Catholic Encyclopedia – Heli the father of Joseph

Article

Heli (Greek HELEI — Luke 3:23) In Luke he is said to be the father of Joseph, while in Matthew 1:16, Jacob was Joseph’s father. The most probable explanation of this seeming contradiction is afforded by having recourse to the levirate law among the Jews, which prescribes that when a man dies childless his widow “shall not marry to another; but his brother shall take her, and raise up seed for his brother” (Deuteronomy 25:5). The child, therefore, of the second marriage is legally the child of the first (Deuteronomy 25:6). Heli having died childless, his widow became the wife of his brother Jacob, and Joseph was the offspring of the marriage, by nature the son of Jacob, but legally the son of Heli. It is likely that Matt. gives the natural, and Luke the legal descent. Lord A. Hervey, Bishop of Bath and Wells, who wrote a learned work on the “Genealogies of Our Lord Jesus Christ”, thinks that Mary was the daughter of Jacob, and Joseph was the son of Jacob’s brother, Heli. Mary and Joseph were therefore first cousins, and both of the house of David. Jacob, the elder, having died without male issue, transmitted his rights and privileges to the male issue of his brother Heli, Joseph, who according to genealogical usage was his descendant.

MLA Citation

  • John Tierney. “Heli”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1910. CatholicSaints.Info. 3 November 2018. Web. 14 November 2018. <>