Jesus And The Throne Of David
The Jews believed that the Messiah was going to be a Jew - from the tribe of Judah and of the lineage of King David. There are several passages in the Christian New Testament which confirm this. The Samaritans also expected the Messiah - as the Samaritan woman confirmed to Jesus. But they did not believe that he would come from the tribe of Judah nor from the lineage of David. The Samaritans believed that the Messiah was not to be a ruling monarch as David was, but rather that Prophet of whom Moses spoke [Deut. 18].
It is commonly supposed today that Jesus was a descendant of Judah and therefore a Jew. Now for Jesus to be a Jew he would have to have been born of the Jewish mother. The Bible clearly shows that Mary was the mother of Jesus. Since most Christians believe in the virgin birth we need only concentrate on Mary. But even if Joseph was the biological father and a Jew, Jesus could not be Jewish if his mother was not a Jewess. This is not only acknowledged by the Jewish Halakah but also by the Bible itself. Ezra commanded all the Jews to divorce their foreign wives and to send away the children they had with them. This proves that Ezra, just like Jews today, reckoned nationality by mother’s and not father’s genealogy. Jacob also legally adopted Ephraim and Manasseh because their mother was an Egyptian. So then if we can find out of what tribe Mary was, then we can also know whether Jesus was a Jew or not and whether he was a descendant of David or not. In the early centuries of the Christian Era there was a certain gospel in circulation by the name ‘The Gospel Of The Birth Of Mary.’ Several versions were in circulation. In the version of St. Jerome [4th century] it was said that Mary was of the royal line of David. But the earlier version of this gospel claimed that Mary was the daughter of a certain priest called Joachim. Faustus, a native of Britain, who became Bishop of Riez, in Provence, quoted one of these ancient versions as proof that Mary was of the tribe of Levi. In Luke 1:5 we are told that Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist and the wife of Zachariah was actually from among the daughters of Aaron:
“There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia; and his wife was of the DAUGHTERS OF AARON, and her name was Elizabeth.”
Matthew Henry in his Commentary On The Whole Bible, on p. 1820, says:
“The wife of this Zacharias WAS OF THE DAUGHTERS OF AARON too, and her name was Elizabeth, the very same name with Elisheba the wife of Aaron. The priests [Josephus saith] was very careful to MARRY WITHIN THEIR OWN FAMILY, that they might maintain dignity of the priesthood and keep it without mixture.”
Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian of the 1st century, wrote that the priests married within the priestly family to insure the validity of their priesthood. Zondervan NIV Commentary, Vol. 2, on p. 211, says:
“Not only was Zachariah a priest, but his wife Elizabeth HAD ALSO BEEN BORN INTO THE PRIESTLY LINE.”
Reader’s Digest, Who’s Who In The Bible, art. Elizabeth, on p. 101, says:
“Elizabeth was the wife of the priest Zechariah and the mother of John the Baptist. Both she and her husband WERE DESCENDANTS OF AARON and therefore MEMBERS OF THE PRIESTLY FAMILY.”
The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia Of The Bible, Vol. 2, art. Elizabeth, on p. 293, says:
“Like her husband, Elizabeth was of the AARONIC DESCENT.”
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, art. Elizabeth, on p. 73 says:
“Elizabeth herself is described as being “of the daughters of Aaron,” i.e. OF THE PRIESTLY LINEAGE. Although it was required of a priest only that he marry a virgin of Israel, IT WAS PREFERABLE IF HE COULD MARRY THE DAUGHTER OF A PRIEST.”
Commentary On The Whole Bible, by Jamieson, Fausset & Brown, on p.988, in regards to Luke 1:5 says:
“The priests might marry into any tribe, but it was most commendable of all to marry ONE OF THE PRIESTS’ line.”
Now that we have established the fact that Elizabeth was of the daughters of Aaron - and therefore of the priestly line and of the tribe of Levi, we can proceed and see how Elizabeth was actually a BLOOD RELATIVE of Mary, the mother of Jesus. In Luke 1:36 [KJV] Gabriel says to Mary:
“And, behold, thy COUSIN Elisabeth, she has also conceived a son in her old age.”
