Does Matthew 1:11 contain errors?

DOES MATTHEW 1:11 CONTAIN ERRORS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Bible says in Matthew 1:11-12: “[11] And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon: [12] And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;….” (These are the Greek versions of the Hebrew names listed below. Hence, the spelling differences we see here.)

Now, we flip to 1 Chronicles 3:15-18: “[15] And the sons of Josiah were, the firstborn Johanan, the second Jehoiakim, the third Zedekiah, the fourth Shallum. [16] And the sons of Jehoiakim: Jeconiah his son, Zedekiah his son. [17] And the sons of Jeconiah; Assir, Salathiel his son, [18] Malchiram also, and Pedaiah, and Shenazar, Jecamiah, Hoshama, and Nedabiah.”

THE TEXTUAL CRITICS SPEAK

Using the Old Testament genealogical records, the “scholars” argue that the Apostle Matthew is twice mistaken. Firstly, Jeconiah was not Josiah’s son but rather Jehoiakim’s son. Secondly, Jeconiah’s brethren were really his father Jehoiakim’s brethren. How do we answer these charges laid against Matthew? Is there any way to reconcile his record with the Old Testament Scriptures?

THE BIBLE SPEAKS

Going back to 1 Chronicles 3:15-18, we read: “[15] And the sons of Josiah were, the firstborn Johanan, the second Jehoiakim, the third Zedekiah, the fourth Shallum. [16] And the sons of Jehoiakim: Jeconiah his son, Zedekiah his son. [17] And the sons of Jeconiah; Assir, Salathiel his son, [18] Malchiram also, and Pedaiah, and Shenazar, Jecamiah, Hoshama, and Nedabiah.”

According to verse 15, King Josiah fathered four sons—Johanan, Jehoiakim, Zedekiah, and Shallum. Verse 16 says Jehoiakim had a son, Jeconiah, who had a son Zedekiah. All six of these men are descended from Josiah, the family’s patriarch. If Jehoiakim is Josiah’s son, then Jehoiakim’s son is (distantly) Josiah’s son—namely, his grandson. It is not immediate relation, of course, but it is blood relation nonetheless. Only someone pedantic will complain about this. No argument of substance can be made to dispute or discredit these passages.

Personally, this author deems it unfair to censure the Bible for claiming that men were brethren of Jeconiah when they were actually the brethren of his father Jehoiakim. “Brethren”—like “father”—can be used of close or distant relatives. For example, King David is declared to be Jesus’ “father” in Luke 1:32. Yet, this can only be understood in the sense of forefather, as David lived several centuries before Christ’s birth. Nebuchadnezzar is known as the “father” of Belshazzar (Daniel 5:2)—but he was actually Belshazzar’s grandfather. No one nitpicks at these titles, so they are not justified in their faultfinding of Matthew 1:11 either. If Josiah is the patriarch of a group of men, those men (broadly speaking) can rightly be called “brethren.” They share a forefather, so why is “brethren” inappropriate? It is not! There is nothing difficult here unless we have an agenda to be critical of the Bible.

We will throw in these assorted Bible facts as extras. Abraham is the “father” of the Jews (Acts 7:2; James 2:21). The word “father” is not always immediate ancestry; it could be a remote or distant relative or patriarch. Peter thus could call fellow Jews “brethren” (Acts 2:29). Israel could be called Moses’ “brethren” (Acts 7:23). All Jews are “children of the stock of Abraham” (Acts 13:26). Paul could rightly call them his “brethren” (Acts 13:38).

It is simplistic, but it bears pointing out. Abraham is rightly called the “father” of Isaac because Isaac is Abraham’s direct descendent (Genesis 22:7; Genesis 26:3). But, “father” can be extended beyond one generation. For instance, Abraham is the “father” of Isaac’s son Jacob (Genesis 28:13). This is “father” with respect to the third generation, a grandson being the son of the grandfather (just like Jeconiah and Josiah, the relationship in question here!).

We can introduce the word “forefather” into our discussion now. The term can span dozens, scores, and hundreds of generations. Look at Deuteronomy 1:8, where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are all appropriately titled “fathers” of Israel. Read Deuteronomy 9:5, Deuteronomy 29:13, Deuteronomy 30:20, 1 Chronicles 29:18, and Acts 3:13, to name a few. If no one has a problem here, then it necessarily means they are completely unjustified in complaining about Josiah/Josias, Jeconiah/Jeconias, and their relatives as described in Matthew 1:11.

There is no mistake in Matthew 1:11!

Also see:
» Does Matthew 1:8-9 contain errors?
» Does Matthew 1:12 contain an error?
» Is Matthew 27:9 a mistake?

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