Jacob or Heli


Saint Joseph is the husband of Mary. What is the correct name of Saint Joseph’s father: Jacob, according to the Gospel of Matthew or Heli, according to the Gospel of Luke?



Please help me… I can not find any referance to Joseph’s father other than he was from the House of David.



The Gospel of Luke traces Mary’s lineage. Joseph’s father is Jacob (Mt 1:16).



From what I’ve learned, one line is of Joseph, the other is of Mary, but cul‒
turally speaking, as Mary’s husband, Joseph also lays claim (so to speak)
to Mary’s line. I believe that is how it works.



and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. (Matthew 1:16)

For the OP, a very good online concordance for the RSV is at quod.lib.umich.edu/r/rsv/. I searched for the word Joseph and came up with that verse in about five seconds.




To answer this I’m going to turn to, "Eusabius book “ecclesiastical history” 1 chapter 7 Read for yourself, and I’ll try my best to explain.

  1. Matthew and Luke in their gospels have given us the genealogy of Christ differently, and many suppose that they are at variance with one another. Since as a consequence every believer, in ignorance of the truth, has been zealous to invent some explanation which shall harmonize the two passages, permit us to subjoin the account of the matter which has come down to us, and which is given by Africanus, who was mentioned by us just above, in his epistle to Aristides, where he discusses the harmony of the gospel genealogies. After refuting the opinions of others as forced and deceptive, he give the account which he had received from tradition in these words:

  2. For whereas the names of the generations were reckoned in Israel either according to nature or according to law—according to nature by the succession of legitimate offspring, and according to law whenever another raised up a child to the name of a brother dying childless; for because a clear hope of resurrection was not yet given they had a representation of the future promise by a kind of mortal resurrection, in order that the name of the one deceased might be perpetuated—

  3. whereas then some of those who are inserted in this genealogical table succeeded by natural descent, the son to the father, while others, though born of one father, were ascribed by name to another, mention was made of both of those who were progenitors in fact and of those who were so only in name.

  4. Thus neither of the gospels is in error, for one reckons by nature, the other by law. For the line of descent from Solomon and that from Nathan were so involved, the one with the other, by the raising up of children to the childless and by second marriages, that the same persons are justly considered to belong at one time to one, at another time to another; that is, at one time to the reputed fathers, at another to the actual fathers. So that both these accounts are strictly true and come down to Joseph with considerable intricacy indeed, yet quite accurately.

  5. But in order that what I have said may be made clear I shall explain the interchange of the generations. If we reckon the generations from David through Solomon, the third from the end is found to be Matthan, who begot Jacob the father of Joseph. But if, with Luke, we reckon them from Nathan the son of David, in like manner the third from the end is Melchi, whose son Eli was the father of Joseph. For Joseph was the son of Eli, the son of Melchi.

  6. Joseph therefore being the object proposed to us, it must be shown how it is that each is recorded to be his father, both Jacob, who derived his descent from Solomon, and Eli, who derived his from Nathan; first how it is that these two, Jacob and Eli, were brothers, and then how it is that their fathers, Matthan and Melchi, although of different families, are declared to be grandfathers of Joseph.

  7. Matthan and Melchi having married in succession the same woman, begot children who were uterine brothers, for the law did not prohibit a widow, whether such by divorce or by the death of her husband, from marrying another.

  8. By Estha then (for this was the woman’s name according to tradition) Matthan, a descendant of Solomon, first begot Jacob. And when Matthan was dead, Melchi, who traced his descent back to Nathan, being of the same tribe but of another family, married her as before said, and begot a son Eli.

  9. Thus we shall find the two, Jacob and Eli, although belonging to different families, yet brethren by the same mother. Of these the one, Jacob, when his brother Eli had died childless, took the latter’s wife and begot by her a son Joseph, his own son by nature and in accordance with reason. Wherefore also it is written: ‘Jacob begot Joseph.’ Matthew*1:6 But according to law he was the son of Eli, for Jacob, being the brother of the latter, raised up seed to him.

  10. Hence the genealogy traced through him will not be rendered void, which the evangelist Matthew in his enumeration gives thus: ‘Jacob begot Joseph.’ But Luke, on the other hand, says: ‘Who was the son, as was supposed’ (for this he also adds), ‘of Joseph, the son of Eli, the son of Melchi’; for he could not more clearly express the generation according to law. And the expression ‘he begot’ he has omitted in his genealogical table up to the end, tracing the genealogy back to Adam the son of God. This interpretation is neither incapable of proof nor is it an idle conjecture.


  1. Eusebius gives an explanation that many have tried to explain this, and have done poorly. Eusabius gives his sorce, “Africanus” or “Sextus Julius Africanus”

2-4. Eusebius then goes on to explain that Joseph was a descendant of Jacob by nature, hence the wording: And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. (Matthew 1:16) And that Joseph was a descendant of Heli by law, hence the wording in Luke 3:23 Joseph, which was the son of Heli. Joseph could not have been begotten by both Jacob and Heli, he was however begotten by Jacob and yet the son of Heli. How? They were brothers. Now how could they have been brothers with different fathers? Well, let’s look at Deuteronomy 25:5 If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband’s brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her.

5-9. Eusebius explains that Heli and Jacob were brothers and Heli had a wife. However, Heli died prior to having a son, so Jacob took the wife of Heli and bore a son who would be named Joseph. Thus Jacob has begotten Joseph, and yet was the son of Heli by law.

