Last week I posted a YouTube video from Twitter user @StudyofChrist wherein he introduces a series probing into the Matthean genealogy. Not long after, @StudyofChrist posted the second in that series which you can view below. The video has to do with the issue raised by Matthew 1:11. We are told there that Josiah was “the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.” As @StudyofChrist states, this is problematic because the Hebrew Bible makes it plain that Josiah was the father of Jehoiakim and that Jehoiakim was the father of Jechoniah (see 1 Chronicles 3:15-16).
The solution that he comes up with – based on the work of New Testament scholar Donald Hagner1 – is interesting. Essentially, the argument is that in the Matthean original “Jechoniah” was “Jehoiakim” and that a later scribe messed it up. Without getting into too much detail, Hagner asserts that the scribe, reading Jechoniah’s name in 1:12 and seeing the symmetry of David ending the first list of 1:2-6a and beginning the second list of 1:6b-11, believed that the symmetry was missing and needed correcting. And because Jechoniah’s regnal name in the Hebrew Bible was Jehoiachin which in the LXX is spelled exactly the same as Jehoiakim (Ιωακιμ – compare 2 Kings 23:36 and 2 Kings 24:8), the scribe may have confused the two. Therefore, Jehoiakim (Ιωακιμ) was changed to Jechoniah (Ἰεχονίαν). Such a solution also fixes another issue: why 1:12-16 is only thirteen rather than fourteen generations. If Jechoniah of 1:11 was originally Jehoiakim then Jechoniah of 1:12 can be counted as one of the fourteen generations.
Unfortunately, this is still problematic. For starters, there is no way to prove Matthew originally intended for Jechoniah of 1:11 to be Jehoiakim. We don’t have Matthew’s original writing and the best copies of Matthew’s genealogy have Jechoniah instead of Jehoiakim listed. For another, the solution disrupts the flow of the genealogy. Notice how in 1:2 we see a progression: Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and so on. Every father has a son and every son becomes a father with the only exceptions being Abraham and Jesus because of their positions in the list. If Matthew originally wrote in 1:11 that Josiah was the father of Jehoiakim then we have a disruption in that flow because in 1:12 we would read of Jechoniah’s children without being told who Jechoniah’s father was in keeping with the genealogical flow. We would wonder where Jechoniah came from!
In my opinion, the best explanation for the problem of 1:11 is that Matthew messed things up. After all, the genealogy is less about history and more about theology. That he was less than careful isn’t all that surprising. He wants to get to Jesus and tell his story. Jesus’ background is important in establishing that he is Jewish Messiah, tracing his lineage all the way back to David and Abraham.
Regardless, check out the video and make your own opinion on the topic. And subscribe to @StudyofChrist’s YouTube channel!
1 Donald Hagner, Matthew 1-13, WBC (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1993), 6.