Is St. Joseph an unacclaimed king of Israel?


#1

Matthew 1:
19
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.
20
j Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord
appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.
** (NAB)

What makes me think Joseph was an otherwise unacclaimed king of Israel are 1) the royal lineage in the geneology and 2) the angel specifically addresses Joseph as “son of David” which suggests the royal lineage and kingship of Joseph. The “son of David” is a king.


#2

Interestingly, it looks like both Mary and Joseph were of the House of David-- Joseph being more strongly connected to the royal line. Jeconiah (Jehoiachin? Coniah? Yachin?) was the last “real” king of Israel, upon his father’s death. He was deposed by the Babylonians, and then replaced by his Uncle Zedekiah, who was later replaced by Gedaliah, an advisor. Out of the eleven generations between Jeconiah and Joseph, I don’t know how many of those were eldest-sons. It’s very possible they all were, but I haven’t read for sure.

Remember when the angel Gabriel visited Mary, his words included:

He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

And Mary responds:

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

But she doesn’t say, “How will this be, since I’m not of the house of David?”

It’s important that Mary be of the house of David, but it’s also important that his adoptive father, Joseph, also be of the house of David as well: his ancestors have a more solid connection to the royal line.

Matthew was written with a Jewish audience in mind. It traces the genealogy from Abraham to David through Solomon, who was David’s legal successor, and ends with:

16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.

Luke, though, was writing with a Greek audience in mind, and traces Jesus’ physical lineage to David through Nathan, who obviously didn’t succeed his father as king. This starts with:

23 Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, who was of Heli…

where scholars tend to think that it means Joseph was the son-in-law of Heli, rather than physically related to him, due to the original Greek phrasing. So that brings up the question of was-Mary’s-father-Heli-or-Joachim?, but I don’t know enough about Anglicized–ancient-Hebrew-names to go off on that tangent.

Anyhow, if you go back to your Jeremiah, you’ve got a big long angry passage:

24 “As surely as I live,” declares the LORD, “even if you, Jehoiachin[c] son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, were a signet ring on my right hand, I would still pull you off. 25 I will deliver you into the hands of those who want to kill you, those you fear—Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the Babylonians.[d] 26 I will hurl you and the mother who gave you birth into another country, where neither of you was born, and there you both will die. 27 You will never come back to the land you long to return to.”

28 Is this man Jehoiachin a despised, broken pot,
an object no one wants?
Why will he and his children be hurled out,
cast into a land they do not know?
29 O land, land, land,
hear the word of the LORD!
30 This is what the LORD says:
“Record this man as if childless,
a man who will not prosper in his lifetime,
for none of his offspring will prosper,
none will sit on the throne of David
or rule anymore in Judah.”

So, God was able to keep his curse intact: Joseph was related to Jeconiah, but Jesus was never physically related to him. And yet, through Joseph, Jesus was able to connect himself to the major royal line of David. And at the same time, he was still technically of the House of David, since Mary fulfilled that qualification on her own by being David’s direct descendant, albeit through a less significant branch of the family.


#3

Yes, thank you for your insights. Yes, I’ve heard somebody like Dr. Scott Hahn say that those later generations in Mt were a real revelation, because the lineage was uncertain due to the disruptive effects of the exile. I’m really on thin ice here, but I think I heard that scripture does not support that geneology in Mt or any other geneology, for that matter.

Yes, Mt’s gospel reinforces the geneology as I said in the OP, by qualifying Joseph as a “son of David.”

There are other problems with the geneology, like gaps, etc. and the essential question is what did Mt mean and how did his Jewish listeners react to this? It hardly goes without saying that neither Joseph nor Jesus was commonly called a king in real time, and, perhaps vaguely here, only in retrospect.


#4

I don’t think there was a strict law governing royal succession in the kingdom of Israel beyond that the person had to be a descendant of David. Solomon was preferred above his older brothers and Solomon’s grandson Abijah was preferred over his older brothers. So, unless St Joseph was the only surviving descendant of David at the time and, given how crowded Bethlehem, the city of David, was when Jesus was born, that doesn’t seem to be the case, I think it would be wrong to say that St Joseph had some sort of exclusive claim to be king. Rather, the promise to David was simply that one of his descendants would sit on his throne. So, I think, any other descendant of David would have had as legitimate a claim on the throne of David as did St Joseph.


#5

Thank you Todd977.

Purely for my spiritual amusement, until somebody bursts my bubble on this, I’m going to assume that the announcement to St. Joseph in a dream (no less) represents his ascension to the throne of David above all other potential claimants. His possession of the throne would consist, in my mind, of his assent to divine will (just like Mary) to take responsibility for Mary and Jesus, and to provide a double lineage from David to Jesus through both parents.


#6

The Gospel of Matthew.

1 Roll of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham:
2 Abraham fathered Isaac, Isaac fathered Jacob, Jacob fathered Judah and his brothers,
3 Judah fathered Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez fathered Hezron, Hezron fathered Ram,
4 Ram fathered Amminadab, Amminadab fathered Nahshon, Nahshon fathered Salmon,
5 Salmon fathered Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz fathered Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed fathered Jesse;
6 and Jesse fathered King David. David fathered Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
7 Solomon fathered Rehoboam, Rehoboam fathered Abijah, Abijah fathered Asa,
8 Asa fathered Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat fathered Joram, Joram fathered Uzziah,
9 Uzziah fathered Jotham, Jotham fathered Ahaz, Ahaz fathered Hezekiah,
10 Hezekiah fathered Manasseh, Manasseh fathered Amon, Amon fathered Josiah;
11 and Josiah fathered Jechoniah and his brothers. Then the deportation to Babylon took place.

12 After the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah fathered Shealtiel, Shealtiel fathered Zerubbabel,
13 Zerubbabel fathered Abiud, Abiud fathered Eliakim, Eliakim fathered Azor,
14 Azor fathered Zadok, Zadok fathered Achim, Achim fathered Eliud,
15 Eliud fathered Eleazar, Eleazar fathered Matthan, Matthan fathered Jacob;
16 and Jacob fathered Joseph the husband of Mary; of her was born Jesus who is called Christ.
17 The sum of generations is therefore: fourteen from Abraham to David; fourteen from David to the Babylonian deportation; and fourteen from the Babylonian deportation to Christ.
18 This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; …

Joseph is the foster father of Jesus Christ. We had that Gospel reading recently. It was explained in the homily that succession was through the patriachal line. Therefore Jesus Christ is King, and I would imagine Joseph had a claim to succession before Jesus Christ. Perhaps someone can explain this more. It is assumed Joseph had passed away during Jesus lifetime on earth.

The Gospel of Luke follows Mary’s geneology is one theory. So that is why they differ after David. I arent expert jto comment more though :innocent:.


#7

[quote=psalm90] I’m going to assume that the announcement to St. Joseph in a dream (no less) represents his ascension to the throne of David above all other potential claimants. His possession of the throne would consist, in my mind, of his assent to divine will (just like Mary) to take responsibility for Mary and Jesus, and to provide a double lineage from David to Jesus through both parents.
[/quote]

You may well be right. Im inclined to agree with you.


#8

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.