Questions From Readers
▪ Since Jehovah’s decree at Jeremiah 22:30 prevented a descendant of Jehoiachin (Jeconiah, or Coniah) from ever being on the throne of David, would this not annul any right of Joseph to confer upon Jesus the legal right to the kingdom?
Jehovah’s decree regarding Jehoiachin (Coniah) reads: “Write down this man as childless, as an able-bodied man who will not have any success in his days; for from his offspring not a single one will have any success, sitting upon the throne of David and ruling anymore in Judah.” This decree barred any descendant of Jehoiachin from ever ruling upon David’s throne in Judah. But it did not prevent the royal line and inheritable privileges from passing through Jehoiachin and his descendants to Joseph and then to Jesus. It would not prevent Jesus from fulfilling another decree of Jehovah regarding the crown of David: “It will certainly become no one’s until he comes who has the legal right, and I must give it to him.” (Ezekiel 21:27) Why? Because Jesus, who was given “the legal right,” would not rule from a throne in Judah, but from the heavens!
While in Babylonian captivity, Jehoiachin fathered seven sons, including Shealtiel and Pedaiah. But since no descendant of Jehoiachin ever sat on David’s throne to rule in Judah, it was as though he was written off as “childless.” Yet, Matthew includes Jeconiah (Jehoiachin), Shealtiel* and Zerubbabel, among others, in listing Jesus’ genealogy. It did not matter that they personally were barred from ruling on any earthly throne. Moreover, it posed no problem to Luke and other Jews in the first century that Mary’s genealogy also could be traced back to Jehoiachin through Shealtiel.—Matthew 1:11, 12; Luke 3:27.
In establishing the credentials of one claiming to be the Messiah, or Jehovah’s anointed One, it would be very important for the Jews to be able to trace his genealogy back through the royal line of kings of David’s house. (Compare John 7:40-42; Acts 2:30.) The legal line through Joseph (compiled by Matthew) and the natural line (compiled by Luke), each taking a different route back to David, both serve to corroborate that Jesus clearly has the genealogical credentials for being the Messiah, the One who would inherit David’s throne.
Luke saw it important to record the fact that Mary was “promised in marriage to a man named Joseph of David’s house” and that he was “a member of the house and family of David.” (Luke 1:27; 2:4) It is with significance, therefore, that Jehovah’s angel, in giving directions to Joseph, addressed him with the words: “Joseph, son of David.” He was told regarding the son who would be born to Mary: “You must call his name Jesus,” indicating that Joseph was expected to adopt the boy and circumcise him as his own adopted son. (Matthew 1:20, 21) And to Mary, Gabriel stated regarding Jesus: “Jehovah God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule as king over the house of Jacob forever, and there will be no end of his kingdom.”—Luke 1:32, 33.
Jesus was hailed as the “Son of David” when on earth, but he did not attempt to begin his rule while on earth. (Matthew 9:27; 21:9, 15) He inherited all that David’s earthly kingship ever embraced as to royal privileges, subjects and territory, but he inherited much more from his heavenly Father. David’s earthly kingdom was only a small model of what Jesus’ heavenly kingdom would be in ruling the whole earth. (Daniel 2:44; 7:13, 14) After his death and resurrection, Jesus was exalted to Jehovah’s throne in the heavens. And while his earthly genealogy, through both Joseph and Mary, can be traced back to Jehoiachin, Jesus’ ruling from a heavenly throne causes no violation of Jehovah’s decree. Peter confirmed this by referring to what David wrote under inspiration: “Because he [David] was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath that he would seat one from the fruitage of his loins upon his throne, he saw beforehand and spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ . . . He was exalted to the right hand of God” where, in due time, he would begin ruling in the midst of his enemies.—Acts 2:30-36; Psalm 110:1, 2.
▪ Would it be wrong to smoke nontobacco cigarettes as an aid in overcoming tobacco addiction?
There are a number of reasons why this should be avoided by persons who want to apply Scriptural counsel and be members of the Christian congregation.
Many individuals who were addicted to smoking, and particularly to the drug nicotine in tobacco, have tried to break the habit. One way has been by substitution, smoking cigarettes made from other vegetable matter lacking nicotine. This might seem quite desirable for this reason: The smoker avoids nicotine, yet the strains of breaking a long-standing habit may seem less severe because he can still hold and smoke something, a nontobacco cigarette.
To appreciate why this is not for Christians, reflect on some reasons why Jehovah’s Witnesses do not smoke.
For one thing, the widespread habit of smoking tobacco—in cigarettes, pipes or cigars—conflicts with what the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian congregation: “Dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that pollutes either body or spirit.” (2 Corinthians 7:1, The Twentieth Century New Testament) Just before those words, Paul had spoken about religious activities that amounted to “touching the unclean thing.” (2 Corinthians 6:17) Then he expanded matters with his comment in 2 Corinthians 7:1, which would apply to any activity that would pollute the Christian morally, spiritually or physically. The principle certainly is applicable to the relatively modern practice of using tobacco.
Observing tobacco users close up, you probably have seen their stained fingers and teeth, and likely you know of the blackened, polluted state of smokers’ lungs. Their habit is unclean and seriously endangers their health and life. But is the harm solely because they smoke tobacco? Hardly. Even if someone regularly smoked cigarettes made from another plant—be it marijuana, lettuce, corn or something else—inhaling smoke day after day is unnatural. Do you not agree that inhaling any smoke regularly would pollute the lungs and likely could imperil one’s health? So whether the smoke be from tobacco, marijuana, or some sort of nicotineless cigarettes, smoking simply is inappropriate for people who want to live in accord with the counsel at 2 Corinthians 7:1.—Compare Romans 12:1.
Nor can a person be said to be showing neighbor love to his family and associates when he forces them to inhale his smoke, even if that be from something other than tobacco.—Mark 12:31.
Furthermore, smoking tobacco is so prevalent that if observers see an individual smoking some sort of cigarette, cigar or pipe, they would hardly think themselves presumptuous in assuming that it was tobacco. So even if someone restricted himself to nicotineless cigarettes, observers might well be stumbled or conclude that Jehovah’s Witnesses are not consistent in avoiding the polluting, health-damaging tobacco habit.—Luke 17:1, 2.
Many who are now clean, healthy Christian servants of Jehovah have successfully overcome the tobacco habit without switching to some other type of smoking. Helpful comments about this are to be found in the article “Those Weaknesses Can Be Overcome” in The Watchtower of October 15, 1982.
Shealtiel is listed by both Matthew and Luke, and the implication is that Zerubbabel was his son. However, Shealtiel apparently was listed only in a substitutionary way. Careful students of the full genealogical record of Jesus recognize that Shealtiel was not Zerubbabel’s natural father but Shealtiel’s brother Pedaiah was. (1 Chronicles 3:19) But there is a reason why Matthew and Luke listed Shealtiel under guidance of Jehovah’s holy spirit. He may have adopted Zerubbabel if Pedaiah died when the boy was young; or if Shealtiel died before fathering a son, Pedaiah may have performed brother-in-law marriage, fathering Zerubbabel in the name of his brother Shealtiel.