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The King of the Jews—Yeshua—was born from a woman over 2000 years ago. Many theologians point to this event as the greatest miracle in human history—there was nothing like it before or after. But how do we know Yeshua was and is the King of the Jews?
This Christmas I meditated afresh at the birth of Yeshua as my eyes stopped at His genealogy in Matthew. I believe the genealogy of the King of the Jews is fascinating.
Finally, this year, after many failed attempts, I began doing my family research. I asked my brothers and cousins and other family members about our roots from my father’s side (Moisa) and from my mother’s side (Iacob). Some of us began working on our family tree using different websites like ancestry.com. By the way, we are still working on it—it’s a work in progress.
It surprised me to see how many other people are interested in their origins or roots. People have different reasons for doing a family research: curiosity, to validate a family story, to find out if they are related to famous people, to trace medical conditions, a family inheritance, a land ownership, to find their birth parents, to determine the biological father of a child, etc. The reasons people do a family research are multiple.
Most of the people don’t care to know about their families further than their grandparents. Others place a great importance on their roots—as the royal families. Royal blood as it’s often called is important to prove if one wants to claim the benefits of it. In our days we witness hundreds of people every year claiming royal fortunes because of their royal descent. However, very few can prove their royal genealogy with solid evidence. We need to pay attention as the world is full of impostors and people with fabricated lineages.
The King of the Jews was and is Jewish
We cannot overemphasize the importance of genealogy for the Jewish people. We see genealogical lists from the beginning of the Bible (Gen 4:17-21) throughout the Gospels. Moreover, it’s common to hear Jewish people claim their descent from the tribe of Levites or the group of priests (kohanim). Especially, the lineage of the Jewish Rabbis are appreciated. In Biblical times genealogies could serve diverse functions: political, tribal, economical, domestic (to reveal geographical or family relationships), etc.
What about Yeshua? If Yeshua is the King of the Jews, then He needs to prove His genealogy from the line of David.
Matthew wrote his Gospel mainly for a Jewish audience. And it was normal for him to begin his narrative by first pointing to the royal roots of Yeshua. Matthew presented Yeshua as Israel’s long-awaited Messiah and rightful King. Unlike Luke, Mathew focuses on Yeshua’s royal descent from Israel’s greatest king—David.
The Gospel of Mathew begins with the genealogy of Yeshua (1:1-17). This is Matthew’s way to connect Yeshua to Israel, by pointing to His roots. In this way, Matthew highlights both the Jewish identity of Yeshua as the Son of David and His Messiahship. From verse 1, Matthew points to some main themes of the book (TLV):
The book of the genealogy of Yeshua ha-Mashiach, Ben-David, Ben-Avraham…
The genealogy of the King of the Jews
Genealogy is genesis in Greek New Testament and makes one think at the very beginnings of Israel. It’s Matthew’s way of connecting his Gospel with a genesis or a new beginning that has its roots in Israel (Yeshua is Abraham’s descent).
In 1:6 Matthew mentions David twice with the title “king.” There are other kings mentioned in the genesis/genealogy, but only David is referred as “king David.” Indeed, all throughout the Gospel, Matthew points out to his readers that Yeshua was a descendant of Abraham and king David. Through Yeshua (who is the seed of Abraham) Israel and the nations are blessed (Gen 12:1-3). As the seed of king David, Matthew points out that Yeshua came to reign over His people (2 Sam 7:12-16). And all over Matthew’s Gospel the “son of David” becomes an important designation because not only does David become a turning point in the genealogy but the title is emphasized in many other places in Matthew (Matt 9:27; 12:23; 15:22, etc.). Matthew wants to highlight Yeshua’s royalty to his readers.
Matthew also includes four women in the genealogy of Yeshua: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba. Judah, Tamar’s father-in-law by whom she conceives twins states that she is more righteous than I (Gen 38:26, KJV). Rahab protects not only the Israelites who enter her city, Jericho (Josua 2:6) but also strikes a deal with them so that she can protect her family too. Ruth becomes a stranger in a strange land when together with her mother-in-law (Naomi) enters Bethlehem and begins to glean in Boaz’s field. Uriah was Bathsheba’s first husband and David’s faithful foreign soldier. By naming Bathsheba “the wife of Uriah,” Matthew highlights David’s sins, even as he portrays Yeshua as the Son of David. By pointing to these four women in Yeshua’s genealogy, Matthew highlights that His lineage was far from perfect.
The heavenly genealogy of the King of the Jews
Just as Matthew (and Luke) points from the beginning of his Gospel to the earthly genealogy of Yeshua, John in the beginning of his Gospel points to Yeshua’s divine genealogy. John 1:1-2 (TLV)
In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.He was with God in the beginning.
One can see a clear parallel to Genesis 1:1 (TLV)
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
John, in a different manner than Matthew, begins his Gospel highlighting Yeshua’s divine nature—something many theologians call a high Christology. For John, Yeshua is first divine, and he did it consider important to first point to His divinity. Yeshua is from the beginning with God and God Himself. After John points to Yeshua’s divine genealogy, he points to His humanity.
John 1:14 (TLV)
And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. We looked upon His glory, the glory of the one and only from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The significance of Yeshua’s genealogy
The genealogy of the King of the Jews is salient for any believer. Yeshua’s genealogy proves that He was born as a human being from a real human (imperfect) family. Yeshua was a Jew because He was born in a Jewish family from a Jewish woman in Israel. Yeshua does not have Jewish roots—He is Jewish and will always remain Jewish.
Maybe you believe it was impossible for Matthew to track down Yeshua’s genealogical line to king David or even as far as to Abraham. However, Rabbi Hillel of the 1st century could trace his roots to king David too. So Yeshua’s genealogy is not the only one who could reach to king David.
It was important in the plans of the Holy Spirit to show Yeshua’s descent from the royal line of David because Israel’s Scriptures mentioned that Messiah would come from David (Micah 5:2). The Holy Spirit through Matthew points that Yeshua is the King of the Jews and Israel’s Messiah.
Moreover, by reading the genealogies of Yeshua one can see God’s sovereign rule over history and humanity. Nothing was able to stop the Father’s plan. Furthermore, in the inclusion of the non-Jewish women in the human genealogy of Yeshua one can see God’s plan in redeeming the nations not only the Jewish people.
Matthew did emphasize Yeshua’s royalty from the beginning of his Gospel—King Yeshua, the King of the Jews, was born. And with His birth, the Kingdom of God came near. Perhaps most of the Jews expected a human king who would reign from the throne of David—a king who would cast out the Romans and would rule with righteousness. Nobody expected King Yeshua the true King of the Jews to be born and to bring God’s Kingdom with Him.
Maybe just like me, you did research for your family roots and found no royal lineage. You can be tempted in believing that you are not important or that you have nothing in your blood that could make you royal. If you are a human being—regardless of your descent—you are important in the eyes of the Almighty. God created you in His image and your life matters to Him.
However, there is another reason—I dare to say even more important—for which you are important to God. That reason is the Person of Yeshua, God’s Son and king David’s Son. And because of Him we who have believed in His Name have received the right to become God’s children (John 1:12). You are important to God because Yeshua is important to Him.
Yeshua, the King of the Jews became fully human to reconcile humanity with God—Jews and Gentiles alike (Eph 2:15). The King of the Jews is the greatest gift of God for anyone who puts his/her trust in His Name.
Do you agree?
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