeniture of a child is decided in favor of the father.” – Jewish Encyclopedia

“Primogeniture” has two definitions according to Merriam Webster. The first, “the state of being the firstborn of the children of the same parents.”[16] The second relates to the first: “an exclusive right of inheritance belonging to the eldest son.”

Joseph publicly established paternity affirming the lineage and inheritance rights of Jesus through marriage and the Redemption of the Firstborn ceremony sanctioned by a priest. As a father, he presented Jesus to the Lord and gave him a first-born blessing. 

Jewish leaders never challenged Jesus being in the royal lineage the House of David. Prophecies by Isaiah and Jeremiah concurred by Rabbi sages set forth the one undisputed requirement that the Messiah must be born in the House of David. What is the probability that the birth of Jesus fulfilled those prophesies? 

 

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

REFERENCES:

[1]  “inheritiance.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. < http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/8114-inheritance >  “adoption.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/852-adoption
[2] Matthew 1:19.  “Divorce.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/5238-divorce> Edersheim, Alfred. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 1883. Book II, Chapter 4. p 586. <http://www.ntslibrary.com/PDF%20Books/The%20Life%20and%20Times%20of%20Jesus%20the%20Messiah.pdf>
[3] “Adultery.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/865-adultery>
[4] Matthew 1:18, 39-43; Luke 1:39, 56. Edersheim. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. p 586.  “Adultery.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011.  Brayer, Menachem M. The Jewish Woman in Rabbinic Literature. pp 192-193.  <http://books.google.com/books?id=GhPxFOCdQj4C&pg=PA143&lpg=PA143&dq=sex+betrothal+jewish&source=web&ots=G4jLlub8y9&sig=gnkOuPI8xLKvYl57J9PR9VY3kVg#PPA143,M1>
[5] Matthew 1:18-24; Luke 1:26-28.
[6] Soncino Babylonian Talmud. Kethuboth 13. <https://israelect.com/Come-and-Hear/kethuboth/kethuboth_13.html>  Brayer. The Jewish Woman in Rabbinic Literature. p 143. 
[7] CR Mark 6:1-6
[8] Matthew 1:24.
[9] “Paternity.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/11939-paternity>
[10] “Paternity.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011.  “primogeniture.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/12362-primogeniture>
[11] “establish.” Merriam-Webster. English Language Learners Definition of establish. <https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/establish>
[12] Leviticus 12:3; Matthew 1:19-25; Luke 1:31. “Circumcision.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/4391-circumcision>
[13] Leviticus 12:2-8. “Childbirth” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/4328-childbirth
[14] Numbers 18:15-16; Luke 2:22-24. CR Exodus 13:2; Numbers 3:46-49, Deuteronomy 21:17. “First Born, Redemption of.” Jewish Encyclopedia.
[15] “primogeniture.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. “First-born, Redemption of.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011.
[16] “primogeniture.” Merriam-Webster. 2019. <https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/primogeniture>

Conspiracy Theories – Is Jesus a Fictional Messiah?

Atheists sometimes argue against the reality of Jesus of Nazareth as a real historical figure, not to mention being the Son of God. One contention is a conspiracy theory saying “Jesus” and “Christianity” are the result of diverse groups colluding to invent a morphed deity image of a messiah, the Son of God:[1]

“…Christianity and the story of Jesus Christ were created by members of various secret societies, mystery schools and religions in order to unify the Roman Empire under one state religion.  …this multinational cabal drew upon a multitude of myths and rituals that existed long before the Christian era, and reworked them for centuries into the religion passed down to us today.” – Acharya S.

Challenges to create a fictional deity messiah figure who would be sellable to the masses of the Roman Empire would have been enormous, especially in an era without any means of electronic communication or media distribution. Choosing to create a messiah named “Jesus” who came from probably the most scorned ethnic group in the Roman Empire – the Jews – alone would been a monumental task.

Creating a “Christian” religion with a Jewish messiah would have been equally extremely difficult considering that Judaism views Christianity’s belief as blasphemous that Jesus is the Son of God. This fact would have had to be spun into a conspiracy story that led to the trial and execution of its false messiah who was then resurrected as the savior for all mankind.

A deity being a god, a god is supposed to be perfect. For the fictional Jewish deity messiah to have merit, a perfect profile would be expected – a flawless ancestral background of pure Jewish lineage lacking any unsavory history; one that never went astray of Jewish Law and traditions.

