Answering the Curse on Jesus Line

Curse on Jesus' Linage

I. Problems with Jesus' Geneology

These are some of the most serious problems the Jewish-anti--missionaries raise agaisnt Jesus as Messiah.

A. Curse on Jehoachin's line

Jehoacin was a direct ancesstor of Joseph (Matt's geneology) which means that he is a vital link in Jesus asscent to the throne of David. The throne of David is the whole point of the Messiah, so he has to asscent to it to be the Messaiah (Christ). Yet in Jeremaiah 22:20 Jehoachin is removed from the throne and exiled to Babylon because of his sins. God tells him "if you were a signant ring yet would I remove you." He also pronounces "record this man childless" and says that "he will not propser in his life time" and none of his children will sit on the throne of David or rule over Judah and none of his decendents. That let's out Jesus! Or does it?

B. The curse was removed because Jehoachin rependted in exile

1) Jehoachin's prosperity disproves curse.

He never got to be king of Judah again, but he was taken out of prison, given fine clothes, sat at the King's table, and was given a pension and honors "abvoe all the kings of Babylon." This is recorded in 2 Chronicles the last chapter. These things are indicative of forgiveness, his fortunes imporoves as much as possible while the exile still lasted.M

2) He had further offspring in exile.

Though the curse said "record him childless" which could just mean either pretend he is childless for the purposes of the throne, or that he really wouldn't have children. Since it says he will not prosper in his life time, and since in the ancient world of the OT children were a sign of prosparity, having children indicates that he prospered. The Jews have an oral tradition that Shealtiel, his son, was born in the exile, and that he was concieved in prison where they allowed Jehoachin's wife to go to him (but in a rather humarous fashion as will be seen). The birth of Sehaltiel indicates the curse was removed and that's how the ancient rabbis saw it. The geneology of Matt. also takes not of Shealtiel's birth not in Judah but after the exile. (see Metthew ch. 1).

We find rabbinic sources which also agree that God reversed the curse on Jeconiah, which they attribute to repentance on Jeconiah's part. We even find the idea that the Messiah will descend from Jeconiah--exactly the opposite of what some say is impossible! Some of these sources are as follows:

a. Sources stating that Jeconiah repented and so God reversed the curse. Note: these quotes also record rabbinical opinion that the curse was removed.

Sanhedrin 37b-38a

R. Johanan said: "Exile atones for everything, for it is written, 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. Whereas after he [the king] was exiled, it is written, And the sons of Jechoniah, -- the same is Assir -- Shealtiel his son etc.(1) [He was called] Assir, because his mother conceived him in prison. Shealtiel, because God did not plant him in the way that others are planted. We know by tradition that a woman cannot conceive in a standing position. [yet she] did conceive standing. Another interpretation: Shealtiel, because God obtained [of the Heavenly court] absolution from His oath."(2)

(1) I Ch. III, 17. "Notwithstanding the curse that he should be childless and not prosper, after being exiled he was forgiven.(2) Which He had made, to punish Jechoniah with childlessness."

--Soncino Talmud edition, with selected footnotes

Pesikta de-Rab Kahana (5th c.)

"I accepted the repentance of Jeconiah: shall I not accept your repentance? A cruel decree had been imposed upon Jeconiah: Scripture says, This man Coniah is a despised, shattered image ('sb) (Jer. 22:28), for Jeconiah, according to R. Abba bar Kahana, was like a man's skull ('sm) which once shattered is utterly useless, or according to R. Helbo, like a wrapper of reed matting that dates are packed in, which, once emptied, is utterly useless. And Scripture goes on to say of Jeconiah: He is a vessel that none reaches for with delight (ibid.), a vessel, said R. Hama bar R. Hanina, such as a urinal; or a vessel, said R. Samuel bar Nahman, such as is used for drawing off blood. [These comments on Jeconiah derive from] R. Meir's statement: The Holy One swore that He would raise up no king out of Jeconiah king of Judah. Thus Scripture: As I live, saith the Lord, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim . . . were the signet on a hand, yet by My right, I would pluck thee hence (Jer. 22:24), words by which God was saying, explained R. Hanina bar R. Isaac, "Beginning with thee, Jeconiah, I pluck out the kingship of the house of David." It is to be noted, however, that the Hebrew for "pluck thee" is not as one would expect 'tkk, but the fuller and less usual 'tknk, which may also be rendered "mend thee"--that is, mend thee by thy repentance. Thus in the very place, [the kingship], whence Jeconiah was plucked, amends would be made to him: [his line would be renewed]."

R. Ze'era said: "I heard the voice of R. Samuel bar Isaac expounding from the teacher's chair a specific point concerning Jeconiah, but I just cannot remember what it was. R. Aha Arika asked: Did it perhaps have some connection with this particular verse -- Thus saith the Lord: Write ye this man childless, a man [who] will not prosper in his days (Jer. 22:30)? "Yes, that's it!" said R. Ze'era. Thereupon R. Aha Arika went on to give R. Samuel bar Isaac's interpretation of the verse: In his days Jeconiah, so long as he is childless, will not prosper, but when he has a son, then he will prosper by his son's prosperity."

