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Does the Messiah Have to Be a Son of Solomon? 
By Michael Bugg

I received an email the other day asking some questions about the implications of the Virgin Birth of Yeshua.  In particular, the following question, raising a common objection made by anti-missionaries, seemed suitable to be answered on this website:

However, within this same thread someone brought up the issue of the ‘necessity’ of paternal descent from both David and Solomon for Jesus to be the Messiah. He states,
“For Jesus to be a descendant of David and thus the King and Messiah, His20Y-DNA would have had to come from King David. The genealogies of Jesus in Luke 3 and Matthew 1 don't bare this out. He must be a descendant of David through King Solomon (not Nathan as per Luke 3) to be the Jewish Messiah. Clearly this is what the Gospel writers tried to show, but they didn't know about the male Y-DNA.  A Kingship must be descendant from bloodline – not adoption. An adopted son can inherit possessions, but not a Throne. Mary may well be a descendant of David, but she can’t pass David’s Y-DNA to Jesus. Women don’t possess the male Y-DNA. David's Y-DNA is passed only to the male line. Joseph, of course, did not pass his Y-DNA on to Jesus. How can Jesus inherit the Throne of David and Solomon if he doesn't carry their Y-DNA which is passed from father to son (Agnatic succession)?”
When asked for Scriptural evidence for the necessity of a patrilineal descent from King David (and Solomon), he states the according to the Old Testament, the Messiah will be descended from King David (Isaiah 11:1) via Solomon (1 Chronicles 22:8-10, 2 Chronicles 7:18). For further proof he cites the book "Mashiach" by Jacob Immanuel Schochet, pg 37: "The only qualification of his origin is that he is a descendant of King David through the lineage of his son Sol omon."

Someone later addresses this person claims by mentioning that Joseph was the foster or adoptive father of Jesus, therefore Jesus would inherit Joseph’s genealogy, to which this person later responds, “An adoptee is not a “descendant”. He only inherits property–not a bloodline of a Throne.”

Also, in regards to halakhic law,
this person cites a book called "DNA and Tradition", pg. 41 which states: "The Torah based tradition is that the Jewish nationality is determined by the mother's status and that tribal membership follows the father's lineage."

When someone mentioned the case of the two daughters of a Zelophehad who were going to lose their inheritance and appealed to Moses, another person, a Jew, responded:
"Moses opened a exception to those sisters but only with regards to assets to be inherited. The genealogical trait was not included. Once they married out into another tribe they would remain genealogically from their original Tribe. Besides, genealogy is the only inheritance in Judaism that's not an inheritance. And this inheritance cannot be transmitted through the mother nor through adoption."

I find this issue keeps reoccurring and that a lot of people bring up this allegation in an attempt to try and disprove the eligibility of Jesus to the Messianic throne of David. Many apologetics sites do not cover this claim for some reason and I feel that this is an important issue that should be addressed by all apologists because the Messiahship of Jesus rests a great deal on his genealogy and descent from David. Basically, my question is : could you please disprove these allegations made against the Messiahship of Jesus?

There are two separate issues involved here:  One of legal inheritance, and the second of genetic descent. 

In the matter of the legal inheritance, Joseph of Nazareth was the proper, legal heir of David's throne through the royal line of Solomon.  He adopted Yeshua as his firstborn, making Yeshua the legal heir of the throne.  It is not necessary to appeal to the matter of the daughters of Zelophehad (though that does add an interesting element); there are three other arguments one can use to prove that an adopted son inherits just as a natural one does:
  1. Had Abraham not had a child "of his own loins," Eliezar of Damascus would have inherited his "kingdom" (mobile kingdom that it was)--and he had no genetic link.
  2. Jacob adopted two of Joseph's sons as his own heirs, giving them and their posterity the same inheritance as Joseph's brothers, including specific domains in Israel.
  3. The laws of levirate marriage required a dead man's brother to "give him a son" if he had no children of his own by marrying his widow.  The son would carry the dead man's name and inherit his property and thus continue his line even though he would not be the man's genetic son (Deu. 25:5; it was the refusal to perform this duty that brought about the death of Onan in Gen. 38:8ff).
The statement that an adoptee "only inherits property–not a bloodline of a Throne," is simply special pleading.  In the ancient world, a kingdom was considered property--this is why you often see people in the Bible referring to themselves as a ruler's "slaves," his property.  For a king to adopt an heir to his throne when he either lacked natural children or his own were disqualified for some reason was nothing unusual. 