Complexities of Jewish Biblical history, on the contrary, would have posed yet another enormous complication. Collaborators of the perfect messiah profile would have to weave in a most imperfect yet interconnected 2000-year ancestry going back to Abraham, overcome time and again through redemption and blessings, and reinforced by unwavering promises and prophecies from God.

Weighing the possibilities the alleged collaborators could overcome these challenges requires visiting some of the ignoble storylines pulled from the Old Testament, the Tenakh. One of many is how Jacob, grandson of Abraham, swindled his older twin brother’s inheritance away from their blind father, Isaac.[2] Still, God later blessed Jacob changing his name to Israel who then became the father of the 12 tribes of Israel.[3]

Jacob’s own conniving, jealous sons sold their younger brother Joseph into slavery. Joseph went on to become the second most powerful ruler in Egypt under Pharaoh who then saved his father, brothers and their families from a famine.[4]

Fast forward through the next 400 years to the celebrated story of Moses who led the Exodus from Egypt through the parted sea to Mt. Sinai. In-spite-of the Hebrew’s continued lack of faith, God made five promises of a future for the tribes of Israel. The next chapter begins with two spies and a prostitute.

Israel’s military leader, Joshua, sent two advance spies into the Promised Land to surveil the walled city of Jericho.[5] Hiding at the house of a prostitute named Rahab, word got back to the King who sent his men to hunt down the spies, but Rahab diverted their search outside the city.

Fearing the pending doom of Jericho, Rahab saw this opportunity as her winning ticket to safety. Striking a deal, Rahab agreed to help the spies escape and the spies swore an oath to spare the life of Rahab and her family when the Israelites attacked.

Scaling down the city wall from a window of Rahab’s house, the two spies escaped. Soon thereafter Jericho was attacked by the Israelites, but Rahab and her family were spared from the city’s annihilation.[6]

Salmon, a Hebrew, married the Gentile (non-Jewish) Rahab. Their son was named Boaz who became a wealthy resident of Bethlehem.[7] In the celebrated Jewish story of redemption, Boaz married Ruth, the widowed Gentile daughter-in-law of the Hebrew Naomi. Also a widow herself with no surviving sons, Naomi was at risk of losing her marital inheritance. Boaz’ marriage to Ruth allowed Naomi to redeem her otherwise lost inheritance.[8]

Matthew and Luke genealogies of Jesus include Salmon and Boaz with Matthew calling out both of their Gentile wives by name, Rahab and Ruth – facts repugnant to a Hebrew lineage. Jewish sage Rabbi Rashi reflected his distaste of having Ruth in the prophetic lineage of the Messiah in his commentary on the Micah 5:2 Bethlehem prophecy:[9]

“you should have been the lowest of the clans of Judah: [Rashi] You should have been the lowest of the clans of Judah because of the stigma of Ruth the Moabitess in you.” – The Complete Jewish Bible

Grandson of Boaz and Ruth was Jesse, one of whose own sons was none other than King David.[10] The prophet Isaiah foretold the Messiah would come from the root of Jesse specifically identified as David in the prophecies of Jeremiah and Zechariah.[11] This seems to suggest David was a faultless king when actually one of the King’s dastardly deeds would be scandalous in any century.

David’s voyeurism led him to discover his soon-to-be paramour as he watched her taking a bath from his palace rooftop. Using his celebrity and power, the King seduced the married Bath-Sheba into his palatial bedroom, seduced her and she became pregnant.  Her husband, Uriah, was one of David’s top military officers away fighting a war.[12]

As a cover-up plan, Uriah was summoned by the King from the battlefield to provide an opportunity for marital relations with his wife. It backfired when the loyal Uriah thought it would not be fair to his troops if he were at home enjoying the pleasures of his wife.

David’s back-up plan sent Uriah to the frontlines where he was killed in battle. The murder plot was exposed by God through the prophet Nathan. As punishment, Bath-Sheba’s illegitimate baby died, yet while being consoled in her grief by David, she conceived another son named Solomon who would become the next king of Israel.[13]

Solomon’s wisdom and wealth became legendary even attracting a visit from the Queen of Sheba.[14] He indulged in the pleasures of 700 wives and 300 concubines, many of whom were Gentiles who brought with them heathen idolatry influences.[15] The King’s home life did not bode well producing devious and scheming sons.

