Because the Gospel of Matthew was written to the Jewish people, Matthew traces the lineage of Jesus through his mother Mary by her kinsman Joseph. In fact, Matthew’s Gospel story of the nativity of Christ was the one in circulation for at least a decade before Luke wrote his Gospel. In 1 Sam. 7:12-13 the Lord had promised David that after his death the Lord would set up David’s seed after him and establish his kingdom, which was fulfilled as Peter explained in Acts 2:30. The seed had also been promised through Abraham. Because the seed would come through a woman, Gen. 3:15, Matthew traces the lineage through Mary as prophesied and recorded in history.
The ancestry given by Matthew is divided into three periods of Jewish history from Abraham unto David, from David unto the exile, and from the exile to Christ. The importance of the ancestry given is not to prove that the kingly line is through David’s son, Solomon, but that Mary’s ancestry can be traced back to King David. Whereas Solomon’s kingdom lasted a few centuries, Christ’s kingdom is eternal. While Solomon and Jeconiah had their moral failures with consequences, we see God’s forgiveness and restoration of this lineage by his promise to Zorobabel.
Since the Gospel of Matthew was originally written in Aramaic, I consulted an interlinear Peshitta version. Words and concepts can be lost in translating from one language to another, which proved to be true when Matthew 1:16 was translated from Aramaic to Greek. In the Aramaic translation: “Jacob fathers Joseph, the kinsman of Mary, from whom was born Yeshua who is called the Messiah.” Although the Greek uses the word husband, aner (ανηρ), in both Mt. 1:16 and Mt. 1:19, the Aramaic distinguishes the difference of kinsman, gawra () in Mt. 1:16, from husband, ba’la () in Mt. 1:19. Matthew is making the point that Jesus’ genealogy is through Mary, by whom Joseph is her kinsman.
To shed further light on the subject, I began researching what the writings of the earlier centuries had to say concerning the genealogy of Mary and Joseph. How I wish I could just walk down to the Temple in Jerusalem, and check out the records. However, they either were destroyed or lost to history since the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. Recognizing that I may be dealing with lost facts, “historical fiction”, or opinions in some of the early writings, could I find a mutual bit of truth concerning the family of Jesus? Yet, I did find much agreement with the lineage and purpose given of the promised seed of King David. Since our lack of information concerns the third period, let’s begin with Jeconiah.
1) Jeconiah, after being released from prison fathered Salathiel, who fathered Zerubbabel.
2) Zerubbabel fathered Abiud, who fathered Eliakim.
3) Eliakim fathered Azor, who fathered Sadok.
4) Sadok fathered Achim, who fathered Eliud.
5) Eliud fathered Eleazar, who fathered Matthan.
6) Matthan married Estha and fathered twins, Jacob and Joachim, and then died. Estha then married Melchi, a descendant of David’s son Nathan, who then fathers Heli. Possibly, Jacob and Joachim are half-brothers to Heli, though there could be two generations between Melchi and Heli.
7) Heli married, but died childless. Both Jacob and Joachim are near kin. Jacob, married Heli’s wife to produce seed for him. In Luke’s gospel, Joseph is the legal son of Heli; in Matthew’s gospel, Jacob fathered Joseph.
8) Joachim, Jacob’s twin, had married Anna, a descendant of Aaron. They had a daughter in their old age, whom they name Mariam or Mary. So, Mary is both descended from kings and priests.
9) Mary is a much younger cousin to Joseph.
Concerning tribal inheritance, Mary will inherit any land owned by her father Joachim, as long as she marries within the tribe of Judah. More than likely, her marriage has been pre-arranged to Joseph, a much older man, by her father Joachim. Because she is able to inherit directly as a female, Matthew lists her along with Joseph, her kinsman rather than husband. This inheritance right also will necessitate her being enrolled personally in the census, which is why she had to make the arduous journey to Bethlehem during her pregnancy.
While Joseph’s genealogy is also traced by Luke, Matthew is giving both the biological lineage of Joseph and Mary, and their kinsman relationship. Can you see why the lineage of Jesus is traced directly from Mary through her kinsman Joseph and her grandfather Jacob to King David? She is the one who is the seed carrier. Remember, Matthew is presenting the lineage from a Jewish perspective.
Copyright by Beth Piepenburg, 2013. All rights reserved.
 Haggai 2:23