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David and Goliath by Caravaggio

King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba

The Davidic line (also referred to as the House of David) (known in Hebrew as Malkhut Beit David (מלכות בית דוד) - "Monarchy of the House of David") refers to the tracing of lineage to the King David referred to in the Hebrew Bible, as well as the New Testament. Though this is especially relevant to kings claiming royal lineage and to major leaders in Jewish history, it is also relevant in a general sense to anyone who claims descent from King David.


Kings of Judah


Upon being chosen and becoming king, the custom in the times of the Tanakh was to be anointed with Holy Oil poured on the head. In David's case, this was done by the prophet Samuel:

  • "...Now he [David] was ruddy, and with beautiful eyes, and goodly to look upon. And the Lord said: 'Arise, anoint him; for this is he.' Then Samuel [the prophet] took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward..." (1 Samuel 16:12-13)

In Hebrew, the anointing is called meshicha (meaning "pouring") and a king (melekh or melech in Hebrew) is referred to as a Moshiach or Messiah or a Melech HaMashiach meaning "the anointed king". The procedure of anointment, in David's case, is said to symbolize the descent of God's holiness (kedusha) upon the king and as a sign of a bond never to be broken.

The monarchy was vouchsafed to the House of David by God in the Book of Samuel:

  • "And Nathan said to the king:...Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people, over Israel. And I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make you a great name, like the name of the great ones that are in the earth... and I will cause you to rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord tells you that the Lord will make you a house....Then David the king went in, and sat before the Lord...'now therefore let it please you to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever before you; for you, O Lord God, have spoken it; and through your blessing let the house of your servant be blessed forever.'" (2 Samuel 7:1-29), and

Initially, David was king over the Tribe of Judah only and ruled from Hebron, but after seven years the other Israelite tribes chose him to be their king as well:

  • "Then came all the tribes of Israel to David to Hebron, and spoke, saying: 'Behold, we are your bone and your flesh. In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was you that did lead out and bring in Israel; and the Lord said to you: You shalt feed my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel.' So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a covenant with them in Hebron before the Lord; and they anointed David king over Israel..." (2 Samuel 5:1-3).

As well as in the Book of Chronicles:

  • "...So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and David made a covenant with them in Hebron before the Lord; and they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the Lord by the hand of Samuel..." (1 Chronicles 11:3), and
  • "...And these are the numbers of the heads of them that were armed for war, who came to David to Hebron, to turn the kingdom of Saul to him, according to the word of the Lord...All these, being men of war, that could order the battle array, came with a whole heart to Hebron, to make David king over all Israel; and all the rest also of Israel were of one heart to make David king." (1 Chronicles 12:24 and 12:39).

All subsequent kings in both the ancient first united Kingdom of Israel and the later Kingdom of Judah claimed direct descent from King David to validate their claim to the throne in order to rule over the Israelite tribes.

After the death of King Solomon son of David, the ten northern tribes of the Kingdom of Israel rejected the Davidic line, refusing to accept Rehoboam son of Solomon, and instead chose as king Jeroboam and formed the northern Kingdom of Israel. This kingdom was eventually conquered by Assyria who exiled them, to disappear from history as The Ten Lost Tribes.

Also, the Hasmoneans, also known as the Maccabees, who were priests, (kohanim) from the Tribe of Levi, established a monarchy of their own in Judea following their revolt and war against the Hellenistic Seleucid dynasty. The Hasmoneans were not connected to the Davidic line that is attached to the Tribe of Judah. The Levites had always been excluded from the Israelite monarchy. When the Maccabees assumed the throne in order to re-dedicate the defiled Second Temple, a cardinal rule was nevertheless broken, and it has been considered to be contributing to their own downfall, and part of the eventual downfall of Judea and when internal strife brought in Rome and resulted in the violent non-Jewish Herod the Great becoming king, and eventually ended with the destruction of the Second Temple by the Roman Empire according to scholars within Orthodox Judaism.

The Exilarch

Following the conquest of Judah by Babylon, and the exile of its population, the Babylonian Exilarchate was established. The highest official of Babylonian Jewry was the exilarch (Reish Galuta, "Head of the Captivity"). Those who held the position traced their ancestry to the House of David in the male line.[1] The position holder was regarded as a king-in-waiting.

