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Genesis 12:7 And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.

Noting that the seed comes from the father, as Y chromosomes are only passed from father to son, that would mean that the Y is a record of one’s patrilineage / lineage.

Note: we are not talking about Jewish - you do not have to be Jewish to be a 'seed' of Abraham ie Ishmael.

  1. Can Jesus be the seed of Abraham when he has no father?
  2. Or is Jesus the seed of God, as God being his father?
  3. If No to the above, who does this relate to?

Other relevant passages which may help:

Galatians 3:16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say, "and to seeds," meaning many, but "and to your seed," meaning One, who is Christ.

Matthew 1:1 This is the record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham:

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  • this assumption that Jesus had no y chromosome is just another theory of science which implies he was a subhuman, genderless human. This is wrong. I think all humans have Y chromosomes. He had the genes of his father Joseph. Do you think it is difficult for God to do that, if he can cause the virgin birth? If you wanna ask about lineage passed through only males, then there must be other questions like Jewish objections on the lineage.
    – Michael16
    Mar 23, 2022 at 13:12
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    The word "seed" can also simply mean "descendants" or "offspring". In fact, that's how it appears in many translations. Compare with Genesis 1:11,12, where the word is used with reference to plants, and for some plants, seeds can be male or female (e.g. Russian olive, willows, and cannabis). Mar 23, 2022 at 13:37
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    'Seed' comes from a woman : it is a baby. 'The seed of Abraham' will originate in Abraham but will come forth from a woman.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 23, 2022 at 14:23
  • Says -'thy seed' implying coming from Abrahams seed, where does it say come forth from a women? - God can do everything Not in Dispute - king melchizedek has no mother/father or indeed beginning/ending or genealogy. Nor does Adam that doesn't make him the son of God or the seed of God or even God? Mar 23, 2022 at 14:33
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    'Seed' is something viable that propagates after itself. A baby is such 'seed'. That which comes (solely) from the male is shikbah not 'seed'.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 23, 2022 at 15:32

7 Answers 7

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In Luke 1:31, the angel tells Mary that she will have a son. The natural assumption - to be assumed until we have reason otherwise - is that such a son will have a Y chromosome.

The Bible doesn't say anything explicitly about Y chromosomes. It isn't the lens that the Bible works on. Your and my 2022 pop-understanding of Y chromosomes, certainly isn't the lens on which the book is written at.

What determined the data of the Y chromosome? What did that data look like? The Bible doesn't say. What the Bible does say is that Jesus is the Christ and that Christs is the promised off spring, thus Jesus is the promised offspring. If the promised offspring has to share Abraham's Y chromosome, then we could deduce that Jesus shares Abraham's Y chromosome. But that is as far as we can go.

But, the Bible itself does not say anything explicitly on the subject, because that is not what the Bible writers or readers were interested in.

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The operative words here (with almost identical meanings) are:

  • σπέρμα (sperma) in the Greek
  • זֶרַע (zera) in the Hebrew

The meanings of these words can be classified under the following headings:

  • seed of a plant, eg, Matt 13:32, Mark 4:31, 1 Cor 15:38, Gen 1:11, 12, 29, 47:19, 23, etc.
  • male seed or semen, eg, Heb 11:11, John 7:42, Rom 1:3, 2 Tim 2:8, Num 5:28, Lev 22:4, 15:16, 17, 32, etc.
  • posterity, offspring, descendants (by metonymy), eg, Matt 22:24, Luke 1:55, Acts 7:5, 6, 13:23, Rom 4:13, 11:1, Gen 15:13, 21:13, 24:60, 48:19, etc.

More specifically, Jesus is called the seed/descendant of Abraham or David:

  • Rom 1:3 - concerning His Son, having come of the seed of David according to flesh,
  • John 7:42 - Has not the Scripture said that Christ comes out of the seed of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?"
  • Acts 13:23 - Of the seed of this man, according to promise, God raised up to Israel the Savior, Jesus
  • Gal 3:16 - Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. It does not say "and to seeds" as of many but "and to your seed" as of One, who is Christ.
  • Gal 3:19 - Why then the Law? It was added on account of transgressions, until the seed [ie, Christ] to whom promise has been made should have come, having been ordained through angels in the hand of a mediator.
  • 2 Tim 2:8 - Remember Jesus Christ, having been raised out from the dead, of the seed of David, according to my gospel,
  • 1 John 3:9 - Anyone having been born of God does not practice sin, because His seed [ie, Christ] abides in him, and he is not able to continue sinning, because he has been born of God.

Note especially that Rom 9:8 -

So it is not the children of the flesh who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as seed/offspring.

Thus, literal semen is not necessary for this terminology to be used. We see this again in Gal 3:29 -

Now if you are of Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, heirs according to the promise.

Thus, it is not correct to read the Bible overly literally with modern biological terminology - let the Bible use its own idiom.

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The seed of Abraham is who?

Summary: Abram understood from God's promise that his "zera" - offspring / seed would be given the land to which God directed Abram.

The key to understanding scripture is to focus on the context and seek to understand the main point.

Let's look at the whole passage.

