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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature

Genealogy

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Genealogy signifies a list of ancestors set down both in their direct and collateral order.

We read of no nation which was more careful to frame and preserve its genealogical tables than Israel. Their sacred writings contain genealogies which extend through a period of more than 3500 years, from the creation of Adam to the captivity of Judah. Indeed, we find from the books of Ezra and Nehemiah that the same carefulness in this matter was observed after the captivity; for in it is expressly stated that some who had come up from Babylon had sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but were not found; therefore were they, as polluted, removed from the priesthood. The division of the whole Hebrew nation into tribes, and the allotment to each tribe of a specified portion of the land of Canaan as an inalienable possession, rendered it indispensable that they should keep genealogical tables. God had, however, a still higher object than that of giving stability to property in Israel, in leading successive generations of His people thus to keep an accurate list of their ancestry. That they should do this was especially required from the moment that the voice of prophecy declared that the promised Messiah should be of the seed of Abraham, of the posterity of Isaac, of the sons of Jacob, of the tribe of Judah, and of the family of David.

The Rabbins affirm that after the Captivity the Jews were most careful in keeping their pedigrees (Babyl. Gemar. Gloss, fol. xiv. 2). Josephus (De Vita sua, p. 998, D) states that he traced his own descent from the tribe of Levi by public registers. And he informs us that, however dispersed and depressed his nation were, they never neglected to have exact genealogical tables prepared from the authentic documents which were kept at Jerusalem; and that in all their sufferings they were particularly careful to preserve those tables, and to have them renewed from time to time. Since, however, the period of their destruction as a nation by the Romans, all their tables of descent seem to be lost, and now they are utterly unable to trace the pedigree of any one Israelite who might lay claim to be their promised, and still expected, Messiah. Hence Christians assert, with a force that no reasonable and candid Jew can resist, that Shiloh must have come.

We find traces of the existence of the public tables of descent, to which Josephus refers, in the New Testament: the taxation spoken of by St. Luke () would clearly indicate this; for how could each one be able to go to his own city, unless he knew the specific tribe to which he belonged? Hence it was, we think, that St. Paul was able with confidence to appeal to the Hebrews concerning the lineage of Christ; 'for it is evident,' says he, 'that our Lord sprung out of Judah' (; ). To evince this beyond reasonable doubt, it pleased God to give us by his inspired servants, St. Matthew and St. Luke, the following genealogies:—

1.

Abraham

Solomon

Jechonias,
i.e. Jehoiachin

1.

2.

Isaac

Roboam

Salathiel

2.

3.

Jacob

Abia

Zorobabel

3.

4.

Judas

Asa

Abiud

4.

5.

Phares

Josaphat

Eliakim

5.

6.

Esrom

Joram

Azor

6.

7.

Aram

Ozias

Sadoc

7.

8.

Amindab

Joatham

Achim

8.

9.

Naasson

Achaz

Eliud

9.

10.

Salmon

Ezekias

Eleazar

10.

11.

Booz

Manasses

Matthan

11.

12.

Obed

Amon

Jacob

12.

13.

Jesse

Josias

Joseph

13.

14.

David

Jechonias
i.e. Jehoiakim
or Eliakim

Jesus

14.

God

1.

Adam

Thara

Eliakim

Joanna

1.

2.

Seth

Abraham

Jonan

Juda

2.

3.

Enos

Isaac

Joseph

Joseph

3.

4.

Cainan

Jacob

Juda

Semei

4.

5.

Maleleel

Juda

Phares

Mattathias

5.

6.

Jared

Phares

Esrom

Maath

6.

7.

Enoch

Esrom

Matthat

Nagge

7.

8.

Mathusala

Aram

Jorim

Esli

8.

9.

Lamech

Aminadab

Eliezer

Naum

9.

10.

Noe

Naasson

Jose

Amos

10.

11.

Sem

Salmon

Er

Mattathias

11.

12.

Arphaxad

Booz

Elmodan

Joseph

12.

13.

Cainan

Obed

Cosam

Janna

13.

14.

Sala

Jesse

Addi

Melchi

14.

