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Answering The Atheist
April 16, 2006 / Volume 6, Issue 16

THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
The generations from David to the Babylonian captivity listed in 1 Chronicles 3:10-16 are different than Matthew 1:6-11. Is there a contradiction?

RESPONSE:
The questioner is correct, the list given in Matthew 1 does not parallel that which can be found in 1 Chronicles 3. However, rather than automatically assume that a contradiction is present, would it not be better to first inquire if there is a plausible explanation for the difference? Sadly, the questioner's determination to find an error in the Bible fails to permit an honest investigation of the facts.

1 CHR 3:10-16 MT 1:6-11
Solomon
Rehoboam
Abia
Asa
Jehoshaphat
Joram
Ahaziah
Joash
Amaziah
Azariah
Jotham
Ahaz
Hezekiah
Manasseh
Amon
Josiah
Jehoiakim
Joconiah
Solomon
Rehoboam
Abijah
Asa
Jehoshaphat
Jehoram
---
---
---
Uzziah
Jotham
Ahaz
Hezekiah
Manasseh
Amon
Josiah
---
Joconiah

Regarding the omission of Ahaziah, Joash and Amaziah, there are at least a couple possible explanations.

1) Some have suggested that these names were excluded intentionally, for the sake of symmetry in the threefold division of generations from Abraham to Joseph (ie. 14 generations / 14 generations / 14 generations).

2) It is not uncommon in the passage of time, for errors in genealogical data to appear, both due to transcription error and incorrect oral instruction. Adam Clarke's Commentary reads,

St. Matthew took up the genealogies just as he found them in the public Jewish records, which, though they were in the main correct, yet were deficient in many particulars. The Jews themselves give us sufficient proof of this.
Though the writer (by inspiration of the Spirit) would be aware of the true ancestory, he did not see it necessary or even appropriate to take issue with the accredited genealogical table. The omissions are of no consequence to his argument, that Jesus was a direct descendant of David. Raising an objection to the commonly accepted ancestory would overshadow his argument.

Regarding the omission of Jehoiakim, some have speculated that his father (Josiah's son) Jehoiakim was excluded because he was raised to the throne as nothing more than a puppet of the king of Egypt, and thereafter, became the puppet of the king of Babylon. His "reign" as king of Judah was pitiable.

An alternative explanation can be found in Clarke's Commentary:
"...these difficulties disappear, by adopting a reading found in many MSS. . And Josiah begat JEHOIAKIM, or Joakim, and JOAKIM begat Jechonias. For this reading, see the authorities in Griesbach.


Are the lists of 1 Chronicles 3 and Matthew 1 different? Yes. Does this difference constitute a contradiction? On the surface, yes, but upon investigation, there are viable explanations.

There is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible & here