After David was fully established as king over Israel, God made a covenant with him, saying:
"And when thy days be fulfilled and thou shalt sleep with thy
fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed
out of thy bowels, and I will stablish his kingdom. He shall
build an house for my name, and I will establish the throne
of his kingdom forever.... and thine house and thy kingdom
shall be established forever."
II Sam. 7:12-13,16.
Thus God promised David that he would have a son (or direct
descendent) who would establish the Davidic throne and
kingdom forever. David's son Solomon followed him on the
throne, built the temple of the Lord, and in general ruled wisely
and well until his latter years. His son, Rehoboam, alienated
the northern ten tribes, and a division resulted which led to the
establishment of a northern kingdom called Israel, while the
Davidic kingdom was known as Judah and retained its capital
Following Rehoboam was a succession of kings - some good, but most bad - all of whom were of the Davidic dynasty. Finally, in 597 B.C., Jehoiachin, the son of Jehoiakim came to the throne of Judah about three months before Nebuchadnezzar besieged it. When the Babylonian king began his siege, Jehoiachin immediately surrendered; but it was too late. He had been commanded through the prophet Jeremiah to go forth and meet the Babylonians, and surrender even before they reached the city; being assured that if he would do so, he and the city would be spared, though they would be subject to the king of Babylonia. However, Jehoiachin refused to heed this commandment even as his father, Jehoiakim, had rejected it before him. Therefore the Lord, through Jeremiah, announced that Jehoiachin's posterity was henceforth proscribed from sitting upon the throne of David. This proscription is found in Jeremiah 22:24-30. Jehoiachin was also known as Jeconiah, and he is addressed in this passage by a shortened form - Coniah:
"As I live, saith the LORD, though Coniah, the son of Jehoiakim were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence: And I will give this into the hand of them that seek thy life, and into the hand of them whose face thou fearest, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans. And I will cast thee out, and thy mother that bore thee into another country, where ye were not bom: and there shall ye die. But to the land whereunto they desire to return, thither shall they not return. Is this man Coniah, a despised broken idol? Is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? Wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into a land which they know not? 0 earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the LORD, write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David and ruling any more in Judah."
The meaning of the phrase write ye this man childless is not that
Coniah would have no children, for he had several, among them
the Zerubbabel who led some of the Jews back to Jerusalem
and laid the foundation for the second temple. Rather, the
passage means when taken in connection with the remainder
of the verse, that no man who was a direct descendent of
Jeconiah would ever occupy the throne of David from that time
forth. Thus the royal line of David was actually proscribed
from sitting on the Davidic throne.
Now this posed quite a problem to the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant. Only one who was of the royal line had a legitimate claim on the throne; but the royal line subsequent to Jehoiachin was prohibited from occupying the throne! How could any man legitimately fulfill the promise and claim the throne of David? Yet when Gabriel, appeared to Mary, announced (Luke 1:32-33) that she, a virgin, would bear a child who would be called the Son of God, he added:
"And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father, David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there shail be no end."
This, then, was to be the man for the throne. But how could
even Jesus claim the throne of David? If he claimed it by
virtue of his descent from the royal line of David, God's words
in Jeremiah 22 would bar him from occupying it. How was the
problem to be resolved?
continued at top of next column
Of course, there never was any problem involved as far
as God was concerned, though there seemed to be a very
puzzling one from man's viewpoint. A close examination of the
genealogies in Matthew and Luke will reveal several interesting
facts: (1) The genealogy given by Matthew is unquestionably
that of Joseph, because of the statement, Jacob begat Joseph the
husband of Mary, in vs. 16 of chapter one. (2) The genealogy
given by Luke is different from the one in Matthew and
therefore must be Mary's. The statement that Joseph was the
son of Heli could just as well indicate that he was the son-in-law
of Heli, since the word son is not in the Greek anyway, and the
Jews used the term son for a wide range of male relatives. (3)
Both Joseph and Mary were descended from David. (4) Joseph,
however, was of the royal line, being descended through
Solomon and Jehoiachin; while Mary was descended from
David through his son Nathan, a full brother of Solomon. (5)
Thus Jesus was truly the seed of David, but not of the proscribed royal line. But then what claim did he have on the throne? Merely being a descendant of David did not give Him such a claim. David must have had a multitude of descendants, but only those of the royal line ever succeeded to the throne.
The solution was simple. Jesus was of the seed of David by birth, and became a member of the royal line (represented by Joseph) by adoption and this is the only way in which a man could scriptnrally claim the throne of David. Of course it is not said that Joseph legally adopted Jesus, but the fact that he unquestionably accepted him as though he were his own son, so that Jesus was known as the carpenter's son; plus the fact that both Luke and Mary spoke of him as the father of Jesus, points to at least a de facto adoption that would have met any scriptural requirements. (See Luke 2:33-48. Verse 33 reads his father and mother, instead of Joseph and his mother, according to high manuscript authority.)
Jesus, then, born of the non-royal line of David, but adopted into the royal line as the foster son of Joseph, meets every requirement needed to occupy the throne of David. No other Jew possesses such qualifications!
John H Mattox