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

If Mary, a virgin, miraculously conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit, how then can Jesus of Nazareth have a legal claim to the royal inheritance rights of the House of David without a biological father? The answer lies in the legalities of the Jewish laws of family and priest hereditary rights.

“… 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

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

Knowing he was not responsible for Mary’s pregnancy, Joseph had the legal recourse of a divorce during their betrothal. For him, it was a legitimate escape avenue for Mary’s obvious indiscretion and Jewish law certainly favored his position – and he only had to make the accusation of adultery.[2]

Very strong circumstantial evidence supported the charge. All Joseph needed to do was point to Mary’s state of pregnancy during their betrothal that began while she was out-of-town on a 3-month trip without him to visit her cousin, Elizabeth.[3]

Divorce was an option Joseph actively considered.[4] Playing the divorce card would also have immediately ended the royal inheritance rights of the unborn Jesus.

Matthew reported that before Joseph acted on the divorce option, he had a visitation by the “angel of the LORD.” The message delivered from God was very clear:  Mary’s conception of a son was by the Holy Spirit; his birth was a fulfillment of the Isaiah 7:14 prophecy and they were to name him Jesus.[5]

Joseph had a big decision to make if he continued his betrothal. In a very conservative culture, whether he was the father or not, he would have to endure family embarrassment, public humiliation, scorn and other repercussions.[6] On the other side of the equation, he just had a very rare encounter with the angel of the LORD who delivered a message to him from God. Still, even if he legitimately defended himself publicly, few would believe the truth.[7]

Something most profound occurred as evidenced by Joseph’s immediate change of behavior – he suddenly stopped considering a divorce. Moreover, he made a full commitment to Mary and her future son in-spite-of the inevitable adverse consequences and proceeded to wed Mary without a consummation before Jesus was born.[8]

With the divorce option off the table, lineage inheritance rights of the son and paternity by the father also 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 from his father, regardless of Mary’s source of conception. For a child impregnated by someone other than the husband, paternity rights were 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” Talmud Sotah 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. A paternity claim by Joseph, the wild card, was a different matter he 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. At that time, they 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. As a mother, the law 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, Joseph 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, Jeremiah and Zachariah, 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? 

 

Updated March 8, 2022.

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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] “Adultery.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/865-adultery>
[3] 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>
[4] 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>
[5] Matthew 1:18-23. CR 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 1:24-25.
[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>

Joseph’s Dilemma With Mary

Joseph’s behavior played a key role in the Nativity story, much more than it may seem. His reactions to the extreme circumstances reveal truths about Mary’s pregnancy.

Most likely Joseph knew Mary through community interactions in Nazareth such as during the harvest or through their Synagogue.[1] He would have been familiar with her family’s reputation and had full confidence that she was a marriageable virgin, a very important factor in their conservative Jewish society.[2]

Betrothals typically lasted for a year during which time Joseph expected to be very busy.[3] As a bridegroom, in addition to paying the traditional bride-price, he had to hold a job to meet other financial obligations such as preparing their new home and sponsor a 3-day wedding feast for their guests.[4]

Mary, on the other hand, had less commitment pressures to prepare for the wedding. A betrothed girl subject to Judaic Law was under strict supervision of her family and the watchful eye of the community. She was not allowed to be alone at any time with an adult male, not even a male family member.[5]

Gabriel the archangel, during his secret appearance to Mary, informed her that Elizabeth, her cousin, was 6 months pregnant. It seemed to be the perfect opportunity to visit Elizabeth who lived in a village days away near Jerusalem.[6] Mary would be gone for 3 months. No phones, texts or emails…keeping in touch with Joseph would be very limited.[7]

Joseph would not become aware of Mary’s pregnancy until sometime after her return to Nazareth. It is unclear exactly when he discovered that she was pregnant, but it is clear from Matthew‘s use of the Greek word heurisko meaning “to hit upon…to find (by chance)” that it was a big surprise when he did find out![8]

Overwhelming emotions by Joseph would be expected – hurt and anger to begin with, then resentment, embarrassment, doubt, uncertainty, temptations of vengefulness and other mixed feelings. Then the big question – what to do next?

Moving forward with the marriage would be the expected behavior of a man who believed himself to be the father of his betrothal’s baby. Frowned upon by the Rabbis, accidental pregnancies during betrothals were a reality, even in those days. As such, these things were dealt with by allowing the couple to move up their wedding date and get on with life as a married couple.[9]

Not being the father of Mary’s baby presented a major set of conflicting circumstances. Why would a bridegroom want to marry his bride-to-be who was carrying the child conceived by someone else? If Joseph stayed with his pregnant betrothal, their community of family, friends and neighbors would assume the pregnancy was a result of his own doing even if it wasn’t.

