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Is Jesus a descendant of David?

Updated on February 27, 2013


Genesis 49:10 – “The scepter will not depart from Judah”

Isaiah 9:7 – (Of the messiah) “Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.”

There is also a Jewish law that would establish Mary as a descendant of David’s. Numbers 36: 6 – 7 says that women should marry within their own clan. Therefore, Mary would have had to have been from the line of Judah in order to marry Joseph.

This is what the LORD commands for Zelophehad’s daughters: They may marry anyone they please as long as they marry within their father’s tribal clan. No inheritance in Israel is to pass from one tribe to another, for every Israelite shall keep the tribal inheritance of their ancestors.”

Jesus turned the world upside down. He walked the earth, claiming to be the Messiah his people were waiting for. Jesus was not what they were expecting. Many rejected him outright, refusing to believe and angered by his presumption. Others flocked to him, not understanding, but wanting to hear his every word. Scholars quietly searched the scriptures to see if it could be true. They looked to the prophesies to confirm his heritage. They knew the Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah, a descendant of David. Jesus' genealogy had to be perfect to support his claims. The public records had to show that he was from the line of David.

Heritage was important to the Jews and they kept detailed records. For Jesus to be legally considered an heir of David, even his adoptive father, Joseph had to be from David's line. The gospel writer Matthew knew the importance of Jesus fulfilling the prophesies and begins his book with the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph.

Matthew 1:1 – 16 –“A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham :…( 6) and Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,…(16) and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called the Christ.

As a decendant of David, Joseph's records validated the correct heritage for Jesus to be the Messiah. But Jesus didn't have a biological father like the rest of us. For him to truely be from the line of David, Mary, his only biological parent also had to be a descendant of David.

The gospel writer Luke includes a second genealogy for Jesus, it also lists Jesus as the son of Joseph. So how do we know it's really the genealogy of Mary? There are some important differences indicating that it isn't Joseph's records.

Luke 3:23 – 38 – “Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat…(31) the son of Nathan, the son of David, the son of Jesse…”

We know that this could not be the lineage for the same person as the record in Matthew because it is traced back through David’s son Nathan instead of Solomon. Another difference is the father of Joseph is listed as Heli instead of Jacob. This is the biggest clue indicating that this is actually Mary’s genealogy filed under her husband. The law required that all genealogies be listed under the head of the household. The Jewish Talmud tells us that Heli was Mary’s father. (Chagigah 77.4) Joseph was his son-in-law. With this in mind, we can conclude that Luke is recording the genealogy of Jesus’ mother, Mary and confirming Jesus’ right to the throne of David biologically as well as legally.


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    • April Reynolds profile image

      April Reynolds 5 years ago from Arizona

      Thank you WillStarr, I'm glad this was helpful

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I've wondered about this for years! Thank you.

    • April Reynolds profile image

      April Reynolds 5 years ago from Arizona

      Thank you Michael! I find it amazing and comforting to see God's patience and faithfulness through Israel's history.

    • profile image

      michael rivers1 5 years ago

      Great research on this topic April. I am currently reading about Israel's kings in the books of Chronicles and Kings. God promised both David and Solomon a king to rule over Israel if their sons remained faithful. Unfortunately, their sons were rebellious as the kingdom was divided and eventually taken into captivity. In spite of Israel's unfaithfulnes, God provided the Messiah who would reign on David's throne. Reminds me of Romans 8:3,"For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did-sending His own Son. We serve faithful God! Thanks for sharing.

    • April Reynolds profile image

      April Reynolds 5 years ago from Arizona

      good morning newenglandsun! Perhaps I could have said that differently. Women were listed in genealogies, you can see Mary listed in Joseph's, but genealogies were not listed under women's names. If you went to the place where their records were kept, you would not find genealogies filed under a woman's name.

      If you like, I'll get you a more detailed website to look at after I get back next week.

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      newenglandsun 5 years ago

      In regard to the genealogies, I'm still a little confused as to the notion of why women are placed in Matthew's genealogies if women aren't supposed to be in the genealogical records.

      Thanks though. This article definitely clears some confusion up.