Skip to main content
Bible Q

Why does Matthew omit 3 kings Ahaziah, Jehoash, Amaziah, from the legal genealogy of Jesus?

The simple answer to the question why does Matthew omit 3 kings Ahaziah, Jehoash, Amaziah, from the genealogy of Matthew 1:8 is probably to conform with Matthew’s scheme of .fourteens.

But that that then throws up two questions – why omit these 3, and why fit the genealogy to groups of 14?

The answer to ‘why these 3’ comes is often given in relation to the particularly bad character of those 3 kings. And we cite below a version of that answer, from Harry Whittaker.

The second question ‘why fourteen?’ may be related to the fact that Matthew is presenting a legal genealogy designed to confirm the inheritance rights to the royal line from Solomon to Jesus’ adoptive father Joseph, despite the fact that Jesus is physically descended from David not by the royal line in Matthew 1, but only by the noble line from Solomon’s brother Nathan to Mary’s father Heli in Luke 3. While that line made perfect sense to the Greek physician Luke and the Greek dedicatee of his Gospel Theophilus, that would make no legal sense to Jewish readers expecting the legal inheritance to go through male descendants – such as Joseph. Jeconiah to Joseph is 13 generations, so making each of the three sets 14 then allows Jesus, to be counted at part of part of the final set, through adoption by Joseph.

So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations. (Matthew 1:17 NRSV)

Section taken from Harry Whittaker Studies in the Gospels chapter 2.


In the statement (v.8) “Jehoram begat Uzziah” there is a large and unmistakable gap in the sequence of royal names. Ahaziah, Jehoash, Amaziah are omitted. These are the three generations descended from infamous Athaliah, daughter of equally infamous Jezebel, who “arose and destroyed all the seed royal” (2 Kings 11:1). So her own seed are obliterated from the record, not only for her sins but also for their own, for all three of them, in greater or less degree, followed in her ways. The sins of the mother were visited upon the children to the third generation of them that hated the Lord. Then why not the fourth generation also?-for Uzziah was the king whose heart was lifted up to his seeking to assume the high-priesthood also (2 Chr. 26:16-21). The answer must be in his repentance, readily traceable in the Old Testament record.

The New Testament’s censure of the other three is a striking fulfilment of Deuteronomy 29:19,20: If a man “bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart . . . then the anger of the lord and his jealousy shall smoke against that man… and the Lord shall blot out his name from under heaven.”

This interpretation of the omissions is satisfying enough, there is the right “feel” about it, and yet there are difficulties. By the same argument, what are Ahaz and “Jechonias” doing here? Worthless men, both, who were evil and faithless to the end of their days.


“And Josiah begat Jechonias and his brethren at the time of the carrying away to Babylon” (v, 11). The “brethren” are mentioned here because they also sat on the throne of the Lord in Jerusalem. Yet their names are bypassed so as to keep the genealogy to a pattern of three fourteens.

Why should Jeconiah, and not one of the other three, be mentioned by Matthew? Is it because he outlived all the others as a captive in Babylon?


It is difficult to believe that “Jeconiah begat Salathiel” represents a true father-son relationship. More probably, and simply, enough, the truth is that during the Captivity, Salathiel was next in line for the throne, although of course he never occupied it. Jeconiah was not childless (Jer. 22:28,30; a tablet found in Babylon mentions his five sons), but he was to be “written childless… no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David” (Jer. 22:30). So the Messiah does not have such a man as his direct ancestor.

The two lines of descent from David — through Solomon and through Nathan-somehow converge in Salathiel (Mt. 1:12; Lk. 3:27). Did Salathiel marry the daughter of Neri? Or did Pedaiah (1 Chr. 3:19) make a levirate marriage with the widow of Salathiel who was made a eunuch in Babylon (Is. 39:7)? Certainly here and concerning some other details is not possible.

Three Fourteens

The genealogy concludes with an arithmetical summary, indicating three fourteens, dominated by the three names Abraham, David, Christ. The figures invite comparison with Israel’s forty-two campsites in the wilderness (Num. 33:2) before reaching the Land of Promise. Another comparison is with Adam, created at the end of the sixth day, for the Second Adam comes at the end of the sixth seven in this long list.

Further, it is to be noted that the numerical value of the name David is fourteen; hence the focusing of attention on three fourteens (v. 17). In particular, “all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations” (v. 17). This word “all” is carefully restricted to the first fourteen, where it is literally true. Thus Matthew implies deliberate omissions in the second and third fourteen. This contriving of specific numbers suggests that the early church saw special significance in them. There are other examples which point to the same conclusion, but one has yet to see any explanation that is really convincing or with Biblical authority behind it. Certainly, not all the fanciful juggling that has been put into Biblical numerology should be taken seriously.

The strange thing here is that, although Matthew insists on three fourteens, the third group has only thirteen names in it. Oversight is not an acceptable explanation of this remarkable “error”. Of course, the omission is intentional. How did Matthew intend his third fourteen to be completed? The emphasis on “Christ”, rather than “Jesus”, in verses 16,17 suggests that Jesus after his resurrection or Jesus as king when he comes again supplies the fourteenth stage. Or, alternatively, are those in Christ intended to complete the scheme: “A seed shall serve him; it shall be counted to the Lord for his generation (RVm). They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this” (Ps. 22:31). “He shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand” (Is. 53:10). Could the genealogy of “the Christ” point to a better conclusion that this?

No Comments yet!