Does God have Grandkids?

Does God have grandchildren? This simple question needs to be asked, because some people act and believe like He does. Either someone is a child of God, or they are not. But no one can claim a relationship with God based solely on their parents or ancestry. Conversely, if someone does not have good parents, or had scoundrels as ancesters, they can still choose be right with God, as Ezekiel 18:14-20 very clearly teaches.

Consider at Ruth. She was a Moabitess, and Moabites were cursed by God. But she wanted Naomi's God to be her God, and she followed Naomi to Bethlehem (Ruth 1:16-17). She was honored with being the great-grandmother of King David (Ruth 4:16-22). as Jeremiah asks, "But what will you do in the end?" (Jeremiah 5:31b) Since God's word speaks of resurrection (Job 19:26-27; Ezekiel 37:12-14), are you prepared to meet God after death?

Does being Jewish make you right with God? You could ask the Baal-worshipping couple, Jezebel of Tyre, and her Jewish husband king Ahab, whom Elijah prophesied against for killing an innocent Jewish man, Naboth, for his vineyard.

You could ask Hophni and Phinehas; they were two wicked sons, not just of a Jewish man, but of the Jewish prophet Eli. The LORD God said of them, "Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained." The LORD cursed them, and had them both die. The LORD God "promises" that those who die as His enemies will go down to the pit, where no one wants to be. (Ezekiel 32:18-32)

Jeroboam was the evil king of the northern kingdom of Israel who first led them astray from God. He was responsible for millions of Israelites over the centuries leaving all traces of their relationship with God behind. At least many people who are "Jewish like Jeroboam" know they can put no hope in their ancestry when they stand before the God of Israel.

God's Patriarchal Promise

God asked someone we all respect to leave their land, their culture, and what was familiar to them, and to set out; not knowing where they would end up. Since Abraham's time, do you think God has ever asked anyone else to do this? If God were to ask you, what would you do?

In Genesis 12:1-3 God made a promise to Abraham about his descendants, but it went far beyond his descendants. "The LORD said to Abram, 'Go forth from your native land and from your father's house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and curse him that curses you; and all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you.'" (JPS translation)

The last phrase in Hebrew can be translation either as reflexive "shall bless themselves by you" as the JPS does, or passive "shall be blessed by you" as most translation. The Greek Septuagint translation, translated by Jews, understood it as passive. Regardless though, the promise is people in all nations of the earth will have blessing through Abraham. And as Jonah was commanded to preach to the Ninevites, all peoples were to hear God's message.

Isaiah 56:6-7 says, "As for the foreigners who attach themselves to the LORD, ... I will bring them to My sacred mount And let them rejoice in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices Shall be welcome on My altar; For My House shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples."

Explaining the Ancestry of Jesus

In Deuteronomy 18:15 Moses prophesied that God would raised up for them a prophet like Moses from among their own brothers. Jesus was among their own brothers because Jesus was Jewish. But now we are going to answer critics who question Jesus' ancestry.

How was Mary from Judah?

The Messiah was from Judah, and in Luke 3:23-33, how could Mary be descended from Judah, since Elizabeth was from the daughters of Aaron in Luke 1:5, and Mary and Elizabeth were cousins in Luke 1:36?
The answer is that Mary and Elizabeth could be cousins based on the following possibilities:
Two mothers were sisters:
from an unspecified tribe.
Mary mother and Elizabeth's father siblings:
If Mary's mother was a sister of Elizabeth's father, and thus Mary's mother would be from Aaron and Levi.
Mary's father and Elizabeth's mother siblings:
Mary's father being a brother of Elizabeth's mother, and thus Elizabeth's mother would be from Judah.
A Muslim saw Luke as proving Mary was descended from Aaron. This is important to Muslims, because if Mary is not from Aaron, then the Qur'an is in error.

How Could Jesus be Jewish?

What does it mean to be Jewish, or an Israelite? It means you belong to one of the twelve tribes of Israel.

