Son of David – from the tribe of Judah
You can’t have your cake and eat it too. You have a choice to make – even if that choice is painful, you cannot escape it.
I know I raise difficult questions, and one may feel insecure to deal with them due to not having the depth of knowledge. It feels more secure not dealing with them. What gives anyone such security? The traditional doctrine? Something that the Greeks or the Reformers worked out? How do we know they were right? Who tested them, who tested the doctrines that are the taboos of Christianity? Would anyone put his/her life on their validity? What if one’s very destiny depends on finding the right answers to these questions?
Imagine for a moment that we are in the first century. None of the churches have all the NT writings, each of them only have a few, many of them are yet to be written, and the Greek-speaking Gentile churches use the LXX (Septuagint) for study, the Greek translation of the Tanakh (OT). Now, Matthew writes a gospel, and he goes to great length to prove that Jesus is not the Messiah! By the genealogy he compiles he shows why Jesus is not the son of David. The Jewish society was patriarchal, and tribal membership was passed on from father to son. Sadly, according to Matthew, Jesus is not from the tribe of Judah, so he is not the Messiah, at least this is what he proves through his genealogy. We don’t yet have Luke’s gospel that delivers us another, totally different genealogy on which we could possibly depend.
Even when we receive Luke’s gospel, we still face a problem, because the lineage doesn’t come through Solomon, but Nathan. Sure, but, are we not told that Luke’s genealogy is that of Mary? What proof do we have for that? I mean not assumption, but proof. All we know about Mary is that she and Elisabeth were cousins, and Elisabeth was the daughter of Aaron. She was a Levite. If she was a Levite, Mary might have also been a Levite. Luke’s genealogy dertainly doesn’t indicate that, but rather, it gives a davidic lineage. And the lineage is that of Joseph, not Mary.
So we have a problem. Neither genealogies prove that Jesus is the Messiah, the son of David according to the flesh.
But what if Joseph adopted him? Doesn’t adoption transfer tribal membership? No. Tribal membership and inheritance always came through the father's bloodline, while Jewishness (which means belonging to the religion of Judaism) came through the mother, for the mothers were responsible for their children’s religious upbringing.
Thus, the child of a Gentile man and a Jewish mother would be Jewish, but would not belong to any of the tribes of Israel, and the child of a Israeli man and a Gentile woman would not be considered Jewish, unless the child learned Judaism and converted to the religion later on in his/her life. Jewishness is belonging to the religion. Tribal membership is by physical descent through the father.
On the other hand we have the testimony of the apostles, that Jesus was indeed the son of David according to the flesh, that is, by natural lineage. Both Peter and Paul testify about what they believed was true:
Acts 2:29 “Brethren, I may say to you confidently of the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ…”
Rom 1:3 … who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and designated son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead…
So how do we solve this huge problem?
What is the solution? Is Jesus the Messiah or not? The writers of NT testify that he is. Now they are either wrong, or they are right and we have to find a solution. What do you think it could be? What is your solution?
You may find it outside the Greek textual tradition of Matthew – even the gospel of Mark gives you a hint.
Sorry, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. You either have to let go the virginal conception idea, or that Jesus qualified to be the Messiah.