Errors in the Genealogy of Yeshua
In this introduction to the errors in the genealogy of Yeshua, we would like to clarify certain issues that many have touched upon, much has been written on, but still its depths have not been perceived. In order to clarify these issues in their entirety, we must initially make some inquiries about the Greek of the canonical gospels. We will explain the reason for these inquiries in due course.
How many of us are aware of serious errors in the genealogy of Yeshua in the canonical gospels of Matthew and Luke? These errors at best throw doubt of the authenticity of the gospels, and at worst disqualify Yeshua as the Messiah of YHVH. For these reasons, it behooves each one of us to acquire as much insight into the matter.
We have these two objections to the errors in the genealogy of Yeshua as found in the Canonical gospels of Matthew and Luke. There is an apparent contradiction in the genealogy of Yeshua (in Mat 1:6-16 and Luk 3:23-31), namely, that they both begin from David and end at Yoseph the father of Yeshua (by law).
The problem in both genealogies in the Canon is this: How can the translators claim Yoseph’s genealogy from King David through both Solomon and Nathan, sons of David? And since both genealogies are impossible to begin from one common ancestor (David) and end to another common ancestor (Yoseph), while having different names in them, they are both self-exclusive.
This apparent error is best seen in the parallel accounts of the genealogy of Yeshua in Matthew and Luke.
… and David the king brought forth Shlomo by Uriyah’s wife … and Ya’akov brought forth Yoseph the husband of Miryam, of whom was born Yeshua … (Mat 1:1-16)
And when Yeshua himself began, he was about thirty years of age, being, as reckoned by law, son of Yoseph, of Eli, … of Nathan, of David, … (Luk 3:23-31)
Both accounts claim the genealogy of Yeshua from David to Yoseph the father (by law) of Yeshua and husband of Miryam, but through different sons: Solomon and Nathan. The only difference is that in Luke, the genealogy of Yeshua is in a reverse order.
Note: For the purpose of this study, we should note that Yoseph and Miryam are of one generation. In Matthew, Yoseph is called the husband of Miryam, and in Luke: the father by law of Yeshua, but both accounts refer to the same person.
We should not err to quickly conclude, as some do, that the canonical Gospel of Matthew refers to Miryam as a daughter of David, because in this case we should have seen: “David brought forth Shlomo … and Ya’akov brought forth Miryam, the wife of Yoseph, of whom was born Yeshua“.
Then, a direct line from David through Miryam to Yeshua would have been established and the genealogy of Yeshua would be like this: David-Solomon-Miryam-Yeshua. And in Luke, the genealogy of Yeshua would be David-Nathan-Yoseph (by law)-Yeshua. But this is not what we read in the canonical gospels.
In Matthew, the line of ancestry seems broken, when the account says: “Ya’akov brought forth Yoseph the husband of Miryam, of whom (Miryam) was born Yeshua”. The line of ancestry is broken at Yoseph and Miryam, since they are both of one generation, and there is no blood line (and there must not have been) between Yoseph and Miryam.
Something is not right here! Or, we read corrupted Greek texts.
The Canonical Gospels
There are the four gospels recognized by the Church as canonical. The first Gospel in the Canon is the Gospel according to Mattithyahu.
Mattithyahu (Matthew) presents Yeshua as the King Messiah, the Branch of David. He gives his account of the genealogy of Yeshua with opening statement that Yeshua is the son of King David, son of Avraham.
Then, the apostle starting with the forefathers Avraham, Yitschak, and Ya’akov, reckons the ancestors of the Messiah until his birth (in a separate article we scrutinized the controversy in the Greek account of Yeshua’s genealogy).
Yeshua speaks of himself as the son of man, not merely to say that He was the Messiah, but to designate himself as the son of man[kind] (Hebrew “Adam”) in Daniel’s prophecy. By this analogy, Yeshua lays claim to a heavenly origin of pre-existence, but also to affirm the human nature of his appearance on the earth, according to the expression, “the Word became flesh” (Joh 1:14).
