How a Man Named Jeconiah Affects the Christmas Story

Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon. And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel. (Matthew 1:11-12, N.K.J.V.)

Shortly following the death of King Solomon, the united nation of Israel underwent what we might call a civil war and split into two kingdoms. The northern kingdom went by the name “Israel” while the southern kingdom went by the name “Judah.” The northern kingdom (Israel) was larger in terms of tribes and territory, but the southern kingdom (Judah) included the city of Jerusalem, Solomon’s temple, and the temple’s priesthood. Also, Judah’s kings could trace their ancestral lineage straight back to King Solomon and his father, King David. In other words, Judah’s kings all sat upon “the throne of David.”

The genealogy found in Matthew 1:1-17 gives us the record of Jesus’ earthly family tree by beginning with Abraham and working the family line down to Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father. The line includes King David and King Solomon as well as several of the kings of Judah. The Jeconiah mentioned in our text verse was one of those kings of Judah.

However, the inclusion of Jeconiah — who was also known as Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:6) and Coniah (Jeremiah 22:24) — in Jesus’ genealogy potentially brings up a major problem. That problem centers around the fact that God decreed that none of Jeconiah’s descendants would ever sit upon the throne of David. The proof text is Jeremiah 22:30, which says concerning Jeconiah:

This is what the Lord says: “Record this man as if childless, a man who will not prosper in his lifetime, for none of his offspring will prosper, none will sit on the throne of David or rule anymore in Judah.” (N.I.V.)

At the time God gave this decree, which is sometimes called “The Curse of Jeconiah,” Jeconiah already had several sons (1 Chronicles 3:17). Therefore, the idea of Jeconiah being “childless” obviously should be understood figuratively rather than literally. But the point remains the same: None of Jeconiah’s offspring would ever sit on the throne of David. How, then, could Jeconiah being a part of what Matthew calls “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ” (Matthew 1:1) fit with the angel Gabriel telling Mary that God the Father would give Jesus the throne of David (Luke 1:32)?

The answer is found in the virgin birth. Even though Joseph was Jesus’ legal father, he was not His biological one. That means that Jesus is not included in the genetic line that links Joseph’s descendants up with Jeconiah’s descendants. This helps explain why the New Testament also includes the record of Jesus’ earthly family tree through Mary (Luke 3:23-38) and genetically links Jesus to King David by way of David’s son, Nathan (Luke 3:31). Like Joseph, Mary herself was a genetic descendant of King David. Luke doesn’t use any female names in his genealogy, and so there is no direct mention of her, but she is included in the listing by Luke’s use of the phrase “the son of Heli” (Luke 3:23). Heli was Mary’s father and Joseph’s father-in-law.

The upshot of all this is that Jesus would be disqualified from one day ruling over the world from the throne of David if Joseph had been his biological father. This is just one more reason why the virgin birth is a non-negotiable in regards to Christian doctrine. Even when God the Father decreed that none of Jeconiah’s descendants would ever sit upon the throne of David, He knew that Joseph would be born into that line. But He also knew that Joseph wouldn’t be Jesus’ literal father, and so Joseph’s cursed ancestral line wouldn’t be a problem in regards to Jesus one day reigning over all the earth.

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2 Responses to How a Man Named Jeconiah Affects the Christmas Story

  1. Addison says:

    [Also, See Haggai 2, especially verse 23. Haggai 2:23]
    “‘On that day declares the LORD Almighty, ‘I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the LORD Almighty.”

    • russellmckinney says:

      Thanks for the comment. I do understand the point you are making. Some Bible scholars believe that God describing Zerubbabel (who was a grandson of Jeconiah) as a “signet ring” proves that God eventually lifted the curse from that family line. I’ve also read that some of the ancient rabbis believed that God forgave Jeconiah and restored his family’s place in the kingly line after Jeconiah repented of his sins during his exile in Babylon.

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