Genesis 12
1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.

8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.

9 Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.

What is going on here?
God is telling Abram

  1. Leave everything Abram knows and go to a place God will direct him to v1
  2. If Abram is obedient God will: v2 - 3
  • Make Abram a great nation (in spite of the fact that Abram and Sarai were past childbearing age)
  • Make Abram a person of great reputation and material wealth
  • Protect Abram
  • Through Abram everyone on earth will be blessed
  1. Abram was obedient with immediate action v4
  2. God further promises that Abram's "zera" translated offspring / seed meaning descendants will be given the land to which God has directed Abram. v7
  3. Abram worshipped God

What does Abram understand concerning his "zera" - offspring / seed?
Abram understood from God's promise that his "zera" - offspring / seed would be given the land to which God directed Abram.

Hopefully, this answers the title question.

There are several other questions raised in the original question. I'll try to list them. I admit to being confused concerning some of the issues.

  1. What does Paul mean in Galatians 3:16?
  2. What are Jesus' genetics? There is an assertion that the Y chromosome is considered "seed"
  3. There is a question of Jesus being related to David as listed in Matthew 1 since "Jesus has no father". I would argue - without any supporting verses or documentation - that Joseph would disagree with this statement. It would be better to say that Joseph was not genetically Jesus' father.
    The Matthew account indicates that Jesus is related to David through Mary. Matthew 1 "16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah."
    Other information that may help is that "The Code of Jewish Law clearly states that a child of a Jewish mother is Jewish, regardless of the father’s lineage" There is a full explanation of this statement here.

I would argue that these questions should be posted separately.

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Your second paragraph is unfortunately contrived and is not derived from the text or language. "Seed" is used in Biblical languages to refer to "offspring," the exception being places where it's used of actual seeds, or of semen.

Revelation 12:17 And the dragon was angry at the woman: and went to make war with the rest of her seed, who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Therefore, Christ indeed can be the offspring of Abraham, through Mary, his mother (i.e. being a daughter of Abraham).

Romans 1:3 Concerning his Son, who was made to him of the seed of David, according to the flesh,

Mary is here called "the seed of David" of whom Christ was, i.e., the offspring of David, and thus of Abraham. Making Christ of David, through Mary.

The father adds nothing to the conception of a child that the mother doesn't, as far as that child being a true descendant of that father or that mother, and thus of that father or mother's father and/or mother. And "seed," again, simply means (or rather is used for) "offspring" or "descendand" in Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic.

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I would argue that Paul could make a round-off and more articulated argument about non-cultic ‘faith’ and at the same time avoiding questions and confusions regarding 'seed (s)', 'promise', 'blessing', 'law' vs 'work'/'righteousness' (the Gen 15:6 problem) etc.: Grounding in Gen 17:1-6, affirming 'Abraham' as the Founding Father of a new era of all-encompassing Monotheism including every human and every nation regardless of the seed (blood).

The concept of ‘blessing’ itself, I believe, is not a solid ground for the faith argument as Paul is speculating. The whole creation is already being blessed by God including animals. Human beings, as moral agents, if do not produce fruits as Jesus decrees (which is different from don’t steal, don’t murder...) would betray the trust that God put on them by granting them the 'knowledge of good and bad’ (plus affective and cognitive faculties).

On the other hand, the single verse Gen15:6 that Paul uses several times is problematic as well. Abraham’s monotheism started when he was incredibly young. His revolt against the idolatry of his father and his community qualified him much earlier as a virtuous person. In Gen 15:16, God simply considers him as a constant and sincere person. Ezekiel does make it crystal clear that a righteous person could turn away from righteousness and commit crimes (Eze 3:20) and nobody can save a person from sin but oneself (Eze 14:20). And the remedy for sin is the righteous actions (please see Eze 18, Eze 33 for details).

Besides righteousness is not the only criterion for the evaluation--- ‘justice’ and ‘righteousness’ are paired in several Hebrew Bible (e.g., Eze 18:5, 19) ---for we are living in the midst of global community of human beings and other beings and are related to each other not through (cultic) blood rather God-given affective and cognitive faculties

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    Apr 12, 2022 at 22:29
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I think God sent Ezekiel to put an END to the culture of ‘seed’ forever and ever --- which apparently did NOT work! Nowadays If a person who is free from the blind spot of inherited religious dogmas does read Ezekiel 18, only one chapter of the entire Hebrew Biblical Canon, I would argue, she would be free from the burden of many confusing ideas and doctrines! Here I am inserting Ezekiel 18 and in another comment I’ll try to summarize it in less than 70 words:

EZEKIEL18 (NRSV) The word of the Lord came to me: 2 What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, “The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge”? 3 As I live, says the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. 4 Know that all lives are mine; the life of the parent as well as the life of the child is mine: it is only the person who sins that shall die.

5 If a man is righteous and does what is lawful and right— 6 if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife or approach a woman during her menstrual period, 7 does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, 8 does not take advance or accrued interest, withholds his hand from iniquity, executes true justice between contending parties, 9 follows my statutes, and is careful to observe my ordinances, acting faithfully—such a one is righteous; he shall surely live, says the Lord God.