Apostle Mark in his Gospel presents the Messiah as the Servant in Isa 52:13-15. Portraying the Messiah as a servant, Mark does not begin with the genealogy of Yeshua, as do Matthew and Luke do, because unlike the birth of a king, the birth of a servant is insignificant. The life of an servant is to serve, not to be served. Thus Mark’s account omits any account of Yeshua’s birth or pre-existence and centers on his work as a servant who heals the sick.
The Gospel of Luke was written as a letter to the Sadducee Theophilus, the High Priest, to whom Luke addressed not only his Gospel but also the Acts of the Apostles (see Luk 1:3, Act 1:1).
Through the Gospel Luke presents Yeshua as the “Son of man”. The term “Son of man”, Hebrew “ben Adam”, literally means “son of mankind”, and as such it is a better expression for the first man Adam and the Messiah both being born without an earthly father, hence “son of mankind” rather than “son of man”.
Luke too gives the genealogy of the Messiah, but unlike Matthew who lists the ancestry in descending order from Avraham to Yeshua (appropriate for a king with a royal lineage), Luke lists it in ascending order appropriate for a man: from the man Yeshua son Yoseph (by law) to Adam the son of Elohim. Thus, Luke intentionally presents Yeshua in the genealogy as the “son of man”.
In his Gospel, Apostle Yochanan begins his account of the life and ministry of Yeshua the Messiah on a very mystical level, saying, “He was in the beginning with Elohim. All came to be through him, and without him not even one came to be that came to be” (Joh 1:1-3).
Furthermore, Yochanan continues his mysticism concerning the nature of the Messiah to affirm that Yeshua was sent by the Father.
With that being said, we may state that the four Gospels reveal the four attributes or natures of the Messiah: (1) the Branch as King (Matthew), (2) the Branch as Servant (Mark), (3) the Branch as Man (Luke), and (4) the Branch of YHVH as His Son (Yochanan).
For further knowledge on the matter, the reader may do well to read what we have written in our commentary on the gospels in the article The fifth Gospel of YHVH.
The errors in the genealogy of Yeshua
As we stated above, due to the errors it is impossible for the genealogy of Yeshua in Matthew and Luke to begin from the common ancestor (David) and end to Yoseph, while having different names in them.
We will explain this controversy duly below. Consider that the listing of both genealogies after the sons of David in parallel is purely arbitrary, as we cannot match the past generations due to insufficient information in the accounts.
In the account of Matthew, Yeshua ancestors are divided into three sets of fourteen generations: from Avraham to David, from David until the exile to Babylon, and from the exile to Babylon until the Messiah (Mat 1:17); Luke gives no such division in his account of the genealogy of Yeshua. The genealogies of Yeshua are listed as follows:
|Mat 1:6-16||Luk 3:23-31|
|1. Avraham||1. Avraham|
And after the exile to Babylon, the genealogy in Matthew continues with the last set of fourteen generations,
|12. Yoseph the husband of Miryam||Yoseph the husband of Miryam|
|13. [missing generation in Matthew]|
1 Melchi (of Nathan) remarried Estha after Mattan (of Solomon) died and begot Eli (of Nathan) (per Eusebius).
2 Matthan (of Solomon) married Estha and begat Ya’akov (of Solomon) and Mattan (of Nathan) (per Eusebius).
3 Ya’akov (of Solomon) and Eli (of Nathan) were “uterine brothers” by the same mother Estha (per Eusebius): “Eli had died childless, and his twin brother Ya’akov took his wife and begot Yoseph and thus both became fathers of Yoseph: Eli by law, Ya’akov by nature” (per Eusebius).
