Veiled – a Genealogical Fact
Anyone who reads the Matthew and Luke Gospel genealogies of Jesus of Nazareth can easily see they are listed differently – Matthew chronologically works forward starting with Abraham, Luke works backward from Jesus of Nazareth all the way to Adam…and the lists are not identical. Thus it leads to a controversy where detractors say the lineage inconsistency proves the inaccuracy of the Gospels.
Variation between the two Gospels occurs with the interim generations between King David and the birth of Jesus. Matthew and Luke genealogy lists have two names in common by sharing ancestors at the end of the Babylonian captivity, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel.
Matthew’s genealogy traces back to the House of David through Solomon. Luke tracks the lineage of Jesus back to David’s son Nathan – a different lineage path. Many experts believe Luke’s lineage is that of Mary assumed by Joseph under Judaic Law covering her inheritance rights as a Jewish female only-child.
Hebrew genealogical records were not just limited to the land of Israel. Jewish historian Josephus wrote they were tracked and recorded by local priests and prophets for all Jews living “at Egypt and at Babylon, or in any other place of the rest of the habitable earth…with the utmost accuracy.”
All Jewish genealogies were readily available in the Temple until it was destroyed by Rome in 70 AD, seven decades after the birth of Jesus. Utmost religious importance was placed on Hebrew genealogy for the specific purpose of ensuring the purity of the lineage of the priesthood.
To become the wife of a Priest, a Jewish woman was subjected to the scrutiny of her “genealogy from the ancient tables,” according to Josephus. Proof was required that a female was a Hebrew thus necessitating documented credible lineage history.
Josephus used a historical Hebrew scenario to make his point. After the release of the Jews from Babylonian captivity, 565 priests were disqualified from the priesthood “having married wives whose genealogies they could not produce.”
As a former Priest and Pharisee insider, Josephus pointed to the Jewish lineage records challenging anyone who questioned his own heritage to check the public records that traced his family’s ancestry back 2000 years. That period of years equates to the same time span covering from Jesus back to Abraham.
Jewish sages agree that prophecies define the undisputed requirement the Messiah must be born in the lineage of King David. If Jesus of Nazareth was not born in David’s lineage, he could not be the Messiah.
Archenemies of Jesus, the Jewish leadership, were at ground zero with full access to the Temple’s complete Hebrew genealogical records dating back millennia. If the High Priest Caiaphas or the Jewish leadership had simply demonstrated that Jesus of Nazareth did not have royal legal rights to the House of David, it would have ended any speculation that Jesus is the Messiah.
Talmud Sanhedrin 43a is a tractate that fell victim to the Censor in the Middle Ages. Restored, it strongly infers that Jesus was of royal lineage because he was associated with the government or royalty; therefore, an exception was made for Yeshu (Jesus) from the Jewish Law defining execution for blasphemy or idolatry.
Sanhedrin 43a Gemara
“With Yeshu however it was different, for he was connected with the government [or royalty, i.e., influential].’” – Soncino Babylonian translation
“Rather, Jesus was different, as he had close ties with the government…” – William Davidson translation
Rabbi Maimonides, a Jewish sage who lived some 1200 years after the birth of Jesus, produced his renowned work, Mishneh Torah. In it, the Rabbi denounced Jesus as one from the Davidic dynasty who had “aspired” to be the Messiah:
“If he did not succeed to this degree or he was killed, he surely is not [the redeemer] promised by the Torah. [Rather,] he should be considered as all the other proper and legitimate kings of the Davidic dynasty who died. Jesus of Nazareth who aspired to be the Moshiach and was executed by the court…”
All Jewish genealogy records were maintained in the Temple meaning these records had to include Joseph, Mary and the birth of Jesus since the were all 3 were Jews and Jesus had not yet become controversial with the Jewish leadership. Luke records that Joseph and Mary went to the Temple and paid a redemption price to a priest for a sacrifice in compliance with the Law for a firstborn male.
A truism in the world of investigations is that when information is being intentionally withheld, it strongly suggests the withheld information is damaging. Direct acknowledgement of the lineage of Jesus is rare, practically unspoken – in this case, silence speaks volumes.
What is the likelihood the archenemies of Jesus would have taken full advantage of the opportunity to disqualify Jesus as being the Messiah if they could have only exposed Jesus of Nazareth was not of the royal House of David?
Updated April 7, 2023.
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