10 If he has a son who is violent, a shedder of blood, 11 who does any of these things (though his father[a] does none of them), who eats upon the mountains, defiles his neighbor’s wife, 12 oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore the pledge, lifts up his eyes to the idols, commits abomination, 13 takes advance or accrued interest; shall he then live? He shall not. He has done all these abominable things; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon himself.

14 But if this man has a son who sees all the sins that his father has done, considers, and does not do likewise, 15 who does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife, 16 does not wrong anyone, exacts no pledge, commits no robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, 17 withholds his hand from iniquity,[b] takes no advance or accrued interest, observes my ordinances, and follows my statutes; he shall not die for his father’s iniquity; he shall surely live. 18 As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother, and did what is not good among his people, he dies for his iniquity.

19 Yet you say, “Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?” When the son has done what is lawful and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. 20 The person who sins shall die. A child shall not suffer for the iniquity of a parent, nor a parent suffer for the iniquity of a child; the righteousness of the righteous shall be his own, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be his own.

21 But if the wicked turn away from all their sins that they have committed and keep all my statutes and do what is lawful and right, they shall surely live; they shall not die. 22 None of the transgressions that they have committed shall be remembered against them; for the righteousness that they have done they shall live. 23 Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that they should turn from their ways and live? 24 But when the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity and do the same abominable things that the wicked do, shall they live? None of the righteous deeds that they have done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which they are guilty and the sin they have committed, they shall die.

25 Yet you say, “The way of the Lord is unfair.” Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair? 26 When the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity, they shall die for it; for the iniquity that they have committed they shall die. 27 Again, when the wicked turn away from the wickedness they have committed and do what is lawful and right, they shall save their life. 28 Because they considered and turned away from all the transgressions that they had committed, they shall surely live; they shall not die. 29 Yet the house of Israel says, “The way of the Lord is unfair.” O house of Israel, are my ways unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair?

30 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, all of you according to your ways, says the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions; otherwise iniquity will be your ruin.[c] 31 Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord God. Turn, then, and live.

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  • Hi, welcome to the site! It isn't clear how this answers the original question. Can you clarify? A link to the full chapter + a summary would probably work better. Apr 14, 2022 at 17:24
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The seed of Abraham is who?

It seems that God always shows the natural first and then the spiritual side of things. We see it all through scripture starting with the first Adam natural and then Jesus Christ being the second Adam, spiritual.

The spiritual, however, was not first, but the natural, and then the spiritual. 1Corinthians15:46

Same is true with Isaac. He was the promised seed to Abraham. It was Sarah who was barren and the promised seed had to come from her. Scripture shows that Abraham was able to father children as seen in Ishmael and later on after Sarah died he had six more with Keturah.

It's interesting how it says his heir would come out of his own bowels in Genesis 15:4. That would mean in essence it had to come from Sarah as well who is a part of him since they are one flesh.

And behold, the word of YHWH [is] to him, saying, “This [one] will not be your heir; but he who comes out from your bowels, he will be your heir”;Genesis 15:4

The LORD took note of Sarah as he had said he would; the LORD did for her as he had promised. Genesis 21.1

The seed after Isaac would also be considered Abraham's son as stated here in Genesis 17:19

And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, AND with his seed after him.
(Is this seed after him Christ? The natural and the the spiritual)

At this point in time and In God's eyes Isaac is considered Abraham's only son.

And He says, “Now take your son, your only one, whom you have loved, even Isaac, and go for yourself to the land of Moriah, and cause him to ascend there for a burnt-offering on one of the mountains of which I speak to you.” Genesis. 22:2

for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. Genesis 22:12

The parallel is Abraham's only son to offer who Abraham loved. Isaac was a promised seed given to him by God.

This seed from Isaac is also considered Abraham son as well to the flesh.

Abraham's longing for a son to be his heir of all things also parallels God's desire for His Son to be heir of all things.

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac on the altar. He who had received the promises was ready to offer his one and only son. Hebrews 11:17

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, John 3:16

The promised seed that God promised started way back in the garden of Eden.

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. Genesis 3:15

First the natural than the spiritual.

Abraham and God both are going to have many sons Through the one seed represented by Isaac and Christ.

He bringeth him out without, and saith, 'Look attentively, I pray thee, towards the heavens, and count the stars, if thou art able to count them;' and He saith to him, 'Thus is thy seed.' Genesis 15:5

Understand, then, that those who have faith are sons of Abraham. Galatians 3:7

The sons of Abraham are according to grace where there's a promise to all the seed.

Because of this [it is] of faith, that [it may be] according to grace, for the promise being sure to all the seed, not to that which [is] of the Law only, but also to that which [is] of the faith of Abraham. Romans 4:16

It is through Christ that the dead are made alive and are now part of the seed of Christ.

God, who is quickening the dead, and is calling the things that be not as being. Romans 4:17

It's pretty amazing that God called things thousands of years ago that did not exist as if they did. Today that calling is still showing up in many peoples lives that are part of the seed that Abraham prophesied about.

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