Shealtiel (Hebrew: שְׁאַלְתִּיאֵל, Shə’altî’ēl) or Greek-derived variant Salathiel (Greek: Σαλαθιηλ, Salăthiēl) is a significant but problematic member in the genealogies of the kings of Judah, all of whom belong to the Davidic Dynasty, being the descendants of King David through his son King Solomon.
In Hebrew, the name Shealtiel means, Shə’altî ’Ēl, "I asked El (for this child)". The name acknowledges that the son is an answer to the parents' prayer to God (El) to help them conceive and birth a child. Many Hebrew names similarly express the importance of, difficulty of, and thankfulness for a successful pregnancy.
In the Deuterocanonical apocalyptic work 2 Esdras, the author claims to be "Ezra, who is also called Shealtiel" (3:1). For this reason, this work is also sometimes known as Ezra Shealtiel. However, the priestly prophet Ezra could not be the same Shealtiel of the royal genealogies, since his own lineage is given in Book of Ezra 7:1, and in 2 Esdras 1:1 (Latin version), which agree in making him the son of Seraiah, and a Levite.
Shealtiel in the Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible calls Shealtiel the second son of King Jeconiah (1 Chronicles 3:17). The Neo-Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II exiled to Babylon Jeconiah and his uncle King Zedekiah, the last two kings of Judah. Potentially, Shealtiel would become an heir to the throne, if the Davidic dynasty were restored.
Is Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel or Pedaiah?
The Hebrew Bible calls Shealtiel the second son of King Jeconiah (1 Chronicles 3:17). There is confusion about whether Shealtiel is the biological father of Zerubbabel (1 Chronicles 3:17-19). Nevertheless several Biblical texts use the phrase "Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel", perhaps to emphasize Zerubbabel's inheritance of Shealtiel's royal claim to the throne, if the Davidic throne were restored to Judah.
Shealtiel in the Gospels
Matthew's genealogy likewise agrees that Shealtiel is the son of Jeconiah. However, Luke's instead lists Shealtiel as the son of an otherwise unknown man named Neri.
"But Jechonias appears to have had a son of his own by this widow of the royal line. This son's name was Salathiel (No. 2 and No. 56 in the two pedigree lines). By this marriage of a widow to Jechonias, these two boys - sons of the same mother - would become brothers by Jewish custom.
However, Salathiel appears to have died childless, though not until he had reached manhood and married a wife. Jehoiakim's blood line thus came to an end in his grandson Salathiel - indicated by termination of the red line. But as it happens the actual title to the throne remained active. The curse of Jeremiah 36:30 was to be fulfilled not by the removal of the title itself from Jehoiakim's line but by the denial of that title to anyone who happened to be a blood relative in the line. With the death of Salathiel this blood line terminated.
But now, according to Jewish custom as set forth in the principle of the Levirate (Deut. 25:5,6), it became incumbent upon Pedaiah, the deceased Salathiel's (step) brother, to take his widow and raise up seed through her who would not therefore be of Salathiel's blood line but would be constituted legally as Salathiel's son through whom the title would pass to his descendants. The son of this Levirate union was Zerubbabel. In Matthew 1:12 and Luke 3:27 Zerubbabel is listed legally as Salathiel's son: but in 1 Chronicles 3:19 he is listed as the son of Pedaiah by actual blood relationship.
In the terms of biblical reckoning these two statements are in no sense contradictory. We might wish to be more precise by substituting such extended terms of relationship as son-in-law, stepson, and so forth. But Scripture is not required to adopt our particular terminology. It is required only to be consistent with itself, and the facts of the case as recorded of those who were the actors in the drama are precisely as stated.
We thus have a remarkable chain of events. Jehoiakim has a son, Jechonias, who has a son, Salathiel, who by Levirate custom has a son named Zerubbabel. This son, Zerubbabel, has no blood line connection whatever with Jechonias, for he has no blood relationship with Salathiel. The blood relationship of Zerubbabel is with Pedaiah, and through Pedaiah with Pedaiah's mother, and through this mother with Neri. Thus Neri begat a grandson, Salathiel, through his daughter; and Salathiel "begets" a son, Zerubbabel, through Pedaiah.
The blood line thus passes through Zerubbabel: but so does the title also. The former passes via Pedaiah's mother, the latter passes through Salathiel's father. And though this mother and this father were also man and wife, the blood line stopped with Salathiel who literally died childless. It is necessary to emphasize this word literally, for it appears that it was literally true. Jeremiah 22:30 had predicted that Jechonias would also die "childless"-but we are reasonably sure that this was not literally the case, for he had a son Salathiel whom we cannot otherwise account for."
Another explanation is that the persons in Luke's genealogy are not the same as the ones in Matthew and other genealogies. Luke's Shealtiel and Zerubbabel may have lived about three or four generations after the return from the exile. The Shealtiel in Luke's gospel then may have named his own son after the more famous Zerubbabel.
Cadet branch of the Tribe of Judah
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