Knowing he was innocent of premarital sex with Mary, Joseph would have to endure the undeserving consequences of facing public scorn and humiliation while swallowing his pride and overcoming his personal feelings. It would take a big man. Few men would do it.

Indeed, according to Matthew, Joseph was contemplating the divorce option, an expected reaction of a man who knew he was not the father of his betrothal’s child. It serves as perhaps the most telling evidence of a truth that Joseph was not the father of Mary’s child.

Consequences of a divorce weighed heavily on Joseph. Not only would it destroy her reputation and cause financial loss to both Mary and her family, a public accusation of infidelity could carry a charge of adultery – stoning would not have been out of the question.[10]

Attesting to another truth was Joseph’s honorable character. Rising above any negative feelings, he sought to quietly settle the divorce which would, in effect, minimize embarrassment to Mary, her family and potentially avoid the public charge of adultery.[11]

Unexpectedly, Joseph suddenly changed his mind – he inexplicably decided to continue with his marriage. What caused this sudden change of heart and willingness to pay the huge personal price of staying with Mary is key.

Matthew reports the game-changing moment came from a visit by “an angel of the Lord.” He delivered a message from God telling Joseph that Mary had conceived of the Holy Spirit and her child, a boy to be named Jesus.[12]

Actions speak louder than words, volumes in this case. Something very unusual and significant happened. Joseph suddenly set aside all his negative emotions and feelings to honor his marriage commitment to Mary knowing he was not the father of her child while willingly accepting the consequences that would come with it.[13]

Did the angelic resolution to Joseph’s dilemma plays a key role in determining if the conception and birth of Jesus of Nazareth was a fulfillment of the Isaiah 7:14 prophecy?

 

 

Updated December 10, 2021.

Creative Commons License

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

REFERENCES:

[1] Brayer, Menachem M. The Jewish Woman in Rabbinic Literature. 1986. pp 68-69. <http://books.google.com/books?id=GhPxFOCdQj4C&pg=PA143&lpg=PA143&dq=sex+betrothal+jewish&source=web&ots=G4jLlub8y9&sig=gnkOuPI8xLKvYl57J9PR9VY3kVg#PPA143,M1>
[2] Brayer. The Jewish Woman in Rabbinic Literature. pp 57, 59, 61. “Marriage Laws.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/10435-marriage-laws>
[3] “Betrothal.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/3229-betrothal> Brayer.  The Jewish Woman in Rabbinic Literature. p 62.  Edersheim.  The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 1883. Book II, Chapter 4.  https://philologos.org/__eb-lat/book204.htm> Thompson, James C.  Women in the Ancient World. July 2010.  “Women in Ancient Israel” > “Women and the Law in Ancient Israel.” <http://www.womenintheancientworld.com/women%20and%20the%20law%20in%20ancient%20israel.htm>
[4] Missler, Chuck. “The Wedding Model.” Koinonia House, Inc. 2018. <http://www.khouse.org/articles/2003/449/#notes>  Brayer. The Jewish Woman in Rabbinic Literature. p 70.
[5] Soncino Babylonian Talmud. Kethuboth 12a, 12b, 13a, 13b. <https://israelect.com/Come-and-Hear/kethuboth/index.html> “Adultery.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/865-adultery> Brayer. The Jewish Woman in Rabbinic Literature. pp 142-143.
[6] Luke 1.  “Map of Israel in the Time of Jesus.”  Bible History Online. n.d.<https://www.bible-history.com/maps/palestine_nt_times.html>
[7] Luke 1.
[8] Matthew 1:18. Net.bible.org. Greek text. “heurisko <2147>.” Lexicondorance.com. <http://lexiconcordance.com/greek/2147.html>
[9] Brayer. The Jewish Woman in Rabbinic Literature. pp 143-144, 146-147.  Lamm, Maurice. The Jewish Way in Love & Marriage. 2018. Section “Celebrating the Marriage Covenant” > Chapter “Jewish Betrothal Blessing;” Section “The Structure of The Marriage Covenant” > Chapter “The Jewish Marriage Ceremony.”  <http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/465140/jewish/The-Jewish-Way-in-Love-Marriage.htm>   Edersheim. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. Book II, Chapter 4, footnote #27.  “Ḳiddushin.”’ Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/9310-kiddushin>
[10] John 8:2-7.  “Adultery.” Jewish Encyclopedia.  “Marriage Laws.” Jewish Encyclopedia.  “Marriage Ceremonies.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/10434-marriage-ceremonies> Josephus, Flavius. Against Apion. Book II, #25. Trans. and commentary William Whitson. The Complete Works of Josephus. 1850. <http://books.google.com/books?id=e0dAAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false>  Thompson,“Women in the Ancient World.”  Edersheim.  The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. Book II, Chapter 4.
[11] Matthew 1:19.  Schneerson; Menachem M. “The Betrothed.” Chabad org. 2018. <http://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/296931/jewish/The-Betrothed.htm>  “Marriage Ceremonies” & “Adultery.” Jewish Encyclopedia.
[12] Matthew 1.
[13] Edersheim. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. Book II, Chapter 4.

