One of the most interesting questions I have heard from a Jew is: “How can Jesus be the Messiah, if his genealogical line comes through Jeconiah (Matthew 1:12)? God had cursed the Jeconiah line in that none of his descendants could inherit the throne. As far as God is concerned, the Jeconiah line is childless (Jeremiah 22:28-30).” Furthermore, one Jew I spoke with said the problem is even greater, because even if one could show that Jesus’ line is through Jeconiah, the fact that he is not Joseph’s son by marriage would make him a mamzer (bastard), so he could not inherit anything that was his mother’s husband’s.
Now, off hand, I see two problems with this line of thinking. First of all, God says Solomon’s line ended with Jeconiah. Not only did he curse the line, but Scripture says the king’s sons would become eunuchs in the land of Babylon (2Kings 20:16-18; cp. Daniel 1:3). So, Solomon’s line ended when Zedekiah’s sons were killed and Jeconiah’s son’s were made eunuchs in Babylon. Therefore, something obviously must be done in order for God to keep his promise to David. If the Jeconiah problem cannot be solved, then the Jews could never have a Messiah. Therefore, the “Jeconiah-curse” argument is of little concern, since God will keep his promise to David. All we need to do is wait and see what he does.
Secondly, setting aside for a moment the argument that the Law could view Jesus as a mamzer, if the mamzer thing was such a big deal in the Law, so that such a child could never inherit either by adoption or by gift, how is it that the Scriptures record Tamar having a mamzer child through the patriarch, Judah? Tamar was the wife of Judah’s eldest son, but when two of his three sons died without giving her a child, he promised her his youngest son. However, he later had second thoughts and reneged on his word. The story goes that she dressed up as a harlot and waited for her father-in-law to pass by on his way to shear his sheep. Judah saw her and went in unto her, never recognizing her due to the veil upon her face. Long-story-short, when he realized who she was and that she was pregnant with his child, he confessed she was more righteous than he was. Nevertheless, he never took her as his wife and never went in unto her again. Is this not a mamzer (bastard), according to how we view things today? Apparently, it wasn’t seen this way at that time, but the point is: how can anyone today judge Jesus as a mamzer (bastard) when, obviously, other matters were taken into consideration under some circumstances and according to the Law, which would nullify our interpretation of such a relationship today?
If we return to the genealogies of Matthew and Luke, understanding that Solomon’s line is now dead, cursed by God and the remnants made eunuchs in Babylon, we must now look for God to keep his promise to David through another line. There is a tradition that Jeconiah adopted Pedaiah and Shealtiel (cp. Matthew 1:12 & Luke 3:27), which were sons of the line of Nathan, the brother and next in line to Solomon. Therefore, the Jeconiah-curse thing becomes moot, if Pedaiah and Shealtiel were not his sons from his own body. They are his sons by adoption, and Matthew’s genealogy from Shealtiel onward physically originates from the line of Nathan to David, just as Luke’s line does.
The New Testament offers two genealogies for Jesus. Tradition holds that Luke records Jesus’ line through Mary. This would have to be so, because, although according to Jewish understanding there was no inheritance through the woman, the inheritance of the family line does come through her if her parents had no sons. There would be absolutely no reason for Luke to record the genealogy of Joseph’s mother’s line, but Mary’s line is needed to show Jesus’ blood line back to David. It is probable that Joseph’s and Mary’s marriage was arranged to raise up a son for the inheritance of her father’s line. Therefore, if the matter of the Jeconiah-curse is still deemed in force, even though his sons are adopted and not of his body, the new royal line (Nathan’s) would come through Mary. So, no matter which line one would choose, Jesus line by blood to David went through Mary and he inherits the throne thereby; or Jesus line by adoption goes through Joseph and by virtue of his being the firstborn son of Mary, he inherits Joseph’s line as well.