Now, Jacob’s (who begat Joseph) father was Matthan, and yet Heli’s father was Matthat so how is it possible for the two to be brothers? Here, what we see is that Eusebius explains Heli and Jacob had different fathers but the same mother (Estha). And how is this possible? Well Matthan (begat Jacob who begat Joseph) took a wife for himself (Estha), however after the birth of Jacob, Matthan had died. Matthan’s wife (Estha) then married Matthat who would have literally begat Heli and the two would have grown up as brothers (Heli and Jacob).

After that, see above.

  1. Eusebius concludes that the genealogies are without flaw.

I was looking for other explanations and they all seemed too confusing, so I hope this helps when people are addressed with this. Try your best to remember the names!



That is not correct. Both Gospels trace the line of Jesus through Joseph.



This is correct. Luke traces through Joseph.

***and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form, as a dove, and a voice came from heaven, “Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased.” Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli, **(Luke 3:22-23)

This seems to be the confusion for the OP. Matthew says that Jesoph’s father was Jacob while Luke says that Joseph’s father was Heli. Now I am wondering about it.

I find it interesting that Luke gives Jesus supposed human genealogy right after God calls him “my beloved Son.”




Another interesting thing is that while Matthew traces Jesus’ descent from David to the royal line of the kings of Judah via Solomon, Luke traces him from another son of David called Nathan. Basically they agree in saying that Jesus is a Davidic descendant, but they each trace Him from different sides of the family.

By doing so, Matthew establishes Jesus as a legitimate heir of the royal Davidic line - a King in a long line of kings. On the other hand, Luke, by linking Jesus with the other, non-royal Davidic line, avoids connecting Him with the kings of Judah - that very same line which (save for a few bright spots) generally fell from grace by indulging in false worship. Perhaps Luke had understood the prophecy in Isaiah 11:1 (“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit”) as meaning that the tree of the Judahite monarchy, the Solomonic line, was ‘cut down’ because of their unfaithfulness to God. For Luke, there will be a new beginning: a new shoot - a more faithful line - will instead replace the old lineage of corrupt and idolatrous kings.



Thanks Patrick. This is the kind of information that clears up many misconceptions about what many see as errors or inconsistencies in the Bible.

I say it over and over - a basic understanding of the Old Testament prophets and how they fit into the history of Israel and Judah is a prerequisite for correctly interpreting anything at all about Jesus.




You are mistaken! Luke’s lineage goes through Mary. It only lists Joseph’s name because the female wasn’t counted in Israelite inheritance law.

Otherwise you are positing that the Gospels are factually contradicting each other?

In the ancient Middle East, family was counted in two ways: inheritance and blood. For Jesus to be the heir of David, he has to both legally inherit the throne, and be a direct descendant in the dynasty. The Gospel of Matthew traces Joseph’s lineage to show that Jesus is the legal heir of the throne of David, while the Gospel of Luke traces Mary’s lineage to show that he is indeed in the Davidic bloodline.

This also solves another mystery of the Bible, which is Jeremiah’s curse (Jer. 22:30). The curse is that no descendant of Coniah would ever sit the throne of David again. Jesus falls into that lineage through Joseph, but they are not blood relatives (thus not a descendant).



Was Eusebius wrong then? Notice Matthew says, “Jacob begat Joseph” and yet Joseph is, “the son of Heli” in Luke. One by nature, another by law.



I believe most modern theologians and experts in Scripture would consider him mistaken? I’m not sure.



“Since as a consequence every believer, in ignorance of the truth, has been zealous to invent some explanation which shall harmonize the two passages”

He then says he can base this on tradition passed down. So isn’t that what we’re doing right now? Trying to invent some explanation?



The curse was lifted when Zerubbabel (Jehoiachin/Jeconiah/Coniah’s grandson) came into the scene.

“As I live, declares the LORD, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet ring on my right hand, yet I would tear you off and give you into the hand of those who seek your life, into the hand of those of whom you are afraid, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and into the hand of the Chaldeans. I will hurl you and the mother who bore you into another country, where you were not born, and there you shall die. But to the land to which they will long to return, there they shall not return.”

“Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I am about to shake the heavens and the earth, and to overthrow the throne of kingdoms. I am about to destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations, and overthrow the chariots and their riders. And the horses and their riders shall go down, every one by the sword of his brother. On that day, declares the LORD of hosts, I will take you, O Zerubbabel my servant, the son of Shealtiel, declares the LORD, and make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you, declares the LORD of hosts."



Sorry but you are wrong. Both are lines through Joseph.



I think you are both right. It has been generally been thought that Heli was Joachim, Mary’s father, Joseph’s father-in-law.



I believe both lines are Joseph’s – one via his paternal line, the other his maternal. Heli would have been his maternal grand-father. Woman were not usually included in most genealogies so a given person’s maternal genealogy would only go as far as his/her maternal grandfather.

History does not record the names of the historical Mary’s parents; Joachim and Anna are just later traditions from, I believe, the so-called Infant Gospels.

Eli is not a by-name, nickname, or shortened from of Joachim, neither is Eliachim another form of Joachim; they are two distinct names. The first (Eliachim) meaning “God will establish”, the second (Joachim) “May God/YHWH exalt”.

Joseph was therefore a descendant of David from both his paternal and maternal lines.



Medawlinno, Thank you for explaining that Eliachim and Joachim are two distinct names.


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