EXPLORING THE WORD
How do Jesus' two genealogies show He is the Messiah?
By Rabbi Robert
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Of Covenants and Kings
We must understand the difference in conditional and unconditional covenants and promises of God. God gave to David the unconditional covenant that one of his descendants would reign on the throne forever. David needed to do nothing but sire children in order for the covenant to be fulfilled. Contrast this unconditional covenant given to David — that one of his descendants will reign on his throne forever — with the conditional covenant to King Solomon about his heir apparent. We see many Scriptures where Solomon is told that the royal line will come through Solomon. In 2Samuel 7:14 the prophet Nathan is telling David that after he dies, God will raise up one of his offspring to succeed him, one coming from his own body, and his kingdom will be established. Further this heir is the one who will build a house for the name of the Lord, and God says that he will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. The Lord goes on to say that when he does wrong the Lord will punish him but will never take away his love the way he did from Saul, the first king of Israel. God tells David through the prophet Nathan that David's house and kingdom will endure forever before God; his throne will be established forever. Notice that the promises are made to King David and that it is King David's line that would forever be established on the throne. God is speaking only of David, not Solomon.
Now the assumption is that because Solomon built the house for God that the Messiah must come as a descendant of Solomon. And there are Scriptures such as 1 Chronicles 17:11-14 and 2 Samuel 7, which indicate that Solomon will be the line from which the Messiah would come. However, the promise that Solomon's seed would forever remain on the throne was conditional. Consider 1Chronicles 28:7 and 1Kings 9:4-9, where God speaks directly to Solomon. God makes it clear that in order for Solomon's line to continue in kingship they must never turn from God or serve other gods. God tells Solomon he must observe all his decrees and laws, and then he will establish the royal throne over Israel forever, but Solomon clearly did not follow the counsel of God. Solomon had hundreds of wives and concubines and he frequently sinned against the commands of God.
The divine threat here is so emphatic that Hebrew scholar Ziony Zevit claims that God actually refused Solomon's request in 1Kings 8:25-26 for an unconditional guarantee. In that passage Solomon prayed his very promise back to the Lord — namely that David would never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel. God tells Solomon that there are conditions, and that the breaking of those conditions would actually result in the exile of the people and the destruction of the Temple. Both of these events happened. The people of Israel were exiled to Babylon and the Temple was destroyed.
The Hebrew Scriptures are absolutely clear on this: what is required for one to be the Messiah is to be from the lineage of David, not Solomon. There are many, many references to the throne of David and the Son of David, but not one reference to the son of Solomon. Solomon's throne was not established forever; David's was. All subsequent kings were said to sit on the throne of David not on the throne of Solomon. Solomon's kingdom was not one that was established forever; Solomon had conditions for his linage to remain on the throne that he broke.
The messianic line was promised through David and not Solomon as we can see clearly in the Psalms: Psalm 89:3-4 God says he has "sworn to David my servant that I will establish your line forever"; Psalm 89:35-37 God says "and I will not lie to David that his line will continue forever and his throne and before me like the sun"; Psalm 132:11-12 the Lord swore an oath to David, "a sure oath that he will not revoke; one of your own descendants I will place on your throne — if your sons keep my covenant and the statues I teach them, then their sons will sit on your throne forever and ever. Notice it is David's throne forever and ever."
Every reference about the eternity of the throne is from the name of David not Solomon. Jeremiah 33:17: "For this is what the Lord says: 'David will never fail to have a man sits on the throne of the house of Israel.'" Consider Jeremiah 17:24-25, which says if the people obey the Sabbath, "then kings who sit on David's throne will come through the gates of the city with their officials." Again David's throne, not Solomon's throne. To whom much is given much is expected and Solomon did not to fulfill the expectation. Even in Jewish law and the Talmud there is no reference that the Messiah must come through the line of Solomon. Not one statement can be found in any of the writings of the rabbis to support the need for the Messiah to come to the line of Solomon. It is significant to note that even Rabbi Moses Maimonides, one of the leading voices in rabbinic Judaism, omitted any reference to the Messiah's supposed need to be of Solomonic descent in his authoritative law code called the Mishneh Torah. It simply was not an issue.
So the fact that Mary came through the line of Nathan, Solomon's brother, is not an issue. Although in the third century a rabbi named Shimon bar Yochai wrote a book called the Zohar. Jewish mystics and those who often spiritualize the Hebrew Scriptures use the Zohar. Many rabbis have added to the Zohar over the centuries, just like the Talmud — the Jewish oral law and traditions. Zohar 3:173b actually states that the mother of the Messiah will be the wife of Nathan, Hephzibah, the mother of Amiel.
Interestingly, a book called Sefer Jerubbabel (written during the medieval times) states that Nathan died childless and therefore all of Nathan's children were fathered by Solomon. The belief is based on her name — Hephzibah, which means "my delight is in her" — and Isaiah 62:4.
"You that bring good tidings to Zion" is Hephzibah, the wife of Nathan son of David, who is the mother of Messiah, Menachem son of Amiel, who was her descendant. She shall go out and bring the tidings about redemption and she is part of the general meaning of: "You that bring good tidings to Zion." Zohar III:173b, Parashat Shlach Lekha 45:298.
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Image Credit: Ian 'Harry' Harris; "Splitter"; Creative Commons
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