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In Revelation 22:16, Jesus says, "I am the root and offspring of David, and the bright and morning star." Joseph the father of Ephraim has a dream prophesying of himself being the brightest star of all of the 12 tribes of Israel, and his brethren, and both his parents bowing down to him (Gen. 37:5-11). Neither of his parents bowed down to him. This dream was not completely fulfilled in his life time showing the fulfilment was yet to come to pass, and referred to His seed.

When Israel gives a last prophecy over his sons, he starts with Joseph, and Joseph's sons. Jacob gives Joseph, and his son Ephraim the blessing that Issac his father gave to him (Gen.48:4,15-16). Israel takes possession of Joseph's two sons as his first born (48:5). Then Israel chooses Ephraim before Manasseh (48:19). In Gen. 49, Israel begins to speak concerning all his sons. First Israel explains why he has chosen Joseph's 2 sons to receive his first two sons birthrights. Then Israel says the sceptre shall not depart from Judah, and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Israel then speaks a little of the other sons, until he gets to Joseph. He has the most to say over Joseph (22-26), including from thence is the stone of Israel, then he gives him the blessings of heaven, the blessings of the deep, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb. The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors, ... they shall be upon the head of Joseph, and on the crown of him who was separate from his brethren.

1Chron. 5:1-2 Confirms this by saying that Reuben lost his birthright and it was given to Joseph. From Judah comes the chief ruler, but the birthright was Joseph's. Numbers 24:17 refers to a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre out of Israel. Jer. 31:9 says, I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my first born. Ezekiel 37:15-28 when telling of the coming Savior, begins by saying He, God will take the stick representing Judah, and his companions, and a stick represent Joseph, Ephraim, and his companions, and make them one in His hand. Again we see the two tribes. Caleb of the tribe of Judah and Oshea of Ephraim, of Joseph represented in Numbers 13. In Numbers 14:6-9,24,30, 26:65 only Joshua, and Caleb stood as one, to believe the Word of God, and lived to enter into the promised land. Joshua, of the tribe of Joseph, to Ephraim, is chosen to replace Moses, and lead the people into the promised land (Deu. 34:9). Jesus' name is also pronounced Joshua, and Oshea (Heb; 4:7,8).

After Jesus' birth (Matt, 2), Herod was told that the King of the Jews was about to be born, they were following a star,(the bright, and morning star?) to find Him, who was to be born in Bethlem of Judah 1-6. 2:16-19. Then in Bethlehem the babies two, and under, were murdered, because Herod,tried to kill Jesus, fulfilling the scripture, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping and great mourning, Rachel,(mother of Jospeh) weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. The prophecy's and the blessings belong to the seed of Abraham, not seeds, as of many, but as of one, And to thy seed which is Christ, Gal. 3:16 Joseph's, (husband of Mary) genealogy is written from both his father's and his mother's side in the gospels of Matt. and Luke. But where is Mary's?

  • +1 Great observations! In light of all these OT prophecies/types, one might expect Christ to be descended from the tribe of Joseph or Ephraim, even though the scripture makes it clear that he is from the tribe of Judah. It's worth keeping in mind that the two aren't per se mutually exclusive. Could Christ be descended from both Judah and Ephraim? – Pascal's Wager Feb 21 at 22:21
  • This is only a partial response, so I'm just making it a comment: in the original context, "birthright" was strictly a matter of inheritance of wealth. Land, flocks, money, etc. Ancient traditions varied but often the firstborn (holder of the birthright) would get a double portion of the inheritance over the other children. Hence, Reuben's lost double portion went to Joseph and from there to his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. I mention all this because the messianic prophecies had nothing to do with these sorts of rights. The messiah did not need land or other wealth to be the Savior. – JDM-GBG Feb 25 at 3:44
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Mary was closely related to Elizabeth, wife of Zacharias. Elizabeth was of the daughters of Aaron, and therefore so was Mary. So Mary was descended from the tribe of Levi, through Aaron.

The genealogy which Matthew records is the royal line which does not necessarily follow the direct descent through the firstborn son. For various administrative reasons, it differs.

The genealogy which Luke records is the direct descent, in seventy generations, of Jesus from Adam and from God. Since Jesus' tribe is that of his (adoptive) father, then his tribe is Judah.

There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.

And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

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The Scripture show us that he is from Judah:-

NWT Hebrews 7:14 "For it is clear that our Lord has descended from Judah, yet Moses said nothing about priests coming from that tribe."

NWT Genesis 49:10 "The scepter will not depart from Judah, neither the commander’s staff from between his feet, until Shiʹloh comes, and to him the obedience of the peoples will belong."

Jesus family tree (in part):-

NWT Matthew 1:2 " . .Abraham became father to Isaac; Isaac became father to Jacob; Jacob became father to Judah . . . 6 . . .Jesʹse became father to David the king.. . . 16 . . .Jacob became father to Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ."

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Judaism is matrilineal in regards to being Jewish and patrilineal in regards to tribal affiliation.

What this means is that if your mother is/was Jewish then you are a Jew also and if your father is from such and such tribe then you are said to be "of the tribe of such and such".

So when discussing from which tribe Jesus descended the tribal affiliation of his mother Mary is irrelevant. This is why even though Mary was presumably of the tribe of Levi it did not make him a Levite and so he was in terms of physical descent disqualified from being a high priest of the Aaronic order:

[Heb 7:11-21 ESV] (11) Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? (12) For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. (13) For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. (14) For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. (15) This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, (16) who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. (17) For it is witnessed of him, "You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek." (18) For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (19) (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. (20) And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, (21) but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him: "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, 'You are a priest forever.'"

Jesus' descent from Mary, though, establishes that he was a Jew.

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God had promised a great land and blessings to the descendants of Abraham. This promise was passed on to his son Isaac, and then on to Jacob. Jacob, later known as Israel, passed this blessing on to Joseph:

And [God] said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession. And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine. And thy issue, which thou begettest after them, shall be thine, and shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance. -- Gen 48:4-6

Notice that Abraham effectively adopted Joseph's two sons, and passed his name (Israel) on to them.

Later, when the Kingdom of Israel split into two, it was not the part that contained the royal line, but the part that seceded that retained the name "Israel", because it included the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.

This was the physical birthright promise.


Meanwhile, there was also a spiritual "sceptre" promise.

The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. -- Gen 49:10

This promise was about the royal line and the eventual birth of the Messiah, and was given to Joseph's brother Judah. The royal line of David descended from Judah, and from that line was born Jesus, who was obviously a Jew.

For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah ... -- Hebrews 7:14


These two promises are distinct. One a physical blessing, one a spiritual blessing.

Similarly, most of Old Testament history deals with the two separate nations, Israel and Judah, with many prophets and books of the bible dedicated to one or the other. Understanding this division is essential to understanding the Bible.

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