R Aha bar Abun bar Benjamin, citing R. Abba bar R. Papi, said: "Great is the power of repentance, which led God to set aside an oath even as it led Him to set aside a decree. Whence the proof that a man's repentance led Him to set aside the oath He made in the verse As I live, saith the Lord, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim were the signet on a hand, yet by My right, I would pluck thee hence (Jer. 22:24)? The proof is in the verse where Scripture says [of one of Jeconiah's descendants] In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel . . . the son of Shealtiel . . . and will make thee as a signet (Haggai 2:23). And the proof that a man's repentance led God to set aside a decree He issued in the verse Thus saith the Lord: Write ye this man childless, etc. (Jer. 22:30)? The proof is in the verse where Scripture says, The sons of Jeconiah -- the same is Asir -- Shealtiel his son, etc. (1 Chron. 3:17). R. Tanhum bar Jeremiah said: Jeconiah was called Asir, "one imprisoned," because he had been in prison ('asurim); and his sons called "Shealtiel" because he was like a sapling, newly set out (hustelah), through whom David's line would be continued."

R. Tanhuma said: "Jeconiah was called Asir, 'imprisoned,' because God imprisoned Himself by His oath in regard to him; and Jeconiah's son was called Shealtiel, "God consulted," because God consulted the heavenly court, and they released Him from His oath."

--Yale Judaica edition translated by William G. Braude and Israel J. Kapstein (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1975), pp. 376-77. Bracketed portions are Braude and Kapstein's explanations.

Leviticus Rabbah XIX:6 (5th-6th c.)

"The Holy One, blessed be He, then said: 'In Jerusalem you did not observe the precept relating to issues, but now you are fulfilling it,' as it is said, As for thee also, because of the blood of thy covenant I send forth thy prisoners out of the pit (Zech. IX, 11) [which means], You have remembered the blood at Sinai, and for this do 'I send forth thy prisoners'. R. Shabbethai said: He [Jeconiah] did not move thence before the Holy One, blessed be He, pardoned him all his sins. Referring to this occasion Scripture has said: Thou art all fair, my love, and there is no blemish in thee (S.S. IV, 7). A Heavenly Voice went forth and said to them: 'Return, ye backsliding children, I will heal your backslidings'" (Jer. III, 22).

--Soncino Midrash Rabbah vol. 4, p. 249

------------------------------------------------------------------------ Pesikta Rabbati, Piska 47 (6th-7th c.)

R. Joshua ben Levi, however, argued as follows: "Repentance sets aside the entire decree, and prayer half the decree. You find that it was so with Jeconiah, king of Judah. For the Holy One, blessed be He, swore in His anger, As I live, saith the Lord, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim kind of Judah were the signet on a hand, yet by My right -- note, as R. Meir said, that it was by His right hand that God swore -- I would pluck thee hence (Jer. 22:24). And what was decreed against Jeconiah? That he die childless. As is said Write ye this man childless (Jer. 22:30). But as soon as he avowed penitence, the Holy One, blessed be He, set aside the decree, as is shown by Scripture's reference to The sons of Jeconiah"

-- the same is Assir -- Shealtiel his son, etc. (1 Chron. 3:17). And Scripture says further: In that day . . . will I take thee, O Zerubbabel . . . the son of Shealtiel . . . and will make thee as a signet (Haggai 2:23). Behold, then how penitence can set aside the entire decree!

--Yale Judaica edition translated by William G. Braude (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968), vol. 2, p. 797.

------------------------------------------------------------------------ Numbers Rabbah XX:20 (date uncertain; 9th c.?)

" sooner had they repented, than the danger was averted, And the Lord repented of the evil (ib. XXXII, 14). And so in many places. For example, He said about Jekoniah: For no man of his seed shall prosper (Jer. XXII, 30) and it says, I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations . . . In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, My servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the Lord, and will make thee as a signet (Hag. II, 22 f.). Thus was annulled that which He had said to his forefather, viz. As I live, saith the Lord, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim King of Judah were the signet upon My right hand, yet I would pluck thee thence" (Jer. XXII, 24).

--Soncino Midrash Rabbah vol 6, pp. 812-13

------------------------------------------------------------------------ Rabbi A. J. Rosenberg, on Jeremiah 22:30 (20th c.)

"In this, too, no man of his seed shall prosper, namely that no one will occupy the throne of David nor rule in Judah. Although we find that Zerubbabel, his great grandson, did rule over Judah upon the return of the exiles, the Rabbis (Pesikta d'Rav Kahana p. 163a) state that this was because Jehoiachin repented while in prison. They state further: Repentance is great, for it nullifies a person's sentence, as it is stated: 'Inscribe this man childless.' But since he repented, his sentence was revoked and turned to the good, and he said to him, "I will take you, Zerubbabel, and I will make you a signet" (Haggai 2:23). They state further: Said Rabbi Johanan: Exile expiates all sins, as it is said: Inscribe this man childless," and after he was exiled, it is written: ' (1 Chron. 3:17) And the sons of Jeconiah, Assir, Shealtiel his son'"--[Redak].