The King James translators use the word “cousin” while some other Bibles use the words “kinswoman,” “relative,” and even “aunty.” We do not know whether Gabriel conversed with Mary in Hebrew or Aramaic. He almost certainly did not speak Greek with her. But the only word we have to go by is the Greek word “suggenes” used in Luke 1:36. The word simply means “relative by BLOOD.” The word “suggenes” is number #4773 in Strong’s and is thus defined:
“a relative BY BLOOD.”
The New Thayer’s Greek English Lexicon says:
“of the same kin, related by blood.”
Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary Of The Old And New Testament Words, on p. 135, defines the word “suggenes” in the following manner:
“kinswoman, kinsfolk. The word literally signifies BORN WITH, i.e. OF THE SAME STOCK.”
The Complete Word Study Dictionary Of The New Testament Words, by Dr. Spiros Zodhiates, says:
“A kinsman or kinswoman, a relative, ONE OF THE SAME FAMILY.”
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, art. Elizabeth, on p. 73, says:
“Luke calls Elizabeth a “kinswoman” of Mary the mother of Jesus. The Gk. ‘sungenis’ indicates that they were relatives, but not necessarily cousins; IT MAY INDICATE THAT MARY ALSO WAS OF THE PRIESTLY DESCENT.”
Throughout the New Testament the word “suggenes” was used to define VERY CLOSE BLOOD RELATIVES. If Elizabeth and Mary were CLOSE BLOOD RELATIVES and Elizabeth was of the PRIESTLY LINE - do you realise what this means? Both Elizabeth and Mary were actually of the tribe of LEVI and not JUDAH. Jesus therefore being the son of Mary was also of the tribe of Levi and not Judah. Jesus therefore was not a Jew nor a descendant of David.
Jesus had a brother called James. James was later known as James the Just, but in the New Testament he was simply called “Lord’s brother.” The Church Fathers of the early centuries of the Christian Era, unanimously agree in their testimony that James was a peculiar person and holy from his mother’s womb. They also testify that James alone was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies in the Temple of Jerusalem. St. Jerome wrote:
“Hegesippus who lived near the apostolic age, in the fifth book of his Commentaries, writing of James, says: After the apostles, James the brother of the Lord surnamed Just was made Head of the Church at Jerusalem. Many indeed are called James. This one was holy from his mother’s womb. He drank neither wine nor strong drink, ate no flesh, never shaved…HE ALONE HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF ENTERING THE HOLY OF HOLIES, since indeed he did not use woollen vestments but linen and went alone into the temple and prayed in behalf of the people, insomuch that his knees were reputed to have acquired the hardness of camels’ knees” [The Nicene And Post Nicene Fathers, Vol. 3, p. 361].
James was of the priestly lineage and even though not a High Priest was allowed access to the Holy of Holies because of his reputed righteousness - on account of which he was called, The Just. A Christian author Gordon Moyes in his book Discovering The Young Church, on pp. 63-64 has this to say about James the Just:
“We know something about this James. While Jesus was working in Nazareth as a carpenter, JAMES DECIDED TO STUDY FOR THE PRIESTHOOD. He went away to Jerusalem and learnt all the intricacies of the Old Testament and the Jewish faith. An ancient tradition has it that he used to spend long hours in prayer, so long, in fact, that the skin on his knees became really calloused from kneeling down so many hours every day, giving rise to an early nickname: ‘Camel Knees.” The training James received AS A PRIEST meant that the young church had within its key leadership someone with professional training and education.”
