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I recently tried to research a question I had: "Why does the gospel of Matthew consider Jesus Christ to be a descendant of David even though Joseph was not his biological father?" Apparently in Judaic tradition back then, the legal father of a child was considered a father even if there is no blood relation. I'm wondering if that's true. But additionally, many people claimed that Mary his mother was a blood descendant of King David. Is there anything in scripture that supports this suggestion?

I tried researching this and I'm a tad confused. Someone pointed to the genealogy in Luke 3:23 in support of this claim, saying that though Joseph is listed in Luke's genealogy as the son of Heli that that is only because Joseph was head of the household. I think that's what they're trying to say. So is Mary in actuality the blood descendent of Heli and thus a blood descendant of King David?

Luke 3:23 states: “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli.” Since Joseph was head of household, he was listed in Luke as the son of Heli rather than Mary being listed as the daughter of Heli. Therefore, Mary was also from the house and lineage of David since she descended from David’s son Nathan. Also, I'm wondering if Heli is the name of a man or woman.

Additionally, it would appear that Joseph is the descendant of King David's son Solomon and Mary a descendant of King David's son Nathan. I'm wondering if that's the case or if I'm just confused here.

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    Mary's close relative was Elizabeth who was one of the daughters of Aaron and was married to a Levite priest, Zachariah. I don't see how Mary could be of Judah (other than by marriage to Joseph) never mind be a descendant of David. Despite arguments to the contrary both genealogies (Matthew's , the royal line, and Luke's, the natural line) refer to Joseph, not to Mary.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 13 at 18:55
  • There is an early, unconfirmed tradition that Mary was a Levite. However, the Bible says nothing about her parentage except that here relative Elizabeth was married to a priest.
    – Dottard
    Sep 13 at 22:01
  • How difficult is it to read a few verses after in Luke 3:31 and see the descendence was through the house of David?
    – user21676
    Sep 13 at 22:27
  • @user21676 Luke 3:31 follows on from Luke 3:23 ... Joseph, which was of ... etc etc. Mary is not mentioned. This is the natural (as opposed to royal) lineage of Joseph. Jesus inherits from Joseph by adoption, not by natural generation. Jesus also inherits (see Phinehas and an eternal promise) through Mary by natural generation, through the line of Levi.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 14 at 7:09
  • @Steve Taylor The user incites argument in the comment section of the main question.
    – user21676
    Sep 14 at 8:50
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After having performed quite a bit of research, the most compelling and satisfying explanation I have come across reports that it is actually in Matthew that the written genealogy traces back Mary's bloodline to David... and not in Luke as some have supposed.

The following might be controversial, but In Matthew's genealogy of Christ, the man referred to as "The husband of Mary" is actually... apparently... probably... "The father of Mary". Apparently Mary's father was also named Joseph. But... is there anything to support this bold claim?

The Aramaic word for "man" can, in different contexts, mean either "man", "father", or "husband". So it can be read that way. And also the context in Matthew gives good reason for one to assume the author of this gospel was indeed referring to Mary's father... and not her husband.

One of the most interesting--and persuasive--things about this suggestion is that it resolves two issues simultaneously:

  1. Is Christ actually related to David through a bloodline? If the Joseph mentioned in the genealogy is indeed the father of Mary then that blood line would continue from Abraham to David to Christ... so this interpretation says "yes... He is".

  2. According to Matthew chapter 1 there are supposed to be 3 sets of 14 generations that trace Jesus back to the seed of Abraham through King David. 14 generations from Abraham to David... 14 generations from Solomon to Jechonias... and 14 generations from Salathiel to Jesus (also referred to as yeshua). However in our current translations the third set in Matthew (Salathiel to Jesus) clearly and explicitly lists only 13 generations. Which is weird right? Because Matthew plainly states there should be 3 sets of 14. So if you add in Mary after her father Joseph and before Jesus then there are 14 generations listed... as Matthew assured us should be the case.

This brings up other questions that are beyond my existent knowledge and thereby the scope of this SE answer. For instance, were the gospels originally written in Aramaic so as to give rise to this specific error in translation? Is there any other biblical evidence from the canonical gospels that would support or oppose the suggestion that Mary came from David's bloodline by looking at her closest relatives and what tribes they belonged to?

The following article was my primary source for this answer:

http://www.peshitta.org/bethgazza/Gabra.htm

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He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: Luke 1:32

Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; Romans 1:3

Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: 2 Timothy 2:8

For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. Hebrews 7:14

It seems to me that Mary's father was a Judahite. And Mary's mother was almost certainly a descendant of Aaron since Elisabeth (Elisheba) was her close relative. Possibly an aunt. Aaron's wife Elisheba was also a Judahite. It can't be just a coincidence. So Jesus had royal as well as priestly blood.

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Luke 3:23-38 traces Jesus’ ancestry to David through Mary’s lineage.

Luke records Jesus' lineage through Mary without mentioning Mary as was common ancient practice not to mention women's name in genealogies. Luke 3:23 - “[Jesus] was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli.” Joseph was a “son” of Heli by virtue of his marriage to Mary, who would have been the daughter of Heli for Mat 1:16 says Jacob was Joseph's father.

Mary was a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob (Luke 3:34). Mary was of the tribe of Judah (v.33), a descendant of Boaz (v.32) & David (v.31). Finally Luke traces Mary’s lineage all the way back to Adam (v.38).

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Is there any scripture that supports the suggestion that Jesus's mother Mary was a descendant of King David?

In the topic "Genealogy of Jesus Christ" in the Insight on the Scriptures, the subheading Why do the genealogies of Jesus Christ as given by Matthew and by Luke differ? clarifies what the OP asks:

The difference in nearly all the names in Luke’s genealogy of Jesus as compared with Matthew’s is quickly resolved in the fact that Luke traced the line through David’s son Nathan, instead of Solomon as did Matthew. (Lu 3:31; Mt 1:6, 7) Luke evidently follows the ancestry of Mary, thus showing Jesus’ natural descent from David, while Matthew shows Jesus’ legal right to the throne of David by descent from Solomon through Joseph, who was legally Jesus’ father. Both Matthew and Luke signify that Joseph was not Jesus’ actual father but only his adoptive father, giving him legal right. Matthew departs from the style used throughout his genealogy when he comes to Jesus, saying: “Jacob became father to Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.” (Mt 1:16) Notice that he does not say ‘Joseph became father to Jesus’ but that he was “the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born.” Luke is even more pointed when, after showing earlier that Jesus was actually the Son of God by Mary (Lu 1:32-35), he says: “Jesus . . . being the son, as the opinion was, of Joseph, son of Heli.”​—Lu 3:23. [italics theirs]

The full entry gives additional insights into Jesus' genealogical record.

[All scripture quotations from the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)]

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