Conspiracy Theory – Jesus a Fictional Messiah?

Adversaries of Christianity argue against the reality of Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, even as a real historical figure. One contention is based on a conspiracy theory saying “Jesus” and “Christianity” are the result of various 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 would have been enormous, especially in an era without any means of electronic communication, media, even the printed word. Just the opposite, Rome was compelled to quell the rapid rise of the new belief by killing many who were deemed to be Christians.

Creating a Christian religion with a Jewish messiah ups the ante to the highest degree. Not only were the Jews probably the most scorned ethnic group in the Roman Empire, Judaism itself viewed as blasphemous Christianity’s belief that Jesus is the Messiah.

Jewish leadership, in essence, would have to be considered as co-conspirators because of the role they played by placing Jesus on trial and compelling him to be executed . So Jewish was Jesus, that he was called “teacher” by Jewish leaders. The biggest part of the image that could be considered unique to Christianity is the Resurrection accounts of Jesus necessitating the many witness accounts to be refuted.

For a fictional Jewish messiah – a deity or god – to have merit, a perfect profile would be expected. A fictitious image would call for a flawless ancestral background of pure Jewish lineage, not to mention a flawless ancestral history free of unsavory or illegal activities.

Reality that earthy ancestral perfection was not possible, collaborators would then be compelled to weave into a false narrative the 2000-year old lineage timeline going back to Abraham . The detailed lineage accounts of Jesus of Nazareth included blessings, faith, forgiveness, miracles, prophecies issued and fulfilled along with the most ignoble examples of disobedience to God. Disgraceful accounts pulled straight from the Old Testament, the Tenakh, include deception, lies, a prostitute, Gentile intermarriages, voyeurism, adultery, murder, greed, etc.

Grandson of Abraham, Jacob swindled his older twin brother’s inheritance through a deception perpetrated on their aged, blind father, Isaac.[2] Still, God later blessed Jacob changing his name to Israel who went on to become the father of the 12 tribes of Israel.[3]

Jacob’s own conniving, jealous sons sold their younger brother Joseph into slavery and lied to their father saying he had been killed by a wild animal. Better than a movie script, Joseph went on to become the second most powerful ruler in Egypt under Pharaoh who eventually saved his father, brothers and their families from a famine.[4]

Israel’s military leader, Joshua, sent two advance spies into the Promised Land to surveil the walled city of Jericho.[5] Word reached the King who dispatched a manhunt for the spies. Hiding at the house of a prostitute named Rahab, she struck a deal with the spies in exchange for helping them escape – they would spare the lives of her and her family when the Israelites attacked.[6]

Salmon, a Hebrew, married the Gentile (non-Jewish) Rahab and bore a son named Boaz who became a wealthy resident of Bethlehem.[7] A widow herself, Naomi had no surviving sons placing her at-risk of losing her marital inheritance.

Boaz married the Gentile Ruth, Naomi’s daughter-in-law, allowing Naomi to redeem her otherwise lost inheritance in the celebrated Jewish story of redemption.[8] Jewish sage Rabbi Rashi displayed 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. [10] The prophet Isaiah foretold the Messiah would come from the root of Jesse, later identified as King David in the prophecies of Jeremiah and Zechariah.[11] David was not a faultless King, his 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 and she became pregnant. Her husband, Uriah, was one of David’s top military officers away fighting a war.[12]

Uriah was sent by the King to the front lines of the army with the hope he would be killed in battle – and he was. As punishment from God, 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] Yet, Solomon built and consecrated the Temple.

Deteriorating with succeeding generations of immoral kings, the House of David split into two kingdoms, Judah and Israel, eventually going to war against each other.[16] The downward spiral hit an end with King Jeconiah’s curse and the Babylonian captivity.[17] The curse on Jeconiah expired and soon Jerusalem and the Temple were rebuilt.

According to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Jesus of Nazareth was born into this flawed Jewish royal lineage and its past. Alleged conspirators could not undo this nearly two-millennia history to create a false Messiah and as such, it would all have to be tied together.

What is the extreme improbability that alleged conspirators over centuries, most alleged conspirators not ever knowing the other, could interweave such a complex history to invent a false Messiah narrative?

 

Updated November 17, 2021.

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.