The Promise (2 Samuel 7:12-17)
12When your days are fulfilled, and you lie with your fathers, then I shall raise up your seed after you, who shall come out from your bowels, and I shall establish his kingdom. 13He shall build a house for My Name, and I shall establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14I shall be a father to him, and he shall be a son to Me. When he sins, then I will chasten him with a rod of men, and with strokes of the sons of men. 15But My mercy shall not be taken from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16And your house shall be established, and your kingdom before you forever. Your throne shall be established forever. 17According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.
The Obstacle (Jeremiah 22:28-30)
28Is this man Coniah a despised, broken jar, or a vessel in which is no pleasure? Why are they hurled, he and his seed, and are cast into the land which they do not know? 29O earth, earth, earth! Hear the Word of YHWH! 30So says YHWH, Write this man childless, a man who will not prosper in his days. For not one from his seed will succeed, a man sitting on the throne of David and ruling any more in Judah.
YHWH promised David that a son of his loins would sit on the throne of the kingdom forever. The legal claim to the throne ran through Solomon’s line, and that line ran through Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) son of Jehoiakim, the last living king of Judah, the same Coniah whose line YHWH debarred from the throne, as He decreed through Jeremiah. So, how could a son of David legally sit on the throne without being descended from Coniah?
YHWH @Elohim follows His own rules, and His pronouncement against Coniah presented a genuine legal obstacle to keeping His promise to David. So, how did He fulfill His legal requirements while keeping His promise to David that one of His blood would sit on the throne forever?
I believe that Jesus of Nazareth is who He claims to be – the uniquely begotten Son of God, the Messiah, the Son of David who will sit on the throne forever, a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek. I believe that the Gospels truly record His life and the genealogy of His mother Mary and His supposed father Joseph. It is in the genealogies of Jesus as recorded by Matthew and Luke that one finds the answer to this conundrum.
The Solution, Part 1: The Blood Claim
Now Jesus, making His appearance at about age thirty – being, as was supposed, a son of Joseph – was Himself descended of Heli, of Matthat . . . of Nathan, of David . . . of Judah . . . (Luke 3:23,31,33) [JM Cheney, The Life of Christ in Stereo]
In his Gospel, Luke records the genealogy of Jesus, showing his descent from Heli of the tribe of Judah. So, who was Heli? Heli was the father of Mary, Jesus’ mother. Thus Jesus was descended from him.
Heli was descended from the collateral line of Nathan, a son of David who was a full brother of Solomon’s (their mother was Bathsheba [1 Chronicles 3.5]). Not being descended from Solomon, Heli had no legal claim to the throne, but he did have a blood claim. He passed this blood claim on to his children, including his daughter Mary, who, in turn, passed it on to her sons, including her firstborn, Jesus.
So, Jesus had a blood claim to the throne of David through His mother Mary. Through her, He was descended from the seed of David, from the bloodline of David. However, He was hardly unique in that. After a thousand years, a lot of families would have had a blood claim to the throne of David, but only one line had the legal claim—the line of Solomon.
The Solution, Part 2: The Legal Claim
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, Son of David, Son of Abraham. . . And Jacob fathered Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom (Greek pronoun ‘es’, clearly refers to Mary) was born Jesus, the One called Christ. (Matt 1:1,16)
Matthew records the genealogy of Jesus as Son of David, the Messiah, the One with a legal claim to the throne of David. However, the last line of the genealogy clearly lists Joseph, the husband of Mary who bore Jesus, and not Jesus directly. It does not list Joseph as fathering Jesus because, of course, he did not do so. So, how then is this the genealogy of Jesus if Joseph was not His birth father?
It’s the genealogy of Jesus because He was the eldest acknowledged son of Joseph, even though He was not fathered by Joseph. He was Joseph’s legal son. Therefore, Jesus legally inherited the claims of the eldest son, which in this case included Joseph’s legal claim to the throne. But then again, after a thousand years, others probably also had a legal claim to the throne.
But this is where Jesus might differ from all other legal claimants: did Joseph have a unique claim to the throne, in that he was the legal heir to the throne of David, descended from father to son down through the generations?
In Joseph’s dream (Matthew 1), the angel addresses him as ‘Joseph, son of David.’ At various times during His ministry, people called Jesus ‘Son of David,’ using it as a title. Scholars interpret this usage as a Messianic title, the Son of David, the Deliverer, or as a reference to any male descendant of David with a claim to the throne. However, I wonder. Before Jesus was born to be the Son of David (the Messiah), was ‘son of David’ also a title referring to the legal heir to the throne of David, rather than simply to one born of the house of David?
If so, then Joseph was the legal heir to the throne of David, descended from father to son down through the generations. But even so, he could not sit on the throne because he was descended from Jeconiah and thus debarred from that position. If this is the case, then Joseph passed on to Jesus not merely a legal claim, but THE legal heirship to the throne of David through the line of Solomon.
None of the sons that Joseph and Mary had together could have sat on the throne because they were descended from Jeconiah through Joseph. Only Jesus, not being physically descended from Joseph, was not debarred from legally claiming the position held by His legal father—a position to which He also had a blood claim through His mother Mary. Thus, He was declared the King of the Jews from His birth.
It’s also possible that all Joseph had was a simple legal claim to the throne because he was descended from the line of Solomon through Jeconiah (the same as possibly several others). However, all of the descendants of Jeconiah were debarred from the throne and none of their blood descendants could ever claim the throne of David. So, either way, when Joseph passed on his legal claim to Jesus as his eldest acknowledged son but not his blood son, and Jesus had a blood claim through his mother Mary, Jesus became the King of the Jews from His birth.
While I acknowledge that the second possibility is a possibility, I personally think that YHWH @Elohim kept His promise to David by arranging for the legal heir to the throne of David, Joseph, to marry Mary, the daughter of a collateral bloodline of David (and one descended from a full brother of Solomon’s). Mary’s firstborn Son was thus declared ‘King of the Jews’ from the moment of His birth because He fulfilled both the legal claim (but bypassing the debarment) and the blood claim to the throne of David.
May the grace and peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.