Asaph, King of Judah – Part 1

“Abijah [was] the father of Asaph, and Asaph [was] the father of Jehoshaphat” (Matthew 1:7-8 NRSV).

The gospel of Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus. Matthew’s genealogy presents Jesus as an heir and a legitimate successor to the throne of David. It was important for the writer of Matthew to connect Jesus with the royal house of Judah because in the first century BCE many Jews expected the Messiah to come from the house of David. It would be impossible for the writer of the gospel to convince his readers that Jesus was the Messiah, unless he could prove that Jesus was a descendant of David and that the Messianic prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus’ life and ministry.

The genealogy of Jesus that appears in Matthew 1:6-11 lists the descendants of David who ruled as kings of Judah:

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

In Matthew’s genealogy of the descendants of David and Solomon, the son of Abijah is called Asaph and Asaph’s son is called Jehoshaphat. The presence of Asaph in the list of the kings of Judah contradicts the information found in Kings and Chronicles where Asa, not Asaph, was the son of Abijah and the father of Jehoshaphat.

There have been several attempts at understanding the reasons the author of the gospel of Matthew listed Asaph as one of the kings of Judah.  The purpose of this post is to ascertain what the probable original reading of Matthew 1:7-8 was and the reason the name Asaph appears in the genealogy of David.

Asa was the son of Abijah, the grandson of Rehoboam, and the third king of Judah after the division of the kingdom. The information about Asa’s accession to the throne of Judah is found in 1 Kings 15:8-10:

Abijam slept with his ancestors, and they buried him in the city of David. Then his son Asa succeeded him. In the twentieth year of King Jeroboam of Israel, Asa began to reign over Judah; he reigned forty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Maacah daughter of Abishalom.

The account of Asa’s reign is also given in 2 Chronicles 14:1-16:14. The Chronicler stated that after Abijah’s death, Asa, his son, succeeded him. When Asa died, to express that he was a good king, the Chronicler declared that he was buried with honors (2 Chr 16:14). After Asa died, his son Jehoshaphat became the king of Judah (1 Kgs 15:24; 2 Chr 17:1).

A complete genealogy of the kings who occupied the throne of David and ruled from Jerusalem appears in 1 Chronicles 3:10-16:

The descendants of Solomon: Rehoboam, Abijah his son, Asa his son, Jehoshaphat his son, Joram his son, Ahaziah his son, Joash his son, Amaziah his son, Azariah his son, Jotham his son,  Ahaz his son, Hezekiah his son, Manasseh his son, Amon his son, Josiah his son. The sons of Josiah: Johanan the firstborn, the second Jehoiakim, the third Zedekiah, the fourth Shallum. The descendants of Jehoiakim: Jeconiah his son, Zedekiah his son.

The Chronicler’s list presents all the kings of Judah from Solomon to Josiah. With Josiah, the genealogy lists the four sons of Josiah, three of which, Jehoiakim, Zedekiah, and Shallum, also known as Jehoahaz (cf. Jer 22:11), became kings of Judah. The genealogy also lists the two sons of Jehoiakim, of which, only Jeconiah, also known as Jehoiachin (cf. Jer 24:1; 27:20), became king.

To be continued

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

This entry was posted in Hebrew Bible and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Asaph, King of Judah – Part 1

  1. μαρτυς says:

    You’re citing a translation of the wrong Greek text. The TR reads “Ἀβιὰ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἀσά· Ἀσὰ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἰωσαφάτ”; that is litterally “Abia then begat the Asa; Asa then begat the Ieosaphat”.


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