Deteriorating with succeeding generations of immoral kings, the House of David split into the Hebrew alliances of either Judah or Israel who eventually went to war against each other.[16] The downward spiral hit an end with King Jeconiah’s curse and the Babylonia captivity.[17]

Counterintuitively for a perfect messiah figure, in reality the Biblical ancestry of Jesus of Nazareth includes perpetrators of acts of stolen identity, scorned inter-marriages, prostitution, infidelity, murder; indulgences in fortune and sex; idol worship and a curse from God.

According to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Jesus of Nazareth was born into this flawed royal lineage, one not disputed by Judaism. Does this most imperfect Jewish ancestral legacy fit the profile expectations of a invented perfect deity messiah – or is the ancestral saga of Jesus of Nazareth simply so imperfectly human, it is true?

 

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

REFERENCES:

[1] Acharya S. (Murdock, D.M.)  The Christ Conspiracy. Google Books advertisement. n.d. <https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Christ_Conspiracy.html?id=KnIYRi3upbEC
[2] Genesis 25; 27-28.
[3] Genesis 28; 32; 35.
[4] Genesis 37; 41-46.
[5] Joshua 2.
[6] Joshua 6.
[7] Ruth 4; I Chronicles 2.
[8] Ruth 2-4.
[9] The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi’s Commentary. Micah 5:2 Rashi commentary.
[10] Ruth 4; I Chronicles 2.
[11] Isaiah 11; Jeremiah 23, 33; Zechariah 12.
[12] 2 Samuel 11.
[13] 2 Samuel 12.
[14] 2 Samuel 12.
[15] 2 Chronicles 9; I Kings 10.
[16] 1 Kings 11.
[17] I Kings 12, 16, 21, 22.
[18] Jeremiah 22.

Abraham – Patriarch of Jews, Muslims and Christians

One of the biggest, if not the biggest, irony in all the major world religions is that Jews, Muslims and Christians have a common religious patriarch – Abraham. Muslims trace their lineage back to Ishmael, son of Abraham.[i] Jews trace their ancestry back to Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham. Christians trace the lineage of Jesus through the line of David back to Abraham.[ii]

A Chaldean having been born in the Chaldees, a future region of Babylon, Abram moved with his father, Terah, and their entire family to Haran in the land of Canaan.[iii] Decades later as a 75-year old man, God told Abram to move his own family to an unnamed destination promising “…and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”[iv] Faithfully, Abram eventually resettled not far from the mounts of Moriah near a city named Salem.

Abram one day asked God how His blessing would be honored since he and his wife, Sarai, was childless and were both very old. They had already second guessed God by agreeing that Abram would produce a child through Sarai’s maid servant, Hagar, their son being named Ismael.

In a rare angelic birth announcement, God promised Abram and Sarai she would miraculously have a son at her old age of 90, the newborn to be named Isaac.[v] The Angel of the Lord blessed Abram, changed his name to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, and promised Abraham that his descendants would produce nations and kings, a seemingly difficult concept for a man who had no nation to call his own:

Gen. 17:5-6 “And your name shall no longer be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. And I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings will emerge from you.” (Complete Jewish Bible)

After Isaac was older, God tested Abraham’s faith once again instructing him to sacrifice his only son without whom the promise of a royal legacy would also die.[vi] Horrific human sacrifices such as to the pagan gods Baal and Moloch were not uncommon in that era. On the sacrificial alter, Isaac was spared at the last moment by the Angel of the Lord and was redeemed with a substitute sacrificial ram entangled in a thicket.[vii]

Isaac went on to marry Rebekah, a story in its own right. To them was born a set of paternal twin boys, Esau and Jacob, with completely opposite personalities. Eventually Jacob, the second born, would deceive his blind father and steal Esau’s firstborn blessing.[viii] Isaac unwittingly passed along to Jacob his inheritance blessing received from his father Abraham.