15.

Heber

David

Melchi

Levi

15.

16.

Phalec

Nathan

Neri

Matthat

16.

17.

Ragau

Mattatha

Salathiel

Heli

17.

18.

Saruch

Menan

Zorobabel

Joseph

18.

19.

Nachor

Melea

Rhesa

Jesus

19.

We do not find that there was any objection made to these genealogies, either by Jew or Gentile, during the first century. Had any difficulty on this head existed, we may reasonably suppose that the Jews, of all others, would have been but too ready to detect and expose it. We may therefore fairly conclude that, whatever difficulty meets us now in harmonizing our Lord's pedigree as given by the two Evangelists, it could have had no place in the first age of the Christian church. In subsequent ages, however, objections were and still are made to the genealogies of Matthew and Luke.

The chief ground of objection is the alleged inconsistency of the Evangelists with each other. The first solution of their apparent discrepancies is that of Africanus, which, he informs us, he received from the relatives of our Lord. It is to the effect that Matthan, the third in the list from Joseph, in Matthew's genealogy, and Melchi, the third in Luke's list, married successively the same woman, by whom the former begat Jacob, and the latter Heli, Heli dying without issue, his maternal brother took his widow to wife, by whom he had Joseph, who, according to law (), was registered by Luke as the son of Heli, though naturally the son of Jacob, as Matthew records him. This is the explanation which was generally admitted by Eusebius, Nazianzen, and others for ages.

Grotius, however, availing himself of the tradition that Heli and Jacob were both sons of the same mother, but of different fathers (Matthan and Melchi), supposes that Luke traces the natural pedigree of Christ, and Matthew the legal. This he argues on two grounds. First, that Salathiel could not have been the natural son of Jechonias, who was childless—according to the declaration of God by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 22)—and was, therefore, as Luke states, the son, properly so called, of Neri, of Nathan's line; and, secondly, that the Levirate law imposed no necessity on Jacob to marry Heli's widow, they being only uterine brothers. But both the reasons assigned by Grotius for differing from the solution of Africanus would seem to be founded on a petitio principii. It does not appear an ascertained fact that Salathiel was not the natural son of Jechonias, nor yet that the law which obliged a man to marry the widow of his deceased brother might be departed from when they were only maternal brethren; for even in cases of distant relationship the law seemed obligatory, as we see in the case of Boaz marrying Ruth, the widow of his distant kinsman.

Dr. Barrett objects to the above theory as given by Africanus and altered by Grotius, on the ground principally, that it refers entirely to the descent of Joseph from David, without attempting to prove that the son of Mary was the son of David. Dr. Barrett then states his own hypothesis, viz., that Matthew relates the genealogy of Joseph, and Luke that of Mary. He supposes a sufficient reason, that after Matthew had given his genealogical table another should be added by St. Luke, fully to prove that Christ, according to the flesh, derived his descent from David, not only by his supposed father Joseph, but also by his real mother Mary.

In constructing their genealogical tables, it is well known that the Jews reckoned wholly by males, rejecting, where the blood of the grandfather passed to the grandson through a daughter, the name of the daughter herself, and counting that daughter's husband for the son of the maternal grandfather (; ). On this principle Joseph, begotten by Jacob, marries Mary, the daughter of Heli; and in the genealogical register of his wife's family, is counted for Heli's son. Salathiel, begotten by Jeconiah, marries the daughter of Neri, and, in like manner, is accounted his son: in Zorobabel, the offspring of Salathiel and Neri's daughter, the lines of Solomon and Nathan coalesce; Joseph and Mary are of the same tribe and family; they are both descendants of David in the line of Solomon; they have in them both the blood of Nathan, David's son. Joseph deduces his descent from Abiud (), Mary from Rhesa (), sons of Zorobabel. The genealogies of Matthew and Luke are parts of one perfect whole, and each of them is essential to the explanation of the other. By Matthew's table we prove the descent of Mary, as well as Joseph, from Solomon; by Luke's we see the descent of Joseph, as well as Mary, from Nathan.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Genealogy'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature". https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/kbe/g/genealogy.html.

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