In my article, A New Testament Cipher, I showed how the list of Matthew 1 was an intentional arrangement of Jesus’ lineage in order to convey additional information. Luke 3 also gives a lineage of Jesus and like Matthew 1, it also has a story to tell. Scholars have long questioned which lineage is through Mary and which is through Joseph. Intriguingly, when the lists are examined in a larger context, it is their arrangement that provides the best evidence to answer this question.
Let’s look at the crux of the debate:
Luke 3:23 And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,
Matthew 1:16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
The New Testament claims that Mary conceived Jesus by the Spirit of YHWH. (See my article here for more on this); this obviously means he did not have an earthly father. As you can see in the two verses above, Joseph is listed as the father of Jesus. In one of these, Joseph is listed in place of Mary because even though one’s lineage passed through the mother, it was the husband or father who was normally listed.
One of the lists to the right is the physical line of Jesus through Mary, his mother. The other, by default, is the lineage of Joseph, the “legal”, adoptive father of Jesus. One of the most compelling arguments for Luke 3 being the physical lineage of Jesus is found in an Old Testament curse. If you’ve read my article Zerubbabel and the Promise you know the Old Testament king Jechonias (also Coniah) was cursed by YHWH and no man of his lineage would ever “prosper” on the throne of David.
Jeremiah 22:24-30 24 As I live, saith YHWH, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence; 25 And I will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life, and into the hand of them whose face thou fearest, even into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans. 26 And I will cast thee out, and thy mother that bare thee, into another country, where ye were not born; and there shall ye die. 27 But to the land whereunto they desire to return, thither shall they not return. 28 Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into a land which they know not? 29 O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of YHWH. 30 Thus saith YHWH, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.
Okay, so we have evidence which shows which list is not the lineage of Jesus, but is there any confirming evidence to show that Luke 3 was in fact the lineage of Jesus through Mary? I believe there is. Luke 3:23 states that Jesus was “the supposed” son of Joseph, the son of Heli. The phrase “the supposed” is from the Greek nomizo which means as was the custom in the sense of a legal custom. In other words, Joseph was the legal father of Jesus; not the literal father. As with the legal custom of that time, Mary’s name would not have been listed even though she was the person through whom the lineage passed. So in this case Joseph the “legal” father of Jesus represented his wife Mary in the lineage and Heli was in fact Mary’s father. Remarkably we have a historical source which confirm that Mary was the daughter of Heli.
This source, which is in some dispute, comes from the Jerusalem Talmud (Chag. 77,4). Do to the graphic and unflattering nature of the quote it is not appropriate to reproduce here. You can investigate and decide for yourself if in fact it refers to Mary the Daughter of Heli.
Authors Note: This article had originally stated that the Koran identified Mary as the Daughter of Heli. It seems the translation of these passages that I found were erroneous. The three passages below which I originally quoted should read daughter of Imran. I apologize for the error. (Quran 66:12) (Quran 3:35) (Al-Tirmidhi)
The list of Matthew 1 contains the lineage of David through Solomon. The lineage is marked by sin and rebellion. David’s sin with the Bathsheba (another man’s wife) resulted in Solomon, Coniah, and a long line of rebellions and sinful kings. (Please read my article Zerubbabel and the Promise to see how YHWH rectified this conundrum).
Mankind and sin is often marked symbolically in the Bible by the number 6. The list of Matthew 1 from YHWH to Yeshua/Jesus is marked by 66 names. It is further worth noting that the Bible in its modern form from YHWH in Genesis to Yeshua in Revelation is marked by 66 books.
The list of Luke 3 contains the lineage of Jesus through David and his son Nathan. This is likely the physical line of Jesus through Mary. It is unblemished by the sordid details associated with the lineage through Solomon. In the Bible the number 7 is a mark of divine perfection. The list of Luke 3 contains 77 names.
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Editing for this article was provided by Bradley Rohr at: