Who is Neri?
Luke 3: 27 “the son of Neri”
So there is a slight problem …!
According to 1 Chronicles 3: 17 “The descendants of Jehoiachin the
captive: Shealtiel his son…” so not Neri?
According to Matthew 1: 12 “After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel”
Who was the father? Neri or Jeconiah or Jehoiachin?
The easy bit, Jeconiah and Jehoiachin are the same person, he was also known as Coniah (Jeremiah 22: 28 KJV), a king of Judah taken into Babylonian captivity in the 6th century BC. God curses this man because he was evil, it is found in the same chapter in Jeremiah, God likens him to a signet ring he will pull off. He will be childless, never prosper and there would be no descendent ruling after him.
But where is Luke’s man, Neri?
Let me stress again that both Matthew’s genealogy and Luke’s are right. The Jews would have certainly questioned these important lists if they had been wrong, they have survived the test of time. Secondly, the early readers of these lists would have known the story thread of these lives which not unlike 2019 when the story of families seem to have many twists with their being many ‘father’ and ‘mother’ figures and children being adopted into new names etc.
What could have happened very simply put is either there was a levirate marriage once Jehoiachin was taken into Babylon (his wife being permitted to take another, being Neri) their firstborn, Shealtiel, would have legally been Jehoiachin’s son; or there was an adoption process taking place, in that Neri was actually Shealtiel’s grandfather but who had no sons so was permitted to take the sons of his eldest daughter who was married to Jehoiachin. Or even the adoption took place after Jehoiachin’s death, Neri taking Shealtiel has his adopted son.
Neri’s name means ‘God is light’ and in the confusion for us over these genealogies then perhaps we need some of that light! Certainly the name doesn’t reflect Jehoiachin’s behaviour or his curse.
Unless of course there is a simpler solution …!
That is that God reversed the curse on Jeconiah because he repented in Babylon. Indications of this can be found in that the ‘signet ring’ references are found down the generational line in Zerubbabel’s blessing. Plus rabbinical sources say he did! If that be the case then as was popular custom, a name change wasn’t out of the ordinary to indicate a new day, the most famous being Abram to Abraham.
Then his name was changed to mean ‘God is light’ the darkness was over, he was a changed man and actually the curse was then reversed. He did have children, he actually did prosper (2 Kings 25:27-28) and he did have descendants on David’s throne, ending with Jesus.
Is it possible that a man can change and then change his name to reflect that change?
Is it possible that a man can totally repent?
Is it possible that the curse on that man be reversed and he be brought into blessing?
God is still changing lives in 2019 as much as thousands of years ago!
So who was the father? Neri, Jeconiah, Coniah or Jehoiachin? Yes, that man!
A man who God changed in captivity. He still does this miraculous work today!