I am not sure whether Moyes realises the significance of his words. He acknowledges that James studied for PRIESTHOOD and in fact was a PRIEST. But does Moyes realise the implication in this statement? James was the brother of Jesus and the son of Mary. If James was not of the tribe of Levi - more particularly, of the lineage of Aaron - he could not have studied priesthood nor could he have actually become a priest. In order for James to have been a priest, his mother Mary had to be a descendant of Aaron and therefore a daughter of a priest. Only the descendants of Aaron had the right to priesthood. Many Christians do not realise this. They just assume that any descendant of Levi and therefore any Levite could become a priest. But this certainly was not the case. Most Bible scholars are aware of this fact and they are also aware that no Levite was allowed to serve at the altar or ever enter the Holy Place unless he belonged to the lineage of Aaron, the brother of Moses. The priestly duties were entrusted to Aaron and his four sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. Initially only these five were allowed to burn incense in the Holy Place and to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings at the sacrificial altar which was situated at the entrance of the Tabernacle. After the death of Abihu and Nadab - only Aaron and his two sons Eleazar and Ithamar were allowed access to the altar and the Holy Place. All other Levites were banned from the Holy Place and were forbidden to approach the altar. In fact, all Levites who were not of the lineage of Aaron were forbidden to even look at any holy object which was situated in the Tabernacle. The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Vol. 4, on p. 854 gives us the following information on the subject:
“The priesthood was divided into three groups” (1) the high priest, (2) ordinary priests, and (3) Levites. All three descended from Levi. All priests were Levites, but by no means were all Levites priests…The sons of Aaron, who were set apart for the special office of priest, were above the Levites. ONLY THEY COULD MINISTER AT THE SACRIFICES OF THE ALTAR.”
The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary on p. 682, says:
“After the establishment of the Aaronic priesthood, it was considered an offence in Israel for anyone not officially consecrated as a priest to offer formal ritual sacrifices. The rebellion of Korah involved intrusion into the priesthood, EVEN THOUGH HE AND HIS ASSOCIATES WERE LEVITES.”
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, on p. 967 gives us this pertinent information:
“The rest of the tribe [of Levi] was subordinate to the Aaronic priests; only the descendants of Aaron could become priests. Even if the rest of the Levite tribe were resident at the place of sacrifice THEY COULD NOT PARTICIPATE IN ANY DIRECT WAY IN THE CULTIC PART OF THE RELIGION. The sacrificial responsibility of ancient Israel WAS EXCLUSIVELY THE RIGHT AND PRIVILEGE OF THE DESCENDANTS OF AARON.”
These quotations clearly show that biblical scholars are aware that there was a distinction between the priests who served at the sacrificial altar and all other Levites who could not offer sacrifices. Their understanding of course is based on the evidence provided in the Jewish Pentateuch. In Exodus 28 and 29, and Leviticus 8, we find a detailed account of how Aaron and his four sons were selected and anointed as priests. Moses himself performed the ceremony. After their consecration which lasted for seven days, Moses commanded Aaron and his sons on the eight day to begin officiating as priests and to begin serving at the altar - killing and offering various sacrifices [Leviticus 9]. Exodus 28:1 explicitly states the following:
“Now take Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister to me as a priest, Aaron and Aaron’s sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.”
In Numbers 3:10 we find the following information:
“So you shall appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall attend to their priesthood; but the outsider who comes near shall be put to death.”
Only Aaron and his four sons were appointed priests. Only they had the access to the Holy Place in the Tabernacle and only they could offer sacrifices at the altar at the entrance to the Tabernacle. Now please note Numbers 18:1-7 where we find these clear injunctions:
“The Lord now spoke to Aaron: You and your sons and your family are responsible for any desecration of the sanctuary, he said, and will be held liable for any impropriety in your priestly work. Your kinsmen, the tribe of Levi, are your assistants; BUT ONLY YOU AND YOUR SONS MAY PERFORM THE SACRED DUTIES IN THE TABERNACLE ITSELF. THE LEVITES MUST BE CAREFUL NOT TO TOUCH ANY OF THE SACRED ARTICLES OR THE ALTAR lest I destroy both them and you. No one who is not a member of the tribe of Levi shall assist you in any way. If you follow these instructions the wrath of God will never again fall on any of the people of Israel for violating this law. I say it again - your kinsmen the Levites are your assistants for the work of the Tabernacle. They are a gift to you from the Lord. BUT YOU AND YOUR SONS, THE PRIESTS, SHALL PERSONALLY HANDLE ALL THE SACRED SERVICE, INCLUDING THE ALTAR AND ALL THAT IS WITHIN THE VEIL, FOR THE PRIESTHOOD IS YOUR SPECIAL GIFT OF SERVICE. ANYONE ELSE WHO ATTEMPTS TO PERFORM THESE DUTIES SHALL DIE.”