There is an interesting story by the Early Church “father” Eusebius of Caesarea, who tried to explain the errors in the genealogy of Yeshua. We read in Early Church History, Book 1, Chapter 7:5-15 (our inline comments are inserted in red):
If we reckon the generations from David through Solomon, the third from the end is found to be Matthan, who begat Jacob the father of Joseph. But if, with Luke, we reckon them from Nathan the son of David, in like manner the third from the end is Melchi (Ed. this is at least questionable; Melchi is the sixth from the end, not the third), whose son Eli was the father of Joseph. For Joseph was the son of Eli, the son of Melchi. Joseph therefore being the object proposed to us, it must be shown how it is that each is recorded to be his father, both Jacob, who derived his descent from Solomon, and Eli, who derived his from Nathan; first how it is that these two, Jacob and Eli, were brothers, and then how it is that their fathers, Matthan and Melchi, although of different families, are declared to be grandfathers of Joseph. Matthan and Melchi having married in succession the same woman, begat children who were uterine brothers, for the law did not prohibit a widow, whether such by divorce or by the death of her husband, from marrying another. By Estha then (for this was the woman’s name according to tradition) Matthan, a descendant of Solomon, first begat Jacob. And when Matthan was dead, Melchi, who traced his descent back to Nathan, being of the same tribe but of another family, married her as before said, and begat a son Eli (Ed. this is at least questionable; there are three generations between Melchi and Eli unaccounted for by Eusebuis). Thus we shall find the two, Jacob and Eli, although belonging to different families, yet brethren by the same mother. Of these the one, Jacob, when his brother Eli had died childless, took the latter’s wife and begat by her a son Joseph, his own son by nature and in accordance with reason. Wherefore also it is written: ‘Jacob begat Joseph’. But according to law he was the son of Eli, for Jacob, being the brother of the latter, raised up seed to him. Hence the genealogy traced through him will not be rendered void, which the evangelist Matthew in his enumeration gives thus: ‘Jacob begat Joseph.’ But Luke, on the other hand, says: ‘Who was the son, as was supposed’ (for this he also adds), ‘of Joseph, the son of Eli, the son of Melchi’ (Ed. ???); for he could not more clearly express the generation according to law. And the expression ‘he begat’ he has omitted in his genealogical table up to the end, tracing the genealogy back to Adam the son of God. This interpretation is neither incapable of proof nor is it an idle conjecture. … In any case the Gospel states the truth.” And at the end of the same epistle he (Luke) adds these words: “Matthan, who was descended from Solomon, begat Jacob. And when Matthan was dead, Melchi, who was descended from Nathan begat Eli by the same woman” (Ed. no such words had ever been recorded by Luke). Eli and Jacob were thus uterine brothers (Ed. ???). Eli having died childless, Jacob raised up seed to him, begetting Joseph, his own son by nature, but by law the son of Eli. Thus Joseph was the son of both.”
This sounds peculiar as we have not read anywhere about this story. This seems quite astounding. Why did the disciples fail to mention this detail in their accounts? If we examine the arguments that have been cited by Eusebius, we find the following problems:
- Although Eusebius’ story looks unusual, it is possible, but only if he had a source for his claims Matthew and Luke did not have. Eusebius provided no source for his story. For this reason, the main objection to Eusebius is this: if such a marriage indeed happened, at least one of the apostles would have recorded it, but they had not. For instance, Matthew has recorded the birth of Solomon by Uriah’s wife in Mat 1:6, but failed to record that Ya’akov (of Solomon) and Eli (of Nathan) were “uterine brothers” by the same mother Estha, and Yoseph was the son of both?! And even if Ya’akov and Eli were indeed brothers, they were not “uterine”, as Eusebius stated.
- Eusebius stated that Luke said: ‘Who was the son, as was supposed’ (for this he also adds), ‘of Joseph, the son of Eli, the son of Melchi’ . However, in the gospel of Luke there are two generations between Melchi and Eli: Levi, Mattithyahu, and Mattan.
- The only source of information for Eusebius is an epistle by Luke from where he quotes his story, but no such epistle (other than the canonical) ever existed.
- Eusebius gives some justification as to why Yoseph the father by law of Yeshua is in both genealogies, but does not answer as to why there are only 13 generations in Matthew’s account, something a good scholar should have noticed.
In conclusion of our response to Eusebius, we say that Eusebius tried to “fix” the genealogies in Matthew and Luke. To his credit we have to admit that at least he noticed the apparent discrepancies but went into the wrong direction of his thoughts without providing his sources.
