There are several verses in which David is promised that his line will always be on the throne of Israel. I want to understand whether this could be extended to adopted children in some cases.

Specifically, for example, 2 Kings 8:19 (WEB):

However Yahweh would not destroy Judah, for David his servant’s sake, as he promised him to give to him a lamp for his children always.

Could the word translated as "children" refer to adopted children also? What is the connotation of this word?

Similarly, Psalm 132:11-12 (WEB):

Yahweh has sworn to David in truth. He will not turn from it:
“I will set the fruit of your body on your throne.
If your children will keep my covenant,
my testimony that I will teach them,
their children also will sit on your throne forever more.”

Here it is clear (at least in English) that the next generation after David will be his biological child ("fruit of your body"), but the subsequent generations are their children which may or may not be biological.

Similarly, 2 Samuel 7:12 (WEB):

When your days are fulfilled, and you sleep with your fathers, I will set up your offspring[a] after you, who will proceed out of your body, and I will establish his kingdom.

"Offspring" there is seed, which is also used in the Greek Scriptures (sperma) such as Romans 1:3. However, even a word like "seek" does not necessarily imply direct biological descent. For example, Romans 9:8 demonstrates that seed is defined more by God's promise than biology.

So, to summarize: would the Hebrew readers of 2 Kings 8:19 understand "children" to be biological children necessarily, or could that be open to adopted children too? Does the Hebrew understanding of adoption allow for this?

Also relevant is this link suggesting that adoption was not a big thing in ancient Hebrew culture.

  • See this related question: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/15587/… – Bach Apr 3 '18 at 18:11
  • There seems to be no scriptural support for the supposition of the question. It is purely speculative. – Nigel J Apr 4 '18 at 22:59
  • @NigelJ that's completely true. In normal circumstances, speculative ideas could be dismissed. What I am wondering is if the notion of adoption (commonly used in understanding the importance of Joseph's genealogy for example) even allowed by the Hebrew understanding. It's fine if it is. It remains speculative if there is no other evidence for it. But I see different views on whether the ancient Jews even had a notion of adoption (see final link in the post), which seems to be more of a Roman or Egyptian thing. – Dr Xorile Apr 5 '18 at 17:16

There are two points to be made here.

First, the subject of 2 Samuel 7:4-17 is not Solomon; this is a reference to the Messiah.

In verses 4-7, God tells David that He has never asked anyone to build Him a house as scripture tells us elsewhere that God does not dwell in a house made with hands.

In verse 11, The Lord tells David that He will build David a house and in verse 12 He defines the meaning of the term "house".

12 And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.

This is a clear reference to the family of God to establish the Kingdom of the Messiah.

In verses 13&16, The Messiah will build the family of God and establish an everlasting Kingdom.

13 He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever 16 And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.

Solomon's kingdom was never established and there is no way Solomon's kingdom could possibly last forever; this is an obvious reference to the Messsiah.

Second,I would read the verse 12 reference to "...out of thy bowels" (which is a reference to the physical body - intestines/stomach/in men "seat of generation") as a confirmation that this is a genetic descent and not via adoption.

The seed which comes after David, comes from his own body.

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  • +1 - Thanks for your thoughts. My question was not about Solomon though. It's an interesting point, perhaps worthy of a separate question. I don't know if it is "a clear reference". I read 2 Samuel 7:12-13 to be a clear reference to Solomon. I would love to know more about why you think it is not. – Dr Xorile May 3 '18 at 15:51
  • Thanks. Some thoughts on 2 Samuel 7:12-17 speaking of Messiah and not Solomon: V5-8, God tells David that He never asked anyone to build Him a house (dwelling) 1 Chron 17 forbids him to build it. The tabernacle was designed to be temporary until the NT when God would dwell in the hearts of men. Verse 11 says that God will build David a house (family/kingdom). V12 says the God would establish “His” kingdom. “His” must mean Christ since there is no reference to Solomon’s kingdom/throne in scripture. V13/16 says “His” kingdom/throne will be forever. V14 speaks to the crucifixion. – alb May 3 '18 at 19:39
  • God gave Moses the pattern for the tabernacle, David gave Solomon the plans for the temple out of the imaginations of his own mind. In Acts 7:44-48 Stephen makes the point that the tabernacle had a divine sanction while the temple did not. Acts 7:48 and 51 says that Solomon disobeyed God by building the temple; that's why Stephen was murdered. David/Solomon wanted a physical house for God to dwell in but God wanted the hearts of men. If you read 2 Samuel 7 without the bias that Solomon was supposed to build the "house of God" you might see it more clearly. – alb May 3 '18 at 19:57

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