Jesus' Genealogy: Contradictions?
May 01, 2006
Bible critics often point to the seeming discrepancy in Jesus' genealogy in the accounts of Matthew and Luke. Matthew's genealogy (1:15, 16) lists it as:
(lineage from David through Solomon) Matthan - Jacob - Joseph - Jesus
Luke 3:23, 24 lists it as:
(lineage from David through Nathan) Matthat - Heli - Joseph - Jesus
Matthan and Matthat are the same person with different spellings of his name. The real problem is whether his son Jacob or Heli is the real father of Joseph. The answer is simple--BOTH of them were Joseph's father. The fact is, Heli and Jacob were brothers, both sons of Matthat (Matthan).
Heli got married, but he died before he had any children. And so, according to the law in Deut. 25:5-10, his brother was required to marry his brother's widow in order to raise up an heir to his brother's property. Otherwise, his brother would have no inheritor and would lose his inheritance in the land.
Thus, Jacob had a child by Heli's widow, and that child was named Joseph. Joseph was the biological son of Jacob; but he was the legal son of Heli.
This is the explanation given by Eusebius in his fourth century work, Ecclesiastical History, Vol. I, vii, 1. Eusebius was the bishop of Caesarea in Palestine and wrote the first real history of the Church.