So, how do we resolve the errors in the genealogy of Yeshua, namely, that both genealogies in Matthew and Luke begin from David and end to the same person “Yoseph”?
As we have explained previously, the apparent contradiction, not only in this case but elsewhere, is based on the supposition that the Greek “New Testament” is infallible, i.e. as the Catholic Church considers the Pope infallible. But the Greek text is not without errors and even blunders.
The errors in genealogy of Yeshua in Matthew and Luke are easily resolved, when we first resolve the error in the genealogy of Yeshua in Matthew, and more particularly, the gap in the third set of fourteen generations: from the exile to Babylon until the Messiah (Mat 1:17).
Once this gap is “filled in”, the errors in genealogy of Yeshua in Luke are quickly solved: the Yosephs in Matthew and Luke are two different persons.
Please, read what we have written in the article Gap in the fourteen generations in Yeshua’s genealogy concerning this issue.
After reading the aforesaid article, we conclude that Matthew has recorded the genealogy of Yeshua the son of Miryam from David and Solomon, while Luke has recorded that of Yoseph (her husband) from David and Nathan. While the accounts according to the Greek text list Yoseph the husband of Miryam being in the lineage of David from his two sons, Solomon and Nathan (impossible unless we accept Eusebius’ dubious explanation).
This solves all the questions we had posed about the peculiar wording employed in the accounts of Matthew and Luke. And why was it so important to explain something that should not have been said in the first place, if the translators had done their job?
Error in the Greek of Luke
Yet, the genealogy of Yeshua according to the Greek text of Luke is not without errors.
The apparent error in the Greek text of the Gospel of Luke is the name “Keynan” in Luke 3:36. “Keynan”, the son of Arpachshad, the son of Shem, indeed appears in the Greek text of Luke but not in the corresponding genealogies in Gen 10:24; Gen 11:12, and 1Ch 1:18-24.
Compare the accounts of Ever, Shelach, of Arpachshad, the son of Shem, in King James’ version of the Bible in Luk 3:35-36 and Gen 10:24:
… Heber, which was the son of Sala, Which was the son of Cainan, which was the son of Arphaxad, … (Luk 3:35-36 KJV)
And Arphaxad begat Salah; and Salah begat Eber. (Gen 10:24 KJV)
The difference is more than obvious. The Hebrew Scripture (The Tanak) simply does not show any “Keynan” being a son of Arpachshad, as the KJV translation from Greek does. The son of Arpachshad is Shelach, not Keynan. Such a person as Keynan does not even exist among the descendants of Shem the son of Noach, unless someone wants to argue that the Greek text of Luke holds a favorable position over the Hebrew Tanak.
The motive for the insertion of “Keynan” in the text of Luke is unknown. Whether it is a scribal error duplicating Keynan, the son of Enosh, or something else, it is difficult to tell from the Greek text alone. At any rate, Arpachshad begot Shelach who begot Ever, and there are no two “Keynans” in the genealogy of Yeshua and all errors are thus eliminated.
So, why did someone inserted “Keynan” as a son of Arpachshad?
From the Book of Jubilees 2:23, we read thus,
There (were) two and twenty heads of mankind from Adam to Jacob, and two and twenty kinds of work were made until the seventh day; this is blessed and holy; and the former also is blessed and holy; and this one serves with that one for sanctification and blessing. (Jubilees 2:23)
According to the Greek of Luke, with the name “Keynan” there would have been twenty-three generations from Adam to Ya’akov, not twenty-two as they are indeed in the Torah and Jubilees:
- Adam, 2. Sheth, 3. Enosh, 4. Keynan, 5. Mahalal’el, 6. Yered, 7. Chanoch, 8. Methushelach, 9. Lemech, 10. Noach, 11. Shem (in Gen 5:1-32); 12. Arpachshad, 13. Shelach, 14. Ever, 15. Peleg, (in Gen 10:22-31); 16. Re’u, 17. Serug, 18. Nachor, 19. Terach, 20. Avraham, 21. Yitschak, 22. Ya’akov.