But how could Jesus be of the tribe of Judah, since tribal affiliation is only through the father (Numbers 34:14, Numbers 1:18-44, Leviticus 24:10)? The mother's tribal affiliation was considered irrelevant to what her children's tribal affiliation was and tribal affiliation/genealogy could not be inherited though a stepfather; only property could be inherited. Because Christians believe that Jesus had no human father, he would have had no tribal affiliation and thus cannot be counted as a descendant of Judah or David and would therefore be eliminated from messianic consideration. The web site makes the following claims regarding Christ's genealogy: "To presume that Mary was of Davidic descent presents the problem that Mary could not pass on what she did not possess: (1) Maternal connection does not enter into consideration for succession to the throne of David which is passed on only through a continuous male line: 'There shall not be cut off from David a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel' (Jeremiah 33:17); (2) Biblically, the right of lineal privilege, that is, kingship and priesthood, are exclusively passed on through the male line. The incident regarding the inheritance of the daughters of Zelophehad (Numbers, chapters 27 and 36) does not apply here since it concerns the transference of physical property and not privileges of lineage."

The Answer

Most Jews consider being Jewish as through the mother, but let's go ahead and answer this ignoring that. First, while tribal affiliation was normally through the father, Jewish tribal affiliation was through the mother, NOT the father, for Jarha's family (1 Chronicles 2:34-41), and the sons of a priest (Ezra 2:61; Nehemiah 7:63). How much more would tribal affiliation be through the mother for the virgin-born case!
As for a detailed answer, who said tribal or clan affiliation was only through the father? - nobody in the Bible. Numbers 34:14 does not show anything. Numbers 1:18-24 shows that the son of an Egyptian father and Israelite mother was not called an Israelite. People would have thought him Egyptian or half-Israelite. Leviticus 24:10 (and many other passages) only indicate that for regular Israelites that tribal affiliation was in fact through the father. But this is NO RESTRICTION ON GOD. The two biological parent cases have no bearing on the single biological parent case. Yet, even for two biological parents, there are in fact Old Testament examples of tribal lineage in fact being though the mother.

Three examples of tribal affiliation through the mother

In the tribe of Judah, Sheshan had no sons, only daughters. So he gave his daughter in marriage to his Egyptian servant Jarha, and they had a son named Attai. Attai's genealogy is given with the other Israelites in 1 Chronicles 2:34-41. Not only were the sons considered Israelites, they were also listed under Judah.
A second example is Jair, whose grandfather was Hezron of the tribe of Judah and the daughter of Makir, a Manassite. In 1 Chronicles 2:21-23 Jair controlled 23 towns in Gilead (in the territory of Manasseh). Yet even though Jair's grandfather was from Judah, Jair is still called a Manassite as was his mother in Numbers 32:41 and Deuteronomy 3:14.
A third example is Ezra 2:61 and Nehemiah 7:63, where sons of a priest who married a daughter of Barzillai were called the sons of Barzillai.
Another example showing that ancestral affiliation was not only through the biological father is levirate marriage. When a husband dies before having children, the husband's brother would marry the widow, and the first child born would be considered that of the dead first husband, even though biologically this was not the case.
Regardless though, question seems like splitting hairs. What ethnic background was the human DNA of Jesus? 100% Jewish. There were only 12 Jewish tribes (actually 11 tribes plus 2 half-tribes). Was Jesus' human DNA from any one tribe? Yes, from Judah. If not having a Jewish father would make him not one of the 12 tribes, then what would be Jesus' ethnic background?
This question seems like an avoidance of a bigger question. If Jesus was born of a virgin, sent from God to teach us, would you follow Him or not? If the choice was staying with the questioner's Jewish culture vs. following the One True God, which would you choose? If the person would not say they would follow the One True God no matter what, then the issue is not Jesus' DNA, but their not being willing to follow the One True God.
A second issue is succession to the throne. The questioner was wrong to say that Mary was not of Davidic descent; her genealogy in Luke, as well as Luke 2, Romans 1:3; and 2 Timothy 2:8 shows that Jesus (and her) were biologically from David. However, the questioner is correct in indicating that Mary's genealogy would have no bearing on succession to the throne. For this, it was important that Jesus also be the adopted son of Joseph, who as a male from the Davidic line, would have a claim to the throne.

Tanakh quotes are from the JPS (Jewish Pub. Society)

For more info please contact Christian Debater™ P.O. Box 144441 Austin, TX 78714

by Steven M. Morrison, PhD.