There is no basis to say that Joseph, aware of the curse on his own bloodline, would not adopt the son of another descendant of David as his full heir in everything--especially when God flat out told him through an angel that this would be the Anointed King of Israel.  One might as well argue that the Messiah must come through Esau's line since he was Isaac's firstborn.  Obviously, God chose whom He wanted to inherit Abraham's Covenant and made the matter clear.  He did the same in the case of Yeshua inheriting David's throne, as we will see.

The Eternal One gave a promise to David that his line would continue forever.  Let's look at the promise in question.  I will quote from the Complete Jewish Bible here, since it uses with few amendments the Jewish Publication Society translation, which is not a Christian source.
"Moreover, ADONAI tells you that ADONAI will make you a house.  When your days come to an end and you sleep with your ancestors, I will establish one of your descendants to succeed you, one of your own flesh and blood; and I will set up his rulership.  He will build a house for my name, and I will establish his royal throne forever.  I will be a father for him, and he will be a son for me. If he does something wrong, I will punish him with a rod and blows, just as everyone gets punished; nevertheless, my grace will not leave him, as I took it away from Sha'ul, whom I removed from before you. Thus your house and your kingdom will be made secure forever before you; your throne will be set up forever.'" (2 Samuel 7:11-16)
Note that like the covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15, this promise to David is unconditional.  There are no "if" statements to indicate that David's descendants could lose this promise by unfaithfulness and sin.  Now let's look at the two passages from Chronicles and see if they are similarly unconditional:
"My son," said David to Shlomo, "my heart was set on building a house for the name of ADONAI my God.  But a message from ADONAI came to me, 'You have shed much blood and fought great wars. You are not to build a house for my name, because you have shed so much blood on the earth in my sight.   But you will have a son who will be a man of rest. I will give him rest from all his enemies that surround him; for his name is to be Shlomo, and during his reign I will give peace [Hebrew: shalom] and quiet to Isra'el.  It is he who will build a house for my name. He will be my son and I will be his father, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Isra'el forever.'

"Now, my son, may ADONAI be with you and give you success as you build the house of ADONAI your God, in keeping with what he said about you.  May ADONAI give you common sense and understanding, and may he give you his orders concerning Isra'el, so that you will observe the Torah of ADONAI your God.  Then you will succeed, if you take care to obey the laws and rulings that ADONAI ordered Moshe concerning Isra'el. Be strong, be bold; don't be afraid or become discouraged!" 
(1 Chronicles 22:7-13)

Note that David does not give Solomon an exact rendition of the original covenant God gave him, but rather combines that promise with the expression of the Holy One's favor given through Nathan in 2Sa. 12:24f and David's own promise that Solomon would be his heir.  Thus, we see in David's statement his hope that his beloved son would be the fulfillment of God covenant with him--tempered, however, by the statement that Solomon would only succeed if he took care to obey the Holy One.

Later, Solomon would have his own revelation, expressed during the dedication of the Temple:
"As for you, if you will live in my presence, as did David your father, doing everything I have ordered you to do, and keeping my laws and rulings; then I will establish the throne of your rulership, as I covenanted with David your father when I said, 'You will never lack a man to be ruler in Isra'el.'  But if you turn away and abandon my regulations and mitzvot which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods, worshipping them; then I will pull them up by the roots out of the land I have given them. This house, which I consecrated for my name, I will eject from my sight; and I will make it an example to avoid and an object of scorn among all peoples." (2 Chronicles 7:17-20)
Notice the "if-then" statement:  Solomon's throne would only be established if he was as faithful to the God of his fathers as David was.  As Michael L. Brown notes,
The divine threat here is so emphatic that Hebrew scholar Ziony Zevit claims that God actually refused Solomon's request in 1 Kings 8:25-26 for an unconditional guarantee. . . .  Here the Lord says to him that there are conditions, and the breaking of those conditions could actually result in the exile of the people and the destruction of the Temple.  Thankfully, God was determined to keep his long-term promises to David, but nothing was guarunteed to Solomon or his posterity.  Such a pledge simply does not exist anywhere in the Bible.  (Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, Vol. IV, pp. 92f)
Did Solomon follow-through on his end of this covenant?  Absolutely not.  Solomon filled the very Temple that he himself had built with idols, and as a result, God stripped away more than half the kingdom from his son.  The only reason God didn't strip it away from Solomon or strip the whole kingdom from his son was his promise to David, expressed in the 1 Chronicles passage, that Solomon's reign would be one of peace--but even then, God afflicted the late portion of Solomon's reign with war.