--A. J. Rosenberg, Jeremiah: A New English Translation (New York:Judaica Press, 1985), vol. 1 p. 185. "Redak" is an acronym for RabbiDavid Kimchi (13th c.), whose opinion Rosenberg cites.

3) Messiah to come through Zerubbabel

Zerubbabel was Jehoachin's greandson and also a direct ancesstor of Joseph according to the Matt. geneology. That the Messiah comes through him is obvious proof that the curse is removed, and increases the probablity of Jesus as Messiah.

------------------------------------------------------------------------ 2. Sources stating that the Messiah will descend from Jeconiah.

Tanhuma Genesis, Toledot (8th-9th c.)

"Scripture alludes here to the verse Who art thou, O great mountain before Zerubbabel? Thou shalt become a plain (Zech. 4:7). This verse refers to the Messiah, the descendant of David. . . .From whom will the Messiah descend? From Zerubbabel."

--Midrash Tanhuma-Yelammedenu, translated by Samuel A. Berman (Hoboken, NJ: Ktav, 1996), p. 182.

------------------------------------------------------------------------ Rabbi A. J. Rosenberg on Jeremiah 22:24 (20th c.)

"Malbim calls to our attention that in the prophecy of Haggai (2:23), God says, "On that day I will take you, Zerubbabel, and I will make you like a signet," for the King Messiah will be like a signet ring on God's right hand, so to speak. Just as the name of the owner of the ring is engraved on his signet ring, through which he makes himself known, so will God's name be known in the world through the King Messiah, through whom His miracles will be known. He says here that, though, in the future, Coniah will be the signet on My right hand, for the Messiah will spring from his seed, now I will remove him from there."

--Ibid., p. 183. Malbim is an acronym for Meir Loeb ben Jehiel Michale, a 19th c. rabbi and commentator. 22:24.

------------------------------------------------------------------------ Jewish Encyclopedia

"Jehoiachin's sad experiences changed his nature entirely, and as he repented of the sins which he had committed as king he was pardoned by God, who revoked the decree to the effect that none of his descendants should ever become king (Jer. xxii.30; Pesik., ed. Buber, xxv. 163a, b): he even became the ancestor of the Messiah"

(Tan., Toledot, 20 [ed. Buber, i. 140]).--Louis Ginzberg, "Jehoiachin," vol. 7 p. 84.

3. Zereubbabel arguemnt: Probablility of Jesus as Messiah increased.

The probablity of Jesus being Messiah greatly increased casue now he's not just the root of Jessey, not just the Son of DAvid, but also of Z and that narrows it more, and he qualifies as Jo's adopted son. (Zerubbabel is Jesus' adopted ancestory through the line of Joseph in Matt 1).

Haggi 2:23, after describing how their supplies and harvest yeilds were low the Lord would take them back and an abundant harvest will come. He makes an apocylpitic statemtn about nations being saken and armies being defeated and then prounces that Z is his choice and he will "use you like a signant ring" Why does the book end with this statement, after building up to it through description of Messianich times and forgiveness for Israel. Zerubbabel becomes the final focual point. He is the line of the Messiah.

Zechariah 4:7 "What are you O mighty Mountain before Zerubbabel you will become level ground, then he will bring out the capstone..." IT goes on to say Z will lay the foundation for the temple. That really happened. So that's not so amazing, but it is linked to Messianic prophesy as the language of the captone is seen by Rabbis Quoted by Edersheim as a reference to Messiah, and in Gospels of course that is what is meant when Jesus speaks of Himself as "the stone that the builders rejected."

In 3:8 God tells Joshua the priest that he will bring a branch. In the Notes to the Oxford Bible (RSV), of Messianic prophesy, it says "8 Branch a Davidic figure who is to usher in the Messianic age (compare Psalm 132:17...) here refurs to Zerubbabel (see 6:9-15n) Now that note says "This section abounds with difficulties. ORiginally it probablly directed crowning of Zerubbabel as Messianich King but was revised to refur to Joshua."

Zech. 3:8 "The designation 'Branch' is expressly applied to King MEssiah in the Targum. Indeep this is one of the Messiah's peculiar names." Thus these branch references link Z to Messiah in some fundamental way.

Now look again at 4:7 where it speaks of Z and the Capstone. Zech 4:7 is generally applied to the Messiah, expressly in the Targum and also in several of the Midrashim, thus as reguards both clauses of it Tanchuma (Par. Toledoth 14 ed. Warsh p. 56 at the top.) --Edersheim, 735).

So Z is clearly linked to Messiah. And as he lays the corner stone, which, though it was litterally something he did do in history, can also have a double meaning, especially since that very verse is linked Messianichally. So the Messiah comes through Z's line, which links Jesus closer and removes the curse a priori.