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? Feb 21, 2019 at 22:21
  • 1
    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, 2019 at 3:44

6 Answers 6


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."


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.


I will make this brief but very informative. Mary descends from the tribe of Ephraim. The purpose of Mary descending from Ephraim, and Joseph of Judah, is to unite the previously divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah forever in the body of our Lord Jesus Christ making Him eternal King over all Israel (and all the world). This marriage and miraculous virgin birth also brought the Gentiles into the nation of Israel as Ephraim had mingled himself with the nations and was tied by blood to the Gentiles. Uniting Israel in the body of Christ, along with the Gentiles, made Christ the perfect atoning sacrifice for all mankind being as we were all in Christ as He went to the cross and paid the ultimate price for our sins. Ephesians 2 lays it out beautifully. For a very in-depth study of this topic please check out these two books with much more information and scriptural confirmation of this holy union. God Bless.

Israel the Son of God

The Blessed Virgin’s Root Traced in the Tribe of Ephraim

Ephesians‬ ‭2‬:‭11‬-‭22‬‬

11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 but now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”‬

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    – grammaplow
    Jul 14, 2023 at 12:57

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.


We need to remember that the word sprang in Hebrews 7:14 means like the rising of the sun,(Resurrection). We need to remember also that before Samuel's day the priesthood was dead because of Eli and His two sons. It was Hanna who dedicated her Son Samuel to replace the priesthood. Without a priesthood, there could be no king. Samuel gave rise to two kings, Saul and then David. Hence, John the Baptist, the forerunner, gave rise to Jesus, of Mary, who brought in both lines, that of the priest-line through her mother and then the king-line through her Father with Gabriel inserting the Holy Seed, Jesus became the Christ, God's anointed. Joseph, Mary's husband, who was of the Tribe of Judah, became Jesus's Father because of the laws of adoption.


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.

  • 1
    I would be careful when back-projecting rabbinical traditions codified in the 200s-700s AD and then elaborated in the 1100s with whatever was going on in the time of Joseph or even the exodus. Maybe the same exact traditions were extant at that time, but the majority of rabbinical traditions are of much more recent origin. In particular, matrilineal descent for "being jewish" likely dates only to the middle ages.
    – Robert
    Sep 23, 2021 at 22:33
  • Good point, thanks Robert.
    – Ruminator
    Sep 24, 2021 at 23:05
  • I agree with Robert. In Jesus Genealogy, Ruth the Moabite was the mother of Boaz, Rahab the Canaanite was the mother of Salmon, the father of Boaz. If matrilineal was practising by that time, it needs a good reason to explain why Jesus was a Jews. Jun 20, 2022 at 21:27
  • Wouldn't she be considered a Jew by conversion?
    – Ruminator
    Jun 21, 2022 at 22:25
  • @Ruminator Yes but doesnt appear that she converted to the religion of Judaism, which Jesus actually criticises contrary to popular opinion. She can also become a Jew by assimilating into Jewish/Judahite culture but doesn't seem that way despite her marriage to the Jewish Joseph. Dec 19, 2023 at 10:23

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