Compiled by Jonathan Sacks 

The Jewish Bible not only speaks of Messiah’s suffering and death (See Psalm 22) for a detailed treatment of this), but also describes his genealogy, birth, life, and time of his coming in significant detail.  Herein are numerous passages from the Jewish Bible that describe Messiah’s genealogy.

All the verses that are quoted below are taken from the translation, The Holy Scriptures, published by the Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia, PA, © 1917, 1945, Forty-eighth impression, January 1965.  The translators were Dr. Solomon Schechter, Dr. Cyrus Adler, and Dr. Joseph Jacob, representing the Jewish Publication Society of America, and Dr. Kaufman Kohler, Dr. David Philipson, and Dr. Samuel Schulman, representing the Central Conference of American Rabbis.   By mutual agreement Professor Max L. Margolis was chosen as editor in chief.    (For one year Professor Israel Friedlandler served in the stead of Dr. Schechter.)

1. Messiah was to be the seed (or direct descendant) of Abraham.

In Genesis 22:17-18, the Lord spoke to Abraham and said:

…thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed…

While it is understood that the Messiah would be a descendant of Abraham, Abraham had at least eight children, including Ishmael, Isaac and six others through Keturah (See Genesis 25:1-2). Based on Genesis 22:17-18 alone, the Messiah could descend from any of these eight.  However, the Jewish Bible tells us which of these would be the ancestor of the Messiah.

2.   Messiah was to be the seed (or direct descendant) of Isaac. 

In Genesis 26:4, the Lord spoke to Isaac saying:

…by thy seed shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves.

So Messiah would be a descendant of Isaac, and not Ishmael or any of Abraham’s other children.  However, Isaac had two sons, Esau and Jacob. Based on Genesis 26:4, the Messiah could descend from either of these two sons.  However, the Jewish Bible specifically tells us which of these would be Messiah’s ancestor.

3.  Messiah was to be the seed (or direct descendant) of Jacob.

In Genesis 28:14, the Lord spoke to Jacob saying:

…and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

So Messiah would be a descendant of Jacob and not Esau.  However, Jacob had twelve sons and one daughter.  Through which of these would Messiah descend? From which of the twelve tribes would the Messiah come?  The Jewish Bible gives us the answer.

4.   Messiah was to be a descendant of Judah.

In Genesis 49, Jacob prophesied over his sons.  In verse 10, he said the scepter would not depart from Judah until Shiloh came, and to him the obedience of the people would be.  (For a discussion of the messianic nature of this passage, see “Messiah’s Birth According to the Jewish Bible”).  Many rulers, including the ultimate ruler, the Messiah, would come from the tribe of Judah.

During the centuries following the life of Judah, he had thousands and perhaps hundreds of thousands of descendants.  From which of these would come the Messiah?  Again, the Jewish Bible answers this question.

5.   Messiah was to descend from a man from the tribe of Judah named Jesse.

Isaiah 11:1-10 describes the Messiah and his ultimate kingdom.  The passage begins with this description:

And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1.1).

The passage concludes,

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the root of Jesse, that standeth for an ensign of the peoples, unto him shall the nations seek; and his resting-place shall be glorious.  (Isaiah 11:10)

1 Chronicles 2:3-12 demonstrates that Jesse was indeed a direct descendant of Judah.  But Jesse had seven sons and two daughters.  (1 Chronicles 2:13-16 lists the children of Jesse.)  From which of this “stock” would Messiah descend?  Again, the Jewish Bible gives us the answer.

6.  Messiah was to be the seed (or direct descendant) of King David.

Messiah was to be a descendant of King David, a son of Jesse (See 1 Chronicles 2:13-15 and  1 Samuel 16:10-13).  The Jewish Bible states the Messiah was to be a descendant of King David numerous times.  For this reason, the Messiah has been referred to as the “Son of David” by rabbis and others throughout the centuries.  Some of these passages follow.

In 1 Chronicles 17, the Lord told the prophet Nathan to tell King David a number of things.  In verses 11-14, the Lord told Nathan to tell David:

And it shall come to pass, when thy days are fulfilled that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will set up thy seed after thee, who shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build Me a house, and I will establish his throne for ever.  I will be to him for a father, and he shall be to Me for a son; and I will not take my mercy away from him, as I took it from him that was before thee; but I will settle him in My house and in My kingdom for ever; and his throne shall be established for ever.

Psalm 89 speaks much of God’s promises to King David.  In verses 4-5 (verses 3-4 in other translations), God states:

I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn unto David My servant:  for ever will I establish thy seed, and build up thy throne to all generations.

In Psalm 89:29-30 (verses 28-29 in other translations), God says this about His covenant with King David:

For ever will I keep for Him My mercy, and My covenant shall stand fast with him.  His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven.

Again, in Psalm 89:36-38 (verses 35-37 in other translations), God reiterates concerning His promise to King David:

Once have I sworn by My holiness: surely I will not be false unto David; his seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before Me.  It shall be established for ever as the moon; and be steadfast as the witness in the sky.

Isaiah 9:5-6 (verses 6-7 in other translations) states:

For a child is born unto us, a son is given unto us; and the government is upon his shoulder; and his name is called Wonderful in counsel is God the Mighty, the everlasting Father, the Ruler of peace; that the government may be increased, and of peace there be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it through justice and through righteousness from henceforth even for ever.  The zeal of the Lord will perform this (emphasis added).

Jeremiah 23:5-6 states:

Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous shoot, and he shall reign as king and prosper, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.  In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is the name whereby he shall be called, The lord our righteousness.

Conclusion  

The Jewish Bible is specific concerning the genealogy or lineage of the Messiah.  He would be a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Jesse, and ultimately of King David.  Inasmuch the Jewish Bible repeatedly emphasizes this point, it seems that this identifying credential of the Messiah is critical.  Anyone claiming to be the Messiah would have to demonstrate that he is a descendant of King David.

Today, this poses a significant problem.  When the Temple was destroyed in 70 C.E., the genealogical records were also destroyed at that time.  It seems impossible that anyone born in modern times would ever be able to demonstrate that he or she is a descendant of King David.

The Jewish writers of the B’rit Chadasha recognized the importance of this identifying credential of the Messiah.   Therefore, Messiah’s genealogy is listed in detail through both his legal father and mother.  (See Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38.)  Yeshua was a biological descendant of King David and also had a legal right to sit on David’s throne.

There are not many in history whose lineage through King David is well established.  One of those is Yeshua (later Anglicized as Jesus).