In Luke, however, the generations from Ya’akov to Adam are twenty-three, as we read in the Greek (the “Keynan” in question is included):
- Ya’akov, 2. Yitschak, 3. Avraham, 4. Terach, 5. Nachor, 6. Serug, 7. Re’u, 8. Peleg, 9. Ever, 10. Shelach, 11. Keynan, 12. Arpachshad, 13. Shem, 14. Noach, 15. Lemech, 16. Methushelach, 17. Chanoch, 18. Yered, 19. Mahalal’el, 20. Keynan, 21. Enosh, 22. Sheth, 23. Adam. (Luk 3:34-38)
Knowing what we have learned so far, it should not come as a surprise that the Greek is in error.
So, how would that help us solve the errors in the genealogy of Yeshua? Here comes in help the Book of Enoch.
The seventieth generation of apostasy
1Enoch 10:11-13 reads,
And YHVH said unto Michael: Go, bind Semjaza and his associates who have united themselves with women so as to have defiled themselves with them in all their uncleanness. And when their sons have slain one another, and they have seen the destruction of their beloved ones, bind them fast for seventy generations in the valleys of the earth, till the day of their judgment and of their consummation, till the judgment that is for ever and ever is consummated.
According to the Book of Enoch (Chanoch), there are seventy generations from the time of Chanoch, when the fallen angels sinned with the daughters of men, until the one who will judge them, that is the Messiah Yeshua, as it is written: “bind Semjaza and his associates who have united themselves with women … bind them fast for seventy generations in the valleys of the earth, till the day of their judgment”.
However, the generations from Enoch to Yeshua in Luke 3:23-37, we find sixty-nine generations (when “Keynan” is not counted), not seventy generation. This brings us to an interesting statement made by the Nazarene writer Hegesippus.
Note: The first believers in Yeshua HaMashiach did not call themselves “Christians”, but “Nazarenes”. None of the disciples called himself “Christian”, nor did Shaul (Paul), who continued to call himself “Pharisee” years after the Damascus Road experience. According to Act 24:5, the Nazarenes were a sect within the Judaism of all Jews followers of Yeshua throughout the world. This sect was also known as “The Way” (see Act 9:2, Act 24:22) named after the one who said, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life”. It would be in the time of the Roman emperor Constantine, when the gentiles would be called “Christians” and their new religious body: the “Church”.
Eusebius of Caesarea says that Hegesippus was a convert from Judaism, a Jew, learned in the Semitic languages, and conversant with the oral tradition and customs of the Jews, who was also acquainted with the Gospel according to the Hebrews. From this gospel, the disciples derived their accounts of Yeshua’s life and ministry.
Hegesippus recounted the beginning of the apostasy among the followers of Yeshua after the death of the last emissary. He wrote:
Up to that period the assembly had remained like a virgin pure and uncorrupted: for, if there were any persons who were disposed to tamper with the wholesome rule of the proclaiming of salvation, they still lurked in some dark place of concealment or other. But, when the sacred band of emissaries had in various ways closed their lives, and that generation of men to whom it had been vouchsafed to listen to the godlike wisdom with their own ears had passed away, then did the confederacy of godless error take its rise through the treachery of false teachers, who, seeing that none of the emissaries any longer survived, at length attempted with bare and uplifted head to oppose the proclaiming of the truth by proclaiming “knowledge falsely so called.” Hegesippus (Roberts-Donaldson translation) (earlychristianwritings.com)
The generation, which followed the generation of the disciples of Yeshua, was that seventieth generation in which the fallen angel Semjaza and his associates were to be released.
We should note here that, per the true account of the genealogy of Yeshua in Luke, the seventieth generation was the very generation in which the false teachers began to oppose the truth, the very generation in which the apostasy began in the Church and continues even until the present day.
But the Greek text of Luke falsely attributes the seventieth generation of the apostasy (when “Keynan” is counted) to the generation of Yeshua and his disciples. That “small” change in the genealogy of Yeshua in the Gospel of Luke was too a part of the apostasy that still continues today.
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May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our day!