Only Aaron - and those of his descent had access to the priesthood. No other Levite had this privilege. In fact, when Korah argued with Moses against Aaronic monopoly, Moses condemned him and he was killed. But who was Korah? Korah was the son of IZHAR. Izhar was the son of KOHATH, and Kohath was the son of LEVI [Numbers 16:1 and Exodus 6:21,24]. Korah therefore was a LEVITE but he certainly WAS NOT A PRIEST. Please note Numbers 16:7-10:
“You take too much upon yourselves, you sons of LEVI. Then Moses said to Korah, hear now, you sons of Levi: Is it a small thing to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself, to do the work of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to serve them; and that he has brought you near to himself, you and all your brethren, the sons of LEVI, with you? And ARE YOU SEEKING THE PRIESTHOOD ALSO?”
Korah was a Levite. But he had no right to priesthood. He had no access to the Holy Place and could not even look at the holy objects from the Tabernacle unless they were first covered by the sons of Aaron. In Numbers 3 and 4 we find a detailed account as to what the Levites were appointed to do. Their main task was to carry the Tabernacle and all its utensils. But they had no right to dismantle the Tabernacle and to pack the utensils unless they were FIRST COVERED BY THE SONS OF AARON. In Numbers 4:15,20 we find this explicit command concerning all the Levites who were not of the Aaronic order:
“And when Aaron and his sons had finished covering the sanctuary and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, when the camp is set to go, then the sons of Kohath shall come to carry them; but they shall not touch any holy things, LEST THEY DIE. But they shall not go in to watch while the holy things are being covered, LEST THEY DIE.”
And finally please note the text of 2 Chronicles 29:34 where a clear distinction is made between Levites and the priests:
“Since there were not enough priests to kill all these animals, the Levites helped them until the work was finished. By then more priests had made themselves ritually clean. The Levites were more faithful in keeping ritually clean than the priests were.”
All the descendants of Levi - whether through Gershon, Kohath, or Merari were banned from the Tabernacle and could carry the sacred objects of the Tabernacle only after they were covered by the sons of Aaron who alone acted as priests. Furthermore, all the other Levites could carry out their duties only under a supervision of the sons of Aaron. James of course was a Levite because he was a descendant of Levi. But he was descended from Levi through AARON and therefore was a SON OF A PRIESTLY LINE through HIS MOTHER MARY. It follows then that Jesus himself was a descendant of Aaron and a member of the PRIESTLY LINE - since he was the brother of James and the son of Mary. The Jews commonly supposed that the Messiah or Christ was to be a Son of David and therefore a descendant of David. But Jesus apparently did not agree with their perception. Few days before his death, as Jesus preached in the Temple, he said to the people:
“How can the teachers of the Law say that the Messiah will be the descendant of David? The Holy Spirit inspired David to say: The Lord said to my lord: Sit here at my right side until I put your enemies under your feet. David himself called him Lord; SO HOW CAN MESSIAH BE DAVID’S DESCENDANT?” [Mark 12:35-37].
The question Jesus asked is a Hebrew idiom of negation. Jesus disputed the belief of the Pharisees and the Jews in general. He most certainly did not believe that the Messiah was to be a descendant of David. Jesus said to Pilate that his kingdom is not of this world. If it was then his servants would have waged war in order to prevent his arrest. The kingdom of David and his throne were of this world. He waged great and cruel wars. Therefore Jesus will never rule on the throne of David - regardless of what some forged passages of the Bible may say - because it is of this world and his kingdom is not of this world.