Moreover, as Brown points out, even rabbinic sources admit that Solomon was not the promised king whose throne would be established forever:
There are even soem Rabbinic traditions which claim that Solomon was banished from the throne during his lifetime; see y. Sanh 2:6; cf. also b. Meg 11b: "Is there not Solomon?--He did not retain his kingdom [till his death]," explained by Rashi to mean, "He did not complete his kingship, for he was expelled," with reference to his comments at b. Gittin 68b, where he states that Solomon did not return to his throne.  How then can the anti-missionaries claim that Solomon's throne was established forever when, in reality, some Rabbinic traditions claim that he did not even finish out his rule on that throne?  To the contrary, it is the throne of David that remains established forever.  (ibid., p. 91)
In addition, it should be noted that there was at least one occassion recorded in Scripture where the line of Solomon was all but destroyed:
Now when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she rose and destroyed all the royal offspring of the house of Judah. But Jehoshabeath the king's daughter took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king's sons who were being put to death, and placed him and his nurse in the bedroom. So Jehoshabeath, the daughter of King Jehoram, the wife of Jehoiada the priest (for she was the sister of Ahaziah), hid him from Athaliah so that she would not put him to death. He was hidden with them in the house of God six years while Athaliah reigned over the land.  (2 Chronicles 22:10-12)
While it isn't completely provable, the text seems to indicate that Joash was not the firstborn, the proper heir, to the throne, or else Athaliah would certainly have noticed that he wasn't among the dead.  In all likelihood, he was a younger son of Ahaziah--would this mean that the Word of God failed, since the heir-apparant was replaced by a younger sibling?  If not, then how would we think it a disqualification that Yeshua would be the blood-descendent of a younger son of David rather than Solomon, provided that He had the necessary legal claim?

Moreover, the promise of the Davidic King, Messiah, could not be realized through Solomon's line because it was afflicted with worse and worse idolatry (Hezekiah and Josiah being exceptions to the rule), until at last God pronounced this curse on the royal line:
Is this man Koniyahu a despised, broken pot, an instrument nobody wants? Why are they being thrown out? Why are he and his offspring thrown out into a country they do not know? Oh, land, land, land! Hear the word of ADONAI!  This what ADONAI says: "List this man as childless; he is a lifetime failure - none of his offspring will succeed, none will sit on David's throne or rule again in Y'hudah." (Jeremiah 22:28-30)
The word "offspring" is the Hebrew word zerah, translated "seed" in most versions.  It is not restricted to a single generation, but refers to all of one's progeny down through the generations.  For example, the same word is used in the promise of the Woman's "seed" who would crush the head of the Serpent in Genesis 3:15; whether one understands that passage to refer to Messiah (as we do) or all of Humankind (as it can be taken to mean), we're still looking at thousands of years of "seed."

Therefore, there is no reason to restrict God's curse on Jeconiah to a single generation, or even to the third and fourth.  Rather, it forces a very peculiar set of qualifications on the Messiah:
  1. He must be of David's genetic line
  2. He must be the legal heir of the royal line
  3. Yet He cannot be the genetic progeny of the royal line due to the curse on Jeconiah
This peculiar riddle is solved by the Virgin Birth.  Not only did the Virgin Birth continue the pattern of marking out many of Israel's leaders by a miraculous conception (e.g., Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Samson, Samuel, John the Baptist) at the same time mark Yeshua out by a very unique sign, but it also enabled a scion of the House of David to legally inherit the right to his throne without lifting Jeconiah's Curse.

Miriam was a descendant of King David through his son Nathan.  We do not have any indication that that line had somehow changed tribes; the genealogy lists all male members, concluding with Joseph, most likely because Eli had no male children, so he adopted Joseph as his own heir when Joseph married his daughter (this is where the matter of the daughters of Zelophehad comes into play; not in regard to Joseph's own heritage). 

Over and over again, Scripture refers to the throne of Israel as the Throne of David--not once does it refer to it as the Throne of Solomon, and for good reason.  All through Jewish literature and liturgy, we find reference to "the Davidic King" as a reference to the Messiah, never to "the Solomonic King."  There's a reason for that.
The offspring of Thy servant David,
Quickly cause to flourish,
And lift up his power by Thy deliverance
(Heb. y'shuati);
For Thy deliverance do we constantly hope
(And look forward to deliverance
Blessed art Thou, Lord, who makes the glory of deliverance
(y'shuah) to flourish.
--The Amidah, 15th Benediction
If any readers are interested in following up, I highly recommend Michael L. Brown's books and this article by Glenn Miller:  Response to..."The Fabulous Prophecies of the Messiah".



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