Other descendants from David

With the cessation of the Jewish monarchy following the destructions of both the Temple of Solomon and the Second Temple, the line of the monarchy was always carefully preserved and guarded even though no kings such as David and his immediate descendants were alive. It was from that supposed Davidic line though that many great rabbis and "princes" of the people were claimed descent. Thus men such as the editor of the Mishnah, Rabbi Judah haNasi and his heirs were considered to be from the Davidic line, hence also the title "Nasi" meaning prince.

Subsequently, great rabbis such as Rashi, who was a descendant of Judah haNasi, and the Maharal of Prague, were all considered to be from the Davidic line by Orthodox Judaism. Note, however, that according to Rav Sherira Gaon, in his iggeret, Hillel the Elder, great-great-great-grandfather of Rabbi Judah haNasi, was descended from David only on his mother's side , and was actually of the tribe of Benjamin .

In general, the validity of such claims - as of most claims to royal descent after a considerable passage of time - is difficult to check. But it can certainly be said that Jewish society taking seriously a person's claim to Davidic descent is a testimonial to that person's standing and prestige in his own time.

The medieval dynasties — the Solomonids of Ethiopia and Bagratids of Georgia and Armenia - also claimed descent from David.

Jewish Messianism

The future Jewish Messiah is expected to be from the "Davidic line" (The Tree of Life), see Jewish eschatology. Many prayers in the Jewish prayer book, the Siddur make fervent mention for the restoration of King David's monarchy, and the long-awaited Messiah who is referred to as Mashiach ben David, "Messiah son of [King] David". Given the difficulty of identifying the Messianic figure, Jews also pray for the coming of the prophet Elijah to serve as the Messiah's herald and properly identify him.

Genealogy of Jesus

Tree of Jesse in an Illuminated manuscript by the Master of James IV of Scotland, Flemish, 1510-20, Getty.

The Gospels, Acts of the Apostles and Pauline epistles refer to Jesus of Nazareth as a descendant of David. The Gospels give two separate genealogies for Jesus.[2] Christian faith regards Jesus as having been born of a virgin, Mary, and, consequently, as not having natural human father. Nevertheless, he is considered to be a prince of Judah as though Mary's husband Joseph were in fact his father.

Matthew 1 uses the format: "A was the father of B, B was the father of C", etc. Luke 3:23-38, on the other hand, uses a word that can mean either "biological son" or "descendant", in the form "C was the son of B, who was the son of A". Matthew traces the lineage from David, through Solomon, while Luke traces the lineage through Nathan, Solomon's brother.[2] An explanation traditionally offered by Christian apologists is that Matthew is stating Joseph's line and Luke is stating Mary's line.[3] Under the Lucan text, Jesus would be a biological descendant of David through his mother.[4] It is often this descent that is depicted in the Tree of Jesse subject in art, which usually shows Mary but rarely Joseph. Another solution to the problem of two genealogies was offered by Africanus and repeated by Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History. Under the Torah a widowed woman could marry her late husband's brother, the children of the union being reckoned as the sons of the deceased, and thus the Gospel of Matthew is held to record Jesus' lineage by birth while Luke's by law, this distinction being defended by Luke's use of the phrase "Joseph son of Eli, as was supposed."

"Hence the genealogy traced through him will not be rendered void, which the evangelist Matthew in his enumeration gives thus: 'Jacob begot Joseph.' But Luke, on the other hand, says: 'Who was the son, as was supposed' (for this he also adds), 'of Joseph, the son of Eli, the son of Melchi'; for he could not more clearly express the generation according to law. And the expression 'he begot' he has omitted in his genealogical table up to the end, tracing the genealogy back to Adam the son of God. This interpretation is neither incapable of proof nor is it an idle conjecture. "


  1. Max A Margolis and Alexander Marx, A History of the Jewish People (1927), p. 235.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Boles, H. Leo, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Gospel Advocate Commentary, 1, Nashville, TN: The Gospel Advocate Company (published 1952), p. 19 
  3. Morris, Leon, The Gospel according to Matthew, Pillar New Testament Commentary, 3A, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans (published 1992), p. 22 
  4. Boles, H. Leo, A Commentary on the Gospel by Luke, The Gospel Advocate Commentaries, 2, Nashville, TN: The Gospel Advocate Company (published 1940), p. 88–91 

See also


  • The Holy Bible: 1611 Edition (Thos. Nelson, 1993)

External links

id:Garis Daud