Even if Mary was actually of the tribe of Judah and even if she was of the ROYAL LINE OF DAVID, Jesus could not legally sit on the throne of David. The Messianic/Christian Jew, Dr. David H. Stern, the translator of the Jewish New Testament and who actually believes in the virgin birth of Jesus - acknowledges that there is a serious problem when we speak of Jesus inheriting the throne of David. In his Jewish New Testament Commentary, on p. 113, Dr. Stern admits:
“The two genealogies also raise the question of how Yeshua can CLAIM THE THRONE OF HIS ANCESTOR KING DAVID. THE ARGUMENT AGAINST HIM IS THAT EVEN IF LUKE’S GENEALOGY IS OF MIRYAM AND GOES BACK TO DAVID, IT DOES NOT HELP YESHUA; BECAUSE DESCENT, FOR PURPOSES OF INHERITING KINGSHIP, CANNOT BE COUNTED THROUGH THE MOTHER.”
The nationality is determined by the lineage of the mother. Someone to be a Jew his mother must be a Jewess. It does not matter if the father is a Jew. We have already seen that Ezra applied the same rule when he commanded the Jews of his day to divorce the foreign wives and to send their children away also. Those children were not Jews even though the fathers were. On the other hand, the royal descent and heir to the throne was counted through the father’s side and not mother’s. Rehoboam for example was an Ammonite by nationality since his father Solomon married an Ammonitess. But even though he was not a Jew he was able to become an heir to the throne of David because his father Solomon was a Jew. The same is true of Solomon. In all likelihood he was a Hittite since he was the son of Urriah’s wife. Since Uriah was a Hittite his wife was probably also a Hittite. But that was no obstacle since his right to the throne was determined through DAVID and not Uriah’s wife. Therefore Jesus through Mary could never be a legal heir to the throne of David - even if she was of the royal line of David and not of the Aaronic order. But some try to solve this problem by claiming that Joseph was actually the biological father of Jesus. Now there is much evidence in the Bible itself and the early writings of the Ebionites that this was most likely the case. But even if Joseph actually begat Jesus and he was of the royal line of David - Jesus still could not claim the throne of David or ever actually sit on it and rule over Israel. This is because Jesus was a descendant of Jeconiah - the last king of Judah of whom the Almighty said that no descendant of his will ever rule on the throne of David. But first let me demonstrate that Jesus was really a descended of King Jeconiah or Jehoiachin. In the Mathean genealogy we are clearly told that Joseph was the son of Jacob, who was the son of Matthan, who was the son of Eleazar, who was the son of Elius, who was the son of Achim, who was the son of Sadoc, who was the son of Azor, who was the son of Eliakim, who was the son of Abiud, who was the son of Zorobabel, who was the son of Salathiel, who was the son of JECHONIAS” [Matthew 1:15-12 backwards].
We have already seen previously how God vowed that no descendant of King Jeconiah will ever sit on the throne of David [Jeremiah 22:24-30]. Therefore if God is to keep His promise, Jesus as the descendant of Jeconiah, could never inherit the throne of David and rule over Israel. Jesus was obviously aware of all the facts, hence he argued that the Jewish scribes were wrong when they claimed that the Messiah was a “son of David.” Now whoever wrote the genealogy of Luke was aware of the problem King Jeconiah posed to Jesus’ royal claims. That is why this author traces the lineage of Joseph not through the royal line of King Solomon - as does Matthew - but rather through the lineage of Nathan, the brother of Solomon. Luke as always - for whatever reason - disagrees with Matthew virtually on every single point - whether insignificant narrative or crucial doctrinal teaching. This is known as the Synoptic Problem. It is therefore evident that Jesus will never rule on the throne of David and therefore all those who await the time when the Jews will rule and dominate the world from Jerusalem are gravely mistaken. The Samaritans were right all along. Jesus was to be the Prophet like Moses but the Jews expected a king like David.