Does the Curse of Jeconiah in the Old Testament impact Jesus’ claim to the throne of David over the house of Israel?
Is Jesus disqualified from being King of the Jews due to the Curse of Jeconiah?
This Old Testament curse bans any descendant of Jeconiah from the throne, and Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus includes a man named Jeconiah.
Since we celebrate the birth of Jesus in December, this is a good time to look into His genealogies. Does the information in Matthew’s genealogy disqualify Jesus from being the Messiah by virtue of His being a descendant of Jeconiah?
The Curse of Jeconiah is recorded in Jeremiah 22:24-30:
“As I live,” declares the Lord, “even though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were a signet ring on My right hand, yet I would pull you off; and I will give you over into the hand of those who are seeking your life, yes, into the hand of those whom you dread, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and into the hand of the Chaldeans. I will hurl you and your mother who bore you into another country where you were not born, and there you will die. But as for the land to which they desire to return, they will not return to it.
“Is this man Coniah a despised, shattered jar?
Or is he an undesirable vessel?
Why have he and his descendants been hurled out
And cast into a land that they had not known?
“O land, land, land,
Hear the word of the Lord!
“Thus says the Lord,
‘Write this man down childless,
A man who will not prosper in his days;
For no man of his descendants will prosper
Sitting on the throne of David
Or ruling again in Judah.’”
Jeconiah was a wicked king of Judah for three months in the early 6th century BC. Jeconiah was also known as Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:6) and Coniah (Jeremiah 22:24), and he began to reign following the death of his father King Jehoiakim. God’s extreme displeasure with the evil ways of Jeconiah and his father Jehoiakim resulted in the curse (Jeremiah 22:18-30). Later Jeconiah was carried away captive to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:8-16).
An ancestor of Jesus named Jeconiah is listed by Matthew in Jesus’ genealogy:
Josiah begat Jeconiah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. After the deportation to Babylon: Jeconiah begat Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begat Zerubbabel. And Zerubbabel begat Abiud; (Matthew 1:11-13)
So how can Jesus sit on the throne of David if He is a descendant of the cursed King Jeconiah? How can He rule Judah if He descends from Jeconiah whose seed is excluded?
The answer to this puzzle is simple. It involves recognition of the fact that in many families multiple people can bear the same name. Often this is true of several names in a family.
So the answer to Jesus and the Curse of Jeconiah is that there are two different Jeconiahs. Jesus is NOT a descendant of the cursed Jeconiah son of Jehoiakim. Rather he is a descendant of a different uncursed Jeconiah. A little study of genealogical records in the Bible makes this clear.
The cursed Jeconiah of Jeremiah 22 was the son of King Jehoiakim who was the son of King Josiah of Judah. Thus the cursed Jeconiah was the grandson of King Josiah. This Jeconiah had a single brother, Zedekiah. (1 Chronicles 3:16)
The Jeconiah who was an ancestor of Jesus was a son of King Josiah, not a grandson, and he had multiple brothers. (Josiah begat Jeconiah and his brothers… Matthew 1:11) Jesus’ ancestor Jeconiah had a wicked nephew with the same name. It is that wicked man’s descendants who are prohibited from the throne.
Further proof that there were two different Jeconiahs is that the two Jeconiahs have different offspring, even though there are some shared names. The cursed Jeconiah, son of Jehoiakim and grandson of Josiah, had seven sons, two of whom were Shealtiel and Pedaiah. Pedaiah’s son was Zurubbabel. (1 Chronicles 3:15-19)
Josiah-> Jehoiakim-> Jeconiah-> Shealtiel
Josiah-> Jehoiakim-> Jeconiah-> Pedaiah-> Zurubbabel
The uncursed Jeconiah, son of Josiah, had a son Shealtiel, who had a son Zerubbabel, who had a son Abiud. But Zerubbabel, son of Pedaiah, did not have an Abiud among his seven sons. (Matthew 1:11-13; 1 Chronicles 3:17-19)
Josiah-> Jeconiah-> Shealtiel-> Zurubbabel-> Abiud
These are two different Zerubbabels — one is the son of Shealtiel, and the other is the son of Pedaiah.
These are two different Shealtiels — one is the son of Jeconiah son of Josiah, and the other is the son of Jeconiah grandson of Josiah.
Thus the two Jeconiahs have different offspring.
There are two different Jeconiahs!
Some wonder why Jeconiah, who is identified as a son of Josiah in Matthew 1:11, is not listed among Josiah’s sons in 1 Chronicles 3:15: The sons of Josiah were Johanan the firstborn, and the second was Jehoiakim, the third Zedekiah, the fourth Shallum.
The likely answer is that Josiah’s firstborn Johanan and Jeconiah are the same person. Josiah’s other three sons had their names changed, so it is well within the realm of possibility that this happened with Johanan/Jeconiah as well.
Josiah’s second son Eliakim had his name changed to Jehoiakim by Pharaoh Neco of Egypt when Neco installed Jehoiakim as king after defeating and killing Josiah in battle (2 Kings 23:34).
Josiah’s third son Mattaniah had his name changed to Zedekiah by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon when he deposed Jehoiachin (Jeconiah) son of Jehoiakim. Nebuchadnezzar took Jeconiah prisoner to Babylon and installed Zedekiah as king (2 Kings 24:17).
Josiah’s fourth son Shallum was the first to reign following his father’s death. He was also named Jehoahaz (2 Kings 23:30; Jeremiah 22:11).
There are two Jeconiahs. The cursed one has one brother Zedekiah and is the grandson of King Josiah. The uncursed one is the son of King Josiah with multiple brothers (Jehoiakim, Zedekiah, Shallum), two of whom, Jehoiakim and Zedekiah, were carried off to Babylon (2 Chronicles 36:5-6; 2 Kings 25:7). Jesus is a descendant of the Jeconiah who was not cursed. Therefore the Curse of Jeconiah does not disqualify Jesus from being the Messiah and from sitting on the throne of David.
Many try to use an argument that the Curse of Jeconiah does not apply to Jesus because Matthew’s genealogy is the legal genealogy of Jesus through His adoptive father Joseph and not the biological genealogy through His mother Mary. But whether the curse applies legally or biologically is irrelevant, because Jesus of Nazareth is not a descendant of the cursed Jeconiah.
Jesus of Nazareth is indeed the Messiah, the King of the Jews. He is truly the rightful possessor of the throne of David. The Curse of Jeconiah does not apply to Him.
Questions to Ponder
- What king of Judah had three sons who also reigned as king?
- Why do you think God chose to include a genealogical record right at the beginning of the New Testament Scripture?
Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.
Soli Deo Gloria.
Read the sequel about resolving the discrepancies between the two genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and Luke:
Genealogy of Jesus …coming soon…
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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
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(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:5; Phil 1:16)
Wednesday December 7, 2016 A.D.
The unfolding of Thy words gives light. It gives understanding to the simple.
The sum of Thy word is truth, and every one of Thy righteous ordinances is everlasting.
(Psalm 119:130,160 NASB)