Enraged, Esau planned to kill his twin brother, but Rebekah tipped off Jacob who fled the country. Over the next 20 years in exile, Jacob fathered 10 sons through his first wife, Leah and one to his second wife, Rachel. Jacob decided to risk returning to his homeland with all his family and possessions still believing Esau might want to kill him.[ix]

Ratcheting up the fear factor, the night before entering his homeland Jacob received word that Esau was coming to meet him with a band of 400 men – certainly not the appearance of a friendly welcome home party. In a dream that night, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel.[x] The next day, Israel entered the land of Abraham and much to his relief, Esau welcomed him with open arms.[xi]

Rachel would die during the childbirth of Israel’s last and 12th son, Benjamin. She was buried near Ephrath, in the district of Bethlehem, a very short distance from Salem, one day to be called Jerusalem.[xii] Israel’s sons would live to become known as the fathers of the 12 tribes of the Children of Israel.[xiii]

Years later, Israel still oft called Jacob, and his sons were forced to flee their enemies. Returning with his clan to the site of Bethel, the place where God had changed Jacob’s name, he offered a sacrifice. God reappeared to Jacob reinforcing that his name had been changed to Israel and blessed him saying:

Gen 35:11 …”I am the Almighty God; be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a multitude of nations shall come into existence from you, and kings shall come forth from your loins. (CJB)[xiv]

A severe famine in the land of Canaan compelled Israel to send his sons to Egypt in search of food as his grandfather Abraham had once done. The second most powerful man in Egypt turned out to be their long lost brother, Joseph, whom the jealous brothers had sold into slavery years before telling their father he had been killed by a wild animal.[xv]

Returning home to get their father and families, eventually all would be joyfully reunited in Egypt with Joseph where they lived out their lives under his protection. Before Israel died, he gave a blessing to each of his sons. For only one son, Judah, did he provide a blessing of power and royalty describing him as a lion:

Gen 49:8-10 “Judah, [as for] you, your brothers will acknowledge you. Your hand will be at the nape of your enemies, [and] your father’s sons will prostrate themselves to you.  A cub [and] a grown lion is Judah.  From the prey, my son, you withdrew. He crouched, rested like a lion, and like a lion, who will rouse him?  The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the student of the law from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him will be a gathering of peoples.” (CJB)

Rabbi Rashi, one of Judaism’s most revered scriptural interpreters, identified Shiloh as the “King Messiah, to whom the kingdom belongs” and the scepter refers to the royal lineage of “David and thereafter.” [xvi] According to Rashi, the prophetic blessing of Judah was a pretext to the establishment of the kingdom of David.

Jesus of Nazareth is a direct descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,  all of whom were blessed by God to produce a kingdom, in fact, the Messiah – was it merely by chance that Jesus was born in this lineage?

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

REFERENCES:

[i] Qur’an Surah 2:127-128, 133; 3:68, 84.  Cross reference Qur’an passages about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in Surah 3:65; 4:163; 6:84; 19:47-52; 29:27; 33:7; 38:45-47.
[ii] I Chronicles chapter 1. Matthew 1. Luke 3. Qur’an Surah 3:33; 19:58.
[iii] Genesis 11- 12.
[iv] Genesis 12:3.  NASB, NKJV, NRSV.
[v] Genesis 15, 17, 21.  Qur’an Surah 11:69-73; 14:39; 21:72; 37:109-112.
[vi] “Human Sacrifices.”   Bible-history.com.  n.d.  <http://www.bible-history.com/backd2/human_sacrifice.html>  Hefner, Alan G. “Baal.”  Encyclopedia Mythica. 2004.  <http://www.pantheon.org/articles/b/baal.html>  “Sacrifice.”  Jewish Encyclopedia.  2011.
[vii] Genesis 22.
[viii] Genesis 25, 27, 29.
[ix] Genesis 29-30.
[x] Genesis 32, 35.
[xi] Genesis 33.
[xii] Genesis 35.
[xiii] Genesis 35; I Chronicles 2.  Qur’an cites the “Children of Israel” 41 times – Trans. Abdullah Yusuf Ali.
[xiv] Cross reference Qur’an Surah 19:6; 21:71
[xv] Genesis chapters 37; 39-47.  Qur’an 12:4-102, 111.
[xvi] Rashi. The Compete Jewish Bible – with Rashi Commentary.  Commentary on Gensis 49:10.  “Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki).”  Jewish Virtual Library. 2017.  Mindel, Nissan. “Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki – Rashi.”  Chabad.org. 2017.  <http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/111831/jewish/Rabbi-Shlomo-Yitzchaki-Rashi.htm>